It was a day game following a rain-delayed, extra late night game, and we were in the starting line-up. Actually, you couldn’t keep us away from the Braves vs. Pirates game on Sunday, May 23, 2010. This game was the whole reason for the weekend trip — our first ever Kids Run The Bases day at:
And it wasn’t just Kids “Run The Bases” day, it was an all-around “Kids Day.” We arrived at the stadium about two hours before game time, and it was in full kids festival mode…
The BP situation was a little confusing. Well, just the beginning of it. We entered the park through the River walk enterance in LCF. On weekends, the River walk opens 2.5 hours before the game and season ticket holders can enter the entire stadium at that time. But non-season ticket holders (like us) have to wait in the River walk for the first half hour. We know this because that is what happened on Saturday.
But on Sunday, we entered the River walk and no one stopped us at the CF/bullpen enterance into the main stadium. So I figured it must have been less than 2 hours until game time and the entire stadium was open to everyone. But as we circled the inner concourse, we could see people at all of the other entrances still locked outside the stadium. We were in there with what appeared to be a bunch of the BP regulars, but no one was following us. It was almost empty in there.
This would prove to work to our advantage.
The give-away for the day was a pair of wind-up pierogies. Still in the box, I stuffed them into our backpack right after the guy gave them to Tim. We were going to head over to the RF foul line to watch BP. But as we passed behind the Pirates dugout, Tim asked for the pierogies. So we stopped at the dugout so I could fish them out of our backpack.
After I gave Tim the pierogies, which he absolutely loved, I noticed that there was a baseball sitting in foul territory in front of the dugout. It looked like this:
There was absolutely no one else in the seats within 100 feet of the dugout. When Melky Cabrera walked around the batting cage to our side, I called out, “Hey, Melky.” He looked up and I pointed at the ball and then at Tim. Two seconds later, Melky tossed the ball our way.
I turned my back to the field and gave the ball to Tim. He showed me the pierogies. We generally weren’t paying any attention to the field until I heard a loud “Hey!” from behind me. Out of the blue, Braves third base coach Brian Snitker (who was in the process of hitting fungos to infielders) tossed us a second baseball.
After the unexpected second baseball, we decided to head over to RF. As we passed the Braves dugout, Tommy Hanson popped out and started signing autographs. Tim grabbed the Snitker baseball and a pen and walked up to Hanson and said, “Will you autograph my baseball?” I always think its cute when he asks for an autograph because it seems like most people just hold out a ball/card/ticket and a pen and the player grabs it and signs the item without any words being exchanged. But Tim always speaks up and gets the player to verbally commit to the autograph while he’s still signing for other people.
Better than the autograph, Hanson also posed for a picture with Tim:
After parting ways with Hanson, we headed a little further down the RF line. I watched BP while Tim played non-stop with his pierogies. He was having a blast with those things.
I decided to take a panorama through the little chain link fence on the foul territory warning track:
Tim kept playing and playing and playing with those pierogies. He put them in all sorts of make believe situations, many involving the threat of falling off of the wall or a step or a chair while Tim or I had to save them from falling to the ground below. Are are some random scenes:
See the bottom right picture? Someone hit a ball right down the line. There was an open gate to the field. I could tell the ball was going to hit the wall and then hit that gate and probably bounce into the handicapped seating area. By the way, the rest of the stadium was apparently still not open. There was literally no one else around us. I could have walked the fifty or so feet down to the gate and still got the baseball. But I didn’t. I ran down there, reached over the wall and scooped the ball off of the warning track right after it clanked off of the gate.
Here are the three baseballs we got at this game:
On our way to our seats, we watched the Pirates’ cool scoreboard game intro video:
(Click 720 HD for the best quality)
I missed the beginning of the video so I am not sure, but my best guess is that the first statue (the one that steals second base) is Honus Wagner. The second statue is Roberto Clemente. And the third is apparently Bill Mazeroski. The Pirates always have cool intro videos at the ballpark.
After the intro video, we made our way to our seats with a big pile of nachos. Thanks to reading about a ticket sale on the Pitt Peas blog (Thanks, Matt!), these seats cost us $7/ticket for this game:
As always, the nachos were excellent, but Tim had a hard time putting down his pierogies while eating and eventually he had cheesy pierogies that needed a major napkin scrub down…
On our way back over to section 105, the game started. As we passed behind the 3B dugout, I got this shot of Nate McLouth…
…he launched a monster foul bomb that just snuck over the last row of the RF bleachers.
We don’t like to be cramped in our seats and Section 105 was packed. But Section 101 in the RF corner was almost empty, so we grabbed some ice cream seats there:
An usher was walking around kicking everyone out who didn’t have Section 101 tickets. When he approached us he asked if we had Section 101 tickets. I said, “Section 105, but we’re hiding out here in the shade so he can eat his ice cream.” The usher said we could stay there because Section 101 was a downgrade from our real tickets. He then turned to Tim and said, “You can sit here, but you have to promise me that you’ll keep your dad under control.” I gave him a courtesy laugh, but Tim was too lost in ice-cream-helmet-deliciousness to really respond.
Here was our view of the plate (zoomed in) from Section 101…
Once again, I was pulling for former Mariner Ronny Cedeno to have a big day…
On Saturday, Tim was excited each time he saw the Pirate parrot. He would point him out and say either “There is the Phanatic!” or “There is a big green chicken!”
By Sunday, he’d figured out it was a parrot. And when Tim spotted the parrot coming up the stairs between Sections 103 and 105 early in the game, he yelled out, “Let’s get our picture with the parrot!” and he was off to the races.
We tracked down the parrot and got this shot:
Tim and I are usually on the go a lot during games. But Tim was very happy in our shady spot in Section 101. We stayed there without leaving the section until the 9th inning. This gave us plenty of time to get more action shots. Like this one of Andrew McCutchen — who was just a bit early on this pitch in the 4th.
We wanted to see ejection-legend Bobby Cox get tossed from a game this weekend. But he stayed calm. The best we could do was to get these shots of Cox pulling starting pitcher Kris Medlen from the game in the 6th:
The Braves took the early lead in the second when Melky Cabrera scored an unearned run on a David Ross single.
The Pirates tied it up 1-1 in the sixth when McCutchen hit a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly. Moments later, the Pirates took the lead when Garrett Jones scored on a single by Ryan Doumit.
Speaking of Doumit, I’ve never known much about him other than his name. But after this game, I won’t soon forget him because, among other things discussed below, he impressed me by coming to bat accompanied by the sweet sounds of Danzig’s “Mother”:
(Click 720 HD for the best quality)
Excellent call, Mr. Doumit.
Back to the game, the Braves knotted the score at 2-2 with a lead-off HR by Eric Hinske in the 8th inning.
Later in the inning, Future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones pinch-hit for Omar Infante and bounced out to 1B (you can see the ball at the right of the of picture):
But we did get this awesome picture of Andrew McCutchen hitting a single to CF in the bottom of the ninth…
…if you click to enlarge that picture you can see that the handle of his bat broke when he hit that ball. After I took that picture, a guy next to me in the concourse tapped my shoulder and asked me what kind of camera I was using. He saw the picture on the preview screen and was impressed. By the way, it is a Canon PowerShot SX200is.
When the Braves came to bat in the tenth, we headed out to RF in case someone would hit a homerun there. On the way, I got this shot of the field from Section 125…
We didn’t stay long in LF because we’d spent a lot of time there on Saturday. We decided to check out the RF bleachers. We walked around to Section 144, headed up the stairs into the seats, and grabbed two seats just above the tunnel.
Here was the view:
We made the wrong call. We should have gone one more section over toward the RF foul pole. Because about 5 minutes after sitting down, Ryan Doumit stepped to the plate. I said to Tim, “This guy likes Danzig so he might hit a home run.” He did. It was a screaming bullet of a line-drive and it landed exactly where we would have been had we decided to grab the same seats, but one more section over toward the RF pole. The guy who got the ball was sitting probably 20 seats over from us and one row behind us.
With the walk off HR, it was TIME TO RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER!!!
We got in line on the River walk and Tim hung out on my shoulders and watched the boats on the river:
We snaked our way across the River walk, out to the street behind the 1B line, and through a tunnel that dumped us out at the field right below Section 101. By the way, inside the tunnel we saw that there is valet parking under the River walk. I’m guessing that is for VIPs.
Someone was nice enough to take our standard RF foul line picture…
Another standard picture, approaching the infield on the 1B warning track…
Then the Pirates switched things up on us! Before this game, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field, Citi Field, Rogers Centre, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park and Miller Park and at every one of those stadiums, the kids started their trip around the bases at first base.
But at PNC Park, they had the kids start from home plate…
Another great thing about PNC Park is that they didn’t have people rushing us off of the field the second Tim touched home plate. So we had plenty of time to get some more pictures. I love this one featuring Tim and the “P” behind home plate…
…and a father-son picture behind home plate:
Now check this out, I snapped a picture of the Pirates’ dugout…
…and I saw a piece of paper sitting on the ledge behind the bench (yellow arrow to the left). I took a zoomed in picture of the paper. Above to the right, you see it is a picture of Omar Infante hitting a double off of Zach Duke. At the bottom it says “DUKE vs. O. INFANTE Inn. 6 Out 0 Runners none Count 3-2 Fly Ball Double.” I checked the game log, and this isn’t advanced scouting. This is “in game” scouting. Infante hit this double off of Duke in the sixth inning of THIS GAME! That’s pretty cool.
As we made our way to the far exit at the LF “corner spot, Tim inspected the dirt on the warning track:
But the fun didn’t end quite yet. We still had four hours in the car ahead of us. Here are just a couple of the sights from our drive home:
The mural at the top left is about 2 blocks from PNC Park, across the street from the Andy Warhol Museum. I thought it was cool that the mural had the windmills in it because there are a bunch of them in Western PA — as shown in the top right picture.
In the bottom left picture, that is a giant piece of art in Pittsburgh. I think it was just across the river in downtown. In case you can’t tell, the Robot man is made out of Pittsburgh’s yellow bridges. Very cool.
In the bottom right corner, Tim is using his “binoculars” to see the sights. He took a 20 minute nap in the car, but then was awake the rest of the drive home. Highlights of the drive included Tim telling me about 50 knock-knock jokes in a row, most concluding with a chicken doing something or other. Also, after discussing what championship the band Queen had won, we sang “We Are The Champions” about 4 times in a row at the top of our lungs. Good times on the road.
When we arrived home (about 2.5 hours after Tim’s bed time) Tim was still wide awake. He proceeded to tell mommy all of the great things we’d done and seen over the weekend.
The weekend was a complete success. Thanks, Pittsburgh.
2010 Fan Stats:
9 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
7 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, & Nationals)
19 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves)
5 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
6 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)
5 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)
4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
At about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 22, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and started making our way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This would be our first over-night road trip of the season.
I was really looking forward to this trip. We’d been to PNC Park before. In fact, in September 2007, it was our first ever father-son over-night roadtrip (and Tim’s first night ever away from home without mommy). But we’d never really explored the place. So that was part of the plan.
We had a blast chatting with each other and playing “I spy” and other driving games as we crossed the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania…
- I always enjoy the drive across PA because there are several long tunnels through “mountains” (if you were on the west coast you’d call these “hills”…mountains have snow at the top).
- The rest stop in the bottom left had special parking spots for “low emitting fuel efficient vehicles” like my Prius. But when we returned to our car, we found a Hummer H3 parked next to us in the “green” parking spots. Weak, Hummer driver. Weak!
- Tim LOVED our hotel room, which we got for a great price on hotwire.com…our first time ever using it.
It rained a lot during the day. But we headed to the park early in hopes of seeing BP. On our way over to the “River walk” entrance in LCF field, we snapped some pictures of Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente…
When we arrived, the River walk was open…
…but the rest of the stadium was only open to season ticket holders. From the River walk, I could see the tarp covering the field. No BP. We killed time watching boats in the river and birds flying all around the River walk.
Half an hour later, we were behind home plate taking in this soggy afternoon view:
Soon, Billy Wagner came out of the dugout and started signing autographs right by the OF end of the dugout. We were about 40-50 feet further toward RF.
At the time, Billy was sitting on 389 career saves, one behind Dennis Eckersley and number 6 on the all-time career saves leaderboard. After signing some autographs, he headed to RF to play catch. On his way by, I got him to take a picture with Tim…
…as you can tell by his big smile, Billy was really nice. He was very happy to meet Tim and pose for a picture. And he got a kick out of our Mariners shirts and hats. Tim was proud to announce that “We like the Mariners!”
After signing one of our tickets…
Then, Takashi Saito came back out to RF to play catch again. Thanks to another MLBlogger (thanks, Nao), I know a few Japanese words, one of which is a polite way to say “excuse me.” As Saito approached us, I told Tim to say “excuse me” in Japanese and, if Saito looked our way, to ask him for a baseball.
As Saito passed, Tim called out, “Sumimasen!” Saito quickly looked over with a surprised smile and Tim asked him for a baseball. As he continued to RF, Saito showed us the fronts and backs of both of his hands as to say “Sorry, I don’t have one.” No problem. It was pretty cool just having him react positively to Tim’s tidbit of Japanese.
Saito then played catch with Kenshin Kawakami in RF as his interpreter watched them. When Saito and Kawakami finished playing catch, Saito headed back toward the dugout. On his way, he looked our way and then headed over to a teammate (Cristhian Martinez) who was stretching nearby and asked him for the baseball resting nearby in his glove.
When I saw this, I told Tim, “He’s getting you a baseball!” It was awesome. Tim’s request was going to work! Saito got the baseball and started walking over to us.
Then The Weirdest Thing Happened!
Out of nowhere, we hear someone on the field yell “HEY, SEATTLE!” I looked out to RF and saw that it was Billy Wagner. Billy held up a baseball and then fired a perfect strike to my chest right as Saito was approaching us with the other baseball!
I caught Wagner’s baseball as Saito watched on. I yelled “Thanks!” to Billy and then showed the baseball to Saito. We smiled at each other and gave each other a mutual “wow, that was weird” expression and I thanked Saito for the gesture. He then headed back to the dugout with the baseball he’d grabbed from Martinez.
A few minutes later, Wagner headed back to the dugout and I asked if he would sign the baseball he’d given to Tim. He grabbed the ball and pen and knelt down next to Tim again and said, “I’ll sign this baseball for you if you give me a big “GO BRAVES!”” Tim complied with a big “Go Braves!” Wagner laughed at Tim and declared, “You’re too easy!”
He then explained to me how he was going to sign the ball (as in, where on the ball). I said, “do it however you want!”, which was funny because 2 second later another guy handed him a baseball and said, “Can you sign it on the sweet spot?” (we’re not very demanding with our autograph requests).
Anyway, here is a picture of Tim a few seconds after getting the ball from Wagner…
Hey, it was time to play some catch outselves!
Then, it was time to explore. I had an idea I’d been planning to do for a long time. Now was the time. It required us to walk to the LF upper deck. On the way there, I took this gloomy panorama over the visitors’ dugout:
The plan was to take pictures (hundreds of pictures) while we circled the stadium and then to make a 360 degree stadium video from them. You can see the finished product in our last entry.
By the way, the time stamp on our first 360 degree picture was 5:27 p.m. and the last picure was taken at 6:30 p.m. So, subtracting the 15 minute telephone call I had with my wife right as we made it into the field level behind the 3B dugout, it took approximately 45 minutes to take the 700 photos used in the PNC360 video.
Here is a panorama from the spot where I took the first of the PNC360 photos:
My original plan was to go all the way around the upper deck. But I was aiming my camera at the (tarp covered) pitchers mound, which made it so the Pittsburgh skyline was cut out of the pictures. So I cut diagonal down through the LF foul upper deck seats. However, do to this, I needed to get into the Pittsburgh Baseball Club seats at the lower portion of the upper deck. This is a special club for which you need special tickets — we didn’t have them.
Luckily, I did have a supercute kid. I tried to sweet talk our way into the club so we could go take pictures cutting diagonal through the seats. The lady working the door explained, “I wouldn’t let you do this, but he is just so cute.” So Tim’s cuteness got us in. I took a couple pictures in there but it is so dark they didn’t come out well. This is the best shot I got inside the club:
After passing through the club, we headed to the field level and took a hard-induced break. While I chatted with the wife on the phone, I took Tim’s Garrett Jones give-away action figure out of its box and gave it to Tim.
To put it mildly, he loves that action figure…
Hour an a half rain delay…
Check out the concourse as we went to get nachos…
Everyone was hiding from the rain.
After nachos, it was time for ice cream helmets:
Tim couldn’t look at me and smile for that picture because they were showing a bugs bunny baseball cartoon on the jumbo screen. By the way, the price and choices of real ice cream (or soft serve) at PNC Park were outstanding. The “Pirates Buried Treasure” ice cream was ridiculously good…and Tim loved his mint chocolate chip.
As we sat in our pre-game ice cream seats (section 119), I took this panorama:
Here is the view from the concourse in LCF behind section 138:
By the way, these are the general admission seats in LF. There are a couple rows of “reserved” outfield seats in front of these seats. How about another panorama? This one is from between sections 337(left) and 336 (right):
The Pirates came back with two of their own in the fourth on an RBI triple by Lastings Milledge and a sacrifice bunt by Cedeno.
We left the LF standing room area in about the 5th inning because a drunk Pirates fan was being excessively loud (in non-family friendly language) in his pointless taunting of a Braves fan (I’m not sure the Pirates have done enough to give their fans license to taunt…anyone).
Anyway, Tim wanted to explore the spiral ramp in LF and the upper deck. So we were off.
First, we checked out legacy square where Tim posed with some stars of the old Negro League:
Anyway, if you are at PNC Park check out Legacy Square. Can see little grey terminals next to each statue? Those are little TV screens where you can run a program that will tell you about each of these men. Very cool, Pirates. Good job.
Then we were off to the upper deck. Here is a panorama from the spiral ramp:
Here’s a random shot of the batters’ eye and bullpen from the spiral ramp:
I like this shot from the top of the ramp because it shows various levels of the ballpark…
Here is a random view of the upperdeck showing the pennants for the Pirates World Series Championships…
Its a nice view from up in the upperdeck. Tim was taking it all in:
…who I personally rank as one of the most overrated players in the game. He was given a No. 1 starter contract by the Braves, but his career record is only 147-121 (with 85 career saves). Don’t get me wrong, I’d personally take a 147-121 big league career. But he’s no Randy Johnson or _________ (insert the name of any other true No. 1 pitcher).
Tim was getting super-tired by around the 6th inning, which was making him more and more excited. Eventually, he ran into a handrail (bumped his head) and that was enough upper deck for him.
On our way back to the LF spiral ramp, Tim had to show me the most “adorable baby spider” out in the concourse. Then we ducked back into the seating area to take this panorama from section 235:
After the race, I snapped this picture of thie “PIRATES” plants in the CF batters eye:
Very briefly we headed back to the standing room area in LF. That’s where we were when Jason Jaramillo grounded weakly to future hall of famer, Chipper Jones:
We decided to go to RF to watch Heyward play the field. Tim was on my shoulders as we took the pictures for this panorama:
With sleeping Tim on my shoulders and a backpack full of rain gear, sweat shirts, long sleave shirts, extra t-shirts, two huge Garret Jones action figure pictures and who knows what else, my back was about to break under the extreme weigh.
So we took off early.
We missed Billy Wagner coming into the game and tying Dennis Eckersley in the all-time list with his 390th career save.
We walked to the car and I changed Tim into some night time sleeping cloths. He was still out. Then as we drove to the freeway, Tim woke up and asked “Is the game over?” He was a little upset that we left early, but he explained “I ran out of my energy.”
So we drove back to our hotel for the night. It was a good first day and game of the weekend roadtrip. We’d be back at PNC Park the next day for another game and we were already looking forward to it (and hoping the forecasted rain would stay away).
2010 Fan Stats:
9 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
6 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Pirates, Mets, & Nationals)
16 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Braves)
5 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
5 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
4 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)