June 9, 2012 was a fun day. My folks were visiting from Washington and we all headed out to Pittsburgh for Ballhawkfest 2012 featuring an interleague battle between the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates or, as it would turn out to be, the Kansas City Monarchs against the Homestead Grays.
We had a full day on the 9th so we drove out to Pittsburgh the night before the game and stayed in a hotel. The first order of the day was to play a little homerun derby. PNC Park regular and mygameballs.com member Rick Sporcic had booked us an incredibly interesting ballpark called Officer Paul J. Sciullo III Memorial Field. As you can see from this panorama:
There is a bridge directly behind/above the tall chain-linked centerfield fence. And it was definitely in play.
The derby crew was small, but all the guys were cool. In addition to me, Tim and my dad (my mom and Kellan played around in the shade in deep CF/RF), there was Rick Sporcic, his buddy Hunter Stokes, Ballhawkfest veteran Garrett Meyer, Ballhawkfest veteran Alex Kopp, and Alex’s dad Mark Kopp.
I was in the outfield most of the time and didn’t have my camera. So I only got a few pictures, mostly taken by Tim and Garrett.
Here is Garrett taking some hacks against Rick:
I didn’t get any pictures of Rick hitting, but he was definitely the batting champ of the day. In his second round, he hit approximately 800 homeruns.
Garrett got some cool pictures of Alex pitching to me:
I hit about 5-6 homeruns onto the bridge. Several went to CF where the bridge wasn’t very far from home plate. My best hit went to LF and I was surprised when it carried all the way to the bridge. In the following photo, I’ve laid our derby park on top of PNC Park so I could see how far my longest homerun went:
I was shocked by how small the derby park was when I put it on top of PNC Park. But, you know, any time you’re hitting a baseball over an outfield fence it is fun.
Here is another picture that Garrett took that shows one of my homers sailing onto the bridge:
One of the best parts of the derby (which I completely failed to capture on film) was watching my dad hit. He was lacing some hard line drives all over the park and eventually hit one bomb to leftfield.
Good job, pa!
After two rounds of homerun derby, we finished up with Garrett pitching to Tim:
Tim put on a good show. He even took some successful lefty hacks.
After lunch, we all headed over to a local restaurant. Two noteworthy things happened at the restaurant. First, the service was horrible. We had to wait for our food…
…for close to an hour. This ultimately resulted in our bill getting cut in half by the manager. Second, Milwaukee’s Best, Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohanek, and his wife April showed up. They missed the derby because they had a morning flight in from the dairy lands of Wisconsin.
After lunch, even with the long delay, we had a good chunk of time before the gates would open at PNC Park. My folks, the boys and I passed the time with a visit to the Duquesne Incline:
Eventually, it was time to head to PNC Park. PNC was Kellan’s 12th MLB stadium. This was also my mom’s first game at PNC Park. I’m not sure of her stadium total, but let’s see if I can figure it out. I’ve been to games with my mom at: Safeco Field, the Kingdome, The Big A (as a kid), Dodger Stadium, Oakland Coliseum, Veterans Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Camden Yards, Fenway Park, new Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Tropicana Field. Okay, so my mom might be tied with Kellan at 12…but, then again, she might have been to the Astrodome with my dad before I was born. Hmmm…not sure.
Anyway, as we approached PNC Park for my mom’s and Kellan’s first time, my mom and Tim got their picture with the Willie Stargell statue:
When the ballpark opened, Rick took over and ended up getting all of us non-season ticket holders into the stadium with the season ticket holders.
While almost everyone else huddled up in LF, we got Tim’s picture with the Pirate Pig…
…and then headed over to RF foul territory:
RF foul territory is a pretty good spot to hang out in during BP at PNC Park. A lot of the time over there, it was just us Cooks or us and Zac Weiss.
When we arrived Jeff Francouer was playing catch with a football in front of the 1B dugout. He was a little past 1B and his partner was close to home plate. His partner tossed a few balls past him and I kept yelling, “Hit me, Frenchie! Hey, I got a tight spiral!” He thought it was pretty hilarious, but didn’t let me get in on the football tossing action.
Charlie Morton tossed us a baseball pretty quickly after we arrived:
About thirty seconds later, a Pirates batter hit a foul down the line. I caught it on one big hop.
Shortly thereafter, Juan Cruz tossed a baseball to Tim…
…and Tim made a nice catch on it.
Right after throwing the ball Tim, Cruz grabbed another baseball and tossed it to my mom. So everyone had a baseball already:
Double thanks, Juan!
I gave my glove to my mom so she could patrol the line with my dad and the boys:
My mom didn’t get any other baseballs, but my dad could 4-5 on the day.
It was a great time down the line. In addition to a bunch of baseballs, we pictures with three players. First, Tim (and sort of Kellan) got a pitcher with hard throwing Kelvin Hererra:
I didn’t know it before this game, but Jose Mijares is super nice and really likes kids. He saw Kellan standing along the wall with his glove and walked over and put a baseball into Kellan’s glove. Then he handed out some high fives to both boys:
I really wanted to try to get a picture with Yuniesky Betancourt and/or Johnny Giavotella (to whom one of my friends from New Orleans had asked me to pass along a message that New Orleans is rooting hard for his success). They ended up taking some grounders together:
And then Giavotella came over and posed for a picture with Tim:
And I passed on the news that his home town is rooting for his success (which I imagine wasn’t too much of a shock to him). He seemed like a real nice kid.
While the Royals pitchers were running sprints in the outfield, Greg Holland…
…fielded a batted ball and tossed it over to me and Kellan.
Then righty-former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt went on a tear hitting foul balls down the RF line. I caught one of Yuni’s one-hoppers.
My dad got one of his that was sliced into the seats just behind the handicapped seating area. And then Tim snagged one that Yuni sliced into the seats right where my dad had already got one from Yuni. It was the first *hit* baseball that Tim had ever snagged on his own:
And he loved that it had a nice scuff mark from hitting the concrete.
Tim’s baseball from Yuni was our last baseball of the day. Tim and Grandpa both wanted to see if they could get Yuni to sign their baseballs (they never got near him) so they headed over to the wall just past the dugout:
While Yuni never stopped by, Humberto Quintero did, and he posed for this picture with Tim:
Toward the end of BP, my folks went off to tour the stadium a bit…
…while the boys and I hung out with Matt Peaslee and Erin Wozniak¸ who we know through Matt’s Pittpeas MLBlog and met in person for the first time last year:
Matt and Erin are good people, and huge Pirates fans. Follow Matt on Twitter and you will always know when the Pirates win a ballgame (NOTE: Matt just tweeted that linked tweet exactly when I typed this part of this blog entry!).
After parting ways with Matt and Erin, we grabbed some ice cream helmets and headed out to LF for a group shot with most of the Ballhawkfest guys:
Everyone had success and BP. All told, I think we combined to snag over 50 baseballs as a group. Not too shabby.
After the group photo, we headed to the picnic tables by the Alleghany River to eat our ice cream…
…do some ballpark birding…
…, and play some catch.
And then it was game time. We had some lovely seats in the four row of section 137:
When the teams took the field, we realized it was Negro Leagues throw-back day. The Pirates were sporting Homestead Grays uniforms and the Royals were representing the Kansas City Monarchs:
I thought both uniforms really looked great, with a slight edge to the Monarchs uniforms. I really liked the look of the red and grey Monarchs uniforms paired with the Royals royal-blue spikes (shown below).
We had the first five seats on the aisle…
…, which worked out great for Kellan (as we’ll see below).
Yuniesky Betancourt kicked off the scoring in the top of the third inning with a 2-run homerun to LF:
I also enjoy seeingYuni do well. A lot of Mariners fans like to rag on Yuni, but I’ve always liked the guy. I liked him as our short stop. And I like him for being an incredibly nice member of the brotherhood of former-Mariners players.
Good job, Yuni!
I was all set to catch a game homer…
…or to help Kellan catch a between-inning warm up baseball. But neither came to fruition.
Section 137 is only about 6 rows deep and Kellan spent almost the entire game walking up and down the stairs between rows A-F. A lot of the time, he hung out right at the fence:
While Kellan was playing in the aisle, Tim and a blast (as he always does) with this grandparents:
I thought this was one of the funniest pictures of the night:
Kellan was working a strong game with the ladies sitting out in LF too:
By the way, did you see the Elivs Presley guy sitting in row C? That was his gimmick because we were sitting behind Pirates leftfielder Alex Presley.
By the way, I should mention that the Royals scored their third (and final) run of the night in the top of the fourth inning to go up 3-0.
But then the Pirates came charging back with five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
That put the Pirates up 5-3, and that score would stick.
There was an odd play late in the game. I can’t remember who the batter was. But he hit a single to CF that Andrew McCutchen totally booted:
The ball rolled to the CF wall giving the batter second base for free. But the batter came flying around 1B and bit the dust — face first into the infield dirt. He had a retreat to first base and, because he didn’t take second, McCutchen didn’t get charged with an error.
Here is a look at the “Monarchs” with their royal blue shoes:
Around the 6th or 7th inning, we headed to the pizzeria behind the left bleachers. This big pepperoni pizza…
…was only $21. That would normally be expensive for a pepperoni pizza, but for ballpark pizza, that seemed incredibly reasonable. I was thinking a whole pizza would cost $45 or something like that!
After eating, we took a little tour around the upper deck. We stopped in at section 318:
Where we finally got a good look at the front of the “Grays” jerseys:
My camera has quickly been turning into a piece of junk this season. It completed the metamorphosis at this game. Here is a great family picture that my camera completely ruined:
Tim grabbed onto his grandfolks…
…and we headed out to section 301 down the RF line:
This is what it looked like from the cross-aisle in section 301:
We then hustled back to our seats and watched the rest of the game from our seats. The Pirates held on and the Parrot came out to *Raise The Jolly Roger*:
But our day wasn’t finished just yet. After the game, the boys saw their first concert:
A washed up and reduced to 3-members, Boyz II Men.
All-in-all, it was a great day!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|12/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates|
|19 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3|
|69 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 4, Pirates 3|
|11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1|
|10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park
1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
|5/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Johnny Giavotella, Kelvin Hererra, Humberto Quintero; Kellan – Willie Bloomquis|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|
On September 12, 2011, Tim had a rough afternoon. He fell on the playground at school, banged up his knee, and had to go see the school nurse:
But don’t you worry, things were about to turn around for young Tim. Today was his Fifth MLB Anniversary and we were about to have an awesome evening of baseball at Camden Yards.
You might have noticed that Tim had a little turtle that he has been bringing to games the last couple months. His name is “Shelly” (yeah, he’s a boy!). Tim got Shelly at the Baltimore Aquarium the day after Kellan’s first birthday and he loves that little turtle like crazy.
On our drive to the ballpark, Tim devised a plan revolving around Shelly:
First, he wanted Shelly to get his first baseball at the game. Second, he wanted to get a player to sign the ball for Shelly. I told Tim we’d do our best to achieve these goals.
The first goal would not take long. I bought cheap (super cheap) but good (really good) tickets on stubhub, but they were not “season” tickets, and we were running late and arrived after the ballpark opened and Avi Miller was already inside the ballpark.
So we were stuck in CF-RF for about 10 minutes upon entering the ballpark.
We wandered down into section 90 to see what was happening. A few moments later, former-Mariner Chris Jakubauskas…
…saw me put on my Mariners jersey. Jak ended up calling to one of his Orioles teammates who had a baseball. The teammate tossed the ball to Jak and then Jak waved and then tossed the baseball to us.
Tim promptly declared that this baseball was for Shelly:
The last couple minutes before the rest of the ballpark opened to non-season ticket holders ticked by ever so slowly. But finally we were permitted to make our way into RF foul territory and around home plate. We were going to head down the foul line toward the LF foul pole. By this time, the Rays were hitting and the Orioles had all exited the field. As we past third base and the infield dirt, the batter hit a soft grounder that rolled to a rest in the grass behind short stop. Rays pitcher J.P. Howell ran over from shallow CF, grabbed the ball, waved to us and made a long throw our way.
Mere seconds after gloving the ball, a familiar voice came from behind us, “That’s J.P. Howell.” It was our friend and future
Orioles Fan Hall of Famer Avi Miller.
Avi knew it was Tim’s fifth MLB anniversary. Although he was wearing a Rays hat…
…, Avi announced that he had brought a Mariners hat in honor of Tim’s anniversary. Very kind, Mr. Miller.
The three of us walked down the line toward the foul pole and a Rays batter hit a grounder down the line and directly to the on-field usher (Tom) who was standing directly in front of us. Tom grabbed the ball and turned and gave it to Tim. Big thanks, sir!
Avi headed back out into left field and Tim and I stayed put. It was an unusually small BP crowd. But after hanging out in foul territory for a bit, Tim wanted to head out into LF as well.
As Tim and I circled around the foul pole, a batter hit a baseball to the wall just below us. There were really no fans anywhere around us. When Juan Cruz walked over to retrieve the baseball, I said, “Hey, Juan. Any chance we could get that baseball?”
Cruz looked right at us with a odd (but otherwise indescribable) expression, and then turned and walked away without saying a word.
So, we headed out to section 186. Not too much was going on. We chatted a bit with Matt Hersl. We chatted a bit with Avi. At one point, Avi asked if we knew a player’s name…
…it was Juan Cruz. I told him that I was pretty sure it was Juan Cruz, but he’d given us a really weird look earlier so maybe I was wrong. Hmm…maybe I’d call him the wrong name?
Nah…I looked in our little book where I record all sorts of stuff. Yep, Juan Cruz had tossed us a baseball earlier in the season…and my list confirmed that his name was, indeed, Juan Cruz.
Eventually, someone hit a laser line drive homerun directly over our head. I jumped for it and it probably sailed less than a foot over my glove.
Like two seconds, I heard someone yell (at us) from the field. It was Juan Cruz! I was utterly confused. He was probably 2-3 sections over toward the LF foul pole. He held up a baseball and pointed at us. I wasn’t sure if he was looking pointing at us or someone else. Tim was standing directly in front of me. In fact, I had my hands on his shoulders as I looked at Cruz with a confused look on my face. (A little backstory, I am incredibly terrible at deciphering what people with accents are saying, and Cruz is from the Dominican Republic, but for some reason it sounded like he was yelling with a thick southern accent). He yelled
something that was completely indecipherable to me:
Cruz – “BLAH, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”
Todd – (confused) What!?
Cruz – “BLEE, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”
Todd – (even more confused and not even sure if he was yelling at me or someone else!) “What!?”
Cruz – “BLEE, CAH, BLAHHHH!”
Todd – (really embarrassed by this point) “What!?!?!?!?!”
Cruz – (pointing at Tim directly in front of me) “BEEEEE CAREFULLLLLL!!!!”
Ah, ha. Finally, it all made sense — he didn’t want to hit Tim with his throw!
Todd – “Oh, okay!”
And then he threw me a strike.
Thanks (and sorry), Juan!
After the baseball from Cruz (already our fourth of the day), the main highlight of the rest of BP was that James Shields made a ridiculously awesome catch, leaping high over the wall in LCF to pick off a would-be BP homerun.
Wait, there was another highlight during BP. Tim got his picture sitting in one of Camden Yards’ two orange seats (the one where Cal Ripken, Jr.’s 278th homerun landed), and then Shelly got his picture in the Ripken orange seat too:
Wait, again, there was still one more highlight of BP. At one point, Tim and I were chatting with one of the Orioles regular leftfield ushers (Miss Kelly). After attending a bunch of O’s games over the last couple years and hanging out with Avi and some of the
other LF regulars, Kelly clearly recognized us. But I was pleasantly surprised when she actually knew Tim’s name! “Wow,” I thought to myself, “If an usher knows us by name, I guess we are officially *quasi-Camden-Yards-regulars!” I like it!
After the Rays cleared the field, the extremely small crowd of BP-goers cleared out of LF except for us, Avi and one or two other guys. There were tons of BP homers strewn about the ground in the Orioles’ and Rays’ bullpens.
After a while the pitchers, catchers, and coaches headed out to the bullpens. Former-Mariners pitching coach and current Orioles pitching coach was kind enough to toss us a baseball from the Orioles bullpen.
Adair also noticed our Mariners shirts and stopped to chat a bit. He asked Tim who his favorite player is (Ichiro) and his favorite pitcher (Tim faltered, but then agreed when I suggested Felix Hernandez). I told Adair the story of my mom getting one of the Rick Adair prank t-shirts that Ken Griffey, Jr. had made during spring training in 2010. He got a kick out of that.
After Adair left, another Orioles coach (or a guy who at least seemed to be a coach) came over and started talking to some fans and signing some autographs. We decided to put Tim’s pre-game autograph plan into action. It worked perfectly, and now we are proud to say that Tim’s little turtle Shelly is the proud owner of a baseball from Rick Adair bearing a personalized autograph from Orioles Hall of Famer Scott McGregor:
Nice! Thanks, Scott!
It was getting close to play area time. But we hung out for a few more minutes. Eventually, Rays coach Jim Hickey entered the visitors’ bullpen:
There were still probably three BP homers laying in the grass. Avi asked Hickey for one and he responded, “You’re too old!” He then turned and weakly tossed a ball in our direction. But it didn’t clear the fence and it bounced down into the stairway that leads from the back of the bullpen down to the bullpen bathrooms. His second toss was on the money.
Interesting side note, someone else later tossed the other ball (the one that Hickey failed to get over the fence) to Avi.
That was it for our field-area pre-game festivities. We’re typically pretty good at getting 1 or 2 baseballs during BP. But due to the incredibly small BP crowd, we amazingly came away with six baseballs! It was pretty crazy.
Aside from a game in 2010 when we got 10 baseballs (including 7 easter eggs), we had never gotten more than 7 at a single game.
Interestingly, we had come into this game sitting on 191 baseball since Tim’s first game. Coming into the game, I did not even consider the possibility that we would have a chance to approach the 200-plateau at this game. But with six baseballs in our backpack, I began to wonder. I jokingly told Avi that *all we needed* was to get 3 baseballs during the game to hit 200.
There was still no way I thought it could happen, but in the back of my mind, I thought it would be pretty cool to do it because Tim had gotten his first baseball on September 12, 2006 and his 100th exactly one year earlier on September 12, 2010. How cool would it be to hit 200 on September 12, 2011? Pretty cool, was my thought.
But enough with the wild speculations, we had a play area to get to.
Tim started out by posing for (another) picture with one of the big bird bobbleheads (this time with his trusty companion, Shelly):
And then he played like a mad man:
As play areas go, Camden Yards is always a fun one. Lots of things to do and not too crowded to have fun.
As game time approached, we grabbed a hot pile of nachos…
…and our awesome $5.00 tickets from stubhub:
Actually, that view is from row four of section 10, and our seats were actually about 10-15 feet to the left in row 4 of section 12. Anyway, the seats were awesome, and there was a constant possibility that the ballgirl would catch a foul grounder and give it to Tim.
I mean, check this out:
The ballgirl was sitting just on the other side of the guy in the blue shirt and blue hat. She did get a grounder early and gave it to
the son of the guy in orange directly in front of Tim in that last picture. But we didn’t stick around in these seats (we need our freedom to move around!) long enough to see if she’d eventually give Tim a foul ball.
Here’s an interesting picture:
I took it because the Orioles’ first base coach’s last name is “Kirby,” and that is also the name of our awesome black lab (interesting fact: my wife and I met at a dog park thanks to Kirby!). The picture is also interesting because it shows home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. Cuzzi has given us a post-game baseball once before. Hmm…I wondered if he might do it again. We’ll have to wait and see.
The Rays got on the board first in this game. In the top of the third inning, the Rays scored three runs on a 2-RBI double by Ben Zobrist and an RBI single by Sean Rodriguez.
Despite the awesome seats and very real possibility of getting a foul ball from the ballgirl, Tim wanted to roam. And so, we roamed. First, we tracked down the highly accessible Orioles Bird:
Then it was time to grab a 5th Anniversary ice cream helmet. We decided to head out to LF:
Here is a panoramic view of Camden Yards from our very, temporary seats in section 80:
When Evan Longoria stepped to the plate, I sent Avi a less than prophetic text declaring that I was about to catch Evan Longoria’s homerun (note: Avi, in fact, caught Evan’s first homer of the 2011 season). In reply, Avi mentioned that he was sitting a couple sections to our left; over by the bullpens. So, after Longoria failed to hit a homerun to me, we relocated to section 86, where Avi delivered on his promise to wear a Mariners cap in honor of Tim’s 5th MLB anniversary:
Over the next several innings, we sat in a lot of different seats in section 86, but here is just one of our short-time views of the ballpark from section 86:
We spent a lot of time during the game hanging out by the Rays bullpen.
Right below us during a big portion of the game, was Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi:
That hyper-crazy look on Tim’s face was induced by a three-pronged attack on his senses – chocolate ice cream, chocolate sprinkles, and chocolate sauce! Only on his MLB anniversary!
I had no clue what Cursi’s name was, but Avi did and he passed on the info to me and Tim. Had it stuck in my brain a little better, it
might have paid off in a big way. In the bottom of the sixth inning (with the O’s trailing 4-1), Orioles catcher Matt Weiters hit a homerun that was hearing almost right to us. But it was a tiny bit to our left (toward centerfield) and not quite far enough to reach us. The homerun landed in the Orioles bullpen, bounced over the wall into the Rays bullpen, and right to Scott Cursi. We were literally the closest people to Cursi at the time. I wanted to ask him to toss the homerun ball up to us, but “Scott” just couldn’t get off of my tongue. Before I could recall his name, he rolled the ball back toward the bullpen bench. It rolled past the bullpen and to a police officer stationed at the other side of the bullpen. The cop set the ball down against the back wall of the bullpen for a few seconds. Eventually, one of the players gave him the “it’s okay” sign, and he tossed the homerun ball to a fan above the bullpen. Shucks!
At one point, Tim went down a couple rows and visited with…
…Avi, Flava Dave (glove on head) and Tim Anderson (Markakis jersey). In the picture above, Tim is taking great joy in pointing out the Dora the Explorer backpack in the Rays bullpen.
So, late in the game we were still sitting on 197 lifetime baseballs. I continued to tell Avi in jest that “all we need is three more balls
before the end of the game” to reach 200! But it wasn’t looking it was going to happen – and why would it? I doubt we have ever got three baseballs after the start of a game before – certainly, we have never gotten three baseballs after the seventh inning stretch.
But this was Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary! Magic was in the air!
In the seventh inning, Scott Cursi gave a baseball to a Rays-fan Dad who was celebrating his daughter’s first birthday game (hey, if it was also her first game, she has a great MLB anniversary!). After he tossed up that baseball, I called down, “Hey, Scott, it is not my boy’s birthday, but it’s a really special day for him. Any chance he can get a baseball too?” Cursi responded in the affirmative. Then he walked over to his equipment bag (bullpen catchers always have a bunch of loose balls in their
equipment bags!), pulled out and examined two different baseballs, and then tossed one of them to us.
I was super-excited. Could 200 actually happen on Tim’s MLB anniversary? We relocated down by Avi and the guys next to the Orioles bullpen. Avi had seen us get the ball from Cursi. “Just two more!”, I reported!
In the eighth inning, our buddy Chris Jakubauskas started warming up for the Orioles…
…he was pitching to Orioles bullpen catcher (and Avi’s chum) Ronnie Deck. Avi was optimistic that Deck would assist us in reaching the 200-plateau on Tim’s MLB anniversary. When Jak threw his final pitch, he walked off of the mound without waiting for a return throw from Deck. Ronnie jumped to his feet, and I yelled out, “Hey, Ronnie, can we get the baseball, please!?”
Ronnie took 2-3 almost exaggerated running steps toward the bullpen bench, and then stopped on a dime, spun, and tossed us the baseball over the fence.
Holy cow, I thought, this might actually happen!
We knew what had to happen. “We’re heading to the umpire’s tunnel, I announced to Avi, Flava Dave, and Mr. Anderson!
Luckily, this was one of the least attended games of the season. The crowd was particularly sparse with the O’s trailing 5-2 going into the ninth inning. The ushers were checking tickets and we were able to take the ideal seats beside the umpire tunnel:
As the ninth inning progressed, Tim and I chatted with the guy who sits beside the tunnel and punches the buttons that displays the pitch information (speed and kind of pitch). I tried my best, but I failed to correctly decipher a single pitch.
As the game drew to a close, I kept waiting for kids to storm the tunnel area, but it wasn’t happening. Finally, Mark Reynolds struck out to end the game…
…and Phil Cuzzi walked back to the net behind home plate. After the field crew quickly opened the entrance to the tunnel, Cuzzi stayed put. He was waiting for his three colleagues to join him before he exited the field.
The mustachioed usher on the other side of the tunnel had brought a little girl down to make an attempt for an umpire ball. But the little girl and Tim were the only kids in sight while Cuzzi waited for the other umpires. I looked around expecting a flock of kids to run to the tunnel. It never happened.
As Cuzzi ducked under the net and entered the tunnel walkway, it was just the little girl and Tim who were waiting for him. I could not believe it. Our 200th baseball seemed like a guarantee at this point.
First, Cuzzi placed a baseball into the little girl’s hands. Next, he turned around and spotted Tim. He reached out and placed a beautiful, rubbed up gem of a baseball into Tim’s (actually Kellan’s) baseball glove.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Cuzzi!!!
On the fifth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball, and the first anniversary of our 100th baseball, Tim held up his glove with a smile and displayed our 200th baseball:
I truly could not believe it. Aside from the 7-easter egg fluke game in Cleveland, we had never got nine baseballs at a game. It was like the baseball gods were smiling down on Tim trying to make his 5th MLB anniversary as special as possible.
Mission accomplished, baseball gods!
As the fans filed out of the stadium and the relievers made their way to the dugouts, Tim got a post-game photo with Flava Dave:
And then we spotted a couple Rays players lingering along the foul line wall. He headed over there and Tim autographs from
and Tim’s picture with rightfielder Brandon Guyer…
…and third basemen Russ Canzler:
Before heading for the gates, we got a final Father-Son Camden Yards picture by the dugout:
When I looked back at the field on our way up to the cross-aisle, I noticed something funny – Brandon Guyer had jumped the wall and was standing with the fans (who I suspected were his friends and family) in the seats:
On the way out, we stopped on Eutaw Street so Tim and Shelly could say good-bye for the offseason to Ken Griffey Jr.’s deep RCF homerun maker:
And (okay, that other picture wasn’t the *final* father-son picture), I took a parting shot of Tim and I on our way out of the gates:
It is always sad when we know we will not visit Camden Yards until the next season.
Tim said his respects to Babe Ruth…
…and then we called it a night.
It had been an amazing…
…Fifth MLB Anniversary for Tim.
September 12th is quickly becoming one of my very favorite holidays!
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|29/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|19/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]|
|23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).|
|91 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 6 Marlins,
|13/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]|
|18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen,
Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star|
On September 6, 2010, Tim and I managed a first: a multi-city doubleheader with a day game at Nationals Park and a night game at Citizens Bank Park. It was great fun. Our only regret was that we were able to get one baseball during BP in D.C., but we did not get a baseball at the night cap.
So turning to the 2011, I wanted to do a couple more multi-city doubleheaders. I originally had three of them on our schedule, but my wife (not wanting Tim to get too exhausted) asked me to scale it back to just one. So I picked May 7, 2011: Rays vs. Orioles at 1:05 p.m. followed by Braves vs. Phillies at 7:05 p.m.
We woke up just knowing it was going to be a great day.
We were in the car by 8:30 a.m. and, after drawing a bunch of pictures, Tim ended up napping most of the drive down to Baltimore:
In addition to going to the games, we had an extra task to accomplish in Baltimore. I had made a bat for a guy named Mike Jasser who reads our blog. Mike and I had arranged to meet up before the game so we could deliver the bat.
In the parking garage before meeting Mike, I had Tim pose for a picture with Mike’s bat:
Although we had exchanged emails from time-to-time over the past year, I had never met Mike before. Turns out he’s a cool guy. We ended up hanging out together (along with several of the Camden Yards regulars) during most of the game and it was a lot of fun.
When we entered the ballpark at 11:00 a.m., the field was set up for BP, but there was practically nothing happening on the field. A couple Orioles pitchers were warming up down the 1B line so Tim and I grabbed some seats in the first row to watch them.
And Tim busted open a pack of peanut butter crackers. Tim could easily eat nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and crackers and live a happy life.
There were only 4 Orioles playing catch and another Orioles pitcher (Josh Rupe) was running in the outfield. When Rupe finished running, he walked over to us, reached out and set a baseball in Tim’s hand.
Before he could walk away, I declared that I needed to ask Rupe a funny question. He agreed to listen.
Todd: We’re in a photo scavenger hunt and I was wondering if you could take a picture of yourself with my camera?
Rupe: A picture of myself?
Rupe: With your camera?
Todd: In fair territory.
Rupe: In fair territory? Sure!
Rupe backed up into fair territory, looked around like he was thinking about something, and then explained, “I’ll face this way so you can see the foul pole and tell that I’m in fair territory!”
Here is Rupe’s handiwork:
As Rupe handed the camera back to me, he said, “If anyone else asks me to do this, I’ll say ‘no’ so you win the scavenger hunt!”
Thanks, again, Josh!
Still, not much was going on. The day’s starting pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie, was stretching on the warning track in the RF foul corner:
We headed over there to chat with Guthrie.
Todd: “Hey, Jeremy! I can’t believe that Zack didn’t write about you in his book!”
Guthrie: “Its disgraceful! Man, I gave him a baseball on the last day of Yankee Stadium. And I play catch with him all the time!”
Todd: “That’s inexcusable!”
A few minutes later, someone hit a ball in the corner right by Guthrie.
Todd: “Hey, Jeremy. If you toss that baseball up here to us, I promise I’ll write about you in my book…not that I actually have any plans to write a book or anything.”
Guthrie chuckles, but didn’t toss us the baseball. Hey, it was worth a shot.
After a bit, Tim and I headed over to LF to say hi to Matt, Avi, Zevi and Mike. They were all doing their best to catch BP homeruns. But I’m not a big fan of hanging out too long in homerun territory with Tim during BP – too many hard hit baseballs flying around. So we headed around the LF foul pole into foul territory where a couple Rays pitchers were playing catch.
As we passed behind the foul pole, Vlad Guerrero launched a homerun about 20 rows over our heads. Here is a graphical reenactment:
The baseball took a huge bounce down about 10-15 rows. Then it took a second smaller bounce that found its way into the pocket of my glove. Hey, a Vlad Guerrero homer is a pretty darn cool baseball to get. We’ll take it.
Thanks, Vlad (even if you didn’t specifically intend to hit that ball to us)!
Finally, we found our way into foul territory and watch two Rays who we did not recognize play catch. They warmed up their arms, then played long toss, then one of them pitched to the other, then they switched places and the other guy pitched. When they finished up¸ the second “catcher,” who ended up being…
…Juan Cruz, tossed us their warm up baseball.
Three baseballs in hand and the sunny beating down on us, we decided to hit up the kids’ play area. First, Tim did some pitching:
He actually went to this pitching station a couple times. His second time on “the mound” he pumped three consecutive strikes into the little strike zone box on the wall. So he left the cage and gave me a big thumbs up.
Next, he posed with the big yellow bobblehead:
Followed by some bouncing in the bouncy house and some running, climbing and sliding on the fort-thingy:
Finally, he did a little hitting off of the air tee:
The Orioles really have a first class kids’ play area now-a-days. Good job, O’s!
When we headed back out to the field, the grounds crew was finally ripping down the BP cage and nets. We walked around the inner-walkway toward LF and found some seats in the shade. Vlad Guerrero came out to stretch so I figured I should get a picture of him since we caught his BP homer:
Right when the game started, Tim wanted to go back to the kids’ play area. So we retraced our steps on the inner-walkway. On the walk, I got this shot of Evan Longoria…
…taking a big hack, which I believe produced a foul ball.
When we reached the play area, Tim got a picture with another big bobblehead…
…and took some hacks in the big kids’ batting cage:
…Tim is a good hitter, but the bats they use in these cages (like the one at Citi Field) are often times too heavy for him to swing. But he did okay swinging the lightest bat the Orioles provided.
After the kids play area, we met up with Mike Jasser in the RF flag court. Tim LOVES the flag court. Here he is hugging a flag pole:
Then he asked where the Mariners flag pole was (in the A.L. West last place position…for now) and, after making a game out of running to the wrong flag over and over, he finally found his way to the Mariners flag and posed for this picture:
While Tim was hugging and bouncing off of flag poles, I saw the Orioles Bird walking by in Eutaw Street. We ran out and got this picture:
After the picture with the Bird, we were standing around chatting in the flag court when Evan Longoria launched a homerun into the left field seats. We could see that either Matt or Avi caught the ball. It looked to me like Matt caught it.
I asked Mike if he wanted to go over and meet Avi, Zevi and Matt. He did so the three of us started walking to LF around the picnic area in CF. On the way, I texted Avi and asked if Matt caught the homerun. As we circled around the picnic area, Avi texted back that HE had caught the ball. Big congrats to Avi!
Before heading into the seats, we went and bought some nachos. As we were walking through the concourse, Mike said the funniest line of the day: “Man, I feel like I’m walking around in one of the blogs that I read.” And, hey, I guess he was doing just that.
When we got into the seats, I snapped this picture of Avi and his homerun baseball, flanked by Matt (and his glove) and Zevi:
Around this time, B.J. Upton hit a ground rule double into the seats in RCF. The fan who caught it launched it back onto the field, which prompted several fans sitting about 10 rows behind us to start mentioning loudly that whoever caught the Upton ball was a “real fan” because they tossed it back. Avi ignored these silly statements and instead took some shots of Tim playing with his mustard dog:
We had a very relaxing time out there in LF. Most of the scoring in the game was behind us. So we just relaxed and chatted:
This was the Fox Saturday game and Avi noticed that Fox had put up a green screen behind home plate…
…so Fox could show their own advertisements during the game.
We were sitting right behind breakout star outfielder of the season, Sam Fuld:
During this game, he had a nice diving catch and picked off a homerun that Mike would have been all over had Fuld not made the catch.
Of course, Tim enjoyed a chocolate ice cream helmet while we lounged in LF. While we were off buying the ice cream, I got this panoramic view of the new and improved Camden Yards concourse:
After finishing his ice cream, Tim asked if we could go get a picture with the Orioles ballgirl down the 3B line. On our way, we got this panoramic view of Camden Yards from (I think) section 62:
The ballgirl was happy to pose for a picture with Tim:
But Tim was let down when the ballgirl didn’t have an autographed ballgirl card for him (like the Phillies ballgirls).
Before we headed back to LF, a fan asked if we wanted him to take our picture. Sure, we did:
Right at the end of the game, Avi, Zevi and Matt headed over to the Rays dugout and Mike decided to hit the road a little early. Before parting ways, we got a picture with Mike…
…in which Tim is posing like he’s too cool for school.
The Rays were winning by a score of 8-1 and it was already past 4:00. I was hoping to be on the road by 4:00 so we could hopefully catch a little bit of BP in Philadelphia. We wanted to stay for the entire game, but to make our exit process more efficient, we decided to watch the bottom of the ninth from the tunnel in straight away CF.
Here is what it looked like as we hoped (unsuccessfully) that Vlad Guerrero would make the final out of the game:
After the Orioles scored one last run, Felix Pie made the final out (for an 8-2 Rays win), and Tim and I high tailed it for our car. Tim played with his little baseball action figures for a bit…
…but then fell asleep for a majority of our drive up I-95, through Wilmington, Delaware, and into Philadelphia.
We made great time until we reached the outskirts of Philadelphia. Ultimately, we missed batting practice. If we were going to get a baseball at two stadiums in one day, it would have to be during or after the game. A tall task for Citizens Bank Park.
Luckily, we had amazing seats. Here was our view of Citizens Bank Park from Section 131, row 3, seats 17-18:
FYI, seat 18 is on the aisle of the section 132 staircase.
Aside from getting food twice, we stayed in our seats this entire game. It was a great spot for taking pictures of the action at home plate. Here are some shots of Jason Heyward…
…and Chipper Jones…
…neither of whom got a hit in their first inning at bats.
Braves pitcher Julio Teheran made his MLB debut at this game. The first batter he faced in his Major League career was Jimmy Rollins…
…who laced a single down the RF line.
Ryan Howard came looking to drive J-Roll in:
The Braves put on an interest shift:
Instead of shifting the SS to the other side of 2B, they brought chipper Jones all the way from 3B to the 2B position. But the Braves didn’t need the shift because Howard grounded out to 1B.
Although Howard couldn’t push a run across in the first, the Phils took a 1-0 lead in the second when Pete Orr hit an RBI ground out.
It was time for some dinner. Tim and I had a thorough discussion our day’s meal plan. Should we go hot dogs for lunch in Baltimore with nachos for dinner in Philadelphia? Nachos in Baltimore and hot dogs in Philadelphia? We for nachos in Baltimore. So…dinner…what would it be….
And after being ridiculed by Avi in Baltimore for wasting some excess cheese, we were sure to finish all of our dinner nacho cheese with the help of some crackers we brought with us from home.
In the fourth inning, Ryan Howard beat the shift be going way, way over it. He blasted a homerun over section 101 and into the Phillies bullpen. Here he is about to score the second Phillies run of the night:
Although it may not look like it in this picture…
…the place was rocking, and so was the Liberty Bell. The bell tolls back-and-forth and lights up all red, white and blue when a Phillie hits a homerun.
So the fifth inning rolled around and it was looking like our attempt to get a baseball at two stadiums in the same day were fading. Our best opportunity would be to go for an umpire baseball, which is really difficult at Citizens Bank Park.
But with a runner on first and no outs in the top of the fifth inning, Alex Gonzalez strode to the plate. On the first pitch from Kyle Kendrick, Gonzalez hit a soft foul grounder right to the Braves 3B coach Brian Snitker:
Snitker gave us a baseball last season at PNC Park and that was the only reason that I knew his first name. It came in handy. I bounced to my feet, jumped down into the first row, and right as Snitker fielded the foul ball I called out, “Hey, Brian!!!” and I flashed him my glove.
A soft underhand toss later…
…and Tim’s first foul ball of his life (albeit via toss up)…
…made Citizens Bank Park the second stadium at which we’d caught a ball on May 7, 2011. Mission accomplished. I was incredibly excited. As shown in the last picture, Tim was equally excited by the fact that he had just found a quarter on the ground (I didn’t tell him that it was actually our quarter that simply fell out of my pocket) that was facing heads up (backstory: Colleen told Tim its good luck if you find a penny laying heads up on the ground, and Tim has decided that the rule applies to any and all coins).
We celebrated with a gargantuan Phillies ice cream helmet. Our special ice cream helmet lady made it so big that when I scooped the top portion and put it in our Orioles helmet from earlier in the day, we both had full ice cream helmets:
Note: when given the choice, Tim chose to eat his share of the ice cream from the Orioles helmet at this Phillies game.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Phillies brought in reliever Michael Stutes:
A couple years ago when my company softball team was playing a game against the “AA” Reading Phillies front office softball team, Stutes and Mike Zagursky heckled my team mercilessly. This was the first time I’d seen Stutes pitch in the majors. Now, I can say that I’ve been heckled by two (future) Major Leaguers.
Stutes gave up a hit, but got out of the inning without giving up any runs. At this point, the score was 3-0 (Victorino had an RBI triple in the fifth to score the third Phillies run) and that ended up being the final score.
In the eighth, I got another picture each of Jason Heyward…
…and Chipper Jones:
Both popped out. Tim thought the name “Chipper” was hilarious and, following his first at bat, he joked about it for much of this game.
This was a really fun game. Among other things, Tim and I chatted a lot with two Braves friends from California who sat right behind us.
I asked the guy if Braves fans had gotten over Brooks Conrad’s 2010 post-season errors. In a tone implying he did not care what other Braves fans thought about it, he answered with a matter of fact: “I’m not.”
Our seat neighbors were thrilled for Tim when we got the Gonzalez foul ball. The lady kept saying she wanted to “rent” Tim so they could get a ball too. But in the end, they didn’t need to rent Tim. When Ben Francisco grounded out to end the bottom of the eighth, none other than replacement first basemen Brooks Conrad fired the third out ball to the happy Braves fan. I think it was the first baseball he’d ever got at a game, and he and his girlfriend were quite happy about it.
I turned to the guy, “He must have heard you say that you weren’t over his errors!”
In the ninth inning, the Braves fans were nice enough to take this shot of me and Tim:
[Note: the possessed-looking little girl sitting in front of us and oddly looking back at the camera in this picture stared at Tim for like half of the game. It was bizarre. The Braves fans’ theory was that she was jealous of Tim’s stuffed Mustard Hot Dog toy that he was holding for much of the game.]
So, the Phillies own. We were totally content with the Gonzalez foul ball so we didn’t even make an effort to get an umpire baseball. However, we did end up getting one more baseball after the game. We were just standing above the dugout when Brooks Conrad poked his head out of the dugout. All of the other players were gone. When I say Conrad, I said, “Hey, Brooksy” like we were buddies. Brooks nodded, pulled a baseball out of his pocket, tossed it to me, and then pointed to Tim on my shoulders like “hey, that’s for your boy up there.”
Before heading out, I took this picture of us with Tim holding his Gonzalez foul ball and his coveted Mustard Hot Dog:
Another fan saw our self-portrait and offered to take our picture for us. Here was his effort:
On our slow walk up the stairs, an usher gave Tim a little Phillies Phanatic figurine. At the top of the stairs, Tim had us stop so I could take some pictures of his Phanatic and each of the four baseball players he brought with us to the game:
It was time to head out. On our walk to the car, Tim got his picture with a statute of “Mr. Baseball” Connie Mack:
And, another picture by our car with the stadium in the background
Two games, two stadiums and over 13 hours after leaving home that morning, we were on our way home once again. Tim actually started awake chatting with me in the car for about half an hour. But eventually, he crashed:
It was yet again another awesome day. You gotta love baseball!
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|7/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|8/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, and Braves; Kellan – none]|
|4 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies)|
|20 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves)|
|3/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – none]|
|10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]|
|*includes Spring Training|