My friend, Alan Schuster, created and runs MyGameBalls.com. It’s a great site for baseball fans who like to attend games in person and come away with a few spheroidal souvenirs. We’ve met some great guys through Alan’s site. I like to do what I can to give back to the site. This offseason that took the form of writing a short article that is currently posted on the site. Go over to MyGameBalls.com and check it out.
Here’s the article in its entirety (although you should really go to the site to read it. Here, just click the picture below and you’ll magically be transported through time and space, all the way to MyGameBalls.com):
June 9, 2012 was a fun day. My folks were visiting from Washington and we all headed out to Pittsburgh for Ballhawkfest 2012 featuring an interleague battle between the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates or, as it would turn out to be, the Kansas City Monarchs against the Homestead Grays.
We had a full day on the 9th so we drove out to Pittsburgh the night before the game and stayed in a hotel. The first order of the day was to play a little homerun derby. PNC Park regular and mygameballs.com member Rick Sporcic had booked us an incredibly interesting ballpark called Officer Paul J. Sciullo III Memorial Field. As you can see from this panorama:
There is a bridge directly behind/above the tall chain-linked centerfield fence. And it was definitely in play.
The derby crew was small, but all the guys were cool. In addition to me, Tim and my dad (my mom and Kellan played around in the shade in deep CF/RF), there was Rick Sporcic, his buddy Hunter Stokes, Ballhawkfest veteran Garrett Meyer, Ballhawkfest veteran Alex Kopp, and Alex’s dad Mark Kopp.
I was in the outfield most of the time and didn’t have my camera. So I only got a few pictures, mostly taken by Tim and Garrett.
Here is Garrett taking some hacks against Rick:
I didn’t get any pictures of Rick hitting, but he was definitely the batting champ of the day. In his second round, he hit approximately 800 homeruns.
Garrett got some cool pictures of Alex pitching to me:
I hit about 5-6 homeruns onto the bridge. Several went to CF where the bridge wasn’t very far from home plate. My best hit went to LF and I was surprised when it carried all the way to the bridge. In the following photo, I’ve laid our derby park on top of PNC Park so I could see how far my longest homerun went:
I was shocked by how small the derby park was when I put it on top of PNC Park. But, you know, any time you’re hitting a baseball over an outfield fence it is fun.
Here is another picture that Garrett took that shows one of my homers sailing onto the bridge:
One of the best parts of the derby (which I completely failed to capture on film) was watching my dad hit. He was lacing some hard line drives all over the park and eventually hit one bomb to leftfield.
Good job, pa!
After two rounds of homerun derby, we finished up with Garrett pitching to Tim:
Tim put on a good show. He even took some successful lefty hacks.
After lunch, we all headed over to a local restaurant. Two noteworthy things happened at the restaurant. First, the service was horrible. We had to wait for our food…
…for close to an hour. This ultimately resulted in our bill getting cut in half by the manager. Second, Milwaukee’s Best, Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohanek, and his wife April showed up. They missed the derby because they had a morning flight in from the dairy lands of Wisconsin.
After lunch, even with the long delay, we had a good chunk of time before the gates would open at PNC Park. My folks, the boys and I passed the time with a visit to the Duquesne Incline:
Eventually, it was time to head to PNC Park. PNC was Kellan’s 12th MLB stadium. This was also my mom’s first game at PNC Park. I’m not sure of her stadium total, but let’s see if I can figure it out. I’ve been to games with my mom at: Safeco Field, the Kingdome, The Big A (as a kid), Dodger Stadium, Oakland Coliseum, Veterans Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Camden Yards, Fenway Park, new Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Tropicana Field. Okay, so my mom might be tied with Kellan at 12…but, then again, she might have been to the Astrodome with my dad before I was born. Hmmm…not sure.
Anyway, as we approached PNC Park for my mom’s and Kellan’s first time, my mom and Tim got their picture with the Willie Stargell statue:
When the ballpark opened, Rick took over and ended up getting all of us non-season ticket holders into the stadium with the season ticket holders.
While almost everyone else huddled up in LF, we got Tim’s picture with the Pirate Pig…
…and then headed over to RF foul territory:
RF foul territory is a pretty good spot to hang out in during BP at PNC Park. A lot of the time over there, it was just us Cooks or us and Zac Weiss.
When we arrived Jeff Francouer was playing catch with a football in front of the 1B dugout. He was a little past 1B and his partner was close to home plate. His partner tossed a few balls past him and I kept yelling, “Hit me, Frenchie! Hey, I got a tight spiral!” He thought it was pretty hilarious, but didn’t let me get in on the football tossing action.
Charlie Morton tossed us a baseball pretty quickly after we arrived:
About thirty seconds later, a Pirates batter hit a foul down the line. I caught it on one big hop.
Shortly thereafter, Juan Cruz tossed a baseball to Tim…
…and Tim made a nice catch on it.
Right after throwing the ball Tim, Cruz grabbed another baseball and tossed it to my mom. So everyone had a baseball already:
Double thanks, Juan!
I gave my glove to my mom so she could patrol the line with my dad and the boys:
My mom didn’t get any other baseballs, but my dad could 4-5 on the day.
It was a great time down the line. In addition to a bunch of baseballs, we pictures with three players. First, Tim (and sort of Kellan) got a pitcher with hard throwing Kelvin Hererra:
I didn’t know it before this game, but Jose Mijares is super nice and really likes kids. He saw Kellan standing along the wall with his glove and walked over and put a baseball into Kellan’s glove. Then he handed out some high fives to both boys:
I really wanted to try to get a picture with Yuniesky Betancourt and/or Johnny Giavotella (to whom one of my friends from New Orleans had asked me to pass along a message that New Orleans is rooting hard for his success). They ended up taking some grounders together:
And then Giavotella came over and posed for a picture with Tim:
And I passed on the news that his home town is rooting for his success (which I imagine wasn’t too much of a shock to him). He seemed like a real nice kid.
While the Royals pitchers were running sprints in the outfield, Greg Holland…
…fielded a batted ball and tossed it over to me and Kellan.
Then righty-former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt went on a tear hitting foul balls down the RF line. I caught one of Yuni’s one-hoppers.
My dad got one of his that was sliced into the seats just behind the handicapped seating area. And then Tim snagged one that Yuni sliced into the seats right where my dad had already got one from Yuni. It was the first *hit* baseball that Tim had ever snagged on his own:
And he loved that it had a nice scuff mark from hitting the concrete.
Tim’s baseball from Yuni was our last baseball of the day. Tim and Grandpa both wanted to see if they could get Yuni to sign their baseballs (they never got near him) so they headed over to the wall just past the dugout:
While Yuni never stopped by, Humberto Quintero did, and he posed for this picture with Tim:
Toward the end of BP, my folks went off to tour the stadium a bit…
…while the boys and I hung out with Matt Peaslee and Erin Wozniak¸ who we know through Matt’s Pittpeas MLBlog and met in person for the first time last year:
Matt and Erin are good people, and huge Pirates fans. Follow Matt on Twitter and you will always know when the Pirates win a ballgame (NOTE: Matt just tweeted that linked tweet exactly when I typed this part of this blog entry!).
After parting ways with Matt and Erin, we grabbed some ice cream helmets and headed out to LF for a group shot with most of the Ballhawkfest guys:
Everyone had success and BP. All told, I think we combined to snag over 50 baseballs as a group. Not too shabby.
After the group photo, we headed to the picnic tables by the Alleghany River to eat our ice cream…
…do some ballpark birding…
…, and play some catch.
And then it was game time. We had some lovely seats in the four row of section 137:
When the teams took the field, we realized it was Negro Leagues throw-back day. The Pirates were sporting Homestead Grays uniforms and the Royals were representing the Kansas City Monarchs:
I thought both uniforms really looked great, with a slight edge to the Monarchs uniforms. I really liked the look of the red and grey Monarchs uniforms paired with the Royals royal-blue spikes (shown below).
We had the first five seats on the aisle…
…, which worked out great for Kellan (as we’ll see below).
Yuniesky Betancourt kicked off the scoring in the top of the third inning with a 2-run homerun to LF:
I also enjoy seeingYuni do well. A lot of Mariners fans like to rag on Yuni, but I’ve always liked the guy. I liked him as our short stop. And I like him for being an incredibly nice member of the brotherhood of former-Mariners players.
Good job, Yuni!
I was all set to catch a game homer…
…or to help Kellan catch a between-inning warm up baseball. But neither came to fruition.
Section 137 is only about 6 rows deep and Kellan spent almost the entire game walking up and down the stairs between rows A-F. A lot of the time, he hung out right at the fence:
While Kellan was playing in the aisle, Tim and a blast (as he always does) with this grandparents:
I thought this was one of the funniest pictures of the night:
Kellan was working a strong game with the ladies sitting out in LF too:
By the way, did you see the Elivs Presley guy sitting in row C? That was his gimmick because we were sitting behind Pirates leftfielder Alex Presley.
By the way, I should mention that the Royals scored their third (and final) run of the night in the top of the fourth inning to go up 3-0.
But then the Pirates came charging back with five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
That put the Pirates up 5-3, and that score would stick.
There was an odd play late in the game. I can’t remember who the batter was. But he hit a single to CF that Andrew McCutchen totally booted:
The ball rolled to the CF wall giving the batter second base for free. But the batter came flying around 1B and bit the dust — face first into the infield dirt. He had a retreat to first base and, because he didn’t take second, McCutchen didn’t get charged with an error.
Here is a look at the “Monarchs” with their royal blue shoes:
Around the 6th or 7th inning, we headed to the pizzeria behind the left bleachers. This big pepperoni pizza…
…was only $21. That would normally be expensive for a pepperoni pizza, but for ballpark pizza, that seemed incredibly reasonable. I was thinking a whole pizza would cost $45 or something like that!
After eating, we took a little tour around the upper deck. We stopped in at section 318:
Where we finally got a good look at the front of the “Grays” jerseys:
My camera has quickly been turning into a piece of junk this season. It completed the metamorphosis at this game. Here is a great family picture that my camera completely ruined:
Tim grabbed onto his grandfolks…
…and we headed out to section 301 down the RF line:
This is what it looked like from the cross-aisle in section 301:
We then hustled back to our seats and watched the rest of the game from our seats. The Pirates held on and the Parrot came out to *Raise The Jolly Roger*:
But our day wasn’t finished just yet. After the game, the boys saw their first concert:
A washed up and reduced to 3-members, Boyz II Men.
All-in-all, it was a great day!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|12/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates|
|19 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3|
|69 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 4, Pirates 3|
|11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1|
|10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park
1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
|5/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Johnny Giavotella, Kelvin Hererra, Humberto Quintero; Kellan – Willie Bloomquis|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|
On Wednesday, May 16, 2012, we woke up for the last time in our St. Louis area Caboose and hit the road for Kansas City. The drive to KC was pretty easy, just a few hours. Nothing like our 550+ mile trek from Minneapolis to St. Louis.
However, we had put the wrong address in our GPS, which resulted in us driving right by our hotel (literally right by it, it was right off Exhibit 18 on I-70), right by Kauffman Stadium…
…and all the way into one of the least desirable sections of Kansas City. After figuring out our mistake and backtracking 20 minutes, we found our hotel and just rested in our room for several hours. But our hotel time, I reconnected by phone with Royals season-ticket holder and myGameBalls.com member Garrett Meyer. We’d met Garrett last season at Ballhawkfest. Garrett knew we’d be at this game. After catching up a bit, Garrett and I discussed gate times and the Royals “early-bird” tour.
After discussing it with my dad, we opted to meet up with Garrett and do the early bird tour, which gets you into the Royals…
…Hall of Fame (where we saw some cool stuff like this…
…) and then it gets you into BP way before the rest of the public.
Besides getting in early, the normal BP people have to stay in the outfield for a while once they are let into the stadium. Meanwhile, the early bird tour people stay on the infield, behind the dugouts. We set up shop behind the Orioles’ visitors’ dugout on the 3B line:
It was beautiful. Our view looked like this:
At the beginning, Garrett was on the Royals side (where the Royals pitchers were warming up). A bunch of fans wearing Orioles gear were on our side and they all seemed to be either autograph collectors or folks who just wanted some extra time to see the Orioles. No one seemed to have any interest in getting a baseball tossed to them. Also, if foul balls are hit into the stands down the foul lines, the usher will let you run down and grab it. It was a crying shame that ZERO baseballs were hit into the foul seats (which is amazing).
Anyway, while the Royals were taking BP, several infields took grounders at SS and 3B. The first group of infields included Alcides Escobar…
…and the second group included former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt. Both the tossed stray BP balls to us on their way off the field.
Thanks, Alcides and Yuni!
A few Orioles were hanging around in the bullpen below us. Since people were asking for autographs, I asked Tim if he wanted to get one of our new baseballs signed. He did. Dana Eveland was happy to oblige Tim’s request:
During much of BP, Tim played with ants that were crawling out of a little hole in the cement…
…and Kellan just walked up and down the rows like walking was going out of style.
At some point, Garrett came over to the 3B dugout. I hadn’t even seen him yet when I noticed an Orioles coach standing by the Orioles BP ball bin start tossing balls out in the crowd. He must have thrown 6-7 baseballs in a row.
Moments later, Garrett walked over to me and Kellan and said, “That Orioles coach is tossing a Camden Yards Commemorative to anyone who asks for one!
Kellan and I high tailed it down there. He was no longer throwing baseballs, but was still standing at the ball bin. I called out to him and when he looked up I was happy to see the face of former-Mariner Jim Presley looking back at me.
I asked for a OPACY commemorative ball, he dug around in the bin until he found one (I saw it too), and then he tossed *a baseball* to us:
(Photo taken after the game started)
I was thrilled! I shouted out a big:
And then Garrett whispered to me, “it is not commemorative!” He could see in my glove as I thanked Presley and saw the MLB logo on the ball he’d thrown. I was utterly confused because I *saw* Presley grab a commemorative baseball and throw it to me. Or at least I thought I did.
Garrett and I exchanged puzzled looks. And then I got bold. I called out to Jim again and asked (paragraphing), “Hey, Jim. I don’t mean to be annoying, but is there any way I could trade this baseball for one of the Camden Yards baseballs?” He looked up at me with a confused look and asked, “That one wasn’t one!?”
I tossed it back to him. He put it back in the bin and he tossed me a pearl of a Camden Yards commemorative baseball.
Thanks again, Jim!
Presley then walked away from the bin. My dad and Tim had not heard or seen what was going on. When Garrett, Kellan and I went back down toward the OF end of the dugout, I told my dad that he and Tim should give it a shot if Presley wandered back over to the bucket.
Well, wouldn’t you know, he did…
…and they did, and he hooked them up to!
Quadruple thanks, Jim Presley!
It was our first Camden Yards baseballs and my dad’s first baseball of the trip. So it was a very special interaction with a first class former Mariner.
Moments after Tim and my dad returned with their Camden Yards baseballs, an Orioles fan was getting an autograph from Brian Roberts at the camera well at the end of the dugout.
Tim and I swooped in and capitalized big time:
In one fell swoop, we accomplished three things: (i) Tim got Roberts to sign his new Camden Yards baseball, (ii) he got his picture with Roberts (first ever picture with an Oriole!), and (iii) Roberts held the baseball and gave a thumbs-up in the picture so it qualified for five points in the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!
Tim was in a thumbs-up mood. So he got a thumbs-up picture with Garrett too:
While the Orioles pitchers warmed up down the LF line (where we could only go if a foul was hit into the stands), three set of Orioles position players played catch right in front of us at the dugout. When the final group was finished, Chris Davis tossed us his warm up baseball before walking back into the dugout.
Earlier in BP, my dad and I had a little bit of discussion with former-Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair. Tim and I have had several nice discussions with Adair at Camden Yards since he joined the Orioles’ coaching staff.
Well, after all of the Orioles pitchers had warmed up down the LF line, I saw Rick down the line chatting with an O’s pitcher and tossing a baseball back-and-forth from hand-to-hand. He was probably 150 feet down the line. When he finished chatting with the player, I called out, “Hey, Rick!” and I flashed him some leather. I was hoping he would make a big long toss throw to me.
Instead, he walked toward us. He was on his way to the dugout. It was clear he was going to give us the baseball, but he wasn’t into the long toss idea. As he got closer, he was into Tim’s catching range, so I pointed to Tim.
Adair made a good toss, but Tim botched the catch. It fell to his feet and he picked it up. He’s actually botched the toss from Jim Presley too. So he wasn’t having a gold glove day so far. But he got the ball on his own, so it was all good.
Big thanks to Rick Adair!
Eventually, a friendly female usher who was chatting with us behind the dugout told us that the entire stadium was open so we could move around wherever we wanted to go. My dad went to the team store to buy some baseballs (he buys a team or stadium baseball at each stadium he visits), Garrett went out into the outfield where we saw several Orioles air mail baseballs over his head, and Tim, Kellan and I headed down the LF line, but stayed in foul territory. We took up a spot on the wall and watched BP:
Orioles pitcher Luis Ayala was running around LF wearing a huge, oversized glove. From myGameBalls.com and other mlblogs, I know there are several guys around the country who use a “big glove” like this. So I scanned the crowd, and soon we met Minnesota’s own Big Glove Bob:
I love that picture of Tim and BGB. Bob has the face of a man stuck in the middle of Tim unfolding a long and overly detailed story. I believe this particular story was about how Shawn Camp tossed Tim two baseballs the day before in St. Louis. That was a story with which Tim regaled anyone who would listen while at Kauffman Stadium – notably, Garrett about five times or so.
Kauffman Stadium was great, but the setup of the seats down the LF line was frustrating me while we were down the line. At some stadiums the seats in the corner are situated diagonally so the end seat in each row butts up against the fence. In that type of row, I can block Kellan into a defined space. But none of the seats down the line at Kauffman Stadium butt up against the fence. In fact, there is a huge amount of space in front of the seats. So it was very difficult to keep Kellan near us without chasing him back and forth.
I decided we should go out to LCF so I could block in Kellan at the end of the bottom row next to the batters’ eye. We ended up going out there for a very brief time, but the sun was right on us and it was too hot.
While we were there, Ronnie Deck and someone named “Flaherty”…
…were shagging fly balls in CF and LCF.
I placed my third or fourth call of the day to my “Orioles guy,” Avi Miller. The call went like this:
Todd – “Hey, Avi, what is Flaherty’s first name”?
Avi – “Ryan.”
Todd – “Oh…wait, I gotta go.”
I called him back about 30 seconds later. That call went like this:
Todd – “Ryan Flaherty just tossed us a Camden Yards commemorative. Thanks for the assist!”
Avi – “Any time, sir.”
If you’re visiting Camden Yards or seeing the Orioles on the road, Avi is a good guy to know. Well, he’s a good guy to know in general, I guess.
Thanks, Ryan and Avi!
That was it for BP. Thanks for the early bird tour, we snagged 7 baseballs with almost no effort. Not too shabby.
As we made our way toward foul territory, we stopped briefly at the bullpen. One of the Orioles coaches was crossing the warning track grabbing stray balls. Totally out of view, he tossed one right over me. I didn’t see it in time to get my glove up and it sailed right into the fountain.
While we were out in LCF, me and the boys met up with my dad and Garrett. After BP, Garrett offered to take us to the only “Kauffman Stadium” sign in the ballpark, which is above the Royals dugout on the 1B side, so we could get a Kauffman Stadium bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. Because of the Diamond Club, you cannot get from the 3B side to the 1B side on the field level without going up into the concourse. While we were passing through the concourse, Tim and Garrett posed for a picture with the Royals pig:
There were a bunch of kids in the first row above the dugout and it was far from an ideal situation to get a picture featuring the Kauffman Stadium sign. This was as good as we could do with Garrett’s assistance:
I took a second picture of Tim from the first row just in case the last picture came out horribly:
Then, we split off from Garrett and the boys, my dad and I headed up to the upper deck to try again from up there:
That one isn’t ideal either, but it was better. Tim was pretending to be scared his heights while up there. That’s why he isn’t smiling in the photo.
While up there, I also got this panorama from the front of section 420:
And then we walked the concourse a bit. All the way down the LF line, we could see a classic spiral ramp and the KC Chiefs stadium next door:
We all headed down to the field level for the beginning of the game. We got some great tickets on stubhub for way under face value. This was our excellent view from section 112:
And this was the view of the first pitch of the game:
Fairly quickly after the game started, Tim wanted to go see the kids play area that I’d mentioned was behind the scoreboard in CF. I didn’t know what all was back there, but I was up for checking it out. On our way, we met Sluggerrr:
As passed behind the Royals Hall of Fame, we noticed that the crown on top of the scoreboard had little spikes on it. We figured we ought to take a picture of it:
We also figured we should take some panoramas from the top of section 202 in LF:
And from down at the bottom of section 202, just above the LF fountains:
As we made our way to the play area, we ran into the Kauffmans…
…who were apparently very enthusiastic with their waving.
On the back of the scoreboard, the Royals have a big “KC” logo instead of a “Kauffman Stadium” sign:
There was one big problem with the play area: it had too much fun stuff. Literally, it was just too much. Tim was really excited about it. But I quickly realized we could end up spending the entire game there. And I wasn’t too excited to spend our only game at Kauffman Stadium behind the scoreboard where I couldn’t see the game.
Here are two of the things we didn’t do:
On the left, that is a miniature golf course. See how the ground is all wet in front of the mini-golf? Well, we didn’t notice as we made the approach. And then a huge blast of water flew straight up my pants. I walked over a fountain set into the walkway exactly when it went off. My shorts were completely drenched.
It was funny, but I could have lived without the comic relief.
Tim was really excited to play, but I had to limit him to the play fort thingy. Mini-golf just takes too long!
The play area would be great if this wasn’t our first game at Kauffman Stadium. It would be ideal for the down time between the end of batting practice and the beginning of the game.
The other non-ideal thing was that the play fort was a bit too advanced for Kellan. So Tim played for a bit while Kellan and I just roamed around. And I got this panorama from behind the scoreboard:
And soon enough, it was time to head back into the infield and grab some dinner:
We go the nachos and grandpa got the BBQ sandwich. In retrospect, I wish I would have tried a BBQ sandwich too, but I missed out.
Actually, I basically just missed out on dinner because this was going to be our only game in KC and I needed to run around and see the stadium. So the boys ate dinner with Grandpa and I took off.
I started by heading the LF corner and I got this panorama from behind section 104 – just on the CF side of the Royals bullpen:
Then I checked out the fountains…
…and the trough behind the CF wall, where a few people have jumped down to grab homerun balls. I could see several baseballs down there.
I got this panorama from the walkway behind section 101:
Then I walked through the area behind the batters eye and below the scoreboard, and I popped out on the other side in the party porch:
I walked across the party porch and got another panorama from RF:
Behind the Orioles bullpen in RF, there is a bar thingy that I didn’t go inside…
…and I’m not sure if it is open to the public.
There are more fountains and less seating in RF than in LF. There are also more statues in RF than in LF:
Here is one of my favorite panoramas that I got at Kauffman Stadium, from above/behind the fountains in RF (the thing on the far upper right is the bottom corner of the scoreboard):
I circled around that bar thingy and got this panorama from section 248:
Then I headed up to the 300 level (which I would naturally call the “second” level). It seemed to be a suite and club type level, but it seemed that they let anyone walk through it.
I had a funny interaction in the suite level concourse. I ran into a super-drunk Orioles fan who was also walking around the stadium taking pictures. He saw me walking with my camera and thought it was hilarious. We chatted a bit, and he had previously also lived in Pennsylvania. He ended up taking a picture of the two of us. I gave him a hugely over-exaggerated thumbs-up in the picture. I imaged that the next day he probably scrolled through his pictures and scratched his head thinking, “Wow – I drank too much. Who in the world is this guy!?”
Anyway, I got panoramas from section 321:
And another from the stairway between sections 315-316:
I noticed that this would have been the ideal spot to get our picture with the Kauffman Stadium sign:
Maybe next time!
By the way, although I never tried to walk into the Diamond Club, it seemed as if anyone could sit in any seat at Kauffman Stadium without an usher ever asking to see your ticket.
Next, I headed up to the upper deck and got a couple shots before my dad texted that Kellan was asking for me. First, I got this panorama from section 419:
And this one from section 417:
After twirling my way down the spiral ramp, I noticed that there was a cool “Royals” sign on the exterior of the stadium:
When I got back to the seats, it was reaching twilight. The scene in the outfield looked pretty cool with a pink water show going on in the RF fountains:
By the way, I should mention the game was 0-0 through four-and-a-half innings. In the bottom of the fifth, the Royals finally found the plate, twice, on the strength of a Humberto Quintero single to CF. That made it 2-0 Royals.
Soon, it was time for ice cream. Tim, Kellan and I went in search of some ice cream helmets. We finally found them behind 3B. I was surprised to find that the Royals only offered vanilla soft serve. I thought that was odd. And it was outside of Tim’s chocolate wheelhouse. But the Royals made up for it with a strong showing on the toppings front. Tim got crushed Oreos and Tim got chocolate chip cookie dough topping. And the toppings looked and tasted GREAT!
Here’s a pretty sight:
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to share in much more than a single bite. I used the ice cream time to finish my tour of the stadium.
I started by running up to the .390 Bar & Grille on the second deck. It was a nice looking restaurant with a big sign “NOW OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.” Unfortunately, all but one of my pictures in their came out completely blurry. But the one that came out clear was the most important. Here is clear was the most important. Here is our view if you choose to dine at the .390 Bar & Grille:
Wait, I got one more good picture from the restaurant:
That’s my dad holding Kellan as he scarfs down some ice cream. We had the first four seats in the row and Tim is off-camera eating his ice cream in seat number 4.
I left the restaurant and got this panorama from section 401:
I already had a panorama from the front of section 420, so I went for another from the back row:
As I circled behind the first base dugout, a Royal (I think it was Francouer, but I’m not certain) smoked a foul ball right to OUR seats. I zoomed in to see if I could see if my dad got it…
…, which would have been really hard while holding Kellan.
He didn’t get it. Actually, if you look right between the ballboy next to the “Firestone” sign and my dad and Kellan, you can see a guy (two rows in front of my dad) in a blue shirt and light colored shorts. He is leaning forward with his hands over his head. In his left hand, you can see him holding the foul ball. That is darn close!
I kept moving and got this shot from the stairs between sections 425 and 427…
…this one from between sections 435 and 437…
…, and this one from the very last seat at the end of section 439:
My tour was essentially complete, but I got a couple more pictures as I made my way back to our seats. I got this shot from section 230:
And this one admiring the big World Series trophy that is part of a sign for the Royals team store:
By this time, it was official, I was hardly spending any time at all in our seats. And, frankly, it wasn’t going to spend much more time there. It was very late in the game by this time. Like the 7thor 8th inning.
Kellan had been in the seats most of the game and he was ready to move around. Mere minutes after returning to the seats, Kellan and I headed to the cross-aisle. We ended up stopping in a huge tunnel behind section 118 (right behind 3B):
Kellan had a great time running around in this cross-aisle. It was pretty clear that the Royals ushers didn’t care what fans did in this huge open area. Kellan was sprinting back and forth across the big piece of cross-aisle/tunnel real estate, and all we got were “oh, that’s adorable” looks from the ushers.
After a while, Kellan decided it was time to continue his hanging from railings strength training:
The game was still tight. In the top of the 8th, the Orioles finally got on the board on an RBI double by Nick Markakis. That made it 2-1 Royals heading into the bottom of the 8th.
But the Royals got the run back pretty quickly. After two quick outs, Billy Butler hit a single. He was then replaced by pinch runner Mitch Maier. Moments later, Maier motored around the bases and beat the tag…
…on a double by Alex Gordon.
That made it 3-1 going into the top of the ninth.
With three quick outs and the Royals could tuck the win into their back pocket.
We decided to get a closer look. Garrett had texted and mentioned he was in the fourth row in section 118. I noticed that the usher were not checking anyone’s tickets. So as the teams made the offense-defense switch before the top of the ninth, Kellan headed down the stairs and met up with Garrett.
This was our view:
Garrett was sitting with fellow myGameBalls.com member Leiming Tang. Like the seats, Leiming was very nice too.
But you know what wasn’t nice? The Royals’ decision to bring in Jonathan Broxton to close out the game. Living in the Phillies’ television market, I know a thing or two about Broxton. Well, really I only know one thing, I HAVE NEVER SEEN HIM CLOSE A GAME SUCCESSFULLY. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, there is a chance that I have seen him do it. But I seriously do not remember that ever happening.
Guess what? It didn’t happen at this game.
You know, I said bringing in Broxton “wasn’t nice.” I take that back. I had wanted to see two games in Kansas City, but the length of the drive to Denver wouldn’t permit it. And, frankly, I had missed a lot of this game because I was touring around the ballpark.
So I think the Royals were actually doing the nicest thing they could for me. They extended the game, and almost let me see two games in one.
So, I guess you can tell by now, Broxton blew the save. He blue it BIG TIME.
He coughed up the first run on a homerun by Wilson Betemit:
That made it 3-2 Royals.
He then gave up singles to Chris Davis, Xavier Avery, and J.J. Hardy. Hardy’s single was of the RBI variety.
Tie ballgame, 3-3. Extra innings on their way, and so was a huge dose of hitting futility (or pitching dominance).
In the top of the 10, we were happy to see 5’7” Royals pitcher Tim Collins. Like Tim Cook, Tim Collins also sports number 55:
He sat the Orioles does in order.
After the 9th ended, Tim and my dad came down and met up with us in section 118.
Tim entertained Garrett with story after story after story. Every fifth story, it seemed, was about how Shawn Camp tossed Tim two baseballs the day before in St. Louis.
Garrett was great. He handled Tim’s shower of stories like a champ:
A friend of mine from New Orleans had told me a day or two before this game that a local guy named Johnny Giavutella had just been called up to the Major Leagues by the Royals. Well, Giavutella pinch hit in the 10th inning:
He came up empty in the 10th inning, but eventually went 1-3 on the night.
We had lots of time to chat and take random photos, like these shots by my dad:
In the 13 inning, Nick Johnson hit a double for the Orioles. For some reason, the ball was thrown out of play after the hit, and it was eventually tossed into the stands. Johnson’s double-ball now resides at my parents’ house!
Sluggerrr came and visited our section to keep the game entertaining (just in case the duel of the relievers wasn’t entertainment enough for some of the fans):
Heading into the 14 inning, Kellan was ready for more baseball!
In the top of the 15th inning, Adam Jones took matters into his own hands:
He hit a solo bomb to LF (way out of there) to break the 3-3 tie.
Kellan continued to clown around with Grandpa during the top of the 15th inning:
And then Tim, Kellan, and I moved into the first row with Leiming during the bottom of the 15th inning:
Actually, Tim had already been down there with Leiming and Garrett – and he had been having a blast hanging with the guys. They were both awesome and really made Tim feel like one of the guys.
It just so happened that we were directly above the umpire’s tunnel. Our friend (well, we don’t know him, but he’s been friendly to us in the past) Angel Hernandez was behind the plate. We were in absolutely ideal post to get an umpire baseball. Leiming, Tim, Kellan, and I all had our gloves ready when the final out was recorded. (By the way, Garrett had moved to see if he could get the final out baseball – he was unsuccessful).
As we prepared for the final out, I told Tim he needed to be sure he squeezed that ball tightly if Hernandez tossed him a baseball because it would fall back down into the umpires’ tunnel if he missed it.
After the final out was recorded, Angel Hernandez walked right to us. We all called out to him. He then looked at me and Kellan and said, “Let’s let the little guys get one first!” and he flipped a ball to me. He then flipped a second ball to Tim, and Tim caught it! Success!
Finally, he tossed a third baseball to Leiming before ducking into the tunnel.
With these two baseballs, Angel Hernandez has now tossed us a baseball on each of the last three Cook GFS Roadtrips.
A few minutes later, we got a late night photo of four happy Cooks:
What a night! Tim and I tied the longest game of Tim’s life, and Kellan set his new longest game record as well.
As we drove back to the hotel, I looked back, snapped this photo…
…and wished The K a good night. It was a great one.
The next day would be a travel day. A long one, we would be driving all the way to Denver.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|8/7 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|12/11 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals|
|11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2|
|42 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 5, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2|
|6 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3|
|7/6 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird|
|3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Brian Roberts; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|4 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts|
During the week leading up to Saturday, April 28, 2012, we were looking forward to our first game of the season at Camden Yards. But the weather outlook was sketchy. Rain seemed to be in the forecast. And I was going back-and-forth regarding whether Kellan should join me and Tim for this game. I wanted him to join us, but I feared having to corral him in the rain. But on Friday, I made the decision: Kellan would definitely join us.
So let’s do it.
It was our first night game of the season. After having a nice relaxing day lounging around the house, we hopped in the car where Tim and Kellan kept themselves entertained during the drive south:
When we walked up to the stadium at 4:30 in the afternoon, a huge crowd was already waiting at the gates…
…, which apparently upset Kellan (he wasn’t too interested in getting his picture at the time).
Luckily, when it comes to Camden Yards, we know *people* and those people are permanently first in line…
…and so were we. In that last picture, along with Tim, Avi Miller and Matt Hersl, that is 1,100+ baseball ballhawk and east coast Oakland A’s fan, Rick Gold. Rick and I have known each other for a while through myGameBalls.com and twitter, but this was the first time we had ever met in person. Despite rooting for the wrong A.L. West team, Rick is a pretty cool guy.
Kellan grabbed a spot on the backpack-checking table and had a great time hanging out with the guys:
The crowd was so big because the Orioles were set to unveil a new Frank Robinson statue at a ceremony at 5:15 p.m. The ceremonyfeatured Robinson, Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer and others. As we waited at the gate, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron and his wife zoomed by (inside the gate) on a golf cart. A few minutes later, Eddie Murray walked by…
…and I took two of the worst possible pictures of him – that last one is the *better* of my two Eddie Murray pictures! The statue unveiling was part of the Orioles’ celebration of the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards. (Think, when Camden Yards opened, Fenway Park was a mere 80-year-old spring chicken of a ballpark).
I knew Hank Aaron was going to be at this game, and I really wanted to see him in person. But I didn’t want to sit through the crowded ceremony. So we headed into the ballpark for BP once the gates opened. As usual, we headed for the third base line:
Kellan absolutely loves wearing his glove and trying to catch baseballs around the house. His hand is so tiny that he cannot close the glove so he relies on the ball just landing in there and not bouncing out. Early in BP, he made his first ever attempt on a toss-up from a MLB player, Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz (who was wearing a “Brady Anderson” embroidered glove):
That is easily my favorite picture of the season so far. In our first three games, my camera has been annoying me like nobody’s business. It is ruining a ton of my pictures and really seems to have it out for me. But my camera apparently felt the gravity of the situation and it worked perfectly in the crunch and captured that last picture.
And thank you, too, Brian Matusz!
By the way, the ball bounced off of the side of Kellan’s glove and fell to his feet. But it was a great moment anyway.
Kellan grabbed his new baseball and held it tight:
Hey, remember that ceremony I mentioned? During BP, it was taking place in the picnic area behind the bullpens:
We decided to head over there for a little peak. But it was so crowded we could hardly see the panel of Hall of Famers – and my only picture attempt came out totally unrecognizable because I had to take the photo through trees, flowers, people, etc., etc.
We decided to head off to the restroom. Normally, cameras are off limits in the restrooms, but I couldn’t help taking this next one because Kellan looked so cute and funny lying on the flip-down baby changing table with is big baseball glove:
He was like, “Hey, let’s get this done so we can get back out there!”
And get back out there we did.
We headed back to the third base line. Unfortunately, he had taken Kellan’s umbrella stroller into the stadium, which was a terrible idea. Tim was in charge of rolling it around (empty) and finding places to stash it during BP. He seemed to like taking charge of this task and he was vehemently opposed to just leaving it out in deep LF while we went back to the third base line.
Anyway…when we returned to the field, the A’s pitchers were playing catch down the line. When he finished playing catch, we thought Jim Miller was going to throw a baseball to Tim. We were both excited for the third chance in three weeks for Tim to catch a toss-up from a player. But then Miller decided to walk it over and hand-deposit it into Tim’s glove:
Thanks, Mr. Miller!
Although there was no one in our vicinity blocking the rows of seats, Tim decided to climb back up to our spot in the tenth row (which I figured was out of foul ball range – I didn’t want any baseballs beaning my boys):
It was a long slow climb and during the process Tim dropped his baseball. It rolled all the way back down to the first row. I had to run back down and scooped it up for Tim.
Although we weren’t *at* the Frank Robinson ceremony, it was pretty cool being inside the ballpark during the unveiling. They had lots of nice videos playing on the scoreboards…
…and all of the speakers were broadcast over the PA system. It was really cool being in the same building and hearing Hank Aaron speaking about his friend Frank Robinson, and then hearing Frank Robinson talk about himself and his teammates.
Tim decided he wanted to scoot out to LF by the bullpens so we could see Avi. We walked out there, didn’t find Avi, and, almost immediately, it started raining and BP was cancelled. Out came the tarp:
And off we headed to the Club Level to eat some snacks and avoid the rain:
We were up there a loooooooooooooooooooooooong time. I’m not sure what time the rain started coming down, but it felt like we were up in the Club Level for about ten hours. When I finally looked at the clock on my phone, I saw that it was still another whole hour until the game was set to start! Yikes. Rain outs during BP make for a whole lotta down time.
After the boys ate a ton of snacks, we walked all over the Club Level and I took a bunch of photos of the various lounge areas. The Club Level at Camden Yards is not all that fancy, but it’s a good place to duck into and kill some time when it is raining. Here is what it looks like…
…and this is in a glass case just behind the main entrance to the Club Level:
We eventually ran into Avi and a couple of his friends in one of the little lounge areas. I sat down and chatted with them while Tim danced and tried to entertain everyone…
…and Kellan ran a million laps around two people sitting in chairs watching TV (one of them is above Kellan in that picture). Eventually, this resulted in a giant catastrophe – Tim decided to show Avi’s friends how fast he is, so he ran two laps around the chairs in the opposite direction of Kellan and the two collided chest-to-chest on the second lap. I could see it about to happen in slow motion as the scene unfolded, but I was helpless to stop it. Tim completely flattened Kellan, who fell back and smacked his head on the floor. It was a bad scene with lots and lots of crying.
Luckily, after five minutes sobbing uncontrollably on my shoulder, Kellan pulled through and was back to giggling and running around again.
When they did a second ceremony on the field, I snuck outside and snapped a few pictures:
In the upper left, that is Earl Weaver walking the “orange carpet.” In the bottom right, of course, that is Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.
Hidden under the orange sheet (bottom left), the Orioles presented Frank Robinson with a 2-foot tall replica of his new statue. Half an hour later, two guys walked by us in the Club Level carrying that little statue (which looked really heavy) to a suite (which I assumed was the owner’s suite) where all of the Hall of Famers watched the game.
All of a sudden, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer walked by and posed for a picture with (grumpy looking) Tim:
Although he has such a wonderful smile, Tim is prone to do these “grumpy” faces in pictures because he thinks it makes him look cool. He’s a big fan of being cool! Always has been. Growing up is an interesting process, eh? He keeps it fun, even if his *cool* / *grumpy* face stands in for his big smile in some pictures.
Anyway, after the photo with grumpy-faced Tim, Jim Palmer handed a “Luis Ayala” embroidered glove to Tim and was like “here, try this on.” Then Palmer handed Tim a baseball and was like, “here, hold this baseball…but you can’t have it because I have to give it to Frank Robinson.” I’m pretty sure the glove and baseball were used by Frank Robinson when he threw out the first pitch.
As the game started, it was time for some dinner. Kellan and I shared nachos…
…and Tim opted for some chicken fingers and fries.
After eating, the three of us headed out to the newly redesigned flag court:
The previous tall, two foot wide padded wall at the front of the flag court is now replaced with a short wrought iron fence. Just like when Tim was 2-3 years old, Kellan LOVED the flag court and he ran around like crazy all over the flag court and Eutaw Street.
Chasing Kellan in the flag court was too much work for both me and Tim, so we decided to take the long way around the ballpark on our way out to left field. On our way by RF, I noticed that the Orioles had a “20” painted on the grass in RF:
Of course, Frank Robinson played RF and the Orioles have retired his number 20.
While we were out in the flag court, it was the top of the second inning and the Orioles put up a 5-spot on the strength of six singles (by Adam Jones, Wilson Betemit, Chris Davis, Ronny Paulino, Robert Andino, and Nolan Reimold) and a sacrifice fly by J.J. Hardy.
That made the score 5-0 Orioles.
We never headed up there to check it out, but on our walk around the stadium, I took this photo of the new party deck above the batters’ eye:
And as we neared home plate, the A’s prized offseason acquisition, Yoenis Cespedes, had his turn at the plate:
He came up empty on that hack, and then hit a foul pop out to first base.
When we reached LF, we headed out to see the new Frank Robinson statue in the picnic area (which appears to be open to the public now, or at least it was for this game):
Then we grabbed some empty seats in section 86:
Although it was still drizzling a bit, the boys shared a swirl ice cream helmet:
And then they watched the very light rain fall on us:
Tim grabbed his glove and tried to catch specific drops as he tracked them on their way down to earth.
While we were out in LF, Adam Jones led off the top of the third inning with a single and then scored the Orioles sixth run of the night on a double by Wilson Betemit. That made it 6-0 Orioles. Things were looking good for the Orioles on a night dedicated to celebrating Frank Robinson.
Around the fifth inning, we relocated to the cross-aisle behind home plate. This was our view for a big chunk of the rest of the game:
Tim and I watched for foul balls (and a couple came somewhat close to us) while Kellan relaxed in my arms, never quite falling asleep.
During the seventh inning stretch, the Orioles Bird (as he is prone to do) sat on the ledge of the TV booth behind home plate. Kellan totally loved it and he repeated “BIRD!” about 800 times. While the Bird was up there, Kellan’s “BIRDs” were declaratory (i.e., “there is a bird!”). Then, after the Bird left the ledge, Kellan’s “BIRDs” turned inquisitive in nature (i.e., “where are you, bird?”). It was pretty cute.
In the seventh inning, Chris Davis blasted a monster homerun to RF:
The homerun cleared the flag court and crashed down on Eutaw Street. After the game, I heard one of the TV announcers mention that it was the 25th Orioles homerun to land on Eutaw Street…or maybe Davis was the 25th Oriole to hit a homerun out to Eutaw Street, I’m not quite sure.
I missed some scoring, the Davis blast made the score 10-1 Orioles.
We decided to head back up to the Club Level where we had left Kellan’s stroller at the front desk. We really went up there because Tim wanted to see Avi. We met up with Avi and watched Bryce Harper’s first at bat of his MLB career…an incredibly weak groundout to the pitcher.
And then we all (including Avi) headed back down to the Cross Aisle behind home plate. As we approached our spot, someone hit a foul ball to the guy sitting next to the person directly behind/above the spot where we had been standing for several innings. Had we been there, I might have had a play on it, but it would have required me to make a jumping catch above my head while holding Kellan, which would have been very difficult. We still could have got it if the ball had bounced down into the Cross Aisle, but the guy took the ball directly to his gut, and it fell harmlessly to his feet for an easy pick up. He was from Oakland (or at least he was decked out in A’s gear) so it was no doubt a cool moment for the guy.
Anyway, we went back to our same spot. Over the course of a bunch of innings standing in the Cross Aisle, none of the ushers ever told us to get out of there. In fact, one of them eventually came and said, “Hey, why don’t you just sit down right here?” He was concerned that someone else running for a foul ball might fun us over.
So we obliged him:
And each half inning until the game ended, we crept up a little closer to the field:
I took some random action shots…
…but the scoring was done for the night.
We kept moving forward because I wanted to go for an umpire ball. As we got closer and closer, about 10,000 kids, teens and adults all flocked to the tunnel with the same idea. I guess everyone wants one of those nice commemorative Camden Yards 20th Anniversary baseballs.
We made it to the very bottom spot and we were the first people there when home plate umpire Eric Cooper left the field of play. But he completely ignored everyone and gave out zero of those fancy commemorative baseballs.
We had one more idea – get over to the Orioles dugout (which was packed with fans) to see if anyone might toss up a commemorative baseball over there.
No such luck.
But that doesn’t mean there was *no luck* — indeed, there was a lot of luck left hanging in the night air.
As Orioles bullpen catcher Ronnie Deck approached the dugout, I called out, “Hey, Ronnie!” and gave him the obligatory *hit me* glove flap. He had an equipment bag (which no doubt had a commemorative baseball nestled inside) hanging from his shoulder, but Ronnie just held out his open glove to show us *no baseball*, but then he looked down into his glove and gave himself a little *hmmm, okay* shrug. He reached into his baseball glove, grabbed his batting gloves and tossed them to us.
The fans in front of us were nice enough not to intercept the gloves, which were clearly intended for us but would have been easy for another couple fans to catch before they reached us, and I caught them in my baseball glove.
Tim was SUPER-EXCITED about these batting gloves.
An usher took a picture of the three of us with our post-game prize:
Avi witnessed the toss-up from Ronnie Deck and came over to chat with us. Before we headed out, I took two pictures of Tim and Avi. Avi decided to smile in the first picture, and Tim decided to smile in the second picture, so let’s take a look at both:
Before we left the stadium, we got one last picture of Tim and his new gloves (no chance he is sharing them with his little bro!):
Note the cool “20” with a spot light on the side of the warehouse behind Tim. Cool.
When we got to the car, Tim told me not to tell mommy about the gloves. They were a secret. When we got off the phone, he asked if he could show her something when he got home. Something secret. He slept then entire ride home (as did Kellan). But at 1:00 a.m., Tim let mommy in on his little secret before hopping into his bed.
So, there you go, a great night of baseball at Camden Yards. Now we have an off-week and then it’s time for the Fifth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip. It is going to be an AWESOME trip this season with stops in Minnesota, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver. Our Mariners/Rockies games in Denver will mark a major milestone for me and Tim: we will finally have seen all thirty MLB teams play a home game (of course, with the opening of Marlins Park this season, we now have to go back to Miami before we can say we have been to every current MLB stadium – that will happen in September!).
This season’s GFS Roadtrip will also be extra special because it will feature a new and improved lineup: Jim, Todd, Tim and Kellan! That’s double the “Sons” and double the fun!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|3/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|6/4 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles|
|2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1|
|14 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 4, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 2, Orioles 1, Athletics 1|
|1 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park|
|3/2 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards|
|1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A|
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
On September 10, 2011, Tim and I headed off in our car for a weekend adventure to Pittsburgh. The plan was for two games at PNC Park. But the plan got cut short when our basement flooded in a storm and I was needed back on the home front. But we still had a quality 28-hour
adventure. Here is how it all went down.
He jumped on the PA Turnpike heading West toward Pittsburgh. We ended up stopping off in Mechanicsburg, PA so Tim could see where his parents got married:
It’s a gazebo on the Liberty Forge golf course. It had just opened when we got married back in 2003, and it was truly a beautiful sight for our wedding. After a brief visit (which occurred during a bustling golf tournament), we grabbed an early lunch and hopped back in the car.
We arrived in Pittsburgh in the early afternoon and relaxed at our hotel before heading off to the park. Our plan was to meet up PNC Park regular (and MLBlogger) Zac Weiss at the CF gate to see if we could get in early with the season ticket holders. But the roads immediately around PNC Park confuse the heck out of me. We ended up taking the wrong exit from the freeway, looping back around, and getting into a traffic-jam directly outside of PNC Park for 15 minutes. By the time we parked and made it to the stadium, the gates had been open for
15-20 minutes and Zac was already in there.
We waited on the Riverwalk for a few minutes, and then heading into the LF seats…
…when the stadium opened for non-season ticket holders. But the LF seats are small and they were relatively crowded. We briefly bumped into PNC Park regular (and MLBlogger) Nick Pelescak. After saying our hellos, I asked if the rest of the ballpark was open to everyone (there was almost no one in the park outside of the LF seats) and he confirmed that it was. So Tim and I headed up the LF escalator and down into the LF foul seats.
The plan was to walk down to the cross-aisle toward the bottom of the section and then circle all the way around to the RF foul line where several Marlins were playing catch. As we turned the corner into the cross-aisle, there were no other fans within 6-7 seating sections of us (except in LF, which is disconnected from the foul territory seats and not accessible without taking the elevator or spiral walkway). Just then, a Pirates batter hit a foul ball right over our heads into section 132. I quickly ran back up the stairway, cut into the seats and grabbed our first baseball of the day; with zero competition.
The very moment we made it to the RF foul line, former-Mariner Greg Dobbs was just finishing playing catch with monster-bomb-masher Mike Stanton. We were right behind him as he left the foul line and started to walk toward CF. I called out, “Hey, Greg!” He turned around and saw us, an
“oh, there you are” expression registered on his face, and then he tossed us our second baseball of the day; again, with zero competition.
We decided to go down the foul line to the handicap-accessible seating area. For some reason, it was almost completely empty for the duration of BP:
There were a handful of fans out there…including the aforementioned Zac Weiss, who can be seen in the background of the last picture wearing his black Pirates shirt.
Mike “The Beast” Stanton and Mike “Cammy” Cameron were hanging out along the foul line running sprints from the foul line out into CF:
When we first arrived in this spot, there was a baseball sitting on the warning track in RF. As Cameron walked around in foul territory catching his breath after running a sprint, I asked him if he would pose for a picture with Tim after he finished his warm-up routine. He happily agreed. Then I pointed out the baseball on the warning track and asked if he could toss it to Tim. He agreed again. Cammy is the man.
After running a few more sprints, Cammy wandered over to the little doorway at the end of the section and posed for this picture with Tim:
He also signed the baseball he’d already given to Tim:
And then he signed about 200 more autographs. The second he walked over to get a picture with Tim, every autograph hound in the stadium bolted straight for us. There was quickly a group of ten people. And then twenty. And then…who knows how many.
While we were getting Tim’s picture with Cammy, we got to chat for just a few seconds. I told him that my Dad caught one of his foul balls down in Miami on our Roadtrip. I then told him it was cool that he was wearing number “24” now-a-days since he was previously traded to the Mariners for Ken Griffey, Jr. He told me that he’d wore “24” when he was *young* – he did wear “24” when he broke into the Major Leagues with White Sox, but I got the feeling he meant he wore “24” when he was a kid, not just a young Major Leaguer. Anyway, after mentioning Junior, I told Cameron that he did an amazing job coming in and filling Griff’s void after the trade. He really did an outstanding job for the Mariners and us Mariners fans love him for it.
When Cameron finally started walking back to the dugout, a guy ran down the steps and called out, “One more, Mr. Cameron!?” Mike responded something like, “Man, I just signed a ton!” But he came back nonetheless and signed for this guy too. He was so awesome. I really couldn’t believe all the signing he did. And many of the beneficiaries were the big-time autograph dudes who gave board with 5-6 of his cards, and he
signed every single one. Mike is the man!
As he walked away, I asked Cameron if he got one of the Mariners 116 win, two-person McLemore and Cameron bobblehead. He started to launch
into a longer explanation, and then stopped himself. Bottom line, the answer was “yes.” He got one. So that’s cool. When he said he has one, Tim yelled out, “I have one too!” (Special thanks to Brian Powell for sending us his!).
After getting Tim’s picture with Cammy, we relocated to the shallow RF section of the handicap-accessible seating area. A Marlins lefty ripped a foul grounder right at us. Tim put his glove over the short wall and tried to scoop it up, but it went under his glove…and right into mine. Tim immediately turned around with a frustrated look: “Hey, I was gonna catch that ball!” “But you didn’t,” I explained, “it went right under your glove, so I had to catch it!”
Tim couldn’t argue with my logic, and he was happy to have the ball despite missing out on the grounder attempt.
He had fun leaning over the wall and practicing so he could catch the next ball hit down the line:
(Note: In the last picture, Cameron is still signing autographs in the background).
Tim also got a kick out of the fact that he could easily lean over the fence and rub his fingers through the warning track dirt:
So we had connected with two former-Mariner Marlins (Dobbs and Cameron), but the Marlins had still another former-Mariner – Jose Lopez. But
this is as close as we would ever get to Jose:
We spent some time during BP chatting with Zac Weiss:
Just before that last photo, Tim and I were at the back park of the handicapped-accessible seating area and Zac at the front (where he is pictured in that last photo). A grounder came down the line and snuck past Zac on an unfortunate (for him) bounce. I leaned as far as I could over the fence and scooped the ball off of the warning track.
As the Marlins cleared off the field, Zac, Tim and I headed over to the Marlins dugout on the 3B side. Alex Sanabia (who gave Tim the 99thbaseball of his life last season) was standing at the top of the dugout. He had a baseball and wanted to get rid of it. He looked at Zac and must have thought “too old.” Next, his gaze turned to Tim and he though “just right.” So Sanabia tossed us our sixth and final baseball of the day.
PNC Park is pretty amazing for BP. 95% of the fans attending BP were out in LF the whole time. There was lots of competition out there. Meanwhile, 1% of the fans were in the RF handicapped-accessible seats and we all got some easy, no-hassle baseballs. Great!
Ah, I forgot to mention, I thought we were going to get another baseball before the Sanabia ball. Zac, Tim and I were handing out talking (where we they are pictured in the last phone), and No. 21 on the Marlins drilled a one or two hopper right at us. I thought it was going to take a nice big (and easy) bounce right to me for an easy catch. Instead, it took a crazy back-spinning, low, sliding, superfast bounce right at us. It shot like a rocket right over our heads and went all the way over the seats and into an area where they store groundskeeper-stuff.
After hanging out by the dugout for a bit, we got our picture with Zac:
And then we all headed to the Riverwalk and then walked out to LF. Once we got out there, we split up with Zac because Tim wanted to walk up the spiral ramp. On our way, we ran into Nick Pelescak again and he took a walk with us. We headed up the ramp and got Tim’s PNC Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
We stopped at the top of the spiral ramp and chatted a while with Nick:
He’s a real nice guy and he’s hauled over 1,000 baseballs out of PNC Park and several other MLB ballparks over the course of the last couple years.
While in the upper deck, we took the occasion to check in with Tim’s first ever water fountain! Back on September 29, 2007, Tim used this fountain for his first ever water-fountain drink of his life. Since then, we check in on his first fountain whenever we’re in town. On our 2010 trip, his water fountain reunion photo didn’t make the cut on the blog report. So let’s check out both 2010 and 2011 now:
After heading back down the spiral ramp, Nick broke off to go find his wife and son and Tim and I went and bought some nachos. Here is an ultra-serious looking Tim eating nachos in our seats for the game:
We got those seats in section 136, row C for just a couple bucks per ticket on stubhub. That’s one of the perks of the end of the season – cheap tickets!
Here is a view of PNC Park from our seats:
Tim cut the serious act, and had some fun goofing around and eating nachos in the LF seats:
And then he did some random posing:
When the game started, it was all Marlins. Actually, the Marlins did not muster much offense either. But it did not matter because Anibal Sanchez was on fire. He was making the Pirates look silly – like this hapless hack back Derrick Lee:
Meanwhile, Tim was licking left over cheese off of his index finger and pretending that it was exploding in his mouth – like this:
Facing off against Sanchez, the Pirates had Jeff Locke make his MLB debut. Locke pitched five innings, gave up five hits, and three runs, and collected his first career loss. I got this picture of Locke’s first career Major League swing:
With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Neil Walker hit double. And that was all she wrote for the Pirates. Anibal Sanchez threw a complete
In the top of the third inning, we went to go get ice cream helmets. Tim got mint chocolate chip and I got (the incredibly delicious and highly recommended) Pirates Buried Treasure. Check out the cool view from the ice cream helmet line:
Ah, yes. PNC Park is incredibly beautiful.
The Marlins scored three runs while we were in line for ice cream. They were, ultimately, the only runs of the game. And we had no clue they even occurred. When we got back to our seats – after walking through this blue light area —
…there were runs on the board. And that’s all we knew. We saw Nick and Zac at the back of one of the sections in LF and I asked them if they caught any homeruns when we were off buying ice cream. They didn’t. And that is all I know about those three runs – they were three Marlins runs during which the crowd made absolutely no noise (so as to tip me off that anything was happening on the field) and they did not result in Nick or Zac catching any homeruns.
Just like last season, I enjoyed a “Pirates Buried Treasure” helmet and Tim had a mint chocolate chip helmet:
Here’s what it looked like from our seats after the sun went down:
After eating our ice cream, Tim wanted to roam around the ballpark and check out the river. We headed out to the Riverwalk area and Tim got a run-by head patting from the Pirates Parrot:
He posed with a picture of a P-shaped bush behind the bullpens…
…and then we headed down toward the river. This big barge arrived on the scene:
I am pretty sure it is the fireworks barge for the post-game fireworks.
We wandered through a little picnic area behind the batters’ eye:
And we checked out the view of the Roberto Clemente bridge:
Finally, we found a little nook in the picnic area that Tim thought resembled a bullpen. So we took turns pitching to each other…
…using the drain as home plate.
While I was pitching to Tim, he missed a pitch and it rolled to the steps behind our home plate. When he went to retrieve, an elderly Japanese couple were walking by. The man noticed Tim’s Ichiro shirt as he passed by and called out to his wife an excited, “ICHIRO!” with a point at Tim. He then
doubled back and walked a small loop around Tim to make sure he’d seen it correctly. After confirming his initial belief, he walked back to his wife and pointed at Tim with increased excitement, “ICHIRO!” And he looked over me with an approving smile. It was pretty cute.
After our bullpen session, we headed back to the LF seats. We hadn’t missed a thing – well, except a couple more Pirate strike outs – it was still 3-0 Marlins.
As I sipped a local brew with a snazzy pin-striped and Pirate-logoed can, an usher kindly took our photo standing in the concourse behind section 136:
It was time for more adventuring, and this was the last we would see of section 136 for the night. So I took one more panorama from the concourse before we started walking:
Tim wanted to see the upper deck some more. So we wanted around the big spiral walkway in LF:
There is a really small section of seating above the LF bleachers, just below the scoreboard, that I have never visited. In the past, it has always been chained off for private parties. I think it is called the “Pirates Deck.” As luck would have it, it was open to the public during this game. So we headed down the stairs at the back of the spiral walkway and entered the Pirates Deck.
The deck was almost empty. We headed to the last section in deep LCF and got Tim’s picture:
And then I took a panorama of PNC Park from the front row of section 339:
On our way out of the deck area, we noticed a switch-back ramp leading up to two seats perched behind the back row of the seats. It looked like an elevated perch for the King and Queen to sit and watch the competition down on the field. Since it was empty, we walked up the ramp and Tim asked me to take the following series of photos:
After the King’s Perch, we headed to the seats behind home plate. There was another little handicap-accessible seating area right behind home plate. We claimed a spot and watched the game from there for a bit. Standing was fine for a bit…
…but eventually Tim got the urge to climb on the railings…which I strongly discouraged.
After getting Tim off the railing, I got a panorama of PNC Park from section 316:
After exchanging a few texts, we met up with fellow MLBlogger Matt “PittPeas” Peaslee and his girlfriend Erin:
I suggested that pose in the classic Peas-pose (that you should no doubt recognize if you’re read his blog). Upon review, it appears that I need some work on my Peas-pose. My arms are way too high and straight. Tim’s Peas-pose needs some work too; he’s just doing a “we are the champions”
celebration pose! Matt is a great guy. It was good to finally meet in person.
The game was sailing by quick. After parting ways with Matt and Erin, Tim and I headed down the spiral walkway behind home plate. We planned on making an attempt for a post-game umpire baseball. It was the ninth inning, but for whatever reason, I thought it was still the eighth. After I got this photo from the concourse of Andrew McCutchen striking out…
…I realized it was the ninth inning and there was only one out left in the game! We scrambled to get into position, and post-game fireworks made it the easiest post-ninth-inning-third out trip ever from the concourse down to the umpire tunnel (because everyone stayed seated for the fireworks), but we arrived about 5 seconds too late. Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna had unloaded his entire baseball poach by the time we got into position. Oh, well.
The silver lining is that we were in the perfect spot (and found a couple open seats) when the fireworks started about 5 minutes later:
The fireworks show was great, and no one enjoyed it more than Tim (and Shelly):
To my amazement, the Pirates did not clear out the RF seats for the fireworks show. Check out how close it looked like the people in right field were to the fireworks:
After the fireworks show, an usher took a final father-son shot of us before we left the ballpark:
And then I noticed a cool “125th season” logo on top of the Pirates dugout:
I wonder why the Angels got a 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball, but the Pirates did not get a 125th season baseball? I’m guessing it is because they were not the “Pirates” the entire 125 seasons – since it says “Pittsburgh Baseball.” Anyway, it is too bad. That would have been a cool commemorative baseball.
After the game, we spent the night in a Pittsburgh hotel, and then did one *touristy* thing before heading home. We had heard of the Duquesne Incline from some friends. So we decided to check it out. While watching BP, I discussed the Duquesne Incline and discovered there are two inclines in town – the Duquesne and the Monongahela. So we did ‘em both.
First, the Duquesne Incline:
Essentially, it is a two track train that runs up a really steep hill in Pittsburgh.
At the top, there is a look out spot with a phenomenal view of Pittsburgh:
Following the river from left-to-right and taking the left (upper) fork, PNC Park is on the left (upper) side of the river between the first and second (Roberto Clemente) bridges.
Here’s a good view of the crazy incline train cars:
The two cars are pulled up the incline on big steel cables. They appear to be balanced against each other, when one is at the top, the other is at the bottom, and they always meet in the middle.
The Monongahela incline also provided a spectacular view of Pittsburgh (although with no view of PNC Park):
And there was a sign at the top pointing the way to ice cream:
After devouring some tasty cones, we rode the incline train back down to the bottom…
….and hopped into our car for the ride home.
Although we wanted to go to the Sunday game (featuring Kids Run The Bases), it was still a great little weekend father-son get-away.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|28/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|19/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]|
|22 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).|
|82 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 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, 6 Marlins, 1 Pirates)|
|13/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]|
|16/9 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; 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]|
|7 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, Jamie Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron)|
|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.***2011 All-Star|
Tim and I were in for a long day on Saturday, July 23, 2011. We are members of myGameBalls.com, and by the decree of founder Alan Schuster, this game was dubbed “Ballhawkfest 2011.” While the battle between the Angels and Orioles was the primary focus of Ballhawkfest, there was a lot more going on than just the MLB game.
Tim and I left home at about 9:00 a.m. and we arrived at Carroll Park Field #2 for a friendly softball game at 11:00 a.m. Well, that was the original plan. But the 100+ degree weather scared off some of the would-be participants and we did not have enough for a full game. In fact, we only had 10 softball players. But that did not stop us from having a great time.
First, we divided up into two teams. My team included me, Alan Schuster, Mateo Fischer, Mike Rowles and the late arriving Ben “Wild Thing” Weil. Our opposition included Zack Hample, “Flava” Dave Stevenson, Oliver Rowles (Mike’s son), Alex “Gold Glove” Kopp, and Garrett Meyer.
In the dugout, we had Jona (of Team Hample fame), Tim (who kept busy keeping score and hitting whiffle balls), and James (a documentarian who is filming a piece about Zack).
I have no clue how we decided the rules of the game, but it turned out to be a lot of fun and a very interesting format. We played seven innings of super-modified homerun derby. At the outset, Zack pitched to both teams. Once Ben arrived in the third inning, each team pitched to itself. Each inning, each batter got two outs – one hitting a softball and one hitting a baseball. All fielders played in the outfield. Any ball that landed in the outfield grass without being caught on the fly scored one run. Any baseball hit over the outfield fence scored five runs. Any swing that did not result in a run was an out.
It was hard to get pictures because we kept running in and out from the field to the dugout. But here is the best of what we got. First, Alan Schuster sized up a sweet Hample baseball pitch:
Interesting side note, for the baseball portion of the derby, we used Alan Schuster’s entire MLB-snagged baseball collection.
Zack was a quality pitcher for our first two innings:
I was happy to take him yard twice.
The final score was high because homeruns counted for five runs each, but really it was difficult to score runs because everyone played stellar defense. Would you expect any less from this group? My unofficial Gold Glove award goes to Alex Kopp…
…pictured here in the red shorts. He patrolled left field like a pro. He was running all over the place and made a ton of great catches. He personally robbed me of several runs.
In the dugout, Jona was busy taking tons of pictures (by the end of the day (including the MLB game) she took over 900 photos)…
…and Tim used a spray bottle of cold water to keep cool as he played.
It was harder to score with the softballs because they did not travel as far as the baseballs. Here is Mateo putting a good stroke on one of Ben’s neon yellow softballs:
Special thanks to Jona for taking a couple shots of me at the bat. Here I am turning on an inside pitch from Benny Bang Bang and driving a homerun that stayed fair by about five feet:
This picture looks better than the last, but it resulted in only a one-run hit, not a homerun:
The game was tight until the bottom of the fifth inning when we went off for 14 runs. The final score was…
…44-29 good guys. Zack and I tied for the most homeruns with 4 each. Alan Schuster also had one bomb. Speaking of Alan, the game ended on a great play. Zack was the final batter in the top of the seventh. He hit a ball that was clearly going to land over the fence. But Alan calmly drifted back to the fence, leaned his entire upper body over the fence, and, with full extension, flat out robbed Zack of a homerun.
After the game, we set up our cameras on a flipped over garbage can and got some group photos. First at home plate:
From left to right: (Front) Jona, Flava Dave, Tim, me. (Back) Ben Weil, Zack Hample, Oliver Rowles, Alan Schuster, Garrett Meyer, Alex Kopp, Mateo Fischer, and Mike Rowles.
I do not have a photo that goes with it, but I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Oliver made an amazing running grab on one of my swings. I hit a deep ball to RCF that I was sure was going to score one run. But Oliver ran…who knows, maybe 75 feet to his left and made the catch at a full gallop. Excellent catch, Oliver!
Back to the pictures, we turned around and got another group shot standing at the mound:
I should note that Ben threw on some official Cleveland Indians “Major League” give-away glasses to complete the “Wild Thing” Ricky Vaughn look. Nicely done, Ben!
Next, we all hopped in our cars and scooted across town to Di Pasquaele’s Italian Marketplace. Matt Hersl, who skipped out on softball/baseball, picked the restaurant and it was a good one. Tasty, tasty.
Tim requested a picture with the “chef”…
…and he posed with Alan and the Andruw Jones bobblehead that he won in the drawing Alan organized. That bobblehead now rests on a bookshelf in Tim’s room.
Here is the best picture of our table at lunch:
That’s an official eating action shot!
Lunch wrapped up around 3:30 and people started to break up and head their own ways. The plan was to meet up again outside the CF gate on Eutaw Street. The gates would
not open until 5:05 p.m., and I was absolutely dreading the idea of standing in the sun at the gates for an hour or more in the 100+ degree heat.
So we found a very favorable alternative. After parking in a garage on Eutaw Street, we headed to the Hilton on Pratt Street and found some empty couches in the lobby. Soon, Mateo wandered by and the three of us ended up chatting for almost an hour while gate opening times drew nearer.
Actually, it was primarily me and Mateo doing the chatting. Tim was spending most of his time monkeying around and spraying himself with his spray bottle:
We did not have tickets for the game yet. As we relaxed in the Hilton lobby, I exchanged a bunch of texts with our Baltimore ticket agent, Avi Miller. Avi arrived at the CF gate just about ten minutes before gate opening. When we got the text that he’d arrived at the ballpark, Tim, Mateo and I left the air conditioned Hilton lobby and headed to the blisteringly hot gate at the CF side of Eutaw Street.
Before the gates opened, we said our hellos to the myGameBalls.com guys whom we’d dined with just an hour or so ago. We posed for a bunch of group shots (but not with my camera…so see here and here) and then every headed toward LF as the gates opened.
Everyone, I should say, except us. We headed to the shady third base line where (among all of the Angels stretching in front of the dugout) we found former-Mariner Russell Branyan (no. 39):
It is always good to see a former-Mariner, even if he’s playing for one of our A.L. West rivals like the Angels. Actually, there is another former-Mariner (although one who was never an everyday player for the Mariners) in that picture, Adam Jones.
After a few minutes, we drifted down the line a bit toward the outfield. Right along the foul line, Osaka Japan’s Koji Uehara (wearing tight running pants under his shorts in the 100+ degree weather) was chatting with Toyko Japan’s Hisanori Takahashi:
Maybe they were discussing the “cultural fault lines” between their respective hometowns. Or maybe they were discussing the fact that Takahashi (April 2, 1975) is exactly one day older than Uehara (April 3, 1975). Whatever they were discussing, it did not prevent Koji from fielding a batted ball and walking over and handing it to Tim.
As Koji approached, I said “Hey, Koji, could we get a picture with you?” He said, “Yes.” And then he handed the baseball to Tim, turned around and walked away. Hmm…I don’t think he understood my request…I probably should have asked him in Japanese. Nevertheless…
Domo arigato, Koji-san!
A few minutes later, Russell Branyan finished playing catch with his partner and he flipped the baseball to Tim. Tim just watched the ball sail by his face and land in the empty seat next to him. But no one else was around, so we picked up the ball and no error was charged on the play.
As he tossed the baseball, I asked Russell if he could pose for a picture with Tim. Sure he could:
After the photo but before heading back out onto the field, Russell reached out his humongous hand and gave Tim and I each a mighty hand shake. They don’t call him Russell the Muscle for nothing. That dude is huge.
All of the myGameBalls.com ballhawks were going crazy out in LF chasing homeruns. Around this time, Avi came and visited us in foul territory so he could inform us that our prank of Zack Hample had been successful – for the complete story click here.
While Avi was over chatting with us, someone sliced a foul ball about 10 rows behind us. It hit the seats and ricocheted right to Avi.
A few minutes later, Takahashi’s interpreter and trainer Yoichi Terada (at least that is my assumption of who this guy is)…
…walked by and handed Tim a baseball. Terada had been playing catch with someone…maybe Takahashi…along with all of the other Angels pitchers playing catch along the LF foul line. When he finished, he picked up two baseballs (including the baseball he gave to Tim) that were sitting on the ground along the line. The two baseballs were *extras* that were brought out there in case someone lost their warm up ball. Those baseballs were never used, and the one that Terada handed to Tim looked like it was brand-spanking new.
Eventually, Tim asked to go check out the bullpens. We did, but no one was in either. So when we spotted Jona sitting in the shade in the first row above the cross aisle, we joined her for a little bit of sun relief. This is what it looked like:
And that is where we were standing when Dan Haren…
…unloaded a mega-toss-up over section 84 and directly into my glove for our fourth and final baseball of the day.
After BP ended, most of the myGameBalls.com’ers gathered toward the bottom of section 86. Most of the guys were there in hopes of snagging one of the 8 or so homeruns that had been hit into the Orioles bullpen. But we were just there to chat with the others, chew on some of the free ice the Orioles were providing in the concourse, and to spray Tim’s spray bottle all over the place.
Our “Ballhawkfest” shirts had our names and the number of baseballs we had snagged in our lives (through the all-star break) on the back. Just for kicks, I got this picture of Tim and Zack showing off their numbers and they watched the empty field:
Not too shabby, Tim is (or was!) only 5,052 baseballs behind Zack.
Eventually, the Angels starting pitcher (and former-Mariner) Joel Piniero made his way out to CF to warm up:
When Piniero moved to the bullpen, Tim and I headed up to the top of section 86 to watch Joel:
Well, I watched Joel. Tim spent most of his time squirting himself in the face:
With the game just about to start, a bunch of us met up in the LF corner for a group photo with the baseballs we had snagged during BP:
Lets see…going clockwise: Zack had 5 at the time (including a special FeMeBe baseball from Jeremy Guthrie), Alex Kopp had 4, Garrett Meyer had 4, Flava Dave (who you can
hardly see except for his arms) had 4, Jeremy Evans (who was a late arrival) had 1, Alan Schuster had 3 (his first 3 of the season), Oliver Rowles had 5, Tim and I had 4, Avi had 3, and Jona and Ben each had empty hands. FYI, those are not necessarily final totals.
Right before that group photo, the Orioles PA announcer informed us that the game time temperature was 102 degrees. We were hungry and hot. So Tim, Ben, Avi and his
girlfriend Beverly, and I headed to the air conditioned club level. Avi and Beverly headed to section 258 to watch the game in person. But Tim and I grabbed a table in front of a big flat screen and ate dinner:
After a few minutes, Ben joined us. We had been out in the hot sun so long that we were in no rush to head outside and watch the game in person…the air conditioning and flat screen were a-okay for us. We stayed in there until the fourth inning! After eating, Tim entertained us with some extreme high pants…
…and some fake DJ’ing on one of the nearby easy chairs:
While we were eating dinner, Ben and I discussed (among other things) the definition of a “ballhawk” and whether we qualified under that definition. Personally, I don’t think of me and Tim as “ballhawks” because we don’t go to games with the purpose of getting baseballs. We go to games because we love baseball and want to experience all that a Major League game has to offer. It just so happens that trying to get a baseball during BP is one of those experiences…and an important part of the game experience since I was a little boy. But, when you compare us to the other participants in ballhawkfest, our *strategies* and *skills* are quite limited. Essentially, Tim and Kellan are cute kids (players like cute kids…most people do actually) and we know where to stand during BP. But, if that makes us *ballhawks* I suppose we can live with the title. Although,
maybe a better title would be baseballhawks or ballparkhawks…or, simply, baseball fans.
Anyway, it was an interesting conversation, and it was a lot of fun chatting with Ben. We actually met Ben at U.S. Cellular Field back in 2009, and we had a lot of fun with him on that day too.
Before joining Avi and Beverly in the seats, Tim and I walked the club level to check out what it had to offer. Most of my pictures came out blurry (I guess because of the lighting) so I will just share this one of Tim and the Orioles Hall of Fame:
Here is what Camden Yards looks like from section 258 in the club level:
N.T.S. (You know it, not too shabby).
By the time we arrived in the seats, the Angels had already scored all of their runs for this game. In fact, all of the Angels runs came in the first inning on a 2-run homerun by Vernon Wells.
The Orioles got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning courtesy of a solo shot by Adam Jones. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, the Orioles took a 3-2 lead on an RBI single by Nick Markakis and a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones. And that was all of the scoring in this game. While I was happy to see the Mariners division rival fall, it was sad that Piniero got tagged for the loss.
We sat in section 258 from the fourth through the seventh. Tim spent most of that time unloading 3 squirt bottles full of water on Avi:
Avi laid down a rule that Tim could live with: No spraying Beverly, but Tim could spray Avi as much as he wanted. And Tim wanted to spray Avi a lot. In the eyes, in the ears, on his shirt, on his shorts, back of the head, shoulders, elbows, a direct shot to the mouth, Avi was an excellent Target, and Tim was a happy triggerman.
Between sprays, Tim did a little spinning happy dance:
Before the Angels removed him in the bottom of the sixth, I got this shot of Joel Piniero on the mound:
As I said, gotta love former-Mariners. Particularly, a former-Mariner who performed well and was a fan favorites while in Seattle. And that describes Piniero.
Our bright yellow “Ballhawkfest” t-shirts served their purpose perfectly; it was easy to spot the guys all around the stadium. Like here – we spotted Garrett Meyer sitting about half-way up the field level seats behind third base:
In the seventh, Tim and I decided to head down to the field level behind home plate. On our way out of the club level, I had a little bit better luck taking photos. This is the seating area where we ate dinner (at the empty table in the middle of the photo):
Oversized autographed baseballs art:
From left to right, that is Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell (with the notation “MVP ‘70”), and Cal Ripken, Jr.
A busy bar:
Orioles World Series trophies and four gold glove awards:
And six Orioles Cy Young Awards:
When I was taking the picture of Tim and the World Series trophies, Avi was standing behind me chatting with Adam Jones’ mom (and several other people). When Jonesys’ mom walked by Tim she said something like, “Oh, honey, you should squirt me!” Tim was still holding his squirter, but he did not squirt her.
We ended up sitting with Jona (who deserves special thanks for being so cool and chatting so much with Tim throughout the day) for the last couple innings. She had been sitting in the last row on the ailse in section 32. Before joining Jona in the back row, Tim tested out a double seat setup:
The Angels were trying to come back, but Koji Uehara and Kevin Gregg were too much for them. Neither Bobby Abreau…
…nor Vernon Wells…
…could help the Angels. Both grounded out against Gregg in the ninth.
Toward the end of the game, Tim enjoyed a twist ice cream helmet to cap off a great day…
…and after the game he used his water squirter to clean the ice cream residue from his dirty face.
After the game, the remaining Ballhawkfest participants met up again behind the third base dugout. We got our picture with Alan Schuster:
Then Garrett (who was visiting from Kansas City) requested a picture with Tim:
Of course, with two cameras going, Tim was looking at one camera while Garrett looked at the other. Doesn’t it always happen that way?
Here is one of the coolest pictures of the day:
And one more featuring everyone’s sweaty faces:
Once again that is (right to left): Jeremy Evans, Mateo Fischer, Zack Hample, Jona (she’s only got one name like Ichiro), Alex Kopp, Tim (posing with one of Garrett’s baseballs
because ours were packed away in my backpack), Garrett Meyer, Oliver Rowles, Alan Schuster, and Benny “Bang Bang” Weil.
A great group of guys (and girl). Ballhawkfest 2011 was loads of fun and a smashing success.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|18/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|16/5 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets and Indians]|
|13 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))|
|54 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)|
|8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]|
|13/9 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; 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]|
|5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|
Here are a couple bonus pictures. First, Tim with one of the FeMeBe baseballs:
Here is a group shot from the myGameBalls.com “Ballhawkfest 2011” featuring the FeMeBe baseball:
Finally, Avi and I did not tell Zack about the prank or the article. We wanted him to find out about it through normal channels…just however the news would reach him. I’m still not sure how the news got to him, but a few hours after the article was posted this message from Zack showed up on Twitter:
That’s all for now. Go Mariners!