The 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip is extra special for several reasons. First, it is the Fifth Anniversary of the GFS Roadtrip. Second, we have expanded the GFS roster to include Kellan. And, finally, by checking off Busch Stadium (Cardinals), Kauffman Stadium (Royals), and Coors Field (Rockies), Tim and I would finally have seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game – we had already seen all 30 teams play a road game.
I wanted the Mariners to be involved in the game when we saw our final team play a home game. During the offseason, I decided it would happen in Colorado when the Mariners visited the Rockies in May.
The Roadtrip kicked off on May 12, 2012. We started in Minnesota. It is the first city we have visited on two separate roadtrips. We went to the H.H.H. Metrodome during its final season in 2009. And now we were back to check out Target Field.
But first, we had to get to Minnesota…
…and this will officially be Kellan’s final “infant on lap” trip. He’s getting to be huge these days. But we have a nice flight nonetheless and were greeted by my dad at the gate. His flight had landed about half an hour before ours.
After a brief rest in our hotel room, we took to the streets of Minneapolis on foot – destination Target Field:
We arrived before the gates opened. The crowd at the RF (Kirby Puckett) gate was getting big already. We got some pictures with a couple statues (Kirby and Kent Hrbek)…
…and then headed around the stadium to the shaded Tony Oliva gate.
Our first inside view of Target Field was from the left field corner and the Twins were taking BP:
The Blue Jays were already stretching by the dugout. Soon, they started to walk down the foul line to play catch. Luis Perez…
…gave us a smile as he walked by so I asked if he’d pose for a picture with Tim and Kellan. He said he would after he played catch. I asked, “Ah, then, could we get your warm up ball when you’re done too!?” He said yes and then headed off to play catch.
But then he must have decided he didn’t want to forget about us, because he walked back over to us a minute later and handed Kellan our first ever baseball at Target Field.
One of our big goals of this game was to get Rajai Davis to sign Kellan’s first MLB pitch picture. We soon spotted him playing catch just behind third base. Unfortunately, he was on the field side instead of the foul line side. Anyway, Kellan and I went over there on the off chance we could hook up with Davis:
In the picture above to the left, Rajai is all the way out in CF playing long toss. While we were watching Davis play long toss, the on-field security guard to the right grabbed a ball that had been hit against that protective screen and he walked over and handed it to Kellan.
Thanks, Security Guard!
That was it for BP as far as baseballs go.
And we never got any closer to Davis. He drifted off into CF after finishing playing long toss.
Kellan and I headed back toward the corner spot where Tim and my dad were still waiting on Perez to finish playing catch and come back for a picture…
…, but it was too hot and sunny and Tim surrendered to the sun. He was going to burst into flames if he waited any longer for Perez. So, sadly, we did not get a picture with a Blue Jay.
Instead, we headed toward home plate. We noticed that they let you down into the dugout seats (inside the Moat) during BP. Here is a panorama from within the moat:
Next, we grabbed some water for the boys. And then Tim and grandpa headed off to the team store and Kellan and I headed to the shady spot in RF. On the way, he fell asleep:
Tim and grandpa met up with us and we hung out here for the rest of BP:
Once BP ended, we headed up to the upper deck in the outfield to check out the stadium. An usher was kind enough to take a nice picture of us:
That picture was taken here:
Tim can be temperamental about getting his picture taken sometime…probably because he’s been photographed about 100,000 times in six years. Anyway, I wanted to get our Target Field bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, but for some reason Tim was adamant that he didn’t want to be in it – just Kellan. So, this was “take 1” of the bonus picture:
Here is what it looks like from the front row of the section just below the CF Target Field sign:
While we were up there, we found a couple of the statues from past all-star games and Tim did funny poses with both:
As we continued to circle around to LF, Tim and I headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium. Check out how steep the steps are in the LF upper deck seats:
Here is what it looks like from the back row up there:
Behind 2B, they had a softball homerun hitting contest set up. Two fans faced off against the hardest hitting mascot ever:
The mascot blasted 6 bombs on 7 swings, including one that hit the back wall of the upper deck.
Then we found another all-star statue. I think this one might be for this season:
After that picture, Tim declared he was extremely hungry. Instead of nachos, he wanted pizza. We walked and walked and walked before we found pizza, but finally found it. And we also found the most awesome food item in the history of Major League Baseball…
The NACHO HELMET!
For the record, our nacho lady only filled ours half way, which was plenty for me and Kellan, but every other nacho helmet I saw all day was overflowing the top of the helmet. We ate our nachos in our seats in the last row (row 10) of section 141:
I really liked these seats. They were great.
Joe Mauer, P.J. Walters and (I’m guessing) the Twins pitching coach headed in from the bullpen for the game to start:
These three dudes were all set for the first pitch of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip:
And this was it:
We were desperately needing a water refill, which required me and Kellan to walk all the way behind home plate to find a water fountain. On the way, we saw Jose Baustita bat up close:
All game long, the concourses were absolutely packed:
For the first 3.5 innings, it was a scoreless pitchers’ duel between P.J. Walters and Drew Hutchinson (two guys I had never heard of before this game). To that point, this foul ball by Joe Mauer was one of the offensive highlights of the so-far uneventful game:
Eventually, Kellan needed to get moving. We headed to Target Plaza so he could stretch his travel-weary legs:
After running around for a while in Target Plaza, we headed upstairs in CF. At the deepest part of CF, this is what the concourse looks like:
While I took some pictures, Kellan worked his arm muscles and abs:
Then we took a look at the bullpens:
And deep LF:
And straight away LF:
Then it was time for another leg workout. Kellan ran up and down this ramp from the field level to the upper deck about 3-4 times:
At the top of the ramp, Kellan wanted a solo picture posing with the Twins pig:
And then it was more running. He ran a lot!
Eventually, we headed back to our seats through the field level concourse. I took a picture from the concourse behind the odd seats in deep RCF:
They are tucked under the upper deck seats.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Hutchinson loaded the bases and then walked in the first run of the game for a 1-0 Twins lead.
Before sitting down again, Kellan and I grabbed some two-toned dipping dots helmets:
Those are some sweeeeeeet helmets. I love ‘em. These are our first two-tone helmets.
You can see this in some of the panoramas, but I figured I should take a picture of the “have’s” seating on the fancy side of the moat:
On the last game of the 2011 GFS Roadtrip, Johnny Damon hit a ball off the top of the RCF wall at the Trop. They called it a homerun. I could tell with my unaided eyes that it had hit the bar on the top of the fence and bounced back onto the field without leaving the ballpark. They reviewed it. And eventually Damon was told to head back out to second base.
In the top of the sixth inning of this game, Jose Bautista became the second player in as many GFS Roadtrip games to hit a disputed shot to the wall:
With my unaided eye, I could tell it bounced in the bushes above the OF wall and it should be a homerun. I was right. After stopping for a few minutes at 2B, Jose was told to finish his trip around the bases:
The boys were growing restless and I still needed to tour around the upper deck in the infield. We decided to make it a four-man trip. First, we headed to a little hallway on the second deck on the 1B side where Tim got his picture with a model:
And then we headed all the wall down the RF line in the upper deck – where the usher told me to reposition myself to take these pictures (I must have been blocking the view of some people in a downtown building because there was nobody (and no seats) behind me):
Then we walked around the upper deck:
There were a lot of people in the concourse up there too. Unluckily, as you circle around home plate, there is an elevated walkway so you can stay out of the concourse.
Circling around home plate, I asked an usher to take our picture…
…and he warmed me that the sun would blast us in the face in the photo.
As we walked, I continued to take photos of the field…
…and of my boys and dad:
As we walked, we saw an awesome play. Someone hit a foul pop up behind 3B. The Jays short stop Yunel Escobar rushed back to make the play, but he bobbled the ball up into the air and Jays left fielder Jose Bautista swooped in to snatch it out of the air for the rare 6-7 put out:
Tim and I climbed to the highest seats in LF for this picture:
And at the bottom of that section, I snapped this cute picture of Tim, Kellan and my dad:
As we headed back to the RF corner to head down to the lower level, Joe Mauer launched a deep drive. It was the craziest I have ever heard a crowd go for a double:
We headed back to our seats, but then I realized I never went up into the RF bleachers. So Tim and I headed over there. On the way, we took this picture of the worst SRO area ever:
All you can see is the right fielder and a TV screen. On the plus side, it is completely shaded (under the RF bleachers).
The connection between the RF seats and the CF seats makes for some crazy angles at Target Field. I wish I had done a better job photographing it. But I did get this awesome picture of two lone seats at the top of a mini-flight of steps:
Then we *scaled* the RF bleachers. It was like rock climbing, I would imagine. At the top I got this panorama:
And this photo of nervous-from-the-height Tim:
Here are some fun angles that make it look like the bullpen is at the bottom of a hole:
And then it was time to slowly walk back down the steep steps:
Approaching the stairs down to Target Plaza, I got this picture of the plaza…
…and one of Tim in front of the Twins Live set.
Late in the game, Bautista was on first base and I was just sure something was about to happen. I was right, they tried to pick him off first unsuccessfully:
It was dark now and the ballpark signs looked great – check it out:
The Blue Jays had pulled ahead to a 2-1 lead, and they held on to win the game, which pleased Tim. He had declared the Blue Jays to be his team to win early in the game.
After the game, I had an usher take a family shot of us…
…and it took Tim a few minutes to realize I had duped him into posing for a Target Field bonus picture. Haha!!
On our way out of the stadium, Tim (in quite possibly his oldest looking picture ever) showed his respects for the Great Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist (#18):
So there you go. One game down on the Roadtrip. Another great night and another great stadium. In the morning, we would drive to St. Louis for a couple games between the Cardinals and Cubs at Busch Stadium. It would prove to be a super long drive, but well worth it.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|5/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|9/8 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins|
|6 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2|
|25 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1|
|3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2|
|5/4 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak|
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)