Tagged: mets

MLB Pocket Schedules

Tim and I are now three weeks into our 2011 schedule and just had our first “off weekend” of the early season.  Kellan is still waiting for his first game action of the season.  Plenty of baseball left on the Cook & Son schedule for 2011.  Seems like a good enough reason to share our baseball pocket schedule collection.

Each year, I try to grab a few pocket schedules at every ballpark we visit.  We have a baseball card album full of them.  Let’s take a look — and lets do it in the order Tim first saw each of these teams play a home game.

First, our Mariners pocket schedules:

                     
2001 Mariners.JPG    
2003 Mariners.JPG

                    
2004 Mariners.JPG    
2005 Mariners.JPG

                      
2006 Mariners.JPG    
2007 Mariners (Felix).JPG

                      
2007 Mariners (Ibanez).JPG    

2008 Mariners.JPG  

                      
2009 Mariners (Felix).JPG    
2009 Mariners (Griff).JPG  

                     
2010 Mariners (Figgins).JPG    
2010 Mariners (Lee).JPG  

                     
 
2010 Mariners (Wakamatsu).JPG
     
2011 Mariner (Wedge).JPG

2011 Mariners (King Felix).JPG

Second, our Phillies pocket schedules:                       
2007 Phillies (Hamels).JPG    
2007 Phillies (Howard).JPG

                        2008 Phillies (Burrell).JPG    
2008 Phillies.JPG

2009 Phillies.JPG

Third, our Orioles pocket schedules:



2007 Orioles.JPG
2008 Orioles.JPG
2009 Orioles.JPG
2010 Orioles.JPG

Fourth, our Yankees pocket schedules:

                        2007 Yankees.JPG    
2008 Yankees.JPG

2009 Yankees.JPG

Fifth, our Pirates pocket schedules:

2007 Pirates.JPG
2008 Pirates.JPG
2010 Pirates.JPG

Sixth, our Reds pocket schedule (featuring Ken Griffey, Jr.! #3):

2008 Reds.JPG

Seventh, our Indians pocket schedules:

                        2008 Indians.JPG    
2010 Indians.JPG

Eighth, our Mets pocket schedules:

                         2008 Mets.JPG    
2009 Mets.JPG

2010 Mets.JPG

Ninth, our Diamondbacks pocket schedule:

2011 Diamondbacks.JPG

Tenth, our Nationals pocket schedules:

                          2009 Nationals.JPG    
2010 Nationals.JPG

Eleventh, our Red Sox pocket schedules:

2008 Red Sox.JPG
2009 Red Sox.JPG

Twelfth, our Cubs pocket schedule:

2009 Cubs.JPG

Thirteenth, our Twins pocket schedules:


                         
2009 Twins (winter edition).JPG    
2009 Twins espanol.JPG

2009 Twins.JPG

                        
2011 Twins (winter edition).JPG    
2011 Twins.JPG.

Fourteenth, our Brewers pocket schedule:

2009 Brewers.JPG

Fifteenth, our White Sox pocket schedules:

2009 White Sox.JPG

(This is one of my favorite schedules.  The picture of Ramirez’s homerun celebration couples just perfectly with the fireworks.  Good job, White Sox!)

2010 White Sox (AP).JPG

Sixteenth, our Blue Jays pocket schedule:

2009 Blue Jays.JPG

Seventeenth, our Athletics pocket schedule:

2010 Athletics.JPG

Eigthteenth, our Dodgers pocket schedule:


2010 Dodgers.JPGNinteenth, our Padres pocket schedule:

2010 Padres.JPG

Twentieth, our Angels pocket schedule:

2010 Angels.JPG

Twenty-first, our Giants pocket schedule:

2010 Giants.JPG

Twenty-second, our Spring Training pocket schedules:

2008 Cactus League.JPGOne more to come here…still need to photograph the 2011 Spring Training Schedule.  By the way, these include all Cactus League games for all of the teams in the Cactus League.

Bonus, our Reading Phillies pocket schedules (MiLB):

                         2008 R-Phils.JPG    
2009 R-Phils.JPG .

There you go, that is it for our MLB pocket schedules collection.  We plan to add plenty to this list in 2011.  In fact, by the end of the season, I hope to be able to add new schedules for the 2011 Mariners (actually already added), Orioles, Nationals, Phillies, Pirates, Yankees, Mets, Tigers, Reds, Rangers, Astros, Marlins, Braves and Nationals.

Phillies Run The Bases Presented By Tim (5/1/10)

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.” 

YES!!!

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…

1 - tim and steve carlton statue.JPG…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.

2 - moyer 5-1-10.JPGRight 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…

3 - ball from jc romero.JPG…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…

4 - catalanotto sign.JPG…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…

5 - tims first batter frank catalanotto.jpgBut here is the real goal achieved….

6 - first pitch with catalanotto.jpgThat, 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:

7 - kids play area 5-1-10.JPG…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:

7b - tim and phake phanatic.JPGThe Mets were still taking BP when we made our way back down the concourse on the 3B side of the stadium.  Check out this pre-gram crowd:

7c - busy pre-game concourse.JPGWe 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…

8 - halladay warms.JPGHalladay was another factor that made this game special.  He went head-to-head against the Mets Mike Pelfrey and dominated throwing a complete game shutout.

After watching Halladay stretch a little, we went to our seats in section 104:

10 - tim from our citz bank seats 5-1-10.jpgIn 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:

12 - citz sec 104 row 14 seats 4-5 panorama.jpgThey were really great seats.

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:

13 - Halladay Motion.jpgFirst inning, fly out, fly out, strike out.

Then we grabbed an ice cream helmet for Tim and a couple drinks for both of us, and headed to our seats…

14 - ICH and nachos 5-1-10.JPG…later, we grabbed some nachos.  Good ballpark foods!

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:

14a - phils outfielders from out seats.jpgI 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…

15 - werth hopping for ibanez.jpg…do you see it?  Its Werth.  He looks the same — mid-hop — in every picture.  There were more than this and he always was mid-hop just like that.  It seemed like an odd little hop to me.

Although he gave up three hits in the early innings, Halladay was dealing all day:

18 - halladay deals from the OF.jpgEarly 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:

16 - utley singles in the 4th inning.jpgRyan Howard then drilled one to RF for a single moving Utley to second:

17 - ryan howard line single in 4th 5-1-10.jpgJayson 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:


19 - citz sec 104 row 14 seats 4-5 cellphone panorama.jpgI 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)…


19b - catalanotto grounds out.jpg…but he grounded out.

The Phanatic was pumping up the crowd…


20 - phanatic pumps up crowd.JPG…and everyone was going crazy because the Phils were (by this point) winning 10-0 and their new ace, Roy Halladay, was set on cruise control:

21b - halladay delivers utley charges.jpgAnd 10-0 was the final score.  Halladay’s line:  9 IP, 3 Hits, 0 ER, and 1-4 at the plate.

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…

21 - citz section 130 front row panorama.jpg….at home plate you can see the Phillies workers setting up for Tim’s special run around the bases.  He stayed put as the bullpens cleared out and headed to their respective dugouts.

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.

22 - bullpens call it a day.JPGWe 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…

22b - citi ball and snortle.JPG…a 2009 Citi Field inagural season baseball, which he tossed right up to us.

Thanks, Dave!

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…

23 - Citz section 142 approx. panorama.jpg…and this one from section 144:

24 - citz section 144 row 16 panorama.jpgAnd an usher in CF took our picture:

25 - TJCs at Citz 5-1-10.JPGKids 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:

26 - kalas and schmidt.jpgHere is the view of the bullpens from the wall of fame area — visitors on top, Phillies down below closer to the field:

27 - bullpens.jpgAfter waiting through a really long line and walking through a tunnel below the stands in RF foul territory.  Then we walked out onto the RF foul warning track for the first time…

29 - phillies RF foul warning track.jpgOf course, I got some shots of the dugouts…

30 - phils visitors dugout and on deck circles.jpg…and threw in some shots of the on deck cirles for good measure.

Then, Tim was off to the races:




31 - tims phillies run the bases 2.jpgOn the drive home, Tim would regale me with the story of how he passed that kid in the red and white outfit.

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…

32 - citz on field behind home panorama.jpg…and this picture of Tim standing next to the brick wall directly behind home plate…

33 - citz wall behind home plate.JPG…and for good meaure, we got a couple more pictures as we made our way down the 1B line warning track toward the exit in shallowe LF:

34 - phillies post base running.jpgAs we left the seating area, the Phils had workers handing out this certificate:

35 - philllies run the bases certificate.jpgI thought that was a great touch.  None of the sixth other teams whose bases Tim has run have given out these certificates.

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:

4 Games

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)

 

The Braves and the Metropolitans (4/24/10)

On Saturday morning, April 24, 2010, we found ourselves on the 7-train weaving our way through the roof tops of Queens, New York…

1 - watching queens.JPG…we were on our way to Citi Field…

2 - citi field 2010.jpg…and a game between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets.

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.

3 - citi field apple and BP.jpgIn 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…

4 - TJCs at Citi LF.JPGHere was our view from behind the 3B dugout:

5 - citi section 121 sunny day panorama.jpgLook how happy Tim was hanging out with the guys:

6 - Tim Alex and Joe.JPGAnd we ran into Mr. Met before the game…

7 - Tim and Mr Met.JPG…we’d seen Mr. Met in the OF last season but never got Tim’s picture with him.  So it was cool to get another chance.

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…

8 - seats under scoreboard.JPG…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…

9 - peanuts with alex.JPG…see the little bit of dust on the corner of the dugout, those are Tim’s peanut shells.  He was trying to crack them on the cement because his fingers weren’t strong enough to crack them on his own.

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…

10 - heyward national anthem.JPG…Alex came away with that baseball in Heyward’s glove.

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:

11 - citi fielding 2010.JPGThen it was Tim’s turn at bat.  Here is a video…

Next, it was time to hit the soft toss batting cage…

12 - citi cage 2010.JPG…that bat is still way too heavy for Tim, but he had fun hitting in the cage nonetheless.

 After some hitting, we found our way up to the last row of the upper deck in deep left center field…

13 - citi section 538 last row panorama.jpg…where we watched a couple innings from behind the scoreboard while we ate some chicken nachos…

14 - citi field chicken nachos.JPG…and Tim started collecting food on his t-shirt.  A lot more would follow those stray cheese drips.  By the end of the day it was an impressive “collection.”

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…

15 - jason heyward single up middle.jpg….before I could clean the cheese from my fingers and get out my camera.  So, one Jason Heyward at-bat and one hit.  Not too shabby.

While Tim kept piling in the nachos (like his parents, he loves nachos!), I got this picture of David Wright…

16 - david wright grounds out in second.JPG…grounding out.  And this picture of Larry “Chipper” Jones hitting a foul ball:

17 - chipper jones foul ball in third.JPGAfter the nachos, we were on the move.  We circled the whole stadium looking for an ice cream helmet.  We must have missed them because we couldn’t find them for a long time.

I took this picture of the big open concourse area above the Jackie Robinson rotunda…

18 - citi above rotunda 2010 panorama.jpg…I took this picture because that “Big Apple Brews” in the middle of the concourse wasn’t there last season.  Its a new addition this season, one of several at Citi Field.

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.

19 - ice cream by the bullpens.jpgBy 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…

20 - jason heyward fouls back pitch in fourth.jpg…so we ran up the stairs and snapped this picture from Shea Bridge of Heyward fouling a pitch straight back (its right on the catcher’s right knee).  He eventually struck out in this at-bat.

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…

21 - jason heyward walks in sixth.jpg….by the way, according to baseball-reference.com, Jason Heyward is 6′ 5″ and Braves first base coach Glenn Hubbard is 5′ 9″.

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…

22 - mets hall of fame 2.jpg….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…

23 - mets hall of fame 1.jpg…that’s a great little statute.

Before heading back up to the field level, we snapped this picture of Tim…

24 - tim trailblazer humanitarian american.jpg…standing in Jackie Robinson’s foot steps.

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:

25 - tim lounges in citi field SRO area.jpgThe game was a pitchers dual.  In the bottom of the sixth, the Braves were winning 1-0 until Jason Bay hit this RBI double off the wall in left center field…

26 - Jason Bay RBI double in 6th.jpg…scoring Jose Reyes and tying up the game at 1-1.

In the seventh inning, Walla Walla Washington’s own (and former Mariner) Eric O’Flaherty entered the game for the Braves….

27 - Walla Walls Eric OFlaherty in 7th.jpg….he only faced one batter and probably threw over to first as many times as he threw to the plate.  Eventually, he retired his only batter of the day, Alex Cora.

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)…

28 - jason heyward grounds into FC in 8th.jpg…but he beat the throw to first.

In the 8th inning, neither Jose Reyes nor David Wright could add any insurance runs for the Mets:

29 - jose reyes and david wright in 8th.jpg

30 - umpire bruce dreckman.jpgWe didn’t manage to catch a ball during BP.  So we were hoping we would get a chance for an umpire ball after the final out of the game.  The home plate umpire was Bruce Dreckman.

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:

31 - umpire ball from bruce dreckman.jpg(Check out his serious face as he balances the ball on his head).

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…

32 - tim autographs baseball.jpgJoe 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:

33 - moes club and mets bullpen.jpgTo 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…

34 - citi warning track 2010.jpg…but I didn’t get any running the bases pictures because I was too busy running the bases behind Tim filming this high speed video clip of Tim:

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:

35 - running shea stadium bases.jpgAlthough we attended a game in 2008 when Shea and Citi were right next to each other, I was still amazed at how close the Shea Stadium base placques were to Citi Field.

Finally, we got a picture with the Shea Stadium home run apple…

36 - shea homerun apple.jpg…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:

3 Games

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)

 

Hello-and-Goodbye, Shea Stadium (9/7/08)

When early September 2008 rolled around, I thought to myself, “Self, Tim has never been to Shea Stadium and it is about to close.  Let’s not let that happen without getting Tim up to Queens.”

So, early in the morning on September 7, 2008, Tim and I hopped in the car and made our way up to Manhatten.  As is my standard practice, we parked on the upper west side.  We then walked with Tim on my shoulders from approximately 84th & Amsterdam to 42nd & Seventh Ave.  After a 7-train ride from Times Square station to Willets Point, we arrived at Shea Stadium.

1 - shea exterior.jpgIt was a day-night doubleheader.  We would attent only the day game.  As we made our way up to our seats in Upper Reserve section 10, Row M, the visitors’ dugout (occupied by the Phillies) welcomed us to Shea:

1a - Welcome to Shea.jpgIf there was batting practice, we didn’t make it in time for it.  As we made out way to out seats, the grounds crew was putting the final touches on the field.  We decided to head up to the last row…

2 - climbing to top of shea.jpg…to see the sights.  And I was interested to discover that we could see the Empire State Building off in the distance in Manhatten…

3 - shea empire state building.jpg…that’s it just above the bill of Tim’s hat.

And here was our view of Shea from the upper deck:

4 - shea upper reserve section 10 panorama.jpgAt least as I perceived it, Shea always got a bad rap.  Particularly, because everyone glorified Yankee Stadium (which to me was utterly unimpressive — particularly when compared to the other “old” ballparks, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park).  Anyway, I always liked Shea Stadium.  I probably attended 8 games total at Shea between 2000-2008 and I always found it to be a much more pleasant place to watch a ballgame than its neighbor in the Bronx.

Some kind Mets fan agreed to take our picture:

5 - TJCs at Shea.jpgNote how Citi Field appears to be about 2 feet away from Shea beyond the outfield fence.  I was both amazed and saddened the following April when Tim and I attended our first game at Citi Field and we discovered that Shea was already demolished and hauled away.

Soon, it was time for the game to begin.  The atmosphere in the stadium was electric.  The Phillies and Mets are pretty big rivals.  Entering the day, the Mets were leading the Phillies atop the N.L. East by two games.

The pitching was an epic battle between two “old goats” — my favorite pitcher of all-time, Jamie Moyer, and future Hall of Famer, Pedro Martinez…

6 - Moyer v. Pedro Martinez.jpg…by the way, “old goats” is Pedro’s description of himself and Moyer, not mine.

Early on, both old goats were dealing…

7 - Old Goats Dealing.jpg…my man, Moyer, would keep it up giving up only 2 hits and zero earned runs in 7 innings of work.  Pedro, however, would struggle starting in the second inning.

In the second inning, Pedro walked Jayson Werth.  Former Mariner Greg Dobbs followed with a double, Matt Stairs with a sac fly, and Carlos Ruiz hit a double.  And just like that, the Phillies led 2-0.

Two batters Pedro did manage to retire in the second were Ryan Howard and Jamie Moyer…

8 - Howard Whiffs Moyer Grounds Out.jpg…Howard looked silly flailing at several pitches and ultimately striking out.  Moyer at least put the ball in play.

It was a big snack day for Tim.  We started off with some french fries.  Then, it was time for a Shea Stadium Mets ice cream helmet:


9 - Shea Ice Cream Helmet.jpgA couple innings into the game, we decided to explore the stadium a bit.  I knew this would be Tim’s only chance to ever see Shea.  So I wanted us to see what it had to offer.

Here are a couple stadium views from inside the concourses and ramps on our way down to the field level…

10 - concourses.jpg…I think that picture to the left is pretty interesting.  It shows that Shea Stadium had two sets of ramps circling the stadium.

Moyer was still pitching a gem.

11 - Moyer continues to deal.jpgWith a win in this game, Moyer would run his record to 13-7 on the season and it was his 243rd win of his excellent career.

Since the stadium would soon be history, I wanted to document as much of it as possible.  Here is a stadium map that hung inside the concourse behind section 31 in the Loge level:

12 - loge level map.jpgI had never done much exploring at Shea before.  But I knew there were some standing room areas down each foul line.  So that’s where we headed out in RF.

13 - RF field level standing room.jpgAs you can see, the standing room area is in an inside concourse with a screen in front of it.  Back in 2003, I watched almost an entire game from the corresponding standing room area down the LF foul line.  Its a nice little spot.  Interestingly, that other game I watched from the standing room area was also part of a Sunday doubleheader and it was also a 7 inning, 2 hit, zero earned run win by Jamie Moyer.

Tim and I hung out there a little while so Tim could run around in circles.

Here is a panoramic view of Shea Stadium from the seats closest to the standing room area:

13a - shea RF corner field level.jpgNext, we started to make our way toward home plate.  On the way, I saw this interesting ketchup and mustard packet dispenser…

14 - ketchup mets mustard.jpg….which I thought was pretty interesting.  Seems like most stadiums have ketchup and mustard pumps, not little packets.  I wonder if someone bought this ketchup and mustard contraption once the Mets started trying to sell off any-and-everything from Shea Stadium.  Actually, if you want one of these, click here.

We saw that there were plenty of empty seats toward the home plate area.  This wasn’t a planned doubleheader and it wasn’t a make-up of a game from early in the season.  No.  This game was supposed to be played the night before.  In fact, we had planned to attend the game on September 6th.  Anyway, it appeared that some of the people who planned to attend the game on the 6th couldn’t make it on the 7th.  And we were the beneficiaries.

I snapped some pictures of the Phillies stellar corps of infielders on our way to our final seats of the day…

15 - phils infielders.jpg…Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmie Rollins each had one hit on the day.  But the big hitting star of the day was Greg “The Dobbers” Dobbs who was 2-4 with a 3-run 4th inning homerun off of Pedro Martinez.  He also scored 2 runs.  After the 4th inning, the Phillies led 6-0.

And here are our final seats of the day in (I believe) section 215:

16 - infield box seats.jpgAnd here is my best effort at patching together a panoramic view from these seats:

17 - shea 1B field panorama.jpgIt was a great spot to see the action up close…

18 - Pedro Feliz at bat.jpg…like this pitch to Phils third basemen, Pedro Feliz.

And it was nice to see Mets first basemen and big-time slugger, Carlos Delgado…

19 - Mets infield.jpg…who went 0-4 on the day.

Here is a shot of the Phillies dugout and the Mets logo behind home plate as Shane “The Flying Hawaiian” Victorino approaches the plate:

20 - Victorino approaches plate.jpgPedro Martinez only lasted 4 innings and left trailing 6-0.  A host of Mets relievers finished off the fifth through ninth innings without giving up any more runs.

Moyer lasted 7 innings before Scott Eyre came in and gave up the only two Mets runs in the 8th inning.  The Phillies won the game by a final score of 6-2 to move to 1-game back of the Mets.  In the nightcap, Johan Santana beat Cole Hamels and the Mets re-took a 2-game lead in the N.L. East, a lead they would build to 3.5 games a few days later and then squander to miss the playoffs completely.

This was the 14th to last game game at Shea Stadium.  It was great to add Shea to Tim’s baseball stadium resume.  We got one more picture to commemorate the day…

21 - TJCs lower Shea and cowbell man.jpg…by the way, in that picture “Cow-Bell Man” is standing behind us.  He let Tim clank his cowbell during the game.  “MORE COWBELL!”

On our way out of Shea Stadium for the final time, I took a picture of the four seating decks above the field level…

22 - 5 levels of Shea.jpgOn this sign, Mr. Met thanked the exiting crowd for coming out to Shea Stadium:

23 - goodbye from shea.jpgThe crowd made its way out of the Stadium, many of them like us never to return.

24 - Goodbye Shea.jpgThe next time we traveled to Queens, it would be to visit the new Citi Field, and many people like us would miss the simple and stripped down charm of Shea Stadium and its brightly colored seats.

Goodbye, Shea Stadium.

2008 Roadtrip, Game 3: Mets at Pirates (8/18/08)

The roadtripping continued on the morning of Monday, August 18, 2008

1 - driving to pittsburgh.jpg
…we woke up at the KOA in Streetboro, Ohio, and made the 2 hour drive into Pittsburgh.  By around 11:00 a.m., we were hanging out with these guys outside PNC Park:

2 - stargell and clemente.jpg
Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente.  Two excellent ballplayers.  Two excellent statues.

Tim and I had been to PNC Park before.  My dad had not.  This was my Dad’s first view of the inside of the stadium:

3 - Dads first view of PNC.jpg
As you can tell, we entered the stadium from the CF entrance.  After snapping a photo of the field, we headed down to the RF corner and Tim played on the miniture whiffle ball field.  There was no BP and no one on the field so we had some time to explore the field.

After a few minutes playing in the kids area, we made our way down the 1B concourse and around to home plate.  As you can see (even with the second deck obstructing the skyline view), PNC Park is beautiful and has a spectacular view over the CF-RF stands.

4 - pregame behind plate.jpg
As you can also tell from that last picture, the Mets and Pirates pitchers came out to do some throwing.  We decided to make our way down to the Pirates pitchers…

5 - 3 Cooks behind 3B dugout.jpg
…after getting a Grandfather-Father-Son picture behind the 3B dugout.

So, here we are behind the Pirates pitchers.  Our first thought was, “Who are these guys?”

6 - Pirate Pitchers.jpg
They seemed like a nice bunch of guys.  But seriously, I didn’t know any of them.

After a minute or two, Tim and I jumped that railing and stood along the fence along the warning track.  Soon after that, someone threw a ball over our heads and directly to my dad.  I think it was Matt Capps.

A few seconds later, Matt Capps came over and started signing autographs.  My dad tossed his baseball down to us and we got Capps to sign it…

7 - Matt Capps.jpg
…and then we got our picture with him.  He was very nice.  And, for the record, I have since heard of the guy.  Maybe we’ll hear even more about him now that he’s left Pittsburgh.

A little bit later, Denny Bautista threw a ball to me and Tim…

8 - Denny Bautista.jpg
…actually, he rolled it to us from approximately where he is shown on the field above.   It was clear that he was rolling it to us, and everyone else was cool about it.  No one tried to intercept it.

We ended up getting a couple autographs on that ball, and a picture with one of the autographers…

9 - T.J. Beam.jpg
…T.J. Beam.  Another nice guy.

Here are the three autographs we got on that ball:

TJ Beam.jpg
          Tyler Yates #30                         Sean Burnett                          T.J. Beam #48

After getting our picture with Beam, we continued our stadium tour.  Next stop…

10 - Ralph Kiners hands.jpg
…Ralph Kiner’s hands.  This is in the LF concourse below the big spiral ramp up to the upper deck.

And speaking of that ramp, that was our next move…

11 - dad on upward spiral.jpg
…here is my dad about half way up the ramp (with Pedro Martinez playing catch behind him)…

12 - TJCs at top of spiral.jpg
…and here are me and Tim at the top.  And here is a panaramic view of PNC Park from the top of the spiral ramp:

13 - PNC Park LF upper HR panaramic.jpg
While hanging out at the top of the ramp, I noticed messages going by on the skinny screens between the field and second levels.  Then I saw a text message number, so I sent in a message to commemorate our trip:

14 - PNC text message.jpg
Then we headed around the upper deck.  I took this shot from the upper deck concourse along the 3B line:

15 - Josh Gibson entrance.jpg
That is the LF/3B entrance.  I’m not sure if it has an official name.  But it honors various Negro League baseball players.  As you can see, the large bats hanging over head list:  Harold Tinker, Leroy Matlock, Gus Greenlee and Sam Streeter of the Pittsburgh Crawfords; and Cumberland Posey, Sellers Hall, Vic Harris and Ray Brown of the Homestead Grays.

In the middle of the walkway is a statue of the great slugger, Josh Gibson.  In 2007, I got a picture of Tim and the Gibson statue.

Back to the tour, we ended up in the upper deck down the RF line.  Check out how cool the area looks with those golden bridges.  Excellent.

16 - Tim and Grandpa upper RF.jpg

Here is a panaramic view from the RF corner upper deck seats:

PNC Park RF upper foul panaramic.jpg

Finally, it was game time.  We headed to our seats where this was our view of PNC Park from section 139, Row D:

17 - our view.jpg
The Mets sent John Maine to the hill to face off against Paul Maholm.  The Mets were in first place in the N.L. East and were gearing up for another late season collapse.  The Pirates were standing in 5th place, a game up on the Reds and 20.5 back of the Cubs.

Argenis Reyes led the game off with a single and scored the Mets first run with two down in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Beltran.

The Mets scored again in the fourth inning when David Wright singled, Carlos Beltran doubled and Carlos Delgado hit Wright in with a weak grounder to first base.

All the while, John Maine was stifling the Pirates pitching 1-hit ball.  Ultimately, Maine pitched five innings and gave up only 2 hits.  I’m not sure why he didn’t come back in the sixth.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Lets see some sights along the way.  Look who was standing in front of us in CF…

17a - Nate McLouth.jpg
…2008 NL All-Star and Gold Glove center fielder, Nate McLouth.  He did nothing at the plate during this game.

Around the fourth inning, we decided it was high time we got some ice cream in us.  In a surprise move, Tim selected mint chocolate chip instead of his standard chocolate order.

On the way back to our seats, the Pirates Parrot (he probably has a name, but I don’t know it), was standing in the concourse right behind our seats.  I asked if we could get our picture with the Parrot:

18 - the Pirates Parrot.jpg
For some reason, Tim wanted no part of that happy Parrot.  Maybe he just wanted to get back to the seats for his ice cream.  Actually, Tim generally loves mascots.  But he is often intimidated and quiet once he finally gets up close next to a mascot.  I guess they are big strange characters for the little guy.

Hey, see that camera man behind the me, Tim and the Parrot?  He took note of us as we posed with the Parrot.  A couple minutes later, he was all-up-in-our-faces:

19 - Pirates cameraman.jpg
And this was the result…

20 - broadcasting ice cream helmet.jpg
…and so was this…

21 - more broadcasting.jpg
…Tim got a good 20 seconds of screen time!  He smiled and waved for the camera.  Ah, good times.

After the ice cream, we made a change.  We moved to the covered handicap-accessible / standing room walk way below the RF bleachers:

22 - RF shady handi-accessible seating.jpg
The Mets made a move too.  They replaced John Maine with Brian Stokes in the sixth inning.  It only took Stokes two batters and eight pitches to blow the save.  When Adam LaRoche’s 2-run bomb sailed over the OF fence, John Maine’s solid outing was wiped out.

In the top of the eighth, it was still tied 2-2 when the Pirates brought in Tyle Yates (the same Tyler Yates who autographed our baseball before the game).  Yates retired the first two batters, before giving up a single and two walks to load the bases.  The Pirates brought in Sean Burnett (yep, the same one who also signed our baseball before the game) to record the third out.  With a 1-1 count, Burnett induced an infield pop-up behind 3B by Carlos Delgado.  The Pirates escaped the bases loaded jam unscathed.

Then they came to the plate and did some work.  With three singles and a double, the Pirates scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth.  The final blow came on a 2-run double by future-Mariner Jack Wilson.

And so it became do or die time for the Mets…

23 - Mets last chance.jpg
…the Pirates were ready to record an ellusive “W.”

Not even the great Fernando Tatis could save the day for the Mets…

24 - ear tatis.jpg
…Tatis popped out to 1B.  Two of the next four batters would reach base, but the other two…wouldn’t.  Coming full cirlce, after leading off the game with a single, Argenis Reyes closed out the game with a ground-out to short stop.

Pirates Win!

As the Pirates celebrated behind us, I snapped one final picture of Tim and my dad before we headed out…

25 - pirates win and grandpas shoulders.jpg…it was time to drive back to our house for the night before heading to Philadelphia for the final game of The Inaugural Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.

2008 Roadtrip, Game 3: Mets at Pirates  (8/18/08)

The roadtripping continued on the morning of Monday, August 18, 2008

1 - driving to pittsburgh.jpg
…we woke up at the KOA in Streetboro, Ohio, and made the 2 hour drive into Pittsburgh.  By around 11:00 a.m., we were hanging out with these guys outside PNC Park:

2 - stargell and clemente.jpg
Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente.  Two excellent ballplayers.  Two excellent statues.

Tim and I had been to PNC Park before.  My dad had not.  This was my Dad’s first view of the inside of the stadium:

3 - Dads first view of PNC.jpg
As you can tell, we entered the stadium from the CF entrance.  After snapping a photo of the field, we headed down to the RF corner and Tim played on the miniture whiffle ball field.  There was no BP and no one on the field so we had some time to explore the field.

After a few minutes playing in the kids area, we made our way down the 1B concourse and around to home plate.  As you can see (even with the second deck obstructing the skyline view), PNC Park is beautiful and has a spectacular view over the CF-RF stands.

4 - pregame behind plate.jpg
As you can also tell from that last picture, the Mets and Pirates pitchers came out to do some throwing.  We decided to make our way down to the Pirates pitchers…

5 - 3 Cooks behind 3B dugout.jpg
…after getting a Grandfather-Father-Son picture behind the 3B dugout.

So, here we are behind the Pirates pitchers.  Our first thought was, “Who are these guys?”

6 - Pirate Pitchers.jpg
They seemed like a nice bunch of guys.  But seriously, I didn’t know any of them.

After a minute or two, Tim and I jumped that railing and stood along the fence along the warning track.  Soon after that, someone threw a ball over our heads and directly to my dad.  I think it was Matt Capps.

A few seconds later, Matt Capps came over and started signing autographs.  My dad tossed his baseball down to us and we got Capps to sign it…

7 - Matt Capps.jpg
…and then we got our picture with him.  He was very nice.  And, for the record, I have since heard of the guy.  Maybe we’ll hear even more about him now that he’s left Pittsburgh.

A little bit later, Denny Bautista threw a ball to me and Tim…

8 - Denny Bautista.jpg
…actually, he rolled it to us from approximately where he is shown on the field above.   It was clear that he was rolling it to us, and everyone else was cool about it.  No one tried to intercept it.

We ended up getting a couple autographs on that ball, and a picture with one of the autographers…

9 - T.J. Beam.jpg
…T.J. Beam.  Another nice guy.

Here are the three autographs we got on that ball:

TJ Beam.jpg
          Tyler Yates #30                         Sean Burnett                          T.J. Beam #48

After getting our picture with Beam, we continued our stadium tour.  Next stop…

10 - Ralph Kiners hands.jpg
…Ralph Kiner’s hands.  This is in the LF concourse below the big spiral ramp up to the upper deck.

And speaking of that ramp, that was our next move…

11 - dad on upward spiral.jpg
…here is my dad about half way up the ramp (with Pedro Martinez playing catch behind him)…

12 - TJCs at top of spiral.jpg
…and here are me and Tim at the top.  And here is a panaramic view of PNC Park from the top of the spiral ramp:

13 - PNC Park LF upper HR panaramic.jpg
While hanging out at the top of the ramp, I noticed messages going by on the skinny screens between the field and second levels.  Then I saw a text message number, so I sent in a message to commemorate our trip:

14 - PNC text message.jpg
Then we headed around the upper deck.  I took this shot from the upper deck concourse along the 3B line:

15 - Josh Gibson entrance.jpg
That is the LF/3B entrance.  I’m not sure if it has an official name.  But it honors various Negro League baseball players.  As you can see, the large bats hanging over head list:  Harold Tinker, Leroy Matlock, Gus Greenlee and Sam Streeter of the Pittsburgh Crawfords; and Cumberland Posey, Sellers Hall, Vic Harris and Ray Brown of the Homestead Grays.

In the middle of the walkway is a statue of the great slugger, Josh Gibson.  In 2007, I got a picture of Tim and the Gibson statue.

Back to the tour, we ended up in the upper deck down the RF line.  Check out how cool the area looks with those golden bridges.  Excellent.

16 - Tim and Grandpa upper RF.jpg

Here is a panaramic view from the RF corner upper deck seats:

PNC Park RF upper foul panaramic.jpg

Finally, it was game time.  We headed to our seats where this was our view of PNC Park from section 139, Row D:

17 - our view.jpg
The Mets sent John Maine to the hill to face off against Paul Maholm.  The Mets were in first place in the N.L. East and were gearing up for another late season collapse.  The Pirates were standing in 5th place, a game up on the Reds and 20.5 back of the Cubs.

Argenis Reyes led the game off with a single and scored the Mets first run with two down in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Beltran.

The Mets scored again in the fourth inning when David Wright singled, Carlos Beltran doubled and Carlos Delgado hit Wright in with a weak grounder to first base.

All the while, John Maine was stifling the Pirates pitching 1-hit ball.  Ultimately, Maine pitched five innings and gave up only 2 hits.  I’m not sure why he didn’t come back in the sixth.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Lets see some sights along the way.  Look who was standing in front of us in CF…

17a - Nate McLouth.jpg
…2008 NL All-Star and Gold Glove center fielder, Nate McLouth.  He did nothing at the plate during this game.

Around the fourth inning, we decided it was high time we got some ice cream in us.  In a surprise move, Tim selected mint chocolate chip instead of his standard chocolate order.

On the way back to our seats, the Pirates Parrot (he probably has a name, but I don’t know it), was standing in the concourse right behind our seats.  I asked if we could get our picture with the Parrot:

18 - the Pirates Parrot.jpg
For some reason, Tim wanted no part of that happy Parrot.  Maybe he just wanted to get back to the seats for his ice cream.  Actually, Tim generally loves mascots.  But he is often intimidated and quiet once he finally gets up close next to a mascot.  I guess they are big strange characters for the little guy.

Hey, see that camera man behind the me, Tim and the Parrot?  He took note of us as we posed with the Parrot.  A couple minutes later, he was all-up-in-our-faces:

19 - Pirates cameraman.jpg
And this was the result…

20 - broadcasting ice cream helmet.jpg
…and so was this…

21 - more broadcasting.jpg
…Tim got a good 20 seconds of screen time!  He smiled and waved for the camera.  Ah, good times.

After the ice cream, we made a change.  We moved to the covered handicap-accessible / standing room walk way below the RF bleachers:

22 - RF shady handi-accessible seating.jpg
The Mets made a move too.  They replaced John Maine with Brian Stokes in the sixth inning.  It only took Stokes two batters and eight pitches to blow the save.  When Adam LaRoche’s 2-run bomb sailed over the OF fence, John Maine’s solid outing was wiped out.

In the top of the eighth, it was still tied 2-2 when the Pirates brought in Tyle Yates (the same Tyler Yates who autographed our baseball before the game).  Yates retired the first two batters, before giving up a single and two walks to load the bases.  The Pirates brought in Sean Burnett (yep, the same one who also signed our baseball before the game) to record the third out.  With a 1-1 count, Burnett induced an infield pop-up behind 3B by Carlos Delgado.  The Pirates escaped the bases loaded jam unscathed.

Then they came to the plate and did some work.  With three singles and a double, the Pirates scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth.  The final blow came on a 2-run double by future-Mariner Jack Wilson.

And so it became do or die time for the Mets…

23 - Mets last chance.jpg
…the Pirates were ready to record an ellusive “W.”

Not even the great Fernando Tatis could save the day for the Mets…

24 - ear tatis.jpg
…Tatis popped out to 1B.  Two of the next four batters would reach base, but the other two…wouldn’t.  Coming full cirlce, after leading off the game with a single, Argenis Reyes closed out the game with a ground-out to short stop.

Pirates Win!

As the Pirates celebrated behind us, I snapped one final picture of Tim and my dad before we headed out…

25 - pirates win and grandpas shoulders.jpg…it was time to drive back to our house for the night before heading to Philadelphia for the final game of The Inaugural Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.

Tim’s Second Season, Stadium, & League (6/30/07)

So it was June 2007 by the time Tim’s second MLB game rolled around.  Tim was about a year and a half old by this point and he was running around on his own and ready to have some fun at the game.

Unfortunately, Tim’s second game wouldn’t feature the Mariners.  Instead, I introduced Tim to the National League and two teams competing for the N.L. East crown, the Phillies and the Mets.  Tim’s second game would take place at his second MLB stadium, Citizens Bank Park.

At about 70 miles, Citizens Bank Park is the closest MLB stadium to our home in Berks County, Pennsyvlania.  Philadelphia is the closest “big city” to our home.  But in a year and a half of life, Tim had not yet visited the city where his parents met back in 1999.  So, I decided to take him down early to see a tiny bit of the city before the game.

I had bigger plans, but time was running short before the game.  So all we did was visit Rittenhouse Square:


1 - Rittenhouse Tim.jpgI lived about 5 blocks from Rittenhouse Square when my wife and I met, and I’d walk through the Park everyday on my way here or there.  Tim loved running around the Park for a short while.  And then we were off to South Philadelphia.

We attended this game with a group of people from my office.  Tim was a lucky little guy.  His second game was also his second game in a suite!  We arrived as the game was beginning, said our hellos, and started doing what you do in suites — we started eating tasty food:


2 - suite eater.jpgThat table behind us had 3-4 tasty hot dishes in which we over-indulged…well, at least I did.

Here is a look at the suite:


3 - suite views.jpgTo the left, that’s a look from the entry way through the suite.  To my left as I took that picture is a kitchenette area featuring various drinks, chips, crackers, dips, cheese trays, etc.  And against the wall to the left (off camera) is a large flat screen for those who want to watch the game on TV rather than turning 90 degrees to their right and watching it live.

In the picture to the left, do you see the blue sky and clouds painted on the ceiling?    The middle section of the ceiling looks like a nice sunny day and it has a picture of the Philly Phanatic skydiving into the suite.  The middle picture is Tim pointing up at the Phanatic.  He thought it was really cool.

Above to the right is a view of the field from the suite.  When I took that picture, I was still standing in the main “suite” part of the suite.  In front of me is a standing counter (actually, it also has tall chairs) and on the other side of the counter are three rows of stadium seating for the folks in the suite.

Here is a panaramic view of the field from the bottom of our three rows of stadium seating (featuring Tim in the bottom right corner):


4 - citz suite view panarama.jpgFYI, I made that panaramic view from screen shots of a video clip I took of the field, so its not normal photo quality.  But I think it does the job.

Tim ran around the suite like crazy and provided comic relief for my colleagues.  But after a while, he wanted to explore outside the suite.  The main level of suites at Citizens Bank Park has its own concourse (just above the main concourse).  Its just a big elevated walkway with access to all of the suites, but no concession stands, etc.

Tim and I exited our suite and he started running down the walkway toward home plate and then around toward LF.  I took a video of him running and took the following screen shots from the video clip:


5 - suite concourse shots.jpgTo the left is a view of the suite level concourse.  This picture is just foul of third base.  The suites and the field are to our right.  The banners hanging to the left are hanging above the main concourse and are just inside what I consider to be the stadium’s main entrance (between home and 3B).

Above to the right is a view of the main entrance taken right around that hanging Jimmy Rollins banner shown in the picture to the left.  Just to the left of the main entrance is McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon.  Across the street to the right of the picture you can see the Spectrum, which Pearl Jam is closing down this weekend.  Click here for a peak inside the Spectrum and see how Pearl Jam tied the World Series and Seattle-connection, Raul Ibanez, into their recent concert.

Back to the game.  We reached the end of the suite level concourse and I found someone to take our picture with All-Time Mariners Career Wins Leader, Jamie Moyer:


6 - TJCs and Citz Moyer banner.jpgIn 2006, I’d been hoping all season that Moyer would pitch for the Mariners during Tim’s first game, but sadly he was traded before the trade deadline…and before Tim’s big day at the park.  If he had to be traded I was happy he went to Philadelphia where Tim and I would still be able to see him pitch.

After a little roaming around, we returned to the suite and it was time for an important “first” — Tim’s first ice cream at the ballpark (in fact, I think this was also his first ice cream of his life):


7 - Tim's first MLB ice cream.jpgAs you can see, it wasn’t Tim’s first ice cream helmet (not quite yet).  But it started a grand tradition — ice cream at the ballpark — it is a tradition that would just be made better with the introduction of the ice cream helmet on a later date.

Of course, soon after the last picture, I captured another (related) “first”…


8 - Tim's first MLB ice cream face.jpg…Tim’s first ballpark “ice cream face.”

And then there was nothing left to do but get our picture with the field…


9 - TJCs and citz suite view.jpg…and watch some National League baseball.

The game didn’t go so well for the Phils.  They lost 8-3.  The star of the game was Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran who went 4-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 runs scored.  Paul LoDuca and David Wright also hit homeruns for the Mets.

Not much good happened on the Phils’ side of the box score.  Ryan Howard was 2-4 with a homerun and 2 runs scored.  Carlos Ruiz was also 2-4.  But J.A. Happ earned the loss in his major league debut, and his only major league action in 2007.