September 12th is one of the best and most joyous holidays on the calendar. The holiday dates back to 2006 and marks a wonderful occasion – Tim’s in-person introduction to Major League Baseball and our Seattle Mariners. This is the story of Tim’s Sixth MLB Anniversary!
A little background is in order before we jump into the day’s events.
On September 12, 2006, we celebrated Tim’s first MLB game. It was a wonderful Mariners victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
On September 12, 2007, by total dumb luck, we ended up at Citizens Bank Park to witness the Colorado Rockies absolutely wallop the Philadelphia Phillies 10-0. When I realized during the game that it was the first anniversary of Tim’s MLB debut, I decided right then and there that I would make every effort within my control to take Tim to a Major League Baseball game on September 12th every single year.
And every single year since 2006, September 12th has been an awesome day for us.
On September 12, 2008, we visited Arizona with my folks and saw Brandon Webb win his 20th game of the season over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.
On September 12, 2009, we were thrilled to see the Orioles beat the Yankees in New York.
On September 12, 2010, we were in Washington, D.C. to watch the Marlins beat the home team Washington Nationals with Tim’s Poppy.
On September 12, 2011, we headed down to Baltimore and had a great time watching the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles.
I originally had a couple additional goals for Tim’s MLB Anniversary that have fallen by the wayside over the last couple seasons. First, I wanted to see two different teams play every season on September 12 (i.e., no repeat teams) until we could see the Mariners play again on Tim’s MLB Anniversary. Along the same lines, I wanted to visit a different stadium every year on Tim’s MLB Anniversary, at least until we could make it back to Safeco Field for another anniversary game.
Last season, our no-repeat-teams goal fell apart when we saw our second MLB Anniversary game featuring the Baltimore Orioles. This year, our no-repeat-stadiums goal was thrown on the scrap heap, too.
Planning was very difficult this year. September 12 was a Wednesday. I originally wanted to head up to Toronto to see the Mariners in a rematch of Tim’s MLB Debut game. But that wasn’t going to work for a mid-week game.
Our second plan was to head to Queens to see the Mets take on the visiting Nationals. That game would have preserved our no-repeat-stadiums goal and it was our plan for a long time. But in July or August, I got news that I had a very important business appointment scheduled for the early afternoon on September 12th in Philadelphia. With traffic, we live about 1.5 hours from Philadelphia. Tim would be in school until 3:10. Going to NY was out of the question.
Next, I thought about the Phillies…but their game was scheduled to start at 4 p.m. That was a no go, as well.
So, I looked back to Baltimore, site of Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary, and found that the Orioles would be playing the Rays on September 12, 2012 at 7:05 p.m. It was an exact rematch of last season’s MLB Anniversary game. It would obliterate all of our secondary stadium/teams goals. But with a little help from Colleen, I figured we should be able to make it to the game, and that was the only goal that really mattered. BP would be out of the question. But at least we should be able to make it for the game. So that was the plan.
Here is what had to happen to make it happen:
Colleen and Kellan picked Tim up from school at 3:10 and immediately hopped on the road down to Philadelphia. I was detained until around 4:30. When I freed up, I called Colleen to find they were still stuck in traffic. I hopped in my car and drove across Center City Philadelphia. Colleen and the boys reached Philadelphia while I was still stuck in traffic. I met up with Colleen and the boys at 30th Street Station in West Philadelphia.
The boys then hopped into my car and we hit I-95 South toward Baltimore. My GPS told me we were going to arrive at Camden Yards around 6:30. But traffic crawled coming out of Philadelphia. We broke out of the traffic around the Delaware state line. By that time, my GPS said we would arrive at the stadium around 7:10 – five minutes after game time.
Traffic was non-existent in Delaware and Maryland and we picked up a few minutes. After the boys spent around 4 hours in the car, we arrived at the Camden Yards parking lot right next to the Ravens stadium.
Avi Miller purchased our tickets while we were still in the car and very kindly came and met us at the gate to save us some time getting into the ballpark.
The game actually started while we were still parking our car and B.J. Upton hit a leadoff homerun to put the Rays up 1-0 while we were walking toward the stadium.
So we missed a few batters, whatever, we were at the ballpark for some MLB Anniversary baseball action!
So, each of the last two seasons, we had exactly one game per season at which we didn’t get a baseball. I don’t really worry about having a *streak* of getting a ball at each game – in fact, I have no clue what our current *streak* is – but I’ve had a goal of trying to complete a full-season getting at least one baseball at each game we attend. After this game, we would only have two more games this season. With no BP or other pre-game festivities, this would be our greatest challenge of the season.
During the home half of the first, we hung out behind home plate just in case an Oriole wanted to hit us a real game foul ball (something my boys have never caught and I haven’t caught since, probably, 1995). We hung out in the ideal spot:
We had no luck, but the Orioles did. On the strength of singles by Nate McLouth, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Wilson Betemit, the Orioles scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
By the way, this was a huge game for the Orioles. They were one game back in the east behind the first place Yankees who were facing the struggling Red Sox in Boston.
After the end of the first, we decided to head down the 1B line cross-aisle to say hi to Avi, and then go grab some pizza. While we were chatting with Avi, Carlos Pena led off the top of the second inning and smacked a foul ball directly to where Tim is standing in that last picture! Aye…we would have had a great shot of catching it had we stayed put.
It was pizza time. The outfield was totally packed. Instead of going in search of some pizza seats, the boys dined at Jim Palmer’s feet:
While we were hanging out with Jim, I noticed there were a couple other news statues out there – like Cal Ripkin, Jr.:
We decided that our best shot at getting a baseball at this game was to hang out in the new SRO area behind the visitors’ bullpen:
Here was our view for large chunks of this game:
Essentially, we split time during this game between the bullpen SRO area and the kids’ play area. It was time to hit the kids’ play area. Before heading over there, Tim wanted to check out the new statues. First he played catcher for Eddie Murray:
And here is a look at the whole Ripkin statue:
And then we headed down Eutaw Street…
…toward the play area. We cut through the cross-aisle behind the RCF seats…
…and then the flag court so we could watch a few seconds of the game on the way to the bouncy house:
The new bouncy house this season is great, except for one pesky thing. It is bigger and better for the kids. But the old bouncy house had a big loosely-knit net wall on one side that was great for taking pictures of the kids bouncing inside. The new one has a tight-knit net on all sides and it is impossible to get a good action shot of the boys bouncing inside.
The boys always enjoy getting a picture with the big Oriole bird bobbleheads…
…and the pig:
After playing in the play area, we planned to get ice cream helmets. There is an ice cream stand in the concourse down the 3B line. I figured we would get some helmets there and then head back to the bullpen area to eat ‘em. But as we passed behind home plate, we ran into our friend and Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl. When I mentioned that we were on our way to grab some ice cream, he reached into his backpack and pulled out two little cups of carvel ice cream and handed them over. That was pretty odd…, but, hey, thanks, Matt!
We headed out to LF and grabbed some ice cream seats in the cross aisle:
And then we headed back to the kids’ play area again:
I’ve gotten ahead of myself here. I should mention that the Rays scored a second run in the bottom of the third. For most of this game, the score was tied 2-2.
Late in the game, we headed back to the bullpen SRO. Tim spotted a HUGE bug on the front wall of the visitors’ bullpen:
Alex Cobb had started the game for the Rays and pitched 4.2 innings. After Cobb, the Rays cycled in a new pitcher pretty much each inning. Jake McGee in the fifth-sixth, Wade Davis in the seventh, and Joel Peralta in the eighth.
Rays bullpen catcher, and all-around nice guy, Scott Cursi was warming up pitchers all night below us:
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Cursi didn’t’ catch each of the pitchers. Some of them he just watched and consulted with another Rays catcher. Anyway, the game was still tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth. The Orioles brought in closer Jim Johnson. Meanwhile, Cursi was warming up Kyle Farnsworth in the Rays’ bullpen.
Johnson had a rough inning. After retiring the first batter, he gave up a single to Jeff Keppinger. Joe Madden sent Rich Thompson in to pinch-run for Keppinger. After Ben Zobrist flew out to CF, Thompson stole second.
Around this time, I realized that once we made it to the bottom of the ninth, the Orioles could win it on one swing with a walk off homerun. So I decided we would head to home plate once the game moved to the bottom of the ninth to see if we could get into position to go for an umpire baseball.
With two outs, Evan Longoria then hit a soft grounder down the 3B line that was ruled an infield hit. As Thompson broke hard for third, Manny Machado charged the ball hard, scooped it up in his bare hand and made a hard fake throw toward first. Thompson bit on Machado’s fake throw and rounded third hard. Machado instantly spun and threw behind Thompson to Orioles short stop J.J. Hardy. One throw later, Matt Wieters tagged out Thompson as he headed back toward 3B.
And that ended the top of the ninth inning.
I was all set to head toward home plate as Scott Cursi took the final warm up pitch from Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth headed toward the CF gate to enter the game and Cursi headed toward the bullpen bench. Before we left to walk toward home, I called out Cursi’s name. He looked up and tossed us Farnsworth’s warm up baseball. We shouted “THANKS!” and then started to turn toward home plate, but Cursi yelled for to us to stop. We looked back, and he pulled another baseball (an absolutely pristine Camden Yards 20th Anniversary commemorative baseball) out of his back pocket and tossed it to us too.
I must say that Scott Cursi has been amazingly cool to us this season. We saw the Rays play in five games and he tossed us SEVEN baseballs and spent a little time chatting with us in Seattle.
Thanks again, Scott!
Moments after Cursi tossed us those baseballs, we ended up sliding into a row of seats right behind home plate:
After making the key fake throw to help bring the top of the ninth to a close, Machado led off the bottom of the ninth and smacked a single into LF. He then took second on a sacrifice bunt by Robert Andino.
Usually, September crowds at Camden Yards are tiny and lifeless. This year was different. The Yankees had already lost to the Red Sox by this time so they were only half a game ahead of the Orioles. In other words, if Machado could touch home plate the Orioles would pull into a first-place tie with the Yankees.
The crowd was standing at attention, ready to erupt at a moment’s notice:
Right about this time, Avi (somewhere in the stadium) sent out the following tweet:
And, I was sort of a fortune teller. No, Adam Jones didn’t come to the plate in the ninth and the Rays hadn’t taken the lead, but Nate McLouth hit a single to RF for a walk-off win.
The place was going crazy: Orioles win! Orioles win! Orioles win!
As all of the craziness was going down, Tim, Kellan and I hustled down the stairs toward the umpires’ tunnel where (like Thompson an inning earlier) we got totally faked out by a bit of misdirection.
The home plate umpire is the only umpire who carries baseballs during a game (obviously). At this game, Marvin Hudson was the home plate umpire. When the first umpire ducked into the umpires’ tunnel, he handed out two baseballs on the other side of the tunnel. As he passed us, we called out, “Mr. Hudson!” and the umpire just walked right by us. We called his name one more time and then I realized something looked odd. He didn’t have baseball pouches on his hips or a face mask like a home plate umpire always carries off the field. Then, the umpire turned around and, looking at us, pointed behind him. We turned around and looked back toward and the field and the other three umpires. Right then, Marvin Hudson reached out and handed a beautiful rubbed up commemorative baseball to Tim:
I still have no clue who the first umpire was or why he had two baseballs. I’ve never seen a non-home plate umpire hand out baseballs after a game. Very odd.
Anyway, the whole stadium was partying for their now *first place* Orioles and Nate McLouth was, predictably, the recipient of a congratulatory pie to the face:
We got a celebratory MLB Anniversary picture before heading toward the gates:
On our way to the gate, Tim got his picture with this guy:
We have no clue what that guy is all about, but we see him all over the place in Baltimore and he’s a cool looking dude. So, naturally, Tim wanted a picture with him.
Now, I’d still never paid Avi for our tickets. So we ended up meeting up with him outside of the LF gate. After I handed over a tiny bit of money (because O’s tickets are incredibly cheap…and I hope that remains the case next season), we played a whole bunch of catch with Avi:
We had a blast playing catch with Avi after the game. It was the perfect end to another great MLB Anniversary game.
As we finally started to head toward our car, I told Tim got give me a big “six” with his fingers for one final Sixth MLB Anniversary picture and he delivered possibly the most awkward looking “six” possible:
This one was difficult from a planning and execution standpoint, but September 12th always delivers great times. I can’t wait to see where September 12th takes us next season for Tim’s Seventh MLB Anniversary!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|24/22 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves|
|40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 1|
|22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2|
|12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird|
|7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney|
On September 3, 2007, we headed up to NYC to take in a Mariners game in the Bronx. We went with my friend Marc from college. Marc is also from Seattle, but in 2007 he was working in the investment world in NYC. This was the first time I’d seen him since college. And, it was Tim’s first trip to NYC and to “The House That Ruth Built” (and Griffey destroyed).
We came up to NYC for the weekend, and we stayed with another friend from college, Davlynn, who also lived in NYC in 2007. The day before the game, Davlynn took us to the American Museum of Natural History…
…where Tim REALLY enjoyed seeing lots of dinorsaur bones. Trust me. He looks utterly bored in this picture, but he really loved the museum. So, if you find yourself at 79th & Central Park West in Manhatten, check it out.
We also took Tim to Central Park to play a little baseball on a field that we miraculously found to be empty…
Soon, it was time to meet up with Marc and his wife, Angie, and take the 4-train up to the Bronx.
Now, I’m a good baseball fan. So I’m dutifully teaching Tim a healthy disrespect for the pinstriped-team from the Bronx. Upon entering the ballpark, he already had the heebeegeebees from the cramped confines of the ballpark and the overwhelming aroma of corporate greed that would soon bring wall street crashing to the ground:
I assured Tim that there was nothing to worry about. The Mariners would surely destroy the home team. The Mariners would be throwing their young ace, King Felix Hernandez, while the home squad would be trotting out an old goat, a pre-Mitchell Report Roger Clemens. I was ready for a historic Clemens loss, and I would not be dissappointed.
So, as the game began, Tim was cautiously optimistic and ready to see his Mariners put on a show to remember:
“Yes,” I explained, “so mind your P’s and Q’s.”
By the way, not everyone was a fan of the opposition, that is Marc shown behind Tim’s outreached arm. He’s a good Mariners fan.
Now, I wouldn’t lead Tim astray, it WAS a great and historic game. In fact, despite the fact it didn’t feature former-and-future Mariners great Ken Griffey, Jr., this is one of the best games I’ve ever witnessed.
The game started like so many Mariners games do: Ichiro hit a line drive single to right field. So things were already off to a good start. Ichiro extended his hit streak to five games in the five games Tim had attended to date. But that was all the M’s managed in the top of the first.
The bottom of the first was the only bad part of the game. King Felix had some first inning jitters and fell behind by 1 run.
But don’t worry, the M’s came back in the top of the second. Raul Ibanez started off the inning with a single to LCF. Ben Broussard walked. And then Clemens fired a wild pitch to the backstop sending Ibanez to 3B. Finally, Jose Lopez got an infield hit to score Rauuuuuuuuul! And just like that the Mariners had tied it up 1-1.
Tim was happy about this turn of events:
By the way, check out the old water-soaked wood on the bottom of the upper deck (behind/above us). You don’t see that in a modern stadium! Well, really, I think you don’t see that anywhere — not in Boston or on the north side of Chicago, which were much older than this 1970’s re-model job.
The top of the second was just the Mariners warm-up act. They were about to lower the boom on their hosts.
Ichiro led off the top of the third inning with a homerun blast to LCF. Not only did the hit give the Mariners the lead (for good), but it was Ichiro’s 200th hit of the season for the SEVENTH season in a row! Hooray for Ichiro!!! And hooray for us for being there to witness this piece of history.
Meanwhile, King Felix kept mowing down opposing batters.
In the top of the fourth, the Mariners scored three more runs on a single by Adrian Beltre, hit-by-pitch for Jose Lopez, a double by Yuniesky Betancourt, and another single by Ichiro.
By this point, Tim and I were having a great time watching our Mariners dominate:
At some piont in the 4th inning, Roger Clemens hurt his leg falling off the mound awkwardly. In an unprecedented move, Joe Torre brought former Orioles great Mike Mussina into the game in relief. A quick review of Moose’s bio will reveal that this was the ONLY relief appearance of his probably-Hall of Fame career — 537 games, 536 games started.
Here’s the second piece of history involved in the game, this must be one of the most combined career wins that one team has ever had on the mound in one game. I’ve tried to get someone from ESPN.com to research and determine if there has ever been more combined wins by a team in one game, but I haven’t been able to get the answer. After Mussina gave up two more runs, he was replaced by Chris Britton, who ultimately gave way to Kyle “New York’s Finest” Farnsworth. (By the way, I once saw a shirt for sale outside this ballpark that said, “Anybody But Farnsworth.” That gave me a chuckle.)
Anyway, as of September 3, 2007, Roger Clemens had 354 wins (and he would NEVER win again), Mike Mussina had 247 wins, Britton had zero career wins (he is still stuck on zero), and Farnsworth had 27 career wins. All totaled, the Mariners faced off against SIX HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT (628) career wins. What do you think, is that a record? I’ve certainly never heard of a team throwing more career wins in one game.
But all of those career wins were no match for King Felix Hernandez and his (then) 27 career wins. Tim was all like…
The scoreboard showed the happy totals:
After the game, we tired to get a nice family picture, but Tim wasn’t into posing at the time (possibly because we’d just sat in ridiculously hot weather for 3+ hours). But combining the two pictures, you can get a semi-panaramic view of the field:
Thanks to the Mitchell Report and the amazing falling from grace of Mike Piazza’s favorite opposing pitcher, this game proved to be the final loss of Roger Clemens’s former-future-Hall of Fame career. But more importantly: