The offseason has been pretty quiet over here at Cook & Son Bats’ Blog. But I have received a few comments lately about “my book.” It is not your ordinary book, and I haven’t really discussed it much (if at all) on the blog. So now seems as good a time as any to explain a little bit about “The Baseball Log”:
Pictured above, that is Tim’s (the original) Baseball Log in the middle and Kellan’s and my Baseball Logs on either side.
Tim was born in early 2006. In October 2005, I was eagerly awaiting his birth when my wife’s grandmother passed away. We had to drive down to Virginia for her services. My wife stayed with her family for a few more days, but I had to head back to Pennsylvania for work. Whenever I am on a long drive alone I do a lot of thinking. On my drive home, I did a lot of thinking about all the fun times I expected to have with Tim going to baseball games in the future. And I thought a lot about all of the great times I shared with family and friends at the Kingdome watching the Mariners while I was growing up.
Growing up in the suburbs of Seattle, I attended between 10-30 Mariners games a year while I was growing up. I have a lot of very specific memories of those games: Ken Griffey, Jr. breaking his arm making a miraclous catch in deep RCF, Game 1 of the 1995 ALCS, catching my only two live game foul balls, seeing Bo Jackson hit two homeruns in a game, Griffey’s 8-game homerun streak, Randy Johnson’s 19 strikeout performance featuring a monster bomb by Mark McGwire, Mike Greenwell singlehandedly beating the Mariners with a 9-RBI performance, a fan running out to CF to ask for Kirby Puckett’s autographs during a game, Nolan Ryan giving up a leadoff hit to Harold Reynolds and then pitching a complete game 1-hitter, and temporarily giving up on the M’s and starting to leave a game against the Yankees in late 1995 but running back into the field level seats in time to watch Griffey blast a monster game-winning homerun.
But for each of those specific memories, there are 10 games or more of which I have absolutely no memory.
As I drove, an unanswerable question came to mind: “What is the Mariners record in the games I have attended?”
I have no clue and no way of figuring out the answer.
I needed to make sure my son didn’t suffer the same fate. I wanted to make amazing baseball memories with him…and actually remember ALL OF THEM! And in that moment while dwelling on that unanswerable question, I invented the answer: The Baseball Log!
I’m good at tinkering and making stuff. But I’d never made a book. It took a lot of thought and planning. I determined what I wanted to be included in The Baseball Log, and then I figured out how to make it. I started with fancy resume paper, a thin slice of wood, a side of leather (that I had used to make a baseball glove), some glue, a needle and thread, a leather stamping set, and a computer and printer. I put it all togther…
…and I made Tim’s one-of-a-kind Baseball Log:
For more than a year, Tim owned the only Baseball Log. But I started thinking that other people out there might like a Baseball Log of their own. So I did some research about online self-publishing companies. I decided on “eBookstand Publishing.” I did some revising and reformatting. And, boom: the “commercial” version of The Baseball Log was born. I dedicated the book to the biggest baseball inspirations of my life at the time:
FYI, if I had decided to add one more item to that list, it would have been “Spike Owen.” My original favorite player of all-time. Curse you Red Sox for stealing my guy!
Anyway, here are the basics of The Baseball Log. The overwhelming majority of the book is simply page after page after page after page of empty boxes for the owner to fill in their own baseball memories. Here is a look at the first page of Tim’s Baseball Log:
As you can see, it has spaces for the date, line score info, site of the game, companions with whom you attended the game, and game notes.
I forget the specific number, but I think the commercial version of The Baseball Log has room to record approximately 1,000 games. Here is a look at a random page of my Baseball Log, which includes Griffey’s 601st homerun, Felix Hernandez’s grand slam off of Johan Santana, and the first game of the First Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip:
NOTE: The 3-4 games listed on that page are the last two games that I have attended without Tim accompanying me.
Of course, the Baseball Log has a couple pages for the owner to record his or her favorite team’s (hopefully, the Mariners) record in games he or she attends:
The top book in that picture is Tim’s Baseball Log, the middle one is mine (you can see I have attended two more Mariners games than Tim since he was born…and the Mariners won both of them), and the bottom book is Kellan’s (poor guy has only seen 1 Mariners win so far!)
I made one upgrade that I really like in the commercial version of the Baseball Log. Tim’s book has pages for recording when Tim has seen each team play a game. I reformatted those original pages into the “Touch ’em All Checklist” where the owner of the book can record the date of the first home and away game for each team he has seen. Below, you can see that I (and Tim) have seen every MLB team play a road game, and every team except the Royals, Cardinals and Rockies play a home game…
…we will complete this list in May 2012!
There are pages to record Hall of Famers who you have seen play in person…
…once some of the players Tim has seen play retire and are inducted into the Hall of Fame, he will be able to reference the relevant games by page number in the “Memorable Games” column.
I had one more idea that has never panned out…but I still love it. My hope was that fan assistance office or front office receptionists at the various MLB stadiums would have “received” stamps that they use to stamp incoming mail. If so, my plan was to get our Baseball Log’s stamped like passports…
…to date, I have yet to find any MLB stadium that had a stamp for our books. I have discussed this with a guy in the Phillies front office and he loved the stadium passport idea. Still, nothing has come of it. But wouldn’t that be great to be able to get a stamp at each stadium you visit listing the name of the team/stadium with the date included? I’d love that.
The Baseball Log also has spaces to record your favorite players by year, and a bunch of blank pages at the back for autographs (although we have never attempted to have anyone sign our Baseball Logs).
I’ll share one last picture with you. When I self-published the book, I decided to make it a sturdy hard backed book — just like Tim’s Baseball Log — so it could (hopefully) endure a lifetime of use. Because it is a hardback, I got to design a dust jacket. As shown in the top picture, I used a baseball — one I snagged at the Kingdome — and I did some editing to remove the normal writing on the baseball and replaced it with “BASEBALL LOG.” Here is a picture of the actual baseball that is pictured on the front cover:
I just realized tonight when I took this picture that I took the cover photo of the baseball on July 16, 2007 — exactly three years to the date before Kellan was born. Awesome! Makes me feel that Kellan had a little influence on the book years before he was born.
So, there you go: The Baseball Log.
It is not for everyone. In fact, it is not for most people. Even most dedicated fans. But for the right person, it can be really awesome.
If you happen to be one of the very few people out there who have purchased your very own Baseball Log, I hope you are really enjoying it.
If you don’t have a Baseball Log but would like one. You can check it out here: http://www.ebookstand.com/book_cart.php?id=2133&order=cart — or here: http://www.amazon.com/Baseball-Log-Todd-J-Cook/dp/1589094719/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327373869&sr=8-1
As a result of growing up at the Kingdome, I’m a big fan of domes. Sure, I’d rather play ball at Safeco Field. I recognize it is objectively better than every domed stadium out there. But a domed stadium gives me a great sense of nostaglia for my long lost Kingdome.
In my book, the H.H.H. Metrodome was a first class domed baseball stadium. As you entered Minneapolis from some-or-other direction, the Metrodome’s bubbly white roof welcomed you to the city:
My dad, Tim and I visited the Metrodome on the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2009. Tim and I trudged all over that place and it was awesome.
Last November, I visited Minneapolis and enjoyed an outstanding view of the Metrodome (now displaying the name “Mall of America Field”):
Then on December 12, 2010, a massive snow strom resulted in the Metrodome roof collapsing and snow crashing down to the football field below:
The Twins were already relocated to Targe Field for the 2010 season, but the Vikings still called the Metrodome home at the time of the roof collapse. The collapse took the dome out of commission for the rest of the football season.
Last week, I found myself in Minneapolis once again. The once mighty dome was no longer visible from across town like it had been last November. So, I decided to walk over to the dome and see what it looked like.
I found that it looks drastically different these days:
I walked all the way around the outside and peered through the glass doors. The entry ways include two sets of glass doors. Across the concourse floor, a third set of glass doors closes off the concourse from the seating area.
As my camera and I peered through the layers of glass, the view was terrible but I could clearly see the roof hanging down into the middle of the dome:
That white stuff is the roof, and you can see two orange streamers hanging from the roof.
Oddly, I could also hear music inside the dome. I figured there must be workers in there working on the roof. And then, all of a sudden, a shadowy figure streaked across the windows inside the concourse
What the what-what?
The shadowy figure was clearly a person…on rollerblades…skating in the field level concourse.
I was thoroughly confused.
I was about half way around the dome at this point and I decided to keep walking and see if I could find an entry point into the dome. When I was two-thirds the way around, I found it. One of the doors at Gate D was open, and there was a big sign on either side of the door that simply said “Rollerblade.”
I walked through the open door and through the revolving inside door. I was now *inside* the collapsed Metrodome. I saw a little kid down the concourse to the right playing around by what looked like a concession stand. To the left, there was a makeshift barrier keeping me from entering the main area of the concourse and there was a table further blocking my access. I could see a guy standing about 150 feet down the concourse to my left, far behind the table blocking my way. He had to notice me, but he didn’t look my way at all.
I decided to squeaze past the table blocking my way and walk down to the guy. When I reached him, there were several younger guys (20s’ish) sitting around with him.
Todd: “What’s going on here?”
Younger guy: “Rollerdome! Rollerblading!”
Todd: “So anyone can rollerblade?”
Younger guy: “Yep.”
Todd: “Do you have rollerblades for rent?”
Younger guy: “Yep.”
Todd: “Well, I’m in if it will get me in to look at the dome.”
Older guy: “It will but you can’t stop at the windows to look down into the stadium because that’s a high speed area. You can stop on the opposite side of the concourse and look across.”
I was told Rollerdome doesn’t start until 5:00 p.m (check out their website). I had about half-an-hour to wait. I really just wanted to see into the dome. So I asked if I could go look in the window into the stadium now. The younger guy said sure. After I peered into the first window, he asked me if I wanted to see something really cool. Of course, I said “yes.” Eventually, he took me all the way around the field level concourse so I could take pictures looking into the field area.
Before sharing those pictures, let’s look at a couple pictures for context:
This is a map I got of the Metrodome concession stands when we visited the dome in 2009. I approached the dome from Seventh Street. Essentially, it leads right into Gate G. I then circled the dome clockwise. The picture above looking through the windows is at Gate A. I saw the first rollerblader through the windows at Gate C and then I entered through Gate D.
At our game in 2009, we sat in Section 100 in left field. On our self-guided tour around the stadium, I took this picture from section 224; high above and behind home plate:
I took this picture at the top of the upper deck. Note a couple things that I have circled (from top to bottom) — (i) a huge speaker hanging directly behind home plate high above the second deck, (ii) a large American flag hanging above the second deck and the scoreboard above sections 100 and 200 in left field, and (iii) our seats in section 100 in left field.
Here is another picture from our trip in 2009:
Again, this picture shows our seats and the American flag above sections 100 and 200. The other yellow circles show the entrance ways to the seating area. Those entrance ways lead to the field level concourse. I took all of the following pictures (well, the following post-collapse pictures) through these field level entrance ways.
Another pre-collapse picture:
Again, that is the same speaker circled up top. I’ve also circled the Twins dugout on the 3B line and more field level entrance ways to the field. The fifth (counting from either direction) circled entrance way is section 122, just to the left of 122 is section 121.
Finally, (last pre-collapse picture for now), here is a look toward the baggy:
Okay, let’s get to the present day photos. The first photo is looking into the stadium through section 121:
In the foreground, you’ll see the “really cool” thing my guide offered to show me; the home plate area had been emptied out and it is a big pool of water. The roof is so low that you can hardly see any of the upper deck. Finally, note how far the big American flag has dropped; its now below the upper deck hanging just above section 100 (again, our seats from 2009 are circled).
Here is a view from section 122, more directly behind home plate:
Again, home plate is a big pool of water. In this picture, I’ve circled the spot out in CF where a Twins pitcher tossed a baseball to Tim and me in 2009 (the commemorative baseball pictured above to be exact). I didn’t circle it in that last picture, but just above the folded sections of seats, check out the lights hanging below the upper deck.
Here is a shot looking in through section 125:
Hanging down right in the middle of that picture is the speaker that is circled in the two pre-collapse pictures above. The two orange signs way out across the field is the big party suite that I enclosed in a yellow box in the pre-collapse picture above.
Here is a shot from a little further toward 3B:
In case you cannot tell, those cement highway dividers are connected to roof by big metal lines. I guess the purpose is to keep the roof from blowing up and down in the wind. Check out how low that speaker is hanging.
Even further down the 3B line (into the outfield foul territory), you can see a big circle roped off on the playing field:
My guide told me that circle is where the big splash of snow came crashing down onto the field in the famous collapse video (above). Above the circle, you can see some torn parts of the roof hanging down, along with some yellow ropes (or something).
In the LF foul corner, I took this shot looking down at the top of a speaker that used to hang high above the surface of the playing field:
Here is another picture from the LF foul corner where you can see the big party suite above the baggy (or where the baggy used to be):
More LF corner — right along the foul line, still in foul territory:
In the next picture, we are behind section 100 and you can see the big American flag hanging down above section 100, a lot of rips hanging down above the snow splash zone, some lights dangling below the upper deck, and tons of stacks of something-or-other across the field by the 1B dugout:
Although the picture to the right is zoomed in further than the picture on the left, its a good comparision to show how far down the roof is hanging. Note that the entire upper deck is hidden behind the sagging roof in the picture to the right. Also, check out how the lights are at the very top of the picture to the left, high above the second deck, but they are hanging below the second deck in the picture to the right.
Here’s a look in through the RF corner in foul territory…
Here’s a close up looking into the Twins dugout with more speakers hanging down:
I did not catch his name, but a big huge THANK YOU to the guy from Rollerdome who so kindly led me around the Metrodome. It was a one-of-a-kind experience that I will never forget. If you’re in Minneapolis, go check out Rollerdome.
We just received a package of Christmas gifts in the mail from my folks. Tucked in the bottom of the box, my folks had stashed a little surprise from the past:
Clicking on the picture will enlarge the certificate and display this explanatory note:
“The pitch was clocked by a Radar Gun, an instrument used to measure Major League pitchers. This speed-measuring equipment has been verified to be accurate within one percent.”
So, that’s right, as a nine year old phenom, I lit up that official “Radar Gun” at a blazing 46 miles per hour (or at least within one percent of 46 miles per hour).
I remember the old Kingdome speed pitch. It was just inside the Dome’s northern gate — just off to the right in this picture. I couldn’t heat up the gun then, and I can’t heat it up now. But its always been fun trying.
As you can see at the top of the certificate, there are a bunch of holes from where I tacked this “Official” certificate to the wall of my boyhood bedroom. You will also notice that I did my best to obliterate one of the speed pitch sponsors. I was a coca-cola drinking kid, and I didn’t want this “new generation” inspired soft drink logo muckin’ up my bedroom walls (FYI, I still prefer coke products).
Its cool to get back this little momento of past feats. But what is even cooler is getting confirmation of a random date of a game I attended in the first few years of my Mariners fandom: May 4, 1985.
With the help of Baseball-Reference.com, I was able to review a detailed description of this game — and it was a great one for a young Mariners fan.
- The Mariners won the game by a score of 8-1 over the Blue Jays.
- My favorite Mariner, Spike Owen, hit a 2-run homerun — his first of the season and sixth of his career.
- Matt Young pitched a 1-run complete game for his second win of the young season.
Hey, what more can you ask for in a night at the Kingdome. Good times.
I’ve been looking through some old photo albums lately and found a bunch of old Mariners photos I figured I would share. Most of the following photos are from “Camera Day” (the best promotional night ever) at the Kingdome. The first set are from 1986, the second is from 1987, and the third is from 1990 or 1991 (my hunch is its 1991).
The picture quality of these photos is pretty shabby because I literally just took digital photos of actual printed photographs (my scanner is out of order right now).
During the 1986 season, I was ten years old and I was a huge Mariners fan. And in this pre-Griffey era, there was no Mariner (an no ballplayer period) more important to me than the Mariners sure-handed short stop, Spike Owen. This is the only picture I ever got with Spike.
Later this season, I was dealt a major blow when the Mariners dealt my all-time favorite player to the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox then moved on to the World Series and, for the first time ever, I watched the World Series and was pulling hard for Spike to win a championship. Spike had a great post-season in ’86. He hit .429 in the ALCS and .300 even in the World Series.
After 1986, Spike went on to have a solid career. He wasn’t an all-star and he won’t be in the Hall of Fame, or even any team’s Hall of Fame, but he had a career of which he should be proud. He had over 1,200 hits and was recognized as a quality short stop (although he never won a gold glove).
Interestingly, in the final at bat of his career, Spike hit a fly ball that Ken Griffey, Jr. caught for the first out of the ninth inning of the Mariners 1-game playoff against the Angels in 1995. Two outs later, Spike’s career was finished and the Mariners had won their first A.L. West Championship and made the playoffs for the first time in team history.
How about some more 1986 Mariners. Here I am with Al Cowens:
Phil Bradley was a quality Mariner. Over five seasons, he hit .301 and was an all-star in 1985. In ’86, Bradley hit .310.
I never realized this until right this second, but Yeager is apparently the reason that Spike Owen changed his number from 7 to 1 in 1986. I became a big Spike Owen fan initially because we both played short stop and we both wore number 7. I can tell you that M’s jersey I’m wearing in these pictures has a big number 7 on the back, and it was for Spike Owen, not Steve Yeager.
Of course, Ken Phelps is famous in Mariners history for two things he did involving other teams. First, Phelps was famously traded to the Bronx for future Mariners Hall of Famer, Jay Buhner. Second, as an Oakland Athletic, Phelps hit a homerun with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to break up Brian Holman’s bid for a perfect game.
Hendu was traded to the Red Sox along with Spike Owen. While he only had one hit and batted .111 in the ALCS against the Angels, Dave’s only hit was huge. With the Red Sox down to their potential final out of the series in the ninth inning of game five, Hendu delivered a two-run homerun off of Donnie Moore. The game when into extra innings, in the 11th inning, Hendu delivered the game winning RBI with a sac fly (also off of Donnie Moore). The Red Sox won the game, and then won games 6-7 to advance to the World Series. In the series, Hendu hit .400 (10 for 25) with 2 homeruns.
Hendu can be heard from time-to-time broadcasting Mariners games and seems to be a great guy.
Our catcher in 1986 was the one and only, Bob Kearney.
In 1987, I wasn’t about to miss Camera Day. Again, we were along the third base line. This season, I decided to sport my green and gold Sno-King Youth Club baseball uniform. Here I am with “Mr. Mariner,” Alvin Davis:
I don’t even remember the next guy, Bill Wilkinson:
The 1987 Mariners catcher of the future, Dave Valle:
We weren’t the best team in 1987, but we did have a (future) Hall of Famer at the helm: Dick Williams:
Next up, in the only picture of me holding a bat on a big league field, I posed with Mariners coach, Phil Roof:
Coming off of the bench, we had Rich Renteria:
Who could forget Scott Bankhead?
Our primary catcher in 1987 was this man: Scott Bradley:
Another guy I don’t remember was Steve Sheilds:
Here I am with Mariners coach Ozzie Virgil:
And finally, it was Hendu’s replacement: John “Johnny Moe” Moses:
Here I am in the Mariners dugout during a Spring Training game in 1991 — I was the batboy for the game:
Here I am retrieving a bat (possibly Ken Griffey, Jr.‘s) as Jay Buhner strides to the plate:
By the way, Griffey went 3-3 with 3 singles, Randy Johnson got the win, and Cubs 2B Ryne Sandberg a solo homerun.
This experience was one of the coolest I’ve ever had in baseball. Griffey was incredibly cool to me. He was easily the most chatty with me in the dugout. Harold Reynolds warmed up before the game using my first basemens glove. Randy Johnson pitched at had to use Edgar Martinez’s bat. At one point, The Big Unit bunted a pop up to the Cubs pitcher and never left the batters box. The Cubs pitcher totally booted the ball and it rolled into foul territory over by the Cubs dugout. But Randy was still in the batters box and was thrown out at first. Finally, I went from really disliking M’s first baseman Pete O’Brien (I’m not sure why I had not liked him previously) to really liking him (because he was incredibly cool to me in the dugout).
After this game, I got my first and only picture with Ken Griffey, Jr.
Our last Camera Day was in 1990 or 1991. We just took pictures of players as they stopped by to shake hands. I’m not in any of the pictures. I’m not sure if it was because it was too packed or if I felt like I was too old (I was 14 or 15) or if the players were just shaking hands and not posing for pictures. Who knows?
In a couple years, I was never able to get a good picture of (or with) Harold Reynolds, which is really unfortunate because I regard him as one of the top players in Mariners history. A great player and a great guy.
Ken Griffey, Jr. stopped by, but we got a really terrible picture that isn’t even worth posting.
Finally, we got this shot of Dave Valle:
Next stop is Pittsburgh in 2004. Colleen and I headed to Pittsburgh for the weekend to see the Mariners in their first and only appearance at PNC Park. Colleen and I had been together almost five years at this point and were engaged, but because I had been in law school for three of those years and hours away from any Major League team with no son to travel around with she didn’t really fully know me as a baseball fan yet. Primarily, she knew me as a guy who watched a ton of Mariners games on TV and occassionally took her to a game in Philadelphia or Baltimore. This was her first real baseball roadtrip.
Here is another (poor quality but) interesting picture from our Pittsburgh trip: Ichiro wearing (i) a brown glove and (ii) long pant legs:
My wife and I love getting mail. I’m not sure why. We hardly ever get anything but junk mail. But we always hold out hope that something wonderful will be waiting for us each aftenoon in our trusty mail box.
Well, the past couple weeks, something wondeful, indeed, has started arriving…in twos, and threes and fours. Baseball tickets. Tickets to Citizens Bank Park and to Petco Park and to Dodger Stadium and to Angel Stadium and to Citi Field and to Nationals Park, too.
I love good old-fashioned baseball tickets. Printed from a ticket machine with perferated edges where your tickets used to be connect so someone else’s tickets. You can’t beat it.
Personally, I am not a fan of print-at-home e-tickets. A ticket is a souvenir. Growing up (and really until Tim’s birth), I always kept my tickets in the inside band of my baseball caps. At any given time (and for years at a time), I walked around with 30 baseball tickets in my cap. They became wrinkled and faded and stained from sweat as I wore those tickets through softball games, and Mariners games, and high school, and college and life.
Does anyone save print-at-home e-tickets? I doubt it. They’re not very memorable. Certainly, they don’t seem like an artifact of the game worthy of preserving, etc., etc., etc., like a real old-fashioned baseball ticket. And when tickets become unimportant (merely a key to the gate) and we stop saving them, we lose one of the easiest and best ways to track the games, players and history we have seen.
So, when given the options at the end of the online ordering process, don’t count on me selecting “print at home” any time soon (or, if not forced to (i.e., stubhub), ever).
So as Tim and I gear up for another fun filled campaign and our 2010 tickets continue to bring joy to the afternoon trip to the mailbox, I figured it would be fitting to reflect on our past with a look at some of our tickets. Let’s start with the most important and memorable tickets.
My Top 10 (or so) Tickets
No. 1 – September 12, 2006, Blue Jays vs. Maniners at Safeco Field – Tim’s first game. A truly great day. I made this wooden home plate frame and this ticket hangs on Tim’s bedroom wall:
No. 2 – October 10, 1995, Indians vs. Mariners at the Kingdom: Game 1 of the 1995 ACLS in case you didn’t know. A great game:
No. 3 – August 23, 2009, Mariners vs. Indians at Progressive Field – Tim and I witness Ken Griffey, Jr. hit his 624th career home run – our first Ken Griffey, Jr. home run together (and Tim’s first period):
No. 4 – Various dates and teams at the Kingdome – my only remaining Kingdome tickets (except for No. 1 above). The Kingdome is the most important baseball venue of my life and a place I will always remember fondly.
No. 5 – August 15, 2008, Cardinals vs. Reds at Great American Ball Park – the first game of the first year of the now annual “Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.” The start of a grand tradition.
No. 6 – July 5, 2009, Mariners vs. Red Sox at Fenway Park – one of the (personally) most memorable baseball moments of my life. Pinch-hitting for Mike Sweeney in the top of the 4th inning, Ken Griffey, Jr. lined a single off of the Green Monster. Tim was sitting on my shoulders as we watched the beautiful flight of the ball. It was the first time Tim ever saw Griffey get a hit in person.
No. 7 – September 3, 2007, Mariners vs. Yankees at Yankee Stadium (1923). Tim’s only game ever at the old Yankee Stadium. A truly great game. Felix Hernandez gets the win. Ichiro hits a home run off of Roger Clemens for his 200th hit of the season for his seventh consecutive season. Clemens notches the final loss of his soon-to-be-taint but still-probably-hall-of-fame career. Mike Mussina pitches in relief after Clemens gets hurt. It is the only relief appearance of Mussina’s career. Between Clemens, Mussina and Kyle Farnsworth, the Yankees send over 600 career wins to the mound and end the day with the same number of career wins as when the day started:
* – FYI, a guy who left early and spotted me walking around with Tim on my shoulders gave us his ticket (on the right above) so we could sit almost directly behind home plate (in the equivalent of what is now the Legends Suite tickets at the new Yankee Stadium).
No. 8 – June 8, 2003, Mariners vs. Mets at Shea Stadium. The only double-header I have ever attended and the most wins (2) that I have ever seen the Mariners collect in one day. Excellent performances by both Jamie Moyer and Freddy Garcia.
No. 9 – Weekend In New York — June 22, 2008, Reds vs. Yankees at Yankee Stadium (1923) and June 23, 2008, Mariners vs. Mets at Shea Stadium. My high school buddy, Jason, visited from Seattle to see Yankee Stadium before it closed down. We realized the Mariners were at Shea the next day. On Sunday, we saw Ken Griffey, Jr. hit home run No. 601 of his career (the first and only home run I have seen him hit in a non-Mariners uniform. The next day, we saw Felix Hernandez hit a GRAND SLAM off of Johan Santana. An unforgettable weekend of baseball.
No. 10 – September 12, 2007, Rockies vs. Phillies at Citizens Bank Park – an acquaintance who works for the Phillies “comp’d” us four excellent tickets (8 rows behind the 3B dugout) for a mid-week Phillies game against the Rockies. Tim and I invited some friends and had a blast. While at the game, I realized for the first time that it was the 1-year anniverary of Tim’s first Mariners/MLB game. Instantly, a new tradition (and one of my favorite holidays) was born: Tim’s MLB Anniversary Game. I plan to take Tim to a game on September 12 every year, forever.
– June 3, 2003, Mariners vs. Phillies at Veterans Stadium – Jamie Moyer collects a hit and adds to his Mariners legacy by beating his future team (and what a beautiful ticket – it even has the word “TICKET” embossed across the second panel from the right):
– August 15, 2009, Indians vs. Twins at H.H.H. Metrodome – Tim’s first game in a traditional domed stadium. My first real dome since the Kingdome. It really brought back the Kingdome feel for me and we enjoyed it thoroughly.
– Various Veterans Stadium tickets – I like defunct stadiums and odd tickets. These next five are my only other remaining Veterans Stadium tickets and they include (i) my three smallest tickets, (ii) my first game seeing Griffey play for the Reds, and (iii) my only game ever seeing the Expos:
And now, a whole bunch more (without descriptions) in chronological order…
* – Pedro Martinez pitched this game for the Reading Phillies while preparing for his debut with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was on fire with the strike out pitch.
It’s the All-Star break…no Mariners games to watch. What better time to share a non-game-based Mariners story?
Raise your hand if you know that Ken Griffey, Jr. has his own rap song? (Not just a rap song about him, but a song in which HE IS THE RAPPER – or one of them, at least). This is my story about Ken Griffey, Jr. , the recording artist, and his buddy, Kid Sensation.
[For those with short attention spans, you can check out and buy the three Griffey-based songs here , here, and here (or on iTunes)…and an Ichiro! song here. For the rest of you, please come on a ride with me back to the 1990s.]
I loved the Kingdome. Safeco Field is outstanding, but the Kingdome will always feel like my baseball home. When they imploded the Dome in 2000, I calculated that I had spent 78 entire days of my life at the Kingdome – 97% or more of that time was at Mariners games.
One thing I loved about the Kingdome was it was sparsely populated. Often times 15,000-20,000 people were crammed into 55,000 seats. There was a ton of room to move around and get to know the place. And I did. I knew the place backwards and forwards.
In 1991, the Kingdome became even more exciting for me. For a 2-3 year span, my family’s partial season ticket plan landed in an interesting spot – about 3 feet from Ken Griffey, Jr.’s good friend and Seattle Rap Legend, Kid Sensation (a/k/a Xola Malik – pronounced “Ko-Lah”).
When I was growing up in the 80s, we would go to 10-20 Mariners games each season. In 1991, my parents decided to get the 20-game plan. We were in the second row behind the visitors’ bullpen (3B line) in the first four seats on the right side of the aisle. Across the aisle in the front row, there were two guys in their early-20s who always seemed to be having a great time. One of them immediately seemed familiar, but I couldn’t place him at first.
Right away, we noticed these guys were interacting with Griffey from the stands. Griff would give them a nod or a point of the glove. Then, we saw the “familiar looking guy” exiting the Dome with Griff through the players’ parking lot. “Who is this guy?”
Before long, I made the connection. I had Kid Sensation and Sir Mix-A-Lot in heavy rotation. I soon recognized my Kingdome section-mate on the cover of Kid Sensation’s debut album “Rollin’ With Number One.” (By the way, my favorite K-Sen song at the time was “SeaTown Ballers,” check it out here).
I wasn’t a shy kid. So I was quick to introduce myself. Xola was one cool dude. Xola and his buddy, who I will call “C” and is Griff’s friend from Cincinnati, were always willing to chat with me and my buddies. When I didn’t have my 20-game plan tickets, Xola and C would let me and my buddies sit in their extra seats (they had what seemed to be about six seats that were often times filled with their friends, including Craig “Younger Brother” Griffey and D.J. Train (see M.C. Ren and N.W.A.))
I seemed to be the only person in the Dome that figured out that we were sitting next to Kid Sensation. And for a teenage guy who was already listening to Kid Sensation’s music it was extremely cool.
In 1992, Xola came out with his sophomore album, The Power of Rhyme. I bought it immediately and was psyched to find a track, “The Way I Swing,” featuring the vocal-stylings of the Mariners All-Star Center Fielder. “Swing” is the first episode of a trilogy of Griffey-based songs released by Xola between 1992-2009. All three are “must have” tracks for any fan of Ken Griffey, Jr. and the Seattle Mariners.
“The Way I Swing” begins with Dave Neihaus’s classic call of Griffey’s home run in his first career at bat in the Kingdome. From there, the two friends banter back-and-forth about their mad skills in the batters box and recording studio. (e.g., “One likes to Bat, the other likes to Battle, one from Cincinnati, and the other’s from Seattle, Griffey’s batting average is three-oh-oh and the Kid is undefeated with a dozen K.O.’s”).
Considering that Griffey undeniably is a first ballot Hall of Famer (he should be a unanimous selection) and one of the best baseball players of all time, it is utterly amazing to me that “The Way I Swing” is not universally known by all baseball fans.
The second installment in the Griffey-trilogy is 2000’s “Do Your Thing.” “Thing” doesn’t feature Griffey on the microphone, but it offers an unique behind-the-scenes look at Ken Griffey, Jr. “the friend.” Xola pays tribute to Griff’s accomplishments as a Mariner, reminisces about the good times the two shared during Griff’s first stint in Seattle, and offers Griff encouragement and love as he joins the Cincinnati Reds. The song can break your heart as a Mariners fan, but offers a moving glimpse into Griff’s personal life and his decision to return home to Cincy.
Finally, with Griffey’s resigning with the Mariners in 2009, Xola released the celebratory track “Back Home.” The song is pure joy. It begins with a radio host announcing to his Seattle listeners that Griffey has resigned with the Mariners, it includes excerpts from Griffey’s re-introductory press conference, and it perfectly captures the sheer joy and elation that die-hard Mariners fans felt the day Griffey decided to come “Back Home.”
In 2009, Xola has, for the most part, retired the Kid Sensation moniker. He is preparing to release a new album simply as Xola Malik (lets face it, neither Xola nor Griff is a “kid” anymore). Meanwhile, he is a successful businessman (see http://www.henchhench.com), a dedicated philantrophist (see http://www.liveunited.org/music), and a creative producer/performer and actor.
Sitting next to Xola back in the Kingdome was a thrill. Although I didn’t meet Griff while sitting with Xola, I got a peak into his circle of friends and a what it must have been like to hang out with him back in his 20s. Plus, Xola and C were just fun to be around. I recall once that Xola ordered a bag of peanuts from Seattle’s famed peanut vendor Rick Kaminski…
The Peanut Man threw the peanuts from the top arrow to Xola standing at the point of the bottom arrow, and nailed Xola in the hands. Sadly, Xola does not quite have the glove Griff has and the peanuts escaped his grasp and landed in the bullpen. (That’s alright though, Griff doesn’t quite have the same skills in the booth as Xola, so we’ll call it a draw).
Well, that’s my story of Griffey the recording artist and his friend Kid Sensation. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you’ll check out and enjoy these three great Griffey-based songs.
Tim and I will be checking out our first second-half game action this weekend in D.C…hopefully they actually play a game this time.