Back in May, Tim and I achieved the goal of having seen every MLB team play a home game. But those pesky Florida Marlins changed their name to the Miami Marlins and traded in Sun Life Stadium for Marlins Park since we saw them play in Miami in August 2011. So we needed to head back to Miami before we could say we had visited every current Major League stadium.
In May or June, we made the tentative plan to visit Miami over Labor Day weekend. And before we knew it, all the pieces fell into place and it was time to go. But it wasn’t just me and Tim. And it wasn’t just me, Tim and Kellan. No, it was a full-on Cook Family vacation! We planned for two games, a day or two at South Beach, and a dolphin encounter at the Miami Seaquariam.
We kicked off all of the fun on Friday, August 31, 2012.
We hopped an 11:00 a.m. flight from Philadelphia to Miami…
…, passing over and Sun Life Stadium and driving by fancy new Marlins Park on our way to the hotel, the downtown Miami Hilton (which I would definitely recommend. Very convenient to Marlins Park, South Beach, the Seaquarium. Great pool. Lots of fun).
We rented a car from Dollar Rent-a-Car and they gave us the most hilarious car possible:
Oh, yeah. We were rolling in style!
We arrived at our hotel around 2 p.m. The ballpark didn’t open until 5:30. So we grabbed some lunch at The Daily (http://www.thedailycreativefoodco.com/) and then walked through a little park along the water. On our way into the park, Tim posed with a fire hydrant (he has lots of interesting pictures with fire hydrants) with palm trees in the background:
Then it was time to rest up and figure out some pre-game logistics before our first game at Marlins Park.
For this game, it would be just me and the boys. Colleen would enjoy the evening sitting by our rooftop pool reading a book.
The drive to Marlins Park was really short. My GPS couldn’t find the stadium (because it is brand new) but we had no problem getting there because you can see it from downtown and it was self-evident how to get there.
All of the official Marlins parking garages that we passed on NW 7th Street had “prepaid only” signs. So we ended up parking just passed and across the street from Marlins Park in the CVS Pharmacy parking lot. The lot had “customer parking only” signs all over it, but it also had official looking guys selling parking tickets. It all seemed legit, and it was. It cost $20, which was the same as the parking garages.
Here was our view of Marlins Park from the CVS parking lot:
We walked down NW 7th Street to mid-block, crossed at a crosswalk, and walked down a little street that T’d into the side of the stadium:
We had no idea where we should enter, or where we were for that matter, so we just turned right and started walking around the stadium. Very quickly, we came to an entrance where about 100 people were already standing in line to get into the stadium. I guess it would have been considered the home plate entrance.
We hopped in line for about 5 seconds. But then Tim wanted to explore. The gates weren’t going to open for another ten minutes so I figured “what the heck.”
We turned around and started walking down this multi-colored piano-keyboard looking walkway:
Tim saw a big Marlins “M” and wanted to get pictures with it. Here they are:
Just behind the “M” there was a stage set up (but empty at the time) and, after grabbing a Spanish language pocket schedule at a ticket office, we found another entrance behind the stage. I’ll call it the LF entrance, but I’m not sure if it had an official name.
The line was short and we were inside the games after just a few more minutes. The only drawback of this entrance is that you have to walk up a long winding walkway to get to the field level concourse. Here is a picture I took from the walkway looking back toward the home plate entrance:
And here is what the ramp looked like after we snaked back to our left and kept circling up to the field level:
Right when we got inside, we headed down to the field out by the LF foul pole (well, in the vicinity of it). Feeling the weight of the milestone, I promptly took a very unimpressive picture of Tim and myself:
There you go. Photographic evidence of the two of us inside our 30th current Major League stadium! Overall, it was Tim’s 34th and my 37th MLB stadium. In addition to the current MLB stadiums, Tim has also been to (1) the Metrodome, (2) old Yankee Stadium, (3) Shea Stadium, and (4) Sun Life Stadium, and I have also been to (5) the (beautiful and wonderful) Kingdome (many, many wonderful and glorious times, (6) Veterans Stadium, and (7) RFK Stadium.
There wasn’t another fan to shake a stick at down the LF line. Very, and I mean very, quickly, Mets reliever Robert Carson tossed us our first ever baseball at Marlins Park:
With that baseball, Tim has now got at least one baseball at 31 and I have got one at 33. The only current stadium at which neither of us has ever got at least one baseball is Chase Field (where we have both only been to one game, on September 12, 2008).
And very, very quickly after that, Mike Baxter…
…tossed another baseball to Tim.
One of my complaints about Sun Life Stadium was that they didn’t let fans from the cheap seats get close to the field, even during BP. You really could never get right down on the field down the lines. First off, the bullpens were huge and took up tons of prime real estate down both foul lines. Second, you had to enter from an entirely different area that required premium tickets (or so it seemed) to get next to the field in the little bit of space between the dugouts and bullpens.
In this regard, Marlins Park is a vast improvement. For some crazy reason, Marlins Park does have an incredibly fan unfriendly moat. But I knew from Zack Hample’s blog that they let everyone down into the moated-off area during BP. So we went over there just to check it out.
While anyone can go right up to the dugouts, we did find out that you need special tickets to enter the first four rows between the end of the dugouts and the OF end of the moated-area. Here is a panorama from section 7 that shows what I’m talking about:
We didn’t know the rules at first and walked right up to the field (something that could never have happened at Sun Life Stadium because the normal seats were elevated above the restricted area), but the lady in the red shirt on the right side of the picture above let us know that we needed to stay back in the fifth row unless we had a ticket up in the front section.
That rule is somewhat silly, but it is still a vast improvement over Sun Life Stadium because at least you can be down low enough that you’re essentially on field level, just pushed a few rows back.
We hung out there for a bit and watched the infielders warm up. And then I took a blurry photo of the three of us:
I love Kellan’s casual little pose there.
If you enlarge the last panorama (from section 7) you will see a sign behind the CF upper deck seats that says “502.” Tim requested that we go up there to check it out.
So we headed to the concourse. I thought it was unique, so I took a picture of the bright yellow concourse down the RF line:
Eventually, I realized that Marlins Park has a rotating color scheme. From 1B to RF the field level and upper deck concourse walls and floors and the tiles in the field level seating areas are yellow. Approximately behind section 40 in RF (and you’ll see this soon enough), the yellow starts to break down, get mixed some white, and then transition to green.
From RF to LF everything is green, including the outfield wall (which I had never liked on TV). In section 30 in LF (and you’ll see this too), the green transitions to red. From the LF corner to around 3B, the concourse is bright red. Around 3B, the red transitions to blue. And then the blue wraps around home plate until it eventually transitions into the original yellow that I discussed around 1B.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have never liked the look of Marlins Park on TV. Frankly, it has looked tacky to me. But in person, I really thought it looked great. Sure, green of the outfield wall is a bit much. But, overall, the colors are fun and they work. We’ll talk a tiny bit more about the colors a little later.
Behind section 40 in RF, we headed up some stairs to the RF-CF upper deck. Half way up the stairs, we ran into a HUGE duct:
I am pretty sure that is to pipe all of the air conditioning around the ballpark.
If you want to call it a concourse, then the RF-CF upper deck *concourse* is bizarre to say the least:
From that main walk way, smaller other walk ways split off to the side and lead fans into the seats:
Check out (above) that suspension system…I guess that is what it is. When we were up there, and there were only maybe 10 other fans in the entire upper deck, I could feel the entire upper deck move and shake a little bit. I’m never a fan of that phenomenon.
Here is the view from that second with the “502” sign, which is actually section 134:
And here is a souvenir of our time up in the upper deck…
…that was tossed to us by Jon Rauch.
The rows of seats in the upper deck were really steep. I was not a fan of hanging out there with the boys because I feared that Kellan would trip and fall over a row a seats – we hung back in the second and third rows. So right after we got that baseball from Rauch, I snapped that picture of Tim (with Rauch pictured under the ball) and then we started to head out of the section.
As we cut across the third row toward the stairway on the CF side of section 134, I heard someone yell at us from below. It was Rauch and he was holding up another baseball. I guess he wanted both boys to have one. He made another accurate toss for an easy catch.
Thanks and Thanks, Jon Rauch!!!
Before leaving section 134, we got a couple pictures of the odd homerun statue thingy in LCF:
I took a few more pictures on our way back down to the field level (start clockwise from top-right):
Top Right: There is a little press box looking office behind the seats in section 134. I’m not sure what it is. I’m guessing they work the controls for the retractable roof…but I’m not sure.
Top Left: There is a staircase in that little “concourse” behind section 134 and one of the walkway support beams (a huge concrete beam) frames in the staircase.
Bottom Left: Mid-way down the staircase we had a nice view of downtown Miami out of the LF-CF retractable outer wall of the Marlins Park. One regret of our trip (that was totally out of our control) is that we never got to see the ballpark with the wall open.
Bottom Right: The view of the field level concourse in CF where the stair case dropped us into the field level.
The pieces of the LF-CF retractable wall move of train track like tracks through the field level concourse:
Behind the homerun statue, there is a little, moveable TV studio. When I got a blurry picture of the boys standing by the TV set, one of the TV guys walked over and handed Tim one of the real deal Fox Sports microphones:
When I took that picture, Tim refused to look at me. And in retrospect, he was completely right. It looks more authentic with him not looking at me. It is like he is doing a report looking at the TV camera. Good job, Tim!
Here is the back of the homerun statue:
And a panorama taken just to the LF side of the homerun statue in a SRO area:
Next, we swung around to LF foul territory to get a look at the Marlins bullpen, LF seats, and the Clevelander (night club at the ballpark):
Note how you can see the tile changing from green to behind the LF seats! You can see other color transitions in the infield tile on the wall of the moat.
Two Mets coaches were hanging out in LF. One of them was Eric Langill. When he shagged a ball hit down the line, Tim asked “Eric” if he could please toss the ball up to him. He did…
…and Tim made a nice catch.
As we walked away from the spot, the batter hit a ball that landed ten feet behind us, right were we had just been walking. It was my best chance to catch a hit ball on the fly at Marlins Park, but it was not to be. It ricocheted back onto the field.
And then we headed into the moated-off area behind the Marlins (3B) dugout:
I read online on some random webpage that the red seat (that the article actually said was on the 1B side) marked the first seat installed at Marlins Park.
I snapped this panorama from the cross aisle behind section 19:
And then we got this Marlins Park “bonus picture” for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
There was a really friendly usher hanging out in this area and he gladly snapped the following picture of me and the boys:
As BP wrapped up and we headed out of the section, the usher told us to enjoy the game. Good guy.
We headed up to the concourse and I bought a huge “all you can drink” souvenir soda. There were two things we wanted to check out: (i) the bobblehead museum and (ii) some fish tanks we had heard about online. I asked the lady at the concession stand where they were located in the stadium.
Her answer regarding the fish tanks confused me: down by the field.
She told us to ask the ushers behind home plate. Very confusing, indeed.
But soon it all made sense. And it is completely awesome….but most awesome for the people in the diamond club. Check out the fish tanks built into the short wall behind home plate:
You can’t get down there for a close-up look unless you have diamond club (I’m guessing that is what it is called at Marlins Park) tickets.
We decided that the closest and best view we could get would be from the very corner spot in the first row behind the visitors (1B) dugout (although there is a fish tank on both sides of home plate so either dugout would work)
Before going over by the dugout to take a look, I got a picture of Tim #FELIXING to celebrate his 34th MLB baseball stadium:
Then I got a panorama from section 12…
…and a picture of my boys (and my diet pepsi):
After getting all of the behind-home-plate photos that we needed, we head over to the stairs down into the moat. There was a lady stationed there now who asked for our tickets. I told her that we just wanted to get a closer view of the fish tank from the corner spot behind the dugout. She said that once BP wraps up, you need tickets down below the moat to get into that section.
But then she added (paraphrasing here), “Maybe check back around the fourth or fifth inning and I could probably slip you in to check it out.”
That was pretty awesome, but made me wonder why they needed a moat at all!?
And then we headed to the Bobblehead Museum, which is located behind home plate in the blue section of the concourse:
The museum is a big oval-shaped glass case with bobbleheads from every MLB team. There is a computer so you can look up teams or players and it will tell you where to look in the museum. The whole case shakes a little so the bobbleheads are in a constant state of bobbling. It was a lot of fun.
I decided only to post that one picture, but I took a bunch including a bunch of Mariners (and particularly Ichiro) bobbleheads, a couple Hank Aaron bobbleheads, some old school funny-uniformed Pirates, and a cool Prince Fielder wearing a big crown.
It was getting near game time. So we headed out to RF. Here are a couple not-so-random photos from the concourse:
The funniest thing I noticed in the concourse were the line-up pictures posted on the support beams behind each section of seats. It is a cool idea. But most fans stay relatively in the same spot throughout a game so they would probably never see the whole line up. In fact, we move around about 20 times more than the average fan and we never noticed the entire line-up. But we saw Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton and Greg Dobbs (pictured above) several times.
Here is the view of Marlins Park from our $3/ticket stub hub seats in the second row of section 40:
One thing about Marlins Park can be a little confusing. Some of the sections have a few lettered (e.g., A-D) rows below row the numbered rows. I originally bought $5 tickets in row 1 of section 40. When I “sorted by rows, ascending” on stub hub, it indicated that row 1 was the first row in the section. In fact, I didn’t even see that there were any lettered rows at the time because they all showed up below (i.e., behind) the tickets in numbered rows.
However, a day or two before our trip, I realized that Row A was the actual front row. I emailed stub hub about how I was fooled by the “sort by rows, ascending” feature into buying “front row” tickets that were actually in row 8 or 9. They credited back my purchase price and fees. And then I found these wonderful $3/ticket seats in row B, the actual second row off of the field.
Giancarlo Stanton was right in front of us:
(FYI, it is hard not to call him Mike, but I am trying).
Here was our view of the Clevelander from across the stadium:
I had always been confused why this club area was called the “Clevelander.” The confusion cleared up the following day when we saw the actual “Clevelander” club on Ocean Drive in South Beach. This Clevelander is just a ballpark version of the real life Clevelander a couple miles away in South Beach.
The pitching match up featured Nathan Eovaldi for the Marlins and former-Mariner and newly minted *Ace* R.A. “The Knuckleballin’ Mountain Climber” Dickey:
At 37 years of age, Dickey is having the season of his life. He has almost 1/3 of his entire career wins this season! And, spoiler alert, this game was going to be his 17th win of the season, in complete-game, shut out fashion. (Unfortunately, Tim decided he would root for the Marlins to win this game).
I noticed that the visitors’ right fielder had to warm up between innings with the Marlins ballboy down the RF line:
Really, that made no sense because the Mets bullpen was right there in RF. I’m not sure if every visiting team has their right fielder warm up with the ballboy or if the Mets relievers were just being lazy. My guess is the former.
Just for kicks, here is another panorama from our seats in section 40:
And here are some more photos from section 40:
The Marlins used lots of cool graphics on the big screen for both the Marlins players and the visiting Mets. Here is one of the Miami-ified artsy photos used for the Marlins batters early in the game:
By the way, I am happy to report that from our seats in section 40, we had a clear view of both the big CF screen and the smaller (but still big) LF screen. If you were at the back of section 40, I imagine (but don’t actually know) that you wouldn’t be able to see the CF screen.
Here is a random action shot of Jose Reyes hitting a foul ball with two outs in the bottom of the third inning:
Reyes would end up striking out.
With the game heading into the fourth, we decided to give up our spot in prime homerun territory and do a little exploring. On our way out of section 40, we looked down into the Mets bullpen and realized several of the Mets had been sitting right by us in the corner of the bullpen:
Tim and Kellan called out, “Hiiiiiiii!” and the two closest guys turned and gave the boys waves and some big smiles. Nice Major League ballplayers are great. Kids (and grown up alike) always enjoy a wave from a major leaguer. Thanks, guys!
We always bring a little kid “sippy cup” type cup to all of our games. They’re just too darn convenient, plus stadiums always allow you to bring them in. We spend a decent amount of time filling up the cup with water. While filling our cup afer leaving section 40, a probably 25 year old stadium employ (seemed like a maintenance type guy) asked, “Is that for the baby (Kellan)?” When I said, “Yeah.” He shook his head no and warned us, “That water is no good!”
A couple seconds later, I got this awesome picture of Tim who had worn the perfect outfit to sit in section 40 at Marlins Park:
When I took this picture and then we turned left and walked into the green section of the concourse, the rotating color scheme finally all made sense to me!
By the way, mommy packed for the boys and forgot to pack any baseball clothes for Tim. That is why he is wearing his hilarious banana shorts and cheesehead cow pants t-shirt.
Our plan was to head to the upper deck in the infield. We headed across CF toward the LF foul corner. We got this panorama by the TV set in CF:
In the LF corner, there is a little hallway leading away from the field into an area called “The Taste of Miami”:
All the food options back there reflected the multi-cultural Miami palate.
In the LF foul corner there are two escalators. One connects to the club level on the second deck (off limits without tickets) and the other connects to the upper deck. We hopped on the really long upper deck escalator. During our ride, I took this pananorama…
…and R.A. Dickey threw THREE pitches, including this one:
Note how you can see the blue tile turning into yellow tile on the wall of the moat in the picture above! Cool!
We headed up to the very top corner of section 327 where the boys sat on an extra little piece of concrete in the corner…
…while I took pictures, including this panorama:
While we were up there, we also found a bunch of random coins scattered through the seats. It was pretty odd, but Tim is always a fan of finding money.
We noticed something else while we were up there (but we didn’t really draw the connection until a little later in the game): the Marlins “M” logos on the end seats of each row are colored…
…to match the concourse walls and floors corresponding to that same section of the ballpark. So, above the Marlins logos were in red to match the red concourse.
We also got a good view of the Clevelander from up there:
Swimming during a baseball game? That’s weird. I’m not saying my boys wouldn’t love to do it. But its weird.
As we moved cross the upper deck, we stopped in section 322 to get another panorama:
While we were up in section 322, we also watched a shark win a race of a bunch of sealife around the warning track:
I was hoping we would see Giancarlo Stanton hit a monster bomb…
…but instead he struck out.
By the way, I guess I should mention that the score at the time was 1-0 Mets. They had scored their first run of the night in the top of the fourth inning, while we were exploring the CF concourse. Ruben Tejada had lead off the 4th with a single. He advanced to 3B on a single by Daniel Murphy. And then he scored the first run of the night on a sacrifice fly to CF by Ike Davis.
Now you know why the scoreboard said 1-0 when I show you this great graphic of Greg Dobbs on the main scoreboard:
Here are some more random views of the weird little ins-and-outs of the Marlins Park upper deck, and a view down to the Marlins dugout from section 320:
And here is the whole ballpark in a not-so-impressive panorama from section 320:
Next, we wondered into a handicap seating around behind home plate. We sat there for a couple minutes. This was the view of field:
Here is what it looks like behind home plate from up there:
And this was the view of RF where I would like to point out two things:
Top Arrow: That guy snagged Ike Davis’s 7th inning home run that landed in the first or second seat in the first row of section 140, almost exactly above our seats in section 40.
Bottom Arrow: Our seats in section 40.
If you’re keeping track, that Ike Davis homerun made the score 3-0 because it immediately followed David Wright’s leadoff single. And that would be the final score.
Soon, an usher came by and told us we couldn’t sit in the handicapped seating area. That was fine. We were on an exploration mission. We headed up to the top of the stadium behind home plate. This was the view from section 314:
Check out that huge air conditioning pipe. It runs to the upper edge of section 314. Check out what the view is like from the end seat up there:
And check out our view of R.A. Dickey doing his thing:
Between our early morning breakfast at the airport, late lunch at The Daily, and ice cream at the beginning of the game, our meal schedule was completely thrown off for the day. We had still never eating any dinner, and it was getting late in the game.
Instead of pizza or nachos, Tim decided he just wanted some french fries. At a concession stand behind home plate, they told us they sold fries at section 305. We walked down there, into the yellow section of the concourse, but there was nothing at section 305. We went past section 305 and asked someone if they had fries, and they too directed us to section 305. I’m not sure what the story was, but there were no fries to be found.
But we did find this cool little emergency response truck:
(the same thing is also parked on the field level)
And we found “found” a nice view of the ballpark from section 305…
…but no fries at all.
We headed downstairs on an elevator that said it was reserved for handicapped people and families needing assistance. They offered to let us ride in it despite the fact we clearly didn’t need assistance. Check out the great TV in the elevator:
When we reached the field level, we continued our quest to find french fries, but we failed again.
It was already the 8th inning. We watched Jose Reyes and his teammates take their hacks in the 8th from the SRO area in the concourse:
The Marlins applied pressure, but failed to deliver against Dickey. They left two runners on base in the 8th.
Tim remembered what the usher guarding the moat told us before the game started. He had been asking since the fourth inning if we could go back to look at the fish and I had been telling him it was too crowded but we could do it when everyone cleared out after the game ended.
But the usher’s invitation to slip into the moated area after the fourth inning gave me encouragement about trying to get an umpire ball after the game. We knew from Zack Hample’s blog at the umpires’ tunnel is at the OF end of the 3B dugout.
So when the ninth inning rolled around, we boldly walked down the stairs toward the moat hoping the usher would actually let us in. To our surprise, we found that the usher was no where to be found. There was no one at all guarding the moat. We simply walked down there, turned right and walked down the cross aisle to the area behind the umpires’ tunnel. It could have been easier or less eventful.
We just stayed in the cross aisle, which is sunk below the main field level seats so we could stand there without blocking anyone’s view.
As the top of the ninth inning wrapped up, I was holding Kellan in my arms and Tim was standing along my side. A bunch of kids were clamoring about above the Mets dugout and we could see a couple balls being tossed to them in the front row. Here was the scene as Dickey prepared to pitch the bottom of the ninth:
It’s impossible to see who it is in that picture, but Jeremy Hefner is leaning against the dugout railing behind the kid in the blue shirt. As those kids were begging for a baseball in the front row, Hefner (while still learning on the railing) twisted to his right and was scanning the crowd. His eyes briefly locked with mine and he immediately flung a baseball back in our direction while still leaning on the railing. He essentially lobbed it over his shoulder. It was clear to me that he was tossing it to us, but that he wasn’t making any great effort to actually make sure we got it.
He tossed it high and one step to my right. I went up for it bare handed while still holding Kellan. An older guy jumped at it from our right and knocked into my arm sending the ball over my head behind me (closer to home plate). I quickly turned around and bare handed it on the bounce. Hooray!
When the innings started, we grabbed some seats that gave us an excellent view of Master Dickey at work, and a clear view of Hefner still leaning on the railing:
I still wanted to see Stanton go yard…
…but he couldn’t solve Dickey’s knuckler on this day.
The game ended in 2 hours and 7 minutes! A 3-0 Mets win and a masterpiece for Dickey’s 17th win of the season. He now has 19 and I am hoping he can get to 20.
There were tons of kids trying to get an umpire ball and home plate umpire Scott Barry ignored everyone.
So we headed over to the end seat by the corner of the dugout. Here is what it looked like as the Marlins started to crack open the roof:
And here is a not-much-better-at-all view of the fish tank:
Tim really wanted to go down there to get a close up view, but it simply isn’t allowed unless you have those tickets. Too bad. It is a really cool ballpark feature that I had never noticed on TV.
Out of the blue, an usher (pictured at the top of the stairs in the last panorama) popped out of the dugout and tossed us a hug stapled MLB-wide statistics report that the Mets had been using in the dugout. It is huge. I’m not really sure what to do with it. But it is very cool to see.
Another usher took a final picture of me and the boys before we headed out:
As we trudged up the stairs reluctantly leaving for the first time our 30th and final current MLB stadium, I turned around and got one last panorama from section 8:
The fun continued as we made our way out of the stadium. There was a concert in progress on that stage we had seen outside by the RF gate:
We followed the colored-brick piano’ish road back toward the home plate gate:
I thought it was pretty cool that there were a couple restaurants (bottom right in the picture above) open on the outside wall of the stadium. Tim thought it was cool that there were tons of sparkly metal-looking flakes in the ground (top right in the picture above).
We capped off our ballpark experience with one more fire hydrant picture…
…before walking across NW 7 Street, to Wendy’s for a late night snack, and then to our car at the CVS parking lot Then we drove back to the hotel and told Colleen all about our adventures.
We were excited that she would get to join in the fun the next day at our final game of the weekend.
It was a great milestone game! Here is the complete let of Tim’s 34 MLB stadiums with the date of his first game at each in parenthesis:
1. Safeco Field (9/12/06)
2. Citizens Bank Park (6/30/07)
3. Camden Yards (8/9/07)
4. Yankee Stadium (’23) (9/3/07)
5. PNC Park (9/29/07)
6. Great American Ball Park (8/15/08)
7. Progressive Field (8/17/08)
8. Shea Stadium (9/7/08)
9. Chase Field (9/12/08)
10. Citi Field (4/25/09)
11. Nationals Park (5/17/09)
12. Yankee Stadium (’09) (7/2/09)
13. Fenway Park (7/3/09)
14. Wrigley Field (8/14/09)
15. H.H.H. Metrodome (8/15/09)
16. Miller Park (8/16/09)
17. U.S. Cellular Field (8/17/09)
18. Rogers Centre (9/26/09)
19. Oakland Coliseum (6/9/10)
20. Dodger Stadium (6/11/10)
21. Petco Park (6/12/10)
22. Angel Stadium of Anaheim (6/14/10)
23. AT&T Park (6/15/10)
24. Minute Maid Park (5/27/11)
25. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (5/28/11)
26. Comerica Park (7/3/11)
27. Sun Life Stadium (8/13/111)
28. Turner Field (8/15/11)
29. Tropicana Field (8/19/11)
30. Target Field (5/12/12)
31. Busch Stadium (5/14/12)
32. Kauffman Stadium (5/16/12)
33. Coors Field (5/18/12)
34. Marlins Park (8/31/12)
And here is one final picture that I have already shared:
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|22/20 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves|
|35 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 2|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|119 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 4, Mets 14, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1|
|21 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2|
|12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird|
|7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney|
On 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|
So, we had a great first day of the Roadtrip in Minneapolis. But when we woke up May 13, 2012, it was time to start the “road” phase of the trip. This trip featured less driving days than some past trips, but the drives were generally longer. On May 13th, we drove all the way from Minneapolis to Saint Louis. It was about 550 miles total, cutting across Iowa and into Missouri.
Here are a couple photo highlights from the big drive:
Top Left: We grabbed some free breakfast at the hotel and hopped in the car to eat on the road.
Top Right: Somewhere in Iowa, we passed this statue-thingy of three fighter jets. Pretty cool.
Bottom Left: My Dad logged more miles behind the wheel than I did, but I spelled him for a good chunk of driving during the middle of the drive, at which point he did some reading.
Bottom Right: There wasn’t much to see in Iowa. This big fish in a gas station parking lot was one of the highlights.
There was a surprise waiting for us in the St. Louis area. My dad had booked the “Kozy Kaboose” for us at the St. Louis West KOA campground:
That caboose behind Tim was our hotel room! It had a queen sized bed and a couch with a pull-out bed (which looked incredibly uncomfortable, but it was actually just fine). Tim absolutely loved the caboose surprise.
Good work, Pa!
So, all we did on May 13 was drive, play at the caboose and play area right behind it, and go out to dinner at the local Applebees.
But we had a REALLY BIG day lined up for us on May 14, 2012.
I decided this would be the perfect day for us to wear the Roadtrip t-shirts I had made for us. They were plain white t-shirts with the following photo on the chest:
I made that picture from 13 different photos. It includes elements representing each of the four stadiums we would visit on the trip: Rocky Mountains (Colorado Rockies), the “twins” shaking hands over the river (Minnesota Twins), the St. Louis Gateway Arch with a humungous cardinal sitting on top (St. Louis Cardinals), and a lion (king of the jungle) wearing Sluggerrrrr the mascot’s crown (Kansas City Royals). It also features a Mariners compass logo that I drew on my computer using a real baseball, and with a Cook & Son Baseball Bats logo overlaid on the Mariners logo. Finally, it features a picture of me (from the 9/27/11 Mariners game in Seattle) holding Kellan (from the 5/12/11 Mariners game in Baltimore) standing with my Dad (from the 8/13/11 Marlins/Giants game at Sun Life Stadium), and Tim (from the 9/27/11 Mariners game). Oh, yeah, and the Rocky Mountains are rising up behind the outfield wall at Safeco Field (from the Safeco tour we took in 2009).
I made the shirts just for fun and, if I do say so myself, they were a big hit on the trip. People in St. Louis loved them and complimented us a lot throughout the day. So, if you were otherwise going to wonder what was on our shirts in the following photos, there is your explanation.
We started off in the morning by grabbing some food in the car and driving into St. Louis to visit the famous Gateway Arch. I had heard you could take an “elevator” to the top and I was very curious about how that works.
We parked in a cool little area of the city (if you are standing under the Arch and facing the city, we parked in the section just to the right of the arch)…
…and we walked over to hop a ride up the arch. The middle and right picture above show us in our tiny little “pod.” When you get inside the arch, it looks like there are 8 tiny elevator doors descending down some steps (with the high point toward the outside of the arch and the low point (elevator no. 8) toward the middle side of the arch). The door opens and you climb into a tiny pod with five seats. It is essentially like a ferris wheel car. You can feel that you are dangling from a connection at the top of the pod. Instead of going straight up, you start by going sideways toward the outside of the arch, then the 8 pods lift up like a dangling string of pearls. The pods have a glass door so you can see the inside of the arch as you ascend toward the top. And it is a crazy mess of stairways and sheet metal. When the pods reaches the top, pod 1 is then at the highest point toward the middle of the arch and pod 8 is at the lowest point toward the outside of the arch. We were in pod 7 on the way up. Hopefully that all makes sense.
Here’s a photo that hopefully gives you a sense of things:
In that picture to the left, Kellan and I are climbing the stairs at the top of the arch – going up from pod 7 to the observation deck. The picture to the right is a screen that is at the top of the stairs and shows the status of the pods on the two sides of the arch – we went up the “south tram” (which was the only tram in use while we were there).
I thought the observation deck would have a flat floor – nope. It is an arch and there is nothing flat about it, as you can see in the top left photo below:
As shown in the top right and bottom left photos above, there are a bunch of tiny windows that you can look out of for some amazing views of the city. Or, as shown in the bottom right, you can look straight down 630 feet!
The arch and the observation deck are triangular in shape. To look out the windows, you have to lean out over (or lay down on) the slanted outer wall. It is well worth it. Check out this view:
When we had our fill of the observation deck, we hopped into pod no. 8 and made our way back down to earth. We walked far enough away to get some fun pictures of the arch. Like these:
And this great one of Tim holding up the arch:
Way to sell it, Tim!
With plenty of time (hours and hours) until gates opened for the evening’s game, it was time to head to another activity. We had no other plans when we woke up, but on the drive to the arch, my wife texted me and said we should go to the “City Museum.” I asked the lady in the Arch gift shop about it and she said we would LOVE it.
She was right!
The City Museum is a huge museum of stuff for kids. It is a like a huge playground. Everything in the museum was found in the city of St. Louis and it was all built into the museum by a group of artisans who created the museum.
It was too crazy and huge to even photograph properly, so I’ll just show you this photo of Kellan climbing some stairs several stories above the ground:
All that I can say is, if you’re in St. Louis and you have kids GO TO THE CITY MUSEUM!
Oh, what the heck, let’s show you some more City Museum pictures:
We got tired and sweaty at the City Museum. Luckily, we still had time to go back to the caboose and nap a bit before the game.
Around 3:00 p.m., we drove back into the city (it was about a half hour drive for us) for the game. We are some not all that beautiful city pictures as we approached the stadium:
We parked in a lot beyond CF and then jumped in line at the CF gate (Gate 5):
Right as the gates were supposed to open, a worker arrived inside the gate and told everyone in our line that Gate 5 wouldn’t open for another hour. So we all had to find another gate. We picked Gate 4, which is in the LF corner.
That was probably better anyway, because I planned to head into foul territory anyway.
We were going to be sitting in section 168, which is right in the LF foul corner. Gate 4 lets you into the stadium just around the corner from section 168. So it was easy access to where we wanted to go.
Upon entering the stadium, Tim and my dad headed out to LF and Kellan and I went down the LF foul line, right to the corner spot. Very soon after arriving there, a ball was hit foul, kicked off of the stands well in from us and came to rest in shallow LF. There were no players even remotely near the ball.
And then something ridiculous happened. I looked on my phone to find that number 48 on the Cubs was Rafael Dolis. He was in LF pretty close to the warning track and a LONG way from that baseball. Fully expecting nothing to come from it, I called out, “Hey, Rafael!” Dolis looked at us and I turned and pointed to the ball in shallow LF and gave him a “hey, why not go grab that and toss it to us?” shrug.
That was the first ridiculous part. The second ridiculous part was that it worked.
Dolis started a long slow, incredibly slow, walk toward the baseball:
That is Dolis both coming and going on the left side of that picture. He walked all the way over to the ball and was immediately met by chorus calls from fans closer to the infield shouting for the baseball. He turned to them and pointed at us, “Its for them!” And then he tossed it to us.
Holy cow! Thanks, Rafael!
I was truly shocked he walked all that way just to hook us up with that baseball. It was very much appreciated.
With a Busch Stadium baseball in hand, Kellan and I retreated to the shady seats behind the Cubs (3B) dugout…
…while Tim and my dad stayed in sunny L (that is them in the first row at the bottom of the stairway).
Here was our view of Busch Stadium from behind the 3B dugout:
Tim and my dad headed out to CF. Nothing was hit their way and eventually an usher decided that Tim deserved a baseball.
Eventually, we decided to brave the sun again and we headed to the RF foul corner. Tim and my dad came and met up with us and we watched BP for a few more minutes. But it was pretty hot and we were thinking of just heading back to the shade behind 3B.
Just before doing so, a Cubs lefty sliced (or would it be hooked?) a foul ball down the RF line. We were on the wall in RF, which was probably 7 rows back in the seating configuration. All of the people in the first row or two (by the corner spot) were totally oblivious to their surroundings. I truly thought this ball was going to nail someone in the side of the head.
I screamed, “HEADS UP!” Everyone looked around frantically and the ball smashed down on the warning track and bounced high over about 10-15 people.
I was holding Kellan and *we* immediately broke down the row of seats. I made it just far enough to make a fully-extended backhanded catch of the one-hopper, all while Kellan clung to my body wrapped by my throwing arm.
Here is where we were when we caught it:
A female usher came down and congratulated me on catching the baseball and added, “Thank you for not dropping your son!” “Hey, no problem, “ I responded.
Almost as soon as we reached the shade behind 3B, BP was finished. We decided to walk further down the LF line until we found an usher who (loved our Roadtrip shirts and) was kind enough to take our picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt – Busch Stadium bonus picture!
That tiny little “Busch Stadium” sign was the best we could find in the ballpark for the bonus shot. It turns out it would get harder and harder to find a stadium sign inside the stadiums as this trip progressed. Interestingly, there are “Busch Stadium” logos on all of the garbage cans and in the upper deck concourse, but this was the best we could do by the field.
After getting our picture, we visited our seats. They were great!
But we didn’t stay long because there was a parade of kids going around the warning track and we wanted to get close because it was being led by…
That was as close-up we would get to him at this game.
Before the game, the four of us took a big lap around the entire field level concourse looking for a play area.
Along the way, we found cool looking hand operated (by apparently inaccurate) out-of-town scoreboards in the concourse down the 1B line:
The AL board said the Mariners were tied 3-3 with Oakland, but they were actually playing the Red Sox later that day, and they had just arrived in Boston from a series in New York. So I have no clue when these scores were last updated. That *old* Busch Stadium sign was attached to the NL out-of-town scoreboard.
We found a little kids play area (not for Tim) in CF, which was nice and shady. But it was for little kids only so we kept walking. Just behind the play area, we found this muscle car on a pitchers mound:
For some reason, Tim has been excited to point out muscle cars everywhere we go lately. So he wanted a picture pitching with the muscle car…and Kellan likes to copy everything his big brother does.
Once we finished out loop around the field level, Tim decided he was starving and he declared he wanted pizza for a second game in a row! We hadn’t even been paying attention to the food as we walked, so we started our second loop around and made it all the way to home plate before we found pizza.
We reported to our seats…
…and Tim artistically ate his pizza while Kellan slammed a tray of nachos (with my assistance):
The game was entertaining. Jake Westbrook was on the hill for the Cardinals…
…and he hung zeros on the board through the first four innings (until the Cubs put up a 4-spot in the top of the fifth inning). By the way, that is David DeJesus batting in the picture above to the right.
Tim decided he wanted the Cardinals to win. Personally, I was hoping the Cardinals would get destroyed so all of the fans would go home early and the stadium wouldn’t be as crowded. For the record, I hope that at all games except Mariners home games and Yankee road games.
For some reason, I don’t really care for Cardinals leftfielder (and big time slugger) Matt Holliday. I just don’t like how he carries himself. Maybe I’m completely wrong. But he just seems a bit smug to me.
So, I was amused when he botched an incredibly easy fly ball to LF:
Hey, the guy can mash. But his glove leaves much to be desired.
Each MLB stadium has its own policy regarding at what age (or height) a kid needs his own ticket. I am all for no buying Kellan a ticket whenever possible. Luckily, the Cardinals allow all kids THREE and under into the ballpark for free. That’s great!
But the stadium is so packed, that you actually do have to keep the little ones on your lap – like this:
…or standing in front of you – like this:
But it worked out just fine for us at this packed rivalry game, as you can see from these pictures…
…of Kellan enjoying some fruit snacks…
…while Tim punches out an all-star ballot (not actually voting) and looks around his thirty-first Major League Baseball stadium.
The Cubs sent practical joker, Ryan Dempster, to the hill…
…and he hung zeros on the board for the first five innings (until the Cardinals put up a 4-spot of their own in the sixth inning to knot it at 4-4). By the way, that is David Freese taking his cuts above to the right.
After eating, I needed to go tour the ballpark and take pictures. Tim decided to join me while Kellan (apparently against his wishes) stayed behind with Grandpa. Kellan loves spending time with his Grandpa, but his is a MAJOR daddy’s boy (and I love it!). He always wants to be with me. It’s really awesome. In fact, if I am walking down the street with him and a bunch of other people, he gets upset if anyone but me pushes his stroller. What can I say, I have the magic touch with that boy.
Anyway, unbeknownst to me (because I didn’t noticed my dad calling my cellphone), after a few minutes of being fine, Kellan had a melt down and cried uncontrollably (he’s good at that) until he and grandpa met up with me and Tim again.
Sadly, that took a while because Tim and I were having a great time touring around.
First, we headed to the second deck where we found some baseball team-themed Saint Louis Arches and Tim did his “Yesssss! I just won”…
…and “jumping for joy” poses!
He did more jumping for joy…
…and more winning poses as we found more Arches and Cardinals wall art in this odd little concourse area tucked behind the fancy clubs on the second level.
As we walked by, we saw this World Series trophy through the window of one of those fancy clubs:
I couldn’t tell what year it was from.
In both LF and RF, the concourses jut out a bit past the last section of seats on each of the upper levels. This provides a nice standing-room only opportunity for the fans. We took this panorama from the concourse extension on the second deck in LF:
And then we turned and I got these pictures of Tim and the real Arch…
…and Tim and the outfield.
Then we headed up to the third deck and got another end-of-concourse panorama:
If you know Busch Stadium from TV, this is right next to the section with the “Big Mac Land” sign.
After taking the panorama, a fan asked if we wanted a picture. Of course, we did:
And 30 seconds later, look who we found patrolling the concourse behind Big Mac Land:
Tim meekly told Ronald, “I went to McDonald’s today and ate a happy meal.” Ronald thought that was just *great*!
From the third deck in LF, you can walk down to the third deck seats or up to the four deck seats. We headed up to the very top of the upper deck in the LF corner for this panoramic view of Busch Stadium:
Then we continued on toward home plate. As you get closer to 3B, there is an escalator up to a higher concourse – once you go up the escalator, you then can walk *down* into what LF left would be the third deck, but in the infield is the second deck (hopefully that makes sense – the point is that the *second* deck in LF does not extend into the infield seating – it is replaced by suites.
Anyway, once you get up the escalator, you have officially reached the *highest* concourse in the stadium. Around 3B there is nothing above it, but once you get closer to the home plate, a *new* upper-deck rises above this *highest* concourse – this all seems very confusing. Just click on and look at the full-sized versions of some of our panoramas and it will make sense.
Anyway, at the back of the concourse around 3B, you can pose with the giant “St. Louis Cardinals” sign that is facing out of the stadium…
…and you can look down on a statue and big autographed baseball of Stan Musial on the ground outside the stadium.
Here is a panorama as we neared 3B:
Then we took this panorama closer to home plate, where the upper-upper-upper deck begins:
[Recall, all this while, Kellan is crying and pitching a major fit for grandpa while Tim and I are having a lovely time getting to know the ins-and-outs of Busch Stadium – poor Grandpa and Kellan!]
Anyway, we headed up to the very top of the *upper-est* deck in the stadium (behind home plate) for this panorama:
Is that a great looking ballpark or what? I love the arch in the background and the arch mowed into the outfield grass.
We continued walking around the stadium toward RF. This is what the concourse looks like behind the upper-deck:
As we approached the RF corner, I pulled and my phone and noticed that my dad and called and texted. His message was simple, “come help with Kellan.” My response was probably too ambiguous, “We’re coming from RF upper deck.” I meant, “Hold on! We’ll be there ASAP, but we have a long way to walk.”
We snapped one more, sun obscured, panorama from RF before heading down the elevator:
We ended up meeting in the LF concourse. Kellan was still letting loose with the water works, but he was instantly completely fine the second he saw me. The second my Dad passed him over to me, he was happy and ready for some ice cream – we met up at the ice cream stand. This was the real deal – Ben & Jerry’s. We decided on some delicious mint chocolate chunk:
Tim decided he wanted some blue cotton candy instead of ice cream. This was fine by me because it meant we could get this “blue tongued” shot for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
However, by the end of the game, I had officially declared: NO MORE COTTON CANDY!
It made Tim way too hyper…something his father suffered from as a boy, too.
We got back to the seats in time to see the Cubs score their four runs in the top of the fifth innings, which was highlighted by a homerun by former Mariner Bryan LaHair:
LaHair is having himself quite the season so far. This was his 9thhomer of the season. Prior to this season, he only had 5 homeruns in his career.
Kellan was all chilled out now that I was back with him in the seats. In fact, he was straight up lounging:
After a while, Kellan got restless. So I took both boys back up to the upper deck by 3B. The plan was to tire them out running up the switch-back ramp. And it worked. We got one more panorama up there:
Tim did some silly-sugar induced posing…
…and I got a shot of the upper deck rising above the upper-concourse. And then we headed back to our seats to finish out the game with my dad.
As we approached our seats, I took a shot of Tim showing the little triangular area at the end of the field level cross-aisle that is right behind section 168:
It is nice for standing when you don’t want to sit.
While we were watching the rest of the game, Tim was quick to spot King Felix when we flashed on the scoreboard:
Kellan was primed and ready (with Grandpa’s glove) to catch a foul ball…
…but no one, not even David Freese…
…could find us in the stands
A think night panoramas look great, so I got another shot from section 168 late in the game.
After the Cardinals tied the score at 4-4 in the sixth, the Cubs came back with a run in the eighth on a single by Alphonso Soriano and an unearned run in the ninth on a throwing error by 2012 World Series hero David Freese.
After the game, we got another group shot…
…which would have turned out better had Tim not been so sad that the Cardinals (who he picked to win at the beginning of the game) had lost. At the next game, he would devise a new strategy to avoid such post-game disappointment.
On the way out of the stadium, I took an almost-empty-stadium panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 167 (one section closer to home than section 168):
And finally, as my Dad ran all the way back to our seats to retrieve Kellan’s water sippy-cup (well, it is a little more advanced than a “sippy cup”), I took a final panorama of the night from the CF bleachers:
And that was all she wrote. Forty-five minutes sitting through a horrific post-game traffic jam and we were on our way back to the caboose excited to come back within about 12 hours for more Cardinals-Cubs baseball.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|6/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|11/10 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals|
|7 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 1|
|28 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 2, Cardinals 1|
|3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2|
|6/5 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak|
Welcome to the longest entry in the history of this blog.
So we woke up in Toledo, Ohio, on the morning of July 3, 2011, hopped into the car and headed off to…
…Detroit, Michigan. The Motor City!
I’ve wanted to go to Comerica Park for a long time. But I heard a lot of negatives about Detroit (the city, not Comerica Park), and I did not know what to expect. As we approached the city on I-75, one of the first high-rise buildings that we saw (not yet in downtown) looked odd. It was about 20-stories high (I guess), and I soon noticed it looked so odd because I could see right through it. I’m not sure if it was burnt out or what, but there were no windows and we could see completely through the building.
That didn’t seem right.
When we exited I-75, there was a building right at the top of the exit ramp (or right near it) that was half ripped down and demolished. It is pictured above below the “Pure Michigan” sign.
Yikes. Detroit was not looking good.
The quick drive through downtown did nothing to help the situation. Every other building was boarded up or burnt out.
As we approached Comerica Park, things started to look a whole lot better. But then we pulled into a $25 parking lot directly across from Comerica Park’s batters’ eye. Here is a photo of Tim standing in the parking lot with the stadium behind him:
The parking lot was a disaster. Huge pot holes. I mean huge. Like pot holes that you could fit a smart car into. That’s not an exaggeration…or much of one. As we walked to the parking lot exit, Tim asked me the most hilarious and sad parking-lot-based question of all time: “Was there an earthquake in this parking lot?”
I broke into laughter. It really looked like there could have been an earthquake.
So…it was officially our worst ever introduction to a Major League stadium.
But you know what? It was all worth it. Comerica Park is essentially the definition of the old saying “A diamond in the rough.”
Comerica Park is AMAZING! I loved it. I loved it so much that Tim begged me to stop taking pictures at one point. All-in-all, we got about 450 pictures. And this entry is going to have a ton of them.
We arrived probably half an hour before the gates opened and we took a walk around the place. We first approached the stadium at the RF
gate (Gate A):
The tigers lurking above the gates are awesome, but this is only the second coolest gate at Comerica Park. After taking a handful of pictures at this gate, we made our way down the street to probably the coolest gate in MLB history – the first base gate (Gate B):
Tim was a little timid standing below that big tiger paw. He felt a little safer tucked inside the tiger’s tail:
This gate is pure awesomeness. It is actually so big and awesome that I failed to capture it in photos. I would have had to back away across the street to get the whole thing,
and I’m kicking myself not for not doing it.
This gate is a built into a semi-circular cut out in the side of the stadium’s outer wall. The actual gates and that huge tiger are right in the middle of the gate area. On either side, there are more menacing looking tigers lurking above, seemingly ready to pounce on the fans below:
Both sides of the gate are also adorned by a gigantic baseball bat:
Note that Tim is standing at the base of that bat and he looks teeny-tiny…and the bat is so tall that I couldn’t even get the knob into the picture from across the street.
All along the outer wall of the stadium along the RF-1B side (hmm…I am not certain, but I don’t think they were on the other sides of the stadium) there were these big tiger head thingys:
Maybe there is a good time to mention my general assessment of the stadium’s design. It seemed to me like the architects/planners thought of every little detail. They wanted you to know at all times that you were at the Tigers stadium. In every ballpark you see lots of team emblems, etc. But the Tigers did an awesome job *Tigerifying* Comerica Park. If there was a little open space, they filled it with a Tiger, or a Tiger’s “D” logo, or the word “Tigers” or something cool and appealing to the eyes of the fans. They did an awesome job and it was really cool walking around just taking in all of the sights.
After spending some time at Gate B, we turned the corner and walked down the home plate side of the stadium – click here to see a map of the stadium. There were gates looking into the concourse and we could see we were right behind home plate…and there was nothing happening on the field. We ran across the street and got this picture with the “Comerica Park: Home of the Detroit Tigers” sign in the background:
Further down the road, there was a set of double doors at the “Tiger Den” with another menacing looking Tiger designed into the door:
In the picture above to the right, there are there orange cones in the distance. Those are set up in front of the doors where the Giants were entering the stadium.
Just past the Tiger Den, we rounded another corner (at the Beer Hall) and found a Ferris Wheel inside the stadium along the 1B side:
The 3B side of the stadium is situated along Brush Street and on the opposite side of the street Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.
After walking down the street, we rounded the corner back onto Adams Street – where we had parked in the earthquake lot. That street provides a clear view into the ballpark. We took
some shots of the series of statues along the outfield concourse:
These statues seem to have been designed by the same artists who did the statues inside the LF gate at Nationals Park.
Gate time was approaching, so we headed back to the 1B gate and found a spot second in line at one of the turnstiles. While waiting the final ten minutes before gates opened, Tim asked me to take a picture of these big “gold” bats…
…and I requested (to myself) that I take a picture of this plaque listing all of the people Michiganders have to thank for Comerica Park. As we waited for the gates to open, I had already taken about 65 pictures. And soon we were let into the ballpark and there was a whole lot more stuff for me to photograph.
When the gates finally opened, we headed down into section 116 and surveyed the situation.
- No batting practice;
- Two Giants playing catch in CF; and
- Several Tigers gathering down the LF line to play catch.
As everyone was running over to LF to watch the Tigers’ pitchers warm up. We headed over to section 101 in CF where this was our view:
It was Madison Baumgartner and Matt Cain who were playing catch. After a while, Cain ran back to the Giants dugout on the 1B side of home plate. Baumgartner’s work wasn’t complete just yet. He headed into the bullpen to throw from the mound. At that point, there was officially nothing happening anywhere near us, so we relocated to section 150 to watch Baumgartner continue his throwing routine:
A bunch of Giants fans joined us above the bullpen and when Baumgartner finished his routine, he tossed the baseball to a Giants fan.
With no BP, a big crowd around the Tigers pitchers, and no other Giants throwing on the field at this point, I was thinking it would be very difficult to end up getting a baseball at this game. But I was really hoping we would beat the odds and come away with at least one baseball because we really wanted one from Comerica Park and it might be years before we ever get back to Detroit.
We walked over to the LF foul pole area, but there were tons of people gathered around just a few Tigers. It was pointless to stay there. Just then some Giants pitchers came out to play catch along the 1B line. But it was packed by the time we got there. So we gave up, and headed over to the dugout.
This was our view from the first row of section 121:
And the move worked out. As a Giant (I am pretty sure it was Jeremy Affeldt) ran back into the dugout and tossed his warm up baseball into the crowd while he was still down the 1B line. Then when he got right in front of us, he reached into his back pocket, pulled out his back-up baseball and tossed it up to us.
Success! A baseball from Comerica Park:
It was officially time to explore!
Our self-guided ballpark tour started with a panorama from section 127:
Then we headed into a little nook on the side of the concourse on the 3B side. It was the area where we had already seen the ferris wheel from outside the ballpark:
Check out the big baseball fountain to the right in that picture. Cool, eh?
We didn’t ride the Ferris Wheel at this point. Instead, he headed back into the 3B side concourse…
…in search for the carousel that I had heard about. After a bit of wandering around and then finally asking an usher, we found the tiger-go-round tucked into a circular food court-type area:
You cannot really tell in that last picture, but all of the traditionally merry-go-round *horses* on this carousel are ferocious-looking tigers.
Tim wanted to ride both carousel, but the line was huge. So I told him we could come back during the game when I suspected the line would be much shorter. So we continued on our
We headed up the stairs next to the carousel and found ourselves here:
Looking to our left, we could see back down into the 1B side concourse:
Comerica Park has a bunch of these banners hanging with players from the past. I’m not sure what the significance of the years are – they all seemed to be even decade years. So maybe, for example, that 1980 banner in the foreground simply means that Jack Morris pitched for the Tigers in the ‘80s. Between the Morris 1980 banner and the 1970 banner to the right, there is a weird contraption down below on the concourse floor. You’ll notice it is resting on tires, stands pretty high up into the air, and is topped with “D” and a “1970.” The Tigers have a bunch of those throughout the field level concourse as well. Again, my thought is that they feature players and artifacts from the decade identified at the top of the display.
Heading out into the seating area, we got a panorama of Comerica Park from section 215…
…and another from section 210:
While behind the 200 level seats, we spotted something cool – the back side of those huge tigers lurking above Gate B (you can also see the tops of both of the huge bats rising from the ground in front of the gate):
Instead of seats, the second level in RF features a patio area (a/k/a the Pepsi Porch) and a long elevated walkway that runs all the way out to center field. Most of the way toward CF, I took this picture from the elevated walkway looking down the stairs toward Gate A:
And then I turned around and got this panoramic view of the field (also featuring the Pepsi Porch):
When we walked all the way out to the end of the elevated walkway, we could see the top of the batters’ eye:
Detroit being the Motor City and all, the batters’ eye features two muscle cars. We also noticed a lot of water on the top of the batters eye, which I original thought was pooled rain water. But during the game we realized that there is a fountain on top of the batters’ eye that shoots streams of water high into the air.
On our walk back across the elevated walkway, I got this panorama that gives a better view of the Pepsi Porch form behind:
Remember how I said the Tigers filled every empty space with a Tigers logo or something Tigers-based? While walking across the elevated-walkway, Tim found something that perfectly proved that point – a drain:
Look at that! It has (1) crossed bats and a baseball, (2) the word “Detroit,” (3) the “D” from the Tigers’ jerseys, (4) the word “Tigers” in a ferocious tigers-ish font, and (5) baseballs circled with stars. Awesome. These are almost certainly the best drains in all of MLB.
While walking on the elevated-walkway, we also found a fan assistance booth where the worker-lady was happy to fill up Tim’s water bottle with some refreshing ice-water. Then she laid this bad-boy on Tim:
Together, the certificate and Tim’s shirt combine to tell the story: “Welcome to Comerica Park – Life is good!”
Next, we walked all the way out to the LF corner and took a bunch of panoramas.
First, section 219 (which is right above the tiger-go-round):
Switching over to the 300-level, we took our behind-the-plate panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 326:
Behind third base, we got this view from section 334:
Then we headed out into the concourse, where we found this awesome picture (it was some sort of really big advertisement)…
…of Cecil Fielder walking on the roof of old Tiger Stadium. Man, I wish I Tim and I could have visited Tiger Stadium. From watching games on TV, it looked gloriously old-fashioned. I was appalled when the closed it and opened this new-fangled Comerica Park place. Well, if they had to replace (and then tear down…oh, no!) old Tiger Stadium, they couldn’t have done a better job replacing it.
Back out in the 300-level cross-aisle, we got this panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 342:
Finally, we reached the perfect spot to get Tim’s Comerica Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
Check out that awesome scoreboard with full-color Tigers on the prowl. Outstanding!
When Tim and I were looking for the perfect spot for this picture, an usher came over and complimented me for wearing my baseball glove on my head. He said it showed that I was really a baseball player. I thought that was cool. Thanks, usher guy!
Tim is not a big fan of heights, so you can see him sitting in the front row and waiting patiently for me in this panorama that I took from the top of section 344:
I just noticed that I can see our car in that picture. Cool.
Anyway, it was finally time for the game to start, so we bought a hot dog and nachos and reported to our seats in section 144, where this was our view of the game:
The Tigers have a bunch of quality players, and we focused our action-shots on the big two – rightfielder Magglio Ordonez…
…who my mom roots for because she loves his name (“Magglio,” not “Ordonez”), and the baby-faced veteran slugger (who also hits for a mighty-fine average), Miguel Cabrera:
It was All-Star announcement day and the Tigers seemed to have a bunch of All-Stars (Cabrera, Valverde, Avila…). Each time another all-star came to bat or entered the game, the PA announcer announced the all-star selection and the place went wild.
After eating our lunch and watching a few innings from our seats, Tim reminded me of those rides. So we left our seats and headed toward the ferris wheel. In several ways, Comerica
Park’s infield field level reminded me of Camden Yards. It has the same type of umpires’ tunnel directly behind home plate and a similar cross-aisle that runs all the way around the place.
So we didn’t miss any of the action as we made our way along the cross-aisle and toward the Ferris Wheel snapping pictures.
First, we got this panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 141:
Another from the cross-aisle behind section 135:
And yet another from the cross-aisle behind section 132:
Going back to the Camden Yards comparison, there are actually two thing about Comerica Park’s infield that are even better than Camden Yards (which is hands down one of the best stadiums in MLB): (1) the cross-aisle has a bunch of handicapped-accessible seating section that make the cross-aisle probably twice as wide (or more) as the Camden Yards cross-aisle
(which also features handicapped-accessible seating) and (2) (and this is a huge advantage in Comerica Park’s favor) it has an open concourse above the cross-aisle. More specifically,
immediately above the cross-aisle is a section of really cool and unique seats…I don’t even know how to describe it, almost like huge, comfy lawn furniture (it is pictured below, way below)…and behind that section is seating is the field level concourse complete with standing room area where anyone with any ticket can watch the game. The closed field level concourse, in my opinion, is really the one and only design error that they made at Camden Yards. It is so nice to be able to walk from one section to another in the concourse without
having to miss any of the game.
Finally, we made it to the Ferris Wheel:
We were really lucky. There was almost no line at all when we arrived at the Ferris Wheel. But by the time we were up top inside the Ferris Wheel, the line reached almost all the way to the field level concourse.
Normally, you have to buy tickets for $2.00 to ride the Ferris Wheel (and carousel). But Sundays are “Kids Days” and all kids ride the Ferris Wheel and carousel for free (parents still have to pay). So we bought my ticket, made our way through the short line, and hopped into one of the little baseballs:
Before heading over to the carousel, we checked in on the game again. Right when we made it back down to the cross-aisle, Brennan Boesch hit a homerun to tie the score up at 1-1 (the Giants had scored a run in the top of the fourth when we were in line for the Ferris Wheel):
We hung around a little bit and watched Mags and Miggy hit (or try to, they both got out):
On our walk over to the carousel, I took a picture of the “1980” display in the concourse:
When we reached the carousel, the line was semi-reasonable, it did not quite wrap all the way around the carousel. We hopped in line thinking that tickets must be sold right up by the front of the line (like with the Ferris Wheel), but then I noticed a ticket sales booth off to the side. We got out of line so I could buy my ticket and about 40,000 people took our place in line. By the time we got my ticket, the line wrapped all the way around the carousel TWICE!
I told Tim we would have to come back later. That line was going to take forever.
So we walked the field level concourse toward RF and all the way back around to our seats in section 144. On the way, we got this panorama from the standing room area behind the “Kaline’s Corner” section:
This next one is from the standing room area in the walkway that runs behind the batters’ eyes and it was taken almost directly above where we were standing in the section 101 panorama (way above):
There was a little opening in the batters’ eye, and snuck our camera through and got this batters’ eye view panorama:
Here is another really cool feature of Comerica Park:
See the people all the way to the right on the opposite side of the fence? They’re watching free baseball! The walkway from LCF to RCF runs along Adams Street and people can stand along the Adams Street fence and watch the game. I don’t know if the Tigers like that, but I think it is great.
Here is a look down into the bullpens:
The closer bullpen is the visitors and the one in the LF corner is the Tigers bullpen.
Standing in the same spot as the bullpen picture above, I turned toward the field and got this panorama from the walkway above section 151:
It was ice cream time. We grabbed some helmets…
…and found some ice cream seats in our section.
Here’s a look at the one area in which Comerica Park has room for improvement:
The scoreboard has three screens. A bit one in the middle and smaller ones on either side. Only the smaller screen on the CF side of the scoreboard is a full-color screen. The other two are the black background with yellow text type of screen that has been around for ages. I assume that someday soon the Tigers will install a huge high definition screen. Once they do that, Comerica Park may be almost perfect.
Here is a second panorama of Comerica Park from section 144 (better than the one from the beginning of the game):
Here’s another unique feature of Comerica Park:
It is a switch-back ramp for wheelchairs to descend from the field level concourse to the cross-aisle. Pretty cool, idea.
I wasn’t surprised to see tigers designed into the arm rests of the seats:
After eating our ice cream, it was time to give the carousel line another shot. Once again, we walked over there through the cross-aisle. We stopped and hung out in the cross-aisle behind section 119…
…for a while because things were getting interesting in the game. It was the seventh inning and the visiting Giants were leading by one run (3-2), but the Tigers loaded the bases…
…for Magglio Ordonez. Maggs ended up ripping a liner right up the middle into centerfield…
…brining in the tying and go-ahead runs for the Tigers. (Note: right as I was about to get a photo of Johnny Peralta scoring the go-ahead run, an ecstatic Tigers fan jumped up and
half blocked my shot, but you can still see some of the action).
With the rally still going, we headed over to the carousel. The line only went about three-quarters of the way around it, so that was good. We hopped in line and Tim modeled his give-away prize:
All kids got this Justin Verlander super hero cape! Super V! They were actually pretty cool. Tons of kids (and even some adults…including the entire grounds crew) were wearing them throughout the game.
Finally, we made it through the line and Tim found a spot on one of the biggest and fiercest looking Tigers on the tiger-go-round:
The Tiger was angry, but Tim was happy:
The tiger-go-round was actually pretty cool. The tiger *jumped* really high sending Tim high above me as I stood next to his Tiger’s sharp teeth.
By the time we finished up at the tiger-go-round, it was the bottom of the eighth. We grabbed a nice standing room spot right behind home plate…
…and there was tons of room to run in case someone sent a foul ball our way (but no one did).
We had a great view into the Tigers’ spacious dugout along the 3B line:
As the game headed into the ninth inning, Tim and I grabbed some seats in the row directly above and to the 3B side of the umpires’ tunnel:
It was section 128, row 15, and it looked like this:
My one complaint is that the padding around the door to the umpires’ tunnel does a pretty good job of blocking the view of a portion of the batters’ box. At Camden Yard, the entrance to the umpires’ tunnel is lower and less noticeable. Still, these were some awesome seats and we were happy to get the chance to see 2011 All-Star Jose Valverde…
…close out the game for a save and a 6-3 Tigers win.
We were even happier that home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez tossed his final umpire ball of the day up to us just before disappearing into the tunnel below:
It is always great to get an umpire baseball. And it we were pumped to get one at our first game ever at Comerica Park.
Thanks, Manny Gonzalez!
The game was over, but our day at Comerica Park was not. It was Kids Run The Bases day! Hooray!
On our walk to the long, long line, we snapped this picture of the funky seating section above the field level cross-aisle:
And then we took this panorama from the top of section 128:
It was a long and slow moving line, but it was cool to get to see the tunnel that runs from the batters’ eye…
…and down under the RF seats. Of course, we touched the batting cage on our way by.
The Tigers staff was very cool during Kids Run The Bases. Some teams rush you through there, others let you savor the experience. The Tiger, who as far as we could tell have totally nailed the whole *fan experience* concept, were of the “savor it” variety.
We started our savoring with some photos with the 330’ foot sign on the RF wall (fair territory)…
…and with the Comerica Park sign (foul territory).
Tim then did his best Johnny Cash…
…he “walked the line” – the foul line, that is. And it wasn’t just chalk foul line. The Tigers have something (wood, hard plastic, or something) set into the ground. These are some of the little things the fans get a chance to notice during Kids Run The Bases, and we greatly appreciate that opportunity.
Of course, no one tried to rush us along when we stopped on the foul warning track to get a father-son picture with the scoreboard in the background:
Then we approached the first base area. There was a roped off chute to the right and the remainder of the warning track to the left, and there was a young ballpark attendant standing at the opening of the chute calling out “Kids to the right, parents to the left!”
When we approached, I directed Tim into the Kids chute and asked the gal, “Any chance I can chaperone him?” She looked quickly left-right-left right, and fanned her hand toward the field, “Just go, just go!”
So I followed Tim out toward first base…
…we motored into second base where Tim called out, “Hi, Tiger!” and another young ballpark attendant answered, “his name is Paws!” just as Tim was getting ready to stomp on second:
As we past six-hole, I sped up and leaned down next to Tim to try to get a father-son-running-the-bases picture…
…but Tim thought I was trying to race him and he turned on the afterburners and I barely got us both in the shot:
We were running too fast to get a good picture at third base, but I got Tim running toward home…
…and then getting ready to (oh, no, illegal, illegal!) slide into home!
SAFE! (“Hey, kids, no sliding!” called out the friendly guy manning the home plate area).
As we exited the home plate area, they had a lady stationed on the warning track whose sole purpose was to make sure everyone exited toward 3B and no one turned left (back toward
1B). But when I asked her, “Can we go get his picture by the big “D?,” she did same quick left-right-left-right surveying of her surroundings and then looked toward home while he responded, “I don’t see you! I don’t see you!”
So we were able to get this awesome picture by the big Tigers’ hat-style “D” painted behind home plate…
…, which is reminiscent of our picture of Tim with the big Pirates “P” painted behind home plate at PNC Park.
Hey, teams who hurry everyone through kids run the bases (I’m taking to you Mets, Nationals, Phillies), take a cue from the Tigers (and the super-West-Coast-relaxed Padres) and let the fans really enjoy the Kids Run The Bases experience.
On our way by the 3B dugout, a fan took our picture with Tim’s baseball from Manny Gonzalez:
Then we walked as far as we could down the LF line (past the first 2-3 exits) so we could maximize our time on the field. Before leaving the field, I took a self portrait with Tim on my shoulders and the scoreboard in the background. A friendly usher saw and ran over and offered to take this picture:
The Tigers staff are cool folks.
Thanks to everyone at Comerica Park!
Then, as if there was some sort of competition to see who could be the last person to be nice to us at Comerica Park, an usher approached us right as we left the ballpark and asked, “Is he a Tigers fan?” With Tim up on my shoulders, I responded, “We’re Mariners fans!” The usher dug into his pocket and pulled out a baseball. Reaching up to hand it to Tim, the usher said, “We like Mariners fans too!”
I’m serious. Comerica Park is awesome! Well, done Tigers!
We were literally the first car parked in the parking lot. When we arrived at our car, there were only about 4-5 other cars left. We had a awesome, full day at Comerica Park. And before hoping in the car, we took one more panorama as a parting shot:
In the famous word of the Terminator: “[We’ll] be back!”
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|16/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|16/4 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 and Mets]|
|12 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))|
|48 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 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, 2 Angels, 2 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]|
|11/7 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; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]|
|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]|
|1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|
I’ve been trying to get Tim and I to Comerica Park for a couple years now. It has never seemed to work. My original plan this season was to work it into our Texas trip back in May, but the flights just wouldn’t work. So we came up with a new plan: Fourth of July weekend road trip to Cincinnati and Detroit.
Cincinnati was up first. We hit the road in the evening on Friday, July 1st and drove to a hotel in Pittsburgh. On Saturday, July 2, 2011 we headed off to Cincinnati to take in a game in the “Ohio Cup” series – Cleveland Indians vs. Cincinnati Reds.
But the game wasn’t until 4:05 p.m., and it was only about a four hour drive to Cincinnati. No matter what, we were going to get there before the gates opened. So, when we were about 50 miles out from Cincinnati, I called Colleen and asked her to look up the address for Moeller High School – Ken Griffey, Jr.’s high school (and, oh, yeah, Barry Larkin’s too)!
First, we pulled up to the scruffy looking practice baseball field (The Tom Fitz Athletic Fields) behind the school…
…where I imagined Griffey playing ball as a teenager. We ran the “bases” (there weren’t really any bases) and took some lefthanded hacks (without a bat) at the plate. Ah, it felt just like we were “The Kid” himself.
Up above a hill out in right field, there were really (really!) nice looking soccer and football fields. It made me think that there must be other baseball facilities somewhere else.
Anyway, we pulled around to the front of the school and got a few pictures:
In the picture above to the right, Tim is pretending he is Griffey walking into school.
Just as we were able to leave, a guy exited the main doors (where Tim is approaching in that picture above) and started packing some stuff into a van. I ran over and asked him if he knew where the baseball team plays. He was very nice and we ended up striking up a 10 minute conversation.
It was probably obvious since we were wearing Mariners clothes and I was asking about the baseball fields, but I felt compelled to explain to him, “We’re ‘Griffey people.’” His reply was priceless: “So are we!”
It ends up that the guy was Griffey’s U.S. History teacher back in the mid-1980s. He shared a handful of Griffey stories with us that were incredibly awesome to hear. Nothing overly important or exciting. Just tidbits about Griffey the high schooler and Griffey the man returning home after being traded to the Reds in 2000. It was a cool behind the scenes glimpse at my all-time favorite ballplayer.
The least shocking story was that Griff wasn’t exactly a model student. He apparently gave a lot of “I’m gonna play professional baseball” responses when prompted by his teachers to take his schooling more seriously. They would remind him, “You know, lots of people say that, but it doesn’t work out for most.” And as his teacher told is, Griff would always assure the, “but it IS going to work out for me.”
If were really the discussions (and I have no reason to doubt it), it certainly looks like Griff proved himself right.
One other story I thought was cool to hear is that Moeller used to use a baseball field a couple miles away that was behind a Thriftway store. It had no fence and Griff would jack bombs over the outfielders that would roll and roll forever. He was so good at it that his teammates referred to the field behind the Thriftway as the “Griffway.”
Oh, yeah. And he mentioned that Griffey spent some time practicing on that scruffy field behind the school, but that’s it. He never played games there.
And with that, lets continue on to Cincinnati.
Great American Ball Park is interesting. Downtown Cincinnati (as far as I can tell) is essentially situated on a hill that runs down to the Ohio River. Route-71 comes into downtown
and cuts across downtown at 3rd Street – at the bottom of the hill – just above the river. The big downtown buildings are up the uphill side of 3rd Street and Great American Ball Park is tucked into the little space right between the buildings/3rd Street/Route-71 and the Ohio River. If you park in downtown, you have to walk across the bridge…
…to get to the stadium. (Those pictures were actually taken after the game…so everyone is walking away from the park instead of to it.) In the picture above to the right, you can see that the ballpark is tucked between two buildings. The building to the left the Reds front office and the building to the right is the main team store and the Reds (very cool) Hall of Fame.
Here is a look as you get closer to the stadium…
…and that picture to the left is a huge engraving (I guess that’s what you would call it) on the end of the front office building.
This approach leads you to the gates right behind home plate. There are a bunch of statues in the area in front of the home plate gate:
In the picture above to the right with Tim facing the statue of the pitcher, Tim explained that he was being the catcher and he was telling the pitcher what pitches to throw.
When we arrived, it was still about 20 minutes before gate opening. And it was really hot. We scooted around to the third base gate, where it was somewhat shady, and we hopped in
line. While in line, we spotted our first (of many) Griffey jerseys of the day:
After entering the ballpark and stowing our two new Dusty Baker bobblehead/toothpick holders, we headed to section 109:
The Reds were hitting, but they were almost finished, and the Indians pitchers were starting to report to the LF line to warm up and do some throwing. BP got packed quick. My hunch was that we wouldn’t come away with a baseball from GABP. But after the Indians pitchers finished up throwing, an Indians batter hit a ball behind 3B that veered over into foul
territory where an Indians pitcher fielded it right in front of us. When I asked if he could toss it up to Tim, he walked over and handed it directly to Tim.
As he walked away, I called out, “Wait! What’s your name!?” He reply, simply, “Tony!” I thought that was pretty funny. We’re on a first name basis, you know? I later checked the roster and found that Tony’s last name is Sipp.
Here is a picture of Sipp walking away from us…
…and Tim smiling for the camera with his baseball:
Okay. We had a ball from GABP and that was enough for us. We’d only been to this ballpark once before so it was officially time to do some exploring. We started by heading behind home plate, where we got this picture of Tim (again posing with his Tony Sipp baseball):
Tim looks pretty sweaty in that picture, but it is really water. It was so hot that we kept dousing Tim’s head with cold water.
Here is a panoramic view of Great American Ball Park from the cross aisle right behind section 121:
Next, we headed down into the seats behind the third base dugout and got this panorama from the second row of section 117:
Although no one checked our tickets when we headed down into the seats behind the dugout, I got the feeling that someone was supposed to have done so. There was hardly anyone in the seats behind dugout, but lots of people down the foul lines and in the outfield.
They definitely were checking the tickets of anyone who dared stand in the front row behind the dugout. But they did let Tim stand there long enough to get this picture:
There is a big steamboat looking thing above the batters’ eye in CF and Tim requested that we go out there and check it out. So that’s what we did…well, we tried to. You can’t actually get out onto that steamboat unless you are part of the group that has the steamboat for the game.
So we just stood around in upper deck next to the steamboat for 10-15 minutes. Here was our view:
One Indians player in CF was clearly having more fun than anyone else on the field. I had no clue who he was. The last group of hitters was only two guys and I am pretty sure they were pitchers preparing for their final interleague games. They hardly got the ball out of the infield.
But they did get one ball out to the “fun guy” in center field. He was way out there in CF. After gloving the baseball, he started walking toward another player in LCF. I didn’t say a word, but I held my glove up. As he walked, he noticed us and he threw a laser to me. It was an amazing throw considering the height and distance the ball traveled.
Here is “fun guy” and Tim with our first ever upper deck toss up:
I took pictures of the guy and tried to get a close up of his glove…where it appeared that his name was embroidered. In the best photo, I could tell the first name was “Cade” and the last name looked like it started with “Dur.” The roster told me that Chad Durbin now pitches for the Indians and Wikipedia told me that Durbin has a son named Cade. So there you go, thanks are due to Mr. Durbin.
This picture taken later in the day illustrates Durbin’s impressive throw:
Interesting side note, the baseball that Durbin threw up to us is a minor league baseball. It is so scuffed and dirty that it is impossible to read which MiLB league it is from, but it clearly appears to have the MiLB logo instead of the MLB logo.
Next, we headed over to the LF corner of the upper deck and got this panorama from section 406:
And then we got a picture of Tim from the same spot:
After running up to the top of the seats, we got this panorama from the top of section 406:
Next, we headed over into the infield. We headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium and found a nice spot where we could get a good picture of Tim with his Chad Durbin baseball and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com scavenger hunt:
After climbing up to the top of section 510, this is what it looked like:
Zooming in, here is a look at the batters’ eye steamboat:
Tim was not feeling the tippy-top of the upper deck. Too high. So we headed down to the upper deck concourse. I kept dousing Tim’s head with water. When we visited the restroom after leaving section 510, Tim noticed his wet hair in the mirror. Before leaving the restroom, he asked me to help him spike his hair up into a mohawk. When we headed back
into the concourse, this is what Tim’s hair looked like:
Speaking of the concourse, this is what it looks like in the upper deck behind third base at Great American Ball Park:
It was time to circle the upper deck and take some more panoramas. First, section 516…
…a picture of the two of us between panoramas…
…and finally a panorama from the cross aisle above section 436:
That was enough of the upper deck for us, so we headed down to the field level and got this panorama from behind section 139:
Section 139 is right next to the visitors bullpen. This is what the bullpen looks like:
The bullpens were actually pretty interesting to me. A lot of stadiums where the bullpens are not side-by-side seem to put the visitors’ bullpen out in the direct sunlight and the home bullpen in a shady area. The Reds, however, did the opposite. Pretty early in the game, the visitors’ bullpen was in the shade while the Reds relievers were still in the direct sun.
There is a great standing room area in CF just to the RF side of the batters’ eye. Here is a panorama that I took from that SRO area just behind section 146:
We were in the SRO area when someone-or-other sang the National Anthem. Just behind the plate, Mr. Redlegs and Rosie were standing with hands over hearts:
Mr. Redlegs is very similar to Mr. Met. But if you ask me, Mr. Redlegs is hands down the superior mascot. The Rollie Fingers ‘stache really sets him apart…as does his retro Reds hat.
We had seats in the direct blazing sun in RF so we started hearing that way. As we walked behind the Reds bullpen, we noticed something interesting:
Aroldis Chapman was down there signing autographs. Of all of the players at this game, Aroldis is the player with whom I most wanted Tim to get his picture. While that was out of
the question, we were hoping Chapman would sign Tim’s baseball from Tony Sipp. Soon after we arrived at the stairs up above Chapman, he called it quits and walked into a door opposite the bullpen. We waited patiently. And then he reappeared. I called his name and I’m pretty sure that he only stopped because he saw Tim.
When Chapman stopped below us, he was holding a Gatorade-type bottle in one hand and he motioned for me to toss the Sipp baseball down to him. At this point, he had the drink in one hand and the baseball in the other hand, he motioned for me to toss down our pen. I figured he would just let it hit the ground and then pick it up. But he showed some major hand-eye coordination by catching the pen at hip level with his index finger. It was very impressive.
After he signed the ball and tossed us the ball and pen, I shouted out a big “Gracias, Aroldis!” That put a huge smile on his face. During this interaction (and while previously watching him signing autographs), we were probably 10 feet above Chapman’s head and it was impossible to chat with him. Nevertheless, it was clear that the guy conveys a ridiculously warm/nice/pleasant attitude. He really seemed like a great guy.
Here is a picture of the Chapman autograph.
Finally, it was time for the game to start. We headed to the Skyline Chili stand right behind section 103 and grabbed some nachos and a cheese coney…
…and then we headed down to our seats in section 103. This was our view from section 103, row C, seats 13-14:
It was crazy hot in our seats. I could tell that we wouldn’t be able to stay in these seats for too long, which was unfortunate because they were great seats. But I knew we’d last at least a couple innings because Tim was going to town on our big pile of nachos:
It was good to see the Reds play again. We haven’t seen them since 2008, Griffey’s last year with the Reds. During his time in Cincinnati, I watched tons and tons of Reds games. They have a lot of new players since then, and a lot of players that were there in 2008, but have really matured over the past several years. Like this guy…
…2010 N.L. MVP Joey Votto. In that at bat, Votto is about to ground out in the first inning.
This was a low scoring game. The pitching match-up was Fausto Carmona vs. Homer Bailey. We sat in our assigned seats through the second inning and the score was 0-0.
We were overheating (well, Tim was), so we headed to the standing room area in RCF which is set up as a big misting station. It really felt amazing in there. We stayed under the
mist-sprayers for a long time and we got soaked:
Meanwhile, former-Mariner Mickey Brantley’s son Michael Brantley hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the third inning. That would be all the runs that the Indians would score during this game, and it was all they would need to win.
While we were interested in the game, we were just as interested in seeing as much of Great American Ball Park as we could. After we were thoroughly misted, we decided to head in the opposite direction of our seats and keep exploring.
As we headed toward the 3B side concourse, we looked up and took this shot of the big toothbrush-style light stands:
We lingered in the SRO area behind section 118 for a while. It looked like this:
And then we cut through the concourse and found a nice standing room spot behind section 130:
Aside from the Brantley bomb, Homer Bailey was looking pretty good:
An inning after the homerun, Bailey had no problem retiring Brantley on a weak pop up to short stop:
We decided to wander aimlessly around the ballpark and it quickly paid dividends. We ran into both Slider (the visiting Cleveland Indians mascot) and Gapper (the “B-list” Reds mascot…or at least that is how I would rank him compared to Mr. Redlegs):
In the concourse behind home plate, there is a really cool looking Reds logo set into the floor:
And some cool (and really big) mosaic pictures on the wall…
…check out Ken Griffey, Sr. in the mosaic to the left (of course, Sr. (wearing number 30) was an instrumental part of the “Big Red Machine” back in the day). Junior has got the Hall of Fame stats, but Senior has got the rings (2 of them).
Behind section 119, there is a big staircase that is mostly blocked off and is used as a SRO area:
That’s where we were standing in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jay Bruce…
…flied out to CF. I would have got a great action shot of the Grady Sizemore and Austin Kearns running into each other just before Sizemore made the catch, but a lady walked into my pitch and totally ruined it. Booo!
We decided to stop by at this little bouncy house/slide thingy…
…on our way to the very impressive Reds team store:
Two notes: in the upper right picture, that is a game-used Dusty Baker jersey Tim is pointing to with his thumb and in the bottom right picture Tim is throwing a one-seamer on the
baseball seams on the floor of the team store.
Upstairs in the game-used area, we found this cool old Big Red Machine black-and-white photo on the wall…
…which again features Ken Griffey, Sr. (wearing number 30). Lets see if I can name the rest of the Big Red Machine (from left-to-right): Pete Rose, Ken Griffey Sr., Joe “Everyone’s Favorite Broadcaster” Morgan, Tony Perez, George Foster, Johnny Bench, Cesar Geronimo, and Dave Concepcion.
After perusing the team store, we headed over to section 126…
…but just for a minute. We had our sights on ice cream helmets. So we headed toward the first base side concourse where we had got our ice cream helmets back in 2008. As we approached the ice cream place, Mr. Redlegs was approaching walking in the opposite direction. I asked Mr. Redlegs if he could pose for a picture with Tim. Mr. Redlegs’ handler
shut us down explaining, “we’re in a rush to get somewhere.” But Mr. Redlegs was having none of it. He leaned in and gave Tim a big hug:
Awesome! Thanks, Mr. Redlegs!
The ice cream helmet line was ridiculous. It was as if every fan at the game was in line. We were in line for at least a full inning. But when we got to the front of the line, it was worth the wait. They had about 6 (maybe 8) toppings, and they were free and unlimited!
We both got twist soft serves. Tim got smashed up M&M’s with whipped cream and a cherry (which he got specifically to give to me) and I got smashed up Reese’s pieces. Delicious.
We reported back to our seats (well, our section at least) to eat our ice cream in the hot sun:
Just for kicks, we got this shot of Tim smiling with a belly full of ice cream:
It was still too hot to stay in our seats for too long. So we headed back to the misting SRO in RCF. On our way, we noticed that the Reds had a reliever warming up in the bullpen:
As I watched the game from the front of the SRO area, Tim whipped a wet wipe (from ice cream face clean up) around in the sunny mist trying to make rainbows in the mist:
It is pretty interesting watching the game from this SRO area. Sometimes it looks like you are watching the game on a HD television. But at other times, it looks like you are watching it through a thick fog (or mist) or a light fog:
That’s our buddy Tony Sipp pitching in those last two pictures. He gave up a solo homerun to Joey Votto, but still earned a “hold.”
Here is what it looked like in the SRO area behind section 145 when the mist was blowing in the opposite direction:
We were going to stay at a hotel 3.5 hours north in Toledo, Ohio after this game. So we decided to head over to the SRO areas behind home plate to watch the end of the game. The plan was to make a quick exit once the game ended.
Here was our view, once again, from the concourse behind section 126 (or so):
With the score at 3-1 Indians, it was still anyone’s game as the Reds pitched to the Indians in the top of the ninth:
While we were in position, I figured I better get a shot looking into the Indians dugout. Here is what it looked like:
The Reds needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth and they had the heart of their order coming to the plate. With one out and one on base, Brandon Phillips couldn’t get anything going:
Phillips struck out for the second out of the inning.
Joey Votto batted next and lined a single to leftfield on this inside-out swing:
With the tying runs on base, Scott Rolen came to bat with two outs as the potential winning run. But he struck out to end the game.
Indians win 3-1.
On our way out the of the ballpark, Tim did a “rounding second” pose on the “statue” base near by the Ted Kluszewski statue:
We also got a couple fake batting poses to try to recreate a picture that we took outside Great American Ball Park in 2008:
Although we missed a lot of the game because of all of the exploring we did around the ballpark, we had a great time.
And the great time didn’t stop just because we had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us. It was the night of July2nd and people were out in full force lighting off their own fireworks demonstrations. Tim had a great time watching the fireworks and didn’t fall asleep until after 11:00 p.m., right we pulled up to our hotel.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|15/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians and Reds; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]|
|11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1))|
|45 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 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, 2 Angels, 2 Indians)
|7/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park; Kellan – Camden Yards,
|11/7 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; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]|
|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]|
|1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|
Petco Park – San Diego Padres
Petco Park section 302 panorama:
Petco Park bleacher beach panorama:
Petco Park bleacher beach panorama:
Petco Park section 132 panorama:
Petco Park section 116 panorama:
Petco Park section 133 panorama:
Petco Park section Park in the Park panorama:
Petco Park section Park in the Park panorama:
Petco Park bleacher beach panorama:
Petco Park section 230 (back row) panorama:
Petco Park section 226 (back row) panorama:
Petco Park section 311 panorama:
Petco Park section 309 panorama:
Petco Park section 118 panorama:
Petco Park section 120, row 29, seat 1 panorama:
Petco Park section 101 panorama:
Petco Park concourse between sections 223-225 panorama:
Petco Park section 235 panorama:
Petco Park section 325 panorama:
Petco Park section 327 panorama:
Petco Park section 102 panorama:
Petco Park section 218 panorama:
Petco Park walkway between section 328 and Western Metal Supply warehouse panorama:
Petco Park on top of Western Metal Supply warehouse panorama:
Petco Park section 322 panorama:
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum – Oakland Athletics
Oakland Coliseum section 316 panorama:
AT&T Park – San Francisco Giants
AT&T Park section 148 panorama:
Great American Ball Park – Cincinnati Reds
Chase Field section 140, Row Z panorama:
Chase Field – Arizona Diamondbacks
Chase Field sections 115-114 panorama: