On May 26, 2013, we woke up in Windsor, Ontario. We had one more baseball game scheduled for the 2013 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip, and it was waiting across the river from us, back at Comerica Park.
The game was scheduled for a 1:08 p.m. start time. We decided to do breakfast back in the good ol’ U.S. of A. so we hopped in the car, motored through the Tunnel to U.S.A. and crossed the border for the final time on our trip:
We had no clue what we would do for breakfast. We thought maybe we would pass a nice looking restaurant on our way to the stadium. I wasn’t sure how the morning would go if we didn’t get to eat anything until the ballpark opened around 11:30. But we were there before we knew it and didn’t find any breakfast. Oh, well…we’d figure something out…
We parked in the stadium lot directly across the street from the batters’ eye. Tim caught some pop flies…
…before we set out to see the ballpark.
Because we were running late the day before, we hadn’t gotten a chance for my dad to see the outside of the ballpark. We headed to the LF corner and circled around toward the 3B side. Here are some sights along the way:
From top right and moving in the shape of a “W”: (1) Tim and my dad are standing just outside of the LF gate with Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions) behind them; (2) walking down the street from LF toward the home plate end of the ballpark, we walked by the ferris wheel; (3) circling around the corner just passed the ferris wheel, Tim and my dad in front of a fancy tiger door; (4) a little further down the side walk, Tim and Kellan posed with a fancy tile Tiger “D”; and (5) just passed the players’ entrance, Tim posed with a plaque for Ty Cobb the “Greatest Tiger of All, A Genius in Spikes.”
As we kept walking, we circled the next corner and found ourselves outside the coolest ballpark gate in all of Major League Baseball:
This gate is so big and bold and awesome that it is pretty much impossible to get all of the awesomeness into one picture, so here are some more:
Hey, guess what!? See those windows below the two tigers in the photo above to the right? Well, inside those windows is a diner…
…where we were able to feast on pancakes and bacon! Hooray! Isn’t it great when things work out?
After breakfast, we headed to the coolest gate in all of baseball and set our stuff down first in line. And then we played catch a whole bunch. Eventually, I started throwing pop flies to Tim and this was the result:
In case that doesn’t make sense, I was throwing pop flies over the Comerica Park sign to Tim our by the big tiger. It was actually quite difficult to throw the ball straight up and over that sign and still make it land out where Tim was standing.
Once the crowd got too big for us to continue playing catch, we hung out by the gate. Tim passed time by climbing on these support bars…
…while Kellan sat with my dad and looked at pictures on his cellphone.
Upon entering the stadium, the boys both collected their give-away Tigers baseball cards sets, and then we headed down to the field. We were the first people entering the 1B foul territory seats. As we walked down the aisle, there were 4-5 Twins coaches sitting on the wall. I was sure they would walk away as they saw *the fans* approaching, but they stayed put. Tim, Kellan and I walked up behind them and I asked them collectively, “Any Twins coaches interested in getting a picture with some Mariners fans!?”
The closest coach to us was Rick Anderson:
And he was, indeed, interested in meeting and getting a picture with some Mariners fans. We chatted for a minute or two. He grew up in Everett, Washington, just north of where I grew up and my folks live, and he went to Mariner High School and used to play sports against Edmonds High School and Woodway High School back in the day. My freshman year, Edmonds and Woodway combined to create the world famous Edmonds-Woodway High School!!!
Rick was a nice dude. And, as we parted ways, he handed us one of the two baseballs he was holding.
After we chatted with Rick, the other coaches started to disperse. One of the Twins’ bullpen catchers started to head toward the dugout. On his way, he tossed two baseballs into the crowd, one to us and one to my dad.
Thanks, unknown bullpen catcher guy!
The field was not set up for BP, which was no surprise. There were no Twins out playing catch. But several sets of Tigers were playing catch on the 3B side. So we headed over there.
Because Prince Fielder had spent all those years in Milwaukee, we brought Tim’s cheese head with us. Prince wasn’t out on the field, but Tim decided to put on the cheesehead when we headed to Tigers side.
As this picture shows…
…, a some Tigers were playing catch in LF and there was a random stray ball sitting in shallow LF.
As a Tigers coach, Mike Rojas, walked in from the bullpen toward the dugout holding his fungo bat, I called out to him and pointed at the ball in LF. He walked over to it, shouted “CHEESEHEAD!” and gave Tim perfect bounce pass.
Tim caught the ball and admired its *different* logo:
Turns out it was a AAA International League baseball…
…, the second minor league baseball we have snagged at a Major League ballpark.
Sundays at Comerica Park are kids days. That means kids run the bases after the game, and kids ride the rides for free. It was time for some rides. We headed over to the ferris wheel:
We got there just in time. There was a short line, and two minutes later is what 3-4 times as long.
Here are some random view from the ferris wheel:
Pretty cool how the “Tigers” sign pops over the upper deck from the top of the ferris wheel?
All of us Cook boys had fun on there:
When we got off of the ferris wheel, we took a quick stroll through the “Beer Hall”…
…just to see what it looked like in there. At the entrance way of the ferris wheel area there is a fountain with a big baseball on top of it. And Kellan loved it:
Like the day before, we headed over to Twins bullpen to watch the pitchers warm up. While standing around of there, they kept showing this cool graphic on the big screen:
Today’s Twins battery was Mike Pelfrey…
…and Ryan Doumit.
Hey, check out the cool hat the police officer guarding the bullpen was wearing:
And check out Ryan Doumit’s fancy finger nail stickers:
(I think those are stickers).
By the way, I should mention that Pelfrey was going up against Max Scherzer and his perfect 6-0 record. So he had a tall task before him.
While we were over at the bullpen, Kellan fell asleep on my shoulders…
…and he was sleeping hard.
The game was about to start. Tim wanted to get some ice cream so he and my dad headed over to the Big Cat food court. Kellan and I headed to the cross-aisle so I could lean against the back wall while Kellan slept on my shoulders.
Kellan slept hard through the top of the first and the first out of the bottom of the first. But then the stadium exploded when Torii Hunter hit a solo homerun…
…and Tim was rudely awakened.
Since Kellan was awake, we decided to go join Tim and my dad for the ice cream:
And then it was time for Kellan’s first ride on the tiger-go-round:
(Somehow, Kellan and Tim were nowhere near each other on the tiger-go-round and I was with Kellan, so I didn’t get any decent pictures of Tim on the tiger-go-round).
Our seats at this game were at the back of the bleachers in deep RCF, and we ended up sitting in those seats for a grant total of zero seconds. After ice cream, I asked my dad if he wanted to check out the SRO area in the cross-aisle where Kellan and I had spent a lot of time the day before, and he was interested. So this is where we spent a bunch of time during this game:
Hey, check out the drink holder that guy had to tote around the ballpark? Talk about awkward to carry!
Here’s what our view of home plate looked like:
By the way, the Tigers crowd booed Mauer like crazy every time he came to bat at both of our games in Detroit.
Tim is possibly the most skilled friend maker in the entire world. He is never shies away from talking to other kids of any age. So he had a great time chatting up this little guy standing next to us:
He kid’s mom was thrilled that we came and stood next to them. Apparently, the boy wasn’t doing well standing there with his parents, but he started having a great time when Tim started chatting with him. They talked about their respective little league teams and, you know, other kid stuff.
Remember that ball the fan gave to Tim two games (and days) ago in Toronto? Remember we gave it to my dad? Well, my dad ended up giving it to this kid. And he was excited to have it.
We were standing in the cross aisle just above the perfect spot for trying to get a third out ball from the Twins. With two outs in the bottom of one inning, I mentioned to Tim that he should get in position to run down to the bottom when the inning ended to try to get a third out ball. He misunderstood what I was saying and just cruised down the steps. He settled in here:
And he was essentially all alone in absolutely the best possible spot when Justin Morneau ended the inning at first base. But, sadly, Morneau walked right at Tim and then tossed the ball to a bunch of adults a little a few rows back and a couple seats over from Tim:
Tim only made that one attempt, and then we went off to explore the upper deck a bit. For some reason, my dad, Tim and Kellan walked the upper deck holding hands like this:
We popped into the seating area just in time to watch Torii Hunter at bat:
And then it was time for lunch. We headed back to the Big Cat court. Hot dogs were on the menu. Tim and Kellan feasted on standard hot dogs…
…and I had an extremely tasty Chicago Dog.
After lunch, we headed back to the SRO in the cross-aisle:
I took that panorama during the seventh inning streak, which means I have missed some scoring. By this point, the score as 6-1 Tigers, which ended up being the final score. The scoring high light came in the bottom of the sixth inning when pinch-hitter Avisail hit a bases loaded, 2-out, 3 run triple.
Here’s something I really like about Comerica Park’s new scoreboard:
The “Tigers” sign at the top of the scoreboard is an HD (well, I’m just guessing that it’s HD) screen so they can play video clips on the word “TIGERS.” That tiger above to the right isn’t new, I thought threw it in as an extra bonus.
I’m throwing this in as a bonus too:
“Cowboy” Joe West! He’s not the most beloved figure in baseball, but (1) I find him entertaining, (2) he’s never done anything (that I can recall) to hurt the Mariners unfairly, and (3) he’s been really nice to us. So I like him.
While hanging out in the cross-aisle, I took the opportunity to take an extreme close-up of Tim:
We ended the game behind the plate…
…but did not come away with an umpire ball.
The game ended in a somewhat frustrating fashion. Kellan, who is a super nice, lovable and usually easy going boy, is still in his “terrible twos.” Sometimes he can pitch a big old fit for no reason. And that’s just what he did at the end of the game. That’s no telling what started it, but he screamed and cried for a while, starting right before the game ended and it continued while we got in line for kids’ run the bases.
By the way, here is where we got in line…
…and he had to walk all the way around the inside of the stadium to the LF, and then exit the stadium, so we could enter a tunnel under the RF bleachers before finally entering the field in the RF corner¸ very near where we started standing in line here.
While Kellan continued to cry and whine and carry on, Tim made friends with another local kid:
They chatted all the way around the stadium.
The thing that finally calmed Kellan down was when I spoke to Colleen on the phone and she told me to tell him that she wanted him to run *really fast* around the bases. When he heard that, he settled down and was like “okay, I gotta get ready to run really fast for mommy!”
After entering the field down the RF line, I got a picture of the boys by this Comerica Park sign:
And then I started filming with my camera. I planned to film Kellan running around the bases, but, incredibly, (not realizing I already had the video running) I turned *off* the video right when Kellan hit first base and I turned it back *on* right after he touched home plate.
Aye, aye, aye…
Luckily, my dad got a couple pictures as we neared home plate…
…and I took one of the boys from behind on my cellphone as Kellan and Tim were approaching the plate.
After running the bases, we got a group picture…
…and couple more photos:
We had a long drive ahead of us. We would be driving back into Pennsylvania, but not all the way to our house. But we didn’t let that stop us from taking a quick side trip on the way out of town:
When we were in Canada, I told Tim we would go to a Tim Horton’s, but we totally forgot to do so. Luckily, I remembered this just before we passed what ended up being the last Tim Horton’s I saw on our trip. Check out what we got:
Tim was in Tim heaven!
And then we drove until around 11pm…
…when we got to our hotel in DuBois, PA (a very nice, new Fairfield Inn) the boys both woke up and were wide awake again. As Tim looked at his new Tigers baseball cards (a very nice set), Kellan took a late night bath.
When it hit midnight, it was officially my dad’s birthday! We were still all wide awake, so I decided we should give my dad a birthday gift that we’d had packed away in our luggage all weekend:
When he opened it, the gift appeared simply to be a commemorative 2013 All-Star Game ball, but he soon realized that there was a baseball ticket tucked into the display case with the ball.
The ticket was for the subway series (Mets vs. Yankees) at Citi Field, and game time was less than twenty hours away…so we had to head to bed!
Bonus birthday roadtrip baseball to come! (Oh, did I mention that, after crossing the Jays and Tigers off the list on this trip, the only teams my dad had never seen play a home game were the Mets and Rangers?)
2013 C&S Fan Stats
15 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers
18 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4
45 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1
8 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park
16 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson
5 Autographs – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo
Coming into this season, one of my goals was to get Kellan to seven stadiums in 2011: Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium and PNC Park. We were set to end the season at Safeco Field, and he’d already been to games at Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, and Yankee Stadium. As we hit mid-September he had visited all of them but PNC Park and Nationals Park. While PNC Park was a lot cause, there was still an option for Nationals Park.
I pitched a family trip down to Colleen’s sister’s house in Virginia for the weekend of September 17-18 with an extended-family ballgame on the 18th in DC. It all fell into place perfectly.
On the morning of September 18, 2011, Tim, Kellan and I hopped into our car and drove north to Nationals Park for BP. The plan was for Colleen, Kimberly (my sister-in-law), Kevin (brother-in-law), Gill (nephew) and Kate (niece) would join us at game time.
It turned out to be a very special time before the game started. Although there was no BP to speak of, I soaked up 2.5 great hours in the ballpark with my boys – the first time Tim, Kellan and I had been to a ballpark alone, just us three guys. Despite there being no BP, we kept busy and found a lot of ways to have fun.
By far the worst part of the day was right when we walked into the ballpark and I tried to take a picture of Tim and Kellan with one of the statues by the CF entrance. I knew I had forgotten to charge my camera battery, but I was hoping it would have enough juice to last the day. Not quite. It was dead and was good for a grand total of zero pictures. Aye, aye, aye! I had to rely on my cellphone for pre-game pictures.
We started out in the LF corner. There were a bunch of Marlins playing catch along the LF foul line. We made our way down into the first row:
[Note: there wer probably 6 Marlins along the foul line in the picture above and to the left, but they are all hidden behind Kellan’s noggin]. There were a couple other fans there just sitting and watching. The ballpark was completely silent. I only recognized one Marlin down on the field – Brian Sanches. So when he finished warming up and ran toward the foul line to return his baseball to the bag, I broke the silence. “Hey, Brian!” was all it took for Sanches to send his warm up baseball our way.
When the ball smacked into my glove, the 8-10 other fans in the section were whipped into a minor frenzy. Despite the fact that they were all at the ballpark 2.5 hours early (which would make you assume they know what goes on during BP), it was as if they never even considered that a player might toss you his baseball if you asked him. The section was silent no more. And as Tim, Kellan and I headed back up to the concourse; several more baseballs were sailing into the stands to the happy fans we left behind.
After a quick stop in the red seats in deep LCF (where there was truly nothing happening), we headed to the second deck in RF. Section 237 to be exact. Several Nationals pitchers
were warming up down below:
We kept an eye on Stephen Strasburg. We’d never seen him before and I wanted to check out what all the hype was about, even if just during pre-game throwing. Next to Strasburg was his Nationals teammate Tom Gorzelanny. When Tom finished up throwing, I called his name and I flashed him my glove when he looked up. I could tell he was going to throw us the baseball, but it was also clear that he was concerned about Kellan…who I was holding. There were absolutely no other fans in our section or the next one over (in foul territory). Gorzelanny decided to throw the ball into the next section so we could just go pick it up. But his plan back fired. The ball hit a seat and took a big ricochet and bounced back down onto the warning track.
Gorzelanny moseyed over and retrieved the ball. On his second attempt, he decided to throw it over us. It landed about five rows behind us and bounded right back to me. I caught it with my glove as I held Kellan in my right arm. I always think it is particularly awesome getting a toss up to an upper-deck. This was only our second ever. Very cool.
Before heading off to the play area, we decided to watch Strasburg a bit more. Tim and I sat a couple seats apart from each other so Kellan could run back and forth between us. While we hung out, Tim took a panorama with my cellphone:
I thought I should document the three guys being at the ballpark alone, so I took this really horrible picture…
…where we completely block out the view of the ballpark.
On our way to the play area, Tim stopped us at the top of the stair way down to the field level so he could get his picture with the Mariners logo on the side of the CF parking garage:
Kellan is way too small for the play area. So while Tim played like a mad man, Kellan and I hung out in a little screened in room under the play area. Kellan and I played a little catch…
…and, between throws, I wrote down notes about our first two baseballs of the day.
After spending some time in the play area, we decided to get a bite to eat. We walked from the play area in the deep CF concourse area all the way around the RL foul pole, around home plate, and to a concession stand behind 3B. We grabbed some peanuts and hot dogs and then went and sat in the corner spot down the LF line:
Four Marlins were playing catch along the foul line. I only recognized one of the players, Anibal Sanchez, who was the closest Marlin to us.
As we nibbled our food and watched the Marlins warm up, Abe Lincoln moseyed on by us. I told Tim to stay put, and then I ran a section over toward 3B, handed Kellan over to our 16th President, and snapped this picture (on the left)…
…after Kellan and I returned to the corner spot, Abe headed toward the LF foul pole and Tim announced he wanted his picture with Abe too. So we ran after him once again and got the picture above on the right. Note that Tim is still holding his hot dog.
Shortly after we returned to the corner spot once again, Anibal Sanchez and his partner finished playing catch. Tim was sitting in the second seat and I was standing next to him holding Kellan. Sanchez turned around and saw us. He walked over and held the ball out to Kellan. Kellan gave Anibal as inquisitive look and then reached out and grabbed the baseball. Kellan then immediately cocked his arm back and threw the ball back in Sanchez’s direction. Anibal grabbed the ball and handed it to Kellan again. Again, Kellan cocked his arm back, which prompted Sanchez to jump into an athletic ready position, and tossed the ball back again. After two more back-and-forths, Anibal grabbed the baseball, handed it to Kellan, and very sweetly said, “You keep it this time,” and then he turned and jogged off toward the dugout. It was an awesome little interaction.
A few minutes later, some more Marlins started playing catch in the grass just behind 3B. We slid around there and were soon rewarded with a toss-up from Ricky Nolasco.
Hey, thanks, Anibal and Ricky!
We decided to head back to the play area. On the way, a kind usher took our picture:
And then Tim requested that I take a picture of this silly face:
As we passed by the statues in LCF, the Presidents were out there. But after reflecting upon his Abe Lincoln interaction, Kellan decided that the Presidents were way too scary for his liking. But he did let us get close enough to get this picture of Tim and Teddy:
After Tim hit some whiffleballs….
…Kellan and I played some more catch in the screened in area below the play area, and Tim played like crazy again.
It was getting really close to game time now. Colleen called and let me know that they were getting really close to the stadium. We planned to meet them in our seats. But first, we watched Mike Stanton…
…warm up behind 3B and Marlins starting pitcher, Brad “Aloha, Mr.” Hand…
…warm up in the visitors’ bullpen.
As game time rolled around, we reported to our seats. Soon enough, Colleen arrived…
…along with Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate. (Collectively, we’ll call them the “Martelons”).
We had some great seats in section 108:
The best thing about September is that you can get really cheap tickets on stubhub for teams who are long out of the playoff races. These seats were normally $36/ticket, but I picked them up for $10/ticket (plus all of the ridiculous online fees).
Tim and Kellan had a great time in the seats with their cousins:
The Nationals got on the board first. In the bottom of the second, Chris Marrero hit a sacrifice fly plating Jonny Gomes for the first run of the game.
Colleen brought her very good, but bulky, camera so our picture quality improved once she arrived. But her camera is not nearly as convenient as mine. I didn’t end up taking any action shots until the bottom of the third inning, when I captured Jason Werth as he hit a couple foul balls and then took a called strike three (on this pitch):
A few minutes later, Colleen was standing in the stairway when Kellan decided to get really comfortable with the glass partition separating the stands from the LF foul warning track:
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Nationals extended their lead to 4-0 on an 2-RBI single by Danny Espinosa followed by an RBI ground rule double by Marrero.
In the top of the fifth, Gaby Sanchez hit a solo homerun to make the score 4-1 Nats.
After the kids watched Thomas Jefferson win his 28th Presidents’ race of the season…
…we took to our feet…
…and made our way back to the kids’ play area:
Actually, everyone else but Kellan and I went to the play area. I had another idea. Kellan and I zoomed over to the RF foul pole. It was an inning break and the Nationals outfielders were playing catch. We were at the foul pole about 2 minutes total and after Jim Lett tossed us our final baseball of the day (Thanks, Jim!), we made our way back to the play area:
The Martelons had never been to Nationals Park before. So after we left the play area, we took a little walk around the stadium.
First, we headed up to the second deck in RF where Colleen took this cute picture with me and the kids:
What I think is so funny about that picture is the combination of Kate leaning her head on Tim’s shoulder while Tim is looking up at me and Kellan. Funny. Meanwhile, Kellan was trying to rip up a Steven Strasburg baseball card that was inserted into that little magazine he is holding.
When Mike Stanton stepped to the plate, I asked Colleen to take a picture of him hitting a homerun. Stanton didn’t cooperate. So Colleen had to settle with taking this awesome picture of Stanton hitting a single:
After we circled around toward first base, an usher took a hilariously disorganized picture of all of us:
We had no real plan. We were just walking around looking at stuff and taking pictures. When we passed behind home plate, I got this panorama from the concourse behind section 314:
Kimberly took the kids (minus Kellan) up into the 400 level seats for another picture:
All of this walking around (in my arms) really tuckered out Kellan. So he took a little nap…
…that lasted for the rest of our walking tour and for a while when we were back in our seats.
When I returned to our seats with Kellan, Colleen and Kimberly took the other kids to get ice cream helmets…or so I thought. I was shocked when Tim came back with this non-collectible ice cream receptacle:
Yikes! Oh, well. Tim still enjoyed his tasty ice cream.
In the top of the seventh, Brett Hayes hit a 2-Run homerun. That made the score 4-3 Nationals. But that was as close as the Marlins would get to the Nationals.
There was a comical moment in the top of the eighth inning. Mike Stanton was at the plate and it looked like he was hit by a pitch. He ran to first, but the umpires called him back. I personally had no clue what was going on. But Jack McKeon came out and went crazy arguing his point. The McKeon argument was humorous on its own. But the really hilarious part was Nationals left fielder (and former Mariner) Michael Morse:
Morse was cracking up over McKeon’s antics. And several times he interrupted his stream of giggling to do an exaggerated “yeeeerrrrrrr outtta here!” hand motion (like he was ejecting McKeon from the game. Morse was still laughing about McKeon’s antics after Stanton returned to home plate and struck out to end the inning.
Not much else happened in the game. At the end of the day, the final was a 4-3 win for the Nationals
But, hold up, our day was not over quite yet. It was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!
We hopped into the long line outside the stadium, where Tim entertained us with some harmonica:
(FYI, Tim loves to play his harmonica, but has no clue how to actually play the harmonica).
I was super excited for Kellan’s first Kids Run the Bases. He’d never circled Major League bases before, and I couldn’t wait for it. Colleen took this shot of me and Kellan in foul territory along the first base line:
Sadly, the Nationals have a policy against allowing parents to chaperon their kids around the bases. That killed the dream. Kellan is way too young to run around the bases on his own. He would have ended up in CF with a throng of Nationals employees chasing him. I was pretty bummed out over this turn of events, but what can you do?
While Kellan watched from the warning track, Kate…
…, and Gill…
…had a lot of fun on the base paths.
Ah, it was another great day at the ballpark. It has been an amazing season getting Tim and Kellan’s cousins out to the ballpark with us at both Camden Yards and Nationals Park. Next year, I’ll figure out a way to get them up to Citizens Bank Park!
As we walked back to our car, Colleen asked Kimberly to take a family picture of us in front of this “The Yards” sign:
I have no clue why she wanted a picture with this “The Yards” sign, but hey, she did, so I’m including it here.
Only three more games for us in the 2011 season and, HOORAY HOORAY, they would all be at Safeco Field!
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|30/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|21/10 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, Marlins, Nationals]|
|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)).|
|96 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 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, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates)
|13/5 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, Nationals 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)|
|10/3 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond, Abe Lincoln; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird, Abe Lincoln]|
|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|
Welcome to the longest entry in the history of this blog.
So we woke up in Toledo, Ohio, on the morning of July 3, 2011, hopped into the car and headed off to…
…Detroit, Michigan. The Motor City!
I’ve wanted to go to Comerica Park for a long time. But I heard a lot of negatives about Detroit (the city, not Comerica Park), and I did not know what to expect. As we approached the city on I-75, one of the first high-rise buildings that we saw (not yet in downtown) looked odd. It was about 20-stories high (I guess), and I soon noticed it looked so odd because I could see right through it. I’m not sure if it was burnt out or what, but there were no windows and we could see completely through the building.
That didn’t seem right.
When we exited I-75, there was a building right at the top of the exit ramp (or right near it) that was half ripped down and demolished. It is pictured above below the “Pure Michigan” sign.
Yikes. Detroit was not looking good.
The quick drive through downtown did nothing to help the situation. Every other building was boarded up or burnt out.
As we approached Comerica Park, things started to look a whole lot better. But then we pulled into a $25 parking lot directly across from Comerica Park’s batters’ eye. Here is a photo of Tim standing in the parking lot with the stadium behind him:
The parking lot was a disaster. Huge pot holes. I mean huge. Like pot holes that you could fit a smart car into. That’s not an exaggeration…or much of one. As we walked to the parking lot exit, Tim asked me the most hilarious and sad parking-lot-based question of all time: “Was there an earthquake in this parking lot?”
I broke into laughter. It really looked like there could have been an earthquake.
So…it was officially our worst ever introduction to a Major League stadium.
But you know what? It was all worth it. Comerica Park is essentially the definition of the old saying “A diamond in the rough.”
Comerica Park is AMAZING! I loved it. I loved it so much that Tim begged me to stop taking pictures at one point. All-in-all, we got about 450 pictures. And this entry is going to have a ton of them.
We arrived probably half an hour before the gates opened and we took a walk around the place. We first approached the stadium at the RF
gate (Gate A):
The tigers lurking above the gates are awesome, but this is only the second coolest gate at Comerica Park. After taking a handful of pictures at this gate, we made our way down the street to probably the coolest gate in MLB history – the first base gate (Gate B):
Tim was a little timid standing below that big tiger paw. He felt a little safer tucked inside the tiger’s tail:
This gate is pure awesomeness. It is actually so big and awesome that I failed to capture it in photos. I would have had to back away across the street to get the whole thing,
and I’m kicking myself not for not doing it.
This gate is a built into a semi-circular cut out in the side of the stadium’s outer wall. The actual gates and that huge tiger are right in the middle of the gate area. On either side, there are more menacing looking tigers lurking above, seemingly ready to pounce on the fans below:
Both sides of the gate are also adorned by a gigantic baseball bat:
Note that Tim is standing at the base of that bat and he looks teeny-tiny…and the bat is so tall that I couldn’t even get the knob into the picture from across the street.
All along the outer wall of the stadium along the RF-1B side (hmm…I am not certain, but I don’t think they were on the other sides of the stadium) there were these big tiger head thingys:
Maybe there is a good time to mention my general assessment of the stadium’s design. It seemed to me like the architects/planners thought of every little detail. They wanted you to know at all times that you were at the Tigers stadium. In every ballpark you see lots of team emblems, etc. But the Tigers did an awesome job *Tigerifying* Comerica Park. If there was a little open space, they filled it with a Tiger, or a Tiger’s “D” logo, or the word “Tigers” or something cool and appealing to the eyes of the fans. They did an awesome job and it was really cool walking around just taking in all of the sights.
After spending some time at Gate B, we turned the corner and walked down the home plate side of the stadium – click here to see a map of the stadium. There were gates looking into the concourse and we could see we were right behind home plate…and there was nothing happening on the field. We ran across the street and got this picture with the “Comerica Park: Home of the Detroit Tigers” sign in the background:
Further down the road, there was a set of double doors at the “Tiger Den” with another menacing looking Tiger designed into the door:
In the picture above to the right, there are there orange cones in the distance. Those are set up in front of the doors where the Giants were entering the stadium.
Just past the Tiger Den, we rounded another corner (at the Beer Hall) and found a Ferris Wheel inside the stadium along the 1B side:
The 3B side of the stadium is situated along Brush Street and on the opposite side of the street Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.
After walking down the street, we rounded the corner back onto Adams Street – where we had parked in the earthquake lot. That street provides a clear view into the ballpark. We took
some shots of the series of statues along the outfield concourse:
These statues seem to have been designed by the same artists who did the statues inside the LF gate at Nationals Park.
Gate time was approaching, so we headed back to the 1B gate and found a spot second in line at one of the turnstiles. While waiting the final ten minutes before gates opened, Tim asked me to take a picture of these big “gold” bats…
…and I requested (to myself) that I take a picture of this plaque listing all of the people Michiganders have to thank for Comerica Park. As we waited for the gates to open, I had already taken about 65 pictures. And soon we were let into the ballpark and there was a whole lot more stuff for me to photograph.
When the gates finally opened, we headed down into section 116 and surveyed the situation.
- No batting practice;
- Two Giants playing catch in CF; and
- Several Tigers gathering down the LF line to play catch.
As everyone was running over to LF to watch the Tigers’ pitchers warm up. We headed over to section 101 in CF where this was our view:
It was Madison Baumgartner and Matt Cain who were playing catch. After a while, Cain ran back to the Giants dugout on the 1B side of home plate. Baumgartner’s work wasn’t complete just yet. He headed into the bullpen to throw from the mound. At that point, there was officially nothing happening anywhere near us, so we relocated to section 150 to watch Baumgartner continue his throwing routine:
A bunch of Giants fans joined us above the bullpen and when Baumgartner finished his routine, he tossed the baseball to a Giants fan.
With no BP, a big crowd around the Tigers pitchers, and no other Giants throwing on the field at this point, I was thinking it would be very difficult to end up getting a baseball at this game. But I was really hoping we would beat the odds and come away with at least one baseball because we really wanted one from Comerica Park and it might be years before we ever get back to Detroit.
We walked over to the LF foul pole area, but there were tons of people gathered around just a few Tigers. It was pointless to stay there. Just then some Giants pitchers came out to play catch along the 1B line. But it was packed by the time we got there. So we gave up, and headed over to the dugout.
This was our view from the first row of section 121:
And the move worked out. As a Giant (I am pretty sure it was Jeremy Affeldt) ran back into the dugout and tossed his warm up baseball into the crowd while he was still down the 1B line. Then when he got right in front of us, he reached into his back pocket, pulled out his back-up baseball and tossed it up to us.
Success! A baseball from Comerica Park:
It was officially time to explore!
Our self-guided ballpark tour started with a panorama from section 127:
Then we headed into a little nook on the side of the concourse on the 3B side. It was the area where we had already seen the ferris wheel from outside the ballpark:
Check out the big baseball fountain to the right in that picture. Cool, eh?
We didn’t ride the Ferris Wheel at this point. Instead, he headed back into the 3B side concourse…
…in search for the carousel that I had heard about. After a bit of wandering around and then finally asking an usher, we found the tiger-go-round tucked into a circular food court-type area:
You cannot really tell in that last picture, but all of the traditionally merry-go-round *horses* on this carousel are ferocious-looking tigers.
Tim wanted to ride both carousel, but the line was huge. So I told him we could come back during the game when I suspected the line would be much shorter. So we continued on our
We headed up the stairs next to the carousel and found ourselves here:
Looking to our left, we could see back down into the 1B side concourse:
Comerica Park has a bunch of these banners hanging with players from the past. I’m not sure what the significance of the years are – they all seemed to be even decade years. So maybe, for example, that 1980 banner in the foreground simply means that Jack Morris pitched for the Tigers in the ‘80s. Between the Morris 1980 banner and the 1970 banner to the right, there is a weird contraption down below on the concourse floor. You’ll notice it is resting on tires, stands pretty high up into the air, and is topped with “D” and a “1970.” The Tigers have a bunch of those throughout the field level concourse as well. Again, my thought is that they feature players and artifacts from the decade identified at the top of the display.
Heading out into the seating area, we got a panorama of Comerica Park from section 215…
…and another from section 210:
While behind the 200 level seats, we spotted something cool – the back side of those huge tigers lurking above Gate B (you can also see the tops of both of the huge bats rising from the ground in front of the gate):
Instead of seats, the second level in RF features a patio area (a/k/a the Pepsi Porch) and a long elevated walkway that runs all the way out to center field. Most of the way toward CF, I took this picture from the elevated walkway looking down the stairs toward Gate A:
And then I turned around and got this panoramic view of the field (also featuring the Pepsi Porch):
When we walked all the way out to the end of the elevated walkway, we could see the top of the batters’ eye:
Detroit being the Motor City and all, the batters’ eye features two muscle cars. We also noticed a lot of water on the top of the batters eye, which I original thought was pooled rain water. But during the game we realized that there is a fountain on top of the batters’ eye that shoots streams of water high into the air.
On our walk back across the elevated walkway, I got this panorama that gives a better view of the Pepsi Porch form behind:
Remember how I said the Tigers filled every empty space with a Tigers logo or something Tigers-based? While walking across the elevated-walkway, Tim found something that perfectly proved that point – a drain:
Look at that! It has (1) crossed bats and a baseball, (2) the word “Detroit,” (3) the “D” from the Tigers’ jerseys, (4) the word “Tigers” in a ferocious tigers-ish font, and (5) baseballs circled with stars. Awesome. These are almost certainly the best drains in all of MLB.
While walking on the elevated-walkway, we also found a fan assistance booth where the worker-lady was happy to fill up Tim’s water bottle with some refreshing ice-water. Then she laid this bad-boy on Tim:
Together, the certificate and Tim’s shirt combine to tell the story: “Welcome to Comerica Park – Life is good!”
Next, we walked all the way out to the LF corner and took a bunch of panoramas.
First, section 219 (which is right above the tiger-go-round):
Switching over to the 300-level, we took our behind-the-plate panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 326:
Behind third base, we got this view from section 334:
Then we headed out into the concourse, where we found this awesome picture (it was some sort of really big advertisement)…
…of Cecil Fielder walking on the roof of old Tiger Stadium. Man, I wish I Tim and I could have visited Tiger Stadium. From watching games on TV, it looked gloriously old-fashioned. I was appalled when the closed it and opened this new-fangled Comerica Park place. Well, if they had to replace (and then tear down…oh, no!) old Tiger Stadium, they couldn’t have done a better job replacing it.
Back out in the 300-level cross-aisle, we got this panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 342:
Finally, we reached the perfect spot to get Tim’s Comerica Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
Check out that awesome scoreboard with full-color Tigers on the prowl. Outstanding!
When Tim and I were looking for the perfect spot for this picture, an usher came over and complimented me for wearing my baseball glove on my head. He said it showed that I was really a baseball player. I thought that was cool. Thanks, usher guy!
Tim is not a big fan of heights, so you can see him sitting in the front row and waiting patiently for me in this panorama that I took from the top of section 344:
I just noticed that I can see our car in that picture. Cool.
Anyway, it was finally time for the game to start, so we bought a hot dog and nachos and reported to our seats in section 144, where this was our view of the game:
The Tigers have a bunch of quality players, and we focused our action-shots on the big two – rightfielder Magglio Ordonez…
…who my mom roots for because she loves his name (“Magglio,” not “Ordonez”), and the baby-faced veteran slugger (who also hits for a mighty-fine average), Miguel Cabrera:
It was All-Star announcement day and the Tigers seemed to have a bunch of All-Stars (Cabrera, Valverde, Avila…). Each time another all-star came to bat or entered the game, the PA announcer announced the all-star selection and the place went wild.
After eating our lunch and watching a few innings from our seats, Tim reminded me of those rides. So we left our seats and headed toward the ferris wheel. In several ways, Comerica
Park’s infield field level reminded me of Camden Yards. It has the same type of umpires’ tunnel directly behind home plate and a similar cross-aisle that runs all the way around the place.
So we didn’t miss any of the action as we made our way along the cross-aisle and toward the Ferris Wheel snapping pictures.
First, we got this panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 141:
Another from the cross-aisle behind section 135:
And yet another from the cross-aisle behind section 132:
Going back to the Camden Yards comparison, there are actually two thing about Comerica Park’s infield that are even better than Camden Yards (which is hands down one of the best stadiums in MLB): (1) the cross-aisle has a bunch of handicapped-accessible seating section that make the cross-aisle probably twice as wide (or more) as the Camden Yards cross-aisle
(which also features handicapped-accessible seating) and (2) (and this is a huge advantage in Comerica Park’s favor) it has an open concourse above the cross-aisle. More specifically,
immediately above the cross-aisle is a section of really cool and unique seats…I don’t even know how to describe it, almost like huge, comfy lawn furniture (it is pictured below, way below)…and behind that section is seating is the field level concourse complete with standing room area where anyone with any ticket can watch the game. The closed field level concourse, in my opinion, is really the one and only design error that they made at Camden Yards. It is so nice to be able to walk from one section to another in the concourse without
having to miss any of the game.
Finally, we made it to the Ferris Wheel:
We were really lucky. There was almost no line at all when we arrived at the Ferris Wheel. But by the time we were up top inside the Ferris Wheel, the line reached almost all the way to the field level concourse.
Normally, you have to buy tickets for $2.00 to ride the Ferris Wheel (and carousel). But Sundays are “Kids Days” and all kids ride the Ferris Wheel and carousel for free (parents still have to pay). So we bought my ticket, made our way through the short line, and hopped into one of the little baseballs:
Before heading over to the carousel, we checked in on the game again. Right when we made it back down to the cross-aisle, Brennan Boesch hit a homerun to tie the score up at 1-1 (the Giants had scored a run in the top of the fourth when we were in line for the Ferris Wheel):
We hung around a little bit and watched Mags and Miggy hit (or try to, they both got out):
On our walk over to the carousel, I took a picture of the “1980” display in the concourse:
When we reached the carousel, the line was semi-reasonable, it did not quite wrap all the way around the carousel. We hopped in line thinking that tickets must be sold right up by the front of the line (like with the Ferris Wheel), but then I noticed a ticket sales booth off to the side. We got out of line so I could buy my ticket and about 40,000 people took our place in line. By the time we got my ticket, the line wrapped all the way around the carousel TWICE!
I told Tim we would have to come back later. That line was going to take forever.
So we walked the field level concourse toward RF and all the way back around to our seats in section 144. On the way, we got this panorama from the standing room area behind the “Kaline’s Corner” section:
This next one is from the standing room area in the walkway that runs behind the batters’ eyes and it was taken almost directly above where we were standing in the section 101 panorama (way above):
There was a little opening in the batters’ eye, and snuck our camera through and got this batters’ eye view panorama:
Here is another really cool feature of Comerica Park:
See the people all the way to the right on the opposite side of the fence? They’re watching free baseball! The walkway from LCF to RCF runs along Adams Street and people can stand along the Adams Street fence and watch the game. I don’t know if the Tigers like that, but I think it is great.
Here is a look down into the bullpens:
The closer bullpen is the visitors and the one in the LF corner is the Tigers bullpen.
Standing in the same spot as the bullpen picture above, I turned toward the field and got this panorama from the walkway above section 151:
It was ice cream time. We grabbed some helmets…
…and found some ice cream seats in our section.
Here’s a look at the one area in which Comerica Park has room for improvement:
The scoreboard has three screens. A bit one in the middle and smaller ones on either side. Only the smaller screen on the CF side of the scoreboard is a full-color screen. The other two are the black background with yellow text type of screen that has been around for ages. I assume that someday soon the Tigers will install a huge high definition screen. Once they do that, Comerica Park may be almost perfect.
Here is a second panorama of Comerica Park from section 144 (better than the one from the beginning of the game):
Here’s another unique feature of Comerica Park:
It is a switch-back ramp for wheelchairs to descend from the field level concourse to the cross-aisle. Pretty cool, idea.
I wasn’t surprised to see tigers designed into the arm rests of the seats:
After eating our ice cream, it was time to give the carousel line another shot. Once again, we walked over there through the cross-aisle. We stopped and hung out in the cross-aisle behind section 119…
…for a while because things were getting interesting in the game. It was the seventh inning and the visiting Giants were leading by one run (3-2), but the Tigers loaded the bases…
…for Magglio Ordonez. Maggs ended up ripping a liner right up the middle into centerfield…
…brining in the tying and go-ahead runs for the Tigers. (Note: right as I was about to get a photo of Johnny Peralta scoring the go-ahead run, an ecstatic Tigers fan jumped up and
half blocked my shot, but you can still see some of the action).
With the rally still going, we headed over to the carousel. The line only went about three-quarters of the way around it, so that was good. We hopped in line and Tim modeled his give-away prize:
All kids got this Justin Verlander super hero cape! Super V! They were actually pretty cool. Tons of kids (and even some adults…including the entire grounds crew) were wearing them throughout the game.
Finally, we made it through the line and Tim found a spot on one of the biggest and fiercest looking Tigers on the tiger-go-round:
The Tiger was angry, but Tim was happy:
The tiger-go-round was actually pretty cool. The tiger *jumped* really high sending Tim high above me as I stood next to his Tiger’s sharp teeth.
By the time we finished up at the tiger-go-round, it was the bottom of the eighth. We grabbed a nice standing room spot right behind home plate…
…and there was tons of room to run in case someone sent a foul ball our way (but no one did).
We had a great view into the Tigers’ spacious dugout along the 3B line:
As the game headed into the ninth inning, Tim and I grabbed some seats in the row directly above and to the 3B side of the umpires’ tunnel:
It was section 128, row 15, and it looked like this:
My one complaint is that the padding around the door to the umpires’ tunnel does a pretty good job of blocking the view of a portion of the batters’ box. At Camden Yard, the entrance to the umpires’ tunnel is lower and less noticeable. Still, these were some awesome seats and we were happy to get the chance to see 2011 All-Star Jose Valverde…
…close out the game for a save and a 6-3 Tigers win.
We were even happier that home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez tossed his final umpire ball of the day up to us just before disappearing into the tunnel below:
It is always great to get an umpire baseball. And it we were pumped to get one at our first game ever at Comerica Park.
Thanks, Manny Gonzalez!
The game was over, but our day at Comerica Park was not. It was Kids Run The Bases day! Hooray!
On our walk to the long, long line, we snapped this picture of the funky seating section above the field level cross-aisle:
And then we took this panorama from the top of section 128:
It was a long and slow moving line, but it was cool to get to see the tunnel that runs from the batters’ eye…
…and down under the RF seats. Of course, we touched the batting cage on our way by.
The Tigers staff was very cool during Kids Run The Bases. Some teams rush you through there, others let you savor the experience. The Tiger, who as far as we could tell have totally nailed the whole *fan experience* concept, were of the “savor it” variety.
We started our savoring with some photos with the 330’ foot sign on the RF wall (fair territory)…
…and with the Comerica Park sign (foul territory).
Tim then did his best Johnny Cash…
…he “walked the line” – the foul line, that is. And it wasn’t just chalk foul line. The Tigers have something (wood, hard plastic, or something) set into the ground. These are some of the little things the fans get a chance to notice during Kids Run The Bases, and we greatly appreciate that opportunity.
Of course, no one tried to rush us along when we stopped on the foul warning track to get a father-son picture with the scoreboard in the background:
Then we approached the first base area. There was a roped off chute to the right and the remainder of the warning track to the left, and there was a young ballpark attendant standing at the opening of the chute calling out “Kids to the right, parents to the left!”
When we approached, I directed Tim into the Kids chute and asked the gal, “Any chance I can chaperone him?” She looked quickly left-right-left right, and fanned her hand toward the field, “Just go, just go!”
So I followed Tim out toward first base…
…we motored into second base where Tim called out, “Hi, Tiger!” and another young ballpark attendant answered, “his name is Paws!” just as Tim was getting ready to stomp on second:
As we past six-hole, I sped up and leaned down next to Tim to try to get a father-son-running-the-bases picture…
…but Tim thought I was trying to race him and he turned on the afterburners and I barely got us both in the shot:
We were running too fast to get a good picture at third base, but I got Tim running toward home…
…and then getting ready to (oh, no, illegal, illegal!) slide into home!
SAFE! (“Hey, kids, no sliding!” called out the friendly guy manning the home plate area).
As we exited the home plate area, they had a lady stationed on the warning track whose sole purpose was to make sure everyone exited toward 3B and no one turned left (back toward
1B). But when I asked her, “Can we go get his picture by the big “D?,” she did same quick left-right-left-right surveying of her surroundings and then looked toward home while he responded, “I don’t see you! I don’t see you!”
So we were able to get this awesome picture by the big Tigers’ hat-style “D” painted behind home plate…
…, which is reminiscent of our picture of Tim with the big Pirates “P” painted behind home plate at PNC Park.
Hey, teams who hurry everyone through kids run the bases (I’m taking to you Mets, Nationals, Phillies), take a cue from the Tigers (and the super-West-Coast-relaxed Padres) and let the fans really enjoy the Kids Run The Bases experience.
On our way by the 3B dugout, a fan took our picture with Tim’s baseball from Manny Gonzalez:
Then we walked as far as we could down the LF line (past the first 2-3 exits) so we could maximize our time on the field. Before leaving the field, I took a self portrait with Tim on my shoulders and the scoreboard in the background. A friendly usher saw and ran over and offered to take this picture:
The Tigers staff are cool folks.
Thanks to everyone at Comerica Park!
Then, as if there was some sort of competition to see who could be the last person to be nice to us at Comerica Park, an usher approached us right as we left the ballpark and asked, “Is he a Tigers fan?” With Tim up on my shoulders, I responded, “We’re Mariners fans!” The usher dug into his pocket and pulled out a baseball. Reaching up to hand it to Tim, the usher said, “We like Mariners fans too!”
I’m serious. Comerica Park is awesome! Well, done Tigers!
We were literally the first car parked in the parking lot. When we arrived at our car, there were only about 4-5 other cars left. We had a awesome, full day at Comerica Park. And before hoping in the car, we took one more panorama as a parting shot:
In the famous word of the Terminator: “[We’ll] be back!”
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|16/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|16/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]|
|12 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))|
|48 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 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, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)|
|8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica 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.|
On May 29, 2011, Tim and I were back for a second helping of baseball at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. After the blistering weather for the previous night’s game, I was fearing this 2:10 p.m. afternoon start. Fortunately, the weather decided to have a little bit of mercy on us. It was hot, but not unbearably hot like the day before.
We reported to the ballpark about two hours early. As we approached the third base gate, I snapped this picture of Tim:
It is definitely a nice looking ballpark, inside and out.
When we entered the seating around in foul territory down the LF line, we found an almost empty field and no batting practice. It was not a shock, but it was a little sad.
The only players on the field were a bunch of Rangers pitchers playing catch down the RF line. The first 2-3 rows were packed all the way down the RF line behind the pitchers. There was no reason for us to join the crowd.
So, we wandered down to the first row along the LF line. There were no Royals warming up, but there was…
…four baseballs and a little cone (like a training cone to run around or something like that) laying on the ground. We had about two hours to explore the ballpark, so we figured we had a little time to relax. So we just grabbed some railing and looked out upon the field.
Our patience paid off, within a couple minutes a couple Royals pitchers and coaches exited the visitors bullpen and headed toward the 3B dugout. One of the coaches (strength and conditioning coach Tyrone Hill) veered off to his right, doubled back about 30-40 feet, grabbed one of the baseballs, walked over and handed it to Tim (as represented by the red arrow in the last picture).
Meanwhile, new Royals pitcher Felipe Paulino started signing autographs down the line near third base. Tim and I walked over and Felipe signed Tim’s new baseball for him.
While we were waiting for Paulino, a lady (probably about 40-45 years old) ran up with a Rangers program. She was all giddy. Then, she cursed at herself for forgetting her pen. She asked if anyone had a pen, and I told her she could use ours. She was very thankful. Then, when I noticed she was going to get her program signed, I told her to hold on and I’d get her
a sharpie out of my backpack.
She was very excited. When she handed her program and my pen to Paulino, the following exchange ensued—
Lady: “I love to watch you pitch!”
Todd (thinking): “Whoa, why does this lady like a Royals pitcher so much!?”
Lady (accompanied by various giddy-squealing noises): “I LOVE MY RANGERS!!!”
Paulino (with a huge “ROYALS” emblazoned across his chest): “Thanks.”
It was hilarious.
Enough with that lady, it was time to explore this ballpark. First, we headed over to the 3B dugout and got this excellent picture of Tim:
It was a day for panoramas. And this was our first, from half way up the seats looking out at Rangers Ballpark from Section 26:
A lady was sitting nearby, and she kindly agreed to take this photo of us:
Next, we headed to the outfield and got this shot of the visitors bullpen:
The Rangers bullpen is situated parallel to the outfield wall in RCF, and is almost always in the shade (or at least the chairs along the back wall of the Rangers bullpen are shaded). In contrast, the visitors’ bullpen is situated perpendicular to the outfield wall and is almost always in the direct sun.
And lest the visiting relieves might forget who they are facing, the Rangers threw a big Texas “T” logo between the mound and home plate of the visitors’ bullpen.
We walked behind the bullpen and circled around toward the seats in section 54. Just behind the seats, I got this fairly unique looking panorama from the concourse:
As that last picture shows, there is a shady bench in the visitors’ bullpen. So, sure, the visiting relievers can sit in the shade…of course, from that bench they won’t be able to see the game.
We headed down into the seats and got this panorama of Rangers Ballpark from the first row of section 54:
While we were down there, we noticed several stray baseballs lying on and around the bullpen mound (a couple of them can be seen in the picture above from the back of the bullpen). I figured those baseballs would eventually become souvenirs, but no one was around at this point. So we continued on our tour.
Here is a view from the concourse behind section 47 in RF:
And then we went way up high and got this panorama from section 345:
From the concourse above the first base gate, we could see the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium out in the not-so-distant distance:
And this was the view from above the home plate gate:
Before heading to the top of the upper deck, we found an usher who was happy to take this shot of us in the upper deck behind home plate:
And from the back row Section 326, Rangers Ballpark looks a lot like this:
The inner workings of Rangers Ballpark are pretty interest too. Check out this weird little landing at the middle of a stairway down from the upper deck:
The usher who took this next photo back in the field level…
…, was quite nervous that I would trip and send Tim crashing to the ground. But she still took the photo and did not ask me to take Tim down.
We decided to head back to center field. There was a parade of dogs going on around the warning track and Tim loved watching it:
NOTE: In the bottom right picture above, the guy who is holding the big snow shovel (not full of snow on this day) is the same guy who pitched to Tim in Rangers (whiffleball) Park the day before.
When a couple Royals moseyed on out to the visitors’ bullpen, Tim and I walked over to the railing at the bottom of the section. Royals’ bullpen catcher Bill Duplissea walked over and tossed Tim one of the baseballs that we’d previously seen sitting on the bullpen mound.
Normally, players toss baseballs to me (because Tim usually is not wearing his glove) or they had them to Tim. But Duplissea just grabbed the ball and tossed it directly to Tim (unsolicited) and Tim reached up and made the barehanded grab – his first barehanded grab ever at the ballpark.
As Duplissea walked away, I got this shot of Tim and his new prize:
He was very excited about making the barehanded catch and demonstrated his technique for me numerous times – i.e., his technique was to put his hands together like a bowl.
In that last picture, you can see the official line-up card taped to the wall of the bullpen. Tim and I watched a coach (Foster) tape it up there few minutes before Duplissea tossed Tim the baseball. I’ve heard it is somewhat easy to get line-up cards from the Rangers Ballpark visitors’ bullpen, so I asked Tim if he wanted to come back after the game to see if we could get it. He did.
And then we continued on our tour.
Here is a shot of Rangers Ballpark from section 42 as Alexi Ogando (I just made up that spelling, hopefully its correct) warmed up in RF:
And another view from Section 36:
We’d seen enough of the ballpark, so we decided to go grab out seats out in CF. On our way, we stopped by a little make-shift ice cream stand just inside the first base gate. Walking by earlier, I had seen that they had novelty ice creams for only $1.00. So Tim and I plunked two $2.00 and each enjoyed one of these:
As the umpires met prior to first pitch, we noticed the Rangers mascot (whose name I do not know) standing behind home plate with a little girl:
That’s a good looking mascot. But I’m sure the Mariner Moose could take him in a battle of overall entertainment value.
Before we knew it, it was game time.
With two outs in the top of the first, Eric Hosmer strode to the plate. I don’t follow the Royals closely, but it seemed like Hosmer is supposed to be some hot shot rookie or something, so I
figured I ought to take his photo.
Although my camera didn’t focus properly, I captured a very blurry shot of Hosmer right after he snapped his bat off at the handle in the course of flying out:
From our seats, I continued our stadium tour. These windows, from what I understand, are the Rangers Diamond Club:
And just above the windows, are the Rangers retired numbers:
Note: both the Rangers and the Astros have retired Nolan Ryan’s “34.”
Early in the game, we dined on nachos and…
…placed a call to Colleen/mommy to check in. In the picture of Tim on the phone, he is in the process of asking Colleen the same question over-and-over-and-over-and-over. He was getting a little frustrated that she wasn’t answering him. Noticing his frustration, I grabbed that phone and saw that he has unknowingly hung up on his mother. No wonder she wasn’t answering his question!
…shows the inning-by-inning scoreboard behind home plate. Most stadiums don’t have a scoreboard like that behind home plate, but they should. It was very convenient.
One of my main observations about Rangers Ballpark at this game is that its construction seems to create a swirling wind in the centerfield grass. It must blow right out of the stands and into center. The result:
Massive amounts of garbage on the field. That is actually right fielder Nelson Cruz with and at least four pieces of garbage in his area.
Almost every half inning, a bunch of guys in blue shirts would run out into the outfield and collect the newly deposited garbage:
So, anywhere, in addition to our stadium observations, food and cellphone calls, there was a game going on too.
As shown above, it was 2-2 in the top of the fourth. The Rangers scored one run in the second on a Mike Napoli double that plated Michael Young. In the third, they went up 2-0 on a Ian Kinsler solo homerun. But the Royals wouldn’t settle for just two runs in the fourth. Instead, they scored five on back-to-back doubles by Wilson Betemit and Mitch Maier, which was promptly followed by a homerun by Brayan Pena.
The Rangers got back one run in the bottom of the fifth on a Napoli homerun. But Ian Kinsler struck out to end the frame, and was then tossed out of the game:
Another somewhat unique feature of Rangers Ballpark is that the right fielders warm up between innings with the 1B line ball girl:
They do that same thing in Milwaukee – or at least they did when we visited Miller Park in 2009.
I got a cool action shot in the top of the sixth inning as Billy Butler grounded out to second base:
As should be evident from the angle of all of the above game photos, we were once again sitting in section 50 in centerfield. In fact, we were sitting in the exact same seats as the day before. Here is a shot of Tim as he stood and watched the action below in the bullpen:
To Tim’s left in that picture the chain link fence ends at a point where the bullpen wall bends. At the end of the fence, there is a little open space where stuff can drop down inside the wall. Someone had crammed a plastic cup down into the open space and it was filled it all sorts of nasty looking junk. We figured we should join in on the fun, so Tim and I both contributed a few sunflower seed shells to the cup full of nasty junk. In that last picture, Tim has his left hand up to his mouth while he is working on cracking a seed open — he’s still a seed-eating-rookie and needs to use his hand.
Just for kicks, I got this shot of Josh Hamilton at the plate — before he grounded into a double play:
Despite the pre-game dollar novelty ice cream, Tim still had plenty of room for a mint chocolate chip ice cream helmet:
At some point, former-Mariner Mark Lowe warmed up in the bullpen…
…, but he never came into the game.
In the eighth inning, we relocated to some aisle seats that had opened up along Greene’s Hill. I as hoping for a chance to run out into the grass in chase of a homerun. This is what it looked like out there:
But no homeruns came our way. One did, however, land in the gap in right field:
It sailed into the gap around where the white shoe is sticking out over the gap in the above picture. It was a two run shot off the bat of Michael Young that tied the game at 5-5 heading into the ninth.
Everyone was excited about the new life the Young homerun brough to the Rangers. These gals (Rangers employees) showed their excitement in the form of in-unison flag waving on Greene’s Hill:
I would guess that Rangers Ballpark has more Texas state flags that any other ballpark has of its respective state flag.
While we were out by Greene’s Hill, Tim was making funny faces at this little kid…
…and it was cracking the kid up. In fact, Tim was exciting the kid so much that his dad handed him off to his mom — “you deal with this honey.” I felt a little bad about it. But what was I supposed to do, tell Tim not to have fun and make other kids have fun at the ballpark? Nah, the ballpark is about having fun. So I let it continue.
The Royals quickly dampened the Rangers mood once again. In the top of the ninth, they scored an unearned run off of Rangers closer Neftali Feliz. The inning started off with Chris Getz hitting a double to RF. He got to third when Nelson Cruz bobbled the ball. Cruz’s error is the reason Getz’s run was unearned when he scored on a Alcides Escobar’s sacrifice fly.
While everyone else in the stadium was upset with the situation, I was quite happy. A Rangers loss would be good for the Mariners. But the Rangers still had other plans. And they started with the would-be goat, Nelson Cruz. Fresh off of his costly error, Nelson led off the bottom of the ninth by blasting a homerun into the gap in LF. Tie game.
Tim and I decided to run over there to see if we could see the ball at the bottom of the gap. But the lady who jumped to the side to avoid being hit by Cruz’s homerun ball told us that a guy (Rangers employee) had walked through the bottom of the gap and retrieved the ball.
Anyway, we ended the game with this view from section 6:
I would like to report that the Royals stormed back to take the lead again and win the game. But they did not. Instead, they lost the game on a ridiculous play. After the Cruz homer, the non-fleet-of-foot Mike Napoli hit a single. Joakim Soria (who blew the save when he gave up the Cruz homer) struck out Mitch Moreland and David Murphy.
That brought Elvis Andrus, who had replaced the booted Ian Kinsler, to the plate.
Elvis slapped a single by the first baseman and into right field. It was a nice little hit that should have advanced Napoli to third (and no more than third). But for some unknown reason, Napoli just kept running toward home plate. Right fielder Mitch Maier relayed the ball to first baseman Eric Hosmer. Hosmer turned and fired a strike to catcher Brayan Pena. Napoli was dead to rights. Napoli had not even made it to the dirt around home plate. He was a good five strides and a slide away from home plate! But instead of coming out in front of the plate to meet Napoli, Pena STEPPED BACK and opened up the plate for Napoli to slide in safe while Pena tagged him on the shoulder. It was, perhaps, the worst bit of *catchering* that I have ever witnessed.
And it led to this unwelcome sight:
Another Rangers win.
Oh, well. (The silver lining is that former-Mariner Arthur Rhodes got the win).
Anyway, there was still plenty of fun to be had at the ballpark.
Our post-game fun started off with a visit back to the visitors’ bullpen. He went down to about the third row of section 54 and waved at a Rangers employee who was working in the bullpen. As she walked over to see what we wanted, I asked if we could get the line-up card that was still taped to the wall. As she went to retrieve it, I heard a voice from our right say, “Hey, I read your blog! You’re Todd and Tim, right?”
Indeed, we were, I confirmed as I said hello to Frank. Although we’d never met, I recognized him from a cameo Frank had made the previous month on Zack Hample’s blog. Tim and I have only been *recognized* a handful of times and it is always a funny experience. It was great to briefly meet Frank, and he very kindly offered to take this photo of us with our first ever line-up card:
Two show our appreciation (for the picture and for reading about our adventures), I *rewarded* Frank with two free taco certificates Tim and I had *won* at the previous nights game when someone-did-something (got a hit or an RBI or a homerun or something).
Hope them tacos were tasty, Frank!
After parting ways with Frank, it was time to go get in line for *FANS* run the bases day. Yes, FANS run the bases. Kids of all ages were invited to circle the bases, and I was quite happy about it.
As we walked toward the line circling up the ramps in the first base concourse, I turned back and got this shot of the RF concourse:
There are definitely a lot of interesting views of all types inside Rangers Ballpark. And here is another of them:
It’s an extra-wide tunnel into the RF foul seats. And I got this shot of the stars in the steel framing up high above the walkway along the outer part of the 1B side concourse:
When we entered the seating area again, the game had been cover for a while. The CF trash collectors were off duty, but the wind was still working hard. This was the result:
Unluckily, the infield was trash free, and that was where we were running:
A couple more bonus Fans Run The Bases pictures:
It is always great to run Major League bases. I believe this is the 10th set of Major League bases that Tim has run, including (in no particular order) Progressive Field, Miller Park, Rogers Centre, PNC Park, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citi Field, Petco Park, Citizens Bank Park.
As we always do, we got the traditional post-run shot of the third base dugout…
…and the father-son on field shot:
Finally, it was time to leave Ranger Ballpark. It had been a lot of fun. On our way out, we got this shot (actually two shots put together) of the third base entrance and a big Rangers logo on the ground outside the entrance:
And just like in Houston, we ended it all with a fire hydrant shot, this time a nice shiny silver hydrant outside of the third base entrance:
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|11/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|12/2 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros and Royals; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles]|
|6 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies, Rangers (2))|
|35 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals)
|5/1 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington; Kellan – Camden Yards]|
|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]|
|4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; 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.|
On August 15, 2010, Tim and I woke up in our hotel in Cleveland ready to see the Mariners take another game from the Indians and for Tim to run the bases at Progressive Field.
But first we had to walk around downtown Cleveland a tiny bit to see what the city had to offer. Just down the street from our hotel was a big park where Tim and I rocked out on some huge guitars…
Sitting on the edge of Lake Erie and just down the hill from the park, we found this scene:
Okay, that’s enough Cleveland for us, it was time to head to Progressive Field.
We arrived shortly before Gate C opened. We were about 50 people back in the single line. After a few minutes, a stadium attendant came up to us and told us to walk up front to start a new line. So, all of a sudden, we were first in line:
“Team store ready? “Check!”
“Suite ready” “Check!”
“Right field ramp ready?” “Check!”
Finally, all of the checks checked out and we hussled into the stadium to watch our Mariners take some BP.
All of those boxes at the gate? They were filled with mustard hot dogs…
Tim wasn’t liking the sun beating down in RF, so we headed into the infield to hang out in the shade.
I was just hanging out watching BP and Tim was taking pictures of stuff all over the field. He loves to take pictures.
At some point, one of our fine Mariners drilled a line drive off of the L-screen and it landed in foul territory…
When BP wrapped up, Tim was sitting on my shoulders and we were shooting a video clip as all of our Mariners passed below us into the dugout. And that is when I got this clip of Alonzo Powell tossing us our third and final baseball of the game:
With BP concluded and half-an-hour or more until game time, we headed up to the second deck in RF so Tim could play in the kids’ play area…
Before the game started, we headed back down to the field level behind the M’s dugout. During the national anthem, I got some pictures of our coaching staff including two Major League newcomers, veteran minor league coaches Daren Brown and Roger Hansen…
…along side a couple Mariners coaches who had both thrown us a baseball within the last 24 hours, Alonzo Powell and Lee Tinsley. By the way, Hansen is the same guy featured in a large scale Ken Griffey, Jr. prank during spring training. Griff and Hansen go way back. I think this is Hansen’s first stint in the majors and I hope that Griff gets out to the ballpark (any ballpark) to show his friend some major league support this season.
So, it was game time, and Tim and I found ourselves in the standing room area just behind the last row of seats on the 1B side of home plate. Yesterday, Ichiro led off the game with a quick single. Today, he never swung the bat…
It was lunch time. Amazingly, Tim did not want nachos. Instead, all he wanted was a ridiculously huge cup of french fries…
…that we ate at a table in the 1B side concourse. While Tim sat and attacked the fries, I nibbled on my fair share of fries while standing next to the table watching Felix Hernandez dominate the Indians.
With the score knotted at zero, Adam Moore grounded out in the second inning:
The Mariners were doing nothing offensively.
No worries. Felix Hernandez was still dominating:
It was time for some ice cream. We found this place in the 1B side inner concourse (the concourse on the 1B side splits into a two parts – the inside part is open to the field and the outside part is enclosed between concession stands, bathrooms, etc.).
They had ice cream helmets here and some excellent choices of real ice cream flavors…
I got some “Mariner” Moose Tracks and Tim got Superman. The lady was even kind enough to scoop only blue, yellow and green for Tim (and no extreme hyperness inducing red dye no. 40 ice cream). Thanks, lady!
Tim enjoyed his Superman ice cream helmet from the handicapped accessible seating right by where we’d previously been standing in the SRO area…
Felix, well, he was still dominating:
Finally, in the top of the 5th Casey Kotchman broke through with the Mariners first hit of the game, a leadoff double to deep CF. At this point, our ice cream was gone and Tim was wrapped up in playing with his new mustard hot dog…
While Tim was busy with the mustard hot dog, the Mariners were busy trying to scratch out a run or two for King Felix. And, despite their best efforts, it wasn’t going too well for the M’s.
With runners on first and second, Michael Saunders attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt…
After Chris Woodward walked to load the bases with one out, Ichiro absolutely crushed a line drive…
…that Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta snared for the second out. It had extra bases and 2 RBIs written all over it! Chone Figgins then laid down another failed bunt for the third out of the inning.
Still, no runs for the Mariners.
Luckily, Felix was still dominating the Indians:
If the M’s could just scrape out one run, we would have been feeling really good about our chances at seeing a second straight Mariners win.
Tim needed to visit the play area again. And he tossed some foamy baseballs into this pitching thingy:
I noticed that the walkway went out over Gate C (in fact, this walkway is what we tried to take cover under during the rainstorm the day before) and then turned left and headed toward Heritage Park. So, we followed it. This was the view from the walkway in almost straight-away CF:
While down there, we spied on the Indians reliever…
It was getting into the bottom of the seventh at this point. We headed to the bleachers in LF. Felix still had no run support, but he was still looking unhittable.
The first batter in the bottom of the seventh flew out to Franklin Gutierrez.
The second batter grounded out to short stop.
And then things took a disasterous turn. King Felix induced former Mariner Luis Valbuena to ground to 2B. But instead of recording the third out of the inning, Chone Figgins booted the ball.
It was nightmare time. Felix should have been out of the inning. The Mariners should have been batting in the top of the 8th. Instead, the Indians proceeded to score SEVEN UNEARNED RUNS. Six unearned runs were *charged* to Felix, including a grand slam by Travis Hafner. Then Sean White came in and gave up the final unearned run of the inning — a homerun by Jayson Nix.
Stick a fork in the Mariners. After a dominating 6.2 inning performance by King Felix, the Mariners were done.
Felix’s line on the day:
6.2 innings, 6 Hits, 6 Runs, 0 Earned Runs, 4 BB, 7K
We headed into the infield for the end of the game. We found some seats under cover where I got some close-up shots of some Mariners throw-away at bats…including, Russell Branyan…
…watching a low pitch en route to a four pitch walk in the top of the 8th.
And Jose Lopez fouling off a pitch…
Tim loves a kids show called “Team Umizoomi,” which has taught him to have “pattern power.” Tim grabbed my camera and showed off his pattern power with alternating shots of his mustard hot dog and the infield…
In the eighth, the Indians tacked on two more runs on a homerun by Michael Brantley, who by all indications appears to be the son of former Mariner Mickey Brantley…who happens to be the first person to ever give me a baseball…way back in my youth at the Kingdome.
Like yesterday, we found ourselves sitting in the front row behind home plate in the ninth inning. It was interesting to watch the home plate cameraman switch camera positions each time a different handed batter came to the plate…
The game ended with little fan fare.
Once again, a million kids of all age materialized at the umpires’ exit and the home plate umpire ignored everyone.
We headed over to the Mariners dugout to cheer on our non-victorious guys and to pose for a picture:
Finally, it was time to line up for Kids Run the Bases! Exactly 1 year and 363 days ago, Tim, my Dad, and I lined up in this very ballpark for our first ever Kids Run the Bases experience. We had to go almost to the top of the stadium to find the end of the line…
I was interested to see something while in line. When we ran the bases on August 17, 2008, we passed by a sign in the bowels of Progressive Field that notified us that it has been “19” days since the Indians last “Lost Time Accident.” I was interested to see how many days they were at now. My math powers (just like Team Umizoomi) told me that the most days it could possibly be up to was 747 (August 17, 2008 to August 15, 2010 + 19 days = (365 x 2) – 2 + 19 = 747).
The suspense mounted as we wound our way down and down and down into the belly of Progressive Field. Finally, we reached the bottom. We turned the final corner and walked into a machine storage / random work stuff area and found the sign:
Let’s hear it for on-the-job safety!
Finally, we were on the RF foul warning track. We got some nice person to take our picture by the 325 sign…
…just like the one my dad took 728 days earlier. Tim has grown a bit in the past two years.
Then, I had a terrible idea: I would video Tim’s run around the bases. I’ve done this a couple times to moderate success. This time, my filming was a complete failure (well, of the running the bases portion at least, the lead up to the bases is okay). Here is the evidence:
One cool thing that is hard to tell from this video is that there were several Indians stationed on the field giving kids high fives — one by 1B (not sure who) and one at home plate (manager Manny Acta).
After running, we strolled by the 3B dugout and I got pictures of the fancy dugout seating between the two dugouts and behind home plate (to the left below)…
After running the bases and before we could meet up behind the plate, Tim scratched his finger on the metal fence in front of the dugout seating area. It was a teeny, tiny little scratch, but you would have thought his whole arm was ripped off. Here he is *gutting out* one last picture from the field…
Before leaving the field, I got this panorama from foul territory down the 3B line:
Despite the bizzare 7-unearned run inning and the loss following a dominating performance by King Felix, we had a great time at this game and on our entire weekend trip to Cleveland.
2010 Fan Stats:
18 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox and Indians; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
17 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals, Indians)
53 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs)
11 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field)
13 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
9 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
7 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)
Since Kellan’s birth in mid-July, our family has been crazy busy. Tim and I only went to one game in July. But we had big plans for August.
It all started on August 8, 2010, when Tim and I hopped in our trusty Prius and headed down to Camden Yards to see the Orioles take on the Chicago White Sox.
We had one major goal for the day: get Tim’s picture with former Mariners ace Freddy Garcia. I loved Freddy as a Mariner, and I thought it would be great to meet him. And what better place than at Camden Yards? I don’t know if there is another stadium where the players are as accessible as they are in Baltimore.
One problem, we didn’t have “season tickets” that would allow us to get into the main part of the stadium half an hour early. And our man with the season tickets hook-up, Camden Yards regular Avi Miller, was home ill.
So, we hung out in the shady seats in RCF for the first half hour…
…it really didn’t matter too much though. There was no batting practice and almost no one was on the field. One Oriole was running in deep RF, and he gave Tim a wave a said “hi” as he ran by at one point. A little later, a couple White Sox came out to play catch in shallow LF. I used my camera to zoom in on them, and Freddy was not among them.
When the stadium finally opened, we headed over to the 3B line to watch the remaining White Sox play catch. I did not recognize any of them…
Eventually, Mr. 68 headed back toward the dugout. He tossed a baseball to a kid in a White Sox shirt and another to a kid in a Mariners hat…
There was NOTHING happening on the field.
We headed over to LF for no apparent reason. While over there, we ended up getting a special picture — with Babe Ruth — for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. Then we got a picture of the two of us in the cross-aisle…
We hung out over there for a while, but then I had an idea. There is something special that the O’s do before pretty much every game. The O’s Bird heads out to LF and plays a little whiffleball with kids he pulls out of the crowd. He does all sorts of funny stuff, like throwing a base when the kids are running the bases.
Its been my goal all season to get Tim involved, but it hasn’t happened. In the car ride on the way down, I asked Tim if he’d like to try to play whiffle ball with the Bird. I had to prep him for the possiblity because he takes his base running seriously. I feared that he would get upset if he didn’t understand that the Bird likes to do things such as throw the bases while a kid is running the bases. It was good that I prepped him, because he didn’t understand why the Bird would do that. I told him it was just to be funny and play a joke on the kids. Tim liked that and he was excited to try to get in on the whiffleball.
When I remembered it, I asked Tim if he still wanted to try to play whiffleball with the Bird. He did. So I suggested we head back into the stadium. Right when we made it down the LF line, I saw two O’s employees walking out with an equipment bag. I flagged them down and asked if Tim could get in on the whiffle ball action. The answer was “YES!” Sweet.
When the Bird arrived, the guy I’d asked came over and pulled Tim out of the stands…
Essentially, each kid just takes one hit and then rounds the bases. Tim was ready for the next pitch…
As Tim rounded first, the Bird ran to second base…
[TIME OUT: I have to mention that the last picture is one of my favorites. As Tim is rounding first, you can see Juan Pierre and Alex Rios walking in shallow CF, Carlos Quentin is at the far right walking toward the foul line, and a couple Orioles are playing catch in deep CF. How cool is that? The next kid actually hit the ball to “RF” and Alex Rios fielded it and gunned it back to the Bird.]
…Instead, the Bird just stood there as Tim approached to touch second. Then, the Bird grabbed the base and used it like a matador’s red cape…
Tim immediately bolted for third. He thrives on eluding would-be taggers. The Bird chased behind Tim trying to tag him…
Tim scored! And then he kept running straight back to me. He was only out there for a minute or two, but he had a blast and absolutely loved it. He wants to do it again!
After whiffleball, a former Mariners great (but not Freddy Garcia) was signing autographs down the foul line. I had totally forgot that slick fielding former M’s short stop Omar Vizquel plays for the White Sox this season. But, guess what? He does.
And here he is signing the baseball that Erick Threets had given to Tim earlier in the day:
Now here is something interesting (at least to me). We’re not big autograph guys (we’re picture guys). In fact, before reading it on other MLBlogs, I had never even heard the term “the sweet spot.” But, over the past two seasons, Tim and I have collected about 10-15 autographs on baseballs that we’ve caught at games, and Omar is the first and only player to ever sign his name on the sweet spot. Every single other player has signed his name on…whatever they call the non-sweet spot.
As I said, autographs are good, but we’re picture guys. So this was the real prize:
For the record, that is Tim and a future Hall of Famer. I know his offensive numbers aren’t all that special (actually, his hit total is pretty special), but I would put Omar Vizquel up against any short stop in the history of baseball. The guy is absolutely incredible with the glove. I seriously do not think there has been a better short stop in the game, at least during my life time. And guess what? Omar’s offensive numbers are as good or better than Ozzie Smith’s numbers. So for my money, the guy is a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Bottom line: when we weren’t able to get a picture with Freddy, this picture with Omar more than made up for the disappointment.
A few minutes later, we watched Omar show off some of his fancy glove work…
…along the foul line. Omar can catch a baseball by letting it just tap the heel of his glove to deaden the throw before his bare hand swipes the ball out of the air. Its truly amazing, and incredibly hard to do. I’ve only been able to do it a couple times in my life. I should have taken a video of it because Little O was doing it here and trying to teach his teammate (not Ramirez, but the guy out in CF) how to do it. If you ever want to learn a thing or two about catching a baseball, you should seriously consider just taking a seat and watching Omar during pre-game warm ups.
By the time the game started, we’d already had a full day’s worth of fun.
It seems like we are always on the RF/1B side of the stadium at Camden Yards. I wanted to switch it up. We started off the game in the handicapped accessible seats in the cross-aisle behind section 62. We were standing in the cross-aisle and I asked the usher which way was north so I could figure out which direct the sun would be moving. I told him we wanted to avoid the sun. He suggested we sit in the handicapped accessible seats behind the section he was working, which were shaded at the time.
Here was the view:
Tim pointed out the pitchers mound for me…
Then, Tim took over the controls of the camera. Here are some samples of the shots he took:
In the top of the first, Guthrie gave up a single to Alex Rios and a double to Paul Konerko, but escaped without giving up any runs. Buehrle sat the Orioles down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first.
The first scoring of the day occurred in the bottom of the second inning. O’s left fielder Felix Pie drove a solo homerun deep into the flag court yard in RF.
Two batters later, Cesar Izturis…
As the all-time greats go, 1,000 hits is nothing. But when you think about it, to be able to collect 1,000 hits in major league baseball is pretty special. So congratulations to Cesar.
In the bottom of the third, I was all set to try to get an action shot of Omar Vizquel adding another hit to his impressive resume (as of today he has 2,778 hits). Unfortunately, I had to settle for this picture…
…of Omar about to hit a foul ball. Omar did actually get a hit in this at bat and I did get a picture of the swing, but Tim walked in front of the camera. It would be the only picture Tim blocked on the day, and it would be Omar’s only hit. Oh, well.
A couple innings later, we found ourselves sitting in LF where this was our view:
However, we did see Omar hit again (in the top of the 5th inning) while we were in LF:
The score did not stay tied long. And we didn’t stay long in LF. Tim wanted to move back into the shade. So we went and grabbed an Orioles Ice Cream Helmet and relocated to another set of handicapped accessible seats, this time in the cross-aisle behind section 47.
Here was our view:
All of the Birdland faithful were hoping that Adam “Not Pacman” Jones could make it back-to-back-to-back RBI doubles, but, alas, he could not. With this not mighty enough swing…
By the way, Tim really latched onto Quentin during this game. During pre-game warmups we were discussing the players we were watching and I pointed out Quentin. Tim started talking about “Carlos” like they were old buddies. Each time Quentin came to the plate, Tim would mention, “Hey, its Carlos.” And after this catch, we discussed how Tim’s good friend “Carlos” caught that high pop fly.
Fan favorite Jeremy Guthrie was still in the game and he was “dealing”…
After Little O bunted this Guthrie offering foul…
Leading off the bottom of the 7th inning, Cesar Izturis started in on his second thousand hits by driving a 2B to deep LCF for his 1,001st hit. After advancing to 3B on a passed ball, Izturis scored the O’s fourth and final run of the day on a single by Brian Roberts.
Guthrie was back on the hill in the 8th inning, and he mowed down the ChiSox 1-2-3, including this harmless ground out by Paul Konerko…
While scouting out seats from the cross-aisle slightly shaded toward 1B, someone (can’t remember who) hit a foul ball DIRECTLY to the handicapped accessible seat that I had been sitting in for the last several innings. All I would have had to do was stand up and make the uncontested catch. Bummer.
Anyway, this was our view for the bottom of the ninth inning:
…and then a homerun to Ramon Castro. That made the score 4-3 Orioles. But that was all she wrote. Simon would get the next two batters (Brad Lillibridge and Juan Pierre) to secure the win for Guthrie and the save for himself.
Something else interesting happened during the ninth inning, the ushers on both sides of the umpire tunnel were actively assisting kids in trying to get an umpire ball. One usher stopped by and told Tim and a girl sitting behind us “The umpire’s name is Phil, you should ask him for a baseball when he leaves the field” while another usher on the other side of the tunnel brought three little kids down to the second row and sat them right on the tunnel with instructions to ask Cuzzi for a baseball.
Cuzzi came off the field after the final out and handed one baseball to one of the kids the usher had sat on the 3B side of the umpires tunnel. Then he approached Tim and placed a second baseball in his glove…
Thanks, Mr. Cuzzi!
Hey, guess what? It was time for Kids Run the Bases!
The O’s held the promotion exclusively for members of the O’s Dugout Club. We visited the extremely helpful and nice O’s fan assistance office to inquire about how Tim could become a member so he could run the bases. It costs $12 and comes with all sorts of goodies. But the lady in the fan assistance office (probably rightfully thinking we were in from out of town and were not O’s fans) suggested that we could probably run without Tim becoming a member of the club. So, we saved our $12 and did not join the club.
I was a little nervous because almost every kid in line was wearing some evidence of being a member of the club, everyone but Tim. But it didn’t matter. They made no effort to check to see if people were members of the club.
When we reentered the stadium to run the bases, the usher who is usually out on Eutaw Street spraying fans and giving out baseball cards was spraying people with his water bottle in the concourse. But he wasn’t handing out any baseball cards…that is, he wasn’t until we arrived.
As Tim approached to get sprayed, I said to him, “You gotta say “‘Hit me!'” Immediately upon saying that to Tim, the usher (whose name, I think, is Greg??), proclaimed, “He said the MAGIC WORDS!”…
It was time to run some bases. As Tim waited in the line at first base (the O’s were making the effort to space out the runners, which we always appreciate), I got a shot of the visitors dugout:
I got this shot of Tim stomping on second base:
Third base also cooperated with my camera:
Before heading up into the stands, we posed for a few pictures on the field, including this one…
…with the baseball from Phil Cuzzi.
- Whiffle ball in the outfield with The Bird;
- An autograph from and picture with former Mariner and future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel;
- Kids Run The Bases; and
- Father-Son fun.
Wow – It was an excellent day! Not only that, it was a truly excellent weekend of baseball fun (this was the Sunday immediately following our campout in the Reading Phillies’ outfield).
Fun, fun, fun.
Thank you, Baseball. We missed you!
2010 Fan Stats:
17 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics and White Sox; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
16 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
40 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox)
10 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park)
13 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
9 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
6 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards)
On June 13, 2010, two factors [incredibly awesome seats + extremely relaxed stadium staff during Kids Run The Bases] combined to result in one of the longest, more picture laden game reports that we have ever produced. Here it goes.
We woke up at the KOA in Chula Vista and hit the local Denny’s for breakfast. Then we came back, got ready for the Mariners game at Petco Park and used the spare time we had before the game to play in the KOA’s play area:
It was an afternoon game, so it was still morning when we got to the park. I know an extremely cool guy named Al who lived most of his life in our area in PA, but now lives in San Diego. Back in November 2009, he mentioned that he has the ability to get incredibly awesome seats at Padres games and offered to get them for us for this game. I was unsure if it would actually happen so I bought cheap outfield tickets before the season started to be sure we had tickets.
Al was planning to join us for at least part of the game so we arranged to meet him at the stadium. But we arrived about 45 minutes before him. So we used the cheap outfield tickets to head inside for BP. After Tim collected his Padres batting helmet giveaway, we headed in and found there was no BP today. Even worse was the fact that Tim couldn’t play in the Beach because it was closed. There was a “breakfast in the park” event on the warning track and I guess they didn’t want loud kids right next to the people who were literally eating breakfast at tables on the warning track.
Only two Mariners were on the field when we arrived.
Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith was doing his running and stretching routine in LF…
Soon, Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman came out to play some catch. While they were playing, I noticed that my Dad had wondered off. I wasn’t sure where he had gone. When Figgins and Kotchman finished playing catch…
…Kotchman walked back to the dugout. As I watched him approach the dugout, I saw that my Dad was the only person standing directly above the dugout — and he was wearing a Mariners shirt. Kotchman rewarded him with the his and Figgins’ warm up baseball.
Tim and I headed over to the dugout to hang out with my Dad. The stadium was empty and it was a cool “morning in the park” type atomosphere. People were quietly getting ready for a day of baseball. At one point, a guy started mowing the infield:
The Padres helmets came with number stickers. I put “18” on the back of Tim’s helmet. When we were standing behind the dugout with my Dad, Tim asked me to put a “5” on the bill of his helmet. Then he told me to put a “1” in front of the “5.” I did…
…and then Tim said, “5-1 just like Ichiro!” He was a little bummed out when I told him that we’d really done “15” — Milton Bradley — not Ichiro’s “51.” A second later, Al called us and we left the stadium and met him out front. Because we’d be entering the stadium again on new tickets, I told Tim he would get another helmet and we could put Ichiro’s “51” on it.
We headed out the exit in LF and then we circled…
My Dad, Tim, Al and I headed to our seats, which were in the 18th row directly behind home plate. They were amazing seats. A bunch of Mariners pitchers were playing catch down the 3B line, so Tim and I headed over there while my Dad and Al hung out chatting in our seats.
We stayed in the same place and watched a couple different sets of M’s pitchers play catch. First, Jason Vargas (foreground below) and Luke French (background below) played right in front of us. At one point, French threw a low and inside (for a righty) pitch that Vargas couldn’t handle…
…it trickled right by Vargas and into my glove. I immediately scooped it up and tossed it back to Vargas — he needed the ball and I couldn’t stand in the way of my team’s pitchers getting their work in. When I tossed the ball back to Vargas, I asked if we could get the ball back when they were finished. He said, “Maybe.” Unfortunately, the maybe turned into a “no” because Vargas and French got into a deep discussion about grips on the ball (see inset picture) and they kept handing the ball back and forth as they walked back to the dugout.
Next, David Aardsma and Brandon League started stretching right in front of us. The D.A. gave Tim a smile and a little wave…
…which Tim thought was pretty cool. After playing some warm up catch, League started pitching to Aardsma with the D.A. crouched on the foul line. Early on, a pitch trickled by the D.A. and I scooped it up. As I tossed it back to Aardsma, I asked if we could get it back after they finished playing catch. He gave me a more definitive answer than Vargas, “Yeah.”
As we waited for League and Aardsma to wrap up, former All-Star Chad Cordero walked by and was happy to sign an autograph and pose for a picture with Tim:
Tim was working on another All-Star ballot while we watched the pitchers warming up. League was still pitching to Aardsma. Eventually, Tim asked me if I would pick him up. For the first time, I took off my glove (set it on the wall) and bent down to pick up Tim.
The hard tossing Brandon League uncorked a wild and blazing fast ball past Aardsma. From the corner of my eye, I saw it skip off the outer edge of the warning track. As I lifted Tim up, the ball violently hit the very top of the padded wall…at literally the top inch of the wall. People shreaked as they thought the ball was going to smash me and Tim. Had the wall been an inch shorter, it would have slammed into my side. And it would have really hurt, I could tell. An usher came to ask us if we were alright. Luckily, the wall was just high enough and the ball bounced back onto the grass on the 3B side of Aardsma.
Soon, League and Aardsma switched positions and League was crouched on the foul line catching the D.A.
The day before, Ryan Rowland-Smith had told us that he has daily discussions with Cliff Lee about pitching. Today, we watched first hand as…
Eventually, Aardsma snuck a pitch by League and, for the third time, I scooped the ball up off of the warning track and threw the ball back. This time, I asked League if we could get the ball when they were finished. Instead of making us wait to find out the answer, he walked over and grabbed his wild pitch ball that had almost taken me out, and he tossed the baseball to me.
Soon thereafter, Lee and RRS headed over to RF so RRS could do some work off of the mound in the M’s bullpen. We decided to head over there as well. Actually, we didn’t know they’d gone over there. We just saw action in the M’s bullpen and figured we should see what was happening.
When we got over there, Lee was chatting up a Padre in the OF grass right next to the bullpen and RRS was pitching to Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips:
Between pitches, Phillips saw us and said hi. After RRS finished his work, Jason came over to the fence and chatted with us a bit. It was nice to chat with him. As we were splitting up, I asked if I could get his picture with RRS and he asked if we wanted a baseball. So, after he hooked us up with a ball — our ninth overall from Phillips and our 7th stadium getting a ball from him — he went to grab Ryan. But Ryan was busy talking to Rick Adair. When RRS was finished, he said hi to us and I asked if I could get his picture with Phillips. So, he grabbed Jason and they posed for the picture above.
Ryan knows that Jason is a Cook & Son Hall of Famer because he saw it on our blog, so he understood why I wanted their picture together. But I have no clue if Jason knows about the C&S Hall of Fame. I guess I should ask him later this season.
After the picture, Tim and I started heading back to our seats and Tim tapped me on the leg and quietly asked, “Can I ask Jason Phillips something?” (FYI, Tim pretty regularly asks me extremely quietly if he can ask people questions). We headed back over to the bullpen and I got Jason’s attention and said, “The little guy has something he wants to tell you.” Tim yelled out, “My favorite baseball players are the MARINERS!” That gave Jason a big smile.
Then we headed to our seats. Check this out:
Here was the view:
So you want to hear something crazy? We literally just left the bullpen where we were talking to Jason Phillips and we arrived at our seats where we discovered we were sitting right next to Jason’s family. Prodded by a very nice and talkative federal employee, we all started chatting. I ended going over and sitting right in front of Mr. Phillips for a bit and discussing our many run-ins with his son. He told us an interesting piece of trivia that I did not know: Jason Phillips hit the 5,000th homerun in Mets franchise history off of Randy Wolf of the Phillies. (FYI, Ken Griffey, Jr. achieved the same accomplishment for the Mariners in 2009).
The reason the whole discussion started in our section is because Jason’s dad was wearing some huge rings and the federal employee asked him what they were. Here is a look at one of the rings:
Jason’s dad is on a softball team that has won the world championship twice in the last couple years. And these were some huge and legit looking rings. Two seconds after this picture, Tim asked Jason’s dad if he could have this ring.
By the way, this wasn’t the only championship ring in our immediate vicinity. This ring was sitting on a finger two rows behind us on the opposite side of the stairs…
You might have noticed in the panorama a couple pictures above that there were military people standing at each position on the field. Sundays at Petco Park are military appreciation days. There were a bunch of military people on the field before the game…
This meant that the Padres were also wearing their camoflague jerseys…
…which I am showing off in this picture because I think the contrast in the first kid’s face and Heath Bell’s face is hilarious. That kid gunned the ceremonial first pitch to the backstop…and the throw would have been behind a left handed batter.
Soon, the game was underway. Ichiro led off with a walk…
This view of home plate was so great, I could hardly stop myself from taking pictures of every at bat.
I cannot thank Al enough for hooking us up with these seats. It was a joy to watch King Felix dominate the Padres from this amazing view:
The only downside about these seats was that they were right out in the open beneath the hot sun. No shade at all. Tim is a big fan of shade, and not so much of the sun. But we cooled the boy off with an ice cream helmet…
…early in the game. By the way, that is Jason Phillips dad three down from Tim wearing the royal blue hat and about to pop some seeds in his mouth. He was decked out in Blue Jays gear to support his other son, Kyle Phillips. And that is Al sitting right next to Tim.
The last time I saw King Felix hit in interleague play, he hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana. Today, he was all about sacrifice bunting…
Leading off the bottom of the third, Scott Hairston got the first Padres hit of the day off of King Felix, and then something crazy and horrible followed.
Tony Gwynn, Jr. hit this pitch on a low line to CF (see how Gutierrez is already reading the ball to be a little off toward LF)…
…and at the last minute, Gutierrez swooped in to try to snar it. But it fell a tiny bit short and rolled all the way to the wall. Gwynn was off to the races and he did not stop until he had a stand up “quadruple.”
I don’t think that I have ever witnessed a professional “inside the park homerun” before, Tim definitely had not. After witnessing this one, I think they should be called “quadruples” because they are a whole lot more like triples than they are homeruns. They’re fundamentally different than homeruns. Pretty exicting. I just wish the Mariners could have had a “do over” because Gutierrez catches everything and given a second chance, I know he would have caught this one too.
All of sudden, we were losing 2-0 despite the fact that Felix Hernandez was generally dominating the Padres. We needed some offense, and Milton Bradley was happy to provide it…
Soon, Tim needed some relief from the sun. So we took a walk in the shady concourse that turned into a tour of the remaining part of Petco Park that I didn’t see the day before. We headed up to the upper deck in RF…
By the way, check out the kids sitting digging in the sand with their backs turned to the field. Not a bright idea. Hopefully no kid ever gets (or has already gotten) tagged by a homerun into the Beach.
On our way back over to foul territory, a nice fan took our picture (with Ichiro batting in the background):
…I describe it as “weird” because from most places in the stadium these flags range from very hard to see to impossible to see. In fact, I never noticed them until walking by them…for the second time.
Even from above, Felix looked dominant:
Tim did his best attempt at standing at attention when this kind Marine officer (at least I’m guessing he is an officer, he appeared to be in charge of the rest of them) agreed to pose for a picture with Tim:
As we made our way down the walkway ramps to the field level, I took this shot showing the interesting architecture of Petco Park:
…and exploded a bunch of peanut shells. See that funny straw hat on the lady sitting in front of Tim in the top right picture? That old lady was unintentionally hilarious. She was a Padres fan and her husband was a Mariners fan who used to live in Seattle. At random times throughout the day, she would aggressively mutter “hit it over the fence! hit it over the fence!” at her Padres batters and she would sound disgusted if the Mariners did anything good.
Luckily, the Mariners gave her a few more opportunities to sound disgusted.
Going into the top of the 8th inning, the score was still 2-2. The Padres starter, Clayton Richard, had gone 7 innings giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs, but they lifted him for Luke Gregerson in the 8th.
Gregerson started off by giving up an infield single to Chone Figgins. Two batters later, Jose Lopez smacked this ball…
Although nothing more came of it, it was fun to see Milton Bradley talk home plate umpire Angel Hernandez into a hit by pitch later in the inning…
In the top of the 9th, the Mariners were still leading 3-2 when Joe Thatcher took the hill for the Padres. Thatcher promptly surrendered a single to Mariners catcher Rob Johnson. It was Rob’s third hit of the day and I later learned that it was only the second 3-hit day of his career. Interestingly, we were also present for his only other 3-hit game last season.
Felix Herandez came to the plate next and sacrificed his favorite catcher over to second base.
That brought Ichiro to the plate. Ichiro and the Mariners were looking for a little insurance for their slim 1-run lead. Ichiro started by bunting the first pitch foul…
Tim and I like to try to get a ball from the umpire after a game. But in the first four games of the roadtrip we hadn’t even tried. Since we were already sitting so close to the umpires’ tunnel at this game, we figured we might as well give it a shot.
The umpires’ tunnel at Petco Park is at the home plate side of the visitors’ dugout. In the bottom of the ninth, with Felix back on the mound gunning for a complete game, we headed over to try to stand in the cross aisle right behind the tunnel. An usher saw us and suggested that we sit in some of the open seats nearby. He pointed out some seats that he had in mind.
I asked him if it would be okay to go a little closer to the umpires’ tunnel. He said, “Oh, you want to try to get a ball after the game? Sure!” And he let us take these seats right above the tunnel:
In that picture, Felix Hernandez is about to walk down into the dugout. He got the first batter in the bottom of the ninth, but then surrendered a single to Adrian Gonzalez. When Scott Hairston hit an infield grounder, everyone in the stadium thought it was a game ending double play. But Hairston beat it out and Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu decided to pull Felix and put in David Aardsma.
Felix was upset about not getting to finish the game. But on his fourth pitch, the D.A. induced a pop fly by Nick Hundley and the scoreboard showed the happy totals:
After the almost double play, the usher came by to give us some advice on getting a ball from the umpire. He was very nice. But with the pop fly out, we had plenty of time to get into the corner spot right at the back of the dugout and side of the umpire tunnel.
Angel Hernandez walked off and walked right over to Tim and handed him this baseball…
…5 seconds later, 3B umpire “Cowboy” Joe West walked by and grabbed the baseball back from Tim and started walking into the tunnel with the baseball. He then turned back around and brought the ball back to Tim. He was very amused by his little prank. And we used the opportunity to give Joe West some high fives and then get this awesome picture (above left) of Tim and West.
I had wanted real bad to get a picture of Tim with an umpire for the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt. It seemed to me like it was the hardest picture in the competition to get. The umpires generally don’t linger on the field after games. They take off quick. So the fact that West decided to play a fast one on Tim and take his baseball back was the perfect opportunity.
Thank you, Joe West! And thank you, Angel Hernandez, too!
Our day at the ballpark wasn’t finished just yet. It was Kids Run The Bases time!
The line started deep in the Park in the Park…
We entered the field through a ramp next to the bleachers and beach:
The line took a while to finally get into the field. But finally we made it! And it was awesome. Some stadiums have strict policies and strict ushers enforcing them during Kids Run The Bases. Our first sign of the relaxed attitude was that an usher agreed to take this picture of us kneeling in front of the “400” foot sign:
We stopped right by the usher who took that picture so I could get a shot of Tim with the field behind him…
We always try to get our picture by the RF foul pole and OF fence distance marker. This turned out being one of my favorite pictures ever…
…first I told Tim to stand next to the “322” like he was playing outfield. Then I told him to jump against the wall like he was trying to catch a baseball. I absolutely love that jumping picture. Check that out, he’s hanging in the air!
The relaxed usher attitude carried over to the bullpen. Tim played a little catcher…
…by the way, we seemed to be the only people running around taking fun pictures on our walk to home plate. Sure, some people were taking pictures with the field behind them. But I didn’t see anyone else snapping pictures by the wall or in the bullpen. They missed out on some great photo opportunities!
Here is another random shot with the field behind Tim…
The Padres did a great job with the actual run too. They spaced the kids out really well. When we walked up, I must have looked like I wanted to follow Tim (which I did) because the 1B usher said to me, “Go for it!” So I followed Tim with my camera ablazing…
My dad stayed in the seats behind the 3B dugout where he got this video on his camera:
After the run, the ushers were still pretty relaxed. I got our standard “with the dugout” picture…
By the way, see those two windows behind the LF fence? Those go into the Padres team store. There is a door from the team store into a little triangle standing area just behind the fence where fans can watch the game from field level through the chain link OF fence.
After that last picture, we headed out to our car…
We stayed at the Chula Vista KOA again. After the game, we took a little dip in the pool…
…and then went to dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant in a little strip mall. It wasn’t an impressive place from the outside, but the food was delicious and the people were extremely nice. So, if you’re in Chula Vista, be sure to check out Casa Del Taco.
2010 Fan Stats:
14 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres and Nationals)
32 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 1 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres)
8 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park)
11 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
8 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)
It was a day game following a rain-delayed, extra late night game, and we were in the starting line-up. Actually, you couldn’t keep us away from the Braves vs. Pirates game on Sunday, May 23, 2010. This game was the whole reason for the weekend trip — our first ever Kids Run The Bases day at:
And it wasn’t just Kids “Run The Bases” day, it was an all-around “Kids Day.” We arrived at the stadium about two hours before game time, and it was in full kids festival mode…
The BP situation was a little confusing. Well, just the beginning of it. We entered the park through the River walk enterance in LCF. On weekends, the River walk opens 2.5 hours before the game and season ticket holders can enter the entire stadium at that time. But non-season ticket holders (like us) have to wait in the River walk for the first half hour. We know this because that is what happened on Saturday.
But on Sunday, we entered the River walk and no one stopped us at the CF/bullpen enterance into the main stadium. So I figured it must have been less than 2 hours until game time and the entire stadium was open to everyone. But as we circled the inner concourse, we could see people at all of the other entrances still locked outside the stadium. We were in there with what appeared to be a bunch of the BP regulars, but no one was following us. It was almost empty in there.
This would prove to work to our advantage.
The give-away for the day was a pair of wind-up pierogies. Still in the box, I stuffed them into our backpack right after the guy gave them to Tim. We were going to head over to the RF foul line to watch BP. But as we passed behind the Pirates dugout, Tim asked for the pierogies. So we stopped at the dugout so I could fish them out of our backpack.
After I gave Tim the pierogies, which he absolutely loved, I noticed that there was a baseball sitting in foul territory in front of the dugout. It looked like this:
There was absolutely no one else in the seats within 100 feet of the dugout. When Melky Cabrera walked around the batting cage to our side, I called out, “Hey, Melky.” He looked up and I pointed at the ball and then at Tim. Two seconds later, Melky tossed the ball our way.
I turned my back to the field and gave the ball to Tim. He showed me the pierogies. We generally weren’t paying any attention to the field until I heard a loud “Hey!” from behind me. Out of the blue, Braves third base coach Brian Snitker (who was in the process of hitting fungos to infielders) tossed us a second baseball.
After the unexpected second baseball, we decided to head over to RF. As we passed the Braves dugout, Tommy Hanson popped out and started signing autographs. Tim grabbed the Snitker baseball and a pen and walked up to Hanson and said, “Will you autograph my baseball?” I always think its cute when he asks for an autograph because it seems like most people just hold out a ball/card/ticket and a pen and the player grabs it and signs the item without any words being exchanged. But Tim always speaks up and gets the player to verbally commit to the autograph while he’s still signing for other people.
Better than the autograph, Hanson also posed for a picture with Tim:
After parting ways with Hanson, we headed a little further down the RF line. I watched BP while Tim played non-stop with his pierogies. He was having a blast with those things.
I decided to take a panorama through the little chain link fence on the foul territory warning track:
Tim kept playing and playing and playing with those pierogies. He put them in all sorts of make believe situations, many involving the threat of falling off of the wall or a step or a chair while Tim or I had to save them from falling to the ground below. Are are some random scenes:
See the bottom right picture? Someone hit a ball right down the line. There was an open gate to the field. I could tell the ball was going to hit the wall and then hit that gate and probably bounce into the handicapped seating area. By the way, the rest of the stadium was apparently still not open. There was literally no one else around us. I could have walked the fifty or so feet down to the gate and still got the baseball. But I didn’t. I ran down there, reached over the wall and scooped the ball off of the warning track right after it clanked off of the gate.
Here are the three baseballs we got at this game:
On our way to our seats, we watched the Pirates’ cool scoreboard game intro video:
(Click 720 HD for the best quality)
I missed the beginning of the video so I am not sure, but my best guess is that the first statue (the one that steals second base) is Honus Wagner. The second statue is Roberto Clemente. And the third is apparently Bill Mazeroski. The Pirates always have cool intro videos at the ballpark.
After the intro video, we made our way to our seats with a big pile of nachos. Thanks to reading about a ticket sale on the Pitt Peas blog (Thanks, Matt!), these seats cost us $7/ticket for this game:
As always, the nachos were excellent, but Tim had a hard time putting down his pierogies while eating and eventually he had cheesy pierogies that needed a major napkin scrub down…
On our way back over to section 105, the game started. As we passed behind the 3B dugout, I got this shot of Nate McLouth…
…he launched a monster foul bomb that just snuck over the last row of the RF bleachers.
We don’t like to be cramped in our seats and Section 105 was packed. But Section 101 in the RF corner was almost empty, so we grabbed some ice cream seats there:
An usher was walking around kicking everyone out who didn’t have Section 101 tickets. When he approached us he asked if we had Section 101 tickets. I said, “Section 105, but we’re hiding out here in the shade so he can eat his ice cream.” The usher said we could stay there because Section 101 was a downgrade from our real tickets. He then turned to Tim and said, “You can sit here, but you have to promise me that you’ll keep your dad under control.” I gave him a courtesy laugh, but Tim was too lost in ice-cream-helmet-deliciousness to really respond.
Here was our view of the plate (zoomed in) from Section 101…
Once again, I was pulling for former Mariner Ronny Cedeno to have a big day…
On Saturday, Tim was excited each time he saw the Pirate parrot. He would point him out and say either “There is the Phanatic!” or “There is a big green chicken!”
By Sunday, he’d figured out it was a parrot. And when Tim spotted the parrot coming up the stairs between Sections 103 and 105 early in the game, he yelled out, “Let’s get our picture with the parrot!” and he was off to the races.
We tracked down the parrot and got this shot:
Tim and I are usually on the go a lot during games. But Tim was very happy in our shady spot in Section 101. We stayed there without leaving the section until the 9th inning. This gave us plenty of time to get more action shots. Like this one of Andrew McCutchen — who was just a bit early on this pitch in the 4th.
We wanted to see ejection-legend Bobby Cox get tossed from a game this weekend. But he stayed calm. The best we could do was to get these shots of Cox pulling starting pitcher Kris Medlen from the game in the 6th:
The Braves took the early lead in the second when Melky Cabrera scored an unearned run on a David Ross single.
The Pirates tied it up 1-1 in the sixth when McCutchen hit a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly. Moments later, the Pirates took the lead when Garrett Jones scored on a single by Ryan Doumit.
Speaking of Doumit, I’ve never known much about him other than his name. But after this game, I won’t soon forget him because, among other things discussed below, he impressed me by coming to bat accompanied by the sweet sounds of Danzig’s “Mother”:
(Click 720 HD for the best quality)
Excellent call, Mr. Doumit.
Back to the game, the Braves knotted the score at 2-2 with a lead-off HR by Eric Hinske in the 8th inning.
Later in the inning, Future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones pinch-hit for Omar Infante and bounced out to 1B (you can see the ball at the right of the of picture):
But we did get this awesome picture of Andrew McCutchen hitting a single to CF in the bottom of the ninth…
…if you click to enlarge that picture you can see that the handle of his bat broke when he hit that ball. After I took that picture, a guy next to me in the concourse tapped my shoulder and asked me what kind of camera I was using. He saw the picture on the preview screen and was impressed. By the way, it is a Canon PowerShot SX200is.
When the Braves came to bat in the tenth, we headed out to RF in case someone would hit a homerun there. On the way, I got this shot of the field from Section 125…
We didn’t stay long in LF because we’d spent a lot of time there on Saturday. We decided to check out the RF bleachers. We walked around to Section 144, headed up the stairs into the seats, and grabbed two seats just above the tunnel.
Here was the view:
We made the wrong call. We should have gone one more section over toward the RF foul pole. Because about 5 minutes after sitting down, Ryan Doumit stepped to the plate. I said to Tim, “This guy likes Danzig so he might hit a home run.” He did. It was a screaming bullet of a line-drive and it landed exactly where we would have been had we decided to grab the same seats, but one more section over toward the RF pole. The guy who got the ball was sitting probably 20 seats over from us and one row behind us.
With the walk off HR, it was TIME TO RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER!!!
We got in line on the River walk and Tim hung out on my shoulders and watched the boats on the river:
We snaked our way across the River walk, out to the street behind the 1B line, and through a tunnel that dumped us out at the field right below Section 101. By the way, inside the tunnel we saw that there is valet parking under the River walk. I’m guessing that is for VIPs.
Someone was nice enough to take our standard RF foul line picture…
Another standard picture, approaching the infield on the 1B warning track…
Then the Pirates switched things up on us! Before this game, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field, Citi Field, Rogers Centre, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park and Miller Park and at every one of those stadiums, the kids started their trip around the bases at first base.
But at PNC Park, they had the kids start from home plate…
Another great thing about PNC Park is that they didn’t have people rushing us off of the field the second Tim touched home plate. So we had plenty of time to get some more pictures. I love this one featuring Tim and the “P” behind home plate…
…and a father-son picture behind home plate:
Now check this out, I snapped a picture of the Pirates’ dugout…
…and I saw a piece of paper sitting on the ledge behind the bench (yellow arrow to the left). I took a zoomed in picture of the paper. Above to the right, you see it is a picture of Omar Infante hitting a double off of Zach Duke. At the bottom it says “DUKE vs. O. INFANTE Inn. 6 Out 0 Runners none Count 3-2 Fly Ball Double.” I checked the game log, and this isn’t advanced scouting. This is “in game” scouting. Infante hit this double off of Duke in the sixth inning of THIS GAME! That’s pretty cool.
As we made our way to the far exit at the LF “corner spot, Tim inspected the dirt on the warning track:
But the fun didn’t end quite yet. We still had four hours in the car ahead of us. Here are just a couple of the sights from our drive home:
The mural at the top left is about 2 blocks from PNC Park, across the street from the Andy Warhol Museum. I thought it was cool that the mural had the windmills in it because there are a bunch of them in Western PA — as shown in the top right picture.
In the bottom left picture, that is a giant piece of art in Pittsburgh. I think it was just across the river in downtown. In case you can’t tell, the Robot man is made out of Pittsburgh’s yellow bridges. Very cool.
In the bottom right corner, Tim is using his “binoculars” to see the sights. He took a 20 minute nap in the car, but then was awake the rest of the drive home. Highlights of the drive included Tim telling me about 50 knock-knock jokes in a row, most concluding with a chicken doing something or other. Also, after discussing what championship the band Queen had won, we sang “We Are The Champions” about 4 times in a row at the top of our lungs. Good times on the road.
When we arrived home (about 2.5 hours after Tim’s bed time) Tim was still wide awake. He proceeded to tell mommy all of the great things we’d done and seen over the weekend.
The weekend was a complete success. Thanks, Pittsburgh.
2010 Fan Stats:
9 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
7 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, & Nationals)
19 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves)
5 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
6 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)
5 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)
4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
Back in March, I did an entry of satellite images of the ball parks we plan to visit in 2010. The first four stadiums I listed in order and for the fourth game I mentioned, “Next, we’ll be sticking closer to home for a very special game at Citizens Bank Park.”
On May 1, 2010, Tim and I attended that very special game, and it turned out to be way more special that I imagined in the first place.
Let’s start with an explanation of why I said it would be special. If you look at our 2010 season goals (or our blog in general), you’ll see that we love Kids Run The Bases days. Coming into 2010, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field (2008), Camden Yards (2009), Rogers Centre (2009), Citi Field (2009-10), Miller Park (2009), and Nationals Park (2009-10).
We’ve never been able to line up a trip to Seattle that coincided with a Kids Run The Bases day. So it is understandable that Tim has not run the bases at Safeco Field.
On the other hand, our failure to run the bases at Citizens Bank Park made no sense. It is, after all, the closest MLB stadium to our house. But in 2009, each of the kids run the bases days was on a business persons special day games. I couldn’t justify taking a day off of work to go to a day game in Philadelphia. So Tim was precluded from running the Citzens Bank Park bases.
I was perplexed at why a kids run the bases promotion would be doubled up with a business persons promotion. I have a colleague whose brother is the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing & Advertising Sales. So, I asked him about this odd situation. His brother had no answer…and life went on.
Fast forward to 2:28 p.m. on January 19, 2010, I’m diligently working away at my desk when I receive an email from my colleague that simply said, “Just for you.” It was a forward, so I scrolled down and found the following message from the inner-sanctum of Phillies management: “we added a run the bases on a weekend for your friend – may 1st.”
On Friday, April 30, 2010, my colleague called to make sure we were going to the game. His brother had called to remind him that they put this on the schedule for Tim so he hoped we’d be there. Of course! While the schedule said “sponsored by Modell’s Sporting Goods,” as we drove toward Citizens Bank Park we knew this Kids Run The Bases day was really brought to the kids of Philadelphia by Tim Cook.
Thank you, Phillies, for listening to the fans!
So lets get to the actual game. We arrived early for our first ever BP at Citizens Bank Park. A guy in a golf cart met us at our car and drove us to the LF gate. He also gave Tim a little green Citizens Bank pig key chain…which Tim named “Snortle.”
Outside the LF gate, Tim got his picture with a statue of Steve Carlton…
…which by my count makes Carlton the second person with whom Tim has got his picture with the real person and his statute (the first being Michael Jack Schmidt). He also got his picture with Joe Brown’s statue in the parking lot (that was actually after the game).
With Snortle in hand, we headed into the ball park. We had three goals for BP, two of which we would achieve.
First, get our picture with my all-time favorite pitcher, Jamie Moyer. Unfortunately, Moyer was in deep center field where the seats are maybe 15 feet above the field. No way to get a picture with a player there. So we just went out and stood near him.
Right after I took this picture, Tim yelled, “Hi, Jamie Moyer!” Moyer made eye contact with us and gave Tim a nice wave with his glove. Not just a little flip. A legit “hi, how you doing” wave. Very cool.
Soon thereafter, the Phils all started running toward the dugout, which is where we should have been. We might have been able to get Moyer’s attention while at field level. Anyway, I put Tim on my shoulders and we started to make our way toward the Phils’ dugout knowing that Moyer would be long gone by the time we got there.
That is when goal number 2 sealed the deal on not achieving goal number 1. Our second goal was to get a baseball. We’d only ever got one ball in all of our games at Citizens Bank Park. We made no real effort during Phils BP. We were just watching Moyer.
Then, as the Phils started running in and we started making our way toward the RF corner, I saw a Phils player on the field yelling up into the stands. I’d later figure out it was J.C. Romero. There were people lining the first and second rows and we were in row 4. Romero was motioning “up and over” with his finger. But it looked like he was motioning toward the very back of the section. I had no clue what he was doing. But he kept doing it. Finally, I said, “US!?!?!?” He said, “Yeah!” And held up a ball. Tim and I walked up to about row 7 and J.C. Romero lobbed…
…our second baseball ever at Citizens Bank Park directly into my glove. I handed it up to Tim and the crowd was happy to see the Phils reliever find a worthy recipient for the baseball. Our first ball at Citizens Bank Park was from Rockies first base coach (and former Mariner) Glenallen Hill. And we got a ball from Jimmy Rollins in D.C. last season. But this was our first baseball from a Phillie at a Phillies home game.
Thanks, J.C. Romero!
Goal No. 1 – failed. Goal No. 2 – complete.
Third goal, get Frank Catalanotto’s autograph. That might sound like an odd goal, but there is a back story (which we’ll get to).
The Mets were stretching in front of their dugout. We ran over there. I wrote out a quick and to the point sign…
…Tim grabbed the sign and popped up onto my shoulders. Literally within 10 seconds, we were communicating with Frank Catalanotto and arranging to meet in the first row about 30 yards down the 3B line. We got over there and we chatted with Frank, he signed our sign (shown above) as I dug through my backpack, and he posed for a picture with Tim…
That, my friends, is a picture of the first pitch of the first MLB game Tim ever attended back on September 12, 2006. Frank Catalanotto, playing for the Blue Jays, was the batter and he took a called strike from the eventual winning pitcher, Gil Meche.
I told Catalanotto the whole story. He thought it was awesome and he was SUPER COOL to us. It was awesome. For a non-game-related moment, this was one of the coolest and most memorable moments I’ve experienced at a ball park.
I have to give HUGE, HUGE gratitude to my dad for having the forethought to snap this picture while we were celebrating Tim’s first game. I absolutely love that he captured this moment for Tim and I am estactic about the idea of Tim having a picture of his first MLB pitch signed by both the batter and pitcher.
Hmmm….the pitcher. Gil Meche, be on the lookout for these two Mariners fans! Hopefully we can work it out this season.
At this point, the Mets hadn’t even started hitting yet. But it was blistering hot in the seating bowl and we already accomplished all of our BP goals except the Moyer picture, which wasn’t going to happen. So we took refuge in the shade…more specifically, in the kids play area:
…in that upper left picture, see that teenager in the upper tube? That guy works for the Phillies. His job is to control the traffic going down the slide. In the bottom right picture, Tim took “my order” about 2 dozen times and pretended to hand all sorts of food items out of those little holes to me
We went back to the play area several times throughout the day.
After our first play session, we headed toward the concourse behind home plate where I wanted to visit the ticket office. On the way, we got this picture of Tim and a fake Phanatic:
We made our way down to the Phils dugout to see if Moyer was around. He wasn’t. But then Roy Halladay popped out of the dugout and made his way to the bullpen and then the OF grass just outside of the bullpens…
After watching Halladay stretch a little, we went to our seats in section 104:
In those pictures, Tim is standing in the seat directly in front of ours. By the way, although he was a little sweatball, that is water from the water fountain on his shirt. He was having some water fountain difficulties just before these pictures.
Here is the actual view from our seats — Citizens Bank Park section 104, row 14, seats 4-5:
But we started the game in one of the many standing room areas behind the 3B field level seats. We were there to get our first close-up look at “Doc” Halladay. And this is what it looked like:
Then we grabbed an ice cream helmet for Tim and a couple drinks for both of us, and headed to our seats…
Jayson Werth stood almost right in front of us in RF. Here is what our view of the three outfielders looked like from our seats:
I brought my wife’s big fancy camera that takes quick sequence shots so I could get the Halladay shots above. I brought it out again for Raul Ibanez. Although I didn’t get anything too special of Raul, the shots are funny when you look at a bunch of them together…
Although he gave up three hits in the early innings, Halladay was dealing all day:
Early on, Pelfey was matching him pitch-for-pitch. But then came the fourth inning when the Phils offense did some damage.
Chase Utley started it out with a single:
Jayson Werth then hit an RBI single that found a bit of Alex Cora’s glove. Had Cora gloved the bloop single, it probably would have been a triple play because Utley was already around 3B and Howard was just a couple feet from 2B.
With two outs in the inning and a 3-0 score, things got real interesting. Tim had done a great job sitting in the seats for 3.5 innings. So I promised we would go back to the play area right after the third out. I packed up our belongings, including my glove.
Shane Victorino then hit a a three run homerun that I came within inches of getting. Here is another panorama from pre-game:
I was in seat number 4. Seats 1-3 were empty giving me a clear path to the aisle. The homerun landed in row 13 just across the aisle from us. The crowd collectively botched catching the ball and it fell to the ground. There was a girl in the first seat and I sort of dove over her in an effort to grab the loose ball. But as my hand was reaching toward the ball, the guy in the green hat (to the far right in the picture above) reached down and grabbed the ball cleanly by his feet. As I reached for it, I knew that guy would have to bobble it on the bare hand grab for me to have a chance. It was pretty exciting, but I missed out. Who knows what would have happened if I had my glove on my hand.
After the homerun, Tim asked me, “Did you smash your head when you jumped in there?” It was pretty funny. (FYI, as I type this, Chase Utley just hit a homerun off of Johan Santana that landed in Section 104 right around our seats).
After the inning, we headed back to the play area, which was over run by kids. It was kid pandamonium. And eventually Tim came out of the play set holding one shoe in his hand. He claimed that he got in a kid traffic jam in the tubes that de-shoed him. That was enough of the play area for Tim. So we got those nachos pictured above and headed back to our seats.
While we were in the play area, Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez hit a two run triple to bring the score to 8-0 Phillies. Pelfrey was long gone. In the eigth inning, Frank Catalanotto pinch hit for the second Mets pitcher (Raul Valdez)…
The Phanatic was pumping up the crowd…
We watched the top of the 9th inning from the concourse behind the 3B dugout. When the game ended, we made our way down to the first row and we were in a good position to get a ball from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa. Well, as good as you can be without being in the diamond club. But Kulpa gave one ball to a 20-something girl in the diamond club and his line-up card to a guy standing with the girl…and then he was gone.
No problems. It had already been an extra-special day.
I took this panorama as the crowd started to clear out…
A couple Mets approached the far end of the 3B dugout and threw a couple balls into the crowd. But we were all alone at the other end of the dug out (still at the spot from which I took that last panorama).
One of the ball tossers was Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello. For some reason, after throwing two balls into the crowd on the far end of the dugout, he walked down toward us and entered the dugout just below us. At the time, he had nothing in his hands, but a catchers equipment bag over his shoulder.
We were just standing there minding our own business when Racaniello took his first step down into the dugout. Right then, he looked up and saw Tim sitting on my shoulders. He looked at us like, “Hey, I got something for you.” He stopped and dug around in his bag and pulled out…
By the way, that is Tim’s green pig “Snortle” sitting on top of the Racaniello baseball.
It was time to run the bases. We made our way to the RF gate. On the way, I took this panorama from section 142…
Kids were already circling the bases. But we had to stop by the Phillies Wall of Fame, which is blocked off during games so fans don’t heckle the relievers in the bullpen (I guess that is the reason, at least). Here are some famous Phillies from the field and booth:
Then, Tim was off to the races:
The Phillies were great because they didn’t have a mob of workers kicking you out the second your kid crossed home plate (like some teams who will remain nameless). So I had time to take this field level panorama…
Great job, Phillies!
All-in-all, it was a great day at the ballpark and Tim was fast asleep only a few miles into our drive home.
2010 Fan Stats:
7 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
4 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)
13 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)
4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
3 Player Photos (Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
On Saturday morning, April 24, 2010, we found ourselves on the 7-train weaving our way through the roof tops of Queens, New York…
Our travels took longer than we expected, so we missed all of the Mets BP and arrived probably half way through the Braves BP. We headed down the 3B line toward the LF corner and grabbed a spot to watch the action.
In our third game at Citi Field, I finally remembered to take a photo of the home run apple while it was “up.” This apple is much bigger than the old Shea Stadium apple and instead of being in a top hat it is just in a random raised opening in center field. Its not a bad home run apple, but I favor the old Shea apple, which seemed to have more of a *kitsch* factor.
During BP, we ran into MLBloggers Joe and Alex, whom we had spent time with last October during a rain-soaked game at Citi Field. Tim just loves hanging out with these guys. The day after this game, he couldn’t stop telling his mom about his buddies (e.g., “Did you know Joe has two dogs?” “Alex shared his peanuts with me!”). Anyway, the four of us headed over to the Braves dugout toward the end of BP and one of the guys took this picture of us on the way through LF…
During BP, I noticed how the seats at the top of the LF upper deck appear to be tucked away under the out of town scoreboard…
…they reminded me of some seats we visited at Rogers Centre last season. I decided we’d have to check out those seats during the game.
Here’s a shot of Tim and Alex in deep discussion about the intricacies of peanut cracking…
Shortly before the game, several Braves came out of the dugout to stretch, run and play catch behind third base. Here is hot shot rookie Jason Heyward…
As the game started, we split away from Joe and Alex and headed toward the kids play area in center field. The Mets have batting cages and a whiffle ball field in CF, but not a playset like at many stadiums. Tim was excited to do some hitting. But on the way out to the whiffle ball field, he asked, “Why isn’t Alex coming to watch me hit?” It was pretty funny. I think he remembered that last season, Alex did just that.
The first thing we noticed was that they moved the batting cages from behind the RF wall of the whiffle ball field to behind whiffle ball infield. Before hitting, Tim worked his way across the outfield shagging balls hit by other kids:
Next, it was time to hit the soft toss batting cage…
After some hitting, we found our way up to the last row of the upper deck in deep left center field…
I was excited to see what this Jason Heyward guy was all about. I ended up photographing all of his at-bats at this game, all from different spots in the stadium. However, he hit the third pitch of this at-bat up the middle for a single…
While Tim kept piling in the nachos (like his parents, he loves nachos!), I got this picture of David Wright…
I took this picture of the big open concourse area above the Jackie Robinson rotunda…
We finally found ice cream in CF. It was packed and we didn’t want to find a place in the sun, we went down under “Shea Bridge” and Tim at his ice cream behind the bullpens.
By the way, last season, the Shea Stadium Home Run apple was stationed right where this table now sits under Shea Bridge. You can *sorta* see the field from behind the bullpens. But there are a couple flat screen TVs on the wall right above the bullpens so we could watch the game while Tim ate his ice cream. We also watched the Braves relief pitchers do some stretching.
Right when we arrived behind the bullpens, Heyward came to the plate…
After ice cream, we explored a bit more. We found ourselves in the concourse behind 1B when Heyward came to the plate in the sixth inning. He eventually walked…
After watching Heyward walk, we decided to check out another new feature at Citi FIeld, the Mets Hall of Fame in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.
Tim posed with the 1969 and 1986 World Series trophies…
….it was cool to see the 1986 trophy because it was the first World Series that I really followed as a kid. However, I was rooting for the Red Sox who had traded during the 1986 season for two Mariners, Dave Henderson and my at-the-time favorite player, Spike Owen.
Tim also stared down legendary Mets manager, Case Stengel…
Before heading back up to the field level, we snapped this picture of Tim…
Finally, we went to the 3B side concourse where we watched the rest of the game from the SRO area behind the seats in (approximately) section 124:
In the seventh inning, Walla Walla Washington’s own (and former Mariner) Eric O’Flaherty entered the game for the Braves….
In the eighth inning, with the Mets leading by a score of 3-1 (the ultimate final score), Jason Heyward almost grounded into a double play (see the ball bouncing in the dirt to the far left)…
In the 8th inning, neither Jose Reyes nor David Wright could add any insurance runs for the Mets:
The only problem is that the Mets ushers religiously check the tickets of all patrons entering the field level seats during the entire game. When it got to the top of the ninth inning (with the home team winning) and they were still checking tickets, I figured it just wasn’t in the cards for this game, which was fine because we’d had a great day at the ballpark already.
But then something funny happened, with one out in the top of the ninth, Alex came walking up the stairs to the concourse. He was looking for us and he was armed with a field level ticket for a section right by the umpires tunnel. He flashed his ticket for the usher and we were all admitted to the seats with one out to go in the game. We met up with Joe just a short distance from the umpires tunnel. We had just enough time to say hi to Joe when Martin Prado (in for Chipper Jones who got hurt somehow during the game) grounded out to end the game.
Even before the ground ball reached Jose Reyes, we were standing next to the umpires tunnel. Tim called out to “Bruce!!!” as he exited the field. Dreckman reached out and set a nice rubbed up gamer into Tim’s left “Go, Deigo, Go!” glove-clad hand (as shown above, Tim likes to wear these gloves at games because he thinks they are like batting gloves). However, with the thick and slick glove on his hand, his left hand wasn’t big enough to palm the ball and he dropped it back into the tunnel. Luckily, another umpire (I think Paul Emmel) saw the whole thing unfold and he picked it up and handed it back to Tim.
Thanks, Mr. Dreckman and (probably) Mr. Emmel! And thanks, Alex, for the assist!
Tim was exited to collect his third umpire ball in as many games this season and he celebrated by balancing it on his head while sitting on the 3B dugout:
We hung out with Joe and Alex for a few more minutes behind the dugout before getting in line for Kids Run the Bases. Tim was excited to chat up his guys a little more.
While by the dugout, something funny happened. A teenage guy was behind the dugout with a baseball and he asked for an autograph from every Braves player and coach who walked into the dugout. He was getting no takers. So, eventually, he asked a Mets stadium attendant standing at the top step of the Braves dugout for her autograph. Finally, he had a taker. Then, he jokingly asked every police officer, security guard or random attendant to sign his ball. I didn’t see him get any more takers. Eventually, he asked Joe to sign his ball. Then, he asked Tim. So, here you go, Tim’s first ever autograph signed for a fan at an MLB game…
Joe helped him hold the ball steady and he wrote a shaky but legible “T-I-M” on the ball. Then for good measure (at the request of the ball’s owner), he did a little scribble next to his “signture.” Tim got a kick out of the experience.
And just like that it was time for Kids Run the Bases. The line was massively long and it took a long time to get back into the stadium. But as we entered though the bullpen area, we were afforded a special behind the scenes glimpse of the bullpen area:
To the left, that is the Moe’s Club right behind the RF wall. There is a restaurant (at least it looked like one) behind this seating area. To the right, that is the little room where the relief pitchers sit in the Mets bullpen.
I got a couple pictures before (right) and after (left) Tim ran the bases…
I also enjoy it when I am allowed to “chaperone” Tim around the bases — something I have now been allowed to do at Citi Field, Rogers Centre, Miller Park and Progressive Field.
After running the Citi Field bases, we headed out to the parking lot and Tim ran the Shea Stadium bases:
Finally, we got a picture with the Shea Stadium home run apple…
…and called it a day. We hopped the 7-train back to Manhattan, picked up some pepperoni pizza and garlic knots, and drove home. After leaving the house at 8:00 a.m. in the morning, we arrived home at about 9:00 p.m….thirteen hours well spent on another father-son baseball adventure.
2010 Fan Stats:
6 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
3 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Mets, & Nationals)
11 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires)
3 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
2 Player Photos (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
2 Autographs (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
2 Kids Run The Bases (Nationals Park, Citi Field)