I wanted to maximize our time with the Mariners so we headed down to Baltimore in time for batting practice. Unfortunately, it started raining as we neared Baltimore. As we entered the centerfield seats, we found the tarp covering the field. No batting pratice.
It was about 5:20 at the time. Because we did not have “season ticket” tickets, we were stuck in CF until 5:30. So we couldn’t go over to the third base foul line where Ichiro was running sprints in the outfield and a couple of Mariners were playing catch.
After about 2 minutes in the seats, Jesus Colome came out to centerfield to grab two baseballs that were sitting out there in the grass. There were a bunch of O’s fans in the first 2 rows of the seats and we were hanging back in about the 10th row. Colome saw us and yelled to get our attention. He then proceeded to throw one of the baseballs nowhere near us. Seriously, while looking me straight in the eye, he managed to throw the ball about 30 feet to our left and about 7 rows below us. One of the O’s fans grabbed it as it ricocheted off some seats. Colome yelled, “Sorry!” and patted himself on the chest as if to say, “my bad.”
About 2 minutes later, something incredibly cool happened. I’m going to save the complete story for later, but here is the abbreviated version.
Ryan Rowland-Smith came walking through the outfield on his way to the bullpen…
…in that picture, Tim and I were standing at the “T&T” (Tim was on my shoulders) and I noticed Rowland-Smith as he was walking at the “RRS.” The yellow line shows the route he was intending to walk to the Mariners bullpen.
Background Fact No. 2: Over the off-season, I wrote a letter to RRS to (among other things) thank him for being so kind to us in Toronto, and I included with the letter the picture my wife snapped of us with RRS.
Background Fact No. 3: I follow RRS on Twitter where it had recently been implied that he buzzed his hair. Check him out @hyphen18.
So, as he approached the OF wall, I yelled out, “Hey, Ryan, let’s see the new hair!”
He laughed and (without looking over) took off his hat to show me his buzz-cut. Then, as he went through the door in the OF gate, he looked over at me and…
I was thinking, “Wow, RRS really likes seeing Mariners fans on the road!” But as he approached, he said, “You wrote me that letter, right?”
To put it mildly, I couldn’t believe it! I wrote him a letter months earlier about an interaction in Toronto and IMMEDIATELY upon seeing us in Baltimore (totally out of context), he recognized us and came right over to chat.
Here he is standing below us…
…and, to once again put it mildly, he came over to chat about something incredibly, amazingly, ridiculously awesome. That’s what I’ll save for later. For now, I will just note that we made plans to meet up later in the season about something I asked him in my letter. Also, I must note that RRS is officially one of the most fan-friendly, coolest dudes ever to wear a major league baseball uniform…hands down.
After chatting with RRS, we waited five more minutes for the rest of the stadium to open (by which point Ichiro was gone), and then we headed over toward the Mariners dugout. And guess who we ran into…
…you got it: Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith. Although Tim looks sorta “ho-hum’ish” in this picture, its not because he wasn’t happy to get his picture with RRS. It was because he was standing on top of a wet brick wall and he was scared he was going to fall off. RRS is holding him from behind to keep him steady.
We chatted for another minute or two with RRS. And he noticed the T-Shirt I was wearing under my jersey. It was a special shirt that Griffey made for his Mariners teammates during spring training. You can read about it (and how my mom got her hands on one of them during spring training) in our entry Griffey the Prankster. I told RRS that I had my mom send to shirt to me so I could wear it to this game to see if I could manage to get my picture with Griff. However, due to the SleepGate scandal (that had just broken the day before), RRS didn’t think Griff would be out on the field at all before the game.
A few minutes later, I saw Ichiro pop out of the M’s dugout with a bat and walk over to the O’s dugout/clubhouse entrance. So we headed over to the O’s dugout and confirmed with an usher that the M’s would be taking BP in cages back by the O’s clubhouse.
We said hi to most of the guys as they headed over to take BP…
Adam Moore said hi to us too:
Here is Figgy and a coach, Sweeney and M’s PR guy Tim Hevly (they were talking about SleepGate!)…
…Don Wakamatsu said hello to us, and Ken Griffey, Jr. did too. Unfortunately, that’s the best picture I got of Griff. As he approached, he saw my T-shirt and he said something to me that I couldn’t understand…something odd like, “Oh, so that’s what’s going on here.” In response, I mentioned that he’d given the shirt to my mom at spring training and asked if we could get a picture. He responded as if it was a possibility, but said he had to go hit first. Of course, by the time he finished batting, there were 50 people standing by the dugout. By that point, we decided there was no chance Griff would stop on his way back to the M’s clubhouse so we left to get something to eat.
After our nachos, we headed over to the bullpen to watch Cliff Lee warm up. Here he is on his walk to the bullpen:
By the way, our buddy Jason Phillips is in that blurry picture and he is the guy seated closest to Tim in the picture to the right. It was nice seeing him again. We exchanged a few words several times throughout the day. Its good to have him in the M’s bullpen again this season.
We continued sitting by the bullpen during the first inning, but then it started raining again. We took refuge under cover over by where we’d eaten our nachos. And I got some pictures of Griffey batting in the third inning…
And I got some pictures of Ichiro, also batting in the third inning…
I took tons of pictures (using my wife’s camera with a sequence feature) of Cliff Lee:
We got some random defensive shots:
I had to get Tim out of the standing room area pretty quick. It was covered with huge puddles and Tim wanted to jump in every single one. I was envisioning his little toes freezing later in the game inside wet socks.
So, we headed out to the concourse and got an ice cream helmet and a hot chocolate. We grabbed some ice cream seats in section 10 down the 1B foul line:
Pictured at the back of the photo is a guy named Avi who we met before the game. In addition to going to tons of O’s games, Avi reads our blog (and writes one of his own). Thanks, Avi! It was great meeting you.
Here is the view from our ice cream seats in section 10:
Ryan Langerhans broke the scoreless tie with a lead off homerun in the fifth. Later in the inning, the M’s scored again when Chone Figgins drew a bases loaded walk.
Here is a shot of Griff hitting in the sixth inning:
From our ice cream seats, we had a great view of Ichiro in RF. In these pictures, Ichi is playing catch between innings with Franklin Gutierrez.
Here is Tim after finishing off his ice cream and hot chocolate:
He absolutely loved the hot chocolate.
As we sat in section 10, I noticed the same guy catch two foul balls straight behind home plate. I decided he should go over there. However, when we arrived behind home plate, we noticed that the ushers were essentially taking the night off. Although there were ushers all around, they were letting people stand in the aisle and sit anywhere they wanted. So, after an usher took our picture…
And when we got home, I noticed that we’d been on TV while we were sitting in the third row behind Franklin Gutierrez:
We’d been sitting in the third row, but between innings Tim would stand in the first row above the dugout…so I snapped this picture of him:
Here was the view from the first row:
Ichiro hit another single in the 9th inning…
It was raining very lightly, so Tim wore my glove has a mask/umbrella…
I mentioned already we didn’t get a third out ball. Oddly, however, we did get a second out ball! Here Tim is with his first ever game used ball (well, it is possible that one of the umpire balls he’s gotten has been game used, but we *know* this one was used in the game):
With one out in the bottom of the ninth and Brandon League pitching, Matt Wieters grounded out to Ryan Langerhans at first base. Langerhans tagged Wieters for the 26th out of the game and then threw the ball around the horn. Somehow, the around the horn attempt failed. I’m not sure what happened. I think that Figgins threw the ball in the dirt to Jose Lopez and it got wet or dirty. For whatever reason, Lopez rolled the ball into foul territory. It ultimately came to rest right in front of us.
We were the only people in the first row behind the Mariners dugout. We were wearing all Mariners gear. Tim’s a cute kid. The ball was directly in front of us. It seemed almost like we were guaranteed to get the ball. And we did. An unidentified Mariner reached over the railing/netting and grabbed the ball off of the warning track, turned around and flipped it right to me.
Maybe two minute later, the Mariners won the game by a final score of 5-1. And Ichi victoriously ran off of the soggy field after high fiving his teammates:
Our friend, MLBlogger, and Baseball Collector extraordinaire, Zack Hample, was at the game. We’d spent some time with him during pre-game and then met up again after the game. As the Mariners bullpen headed to the dugout, Jesus Colome flipped a ball to Zack and John Wetteland bestowed a second baseball on me and Tim.
Moments later, Zack’s buddy Brandon captured this photo of me, Tim, and Zack:
This photo is a re-make of a picture we got moments after we met Zack in person for the first time last season — at the memorable Randy Johnson 300th win rainout “game.” After this photo, Tim and I walked to our parking garage with Zack and Brandon (on their way to their hotel).
It was a great first Mariners game of the season that included (i) a much needed Mariners win, (ii) Cliff Lee’s first win as a Mariner (and his first since the 2009 World Series), (iii) two memorable meetings with Ryan Rowland-Smith, (iv) fun interactions with several players about the Griffey prank shirt, (v) meeting up with some cool MLBloggers, and (vi) Tim’s first game-used baseball.
I already cannot wait to see the Mariners again…next month in San Diego on the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010! See you there, Mariners!
2010 Fan Stats:
8 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
5 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)
15 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)
4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
4 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
Back in March, I did an entry of satellite images of the ball parks we plan to visit in 2010. The first four stadiums I listed in order and for the fourth game I mentioned, “Next, we’ll be sticking closer to home for a very special game at Citizens Bank Park.”
On May 1, 2010, Tim and I attended that very special game, and it turned out to be way more special that I imagined in the first place.
Let’s start with an explanation of why I said it would be special. If you look at our 2010 season goals (or our blog in general), you’ll see that we love Kids Run The Bases days. Coming into 2010, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field (2008), Camden Yards (2009), Rogers Centre (2009), Citi Field (2009-10), Miller Park (2009), and Nationals Park (2009-10).
We’ve never been able to line up a trip to Seattle that coincided with a Kids Run The Bases day. So it is understandable that Tim has not run the bases at Safeco Field.
On the other hand, our failure to run the bases at Citizens Bank Park made no sense. It is, after all, the closest MLB stadium to our house. But in 2009, each of the kids run the bases days was on a business persons special day games. I couldn’t justify taking a day off of work to go to a day game in Philadelphia. So Tim was precluded from running the Citzens Bank Park bases.
I was perplexed at why a kids run the bases promotion would be doubled up with a business persons promotion. I have a colleague whose brother is the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing & Advertising Sales. So, I asked him about this odd situation. His brother had no answer…and life went on.
Fast forward to 2:28 p.m. on January 19, 2010, I’m diligently working away at my desk when I receive an email from my colleague that simply said, “Just for you.” It was a forward, so I scrolled down and found the following message from the inner-sanctum of Phillies management: “we added a run the bases on a weekend for your friend – may 1st.”
On Friday, April 30, 2010, my colleague called to make sure we were going to the game. His brother had called to remind him that they put this on the schedule for Tim so he hoped we’d be there. Of course! While the schedule said “sponsored by Modell’s Sporting Goods,” as we drove toward Citizens Bank Park we knew this Kids Run The Bases day was really brought to the kids of Philadelphia by Tim Cook.
Thank you, Phillies, for listening to the fans!
So lets get to the actual game. We arrived early for our first ever BP at Citizens Bank Park. A guy in a golf cart met us at our car and drove us to the LF gate. He also gave Tim a little green Citizens Bank pig key chain…which Tim named “Snortle.”
Outside the LF gate, Tim got his picture with a statue of Steve Carlton…
…which by my count makes Carlton the second person with whom Tim has got his picture with the real person and his statute (the first being Michael Jack Schmidt). He also got his picture with Joe Brown’s statue in the parking lot (that was actually after the game).
With Snortle in hand, we headed into the ball park. We had three goals for BP, two of which we would achieve.
First, get our picture with my all-time favorite pitcher, Jamie Moyer. Unfortunately, Moyer was in deep center field where the seats are maybe 15 feet above the field. No way to get a picture with a player there. So we just went out and stood near him.
Right after I took this picture, Tim yelled, “Hi, Jamie Moyer!” Moyer made eye contact with us and gave Tim a nice wave with his glove. Not just a little flip. A legit “hi, how you doing” wave. Very cool.
Soon thereafter, the Phils all started running toward the dugout, which is where we should have been. We might have been able to get Moyer’s attention while at field level. Anyway, I put Tim on my shoulders and we started to make our way toward the Phils’ dugout knowing that Moyer would be long gone by the time we got there.
That is when goal number 2 sealed the deal on not achieving goal number 1. Our second goal was to get a baseball. We’d only ever got one ball in all of our games at Citizens Bank Park. We made no real effort during Phils BP. We were just watching Moyer.
Then, as the Phils started running in and we started making our way toward the RF corner, I saw a Phils player on the field yelling up into the stands. I’d later figure out it was J.C. Romero. There were people lining the first and second rows and we were in row 4. Romero was motioning “up and over” with his finger. But it looked like he was motioning toward the very back of the section. I had no clue what he was doing. But he kept doing it. Finally, I said, “US!?!?!?” He said, “Yeah!” And held up a ball. Tim and I walked up to about row 7 and J.C. Romero lobbed…
…our second baseball ever at Citizens Bank Park directly into my glove. I handed it up to Tim and the crowd was happy to see the Phils reliever find a worthy recipient for the baseball. Our first ball at Citizens Bank Park was from Rockies first base coach (and former Mariner) Glenallen Hill. And we got a ball from Jimmy Rollins in D.C. last season. But this was our first baseball from a Phillie at a Phillies home game.
Thanks, J.C. Romero!
Goal No. 1 – failed. Goal No. 2 – complete.
Third goal, get Frank Catalanotto’s autograph. That might sound like an odd goal, but there is a back story (which we’ll get to).
The Mets were stretching in front of their dugout. We ran over there. I wrote out a quick and to the point sign…
…Tim grabbed the sign and popped up onto my shoulders. Literally within 10 seconds, we were communicating with Frank Catalanotto and arranging to meet in the first row about 30 yards down the 3B line. We got over there and we chatted with Frank, he signed our sign (shown above) as I dug through my backpack, and he posed for a picture with Tim…
That, my friends, is a picture of the first pitch of the first MLB game Tim ever attended back on September 12, 2006. Frank Catalanotto, playing for the Blue Jays, was the batter and he took a called strike from the eventual winning pitcher, Gil Meche.
I told Catalanotto the whole story. He thought it was awesome and he was SUPER COOL to us. It was awesome. For a non-game-related moment, this was one of the coolest and most memorable moments I’ve experienced at a ball park.
I have to give HUGE, HUGE gratitude to my dad for having the forethought to snap this picture while we were celebrating Tim’s first game. I absolutely love that he captured this moment for Tim and I am estactic about the idea of Tim having a picture of his first MLB pitch signed by both the batter and pitcher.
Hmmm….the pitcher. Gil Meche, be on the lookout for these two Mariners fans! Hopefully we can work it out this season.
At this point, the Mets hadn’t even started hitting yet. But it was blistering hot in the seating bowl and we already accomplished all of our BP goals except the Moyer picture, which wasn’t going to happen. So we took refuge in the shade…more specifically, in the kids play area:
…in that upper left picture, see that teenager in the upper tube? That guy works for the Phillies. His job is to control the traffic going down the slide. In the bottom right picture, Tim took “my order” about 2 dozen times and pretended to hand all sorts of food items out of those little holes to me
We went back to the play area several times throughout the day.
After our first play session, we headed toward the concourse behind home plate where I wanted to visit the ticket office. On the way, we got this picture of Tim and a fake Phanatic:
We made our way down to the Phils dugout to see if Moyer was around. He wasn’t. But then Roy Halladay popped out of the dugout and made his way to the bullpen and then the OF grass just outside of the bullpens…
After watching Halladay stretch a little, we went to our seats in section 104:
In those pictures, Tim is standing in the seat directly in front of ours. By the way, although he was a little sweatball, that is water from the water fountain on his shirt. He was having some water fountain difficulties just before these pictures.
Here is the actual view from our seats — Citizens Bank Park section 104, row 14, seats 4-5:
But we started the game in one of the many standing room areas behind the 3B field level seats. We were there to get our first close-up look at “Doc” Halladay. And this is what it looked like:
Then we grabbed an ice cream helmet for Tim and a couple drinks for both of us, and headed to our seats…
Jayson Werth stood almost right in front of us in RF. Here is what our view of the three outfielders looked like from our seats:
I brought my wife’s big fancy camera that takes quick sequence shots so I could get the Halladay shots above. I brought it out again for Raul Ibanez. Although I didn’t get anything too special of Raul, the shots are funny when you look at a bunch of them together…
Although he gave up three hits in the early innings, Halladay was dealing all day:
Early on, Pelfey was matching him pitch-for-pitch. But then came the fourth inning when the Phils offense did some damage.
Chase Utley started it out with a single:
Jayson Werth then hit an RBI single that found a bit of Alex Cora’s glove. Had Cora gloved the bloop single, it probably would have been a triple play because Utley was already around 3B and Howard was just a couple feet from 2B.
With two outs in the inning and a 3-0 score, things got real interesting. Tim had done a great job sitting in the seats for 3.5 innings. So I promised we would go back to the play area right after the third out. I packed up our belongings, including my glove.
Shane Victorino then hit a a three run homerun that I came within inches of getting. Here is another panorama from pre-game:
I was in seat number 4. Seats 1-3 were empty giving me a clear path to the aisle. The homerun landed in row 13 just across the aisle from us. The crowd collectively botched catching the ball and it fell to the ground. There was a girl in the first seat and I sort of dove over her in an effort to grab the loose ball. But as my hand was reaching toward the ball, the guy in the green hat (to the far right in the picture above) reached down and grabbed the ball cleanly by his feet. As I reached for it, I knew that guy would have to bobble it on the bare hand grab for me to have a chance. It was pretty exciting, but I missed out. Who knows what would have happened if I had my glove on my hand.
After the homerun, Tim asked me, “Did you smash your head when you jumped in there?” It was pretty funny. (FYI, as I type this, Chase Utley just hit a homerun off of Johan Santana that landed in Section 104 right around our seats).
After the inning, we headed back to the play area, which was over run by kids. It was kid pandamonium. And eventually Tim came out of the play set holding one shoe in his hand. He claimed that he got in a kid traffic jam in the tubes that de-shoed him. That was enough of the play area for Tim. So we got those nachos pictured above and headed back to our seats.
While we were in the play area, Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez hit a two run triple to bring the score to 8-0 Phillies. Pelfrey was long gone. In the eigth inning, Frank Catalanotto pinch hit for the second Mets pitcher (Raul Valdez)…
The Phanatic was pumping up the crowd…
We watched the top of the 9th inning from the concourse behind the 3B dugout. When the game ended, we made our way down to the first row and we were in a good position to get a ball from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa. Well, as good as you can be without being in the diamond club. But Kulpa gave one ball to a 20-something girl in the diamond club and his line-up card to a guy standing with the girl…and then he was gone.
No problems. It had already been an extra-special day.
I took this panorama as the crowd started to clear out…
A couple Mets approached the far end of the 3B dugout and threw a couple balls into the crowd. But we were all alone at the other end of the dug out (still at the spot from which I took that last panorama).
One of the ball tossers was Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello. For some reason, after throwing two balls into the crowd on the far end of the dugout, he walked down toward us and entered the dugout just below us. At the time, he had nothing in his hands, but a catchers equipment bag over his shoulder.
We were just standing there minding our own business when Racaniello took his first step down into the dugout. Right then, he looked up and saw Tim sitting on my shoulders. He looked at us like, “Hey, I got something for you.” He stopped and dug around in his bag and pulled out…
By the way, that is Tim’s green pig “Snortle” sitting on top of the Racaniello baseball.
It was time to run the bases. We made our way to the RF gate. On the way, I took this panorama from section 142…
Kids were already circling the bases. But we had to stop by the Phillies Wall of Fame, which is blocked off during games so fans don’t heckle the relievers in the bullpen (I guess that is the reason, at least). Here are some famous Phillies from the field and booth:
Then, Tim was off to the races:
The Phillies were great because they didn’t have a mob of workers kicking you out the second your kid crossed home plate (like some teams who will remain nameless). So I had time to take this field level panorama…
Great job, Phillies!
All-in-all, it was a great day at the ballpark and Tim was fast asleep only a few miles into our drive home.
2010 Fan Stats:
7 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
4 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)
13 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)
4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
3 Player Photos (Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
On Saturday morning, April 24, 2010, we found ourselves on the 7-train weaving our way through the roof tops of Queens, New York…
Our travels took longer than we expected, so we missed all of the Mets BP and arrived probably half way through the Braves BP. We headed down the 3B line toward the LF corner and grabbed a spot to watch the action.
In our third game at Citi Field, I finally remembered to take a photo of the home run apple while it was “up.” This apple is much bigger than the old Shea Stadium apple and instead of being in a top hat it is just in a random raised opening in center field. Its not a bad home run apple, but I favor the old Shea apple, which seemed to have more of a *kitsch* factor.
During BP, we ran into MLBloggers Joe and Alex, whom we had spent time with last October during a rain-soaked game at Citi Field. Tim just loves hanging out with these guys. The day after this game, he couldn’t stop telling his mom about his buddies (e.g., “Did you know Joe has two dogs?” “Alex shared his peanuts with me!”). Anyway, the four of us headed over to the Braves dugout toward the end of BP and one of the guys took this picture of us on the way through LF…
During BP, I noticed how the seats at the top of the LF upper deck appear to be tucked away under the out of town scoreboard…
…they reminded me of some seats we visited at Rogers Centre last season. I decided we’d have to check out those seats during the game.
Here’s a shot of Tim and Alex in deep discussion about the intricacies of peanut cracking…
Shortly before the game, several Braves came out of the dugout to stretch, run and play catch behind third base. Here is hot shot rookie Jason Heyward…
As the game started, we split away from Joe and Alex and headed toward the kids play area in center field. The Mets have batting cages and a whiffle ball field in CF, but not a playset like at many stadiums. Tim was excited to do some hitting. But on the way out to the whiffle ball field, he asked, “Why isn’t Alex coming to watch me hit?” It was pretty funny. I think he remembered that last season, Alex did just that.
The first thing we noticed was that they moved the batting cages from behind the RF wall of the whiffle ball field to behind whiffle ball infield. Before hitting, Tim worked his way across the outfield shagging balls hit by other kids:
Next, it was time to hit the soft toss batting cage…
After some hitting, we found our way up to the last row of the upper deck in deep left center field…
I was excited to see what this Jason Heyward guy was all about. I ended up photographing all of his at-bats at this game, all from different spots in the stadium. However, he hit the third pitch of this at-bat up the middle for a single…
While Tim kept piling in the nachos (like his parents, he loves nachos!), I got this picture of David Wright…
I took this picture of the big open concourse area above the Jackie Robinson rotunda…
We finally found ice cream in CF. It was packed and we didn’t want to find a place in the sun, we went down under “Shea Bridge” and Tim at his ice cream behind the bullpens.
By the way, last season, the Shea Stadium Home Run apple was stationed right where this table now sits under Shea Bridge. You can *sorta* see the field from behind the bullpens. But there are a couple flat screen TVs on the wall right above the bullpens so we could watch the game while Tim ate his ice cream. We also watched the Braves relief pitchers do some stretching.
Right when we arrived behind the bullpens, Heyward came to the plate…
After ice cream, we explored a bit more. We found ourselves in the concourse behind 1B when Heyward came to the plate in the sixth inning. He eventually walked…
After watching Heyward walk, we decided to check out another new feature at Citi FIeld, the Mets Hall of Fame in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.
Tim posed with the 1969 and 1986 World Series trophies…
….it was cool to see the 1986 trophy because it was the first World Series that I really followed as a kid. However, I was rooting for the Red Sox who had traded during the 1986 season for two Mariners, Dave Henderson and my at-the-time favorite player, Spike Owen.
Tim also stared down legendary Mets manager, Case Stengel…
Before heading back up to the field level, we snapped this picture of Tim…
Finally, we went to the 3B side concourse where we watched the rest of the game from the SRO area behind the seats in (approximately) section 124:
In the seventh inning, Walla Walla Washington’s own (and former Mariner) Eric O’Flaherty entered the game for the Braves….
In the eighth inning, with the Mets leading by a score of 3-1 (the ultimate final score), Jason Heyward almost grounded into a double play (see the ball bouncing in the dirt to the far left)…
In the 8th inning, neither Jose Reyes nor David Wright could add any insurance runs for the Mets:
The only problem is that the Mets ushers religiously check the tickets of all patrons entering the field level seats during the entire game. When it got to the top of the ninth inning (with the home team winning) and they were still checking tickets, I figured it just wasn’t in the cards for this game, which was fine because we’d had a great day at the ballpark already.
But then something funny happened, with one out in the top of the ninth, Alex came walking up the stairs to the concourse. He was looking for us and he was armed with a field level ticket for a section right by the umpires tunnel. He flashed his ticket for the usher and we were all admitted to the seats with one out to go in the game. We met up with Joe just a short distance from the umpires tunnel. We had just enough time to say hi to Joe when Martin Prado (in for Chipper Jones who got hurt somehow during the game) grounded out to end the game.
Even before the ground ball reached Jose Reyes, we were standing next to the umpires tunnel. Tim called out to “Bruce!!!” as he exited the field. Dreckman reached out and set a nice rubbed up gamer into Tim’s left “Go, Deigo, Go!” glove-clad hand (as shown above, Tim likes to wear these gloves at games because he thinks they are like batting gloves). However, with the thick and slick glove on his hand, his left hand wasn’t big enough to palm the ball and he dropped it back into the tunnel. Luckily, another umpire (I think Paul Emmel) saw the whole thing unfold and he picked it up and handed it back to Tim.
Thanks, Mr. Dreckman and (probably) Mr. Emmel! And thanks, Alex, for the assist!
Tim was exited to collect his third umpire ball in as many games this season and he celebrated by balancing it on his head while sitting on the 3B dugout:
We hung out with Joe and Alex for a few more minutes behind the dugout before getting in line for Kids Run the Bases. Tim was excited to chat up his guys a little more.
While by the dugout, something funny happened. A teenage guy was behind the dugout with a baseball and he asked for an autograph from every Braves player and coach who walked into the dugout. He was getting no takers. So, eventually, he asked a Mets stadium attendant standing at the top step of the Braves dugout for her autograph. Finally, he had a taker. Then, he jokingly asked every police officer, security guard or random attendant to sign his ball. I didn’t see him get any more takers. Eventually, he asked Joe to sign his ball. Then, he asked Tim. So, here you go, Tim’s first ever autograph signed for a fan at an MLB game…
Joe helped him hold the ball steady and he wrote a shaky but legible “T-I-M” on the ball. Then for good measure (at the request of the ball’s owner), he did a little scribble next to his “signture.” Tim got a kick out of the experience.
And just like that it was time for Kids Run the Bases. The line was massively long and it took a long time to get back into the stadium. But as we entered though the bullpen area, we were afforded a special behind the scenes glimpse of the bullpen area:
To the left, that is the Moe’s Club right behind the RF wall. There is a restaurant (at least it looked like one) behind this seating area. To the right, that is the little room where the relief pitchers sit in the Mets bullpen.
I got a couple pictures before (right) and after (left) Tim ran the bases…
I also enjoy it when I am allowed to “chaperone” Tim around the bases — something I have now been allowed to do at Citi Field, Rogers Centre, Miller Park and Progressive Field.
After running the Citi Field bases, we headed out to the parking lot and Tim ran the Shea Stadium bases:
Finally, we got a picture with the Shea Stadium home run apple…
…and called it a day. We hopped the 7-train back to Manhattan, picked up some pepperoni pizza and garlic knots, and drove home. After leaving the house at 8:00 a.m. in the morning, we arrived home at about 9:00 p.m….thirteen hours well spent on another father-son baseball adventure.
2010 Fan Stats:
6 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
3 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Mets, & Nationals)
11 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires)
3 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
2 Player Photos (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
2 Autographs (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
2 Kids Run The Bases (Nationals Park, Citi Field)
And on April 10, 2010, so did Tim and I.
From the back of the “backpack” line, this was our first view into this modern yet classic ballpark:
Tim really matured last season to the point where I feel comfortable arriving early for batting practice. So that is just what we did. We arrived just as the gates opened. But, like the other non-season ticket holders (or people who bought “season” tickets on the secondary market), we were stuck in the CF bleachers and the RF flag plaza until the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30.
Here is a (good of Tim and bad of me) self-portrait as we watch out over the Orioles portion of BP.
We ran around a little on Eutaw Street, but mostly hung out in the CF bleachers before the rest of the stadium opened. But Tim, still at only 4 years (not even 4.5 yet), is still too small for me to feel very comfortable in an active BP homerun zone.
At this point, we’re more of the watch-it-from-down-the-baseline type of guys. So the second the main part of the stadium opened, we headed toward the 3B side. I was hoping to run into newly traded former-Mariner Brandon Morrow, who I wanted to thank for his 3 years or service and wish him good luck in Toronto. But he had pitched the night before and we never even saw him on the field at this game.
One of my goals for this season is to try to get more pictures with players. I’m not a big autograph guy. But I like to get in an autograph line by a dugout and ask for a picture when we get to the front. A Brandon Morrow picture was top priority, but it didn’t work out.
As we circled around home plate, I saw Cito Gaston signing autographs at the home plate end of the Jays’ dugout. We headed over there. But he stopped just as we were about 20 feet away and he started walking toward the the batting cage.
I called out, “CITO!”
And when he spun and looked at us (Tim was up on my shoulders looking cute as a button, no doubt), I pointed to a baseball laying on the ground a couple feet from the Jays’ manager and I asked something to the effect of, “Anyway, my boy can get that ball?” And here is how it played out…
As I called out “CITO!”, we were at the beginning of the red arrow and he was approaching the “O” in “Opening” painted on the grass. The ball was on the ground where pictured. As he approached the ball and it was obvious he was getting the baseball for us, we were standing at the red “X.” One problem, there was a big screen in front of us. So we walked down to the end of the screen and I leaned out and bent my glove arm around the screen in a basket for him to set the ball into. After picking up the ball, he walked about 3 feet toward us and then threw it. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to catch it leaning over with Tim on my shoulders and my arm bent around the screen, but it all worked out perfectly. And just like that, we were in business for 2010. One baseball.
Often times, Tim wants to go explore after we get a baseball. He likes to leave the rest for other people. But today, he was so excited he yelled, “Let’s try to get another baseball!”
So we headed off toward the group of Jays pitchers down the 3B line in the outfield. I was still looking for Brandon Morrow. As we passed 3B, Edwin Encarnacion…
…was fielding grounders — not fungo grounders, BP hitter grounders. As we passed him, he sat back on his heals and butchered a hot grounder smoked off of the bat of one of his teammates. I shouted out, “Edwin, that ball is no good. We’ll take it!” He threw the ball over toward the bucket and then turned and looked at us. He gave the “hold on a minute” finger, which is always a good sign to get from a MLB player.
A few minutes later, he fielded a ball, turned and fired it to me, and we had our second baseball of the season, and last of BP. It was time to explore.
I have taken a lot of panoramas of Camden Yards — see here — but almost all of them (or better yet, all of them), are from various spots on the right side of the diamond – CF bleachers, 1B foul, behind home plate. Nothing in LF or the 3B line. So that is where we headed.
Tim led the way through the seats in the sections above cross aisle that rings the field level seats at Camden Yards…
Next, it was time for a very, very special treat. He headed out to the concourse and walked behind third base where a stadium attendant took this picture of a very happy father and son team:
Yes! Orioles ice cream helmets at Camden Yards! In case you are new here, read this and this to see why we were so excited. I do not have confirmation that our grassroots campaign had anything to do with getting ice cream helmets at Camden Yards, but my guess is that it did. A lot of really cool people helped me on the mission and I think it was hard for the Orioles to ignore the people. Power to the people!
We enjoyed the spoils of victory from our ice cream seats along the 3B line, right about where Encarnacion tossed us a baseball about 1/2 an hour before.
I wanted to get a special picture to commemorate this special occassion…
…so I brought one helmet from each team at whose home stadium Tim and I have had the pleasure of enjoying an ice cream helmet. I tried to do an ice cream helmet panorama, but it didn’t come out right. So I cut the bottom row of helmets out of the two side pictures and put them along the bottom of what was supposed to be the middle picture in the panorama. Still, I like how it came out
Its a good collection that I look forward to adding onto this season.
All sugared up, it was time for Tim to get some pre-game exercise. Off to the play area…
The wood play fort the Orioles have had for (at least) the past several seasons was gone. So was the pitching station. But the bouncy house was still there and it was joined by a air blowing batting Tee that Tim loved. We went back several times throughout the game for more bouncing and more hitting.
After our first round at the play area, we headed out to RCF and bought tickets for four more Orioles games — including two Mariners games, a Red Sox game, and a White Sox game.
Then it was up several excalators into the upper deck for more exploring and panorama picture taking. Here is the view from the cross-aisle behind section 378:
The upper deck seats at Camden Yards really go provide a great view — from anywhere in the park.
We continued to explore by walking around the top row of the stadium from the LF corner to a little passed first base. And I took some action shots along the way.
Is it just me or does it look like Vernon Wells…
By the way, we were around section 350 when we took those shots of Wells. And a little closer to home plate when I captured this ugly swing by Lyle Overbay:
On the way, former Mariner Adam Jones hit this pitch to LCF for the second out in the bottom of the first:
Here was the view from our hot dog seats in Section 310:
We sat up here until the fourth and it was 0-0 at that point. We then went to bounce and hit a little more. While we were gone, the Blue Jays scored the first run of the game (and the winning run) on a bases loaded Hit by Pitch. Interestingly, the O’s intentionally walked Travis Snider to load the bases so they could then serve up a bean-ball to Jose Molina.
After bouncing and hitting, we headed to the flag courtyard where we witnessed the ugliest scene we’ve ever witnessed (close up at least) at a ball game, and definitely the ugliest ever at Camden Yards:
Two groups of drunks got into a huge brawl. There were knuckle-sandwiches handed out left and right, people thrown to the ground, and at least one lady who jumped in to try to break it up got pushed out of the way so more knuckle-sandwiches could be administered.
This fight was by far the lowlight, but all in all, this was the absolute worst crowd I have ever seen at Camden Yards. I attribute it to the game being the first weekend night game of the season. The hooligans in town who probably aren’t real O’s fans came out because of the novelty of baseball being back, and they were loud, rude, obnoxious and drunk. Again, not just these guy. These guys just took it the extra step, which hopefully landed them in the back of a paddywagon…I don’t know because I snapped a couple pictures and then got Tim the heck outta there.
Forced out of our beloved standing room area, we landed in the seats down the 1B line. Excellent seats where we stayed maybe two innings.
Somehow, maybe during the fight or maybe during a bathroom break, the Jays scored again and we missed it again. And, interesting, again it involved an intentional walk to Travis Snider to load the bases for Jose Molina. This time Molina hit an RBI single.
In the seventh, I took this shot of Adam Lind…
In the bottom of the 8th or top of the 9th, we landed here, in some of the best foul ball seats around…
…that’s one of the best action shots I’ve ever got between the hit ball captured in the air, Wieters jumping up to try to snag the ball and throw out the would be base-stealer, the runner advancing, etc., etc.
Before the bottom of the 9th, we got our classic Camden Yards behind home plate photo — taken by a nice usher whose wife just bought my same camera and loves it:
All there was left to do was attempt to get a nice rubbed up baseball from the umpire after the final out, a trick we learned last season from the “The Baseball Collector” himself, Zack Hample. We got 3 umpire balls in 2009 and it is a great way to end a great day at the ballpark.
The home plate umpire was 31-year umpiring veteran, Joe West.
Camden Yards is the most relaxed ballpark in the world. The ushers typically don’t care about anything. But the guy in the bright orange jacket two or three pictures up wouldn’t let us go down and take one of the many, many empty seats all around the umpire tunnel. If he’s let us go down, it was almost a guaranteed umpire ball. But it was a no go, so we decided to head out to RF to watch the bottom of the 9th from there before making our way to our car. But on the way out there, we decided to hit the rest room. And then we decided to fill-up Tim’s water bottle. We were in the outer concourse behind 1B, but none of the water fountains were working. So we kept walking to the next fountain.
Once we finally found a working fountain, we filled up Tim’s water bottle and headed back into the stadium to walk to RF on the inner cross aisle. But, little did we know, we were right back behind home plate again…but on the other side of the umpires tunnel. The usher over there was letting tons of people stand in the aisle, so we stood with them.
Down to the O’s final out, Nolan Reimold hit a towering pop-fly to short stop. That’s exactly the kind of final out you want, something (other than a strike out) that requires the umpire to stay at home plate. We were off with the crack of the bat.
We had to weave in and out of a few fans making their way up the stairs. But we reached the tunnel at the same time as Joe West. He gave baseballs to two little kids on the other side of the tunnel. I asked him if he had one to spare for Tim. He nodded and started to reach toward me. I extended my glove. Then he thought better of himself, denied my glove, reached high and gave it directly to Tim. An excellent move by Mr. West. That’s what 31-years experience will do for a guy.
Thank you, Joe West!
And thank you to the nice family whose daughter captured our post game celebration, complete with “Woody” from Toy Story:
On a final sad note, my normal “gamer” green cargo shorts are going to have to be retired. As you can see in that last picture, they tore wide open exposing the inside of my right front pocket to the world. This leave me in quite a bind as I have to decide upon a replacement pair by next weekend. These shorts have been my main game shorts (and bowling shorts) since 2007. They will be missed.
2010 Fan Stats:
2 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays)
1 Ice Cream Helmet (Orioles)
3 Baseballs (2 Blue Jays, 1 Umpire)
1 Stadium (Camden Yards)
We woke up on the morning of August 19, 2008 at home. But the baseball roadtrip wasn’t complete just yet. Tim, my dad and wife relaxed around the house all day while I went back to work. In the evening, Tim, my dad and I headed down to South Philadelphia for the fourth and final game of our first baseball roadrip: the Washington Nationals vs. the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
The entry will be a little light on the pictures because, although it was my dad’s first game at Citizens Bank Park, I’d been there plenty and, following my first game ever at Great American Ball Park and Progressive Field and probably my third game ever at PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park just didn’t seem that special or in need of photographing at this game.
We parked in the Phillies lot to the northwest of the ball park and made our approach…
…we were in for a shock. Veterans Stadium was always at about 50% capacity when I went there and, while Citizens Bank Park always had good crowds, I’d never felt the need to pre-purchase tickets to a Phillies game. Yet, for this Tuesday night game against the Nationals (a team 25 games out of first place), all that was left at the ticket office was standing room tickets and “foul pole” tickets. We made the silly mistake of buying the $24 foul pole tickets rather than the $14 standing room tickets.
Tickets in hand, we entered the park and walked around so my dad could see the lay of the land…
Before heading to our seats behind the RF foul pole, we headed up to the rooftop bleachers walkway where you can get a good elevated view of the ballpark from centerfield…
Then we headed up to our seats. The late afternoon sun was blazing down in our eyes as we headed into our row of seats…
My dad and Tim were sharing a pretzel and were ready for some baseball.
So, how about that foul pole thingy the ticket salesman had mentioned. Here it is, the official “foul pole” obstructed view from Citizens Bank Park section 205, row 10, seat 15:
Well, its not too bad. It could be worst. For instance, if we were sitting in seats 13 or 14 instead of 15-17, we would have had a straight shot at the bulky part of the foul pole.
Here is a closer look of our view of home plate:
Actually, looking at it now, I doesn’t seem too bad. But it was pretty annoying. I was instantly thinking, “why in the world didn’t we go for the standing room tickets?” Really, it didn’t make any sense. That was what Tim and I usually got anyway. I think we got these because my dad wanted to have an actual seat — he’s old fashioned that way.
Anyway, we didn’t stay here long. In fact, I’m not even sure if we were still here when Willie Harris staked the Nationals to a 1-0 lead with a solo home run off of Joe Blanton in the top of the first inning.
I know, however, that we certainly were not in the foul pole seats anymore by the bottom of the second when former Mariner Greg Dobbs hit a sac-fly to score Ryan Howard and even the game at 1-1.
So, if we weren’t in our foul pole seats, where were we? You guessed it, we were in our usual $14 standing room spot.
One our way down to the field level, we swung by and said hi to an old friend who was “hanging out” in the field level 3B concourse…
It was time for an ice cream helmet…
…we went to our usual lady midway down the 3B line. Its as if she doesn’t know how to turn the ice cream machine off. She loads up a single ice cream helmet with enough ice cream to fill two helmets. As you can see, with two ice cream helmets worth of sprinkles topping the chocolate monstrosity, Tim greatly approved.
If you are looking for this uber-generous ice cream lady, go to the Old City Creamery behind section 137…
As happy as Tim was to have a mountain of ice cream, it was too windy for him at our standing counter space in the field level concourse.
So, with the score 4-3 Nationals, we relocated again to our final spot of the night. The standing room area behind section 243 in the LF porch. This spot was great because (i) it wasn’t windy, (ii) the seats behind us were elevated 5-6 feet so we could stand there without bothering the people sitting in the top section, and (iii) there was a big open handicap accessible seating area right in front of us with one one in it.
Of course, Tim wanted to play in that big open area…
…and this provided a very unique experience. The fans in Philadelphia are famous for being…well…not all that nice or polite. But on this night, they’d come to Tim’s aid. Tim was happily playing around in the big open space, not bothering anyone, when an usher who was working the ailse way between sections 243 and 244 came to kick Tim out of that area. She didn’t look happy or nice. She bent over to stearnly address Tim when from all around us we heard, “HEY, LET THE KID PLAY, LADY!!!!!! LET HIM PLAY! LET HIM PLAY! LET HIM PLAY!!”
It was great. The usher was obviously embarrassed by the public attention for trying to rain on a young boy’s parade. I could see a switch go off in her head. She turned to the crowd and yelled something in her defense…I can’t remember what it was. And then she told Tim to “be careful.”
By the end of the night, Tim was literally making her do races back and forth across the length of the handicap area — from section 242 to section 244. She ended up giving him a souvenir Phillies hat (I’ve never actually let him wear it). It was a pretty awesome turn of events prompted by the crowd coming to Tim’s defense.
As a side benefit, since she couldn’t kick Tim out, a couple more kids came to play with him. And she couldn’t kick them out either.
Maybe due to the outpouring of brotherly love flowing from the LF porch area, the Phillies decided to send the entire crowd home happy. Down by one run in the bottom of the seventh, the Phillies tied it up at 4-4 as a result of singles by Pat Burrell and Greg Dobbs followed by a sac-fly by Chris Coste.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Phillies took their first and final lead of the game on a solo home run by Jayson Werth.
Brad Lidge then nailed down the save — his 31st save of the season in 31 save opportunities.
It was official, happiness all around. We celebrated by making that usher take our pitcher in the once-forbidden handicap accessible seating area:
Stay tuned in June for reports from The (Third Annual) Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.
In 2008, we only spent parts of two days in Seattle. In July, we went on an Alaskan cruise with 25 family members to celebrate my grandparents’ 65 anniversary. Our ship docked back in Seattle in the morning on July 19th, and a few hours later we were at Safeco Field for our only Mariners home game, and our final Mariners game, of 2008.
Aside for the final score of the game, it was a beautiful day.
My dad, my uncle Tom, and Tim and I entered the ballpark right as the game started. We grabbed some snacks and watched the top of the first inning from a standing room counter behind section 145:
We had great seats in the field level down the 3B line in the shallow outfield foul territory. My mom, aunt Barb, and my parents friends and co-season ticket holders, Lynn and Steve, met up with us. But it ended up that Tim and I spent most of the game on our own, away from our excellent seats.
We first split off from our family and friends so Tim could get a delicious Ben & Jerry’s chocolate ice cream helmet. But we ended up never returning to our normal seats because the Mariners went down 9-2 by the third inning, and the two people circled in this picture (of Ichiro stepping into the box in the top of the third)…
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The Indians scored three runs in the top of the first on the “strength” of terrible pitching by Miguel Batista. The Indians first inning was highlighted by a homerun by former Mariner Shin-Soo Choo.
In the top of the second, I took this picture of Brian LaHair’s first career at-bat…
Here is a picture of Tim checking our the stadium from our actual ticketed seats:
At the end of the second, we parted ways with my family to grab Tim’s ice cream helmet. We took it to the standing room counter just above the visitors’ bullpen. We were standing right behind Raul Ibanez…
This was Tim’s second career ice cream helmet and his first with real ice cream (not soft serve).
After Tim finished his ice cream, an usher spotted us. The Mariners are very antsy about kids sitting on this counter (or on their dad’s shoulders while standing right here) because on the other side of the counter is a 20 foot drop into the bullpen.
So we headed down the stairs and walked over to the Mariners bullpen. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was warming up…
After watching Dickey, we headed over to RF and watched Ichiro patrol his domain – he had already had an outfield assist, robbing Ben Francisco of a hit by forcing out Jamie Carroll at second base in the first inning.
When we got to those seats, Raul Ibanez was stepping into the box to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Check out the view from these seats!
Adrian Beltre followed Raul with a single.
The Mariners made a push that was too little too late. Ultimately, Raul made his way around the diamond to score the Mariners’ third run of the game. Beltre then scored the M’s fourth run…
Check out these seats! I loved them!
R.A. Dickey entered the game in the seventh…
Yuniesky Betancourt led off the bottom of the seventh for the Mariners…
During and following Yuni’s at-bat, I had an excellent opportunity to take some close-up photos of Ichiro. At the time, Ichiro was riding a six game hitting streak in games attended by Tim, but he was 0-3 so far on the day.
Let’s see what happened. First, Ichiro’s head popped into view over the dugout roof just in front of us…
In the ninth, Ichiro was up for his final at-bat following a two-out single by Yuniesky Betancourt. Ichiro capped the day’s scoring with a 2-run homerun off of his fellow-countryman, Masa Kobayashi. All in all, he had a great day, 2-5 with a single and homerun, 2RBI and an outfield assist.
Unfortanetly, the Mariners just could not overcome the 8 earned runs Batista gave up in his 2-innings of work. Despite the loss, Tim and I had a great time at Safeco Field and couldn’t wait to come back in 2009.
On June 2, 2008, the stars appeared to be aligning themselves for something wonderful. I’d been watching with anticipation the past month. I saw the possibility. But could it really happen?
Then the day arrived.
Ken Griffey, Jr. and the Cinncinati Reds arrived in Philadelphia. It would be Tim’s first opportunity in his life to see my all-time favorite player. And if Griffey could connect for a homerun, it would be his historic 600th blast. It all seemed too good to be true!
Sadly, it was.
I questioned whether the Reds would sit Griff so he could hit number 600 in Cinncinati. But the Reds had 7 more games before returning to Cinncinati. There was no way he would sit 7 games.
At this point, Tim was not quite 2-and-a-half years old. He really wasn’t good for BP and a full game yet. That was just too much. But, we headed down to Philadelphia early for this one. I wanted to maximize our time in Griff’s presence. But when the Reds took the field for BP, Griff was nowhere to be seen. This wasn’t promising for our chances of seeing number 600.
In fact, it ended up that Griff’s knee was acting up. He was not in the line-up.
Anyway, as I said, Tim wasn’t really a BP guy yet. So we did a little touring around the ballpark before the game…
He pushed his stroller all the way up the winding ramps up to the upper deck in the RF foul corner. I took this shot as we turned the final bend in the ramps. That’s Lincoln Financial Field in the background.
I think this was Tim’ first time ever being in an upper deck of a ballpark. He was a little *iffy* about it. I’m not sure if it was because he was uncomfortable being up so high or if it was because the sun was blazing down in our eyes.
We got some french fries and found a nice spot behind Section 106 at one of the many standing counters ringing the field level at Citizens Bank Park…
Seeing Griff play and getting a chance to witness No. 600 was the entire reason we attended this week-night game. With our hopes and dreams for the night spoiled (he would not even pinch hit), we needed to make the night special in some other way.
So, sitting behind Section 137 at Citizens Bank Park, we started a grand tradition…
…we shared Tim’s first ever ice cream helmet!!!
Do you notice there is an extra spoon in the helmet? This being Tim’s first ice cream helmet, he had not yet realized they were too good to share with his dear old dad.
I’d been watching the Reds pretty regularly for 8 seasons by this point (solely to watch Griff), so I was pretty familiar with their team. While standing down the LF foul line in Section 137, it was a straight shot out to Adam Dunn.
In Griffey’s world, Dunn was to the Reds what Buhner was to the Mariners: Griff’s friend and big Texan power hitting neighbor in the outfield.
That last picture was taken in the bottom of the first inning and the Phils were already getting business started. After Shane Victorino singled with one out, Chase Utley staked the Phillies to a 2-0 lead with a 2-run homerun.
For about an inning and a half, it was as if there was no game being played at all.
After Tim finished his ice cream, we headed over to the home plate area, a little off toward first base, so we could get a peak into the Reds dugout…
Tim loves the kids playset at Citizens Bank Park. In the 18 MLB ballparks Tim and I have visited, I’m pretty sure that it is objectively the best play area…
By the way, for perspective for anyone who hasn’t visited Citizens Bank Park, those steel beams above Tim in that picture are supporting the winding walk way up to the upper deck where Tim was pictured above with Lincoln Financial Field in the background. The play area is just to the outfield side of the main 1B side entrance to Citizen Bank Park.
Back to the game, in the top of the 4th inning, as Tim played in the play area, I watched on the Dads’ flatscreen TV as rookie Jay Bruce (the man who was playing RF in Griffey’s place) hit his third career homerun in this third career game.
We headed back out to the field level for the bottom of the 4th in time to see Pedro Feliz (2-run) and Chris Coste (solo) hit back-to-back homeruns off of Bronson Arroyo…
…Tim cheered on as he ate cotton candy (it was a high calorie night for Cook & Son), as the Phillies took a 5-1 lead.
Late in the game, Tim wanted to play around in the field level concourse. I snapped this picture of him hiding in a steel beam…
…he always enjoys standing in these things at Citizens Bank Park. He enjoys the little things in life.
We also ran into three nice ushers out in the concourse who each gave Tim a little souvenir: a Philly Phanatic figurine, a little wood baseball bat keychain, and a Cole Hamels baseball card that was magically pulled from behind Tim’s ear.
Between a solo shot by Juan “Fireworks” Encarnacion in the fifth and a 2-run double by Dunn in the sixth, the Reds would score three more runs on the night, but Coste’s homerun would be enough for the Phillies. In the bottom of the ninth, Brad Lidge nailed down the save 1-2-3 with two strike outs. On June 2nd, Lidge’s ERA was still only 0.75.
Over the next two days, without Tim, I’d make two more efforts at witnessing Griff’s 600th homerun. But he rode the bench both days. His knee was still bothering him. He pinch hit late in each game and walked twice on a combined 9 pitches. I only saw him swing the bat once between the two games. Both at-bats were incredibly intense. The whole stadium was on its feet. Philadelphia fans can be rude and crude and mean. But I was extremely proud of them at these games. They understood they had the chance to see history and I think a lot of them wanted it to happen despite the fact it would have been terrible for the Phillies in both games. At the end of the final game of the series (the only game I didn’t attend and the only one Griffey played), the entire stadium gave Griffey a standing ovation.
Sadly, he went on to hit his 600th homerun in South Florida before a pathetic and heartless crowd. It should have happened before one of those great sell-out crowds in Philadelphia, but at least his wife and kids were able to be there for the historic blast in Florida.