For the second season in a row, we decided to end our season at Safeco Field with our Mariners taking on the Oakland Athletics. The first game of the series as September 26, 2011. The crew on hand would be Colleen, Tim, Kellan, my mom, my dad and me. The night started earlier for my dad, Tim, Kellan and me. We headed down early for BP, and Colleen and my mom joined us.
It is old news at Safeco Field, it was my and the boys’ first time checking out the *new* “The Pen” area at Safeco Field. It is on the field level in straight away center field (below what would otherwise be called the *field level* concourse) and it opens 2.5 hours early. The rest of the ballpark opens 2 hours early. I think it is a great move by the Mariners because in years past, Mariners fans only got to see about 5 minutes of Mariners BP when the whole stadium opened only 2 hours early.
We entered the ballpark through the LF bullpen level entrance and made our way to the singles patio (SRO area) directly over the CF wall. We parked Kellan’s little stroller at the back of the patio and my dad held him. I don’t have any pictures or video to show it, but within moments the four of us were all smiling and waving for the TV camera as the Mariners pre-game show went to commercial. And then we got our game faces on. My Dad and Kellan went right on the wall to watch the Mariners hit. Tim and I hung
out behind the TV camera well for a few minutes, but then we relocated behind the Mariners bullpen.
Almost immediately after we reached the Mariners bullpen, my dad and Kellan walked over to meet us and my dad pulled a baseball out of his glove to show me. “I caught it on the fly!,” he announced with a smile. I was excited because on the drive to the ballpark we had discussed catching BP homers on the fly, and my dad said he’d never caught one at Safeco Field. Very cool.
Then it dawned on me: he caught a BP home on the fly WHILE HOLDING KELLAN! WOW! I wish I would have seen it. It must have been incredibly awesome. FYI, he explained that he was a ball that barely cleared the wall and required my Dad to reach down over the railing to grab it.
Like two seconds later, a Mariners employee walked by and handed Tim our first baseball of the day. She explained that it was Shawn Kelley’s warm up ball. That is pretty
Oh, by the way, we entered this game with 96 total baseballs on the season. I truly never thought we would ever in our lives get 100 baseballs in a season. But with 3 more (after the Shawn Kelley ball from the Mariners employee) we would reach the amazing milestone.
Anyway, my dad handed Kellan off to me right as the rest of the ballpark opened. My dad headed to the seats in CF (just to the RF side of the batters’ eye) and Tim, Kellan and I headed to section 106 in RF. Intentionally set up shop behind Michael Pineda (because he is awesome)…
…and before long, guess what happened?
I’ll give you a hint: it looked sort of like this:
That’s right. I caught a BP homer on the fly WHILE HOLDING KELLAN!!!
Kellan was having quite a day!
It felt awesome! When I made the grab, I immediately held my glove high over my head in victory! A couple fans cheer for the catch. And best of all, Pineda gave me a celebratory fist pump! With my glove still held aloft, I turned toward CF and *showed* the catch to my dad (who can be seen under the little yellow arrow two photos above).
The three of us should have stayed put, but instead we headed over toward RCF to chat with my dad. When I looked back to the spot where I caught the homer, another guy caught another homerun standing in the exact same spot! Ah, well. One homer on the fly with Kellan was good enough for me.
Soon, the Mariners cleared the field and the A’s pitchers came out to play catch down the LF line. We decided to walk all the way around the ballpark around the RF foul pole, toward home plate (where Tim got his picture with this big Ichiro baseball card)…
…and down the 3B/LF foul concourse. Eventually, we cut through the seats and diagonaled through some sections trying to make our quickest route to the railing above the A’s pitchers. As we cut through the last full section before reaching corner, an A’s batter hit a line drive that landed right in the middle of the section about four rows below us. A bunch of fan scrabbled for it as Kellan, Tim and I continued on toward the railing. But as we reached the last seat in the
section, I looked down and the baseball popped out at us.
That was pretty crazy. We had been trying to get one of these baseballs all season. We had actually gotten 5 baseballs from the Angels this season, but all 5 were normal ROMLBs.
Even crazier, that was our 99th baseball of the season. I could not believe it – one more and we would reach the 100 baseball plateau!
But No. 100 would not be all fun and games. Things were about to get scary.
We made it to the railing right above the A’s pitchers. I was holding Kellan in my left arm. Tim was standing to my left with his hand on the railing. Just then, I noticed a fellow-MLBlogger, Wayne Peck, about 10-15 rows below us. I had never met Wayne before, but we had communicated through our blogs and twitter. When I saw him, I called out his name and he came up to say hi to us.
And then I committed a cardinal sin of BP: I took my eyes off the batter and turned to my right to shake Wayne’s hand as he approached. Right as Wayne and I clasped hands, several of the A’s pitchers yelled, “HEAD’S UP!!!”
I turned back to the field (still holding Kellan in my left hand and with Tim was literally standing leaning against my left hip). I scanned the area and surrounding area and I saw NOTHING! And then…
A liner buzzes in and clanks off of the railing. I thought it got all railing at first. But then Tim broke out crying. The ball hit right where his pinky knuckle met the railing. It pinched Tim’s hand really hard against the railing and bounced onto the field. I knelt down to comfort him and look at his hand (still holding Kellan). It was a little bit red and obviously hurt a lot. I turned to start taking him out of there when this guy arrived on the scene:
I cannot remember his name…it was something unique. By the way, those pictures are from the following day when we visited the scene of the accident. Anyway, this guy came to our aid and led us to the First Aid office. Now, get this, as we walk out of the section with the usher leading the way, an A’s pitcher (I have no clue who) called out to me and tossed me the baseball that had just smashed Tim’s hand.
The little meany was both our 100th baseball of the season and another Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative.
I truly couldn’t believe it. Who gets a milestone baseball with this kind of crazy story behind it? Just Tim, I guess!
Anyway, we were ushered off to the First Aid room. With Tim still whimpering in pain, the walk to the First Aid room was like torture. Kellan started feeling like he weighed 200 pounds and I couldn’t do much to comfort Tim while holding him. I quickly called my dad and told him where to come meet us with Kellan’s stroller.
As they started checking out Tim’s hand…
…my dad and Wayne both arrived at the First Aid office to check on Tim. I handed Kellan off to my dad so I could talk to the first aid people. Tim’s hand puffy and red. But I think we were pretty lucky. I’m pretty sure it was more of a glancing blow getting some of the meat of Tim’s hand and a lot of the railing.
The first aid people were very nice. They gave me some advice about what to do for Tim’s hand and they gave Tim an ice pack for now and one for later. They told me that I might want to go get an x-ray the next day if it kept bothering Tim.
Then the First Aid guys did a little whispering and the bearded-usher left. He reappeared a few minutes later with a you-just-got-drilled-with-a-BP-foul-ball prize pack for Tim. It included a Felix Hernandez t-shirt, a funny M’s hat that Tim loved, a pennant for Tim to color with crayons, and, most notably, a baseball that the usher had run down and got from the Mariners dugout. You know, it is an odd way to get a baseball at a game, but since Tim had to endure a lot of pain to get it, we counted it! No. 101 for the season.
As the usher handed removed it from the bag and handed it to Tim, I said, “Don’t’ let this be an incentive to get hit by any more baseballs!”
So, yeah, it was a crazy and scary situation. I hate thinking about what could have happened. In the end, I made a big mistake in not waiting to watch the pitch before turning to shake Wayne’s hand. It could have plunked any of us square in the head. So we have to be thankful that it was just a minor injury. Tim took it like a champ and handled the bad situation really well.
Big thanks to the usher and First Aid people. And to Wayne for coming and checking on Tim, very cool.
Anyway, we eventually made our way back out to the field. Tim had been hit right at the beginning of A’s BP so they were still hitting when we got back to the field. Tim was
understandably scared and did not want to go down by the field. So Tim, Kellan and I grabbed some seats toward the back of one of the sections on the 3B side…
…while my dad and Wayne went back to the LF corner.
As Tim iced his hand, we checked out more goodies in his goody bag. There were baseball cards and some posters (one for Tim and one for Kellan) featuring Justin Smoak. Tim was super excited that the posters were *autographed* (they were not real autographs, but part of the poster).
After a little while, we decided to go to the very back of the seats in CF…high enough up that we did not think any baseballs would be able to reach Tim. One our way out there, we got a picture with the Mariners Moose…
…and with the new (and really cool) Dave Niehaus statue:
Here are my boys hanging out with their grandpa in row 34 out in CF:
We were, indeed, high enough up in the seats that nothing came even remotely near us.
Once BP ended, we headed off to the play area where both boys had a lot of fun:
Finally, just before game time, we headed back down to “The Pen” where we eventually met up…
…with Colleen and my mom. Check out that cool seating area in The Pen! I have never seen open flames in a public area of a MLB ballpark. Very cool, Mariners.
While we were in The Pen, we stopped by and said hello (once again) and got a picture with Wayne (and his wicked awesome Big League Chew t-shirt!):
And then we grabbed some delicious nachos and reported to our seats in section 108:
Tim and Kellan cannot get enough of their grandma and grandpa. They always have a blast hanging out with them at a Mariners game:
Here was our outstanding view from the second row of section 108:
We were hoping to witness Kellan’s first Mariners win of his life and Tim and I were trying to break a nasty 10‑game Mariners losing streak dating back to last season. The game did not start out ideally. With Jason Vargas on the hill, Jemile Weeks led off with a double, he advanced to 3B on a groundout by Coco Crisp, and then scored on a single by Hideki Matsui.
While the Marines batted in the first inning, I noticed a familiar face patrolling RF for the A’s:
It was Michael Taylor, who played AA-ball for the Reading Phillies a couple years ago. We saw him play as an R-Phil and he could definitely put on a show with the bat. He got heckled mercilessly during this game by a four fans about 2-3 rows directly behind us. Thankfully they kept it clean while having a whole lot of fun at Taylor’s expense.
Of course, our view in the top of each inning was a bit better — we were right behind Ichiro:
In the second inning, we got a great picture of Tim with our Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative baseballs and the Safeco Field clock/sign for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
After helping me and his grandpa catch those BP homers before the game, Kellan was all set to catch a game homerun of his own:
The boys had lots of fun getting their mommy into the Mariners spirit too:
Early in the game, my cousin Nathan texted to let me know that my other cousin (and his sister) Annie was at the game in my parents’ normal seats on the 3B side. My mom and Colleen headed off to the team store to do some shopping (or browsing at least) and Kellan and I headed off to see Annie. On our way, Kellan and I stopped off at the Mariners bullpen to what was going on…and I got this cool picture of Kellan sitting on the SRO counter:
The last time we saw Kellan was just a few days after Kellan was born. It was great seeing her again. Happily, we successfully turned our backs to the field for this picture…
…without getting nailed in the backs of our heads with a foul ball.
There was, however, a pretty amazing foul ball when we were chatting with Annie. A’s first basement Chris Carter became only the second (or maybe third) person ever to hit a foul ball over one of the structural arches in Safeco Field’s roof. It looked a little like this:
Carter’s foul landed in the staircase at the OF side of the 3B dugout and bounced incredibly high off of the cement before a lucky fan won the jump ball for it.
After spending an inning or so with Annie and her friend, Kellan and I headed back toward our seats…but, once again, we stopped off at the Mariners bullpen. This time, we ended up chatting briefly with Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips. I had not seen Phillips during BP, but he mentioned that he saw me and Kellan catch our homerun during BP. I thought that was pretty cool that he didn’t know we were going to be at the game, but recognized us as we caught the BP homerun.
When we returned to our seats, the score was still 1-0 A’s. Kellan decided to pull out his Justin Smoak poster and take a bunch of hacks like he was at the plate:
And I think Kellan’s practice hacks helped warm up the Mariners bats.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Miguel Olivo bashed his 19th homerun of the season. It was an impressive shot to LF, and it tied up the game 1-1.
With the game tied up, Tim watched the Mariners up close with grandma’s binoculars:
Jason Vargas was still on the mound for the Mariners and he was looking really strong. And his offensive-minded teammates gave him some additional run support in the bottom of the sixth inning. The inning started very unimpressively, with a swinging strike out by Ichiro and a pop out by Luis Rodriguez. But Dustin Ackley followed Rodriguez with a single. Mike Carp followed Ackley with another single. Then big Justin Smoak stepped to the plate and unleashed a deep blast to RCF:
Party time! With Smoak’s homerun, the Mariners pulled out to a 4-1 lead!
But the 3-run lead gave us little comfort. Tim and I had seen the Mariners let leads slip away multiple times this season.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, I was trying to get another picture of Ichiro just standing around doing nothing in RF. Right as I pressed the button to take the picture, Scott Sizemore hit a shallow fly ball to RF. I captured Ichiro…
…right when he started to break in and to his left to run down the baseball.
There were a lot of empty seats around us. Our actual seats were in the third row, but me and the boys jumped around a lot from the first to the fourth rows. Late in the game, Kellan and I spent a lot of time in the first row where my little No. 51 watched closely the Mariners big No. 51:
Meanwhile, Tim was having tons of fun with his grandma:
And then it was business time…
…the ninth inning arrived. Kellan has been just three sweet outs away from his first Mariners win before just to have it slip away. In Baltimore earlier in the season, the Mariners took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 13th inning just to have Brandon League blow the win after Jason Vargas had pitched an incredible game. I understand that I have no control over the Mariners on-field play. But I have felt partially responsible for that loss. It would have been Kellan’s first Mariners win, but Tim and I went to try for an umpire ball and left Kellan and Colleen alone in our seats. I should have been holding Kellan at the very moment that he witnessed his first Mariners win. I think the world knew that and intervened to make sure Kellan experienced his first Mariners win the right way.
Well, it was go time once again. Vargas had once again pitched an absolute gem. He threw eight innings, gave up 5 hits and struck out 10 Athletics. Enter the ninth inning and Brandon League. League has had a great season. That blown save in Baltimore was smack dab in the middle of League’s roughest patch of the season, it was the third of four straight blown saves/losses for League.
Well, League brought the drama with him to the mound. He gave up a lead-off single to Coco Crisp. League then struck out Hideki Matsui, but Crisp stole second and third
in the process. He scored the A’s second run of the game on a ground out by Josh Willingham.
So there we were, just one out away from Kellan’s first Mariners win of his life. But then Scott Sizemore hit a double, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Kurt Suzuki.
Things were getting super-tense.
I was holding Kellan tight and hoping for the best. And Suzuki answered our prayers. He jumped on the first pitch and hit a weak grounder Luis Rodriguez at short stop. Rodriguez fired the baseball across the diamond and Justin Smoak’s glove clamped down on the 27th out of the game.
MARINERS WIN! MARINERS WIN!! MARINERS WIN!!!
Oh, yeah, MARINERS WIN! M-A-R-I-N-E-R-S…
Here are three happy Mariners fans basking in the glory of this historic MARINERS W-I-N:
And it was a historic game. It was Kellan’s first win, it snapped a 10-game Mariners losing streak for me and Tim, my dad and I both caught BP homers on the fly while holding Kellan, and we caught (well, sorta) our 100th baseball of the season. Historic!
We marked the occasion with a family picture:
And a picture with the Ichi-Meter (and Ichi-Meter lady):
By the way, the 183r of those Ichiro hits occurred in the seventh inning of this game.
On the way out of the ballpark, Tim got his picture with Ichiro (and Shelly):
Did I mention: MARINERS WIN!?
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|31/7 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|22/11 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers,
Yankees, Marlins, Pirates, Athletics; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics]
|23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).|
|101 Baseballs (19 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates, 3 Athletics)|
|14/6 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park, Safeco Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Safeco Field]|
|18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.
Tim and I have racked up a lot of miles this season taking day-trips on the weekends to MLB games in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and New York. Those trips range between 1.5 to 3 hours one way. What we had not done, however, was take the 10 minute drive to see our local minor league squad, the (AA) Reading Phillies. Today was the day.
Anyone looking for an authentic Minor League experience — a slice of Americana — head on over to Reading, Pennsylvania to check out the R-Phils at First Energy Stadium. And you can’t beat the prices — $8 for a General Admission ticket and free for kids 4-and-under.
I picked this game for several reasons: (i) we didn’t have a MLB game planned for the weekend, (ii) it was Kids Run the Bases day, and (iii) I wanted the Camo R-Phils hat they were giving away to the first 2,500 adults.
Unfortunately, when we entered the stadium, the hats were all gone. So, hatless, we walked through the concourse and to the Coors Light Left Field Deck. Out by the deck, there is a special entrance for partyn deck folks. I noticed that they had TWO hats left. I talked one of the girls into giving me one of them. I like it:
We started the game by picking up some french fries and two dollar-dogs and heading to the trough in left field (that’s what I call it, not sure if it has a real name):
This would be a pretty sweet place to catch a home run. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen one hit to LF while I’ve been in the trough.
Behind the trough there is an elevated picnic area with lots of tables and private boxes.
Here is the view from the trough:
Here is a closer look:
Tim likes the trough because its like a big straight away made for racing. Plus, it conveniently has a “finish line” painted at one end:
Why do you think they painted the yellow line across the floor in the trough? I can’t see that line ever coming into play. You can’t see it from the field. Its out of the sight of any TV cameras. Plus, the ball is either fair or foul when it crosses the top of the fence — it is irrelevant whether a ball lands on the fair or foul side of the line on the deck behind the fence. I think its only real utility is as a finish line for Tim to use for racing me in the trough.
So the whole LF areas is a big deck. What, you ask, is in RF? A little swiming pool (above the Power Ball sign):
Why, you ask, is there a traditional Japanese pagoda on the hill in Reading, PA? The Answer: your guess is as good as mine. There just is.
Here is the scoreboard in CF:
Now, you might be wondering why it is the 10th inning and it still looks like 1:05 in the afternoon. Well, the game from Saturday night was suspended due to rain with a 1-1 tie score. So we had to finish that game (2-1 loss in 11 innings) and wait for crew to prep the field before the regularly scheduled game started.
It was nice to get some bonus baseball, but the delay ultimately proved to be too much for young tired Tim. Plus, it skewed his game schedule like nobody’s business. We ended up getting his ice cream helmet before the game even started — real chocolate ice cream with sprinkles:
This picture shows Tim eating his ice cream “in the shade” as he requested. We were in the back row of the grandstand.
The regularly scheduled Sunday game finally got going at 2:20. I took a couple panoramics of the field:
And Tim did some smiling and pointing:
…and we took more panoramics:
Then we took to our feet and got some action shots — here is Phils top pitching prospect, Kyle Drabek:
. . . and here is some Harrisburg Senators (AA Expos…oops, Nationals) dude getting blown away by a high fastball from Drabek (with one of the R-Phils’ many mascots watching on):
I’d never realized that there is standing room at the top of the grandstand and a walkway that runs behind the pressbox from one side of home plate to the other. Tim liked running back and forth back there. Here is a plaque on the wall by the press box:
As you can see from the plaque, “Broadway” Charlie Wagner played for the Red Sox. He was also Ted Williams’s roommate back in the day. And he was a regular at Reading Phillies games until he passed away in 2006.
How about another action shot?
This is Michael Taylor. The little program guide said that in May Taylor was named Phillies Minor League Player of the Month for the third consecutive month. I looked up Taylor’s stats on MiLB.com from last season and he hit .346 with 19 HR and 88 RBI. So far this season, he is hitting .332 wiith 10 HR and 42 RBI. Not too shabby. Watch for him in a MLB park near you in the future.
Finally, we took in all of the zaney on-field entertainment that you get with minor league baseball:
Now, here is the interesting thing I learned today. Sometimes, it can actually be easier to drive 100+ miles to a game. I really wanted to go to this game because it was Kids Run the Bases day. We love Kids Run the Bases day. However, when we go to Sunday games in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York or D.C., Tim naps in the car on the way to the game. However, with only a 10 minute drive to the park today, we were going with no nap. Add in the extra 2 innings played at the beginning of the day from the rain-suspended game from the night before and the 1/2 hour of field prep between games and it was a long day at the park. Tim was deliriously tired by the 7th inning. So, we missed Kids Run the Bases. Still, it was a great day at Baseballtown.
I’ll leave you with one more picture. Here is a big picture of FirstEnergy Stadium with labels showing the former R-Phils to go on to the Major Leagues since 1967:
Here are some highlights:
1967 – Larry Bowa, Robin Roberts; 1970 – Bob Boone; 1971 – Mike Schmidt; 1980 -Ryne Sandberg; 1981 – Julio Franco; 1995 – Scott Rolen; 1999 – Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell; 2001 – Carlos Silva, Brett Myers; 2002 – Ryan Madson; 2003 – Carlos Ruiz; 2004 – Ryan Howard; 2005 – Cole Hamels.
Not too shabby.