When early September 2008 rolled around, I thought to myself, “Self, Tim has never been to Shea Stadium and it is about to close. Let’s not let that happen without getting Tim up to Queens.”
So, early in the morning on September 7, 2008, Tim and I hopped in the car and made our way up to Manhatten. As is my standard practice, we parked on the upper west side. We then walked with Tim on my shoulders from approximately 84th & Amsterdam to 42nd & Seventh Ave. After a 7-train ride from Times Square station to Willets Point, we arrived at Shea Stadium.
It was a day-night doubleheader. We would attent only the day game. As we made our way up to our seats in Upper Reserve section 10, Row M, the visitors’ dugout (occupied by the Phillies) welcomed us to Shea:
And here was our view of Shea from the upper deck:
At least as I perceived it, Shea always got a bad rap. Particularly, because everyone glorified Yankee Stadium (which to me was utterly unimpressive — particularly when compared to the other “old” ballparks, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park). Anyway, I always liked Shea Stadium. I probably attended 8 games total at Shea between 2000-2008 and I always found it to be a much more pleasant place to watch a ballgame than its neighbor in the Bronx.
Some kind Mets fan agreed to take our picture:
Note how Citi Field appears to be about 2 feet away from Shea beyond the outfield fence. I was both amazed and saddened the following April when Tim and I attended our first game at Citi Field and we discovered that Shea was already demolished and hauled away.
Soon, it was time for the game to begin. The atmosphere in the stadium was electric. The Phillies and Mets are pretty big rivals. Entering the day, the Mets were leading the Phillies atop the N.L. East by two games.
The pitching was an epic battle between two “old goats” — my favorite pitcher of all-time, Jamie Moyer, and future Hall of Famer, Pedro Martinez…
Early on, both old goats were dealing…
In the second inning, Pedro walked Jayson Werth. Former Mariner Greg Dobbs followed with a double, Matt Stairs with a sac fly, and Carlos Ruiz hit a double. And just like that, the Phillies led 2-0.
Two batters Pedro did manage to retire in the second were Ryan Howard and Jamie Moyer…
It was a big snack day for Tim. We started off with some french fries. Then, it was time for a Shea Stadium Mets ice cream helmet:
Here are a couple stadium views from inside the concourses and ramps on our way down to the field level…
Moyer was still pitching a gem.
Since the stadium would soon be history, I wanted to document as much of it as possible. Here is a stadium map that hung inside the concourse behind section 31 in the Loge level:
As you can see, the standing room area is in an inside concourse with a screen in front of it. Back in 2003, I watched almost an entire game from the corresponding standing room area down the LF foul line. Its a nice little spot. Interestingly, that other game I watched from the standing room area was also part of a Sunday doubleheader and it was also a 7 inning, 2 hit, zero earned run win by Jamie Moyer.
Tim and I hung out there a little while so Tim could run around in circles.
Here is a panoramic view of Shea Stadium from the seats closest to the standing room area:
….which I thought was pretty interesting. Seems like most stadiums have ketchup and mustard pumps, not little packets. I wonder if someone bought this ketchup and mustard contraption once the Mets started trying to sell off any-and-everything from Shea Stadium. Actually, if you want one of these, click here.
We saw that there were plenty of empty seats toward the home plate area. This wasn’t a planned doubleheader and it wasn’t a make-up of a game from early in the season. No. This game was supposed to be played the night before. In fact, we had planned to attend the game on September 6th. Anyway, it appeared that some of the people who planned to attend the game on the 6th couldn’t make it on the 7th. And we were the beneficiaries.
I snapped some pictures of the Phillies stellar corps of infielders on our way to our final seats of the day…
…Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmie Rollins each had one hit on the day. But the big hitting star of the day was Greg “The Dobbers” Dobbs who was 2-4 with a 3-run 4th inning homerun off of Pedro Martinez. He also scored 2 runs. After the 4th inning, the Phillies led 6-0.
And here are our final seats of the day in (I believe) section 215:
And it was nice to see Mets first basemen and big-time slugger, Carlos Delgado…
Here is a shot of the Phillies dugout and the Mets logo behind home plate as Shane “The Flying Hawaiian” Victorino approaches the plate:
Moyer lasted 7 innings before Scott Eyre came in and gave up the only two Mets runs in the 8th inning. The Phillies won the game by a final score of 6-2 to move to 1-game back of the Mets. In the nightcap, Johan Santana beat Cole Hamels and the Mets re-took a 2-game lead in the N.L. East, a lead they would build to 3.5 games a few days later and then squander to miss the playoffs completely.
This was the 14th to last game game at Shea Stadium. It was great to add Shea to Tim’s baseball stadium resume. We got one more picture to commemorate the day…
On our way out of Shea Stadium for the final time, I took a picture of the four seating decks above the field level…
Goodbye, Shea Stadium.
On Sunday, August 9, 2009, Tim and I made our way down to Citizens Bank Park to watch the Phillies and, more importantly, Jamie Moyer face off against the Florida Marlins. This wasn’t a game I’d originally planned to attend. However, I ended up buying tickets to all three Dodgers games back in May before finally deciding on attending the Wednesday, May 13, 2009 game. I was told I could exchange my extra tickets for certain games — this seemed like the best trade-in option. I was pleasantly surprised when Cliff Lee joined the Phillies and they shifted the pitching rotation so Jamie Moyer would start this game.
I’m always a little let down if we go to a Phillies game and someone else is pitching. So I was very excited when I learned Moyer would start this game instead of J. Happ.
For possibly the first time ever in Philadelphia, we arrived early to the game! The teams weren’t taking BP, but I was happy to learn that it was Phillies alumni weekend and they were about to start an alumni hitting challenge.
There were three teams of two — here are all of them but except Ricky Bottalico:
Top middle, some dude. They said he was one of the heros of the 1980 World Series team. I reviewed the 1980 line-up and none of the names jumped out at me. So I’m sorry, I have no clue who that is. He hit a few hot line drives that almost had HR distrance but went foul.
Bottom left, Jim Eisenreich. Not too shabby. But nothing to write home about.
Bottom middle, Milt Thompson. He’s the Phillies current hitting coach so you’d want him to blast mammoth bombs…or maybe just hit solid base hits. Okay, i guess he did a good job of the latter. But no mammoth bombs.
Right, Ricky Jordan. The hitting star of the challenge. He hit two bombs to LF. One landed about 8 rows back and bounced all the way passed the cross aisle at the top of the section. The second was caught on the fly by a fan in the first row. These were the only HRs of the hitting challenge.
The team of Ricky and Ricky won the challenge on the strength of the Jordan bombs.
By the way, the Phanatic made a sweet diving catch with hit fish net on a hard liner to right-CF. He got a huge ovation from the fans. Unlike Tommy Lasorda, folks in Philadelphia (including me and Tim) love them some Phillies Phanatic.
We’ve never been to BP in Philadelphia before. So it would nice to *sorta* see BP at Citizens Bank Park. It was the first time we’d ever been able to hang out in the LF seats because they guard it like its made outta solid gold during games.
We had some fun watching the challenge out there:
By the way, check out Tim’s give-away Ryan Howard trucker cap. Not too shabby. He liked it.
Both of the Ricky Jordan HRs came near us, but we didn’t have a play on either.
After the home run challenge, it was time to take a lot of pictures. I decided my main focus would be my main man in Philadelphia, Jamie Moyer.
By the way, during the game, one of my friends and colleagues called my cellphone to inform me that Tim and I were on TV during the pre-game broadcast. Apparently, it was about a 5-second shot of Tim sitting on my shoulders while I took pictures (and/or fidgeted with my wife’s camera). One reader commented on my last entry noting that he also saw us. Too bad I have Directv and therefore almost no Phillies games on TV, otherwise I might have DVR’d the game.
Oh, well. Let’s take a photographic tour of the pre-game rituals of Mr. Moyer.
The game was a 1:35 start. As shown below, at around 12:45, Moyer and catcher Paul Bako were among the only Phillies in the dugout:
Is it just me, or is Moyer watching me and Tim in that first picture? Also, note all of the cool bat knobs in the second picture. I love wood bats.
After a while, Bako made his way toward the bullpen and I took these shots for a panaramic (we were standing at the end of the Phillies dugout at the time):
About 20 seconds later, Moyer started walking the to the bullpen as well. The crowd gave him a lot of nice comments as he made his way. Although the fans in Philadelphia can be rude and ridiculous, I’ve found that they also can be really great. They appreciate someone who done things right. And they showed some love for Moyer as he walked to the bullpen.
I was similarly impressed by Philadelphia’s fans last season when Ken Griffey, Jr. played a four-game set in Philadelphia while sitting on 599 homeruns. I went to three of those games (Tim joined me for one), and the fans were outstanding. Griff pinch hit in two of the games at times when a homerun would have been devastating to the Phillies, and the entire stadium stood for his at bats, and people were really pulling for him to make history.
Anyway, here is Moyer following Bako out to the bullpen:
Bako practiced his squating while Moyer ran some sprints from CF to RF:
After running and stretching, Moyer grabbed two balls out of this glove and popped a squat behind Bako:
I got the feeling he was praying. He sat there for a little while before hopping up to play catch with Bako.
I used this time to take some pictures of the OF wall in RF and CF.
I thought it was interesting that they had all those hoses/cords hanging on the wall under the stands in foul territory. As for the picture to the right, I think Philadelphia has a really interesting CF wall. Very interesting to look at.
Next, Moyer played some long toss with Bako:
The Marlins pitcher, Josh Johnson, was also warming up in the bullpen at this time. I took the picture below because I thought it was interesting how many levels/tiers there are out there:
I count five levels — (i) we’re standing in the RF/CF stands, (ii) then it drops off 15 feet to the phillies bullpen, (iii) then it raises back up probably 12 feet to the visitors’ bullpen, (iv) then it raises up another 10-12 feet to the walkway in Ashburn Alley, and (v) then its up another 20 feet or so to the “roottop bleachers” and upper walkway. Interesting design. I approve.
Soon, it was game time:
Moyer got the loss, but he really pitched well. He gave up 2 earned runs (3 total runs) in five innings. In a lot of Phillies games, that is going to qualify the pitcher for a win. But on this day, the Phillies just could not hit.
After watching Moyer pitch 3 scoreless innings, it was time to check out the play area. Unfortunately, it was closed due to the rain. So, Tim decided he’d like to play some catch.
This is Tim’s new deal since we played catch in the concourse at Yankee Stadium in July. This was a great spot. There were a number of Phillies employees watching us play catch and none of them cared whatsoever. In fact, several of them helped us track down errant throws. The fans and one food concession stand guy really seemed to enjoy watching us play catch. In fact, one lady tried to get her daughter to play with us. But the little girl wasn’t feeling it.
After playing catch for a while, we headed over to the SRO area behind the field level seats down the 1B line. At pretty much every single game we ever attend, Tim asks me to buy him a certain sovenir, but I always say no. But today, I said yes:
Tim loves that finger! And at $9.00 for a piece of foam, he better love it for a long time!
At this point of the game, which I think was the 4th inning or so, the Phillies had a grand total of 1 hit. However, Chase Utley sparked the offense with this mighty hack:
You might notice that the ball is between Utley’s legs. He swung at such a bad pitch that the catcher couldn’t handle it. A few second after this swing, Utley found himself standing on first base courtesy of a passed-ball-swinging-K.
Ryan Howard followed Utley…
…with a laser line drive to the first baseman. Utley was doubled off.
Even the mighty Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul Ibanez couldn’t help the Phils…
…he grounded out to second.
We then went back to play catch a bit more. It was the top of the 5th and the Phils were winning 1-0 on the strength of their one hit. Unfortunately, Moyer gave up three runs (2 earned) in the top of the fifth.
The top of the seventh was a wacky (and for the Phillies) a terrible inning. First, Shane Victorino managed to get thrown out of the game while playing CF. Not a common occurence. I guess he shrugged his shoulders on a called ball. The umpire did not appreciate the gesture.
Jayson Werth replaced Victorno in CF and had a terrible game. Including an error on a soft grounder up the middle with the bases loaded. It went right under his glove and to the warning track before Raul could track it down.
Actually, I’m getting a head of myself a little bit. Before the Werth error, I took three pictures that I combined to make this interesting view:
Note that the pitcher is about to release the ball, the batter is about to hit the ball, and Ryan Howard is helplessly watching as the ball lands 2 rows back in the seats. By the way, when I took the dugout and walking to the bullpen pictures of Moyer, I was standing approximately where the guy in the green shirt and white hat is standing in the picture above (and Tim was sitting on my shoulders).
After Victorino was tossed, the entire crowd booed like crazy on almost every pitch for the rest of the game. It was some of the loudest booing I’ve ever witnessed. If the Phillies pitcher pitched a ball, BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! If a Marlins pitcher pitched a called strike, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! If the Marlins changed pitchers, BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! When the local celebrity told the crowd, “Its gonna be alright” before singing “God Bless America” in the middle of the 7th, BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
It was interesting.
But the Phils were done. They gave up 6 runs in the 7th inning.
Toward the end of the 7th, Marlins star Hanley Ramirez…
hit a double…but not on this swing. This was a foul ball.
By this point, the Phillies were losing 9-1. Pedro Feliz hit a two-run bomb in the bottom of the 7th, but it was clear it would be too little too late. Meanwhile, Tim was struggling to stay awake because he hadn’t really had a nap. So we called it a day in the 8th and didn’t have to suffer through watching the Phillies give up 3 more runs in the top of the ninth.
Tim was asleep by the time we were 100 feet out of the parking lot.
Since this game, the Phillies have announced some news that is exciting to many — Pedro Martinez will start for the Phillies on Wednesday in Chicago — but for others, like myself, it is at the same time quite sad.
To make room for Martinez, the Phillies have announced that Jamie Moyer will be moved to the bullpen.
Today, I read this article in which Moyer is quoted as stating that he is “disheartened” by this news. I join Moyer in this respect. I sincerely hope this isn’t the last start Tim and I get the honor of seeing Moyer make. If it is his last start in a Phillies uniform, I hope he can make another in a Mariners uniform.
Finally, I hope this is premature, but I’d like to thank Jamie for 145 wins and countless good memories.
NEXT UP: Tim and I will be going on the our second annual Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Road Trip from August 14 – August 17th. It is going to be a huge trip with lots of awesome and memorable moments. Be sure to check back in to read about it.
Season Fan Stats:
21 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
17 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals and Marlins– and sort of the Giants)
17 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
18 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)
My company has a softball team in the soon-to-be world famous Reading-Berks Business Softball League (RBBSL). Sadly, we were eliminated from playoff contention a couple weeks back after a tough loss to the squad from EnerSys. Last Monday, we assembled at Cacoosing Meadows for our final game of the season, another tough battle against the accountants of Reinsel Kuntz Lesher. On the field next to us, it was a battle between EnerSys and the Reading Phillies (their front office). As rec. league softball goes, it was huge game — the R-Phils won 10-9 and punched their ticket to the post-season while sending EnerSys home for a long winter.
After the game, I was chatting with my buddy from the R-Phils and he informed me that the R-Phils had just announced some big news…
…Pedro Martinez would be making a rehab start for the R-Phils on Wednesday, August 5th.
Baseballtown was a buzz. A future hall of famer was about to grace the mound at FirstEnergy Stadium. I was in the middle of a ridiculously busy week at work. But I decided I’d take a short break on Wednesday night so Tim and I could check out Pedro on his comeback trail.
By the way, do you see the guy pictured just below Pedro on the R-Phils website? That’s Mike Zagurski. He’s had a cup of coffee in Philadelphia and boasts a spotless MLB record of 1-0. A couple weeks back, my softball team faced off against the R-Phils on the night of the MLB All-Star game. It was also MiLB All-Star break so Zagurski and a couple other professional R-Phils players came out to Cacoosing Meadows to cheer on their softball team….and to heckle mine. Well, mostly, I think they were there to heckle us. And they heckled us, and heckled us…and then they heckled us some more. Ultimately, we lost the game by one run. But the silver lining is that I can now say I’ve been heckled by someone who has pitched in the major leagues. Not too shabby.
After our softball game, I ordered a ticket to the game online. Entry was free for Tim (0-4 is free at the R-Phils). It was a good thing I ordered it online because, for the first time in team history (or so I’m told) the R-Phils completely sold out. As the sign says, they even sold out of standing room only tickets.
We actually got lucky, on the way home from work to get ready to head to the game, my buddy called and said he had four extra tickets. Someone had given them to him, but he already had tickets. He ended up giving them to us so we’d have reserved seats and wouldn’t have to battle the crowd for General Admission seats or standing room. It was defintely a good thing, because check out how crowded it was at the game…
As we arrived, they were announcing the starting line-ups.
“And pitching for your Reading Phillies, warming up in the bullpen, Pedro Martinez.”
We headed straight to the bullpen, and got there in time to watch about two pitches before Pedro was officially “warm.” So we walked back toward the grand stand with Pedro, his catcher and pitching coach Steve Schrenk walking right down the foul line along with us.
Notice that Pedro is wearing No. 41 rather than his usual No. 45. In that last photo, Schrenk’s pullover is covering up Pedro’s number. Based on a close analysis and comparison of Schrenk’s and Pedro’s career numbers, it probably wouldn’t have killed Schrenk to give up No. 45 for a night. Although, it obviously didn’t kill Pedro to give No. 41 a test drive.
The R-Phils took the field and Pedro did some more warming up:
And then it was time, Austin Krum stood in and Pedro delivered his first pitch in Double-A baseball since he was a 19 year old kid in 1991 pitching for the San Antonio Missions in the Texas League:
The At-Bat would not go well for Krum.
However, things would go much better for Edwin Nunez in the first inning:
Nunez hit a bomb that landed inside that yellow circle up there.
The rest of the inning went much better for Pedro:
- K – Austin Krum
- K – Reegie Corona
- HR – Edwin Nunez
- K – Chris Malec
Totals: 3 Strike Outs, 1 Hit
All the while, Tim was enjoying a chocolate ice cream helmet with sprinkles:
By the way, here was our view:
Next, the R-Phils came to the plate. Did you pay attention to the Phillies-Blue Jays Roy Halladay trade talks? One name you might have heard tossed around was Dominic Brown. Well, in the bottom of the first, Brown absolutely crushed a ball to tie the score up at 1-1:
Building on his early total of three strike outs, Pedro kept dealing in the top of the second:
- K – P. J. Pilittere
- K – Richie Robnett
- ground out – Edwar Gonzalez
Totals: 5 Strike Outs, 1 Hit
Between innings, the R-Phils kept us entertained with the antics of the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor:
The Crazy Hot Dog Vendor throws hot dogs into the stands much to the delight of the fans. However, on this day, thrown hot dogs were not enough to satisfy the capacity crowd. We wanted more Pedro. And in the top of the third, he delivered again:
Top of the third results:
- K – James Cooper
- K – Marcos Vechionacci
- ground out – Austin Krum (Pedro hustles over and covers first)
Totals: 7 Strike Outs, 1 Hit
In the bottom of the third, it was D-Bro time again — and he delivered again…
…not a home run this time…
…a solid double. This guy is looking good.
Tim was pretty excited for two reasons…
1) he had his glove and he was ready to catch a foul ball — but none came anywhere near us, and…
2) Our Arby’s Roast Beef batter was at the plate. If Brian Stavisky could hit in D-Bro from second base, we’d all win free roast beef sandwiches at Arby’s — unfortunately, Stavisky didn’t come through for us.
After someone else did Stavisky’s job (no free roast beef for us), Pedro was back to the mound in the top of the fourth.
By the way, ever heard of Reegie Corona? He plays for the Trenton Thunder. However, last February-March, as a result of the Rule 5 draft, he played for our Seattle Mariners. I never saw him bat on TV during the spring, so I didn’t know about his crazy wide stance. Check it out:
…but the important thing is that Pedro had his payback on his Double-A arch nemisis, Edwin Nunez:
Top of the fourth results:
- K – Reegie Corona
- K – Edwin Nunez
- single – Chris Malec
- ground out to S.S. – P. J. Pilittere
Totals: 9 Strike Outs, 2 Hit
After the top of the fourth, something funny happened that I thought was noteworthy. After the ground out to end the inning, Stavisky (the R-Phils first basemen) rolled the ball back to the pitcher’s mound. Third basemen Neil Sellers ran by the ball to the dugout. Then, he turned around and back to the mound and grabbed the ball. I was watching him and I figured he wanted the ball to keep as a keepsake from his game backing up Pedro Martinez. But he went and grabbed the ball and threw it to a fan above the dugout. I thought that was pretty cool. He knew someone would want that Pedro-pitched ball.
Anyway, I took one last picture of the field, it was a beautiful night for baseball…
…but, as I said, I was crazy busy at work this week. So we cut our night short after four innings so I could go home and work, work, work. But it was an excellent four innings of getting to see Pedro pitch some minor league ball. And the R-Phils did an excellent job playing host to a huge crowd for the night.
Pedro ended up having two more strike outs over two more innings. He gave up a couple more tuns, one of which was unearned. We’ll see how he holds up when he makes it to Philadelphia. I was watching the gun throughout the night. I saw one pitch clock in at 91 mph. But he seemed to throw mostly curves and change ups that were in the 60s and 70s. In fact, he had one curve that was 64 mph.