The roadtripping continued on the morning of Monday, August 18, 2008…
Tim and I had been to PNC Park before. My dad had not. This was my Dad’s first view of the inside of the stadium:
As you can tell, we entered the stadium from the CF entrance. After snapping a photo of the field, we headed down to the RF corner and Tim played on the miniture whiffle ball field. There was no BP and no one on the field so we had some time to explore the field.
After a few minutes playing in the kids area, we made our way down the 1B concourse and around to home plate. As you can see (even with the second deck obstructing the skyline view), PNC Park is beautiful and has a spectacular view over the CF-RF stands.
So, here we are behind the Pirates pitchers. Our first thought was, “Who are these guys?”
After a minute or two, Tim and I jumped that railing and stood along the fence along the warning track. Soon after that, someone threw a ball over our heads and directly to my dad. I think it was Matt Capps.
A few seconds later, Matt Capps came over and started signing autographs. My dad tossed his baseball down to us and we got Capps to sign it…
A little bit later, Denny Bautista threw a ball to me and Tim…
We ended up getting a couple autographs on that ball, and a picture with one of the autographers…
Here are the three autographs we got on that ball:
After getting our picture with Beam, we continued our stadium tour. Next stop…
And speaking of that ramp, that was our next move…
While hanging out at the top of the ramp, I noticed messages going by on the skinny screens between the field and second levels. Then I saw a text message number, so I sent in a message to commemorate our trip:
That is the LF/3B entrance. I’m not sure if it has an official name. But it honors various Negro League baseball players. As you can see, the large bats hanging over head list: Harold Tinker, Leroy Matlock, Gus Greenlee and Sam Streeter of the Pittsburgh Crawfords; and Cumberland Posey, Sellers Hall, Vic Harris and Ray Brown of the Homestead Grays.
Back to the tour, we ended up in the upper deck down the RF line. Check out how cool the area looks with those golden bridges. Excellent.
Here is a panaramic view from the RF corner upper deck seats:
Finally, it was game time. We headed to our seats where this was our view of PNC Park from section 139, Row D:
The Mets sent John Maine to the hill to face off against Paul Maholm. The Mets were in first place in the N.L. East and were gearing up for another late season collapse. The Pirates were standing in 5th place, a game up on the Reds and 20.5 back of the Cubs.
Argenis Reyes led the game off with a single and scored the Mets first run with two down in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Beltran.
The Mets scored again in the fourth inning when David Wright singled, Carlos Beltran doubled and Carlos Delgado hit Wright in with a weak grounder to first base.
All the while, John Maine was stifling the Pirates pitching 1-hit ball. Ultimately, Maine pitched five innings and gave up only 2 hits. I’m not sure why he didn’t come back in the sixth.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Lets see some sights along the way. Look who was standing in front of us in CF…
Around the fourth inning, we decided it was high time we got some ice cream in us. In a surprise move, Tim selected mint chocolate chip instead of his standard chocolate order.
On the way back to our seats, the Pirates Parrot (he probably has a name, but I don’t know it), was standing in the concourse right behind our seats. I asked if we could get our picture with the Parrot:
For some reason, Tim wanted no part of that happy Parrot. Maybe he just wanted to get back to the seats for his ice cream. Actually, Tim generally loves mascots. But he is often intimidated and quiet once he finally gets up close next to a mascot. I guess they are big strange characters for the little guy.
Hey, see that camera man behind the me, Tim and the Parrot? He took note of us as we posed with the Parrot. A couple minutes later, he was all-up-in-our-faces:
After the ice cream, we made a change. We moved to the covered handicap-accessible / standing room walk way below the RF bleachers:
The Mets made a move too. They replaced John Maine with Brian Stokes in the sixth inning. It only took Stokes two batters and eight pitches to blow the save. When Adam LaRoche’s 2-run bomb sailed over the OF fence, John Maine’s solid outing was wiped out.
In the top of the eighth, it was still tied 2-2 when the Pirates brought in Tyle Yates (the same Tyler Yates who autographed our baseball before the game). Yates retired the first two batters, before giving up a single and two walks to load the bases. The Pirates brought in Sean Burnett (yep, the same one who also signed our baseball before the game) to record the third out. With a 1-1 count, Burnett induced an infield pop-up behind 3B by Carlos Delgado. The Pirates escaped the bases loaded jam unscathed.
Then they came to the plate and did some work. With three singles and a double, the Pirates scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth. The final blow came on a 2-run double by future-Mariner Jack Wilson.
And so it became do or die time for the Mets…
Not even the great Fernando Tatis could save the day for the Mets…
…Tatis popped out to 1B. Two of the next four batters would reach base, but the other two…wouldn’t. Coming full cirlce, after leading off the game with a single, Argenis Reyes closed out the game with a ground-out to short stop.
As the Pirates celebrated behind us, I snapped one final picture of Tim and my dad before we headed out…
Heading into the final week of the 2007 season, I checked the Pittsburgh Pirates schedule and noticed that the Cardinals were coming to town for the final weekend of the season. For reasons discussed further below, I was excited to see the Cardinals and their monster first baseman Albert Pujols. So I told my wife to have a nice weekend at home because TIM AND I WERE ROADTRIPPING!!
We had lots of “firsts” on this trip — some “baseball firsts” and some “life firsts.” First, it was our first baseball roadtrip “camping” in a KOA camping cabin. Pittsburgh is about 4 or so hours away. So I figured it was a little too far to drive back home after a night game. I also figured staying at a KOA would be more fun for Tim than staying at a hotel. So we booked a cabin at the Washington, PA KOA.
We left in the morning and arrived in Washington, PA in the early afternoon. Tim loved roaming all around the camp ground:
With the assistance of our KOA hosts Rick and Sharon Leclair, our second “first” was a trip to West Virginia:
I’d noticed that West Virginia was really close to Washington, PA on the map. So I asked Sharon about it while checking in at the KOA. She advised that there was a place in West Virginia just about 17 miles down the road that might interest Tim. So, with lots of time to spare before the game, Tim and I hopped in the car, drove to West Virginia for the first time in either of our lives, and arrived a Cabela’s in Wheeling, WVa:
It was time for Tim’s third “first” of the trip — Pittsburgh, PA. We left West Virginia and headed into Pittsburgh for the game. I’ve been to Pittsburgh several times and each tiem the sole purpose was to attend a baseball game at PNC Park. I know next to nothing about the city other than PNC Park. But I can tell you its a neat looking place.
As you can see on the map below…
…downtown Pittsburgh is nestled between the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahea Rivers. The red arrow points to PNC Park, which is across the Allegheny River from downtown Pittsburgh. Downtown and the ballpark are connected by a bunch of yellow bridges including:
The RCB is an automobile bridge most of the time, but before Pirates games (or at least this one) it is closed down and made into a pedestrian bridge. Although the bridges look a little weathered up close, they look beautiful from PNC Park with Pittsburgh’s unique-looking skyscrapers behind them.
Here’s a view of PNC Park from the Roberto Clemente Bridge…
Finally, it was time for Tim’s fourth “first” of the day — PNC Park. On our way into the park, we stopped so Tim could get his picture…
…with Hall of Famer Josh Gibson.
Soon, we were inside the stadium…
We were there in time to watch BP. But Tim was still too young for us to go out into the bleachers and test our luck at catching a BP homerun.
Instead, we grabbed some food and watched the Red Birds take BP. Going to games back then was a lot more difficult than going to games in 2009. As you can see, we had Tim’s on-the-go stroller with us…
…so, along with a back pack full of stuff, there was a lot to lug around to a ball game (and it made it a lot more difficult to take pictures too). But it made for a convenient place for Tim to sit and enjoy eating his ballpark frank before the game.
Anyway, at this game, our seats were in the lower section of the upper deck behind 3B. After BP ended, we went to our seats. They provided an outstanding view of the field, river, bridges and city. It was like a postcard…of course, I didn’t take a picture of it. Sorry.
We were out of our seats before the game even started, and we never returned to them. Instead, we spent most of our time during the game standing (or in Tim’s case running around in circles) on the big spiral walk way from the LF field concourse up to the upper deck concourse. Here is a shot of Tim standing at the top watching the grounds crew readying the field:
Do you see that braclet on Tim’s right wrist? At some point, a Pirates employee gave it to me. Its like a luggage tag, but its for lost kids. You put your name, seat number, cellphone number on it. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t lose Tim at this (or any other) game.
While up on the upper deck concourse, Tim had his fifth “first” of the day — his first time drinking from a water fountain. Tim thought the drinking fountain was great. He went back to it literally about 25 times throughout the game. And, he still loves drinking fountains today.
During the game, I took a fairly odd self-portrait of the two of us at the top of the spiral walkway:
The game was a good one. My main goal was to see Albert Pujols hit a home run. While that did not happen, he had a strong day at the plate going 3-5 with a double, 1 RBI and 1 run scored. I was also interested in seeing Rick Ankiel because his pitching troubles were still fresh in my mind. I wanted to see how he’d do as an outfielder and batter. He too had a strong performance. He went 3-4 with a homerun, 3 RBI, and 1 run scored. Generally, the story of the game was the Cardinals hitting and the Pirates not.
In the 4th or 5th inning, Tim and I relocated to a standing room area in RF…
…see that red arrow above? Well, maybe you should click on that picture to see it larger. If you do, you’ll see a chain link fence above the out-of-town scoreboard and below the RF bleachers. The chain link fence is part of the RF wall. Behind the chain link fence is a tunnel beneath the RF bleachers. There is a single row of seating along the front of the tunnel in groups of 2-3 seats at a time. I think the purpose of those seats is to have room for wheelchair seating. In 2008, I tried to buy tickets in that row of seating, but couldn’t figure out if or how I could do that.
Anyway, its a great place from which to watch a game with a young active son. I could watch the game while Tim ran circles around me without really bothering any of the other fans. There is also a “family restroom” in that tunnel, which is also handy when you have a young active child with you.
For some reason, I thought Ankiel was playing RF so I took this picture…
In the 6th inning, So Taguchi hit a seeing-eye single up the middle. It looked like either future Mariner Jack Wilson would snare the grounder from short stop or Matt Kata would get it from the second base position. Instead, the ball snuck by them both and Wilson and Kata ran into each other. In the process, Wilson took a direct shot to the side of the head from Kata’s knee. He went down hard and stayed down a long time. Eventually, they put him on a little flatbed type golf cart and motored him out of the stadium through a tunnel right below us in the RF foul corner.
The day had been really long for young Tim. He crashed hard by the 7th or 8th inning. That was fine with me, I’d achieved what I’d come to achive. So we left. By the time we got to the south of the Robert Clemente Bridge, Tim was fast asleep…
We drove back to the KOA and spent the night. The next day, we heaeded home to tell Colleen all about our adventures.
Our 2007 season was complete.
Now, there was one more “first” I haven’t mentioned yet, the most important first of the day. Amazingly, at the age of 31, this was my first time EVER seeing the Cardinals play live, and with the game I finally completed my 30-MLB Milestone. Compared to Tim seeing all 30 teams at 3.5, I guess doing it in 31 years is pretty unimpressive. But, I have a good explanation.
I grew in Seattle, which at the time was 812 miles from the nearest National League Park, Candlestick Park. Plus, there was no inter-league play until 1997. In 1997 and 1998, I went to at least one of the interleague games featuring each NL team that visited Seattle. But, that was just the NL West. I didn’t see most of the other NL teams until I moved to Philadelphia in 1999.
It was 2000 or 2001, when I first sat down and tried to figure out if I’d seen every team play at least once live. I had seen every American League team (including the Brewers) multiple times at the Kingdome. But I wasn’t sure if I had completed the NL. At that point, I could pinpoint at least one specific game in which I had seen every team play except the Montreal Expos. Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals.
I checked the Expos and Astros off the list in relatively short order. But for years, I could never get to a Cardinals games. It seemed like they would visit Philadelphia for only one series per season and I could never get to that series. So, it came to late 2007 and I saw this game as my first and best chance of actually getting to a Cardinals game. I planned the trip without hesitation. So, there you have it, at age 31, I finally could say that I had seen all 30 MLB teams play live. (Notably, Tim and I have now seen the Cardinals play in Pittsburgh, Cinncinati and Philadelphia.)
I didn’t keep a Baseball Log growing up, so I couldn’t put together a full game list for myself like I did for Tim’s 30-MLB Team Milestone. But I wanted to do something to illustrate my milestone. So, I tried to compile a list of at least one specific game when I saw each MLB team. By way of reviewing old ticket stubs (which I used to keep for years in the inside flap of my baseball caps), reviewing calendars, doing lots of research on Baseball-Reference.com, and exchanging emails with friends with whom I attended games throughout my life, I was able to pinpoint at least one specific game for every team except the Astros and Dodgers. Here you go (with brief comments for notable games):
Athletics – June 24, 1997 – Randy Johnson K’s 19 & Mark McGwire hits epic homerun.
Rangers – June 3, 1989 – Nolan Ryan 1-hits the M’s. Harold’s lead off hit is M’s only hit.
Angels – June 18, 1999 – My first game at Yankee Stadium.
Indians – October 10, 1995 – Game 1 of ALCS. Mariners win!
Royals – August 31, 1990 – The first game with Ken Griffey Jr. & Sr. playing together.
Twins – May 15, 2000
Tigers – August 30, 1990 – My first foul ball caught during an actual MLB game.
White Sox – April 5, 1999 – Final opening day at the Kingdome.
Red Sox – April 25, 1994 – Randy Johson (CG) beats Roger Clemens & Griffey hits HR.
Orioles – May 26, 1994 – Ken Griffey, Jr. hits a homerun and breaks arm making catch.
Rays – May 20, 2000
Blue Jays – September 12, 2006 – Tim’s First Game.
Yankees – August 25, 1995 – Griffey’s walk-off HR starts M’s charge to AL West title.
Giants – June 19, 2004 – Barry Bonds hits his 689th homerun in Philadelphia.
Dodgers – I saw them at Dodger Stadium in June 1994 and in Seattle in 1997-98.
Padres – June 1, 1999 – My first game at Wrigley Field on “moving to Philadelphia” drive.
Rockies – September 12, 2007 – Tim’s First MLB Anniversary.
Diamondbacks – August 8, 1999
Cubs – June 1, 1999 – Same as above (First game at Wrigley)
Cardinals – September 29, 2007 – This game! Finally!
Pirates – June 19, 2004 – Mariners beat Pirates and Eddie Guardado throws me a ball.
Astros – Two games in Philadelphia between 2000-05, but I can’t pinpoint the games.
Reds – September 4, 1999
Brewers – September 2, 1993 – Brewers playing in the AL (where they belong).
Phillies – April 12, 1999 – 1999 Home Opener and my first game at the Vet.
Mets – June 8, 2003 – Mariners sweep double-header at Shea behind Moyer and Garcia.
Expos – September 4, 2002 – My only “Expos” game.
Nationals – June 10, 2005 – My first “Nationals” game.
Marlins – September 9, 2007 – Tim’s first game seeing Jamie Moyer pitch in person.
Braves – April 12, 1999 – same as above (Phillies Home Opener)
Today was a big day for Tim; a milestone day. Therefore, I have two entries for today. This one is the milestone entry. I’m still working on the entries for our games at the Metrodome, Miller Park and U.S. Cellular Field, but they will all be coming soon.
Before Tim was born, I hand made a hard back, leather bound book for him that I called the “Baseball Log.” I use the Baseball Log to track all of Tim’s baseball adventures. Therefore, coming into this season, I knew that there were only 11 teams that Tim had not yet seen play in person. I made it one of our goals for the season. Today, at age 3-and-a-half, Tim checked the final team, the Royals, off of the list.
On our 30 team quest, we attended 46 games and visited 17 major league stadiums. This entry gives a glimpse into Tim’s journey around the MLB circuit.
Division-by-division, we’ll start by reviewing the dates of Tim’s first game with each team:
A.L. West A.L. Central A.L. East
Mariners (9-12-06) Twins (8-14-07) Blue Jays (9-12-06)
Angles (8-17-08) Indians (7-19-08) Orioles (8-9-07)
Athletics (5-1-09) White Sox (8-27-08) Yankees (9-3-07)
Rangers (5-4-09) Tigers (5-31-09) Rays (4-12-09)
Royals (8-17-09) Red Sox (7-3-09)
N.L. West N.L. Central N.L. East
Rockies (9-12-07) Pirates (9-27-07) Phillies (6-30-07)
Giants (5-2-08) Cardinals (9-27-07) Mets (6-30-07)
Diamondbacks (9-12-08) Cubs (4-11-08) Marlins (9-9-07)
Padres (4-19-09) Reds (6-2-08) Nationals (8-19-08)
Dodgers (5-13-09) Brewers (8-16-09) Braves (5-8-09)
As you can see, we closed out the A.L. West first, followed by the N.L. East. This makes a lot of sense since we are Mariners fans but we live an hour outside of Philadelphia. We then flip-flopped the leagues, and closed out the N.L. West followed by the A.L. East. Finally, on our current road trip, we closed out the N.L. Central on Monday, and the A.L. Central today.
Let’s check out some pictures — all 46 of Tim’s games to date (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game) in order:
Let’s take a closer look at those games. In the following list of games, when a Team Name is in Bold/Italics it denotes the first game in which Tim saw that particular team play in person. When a Team Name is underlined it denotes that team won the game. I figured identifying the game winners is enough, so I didn’t include the scores. However, I am including some game notes — such as homeruns, batting results by our favorite players or all-stars, etc.
1. Blue Jays at Mariners (9-12-06) – Ichiro 1-5, HR (Beltre, Ibanez, Wells), 2 Balls
2. Mets at Phillies (6-30-07) – HR – Howard, Beltran (2)
3. Mariners at Orioles (8-9-07) – Ichiro 3-6; HR – Miguel Tejada, Jose Guillen
4. Twins at Mariners (8-14-07) – Ichiro 1-4
5. Twins at Mariners (8-15-07) – Ichiro 2-4, 2SB; HR – Ibanez, Torii Hunter
6. Mariners at Yankees (9-3-07) – Ichiro 3-5, HR; W – Felix; L – Clemens (final loss)
7. Marlins at Phillies (9-9-07) – Burrell 2-4, HR; Carlos Ruiz 3-4, HR; Rollins 2-5
8. Rockies at Phillies (9-12-07) – Dobbs-Utley 3-Play; HR – M. Holliday; Helton 3-4
9. Cardinals at Pirates (9-27-07) – Pujols 3-5, 2B; Rick Ankiel 3-4, HR, 3RBI
10. Mariners at Orioles (4-6-08) – Ichiro 1-4; Ibanez 3-4, HR
11. Cubs at Phillies (4-11-08) – Pat Burrell 2-4, HR; Alfonso Soriano 1-4, HR
12. Giants at Phillies (5-2-08) – Chase Utley 2-3; Pat Burrell – walk off HR
13. Reds at Phillies (6-2-08) – Chase Utley 3-4, HR, 2RBI; Jay Bruce 2-4, HR
14. Indians at Mariners (7-19-08) – Ichiro 2-4, HR, 2RBI with outfield assist
15. Cardinals at Reds (8-15-08) – Pujols 3-5; Ankiel HR; Chris Dickerson 1st HR
16. Angles at Indians (8-17-08) – F. Gutierrez 3-3, 2RBI; Texiera 2-4; Sizemore 2-5
17. Mets at Pirates (8-18-08) – Adam LaRoche 2-3, HR, 2RBI
18. Nationals at Phillies (8-19-08) – HR – Jayson Werth, Willie Harris; R. Belliard 4-4
19. White Sox at Orioles (8-27-08) – Griffey 0-1, 3BB; HR: Dye, Millar, Huff, Konerko
20. Phillies at Mets (9-7-08) – W – Moyer (243); L – Pedro Martinez; HR – G. Dobbs
21. Reds at Diamondbacks (9-12-08) – Webb – 20th Win, 8IP, 5H, O ER, 2K
22. Rays at Orioles (4-12-09) – HR – Longoria, C. Pena, J. Bartlett, B. Zobrist
23. Padres at Phillies (4-19-09) – Ibanez – 2-4, HR; HR – Rollins, Utley, A. Gonzalez
24. Nationals at Mets (4-25-09) – C. Beltran 3-5, SB; R. Zimmerman 2-5
25. Athletics at Mariners (5-1-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – Gutierrez, Branyan, Holliday
26. Athletics at Mariners (5-2-09) – Ichiro 2-5; HR – Branyan; Giambi 2-4, 2RBI
27. Athletics at Mariners (5-3-09) – Ichiro 2-7; HR – Johjima, M. Sweeney (200)
28. Rangers at Mariners (5-4-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – Gutierrez, Branyan, Young, Davis
29. Rangers at Mariners (5-5-09) – Ichiro 0-2, 2BB; HR – Saltalamacchia, Nelson Cruz
30. Braves at Phillies (5-8-09) – HR – Coste, Werth, Utley; W – Hamels
31. Dodgers at Phillies (5-13-09) – HR – Ibanez, Rollins, Casey Blake, James Loney
32. Phillies at Nationals (5-17-09) – Sergio Escalona – 1st Career Win; Rollins 2-4;
33. Tigers at Orioles (5-31-09) – Curtis Granderson HR; W – Edwin Jackson 8 IP, 2H
34a. Giants at Nationals (6-3-09) – Rainout – R. Johnson sch’d to pitch for 300th Win.
34. Mariners at Orioles (6-10-09) – Ichiro 1-3; Jose Lopez 2HR; W – F. Hernandez
35. Nationals at Orioles (6-28-09) – HR – Dunn (Eutaw St.); Willie Harris 3-4, HR
36. Mariners at Yankees (7-2-09) – Ichiro 2-4; HR – Branyan, Gutierrez; L – Sabbathia
37. Mariners at Red Sox (7-3-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – R. Cedeno, Drew, Kottaras (1st)
38. Mariners at Red Sox (7-4-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – Jason Varitek; S – Aardsma
39. Mariners at Red Sox (7-5-09) – Griffey 1-1; Ichiro 1-5; HR- Ortiz, Pedroia, Ellsbury
40. Cubs at Nationals (7-19-09) – HR – Alfonso Soriano, Adam Dunn, Jake Fox
41. Cardinals at Phillies (7-24-09) – W – Joel Piniero, M. Holliday 4-5; HR – J. Lugo
42. Marlins at Phillies (8-9-09) – Moyer – 2ER, but loss. Victorino ejected from CF.
43. Pirates at Cubs (8-14-09) – Cubs score 10 runs in 2nd inning. HR – Fukudome.
44. Indians at Twins (8-15-09) – HR – Sizemore, Mauer, Choo
45. Astros at Brewers (8-16-09) – HR – Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.
46. Royals at White Sox (8-17-09) – HR – Yuni Betancourt, Jacobs, Pierzynski, Nix.
Ice Cream Helmets & Baseballs
Tim and I have collected a lot of memories as we’ve made the rounds of the MLB. But memories aren’t all we have collected. We’ve also amassed a few MLB baseballs and a bunch of ice cream helmets. Click here for a little article about our baseball collecting. Pictured below are our baseballs and ice cream helmets:
Thanks for joining us for this ride this season. Don’t forget to check out all of our reports from The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Road Trip of 2009, three of which are still to come in the next couple days:
Pirates at Cubs (8-14-09)
- Indians at Twins (8-15-09) – coming soon.
- Astros at Brewers (8-16-09) – coming soon.
- Royals at White Sox (8-17-09) – coming soon.
On Thursday night, August 13th, Tim and I flew to Chicago to meet up with my dad for The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Road Trip of 2009. The Plan: four days, four stadiums. It all started with the Pirates vs. the Cubs at Wrigley Field. So let’s get to it.
We parked for free on Sheffield Street about one block passed the CF enterance. This Cubs sign on the back of the CF Bleachers greeted us as we walked down Sheffield. Coincidentally, Tim brought his teddy bear with him. Teddy is a young bear, also known as a Cub.
This was essentially our first view of Wrigley once we entered the stadium (I say essentially because, obviously, we had to walk down to the front row before I took this…and I didn’t have my eyes closed during that walk):
I found it interesting that Sweet Lou Piniella (accompanied by first base coach Matt Sinatro) watched batting practice from LF:
Sinatro and Sweet Lou have been together, at least, since Lou was the Mariners manager and Sinatro was out back-up back-stop. By the way, back in 1991, Sinatro gave me his broken bat at Mariners spring training. I glued it back together and its as good as new. Its a beautiful Louisville Slugger that is perfectly balanced and shows a lot of use.
Next, we headed behind home plate, where I took this:
The lady to the left is standing at the cross aisle. They don’t let you below that cross aisle unless you have tickets down there. I’m not a huge fan of that rule.
See those Pirates warming up to the right? We went and stood in the cross aisle behind them. Eventually, former Mariner Ronny Cedeno joined them. I yelled out to Ronny and he gave me and Tim a wave. He tried to take a ball from a coach with the supposed intention of throwing it to us, but the coach needed it for hitting fungo to the infielders…including to Cedeno.
Tim was too warm down by the dugout, so he asked if we could head up the rows to the shady seats. Here is where we landed, section 226:
And here is the view from section 226:
And here is what Tim did after watching a few minutes of BP (notice any differences between the two pictures?):
In case you missed it, the difference is that Tim has a baseball in the second picture. Here is how that happened:
First, my dad met up with me and Tim at our section 226 coloring location. My dad stayed with Tim and I went back down behind the Pirates. By this time, Cedeno had taken a bunch of balls at short stop, gone into the clubhouse for a bit, and come back out ready to take some hacks.
In the top left picture, you can see there is a ball behind the cage about 10 feet to Cedeno’s left. As Cedeno was hitting, I noticed that ball. After he hit, he ran the bases once and returned to his spot behind the cage. I yelled out his name again and he looked back to me. I pointed to the ball. He (i) looked over and noticed it, (ii) walked over and grabbed it and (iii) fired a perfect strike to my glove.
A few minutes later, Ronny started signing autographs for those lucky fans with tickets below the cross aisle. We wanted that ball signed! Tim was with me at this point. We saw one of the ushers leave her post so she could take a picture of some people behind the Cubs dugout. This was my chance! Tim and I bolted through her unguarded post. We walked down 2-3 rows and then cut across the row so we wouldn’t walk by the photo-taking guard. We then cut down the next aisle and found our way over to Ronny.
This was the result:
By the way, that picture is taken from our seats at Section 235, Row 11, Seats 4-6. And, yes, I had absolutely no view of second base. We were actually fine with it. We could see the batters and the obstruction made double plays more interesting because we had to wait to see if and when the ball would come flying from behind the post on its way to first base.
I also got this picture of Tim and me after getting Cedeno’s autograph:
By the way, the look on Tim’s face here is signaling the onset of massive tiredness.
After I took this picture, we left the section and walked by the guard we’d bypassed, as we passed she jokingly to me, “You snuck by me!” I gave her the most sincere, “sorry!” I could muster.
And just like that, it was time to wander and take some stadium pictures, like this…
…and this one featuring my road buddies…
I went for the traditional Chicago Dog (so did my dad) and Tim went with fries with *dip* (that’s what Tim calls ketchup). Most of Tim’s dip would eventually find its way to his clothing, most notably his shorts. He also managed to let some of his dip migrate to my shorts as well.
Before the game, a bunch of military parachuters jumped into Wrigley:
…then some jet fighters did a fly by after the national anthem. They continued to do unannounced fly bys for the rest of the game, much to the delight of the Wrigley-crowd.
Finally, it was time for some baseball. Fresh off of their trade line fire sale, the Pirates’ glorified minor league line-up couldn’t do much at the plate:
I can’t remember who that is at top, but he’s grounding out in that picture. Below, Lastings Milledge is fouling a ball off.
The Cubs, on the other hand, didn’t have much trouble at the plate:
Okay, so I snuck Ronny Cedeno into that picture. I have to give him his face time, since he hooked us up with the ball and autograph. Next to him, Derek Lee makes contact with the ball (foul) before eventually walking. And Jake Fox swings at a ball that would eventually turn into a two run double. In the second inning, the Cubs hung a 10-spot on the Pirates:
The inning was pretty crazy. It went like this:
All of the scoring was very entertaining for my dad, me, Tim and his new give-away Cubs Dora the Explorer stuffed doll:
As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t really mind the beam obstructing our view of second base. What I could have lived without, however, was a human obstruction that spent about 3 innings of the game standing directly in front of us:
This picture is actually of Pirates Jack Salazar at the plate. Its a little hard to see him through our Old Style delivery man. The lady in the Cubs jersey talking to him stood up a lot while ordering beers, so did the guy in the glasses and his buddy (back of the head guy). It was as if these folks had never heard of sitting down and ordering. Its not too tricky of a concept. In the picture to the left, that guy stood right there selling beers to the beer lovers all around us for an entire half inning of Pirates batting. It was ridiculous. To the right, this is one of the 50,000 beers we passed down the aisle in exchange for the $247,000 we passed the other way. (Notice, the beer recipient in the picture to the right is also standing (during the middle of the inning)). Bottom line: the sluggish economy isn’t hurting beer sales at Wrigley Field.
We decided it was time for some ice cream helmets
We went to the first line. I couldn’t see any ice cream helmets. Then a guy walked up and said to his buddy that he could go for some ice cream. I asked him if they had ice cream helmets. He said they did, and that he has got ice cream helmets at a couple stadiums. I said we had too, and we compared ice cream helmet stats. Not to be boastful, but he was a novice ice cream helmeter.
When we got to the front of the line, I asked for two chocolote ice cream helmets and the lady replied, “Our ice cream isn’t ready yet.” Huh? Okay. She pointed us to another stand.
My line-mates and I relocated to that food stand. While waiting in line, I noticed something…
I ordered our ice cream helmets — I decided this time to get myself a twist. When the lady handed it to me, she yelled to the crowd, “TWIST ISN’T FROZEN!” Two seconds later, “CHOCOLATE ISN’T FROZEN!” Another lady working there, “ICE CREAM ISN’T FROZEN!”
So, I headed back to the seats with two soupy ice cream helmets in a tray in my left hand, a megahuge diet coke in my right hand, and a sleeping boy on my shoulders. Two steps out of the line, a guy lunged at me, tapped my shoulder and yelled, “HE’S TOTALLY ASLEEEEEEEEP!!” He thought I didn’t know and Tim was going to fall off. But I’m a sleeping Tim on the shoulders pro. I thanked him but said we were good to go. It was the first of many comments on the walk back to section 235.
And then grandpa and I enjoyed the ice cream soup as Tim slept..
…slept some more. That’s what happens when Tim doesn’t nap before a game.
He missed some of this action:
Due to all of the baseball the last few days and my lack of a connection with most of the Cubs and Pirates, I can’t really remember what happened on all of these at bats. But I know that several action shots I took resulted in singles. No doubles or home runs. And several resulted in ground outs or fly ball outs. I’m pretty sure the top picture here (which shows the actual contact of the bat and ball) resulted in a hit, but don’t hold me to that. (NOTE: Click to see pictures larger).
He missed all of this too:
In the bottom two pictures, the batters hit grounders. In the middle picture, you can see the dirt flying up where the ball landed. In the bottom picture, you can see the ball bouncing in the dirt.
Look who woke up! His first words, “I’m ready for my ice cream now.”
So you’re probably seen on ESPN some celebrity leading the crowd in “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” at Wrigley, our celeb singer was Jeremy “The Piv” Piven — Chicago native. He also threw out the first pitch:
Interestingly, at the last game Tim and I went to with my dad, Mark Walberg threw out the first pitch — of course, both The Piv and Marky Mark are associated with the hit show, Entourage (a show I have never seen).
Here is a panaramic from the bottom of section 235, where I took a picture of The Piv singing:
Guess who won? The Cubs — 17-2!
After the game, we got our official Road Trip game picture by the field:
The usher who took this photo thanked us for visiting Wrigley and gave us directions on how to get out to the bleachers so we could take some pictures. “Thanks, sir.”
Hey, by the way, did you notice that all of the NL Division Standings flags in CF are gone and they are replaced by a single “W” flag. That’s cool. I like it.
Bleacher photos, here we go:
And here is the view from the bleachers:
Below the CF bleachers, there is a spiral walkway to the sidewalk level. Here is a photo from the bottom of the walkway:
When we left, I realized we didn’t get a picture of the famous Wrigley Field sign, so we walked around the stadium to get a shot of it. On the way, we passed a ton of people standing at the fence of the players parking lot:
Here is the photo with the sign:
Unfortunately, this is the best picture we could manage out by the sign. The guy in the blue shirt behind us took a picture with all of us in it, and it didn’t turn out. But just imagine my dad standing next to us!
Finally, we hit the road. It was time to start the long drive to Minnesota to see the Indians vs. Twins.
We stopped by the McDonald’s next to Wrigley and got a McFlurry that I scooped into Tim’s Cubs ice cream helmet…
Tim enjoyed his ice cream helmet in the car and then helped my dad navigate on the drive to Wisconsin Dells — the Water Park Capital of the World — where we camped out at a KOA for the night.
Day 1 of the Road Trip: a complete success!
Season Fan Stats:
22 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
8 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field)
18 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals Marlins, and Pirates– and sort of the Giants)
18 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees and Cubs)
19 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, 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)
Tomorrow evening, Tim and I will fly to Chicago where we will meet up with my dad. Its time for The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2009. I figured I’d share the story of our The (original) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2008 so you know the background of this grand tradition.
I only started blogging about our baseball experiences this season. Last season, I had to resort to traditional email updates to keep my wife and other family members up-to-date on our trip status. Below, I have copied and pasted those email updates with just a few of the many pictures that were originally attached to the emails. I hope you enjoy.
This season, our Road Trip will take us from Wrigley to the HHH Metrodome to Miller Park and back to the south side of Chicago for a game at U.S. Cellular Field. The last game of the Road Trip will mark an important milestone and I’m EXTREMELY excited to get this trip under way and rack up some awesome family baseball memories.
So, here is the background I promised:
[AUGUST 15, 2008]
So we are in Washington, PA at our first night KOA. The drive went well
last night. Tim got whiney right at the end when we took a wrong turn and
got lost for a short time. Otherwise, he did great.
He wasn’t too excited to sleep in the cabin at first, but he ended up having
a great night and is really enjoying the campground. He thinks the red
light on the fire alarm on the ceiling of the cabin is a ladybug and he
talked about it at great length last night until 12:30 am when he finally
went to bed.
This morning he did some exploring and then hit some baseballs. Pa and I
played catch in between Tim’s hacks at the tee.
Next, we’re off to Cabela’s in West Virginia so Tim can check out some live
fish and dead animals. Then its on to Cincinnati where we will be in a
hotel. The Reds play the Cardinals tonight and I’m hoping Pujols hits 4
Here are some pictures.
Next update tonight following the game.
[AUGUST 16, 2008]
Here are a ton of pictures from today. We arrived in Cincinnati around
3pm. Hung out at our hotel a bit. Then we hit the streets and walked to
“Skyline Chili” for dinner. I got the 5-ways Chili, Dad got 2 Cheese Coneys
and cheese fries, and Tim got the kid’s cheese coney meal. You might notice
in the pictures, there was some cheese involved. (note, I also got
Then it was off to the game. As per usual, Tim’s cuteness secured him a ball. This time, from Cardinals reliever Chris Perez, who would eventually
earn a save in the game. We also got two autographs. Some dude, and Edison Volquez — a hot, up-and-coming pitcher for the Reds, you might have heard of him, he started the all-star game for the NL this season. [Note: At the time I wrote this, I was under the impression Volquez had been the starter, I’m not sure why. I’m now aware Ben Sheets was the starter…I’m not sure why.]
We then toured the Reds Hall of Fame, which is really cool. There is a lot
to see and do in there. Including a pitching areas where you can pitch and
someone can stick their head in a little window and call balls and strikes.
Eventually, the game started. We had nice outfield seats. The stadium is
nice. Seemed small and cozy. Tim and I had some great ice cream in Reds
helmets. We did a lot of walking around and seeing all the ins-and-outs of
the ball park.
After the game (Cardinals won 5-3), they had a spectacular fireworkds show.
I think it might have been Tim’s first. He loved it. The grande finale was
one of the best i’ve seen.
Then we walked back to the hotel. Tim fell asleep on my shoulders.
[AUGUST 16, 2008]
Hi, Guys. Another great day on the baseball roadtrip. We woke up in
Cincinnati and got showered up. Tim had a fine day of brushing his teeth, started off with some quality morning brushing. After leaving the room and
packing up the car, we headed to the free breakfast in the hotel. It hit
the spot. Then it was just 100 mile drive to Louisville. Note, Cincinnati
has some of the best this-way-to-the-freeway signage I’ve ever seen. There
was a sign “To 75” just as we exited our hotel and another one every block
for the entire mile or two that we weaved around the city before getting on
Tim did great in the car on the way down, which made the drive nice.
Louisville Slugger was excellent, even though Tim was not. Tim’s theatrics
began during the factory tour because little ones are not allowed to sit on
dad’s shoulders in the factory (although there was nothing low hanging that
would have bonked tim’s head). so, he whined a bunch in the factory. I was
suprised how small the factory is. They essentially make all MLB bats
(about 40% of all bats used in the MLB) on one machine. It cranks them out
at rate of 30 seconds per bat. Minor League bats are made on the other side
of the factory.
The museum was really cool. The best item in there, in my book, was a bat
Babe Ruth used the year he hit 60 homeruns. The Babe carved 21 notches
around the label on the bat, one for each home run he hit with the bat
before it broke. The bat is huge, as you can see in the picture when you
compare it to the guy standing behind it.
There was also a baseball diamon in one room. Tim loved it. They gave
everyone mini-bats and Tim swung, swung, swung and ran, ran, ran (the bases)
in that room. He had another melt down when we finally made him leave the
room. Note, that room has a dugout, and Tim and I got an awesome picture
acting like we are teammates at the top step waiting to hit.
They also have two batting cages in the museum. I took two rounds. One
with Ty Cobbs bat. The heaviest bat ever. Let me tell you, you notice it
at the plate! The second with a Jim Thome bat, which was designed by Edgar
Martinez (the guy running the cage is a huge M’s fan and picked it out for
me because of the Edgar connection). Dad took one round with the Hank Aaron
bat. Again, Tim had a minor meltdown when not allowed to take any hacks in
We all got personalized bats. Tim and mine are with us, but Dad’s is being
mailed to Edmonds. I picked black bats with silver writing to look like
Griff’s bat. I got them personalized to remember the roadtrip.
Next, it was off to Brookville, OH (ten miles outside of Dayton). We’re now
in our cabin at the KOA. Its a great KOA. Tim had an absolute blast. We
arrived around 4:30. Tim played like crazy in the huge boat-shaped sand
box. He played with tons of kids in the playset area. He sat on
crazy-four-wheeler bikes you can rent. He played tons of gold with his new
M’s golf set, even enlisting several neighorhooding campers (kids and
adults) to golf and/or hit baseballs with him.
We capped off the night with Superman Ice cream (except dad has moose
tracks, I think). Then it was more quality tooth brushing. Now, lil’
Timmers is sleeping an Dad is off brushing his teeth.
Oh, I forgot to mention, we BBQ’d at the cabin for dinner. Excellent
BBQ’ing by dad.
Oh, I also forgot a great line from this morning. I was emailing in the
hotel room and Tim said something to Pa. Then, Pa said to Tim, “No, your Pa
has it.” And Tim got this big huge smile on his face like something really
funny just happened and he says to me, “You’re Pa!? You’re Pa!?” It was
Anyway, that’s update no. 3. Please enjoy a ton of pictures below.
[AUGUST 17, 2008]
howdy, folks. so we find ourselves at the end of another great day. we
woke up in Brookville, OH this morning at about 7:30. We got the car all
packed up before Tim finally woke up. By 8am, we were on the road heading
to Cleveland. Tim was, once again, excellent in the car. We pulled into
Cleveland by about 11:30.
The game at Cleveland’s Progessive Field f/k/a Jacob’s Field was great. Our
seats were in foul territory down the third base line. The Indians were
playing the Angels. I never really decided who i would root for, but when
the Indians won, it was alright with me.
Before the game, we toured the field by foot and then Tim and I shared some
nachos while Dad had some red vines. Once the game started, Tim did a nice
job sitting in the seats and allowing us to watch the game. However, by the
fifth, Tim was quite ready for a nap and he decided to take it on my
shoulders. I ended up watching several innings standing at the top of the
section behind the seats while Tim did his best job of tryng to break my
neck supporting him while he napped.
During Tim’s nap, I talked to a robust field attendant and a guy in the last
row. The attendant mentioned that it was “kids run the bases” day and that
kids would start lining up by the 7th inning to run a lap of the bases
following the game. So, after his nap, Tim and I met back up with grandpa
and we went and found the line. After the Indians won the game (and
series), the long line started to snake its way through the bowels of
Progressive Field. (I’m happy to report that it has been 19 days since the
Indians’ last “lost time” on the job accident — or at least so read the
sign beneath the field).
Because Tim’s such a little whipper snapper, they let me run the bases with
him. We had a blast. Here is the picture the Indian’s took for us to
After the game, we collected the kid’s giveaway (they do it after the game
for some reason), an Indians’ art set) and then we called Colleen to
mapquest directions to our next KOA.
We arrived in the Cleveland/Streetsboro KOA around 5pm. Its nice, but not
as happening at the Brookville KOA (which, did we mention, won KOA’s
Presidential Award last year). We played in the kids’ play area, fed fish
from the dock, BBQ’d and made Tim’s first smorse around his first campfire
tonight. Tim had a blast and just finally got to bed.
All in all, it was another excellent day of road tripping. Tomorrow, we’re
off to Pittsburgh. See you then. In the meantime, check out these
[AUGUST 18, 2008]
howdy, folks. so we made it home this evening, but not before taking in
another great game on the roadtrip. we cruised a quick 100 miles into
Pittsburgh, PA this morning for a 12:30 match-up between the Pirates and the
visiting Mets. The teams decided against taking batting practice this
morning so we wondered around the park before the game and ultimately ended
up down the third base line where the Pirates’ pitchers were playing catch
in pairs. the ball catching opportunities were slim, but we capitalized
big-time. first, a Pirate pitcher (possibly someone-or-other Nelson) threw
a ball to Pa. Then, Tim and I got Pa’s ball autographed by Matt Capps (DL).
Next, Pa got our pitcher taken with Matt Capps.
Next, Denny Bautista threw a ball to me and Tim. Then, Tim and I got it
autographed by Sean Burnett (eventual winning pitcher on the day), Tyler
Yates (relief pitcher today (pre-save)), and T.J. Beam. Finally, we capped
off the session with a picture with Mr. Beam.
Next, we walked around the park for a bit. We even visited the first water
fountain Tim ever used (last September). The water fountain is doing well.
We had a bite to eat before the game and Tim konked out on my shoulders, but
let me switch him to a traditional baby-holding position. He slept through
all the nachos!
After his nap, we got some mint chocolate chip ice cream in Pirates’
helmets. While Tim ate his (with sprinkles) sitting under our seats, a nice
camera man found us and broadcast Tim for about 10-15 seconds on the jumbo
tv screen in the park. It was actually our second time getting media
coverage on the day. Earlier, we had our text message about the roadtrip
put up on the scoreboard between the first and second levels.
Our seats in the OF were excellent. But, due to the heat, we eventually
relocated to the handicap accessible seats under the right field seats. It
had an excellent breeze that made the end of the exciting game even better.
After the game, we took a leisurely 250 mile drive back to Reading where
mommy was waiting to greet and hug us.
Its been a truly great baseball roadtrip. Although I have to work in the
day tomorrow, the roadtrip continues tomorrow evening with a Phils vs. Nats
game in Philadelphia. Should be more of the same — fun, fun, fun.
See pictures attached.
[AUGUST 19, 2008]
Well, here is the final update for the big baseball roadtrip. I was back to
work today before taking off early to head down to the Phillies/Nationals
game. It was nice to be back in the car and on the road again after a hard
The Phils pulled out a much needed come from behind win. They never led
until one out in the bottom of the eighth. Then they brought in Brad Lidge
and he sealed the deal.
I didn’t expect a big crowd so I hadn’t pre-ordered tickets. When we
arrived all they had left was obstructed view and standing room tickets. We
opted for obstructed view. And, you know what? You can’t see very well
through a big yellow foul pole.
After a couple innings behind the pole, we hit the bricks. We walked down
to the team store and then got something to eat. Pa and I got “Schmidters”
and Tim got the biggest chocolate soft serve with sprinkles ever to be
served in the mini-Phillies helmet.
Tim started complaining about the wind in the stadium and saying he wanted
to go home. So we put on his sweatshirt and walked some more. Eventually,
we found a landing above the left field seats and below the jumbo screen.
There was a sectioned off handicap area with one on in it. Tim went in and
claimed it as his playground. When a guard came to kick him out, a bunch of
guys yelled at her “LET HIM PLAY!!! LET HIM PLAY!!!” So she caved to the
crowd-pressure. Tim played the rest of the game in there and eventually
made fast friends with his would-be ejector. She ended up giving him a
Phillies hat and trying continuously to get him on the jumbo screen to no
avail. He really entertained in there and by the end of the game, he no
longer wanted to go home.
It was a nice game to end an excellent baseball roadtrip. Here are a few
pictures from tonight.
Thanks for staying tuned,
And that, in a nutshell, was the First Annual Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2008. I asked my dad to come out and take this trip with us because I wanted to go to the Louisville Slugger factory. We built the rest of the trip around that. By the time we got back to the hotel room in Cincinnati after the first game, we decided the trip had to be an annual thing.
Let the Second Installment begin!