Tagged: Ken Griffey Jr.

Mr. Davis and the Cooks at Safeco Field (8/5/2013)

Who was the first batter at the first MLB game you ever attended?  Personally, I have no clue.

But I can tell you that Frank Catalanotto took “strike 1” when Tim watched Gil Meche deliver the first pitch of his first Major League game back on September 12, 2006.  And I can tell you that Luke French delivered “strike 1” to Rajai Davis with the first pitch of Kellan’s first Major League game back on October 1, 2010.

Our goal has been to meet and get an autograph from each of those guys.  And on August 5, 2013, which marked the first full day of our 2013 Seattle vacation, we finally caught up with Rajai Davis.  Here is the story of that day.

We had four Mariners games planned for the trips.  On our way down to this one, we were happy to have Colleen “Mommy” Cook…

…join us for her first game of the season.

We arrived plenty early and entered through The Pen entrance…

…in left field.

At the outset, Tim hung out with Granpda while Kellan, Colleen and I headed out by the batters’ eye:

There were two baseballs in the grass out there and an usher eventually tossed one our way.

Thanks, Usher!

I then split off from Colleen and Kellan and headed over to the LF corner to check out Edgar’s Cantina.  It’s nice, but I’ll never really spend any time here for at least a decade or two because kids are not allowed in there (which seems silly to me since people drink alcohol everywhere in the ballpark…and all ballparks).  Anyway, here are a couple photos.  First, the view to home plate:

The bar:

And through the window looking into the visitors’ bullpen:

Someone hit a homerun into the Cantina while I was in there.  They put a net over the top of the fans during BP, but the ball still trickled down and made its way into the hands of a fan back toward the bar.

So long, Edgar’s, I’ll come check you out again once the boys are in college or something.

When they opened the rest of the ballpark, Tim and my dad headed to RF for a bit and Yoervis Medina tossed a ball to Tim.

Thanks, Yoervis!

Colleen, Kellan and I headed to foul territory in LF.  We had one major goal for this game:  get a special autograph from Rajai Davis.  I knew the 3B line would be our best bet to make it happen.

As the Blue Jays took the field, the scene looked a little like this:

The three of us went to the lower “X” on the far right side of the photo.  Davis was playing catch with one of his teammates and he was in shallow CF throwing to his partner just behind 3B.

I made a big sign (just like I made for Tim’s first batter, Frank Catalanotto) that read:

RAJAI DAVIS

AUTOGRAPH

PLEASE!!?

When I spotted Rajai out in shallow center, I yelled, “RAAAAAAJJJJJJJAAAAAAAAAIIIIIII” at the top of my lungs and held the sign high over my head.

Davis looked over and gave me a nod and a little “hold on a minute” hand gesture.

Yes!!!

I knew we were going to succeed in our two three-year old Davisquest.

After taking some fungo’d pop flies in LCF, Rajai made his way over to us (and my dad, who had joined us) took a lot of pictures:

Top Left: I’m showing Rajai the photo of the first pitch of Kellan’s first MLB game back on October 1, 2013.  The picture was already signed by the M’s starting pitcher, Luke French.

Top Right:  While a Rueters photographer snapped away, Rajai and I look up to track a ball after hearing the crack of the bat.

Bottom Left:  Rajai points at the picture and mumbles (as if half to himself and half to me), “Ah, Oakland A’s.  Luke French.  Yeah…that’s a good night for Mr. Davis.”  After the game, I checked the box score and found that Mr. Davis went 2-3 with an RBI and 2 walks on the night. Nearly everything went wrong that night.  The M’s lost 9-0.  Thankfully, the one thing that went right was that Rajai was retired on the second pitch of the game.  So Kellan started his MLB career with the Mariners throwing “strike 1, out 1” on his first two pitches.

Bottom Right:  Rajai signs the photo for Kellan.

After signing the photo, Rajai was super cool (and patient) and hung out long enough for my dad to snap a few more photos of us (in which, for some reason, Colleen tried to lean back out of the photo instead of joining us – silly girl):

Here’s a close up of Rajai and Kellan (and me since I was holding Kellan):

And here’s a photo I found after the game by search google for “Rueters Rajai Davis”:

That photo was posted on several sports websites around the world…I’m not sure why, but I won’t argue about it.

Finally, check this out:

How many people have a picture of the first pitch of their first MLB game signed by both the pitcher and batter AND photos with both of the players??  Not many, I am sure.  In fact, Kellan is the only one I know (we are still trying to track down Tim’s first pitcher, Gil Meche).

After our Rajai Davis experience, we headed further down the LF line for a while:

There were so many Blue Jays fans down from Canada that we stood no chance at getting any toss-ups.

Late in BP, Colleen and my dad stayed with the boys in the shady foul territory and I headed out to RF to try my luck at catching a BP homer.  It was really sunny out there…

…and I came nowhere near catching any homers.

Check out my dad, Colleen and the boys (you can only see Tim in this photo) hanging out in LF foul territory…

…behind a line of Blue Jays fans.  I’m pretty sure that there are more Blue Jays fans at BP at Safeco Field when the Blue Jays visit Seattle than there are at any Blue Jays home game.

On my way back over to foul territory, I stopped by the Mariners bullpen to check out the new setup…

…, which is the result of the M’s bringing the fences in for the 2013 season.  Last season, there was a tall chain link fence between the bullpen and the fans.  Now, it is just a low railings.  Much more access and less interference between fans and players.  I like it.

Here are a few views of the newly reconfigured LF area:

Lower Right:  Edgar’s Cantina from the seats next to the LF foul pole.

Lower Left: The hand operated scoreboard is now above Edgar’s and set back 10-15 feet from the field – it used to be right above the OF wall.

Upper Right:  Tim touching the LF foul pole.

Upper Left:  The new standing room area above Edgar’s Cantina.  This area replaces two sections of seating that used to be in LF.

Next, we headed off to the Kids’ Play Area for a bit:

Last season, we concluded that Tim wouldn’t be able to go in the play area this season.  This season, he was a smidge taller than the height limit, but they still let him in with Kellan – and he still had lots of fun.

While we watched the kids play, my dad posed for a picture with the Rajai Davis sign and…

…then I drew a “Hit It Here” sign on the back of the Rajai sign.

Before the game started, we headed back to the bullpen to watch Hisashi Iwakuma warm up for the game:

And then Tim acted like he was throwing this Pepsi sign on our way to our seats:

We made it to our seats in CF in time for Kuma’s first pitch to Jose Reyes:

And that’s when I noticed that one of the Blue Jays’ BP homers had busted the out-of-town scoreboard above the bullpens:

It was like this the entire game, but was fixed by the next day.

For most of the game, my dad and Tim sat next to each other…

…and Colleen, Kellan and I sat right in front of them, with me on the aisle seat.

The game was a pitchers’ dual with R.A. Dickey…

…going pitch-for-pitch with Kuma.

In the bottom of the second inning, Justin Smoak hit an infield Popfly that just missed hitting the international space station…

…and it almost went for a base hit, but for the last minute diving catch by Jays third baseman, Brett Lawrie.

In the second inning, Kellan and I set out on foot for a little adventure.  First, we headed out to the SRO area in CF by the Mariners bullpen:

Check out the shadows on “MarinersVision” in those bottom two picts.  The sun was streaming into the ballpark from low on the horizon across Puget Sound resulting in a shadow of the lighting fixture clock in LF being cast against the screen.

Next, we headed to the SRO bar area Edgar’s Cantina:

I guess, in theory, this is somewhat like the Flag Court in Baltimore or the LF corner in Cleveland, but it is much smaller and is partially covered with an overhang.  Not bad though.

Next up, we headed over to the Mariners team store, where Kellan wanted me to buy him a stuffed Mariners Moose thingy (which I meant to buy later in the week, but forgot to do)…

…and then we headed back to our seats.  By this point, it was the fourth inning and I had to shake my head at the fact that people were still arriving for the game!

In the bottom of the fifth, it looked like the M’s were getting something going.  Dustin Ackley led off the inning with a single.  After Humberto Quintero flew out, Brad Miller slapped a single…

…of his own.  But that’s all the M’s could muster in the inning.  Two more quick pop outs followed and the game went into the sixth inning with a scoreless tie.

Here are some random, mid-game cute pictures of Colleen and Kellan:

We held the “Hit It Here” sign a bunch when the M’s were batting.  But no one ever hit us with a homerun.

I had forgotten about this, but Mariners home games against the Blue Jays are usually annoyingly crowded.  I’m all for tons of fans showing up at Safeco Field.  But I’m not for tons of visiting fans showing up.  I don’t particularly enjoy hearing the crowd at Safeco Field cheer AGAINST the Mariners.  I get enough of that phenomenon when we see the M’s play road games.  When I Seattle, I like the crowd to go crazy IN SUPPORT of my boys in blue.  This was the wrong series to attend from that perspective.

Anyway, due to the large’ish crowd (at least large’ish for a Mariners Monday night game), the people running the play area handed out these cards…

…at the beginning of the game.  They ran 15 minute shifts throughout the night and Tim and Kellan (accompanied by Colleen) had their chance to play a bit more from 8:40 to 8:55 p.m.

While they were away at the play area, my dad came down a row to sit next to me.  Soon, a couple of my high school friends sent me messages that looked like this:

My dad and I made the Mariners broadcast with my “Hit It Here” sign.  I think that picture is pretty funny because (1) my dad is smiling like he knows we’re on TV, (2) I’m doing something weird with my mouth (maybe I was eating something???), and (3) Kellan’s cute little glove looks so tiny on the corner of the chair in front of me (next to my knee).  I only wish they would have put us on when Colleen and the boys were all there.  Tim would have gotten a kick out of that.  Oh, well.

In case you were wondering, he was the Mariners outfield for the game:

Michael “The Beast” Morse, Michael “The Condor” Saunders and Rauuuuuuuuuuuul Ibanez.

And, in case you were wondering again, here is the oddly cool green-based Ken Griffey, Jr. shirt that Tim wore to the game:

So, Justin Smoak led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a massive Smoak-bomb to deeeeeeep RF:

That put the M’s up 1-0 with only sixth defensive outs to go and Kuma dealing a gem on the mound.  I was feeling quite positive about the prospects for an M’s “W”.

But it wasn’t our night.  Kuma gave up a lead off triple to Brett Lawrie in the top of the eighth inning.  After retiring Josh Thole, Kuma gave up an RBI single to Jose “Jose, Jose” Reyes.  Tie ball game.

Funky Cold Yoervis Medina then came in and recorded the second out of the inning.  But then he gave up a single to Jose Bautista, a wild pitch sending Reyes to 3B, and a walk.

By this point, Tim and I were over by the Mariners bullpen…

…watching Oliver Perez warm up:

And just taking photos of the bullpen setup that was still very new to us:

Unfortunately, Perez gave up a 2-RBI line drive single to Mark DeRosa.  That put the Jays up 3-1, and that was the final score.

On our way back to our seats we were hopeful for a Mariners comeback (that was not in the cards).  We stopped along the way at what I think is one of the most unique spots in any MLB stadium – The Pen’s lounge area with open flames:

The boys love that spot.  Unfortunately, you cannot see the game whatsoever from there.

The M’s gave it their best shot, but couldn’t come back.  Final score 3-1 Blue Jays.

After the game, we got some family pictures before heading out:

While we prefer Mariners wins, it is always great to be at Safeco Field, and we left this game knowing we had three more opportunities to see the M’s win at this beautiful ballpark over the course of the week.

Go Mariners!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

20 Games                                                     
19 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers, White Sox, Braves
32 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 4, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4
93 Baseballs – Mariners 13, Royals 4, Phillies 19, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 3, Umpires 7, Reds 9, Nationals 3, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6, White Sox 3
11 Stadiums – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park
33 Player+ Photos – Oliver   Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge”   Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy   Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Rajai Davis
11 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo,   Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez, Rajai Davis

Cook & Son’s MLB Adventures (Vol. 1)

The offseason and January 1st are for remembering the past and looking forward to the future.

As far as remembering our baseball past goes, here’s a video that I made in 2010 that I absolutely love:

I really need to put together Volume 2 soon.

That’s all for now.  Go Mariners!

Tim’s Baseball Log

The offseason has been pretty quiet over here at Cook & Son Bats’ Blog.  But I have received a few comments lately about “my book.”  It is not your ordinary book, and I haven’t really discussed it much (if at all) on the blog.  So now seems as good a time as any to explain a little bit about “The Baseball Log”:

Pictured above, that is Tim’s (the original) Baseball Log in the middle and Kellan’s and my Baseball Logs on either side.

Tim was born in early 2006.  In October 2005, I was eagerly awaiting his birth when my wife’s grandmother passed away.  We had to drive down to Virginia for her services.  My wife stayed with her family for a few more days, but I had to head back to Pennsylvania for work.  Whenever I am on a long drive alone I do a lot of thinking.  On my drive home, I did a lot of thinking about all the fun times I expected to have with Tim going to baseball games in the future.  And I thought a lot about all of the great times I shared with family and friends at the Kingdome watching the Mariners while I was growing up.

Growing up in the suburbs of Seattle, I attended between 10-30 Mariners games a year while I was growing up.  I have a lot of very specific memories of those games:  Ken Griffey, Jr. breaking his arm making a miraclous catch in deep RCF, Game 1 of the 1995 ALCS, catching my only two live game foul balls, seeing Bo Jackson hit two homeruns in a game, Griffey’s 8-game homerun streak, Randy Johnson’s 19 strikeout performance featuring a monster bomb by Mark McGwire, Mike Greenwell singlehandedly beating the Mariners with a 9-RBI performance, a fan running out to CF to ask for Kirby Puckett’s autographs during a game, Nolan Ryan giving up a leadoff hit to Harold Reynolds and then pitching a complete game 1-hitter, and temporarily giving up on the M’s and starting to leave a game against the Yankees in late 1995 but running back into the field level seats in time to watch Griffey blast a monster game-winning homerun.

But for each of those specific memories, there are 10 games or more of which I have absolutely no memory.

As I drove, an unanswerable question came to mind:  “What is the Mariners record in the games I have attended?”

I have no clue and no way of figuring out the answer.

I needed to make sure my son didn’t suffer the same fate.  I wanted to make amazing baseball memories with him…and actually remember ALL OF THEM!  And in that moment while dwelling on that unanswerable question, I invented the answer:  The Baseball Log!

I’m good at tinkering and making stuff.  But I’d never made a book.  It took a lot of thought and planning.  I determined what I wanted to be included in The Baseball Log, and then I figured out how to make it.  I started with fancy resume paper, a thin slice of wood, a side of leather (that I had used to make a baseball glove), some glue, a needle and thread, a leather stamping set, and a computer and printer.  I put it all togther…

…and I made Tim’s one-of-a-kind Baseball Log:

For more than a year, Tim owned the only Baseball Log.  But I started thinking that other people out there might like a Baseball Log of their own.  So I did some research about online self-publishing companies.  I decided on “eBookstand Publishing.”  I did some revising and reformatting.  And, boom:  the “commercial” version of The Baseball Log was born.  I dedicated the book to the biggest baseball inspirations of my life at the time:

FYI, if I had decided to add one more item to that list, it would have been “Spike Owen.”  My original favorite player of all-time.  Curse you Red Sox for stealing my guy!

Anyway, here are the basics of The Baseball Log.  The overwhelming majority of the book is simply page after page after page after page of empty boxes for the owner to fill in their own baseball memories.  Here is a look at the first page of Tim’s Baseball Log:

As you can see, it has spaces for the date, line score info, site of the game, companions with whom you attended the game, and game notes.

I forget the specific number, but I think the commercial version of The Baseball Log has room to record approximately 1,000 games.  Here is a look at a random page of my Baseball Log, which includes Griffey’s 601st homerun, Felix Hernandez’s grand slam off of Johan Santana, and the first game of the First Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip:

NOTE:  The 3-4 games listed on that page are the last two games that I have attended without Tim accompanying me.

Of course, the Baseball Log has a couple pages for the owner to record his or her favorite team’s (hopefully, the Mariners) record in games he or she attends:

The top book in that picture is Tim’s Baseball Log, the middle one is mine (you can see I have attended two more Mariners games than Tim since he was born…and the Mariners won both of them), and the bottom book is Kellan’s (poor guy has only seen 1 Mariners win so far!)

I made one upgrade that I really like in the commercial version of the Baseball Log.  Tim’s book has pages for recording when Tim has seen each team play a game.  I reformatted those original pages into the “Touch ’em All Checklist” where the owner of the book can record the date of the first home and away game for each team he has seen.  Below, you can see that I (and Tim) have seen every MLB team play a road game, and every team except the Royals, Cardinals and Rockies play a home game…

…we will complete this list in May 2012!

There are pages to record Hall of Famers who you have seen play in person…

…once some of the players Tim has seen play retire and are inducted into the Hall of Fame, he will be able to reference the relevant games by page number in the “Memorable Games” column.

I had one more idea that has never panned out…but I still love it.  My hope was that fan assistance office or front office receptionists at the various MLB stadiums would have “received” stamps that they use to stamp incoming mail.  If so, my plan was to get our Baseball Log’s stamped like passports…

…to date, I have yet to find any MLB stadium that had a stamp for our books.  I have discussed this with a guy in the Phillies front office and he loved the stadium passport idea.  Still, nothing has come of it.  But wouldn’t that be great to be able to get a stamp at each stadium you visit listing the name of the team/stadium with the date included?  I’d love that.

The Baseball Log also has spaces to record your favorite players by year, and a bunch of blank pages at the back for autographs (although we have never attempted to have anyone sign our Baseball Logs).

I’ll share one last picture with you.  When I self-published the book, I decided to make it a sturdy hard backed book — just like Tim’s Baseball Log — so it could (hopefully) endure a lifetime of use.  Because it is a hardback, I got to design a dust jacket.  As shown in the top picture, I used a baseball — one I snagged at the Kingdome — and I did some editing to remove the normal writing on the baseball and replaced it with “BASEBALL LOG.”  Here is a picture of the actual baseball that is pictured on the front cover:

I just realized tonight when I took this picture that I took the cover photo of the baseball on July 16, 2007 — exactly three years to the date before Kellan was born.  Awesome!  Makes me feel that Kellan had a little influence on the book years before he was born.

So, there you go:  The Baseball Log.

It is not for everyone.  In fact, it is not for most people.  Even most dedicated fans.  But for the right person, it can be really awesome.

If you happen to be one of the very few people out there who have purchased your very own Baseball Log, I hope you are really enjoying it.

If you don’t have a Baseball Log but would like one.  You can check it out here: http://www.ebookstand.com/book_cart.php?id=2133&order=cart — or here: http://www.amazon.com/Baseball-Log-Todd-J-Cook/dp/1589094719/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327373869&sr=8-1

Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2011)

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:

No fun.

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.

Thanks, Jak!

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.

Thanks, J.P.!

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.

Thanks, Rick!

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.

Thanks, Jim!

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.

Thanks, Scott!

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.

199!

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.

YES!

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,
1 Pirates)
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

The Ohio Cup (7/2/11)

I’ve been trying to get Tim and I to Comerica Park for a couple years now.  It has never seemed to work.  My original plan this season was to work it  into our Texas trip back in May, but the flights just wouldn’t work.  So we came up with a new plan:  Fourth of July weekend road trip to Cincinnati and Detroit.

Cincinnati was up first.  We hit the road in the evening on Friday, July 1st and drove to a hotel in Pittsburgh.  On Saturday, July 2, 2011 we headed off to Cincinnati to take in a game in the “Ohio Cup” series – Cleveland Indians vs. Cincinnati Reds.

But the game wasn’t until 4:05 p.m., and it was only about a four hour drive to Cincinnati.  No matter what, we were going to get there before the gates opened.  So, when we were about 50 miles out from Cincinnati, I called Colleen and asked her to look up the address for Moeller High School – Ken Griffey, Jr.’s high school (and, oh, yeah, Barry Larkin’s too)!

First, we pulled up to the scruffy looking practice baseball field (The Tom Fitz Athletic Fields) behind the school…

…where I imagined Griffey playing ball as a teenager.  We ran the “bases” (there weren’t really any bases) and took some lefthanded hacks (without a bat) at the plate.  Ah, it felt just like we were “The Kid” himself.

Up above a hill out in right field, there were really (really!) nice looking soccer and football fields.  It made me think that there must be other baseball facilities somewhere else.

Anyway, we pulled around to the front of the school and got a few pictures:

In the picture above to the right, Tim is pretending he is Griffey walking into school.

Just as we were able to leave, a guy exited the main doors (where Tim is approaching in that picture above) and started packing some stuff into a van.  I ran over and asked him if he knew where the baseball team plays.  He was very nice and we ended up striking up a 10 minute conversation.

It was probably obvious since we were wearing Mariners clothes and I was asking about the baseball fields, but I felt compelled to explain to him, “We’re ‘Griffey people.’”  His reply was priceless:  “So are we!”

It ends up that the guy was Griffey’s U.S. History teacher back in the mid-1980s.  He shared a handful of Griffey stories with us that were incredibly awesome to hear.  Nothing overly important or exciting.  Just tidbits about Griffey the high schooler and Griffey the man returning home after being traded to the Reds in 2000.  It was a cool behind the scenes glimpse at my all-time favorite ballplayer.

The least shocking story was that Griff wasn’t exactly a model student.  He apparently gave a lot of “I’m gonna play professional baseball” responses when prompted by his teachers to take his schooling more seriously.  They would remind him, “You know, lots of people say that, but it doesn’t work out for most.”  And as his teacher told is, Griff would always assure the, “but it IS going to work out for me.”

If were really the discussions (and I have no reason to doubt it), it certainly looks like Griff proved himself right.

One other story I thought was cool to hear is that Moeller used to use a baseball field a couple miles away that was behind a Thriftway store.  It had no fence and Griff would jack bombs over the outfielders that would roll and roll forever.  He was so good at it that his teammates referred to the field behind the Thriftway as the “Griffway.”

Oh, yeah.  And he mentioned that Griffey spent some time practicing on that scruffy field behind the school, but that’s it.  He never played games there.

And with that, lets continue on to Cincinnati.

Great American Ball Park is interesting.  Downtown Cincinnati (as far as I can tell) is essentially situated on a hill that runs down to the Ohio River.  Route-71 comes into downtown
and cuts across downtown at 3rd Street – at the bottom of the hill – just above the river.  The big downtown buildings are up the uphill side of 3rd Street and Great American Ball Park is tucked into the little space right between the buildings/3rd Street/Route-71 and the Ohio River.  If you park in downtown, you have to walk across the bridge…

…to get to the stadium.  (Those pictures were actually taken after the game…so everyone is walking away from the park instead of to it.)  In the picture above to the right, you can see that the ballpark is tucked between two buildings.  The building to the left the Reds front office and the building to the right is the main team store and the Reds (very cool) Hall of Fame.

Here is a look as you get closer to the stadium…

…and that picture to the left is a huge engraving (I guess that’s what you would call it) on the end of the front office building.

This approach leads you to the gates right behind home plate.  There are a bunch of statues in the area in front of the home plate gate:

In the picture above to the right with Tim facing the statue of the pitcher, Tim explained that he was being the catcher and he was telling the pitcher what pitches to throw.

When we arrived, it was still about 20 minutes before gate opening.  And it was really hot.  We scooted around to the third base gate, where it was somewhat shady, and we hopped in
line.  While in line, we spotted our first (of many) Griffey jerseys of the day:

After entering the ballpark and stowing our two new Dusty Baker bobblehead/toothpick holders, we headed to section 109:

The Reds were hitting, but they were almost finished, and the Indians pitchers were starting to report to the LF line to warm up and do some throwing.  BP got packed quick.  My hunch was that we wouldn’t come away with a baseball from GABP.  But after the Indians pitchers finished up throwing, an Indians batter hit a ball behind 3B that veered over into foul
territory where an Indians pitcher fielded it right in front of us.  When I asked if he could toss it up to Tim, he walked over and handed it directly to Tim.

As he walked away, I called out, “Wait!  What’s your name!?”  He reply, simply, “Tony!”  I thought that was pretty funny.  We’re on a first name basis, you know?  I later checked the roster and found that Tony’s last name is Sipp.

Here is a picture of Sipp walking away from us…

…and Tim smiling for the camera with his baseball:

Thanks, Tony!

Okay.  We had a ball from GABP and that was enough for us.  We’d only been to this ballpark once before so it was officially time to do some exploring.  We started by heading behind home plate, where we got this picture of Tim (again posing with his Tony Sipp baseball):

Tim looks pretty sweaty in that picture, but it is really water.  It was so hot that we kept dousing Tim’s head with cold water.

Here is a panoramic view of Great American Ball Park from the cross aisle right behind section 121:

Next, we headed down into the seats behind the third base dugout and got this panorama from the second row of section 117:

Although no one checked our tickets when we headed down into the seats behind the dugout, I got the feeling that someone was supposed to have done so.  There was hardly anyone in the seats behind dugout, but lots of people down the foul lines and in the outfield.

They definitely were checking the tickets of anyone who dared stand in the front row behind the dugout.  But they did let Tim stand there long enough to get this picture:

There is a big steamboat looking thing above the batters’ eye in CF and Tim requested that we go out there and check it out.  So that’s what we did…well, we tried to.  You can’t actually get out onto that steamboat unless you are part of the group that has the steamboat for the game.

So we just stood around in upper deck next to the steamboat for 10-15 minutes.  Here was our view:

One Indians player in CF was clearly having more fun than anyone else on the field.  I had no clue who he was.  The last group of hitters was only two guys and I am pretty sure they were pitchers preparing for their final interleague games.  They hardly got the ball out of the infield.

But they did get one ball out to the “fun guy” in center field.  He was way out there in CF.  After gloving the baseball, he started walking toward another player in LCF.  I didn’t say a word, but I held my glove up.  As he walked, he noticed us and he threw a laser to me.  It was an amazing throw considering the height and distance the ball traveled.

Here is “fun guy” and Tim with our first ever upper deck toss up:

I took pictures of the guy and tried to get a close up of his glove…where it appeared that his name was embroidered.  In the best photo, I could tell the first name was “Cade” and the last name looked like it started with “Dur.”  The roster told me that Chad Durbin now pitches for the Indians and Wikipedia told me that Durbin has a son named Cade.  So there you go, thanks are due to Mr. Durbin.

Thanks, Chad!

This picture taken later in the day illustrates Durbin’s impressive throw:

Interesting side note, the baseball that Durbin threw up to us is a minor league baseball.  It is so scuffed and dirty that it is impossible to read which MiLB league it is from, but it clearly appears to have the MiLB logo instead of the MLB logo.

Next, we headed over to the LF corner of the upper deck and got this panorama from section 406:

And then we got a picture of Tim from the same spot:

After running up to the top of the seats, we got this panorama from the top of section 406:

Next, we headed over into the infield.  We headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium and found a nice spot where we could get a good picture of Tim with his Chad Durbin baseball and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com scavenger hunt:

After climbing up to the top of section 510, this is what it looked like:

Zooming in, here is a look at the batters’ eye steamboat:

Tim was not feeling the tippy-top of the upper deck.  Too high.  So we headed down to the upper deck concourse.  I kept dousing Tim’s head with water.  When we visited the restroom after leaving section 510, Tim noticed his wet hair in the mirror.  Before leaving the restroom, he asked me to help him spike his hair up into a mohawk.  When we headed back
into the concourse, this is what Tim’s hair looked like:

Speaking of the concourse, this is what it looks like in the upper deck behind third base at Great American Ball Park:

It was time to circle the upper deck and take some more panoramas.  First, section 516…

…section 423…

…a picture of the two of us between panoramas…

…section 430…

…and finally a panorama from the cross aisle above section 436:

That was enough of the upper deck for us, so we headed down to the field level and got this panorama from behind section 139:

Section 139 is right next to the visitors bullpen.  This is what the bullpen looks like:

The bullpens were actually pretty interesting to me.  A lot of stadiums where the bullpens are not side-by-side seem to put the visitors’ bullpen out in the direct sunlight and the home bullpen in a shady area.  The Reds, however, did the opposite.  Pretty early in the game, the visitors’ bullpen was in the shade while the Reds relievers were still in the direct sun.

There is a great standing room area in CF just to the RF side of the batters’ eye.  Here is a panorama that I took from that SRO area just behind section 146:

We were in the SRO area when someone-or-other sang the National Anthem.  Just behind the plate, Mr. Redlegs and Rosie were standing with hands over hearts:

Mr. Redlegs is very similar to Mr. Met.  But if you ask me, Mr. Redlegs is hands down the superior mascot.  The Rollie Fingers ‘stache really sets him apart…as does his retro Reds hat.

We had seats in the direct blazing sun in RF so we started hearing that way.  As we walked behind the Reds bullpen, we noticed something interesting:

Aroldis Chapman was down there signing autographs.  Of all of the players at this game, Aroldis is the player with whom I most wanted Tim to get his picture.  While that was out of
the question, we were hoping Chapman would sign Tim’s baseball from Tony Sipp.  Soon after we arrived at the stairs up above Chapman, he called it quits and walked into a door opposite the bullpen.  We waited patiently.  And then he reappeared.  I called his name and I’m pretty sure that he only stopped because he saw Tim.

When Chapman stopped below us, he was holding a Gatorade-type bottle in one hand and he motioned for me to toss the Sipp baseball down to him.  At this point, he had the drink in one hand and the baseball in the other hand, he motioned for me to toss down our pen.  I figured he would just let it hit the ground and then pick it up.  But he showed some major hand-eye coordination by catching the pen at hip level with his index finger.  It was very impressive.

After he signed the ball and tossed us the ball and pen, I shouted out a big “Gracias, Aroldis!”  That put a huge smile on his face.  During this interaction (and while previously watching him signing autographs), we were probably 10 feet above Chapman’s head and it was impossible to chat with him.  Nevertheless, it was clear that the guy conveys a ridiculously warm/nice/pleasant attitude.  He really seemed like a great guy.

Here is a picture of the Chapman autograph.

Finally, it was time for the game to start.  We headed to the Skyline Chili stand right behind section 103 and grabbed some nachos and a cheese coney…

…and then we headed down to our seats in section 103.  This was our view from section 103, row C, seats 13-14:

It was crazy hot in our seats.  I could tell that we wouldn’t be able to stay in these seats for too long, which was unfortunate because they were great seats.  But I knew we’d last at least a couple innings because Tim was going to town on our big pile of nachos:

It was good to see the Reds play again.  We haven’t seen them since 2008, Griffey’s last year with the Reds.  During his time in Cincinnati, I watched tons and tons of Reds games.  They have a lot of new players since then, and a lot of players that were there in 2008, but have really matured over the past several years.  Like this guy…

…2010 N.L. MVP Joey Votto.  In that at bat, Votto is about to ground out in the first inning.

This was a low scoring game.  The pitching match-up was Fausto Carmona vs. Homer Bailey.  We sat in our assigned seats through the second inning and the score was 0-0.

We were overheating (well, Tim was), so we headed to the standing room area in RCF which is set up as a big misting station.  It really felt amazing in there.  We stayed under the
mist-sprayers for a long time and we got soaked:

Meanwhile, former-Mariner Mickey Brantley’s son Michael Brantley hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the third inning.  That would be all the runs that the Indians would score during this game, and it was all they would need to win.

While we were interested in the game, we were just as interested in seeing as much of Great American Ball Park as we could.  After we were thoroughly misted, we decided to head in the opposite direction of our seats and keep exploring.

As we headed toward the 3B side concourse, we looked up and took this shot of the big toothbrush-style light stands:

We lingered in the SRO area behind section 118 for a while.  It looked like this:

And then we cut through the concourse and found a nice standing room spot behind section 130:

Aside from the Brantley bomb, Homer Bailey was looking pretty good:

An inning after the homerun, Bailey had no problem retiring Brantley on a weak pop up to short stop:

We decided to wander aimlessly around the ballpark and it quickly paid dividends.  We ran into both Slider (the visiting Cleveland Indians mascot) and Gapper (the “B-list” Reds mascot…or at least that is how I would rank him compared to Mr. Redlegs):

In the concourse behind home plate, there is a really cool looking Reds logo set into the floor:

And some cool (and really big) mosaic pictures on the wall…

…check out Ken Griffey, Sr. in the mosaic to the left (of course, Sr. (wearing number 30) was an instrumental part of the “Big Red Machine” back in the day).  Junior has got the Hall of Fame stats, but Senior has got the rings (2 of them).

Behind section 119, there is a big staircase that is mostly blocked off and is used as a SRO area:

That’s where we were standing in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jay Bruce…

…flied out to CF.  I would have got a great action shot of the Grady Sizemore and Austin Kearns running into each other just before Sizemore made the catch, but a lady walked into my pitch and totally ruined it.  Booo!

We decided to stop by at this little bouncy house/slide thingy…

…on our way to the very impressive Reds team store:

Two notes: in the upper right picture, that is a game-used Dusty Baker jersey Tim is pointing to with his thumb and in the bottom right picture Tim is throwing a one-seamer on the
baseball seams on the floor of the team store.

Upstairs in the game-used area, we found this cool old Big Red Machine black-and-white photo on the wall…

…which again features Ken Griffey, Sr. (wearing number 30).  Lets see if I can name the rest of the Big Red Machine (from left-to-right):  Pete Rose, Ken Griffey Sr., Joe “Everyone’s Favorite Broadcaster” Morgan, Tony Perez, George Foster, Johnny Bench, Cesar Geronimo, and Dave Concepcion.

After perusing the team store, we headed over to section 126…

…but just for a minute.  We had our sights on ice cream helmets.  So we headed toward the first base side concourse where we had got our ice cream helmets back in 2008.  As we approached the ice cream place, Mr. Redlegs was approaching walking in the opposite direction.  I asked Mr. Redlegs if he could pose for a picture with Tim.   Mr. Redlegs’ handler
shut us down explaining, “we’re in a rush to get somewhere.”  But Mr. Redlegs was having none of it.  He leaned in and gave Tim a big hug:

Awesome!  Thanks, Mr. Redlegs!

The ice cream helmet line was ridiculous.  It was as if every fan at the game was in line.  We were in line for at least a full inning.  But when we got to the front of the line, it was worth the wait.  They had about 6 (maybe 8) toppings, and they were free and unlimited!

We both got twist soft serves.  Tim got smashed up M&M’s with whipped cream and a cherry (which he got specifically to give to me) and I got smashed up Reese’s pieces.  Delicious.

We reported back to our seats (well, our section at least) to eat our ice cream in the hot sun:

Just for kicks, we got this shot of Tim smiling with a belly full of ice cream:

It was still too hot to stay in our seats for too long.  So we headed back to the misting SRO in RCF.  On our way, we noticed that the Reds had a reliever warming up in the bullpen:

As I watched the game from the front of the SRO area, Tim whipped a wet wipe (from ice cream face clean up) around in the sunny mist trying to make rainbows in the mist:

It is pretty interesting watching the game from this SRO area.  Sometimes it looks like you are watching the game on a HD television.  But at other times, it looks like you are watching it through a thick fog (or mist) or a light fog:

That’s our buddy Tony Sipp pitching in those last two pictures.  He gave up a solo homerun to Joey Votto, but still earned a “hold.”

Here is what it looked like in the SRO area behind section 145 when the mist was blowing in the opposite direction:

We were going to stay at a hotel 3.5 hours north in Toledo, Ohio after this game.  So we decided to head over to the SRO areas behind home plate to watch the end of the game.  The plan was to make a quick exit once the game ended.

Here was our view, once again, from the concourse behind section 126 (or so):

With the score at 3-1 Indians, it was still anyone’s game as the Reds pitched to the Indians in the top of the ninth:

While we were in position, I figured I better get a shot looking into the Indians dugout.  Here is what it looked like:

The Reds needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth and they had the heart of their order coming to the plate.  With one out and one on base, Brandon Phillips couldn’t get anything going:

Phillips struck out for the second out of the inning.

Joey Votto batted next and lined a single to leftfield on this inside-out swing:

With the tying runs on base, Scott Rolen came to bat with two outs as the potential winning run.  But he struck out to end the game.

Indians win 3-1.

On our way out the of the ballpark, Tim did a “rounding second” pose on the “statue” base near by the Ted Kluszewski statue:

We also got a couple fake batting poses to try to recreate a picture that we took outside Great American Ball Park in 2008:

Although we missed a lot of the game because of all of the exploring we did around the ballpark, we had a great time.

And the great time didn’t stop just because we had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us.  It was the night of July2nd and people were out in full force lighting off their own fireworks demonstrations.  Tim had a great time watching the fireworks and didn’t fall asleep until after 11:00 p.m., right we pulled up to our hotel.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
15/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians and Reds; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1))
45 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 2 Indians)
7/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park; Kellan – Camden Yards,
Citi Field]
11/7 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; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Customers Report to Spring Training

I’ve mentioned on here before that there is a Rawlings outlet store in our town.  I’m one of the biggest Rawlings baseball glove advocates in the world.  So, needless to say, I think the Rawlings outlet is just about the best store ever (the Mariners team stores are also excellent).

Tim and I often swing by “the baseball store,” as we call it, on weekends, just for kicks.  And that is where we found ourselves on Sunday, February 13, 2011, as MLB pitchers and catchers began arriving at their respective teams’ spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida.

We weren’t the only ones with the idea.  The place was a buzz with amateur baseballers of all ages.

The trough along the back wall of the store was filled to the brim with an assortment of beautiful gloves of various colors and styles.  Tim gave his mark of approval:

rawlings tim.jpgThis closer view of the trough…

rawlings outlet.jpg…gives a better view of the dark brown and black glove with white lacing that I’ve had my eye on.  I might have picked one up, but the Trap-Eze style was already sold out!  I liked the modified Trap-Eze and one other style, but there is no beating a Trap-Eze.  I decided I should hold out for it to be re-stocked — not that I necessarily need another glove (see below).

When we wandered by one of the bargain glove bins, Tim pulled out this catcher’s glove…

rawlings orioles glove.jpg…and announced, “Look, its an Orioles glove.”

I checked out the “Primo” line of fancy Italian leather gloves:

rawlings primo.jpgThat’s some nice looking leather!  But I don’t need that fancy of a glove.  I think these were in the $300-$400 range.  I’m sure they are outstanding gloves.  But if you know how to treat a glove right, I think you can be just as happy with any of the more modestly priced gloves.  I’ve never spent even $100 on a glove…and I’d put any of my gloves up against the top priced gloves (well, most of my gloves, at least).

Here is the other glove that I really have my eye on:

rawlings training glove.jpgIt is a training glove similar to the “flat” gloves.  This one looks like a normal glove (i.e., it is not flat), but it is really stiff and essentially doesn’t close at all.  By the 2011 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2011, I plan to own this glove and play lots of catch with my dad using it on the trip.

Interestingly, you cannot see anyone but Tim in any of these pictures.  But the place was packed.  People were looking at gloves, trying on gloves, debating gloves (including one dad who wouldn’t even let his son try on the $300 gloves), swinging wood bats, looking at clothing, cleats, batting T’s, baseballs, and catcher’s gear (in fact, Tim asked me to buy him an entire set of catcher’s gear, I did not).  It was great to see that the world is getting back into the swing of things…baseball things, that is.

With all of this talk of Rawlings gloves, why don’t I take the opportunity to share mine??  And how about in chronological order?

Wally Joyner model Rawlings RFM14 (first basemens glove):

Rawlings RFM14.JPGI probably got this glove in 8th or 9th grade, around 1990.  I restrung this glove with green laces in 2010 and featured it in an entry called “The Tale of the Prodigal Glove.”  This glove has the distinction of being my only all-brown leather glove.

Rawlings RBG36B:

Rawlings RBG36B.jpgMy first glove growing up was an old used Rawlings.  I don’t have it anymore.  Aside from the Prodigal Glove, this RBG36B glove was my first “new” Rawlings glove.  It was also my first black glove.  I got this in high school to replace my old Spalding Dwight Gooden signature model glove.  This was my outfield “gamer” in high school and American Legion ball.  It is formed to absolute perfection.  It is also the first glove that I restrung with different colored laces (because I loved Griffey’s black Trap-Eze with brown laces) and the first glove that I installed extra ties between the middle three fingers (see upper right picture).  It sits on my bookshelf in my home office and I almost never use it.  But, of all of my gloves, it is the glove to which I have the strongest sentimental attachment. 

Randy Johnson signature model Rawlings RBG10B (modified Trap-Eze):

Rawlings RBG10B.JPGI wrote an entire blog entry about this glove in 2009:  “Weekend Project:  The Trap-Eze-ification of a Non-Trap-Eze Glove.”  This glove holds an interesting place in my life.  My folks gave me this glove as a gift while I was in college so I could use it for intramural softball — I didn’t want to ruin my RBG36B by using it to catch softballs.  In years of playing softball, it never felt right.  I just couldn’t get it formed to my liking.  Because of this, I really didn’t care for this glove.  And that’s probably why I didn’t mind experimenting with it.  After I turned it into a blue-laced Trap-Eze, it was a whole new glove.  It feels perfect as a Trap-Eze.  It craddles the ball effortlessly.  It went from my least favorite to my most-used glove.  Since the modification, I have taken it to almost every game Tim and I have attended and I now use it as my softball glove.  I absolutely love this glove now.

Rawlings RBG22NC:

Rawlings RBG22NC.JPGIn a new city without any friends (or sons), I found myself at Dick’s Sporting Goods a day after receiving my first paycheck in my first (real) job out of school.  I was looking at gloves, just for kicks, when I found this beauty.  I loved the thatched pocket and grey “Rawlings” stitched on the back of the index finger.  I had no softball/baseball team and no one to play catch with me, but I had a new job and my first paycheck, so I decided that was all the justification I needed to buy myself this glove.  I’ve hardly used it since I bought it and its still not formed to my liking (largely because I let someone else use it and they, lets just say, didn’t treat it in compliance with my standards).  Eventually, I’ll break it in properly in the backyard with Tim (hopefully before Kellan can even play catch).

Rawlings RBG10H:

Rawlings RBG10H.JPGThis glove is absolutely perfect for softball.  I got it to replace my pre-op RBG10B as my everyday softball glove.  I found this beauty in the “blemish” bin at the Rawlings outlet.  I’m not sure why it was in the bin, I cannot find a blemish anywhere on it.  My folks were visiting when I bought this and my Dad bought the same glove at the same time.  Interestingly, they charged him $19.99 for his non-blemished “blemish” glove, and they charged me $12.99 for the same exact thing.  It was the deal of the century because this is a stellar softball glove.  By the way, you can see my Dad’s RBG10B in our GFS Roadtrip entries (see, e.g., here).

Rawlings GG601B:

RawlingsGG601B.JPGThis is my first ever “real” Trap-Eze glove.  I love it.  I bought it a couple years ago at the Rawlings outlet.  I’m very protective of it.  If you ask me to borrow it to play catch in my presence, I will say no (unless, perhaps, you are my dad, brother or Paul Samione).  I have respected (i.e., not restrung) the factory lacing, which is odd for me.  I have not even installed my customary between the finger ties.  I use this glove a lot in the backyard with Tim (or with my Dad when he visits), but I almost never take it to games and I never use it for softball.  Interestingly, this is my only glove that I wear with my fingers slid over one slot to the left (i.e., two fingers in the pinky slot and no finger in the index finger slot).

Rawlings GG12XTCBW:

Rawlings GG12XTCBW.JPGThis is the last glove I have bought – in 2009, I think.  I bought this glove at the Rawlings outleft because I loved the white Trap-Eze lacing and I thought it would be good to have a shorter (infield sized) glove (although I never play infield).  This glove is still very new, but it feels good.  Like the GG601B, I use this primarily around the house.  I did take it to one Mariners game at Fenway on July 4, 2009 —  see here

There you go:  a glimpse into the bustling Rawlings store on the day PItchers & Catchers began reporting to Spring Training and a tour of my person baseball glove collection.  Hope you enjoyed.

Go Mariners!

The Cook & Son Hall Of Fame




underline C&S HOF Logo.jpgThe Cook & Son Hall of Fame was established in 2009 as a way of honoring and thanking certain individuals who, for a variety of baseball-related reasons, are particularly important to Cook & Son.  The Cook & Son Hall of Fame is open to players, coaches, broadcasters, stadium attendants, fans or anyone else who, in the sole and unfettered discretion of Cook & Son, are deemed worthy of enshrinement.

Class of 2009

Phillips C&S HOF Plaque.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jason Phillips

Inaugural Member

Inducted December 21, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

Class of 2010.

Griffey C&S HOF Plaque.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ken Griffey, Jr.

Inducted June 2, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

RRS C&S HOF Plaque.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Rowland-Smith

Inducted June 4, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

Edgar Martinez C&S HOF Plaque.jpg 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edgar Martinez

Inducted December 11, 2010