For months, we had been looking forward to the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Our Mariners were scheduled to take on the Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The original plan was that my folks would come out for the series and my wife would join us too. But through a series of plan squashing issues, neither my folks nor Colleen could end up making the trip. My folks were out weeks in advance, but Colleen was going to join us right up until July 3rd. We picked out our hotels and bought our game tickets with her input…but then something more important came up that she had to attend to and had to drop out.
On very short notice, we were happy to have Avi Miller…
…join our traveling roadtrip caravan.
The plan was to see the M’s in Cincinnati on July 5-6. We headed to Pittsburgh around 11:00 a.m. on the Fourth. There was a big “Regatta” party-thingy going on in Pittsburgh. We started out by playing some catch in the park:
We cooled off in this big fountain:
We watched a pretty cool BMX show:
For the record, that guy jumping above is traveling from left to right…and Avi wasn’t impressed until the very end when the last two bikers did back flips.
Next, we met up with famous Pittsburgh couple, Matt Peaslee and Erin Wozniak, and watched a boat race on the river. This guy captaining the No. 10 boat easily won the race:
Next, it was off to Moe’s for dinner:
And then we finished off the night with some fireworks:
The next morning, July 5, 2013, we were off to Cincinnati. Neither Kellan nor Avi had ever been to Great American Ball Park (or Cincinnati in general). While both of them loved the ballpark, Avi contained his enthusiasm while Kellan couldn’t even stand still for a quick picture:
Oh, by the way, this game marked Kellan’s 50th MLB game and Great American Ball Park his 16th MLB stadium.
The Reds have an extra early BP “tour.” You pay some extra cash at the Reds Hall of Fame (which is an awesome Hall of Fame that you should definitely check out), and you get in to BP super-duper early. You also get a pass into the Reds HOF and a cool Ted Kluzinsky statue.
After buying our tickets, the boys posed for some pictures with Reds Mickey Mouse…
…and Reds Statute of Liberty.
Just outside the Reds HOF, we found this excellent statue of Johnny Bench:
(Note: Tim is using a brochure as a catcher’s mitt in that picture).
Around 4:21’ish, our BP tour guide took us inside the stadium…
…and told us what would happen once we went out to the field. Essentially, for the first half hour we would be confined to right field. Then the first base line would open up for us (and I think all Reds season tickets holders. At that point, we could stay in RF or we could head down to the Reds dugout in search of autographs. Eventually, the gates would open to the general public and we would be able to go anywhere.
When we headed out to RF, Joe Saunders was throwing a bullpen session:
We watched Saunders while Avi went off to watch BP. After Saunders wrapped up his throwing session, Saunders flipped his warm up ball up to Tim between the narrow gap between the seats and the net over the top of the bullpen.
For the rest of Reds BP, we hung out here:
You can’t tell in that picture, but we were in a little partial row pressed up against the batters’ eye. Spots like that are always ideal for us because the natural barrier on one side helps keep Kellan from trying to wander away.
Reds BP was interesting. As far as I could tell, they hit a grand total of two homeruns. I might have missed some…but who knows. I truly only saw two homeruns the entire time. Meanwhile, all of the Reds were wearing BP pullovers and I had no clue who most of them were…
…but then I saw a familiar face, Mariners bullpen catcher Jason Phillips. I hadn’t seen him in the bullpen when Saunders was throwing. He must have been hiding in the corner. We exchanged our customary tip of the caps as he walked across the field with Saunders.
Eventually, I recognized two Reds in the outfield. First, I noticed Shin-Soo Choo shagging balls in CF. When Choo made a catch on a sinking liner in CF, I called out an extended “CHOOOOOOOO!” He turned around and fired the ball to me. About thirty second later, he shagged another ball and it tossed it to Tim.
Double thanks, Shin-Soo!
The boys posed with their Choo-Balls and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
Nearby in RCF, MyGameBalls.com 2013 top ten snagger Rocco Sinisi was toiling away and doing his thing. Rocco is the MyGameBalls.com career leader for Great American Ball Park and a photo with him was good for scavenger hunt bonus points. Although we’d been chatting a bit off and on during BP, we decided to get a photo with Rocco early in BP just in case we forgot to or didn’t get a chance to do so later. So here is our first attempt at the Rocco/GABP bonus photo:
Over the past several years, I haven’t really followed but have admired Aroldis Chapman from afar. He seems like a good guy and, heck, he throws balls at crazy fast speeds.
Amongst the sea of unrecognizable Reds in the outfield, I eventually noticed that Chapman was hanging out in straightaway right field. When I spotted Chapman way over there in RF, I shouted out a loud, “AROOOOOOLDIS!” This prompted Aroldis to look over and exchange waves with us.
See where Aroldis was:
He was way over there. Carter Capps was “way over there” too – way over across the field from this throwing partner out on the LF. Capps was firing seeds across the field. It was impressive.
A little while later, someone hit a grounder through the infield and into somewhat shallow RF. Aroldis sauntered over and grabbed the ball. I called out his name again (you know, we were buddies after that exchange of waves) and he threw the ball all the way from RF to my glove waiting in CF.
Hey, remember those two BP homeruns I mentioned? Jay Bruce…
…hit one of them right to me and I made the catch on the fly. Thanks to Rocco for identifying Bruce for me later in the day based on that last photo.
See that bat laying on the ground in the photo above to the right? When Reds BP ended, we headed around the RF foul pole and toward home plate. On the way, I took a photo (that photo) of a bat (that bat) sitting on the ground in the Mariners’ bullpen. I took the photo for the sole purpose of zooming in on the picture to see whose name was on the bat. So click on that photo and check it out: it was Jay Bruce’s bat. That’s odd.
As we approached the infield, the Reds grounds crew removed the cage and screens from the field. What was this all about? It was very confusing. It was also a bit of a bummer because this was only our second Mariners game of the season and the Mariners didn’t take BP before our first game either.
Anyway, we decided to grab some food for the boys and head over to the third base side…
…where the Mariners’ position players were stretching. As I took some photos, Tim munched down a hot dog and Kellan worked away on a big soft pretzel:
Funny side note: Kellan ate part of that pretzel while sitting on my shoulders. When he finished, I had to pick big grains of salt out of my hair for the rest of the afternoon.
The lack of BP was actually kind of cool because the Mariners did a modified version of the old fashioned “taking infield and outfield.”
While we were watching our M’s, a Reds employee with a camera came over and asked if he could take our picture. “Sure,” I responded. After he snapped the pic, I asked why he wanted the picture. “It’s for the Mariners,” he responded. Later in the day, we found out that the Mariners tweeted the picture to over 130,000 people. Here’s the M’s tweet, and here’s another look at it:
After playing catch with Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez signed a bunch of autographs:
Tim got him to sign the Jay Bruce homerun ball.
Thanks, King Felix!
I asked Felix why the M’s weren’t taking BP. He said they had got into Cincinnati around 2:30 in the morning after playing a road game in Texas the previous night and decided not to take BP.
Following the M’s warm ups, we got a better photo with Rocco:
And then we wandered around a bit and got some pictures with the Reds piggy bank…
…and a big bobblehead burger guy.
Before the game, the Reds honored Homer Bailey…
…for throwing a no-hitter against the Giants three days earlier.
Here was our view for most of this game, about three rows from the top of section 402:
In the couple of games Tim and I had previously attended at Great American, we’d sat in RF and lower LF. We once visited the upper deck in LF, but never watched game from up there. I’ll tell you though, I loved it. For an “upper deck,” it’s not very high up there and the view is great. Plus, we had a nice view of Kentucky across the river and a great breeze. As an added bonus, at the back of the upper deck, there are covered seats to either shade you from the sun or keep you dry in the rain. The LF upper deck at Great American Ball Park definitely gets my seal of approval.
The pitching match-up was Aaron Harang vs. Mike Leake. I wasn’t a big fan of the match-up. But sometimes a struggling pitcher can pull out a better-than-normal performance when facing his old team. That’s what I hoped for from Harang.
We dropped our stuff at our seats and watched the first pitch from Leake to Brad Miller:
And then Kellan and I headed down the stairs on our way to get some ice cream for the boys. As we walked down the upper deck stairs, Miller laced the ball down the RF line and coasted in for an easy triple. A great start for the M’s!
As Kellan and I ducked into a men’s restroom, Nick Franklin stepped to the plate and blasted a 2-run homer. Kellan and I had no clue this had happened. But when we got back to the ice cream place we saw the score – 2-0 Mariners!
When we got back to the seats…
…, Avi informed us about the Franklin homerun.
Harang pitched a scoreless bottom of the first. Then, Michael “The Condor” Saunders hit a leadoff bomb in the top of the second:
Here’s one of the reasons I like Brandon Phillips:
Check out that big smile clearly visible from the top of the upper deck in LCF! That’s how I like to see guys playing the game, like my favorite player, Ken Griffey, Jr.
In case you were wondering, here was the Mariners outfield for the day:
Michael Saunders in RF, Dustin Ackley in CF and Rauuuuuul Ibanez in LF.
Here’s a funny picture with no backstory, just a bunch of funny guys:
And a couple loving brothers:
Tim and Kellan either spend their time trying to annoy one another or hugging and telling each other how much they love the other. Generally, they act like wonderful loving brothers while at baseball games and reserve their annoying each other for play time at home.
Much to my delight, Harang was, indeed, putting a strong performance together against his old squad:
Multiple times before the game and once during the game, I took the boys here…
…for a little kid fun. That table looks like it is covered in sand, but it is really a mixture of different colored bits of rubber chopped up into little grains. There were digging tools and dinosaur skeletons that the kids could dig up. The two big dinosaurs standing behind the boys in the picture above to the left felt real’ish and they moved around every couple minutes. The one on the right also laid eggs. The boys couldn’t get enough of this little dinosaur display.
Before the game started we were hanging out in dinosaur area and another guy wearing Mariners gear asked me if he’d seen us at Pittsburgh. We chatted about it and, indeed, he had seen us in Pittsburgh. His name is Greg. He’s a NW Mariners fan transplanted to Detroit. We’ve kept in touch a bit since running into each other several times this weekend. Good guy, and good Mariners fan.
Last time we were in Cincinnati we failed to get a good picture of the batters’ eye boat. So, we got this one:
Back up in section 402, the ballpark looked even better as the sun went down:
Avi agreed, this place is beautiful:
Tim and Kellan both took a bunch of pictures during this game and weekend. Here’s Kellan’s funniest picture:
I should mention that the Mariners took a 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Michael Saunders hit a sacrifice fly to LF scoring Kyle Seager.
In the top of the fifth inning, Brad Miller made some Great American Ball Park history when he hit his second triple of the game. In over 800 games, it was the first time that a player had hit two triples in a game at GABP. Pretty cool.
In the bottom of the fifth, Shin-Soo Choo hit an RBI-double to put the Reds on the board.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Reds capped the scoring for the day when Joseph Votto blasted a leadoff homerun to CF. That made the score 4-2 Mariners.
Late in the game, we got split up from Avi for a while. When we connected on the phone, he said he was in a SRO area near home plate with Rocco. We decided we should go over there. Thinking (correctly) that we might not make it back to section 402, we got a picture of Tim at the bottom of 402 on our way out (Kellan didn’t want to get off my shoulders to get in the picture):
This was our view in the SRO area:
When we arrived at the SRO area, Avi was nowhere to be found. Ends up, we’d left section 402 to meet up with him and he left the SRO area to meet up with him in section 402.
Eventually, we did all meet up at the SRO area. They make you stand at the top of the stairs. Eventually, we move down the stairs at stood at the corner of the cross aisle. The ushers didn’t really do anything about it so we stayed there a bit.
Heading into the bottom of the eight, the Mariner brought in Charlie Furbush who blew away Zack Cozart, Joey…
…Votto, and Brandon Phillips, 1-2-3.
When Rocco came by, he headed down the cross aisle toward the outfield. We all followed him and ended up here for the ninth inning:
Check out that guy’s Johnny Bench jersey. That’s sweet.
Ollie Perez nailed down a great Mariners Win!
We ended up in near-perfect position for a umpire ball, but didn’t get one. But when we moved to the other end of the M’s dugout, Jaime Navarro tossed this one to Tim:
Avi, the boys and I pulled up some from row seats…
…for the post-game firework show:
The very first fireworks show of Tim’s life was at Great American Ball Park and it was awesome. However, since then, we’ve seen a fireworks show at Progressive Field, and absolutely nothing stacks up to the Indians’ fireworks shows. They are incredible But this was a nice show for the boys. They love all fireworks shows.
After fireworks, we got one more picture with Rocco…
…, one more group shot of us four roadtrippers…
…, some mire image shots with these awesome mosaics…
…, and one with this cool thingy inset on the floor of the concourse behind home plate:
And then we headed off to the team store so Avi could buy a bunch of bobbleheads. In the team store, Tim posed with a huge World Series trophy:
Finally, we walked back to our hotel a few blocks away…
…where Kellan hid under a pillow, both boys acted silly for a while, and then we all called it a night.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|17 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers|
|28 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 2|
|72 Baseballs – Mariners 8, Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 1, Umpires 7, Reds 8, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6|
|10 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park|
|32 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith|
|10 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo, Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez|
June 9, 2012 was a fun day. My folks were visiting from Washington and we all headed out to Pittsburgh for Ballhawkfest 2012 featuring an interleague battle between the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates or, as it would turn out to be, the Kansas City Monarchs against the Homestead Grays.
We had a full day on the 9th so we drove out to Pittsburgh the night before the game and stayed in a hotel. The first order of the day was to play a little homerun derby. PNC Park regular and mygameballs.com member Rick Sporcic had booked us an incredibly interesting ballpark called Officer Paul J. Sciullo III Memorial Field. As you can see from this panorama:
There is a bridge directly behind/above the tall chain-linked centerfield fence. And it was definitely in play.
The derby crew was small, but all the guys were cool. In addition to me, Tim and my dad (my mom and Kellan played around in the shade in deep CF/RF), there was Rick Sporcic, his buddy Hunter Stokes, Ballhawkfest veteran Garrett Meyer, Ballhawkfest veteran Alex Kopp, and Alex’s dad Mark Kopp.
I was in the outfield most of the time and didn’t have my camera. So I only got a few pictures, mostly taken by Tim and Garrett.
Here is Garrett taking some hacks against Rick:
I didn’t get any pictures of Rick hitting, but he was definitely the batting champ of the day. In his second round, he hit approximately 800 homeruns.
Garrett got some cool pictures of Alex pitching to me:
I hit about 5-6 homeruns onto the bridge. Several went to CF where the bridge wasn’t very far from home plate. My best hit went to LF and I was surprised when it carried all the way to the bridge. In the following photo, I’ve laid our derby park on top of PNC Park so I could see how far my longest homerun went:
I was shocked by how small the derby park was when I put it on top of PNC Park. But, you know, any time you’re hitting a baseball over an outfield fence it is fun.
Here is another picture that Garrett took that shows one of my homers sailing onto the bridge:
One of the best parts of the derby (which I completely failed to capture on film) was watching my dad hit. He was lacing some hard line drives all over the park and eventually hit one bomb to leftfield.
Good job, pa!
After two rounds of homerun derby, we finished up with Garrett pitching to Tim:
Tim put on a good show. He even took some successful lefty hacks.
After lunch, we all headed over to a local restaurant. Two noteworthy things happened at the restaurant. First, the service was horrible. We had to wait for our food…
…for close to an hour. This ultimately resulted in our bill getting cut in half by the manager. Second, Milwaukee’s Best, Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohanek, and his wife April showed up. They missed the derby because they had a morning flight in from the dairy lands of Wisconsin.
After lunch, even with the long delay, we had a good chunk of time before the gates would open at PNC Park. My folks, the boys and I passed the time with a visit to the Duquesne Incline:
Eventually, it was time to head to PNC Park. PNC was Kellan’s 12th MLB stadium. This was also my mom’s first game at PNC Park. I’m not sure of her stadium total, but let’s see if I can figure it out. I’ve been to games with my mom at: Safeco Field, the Kingdome, The Big A (as a kid), Dodger Stadium, Oakland Coliseum, Veterans Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Camden Yards, Fenway Park, new Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Tropicana Field. Okay, so my mom might be tied with Kellan at 12…but, then again, she might have been to the Astrodome with my dad before I was born. Hmmm…not sure.
Anyway, as we approached PNC Park for my mom’s and Kellan’s first time, my mom and Tim got their picture with the Willie Stargell statue:
When the ballpark opened, Rick took over and ended up getting all of us non-season ticket holders into the stadium with the season ticket holders.
While almost everyone else huddled up in LF, we got Tim’s picture with the Pirate Pig…
…and then headed over to RF foul territory:
RF foul territory is a pretty good spot to hang out in during BP at PNC Park. A lot of the time over there, it was just us Cooks or us and Zac Weiss.
When we arrived Jeff Francouer was playing catch with a football in front of the 1B dugout. He was a little past 1B and his partner was close to home plate. His partner tossed a few balls past him and I kept yelling, “Hit me, Frenchie! Hey, I got a tight spiral!” He thought it was pretty hilarious, but didn’t let me get in on the football tossing action.
Charlie Morton tossed us a baseball pretty quickly after we arrived:
About thirty seconds later, a Pirates batter hit a foul down the line. I caught it on one big hop.
Shortly thereafter, Juan Cruz tossed a baseball to Tim…
…and Tim made a nice catch on it.
Right after throwing the ball Tim, Cruz grabbed another baseball and tossed it to my mom. So everyone had a baseball already:
Double thanks, Juan!
I gave my glove to my mom so she could patrol the line with my dad and the boys:
My mom didn’t get any other baseballs, but my dad could 4-5 on the day.
It was a great time down the line. In addition to a bunch of baseballs, we pictures with three players. First, Tim (and sort of Kellan) got a pitcher with hard throwing Kelvin Hererra:
I didn’t know it before this game, but Jose Mijares is super nice and really likes kids. He saw Kellan standing along the wall with his glove and walked over and put a baseball into Kellan’s glove. Then he handed out some high fives to both boys:
I really wanted to try to get a picture with Yuniesky Betancourt and/or Johnny Giavotella (to whom one of my friends from New Orleans had asked me to pass along a message that New Orleans is rooting hard for his success). They ended up taking some grounders together:
And then Giavotella came over and posed for a picture with Tim:
And I passed on the news that his home town is rooting for his success (which I imagine wasn’t too much of a shock to him). He seemed like a real nice kid.
While the Royals pitchers were running sprints in the outfield, Greg Holland…
…fielded a batted ball and tossed it over to me and Kellan.
Then righty-former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt went on a tear hitting foul balls down the RF line. I caught one of Yuni’s one-hoppers.
My dad got one of his that was sliced into the seats just behind the handicapped seating area. And then Tim snagged one that Yuni sliced into the seats right where my dad had already got one from Yuni. It was the first *hit* baseball that Tim had ever snagged on his own:
And he loved that it had a nice scuff mark from hitting the concrete.
Tim’s baseball from Yuni was our last baseball of the day. Tim and Grandpa both wanted to see if they could get Yuni to sign their baseballs (they never got near him) so they headed over to the wall just past the dugout:
While Yuni never stopped by, Humberto Quintero did, and he posed for this picture with Tim:
Toward the end of BP, my folks went off to tour the stadium a bit…
…while the boys and I hung out with Matt Peaslee and Erin Wozniak¸ who we know through Matt’s Pittpeas MLBlog and met in person for the first time last year:
Matt and Erin are good people, and huge Pirates fans. Follow Matt on Twitter and you will always know when the Pirates win a ballgame (NOTE: Matt just tweeted that linked tweet exactly when I typed this part of this blog entry!).
After parting ways with Matt and Erin, we grabbed some ice cream helmets and headed out to LF for a group shot with most of the Ballhawkfest guys:
Everyone had success and BP. All told, I think we combined to snag over 50 baseballs as a group. Not too shabby.
After the group photo, we headed to the picnic tables by the Alleghany River to eat our ice cream…
…do some ballpark birding…
…, and play some catch.
And then it was game time. We had some lovely seats in the four row of section 137:
When the teams took the field, we realized it was Negro Leagues throw-back day. The Pirates were sporting Homestead Grays uniforms and the Royals were representing the Kansas City Monarchs:
I thought both uniforms really looked great, with a slight edge to the Monarchs uniforms. I really liked the look of the red and grey Monarchs uniforms paired with the Royals royal-blue spikes (shown below).
We had the first five seats on the aisle…
…, which worked out great for Kellan (as we’ll see below).
Yuniesky Betancourt kicked off the scoring in the top of the third inning with a 2-run homerun to LF:
I also enjoy seeingYuni do well. A lot of Mariners fans like to rag on Yuni, but I’ve always liked the guy. I liked him as our short stop. And I like him for being an incredibly nice member of the brotherhood of former-Mariners players.
Good job, Yuni!
I was all set to catch a game homer…
…or to help Kellan catch a between-inning warm up baseball. But neither came to fruition.
Section 137 is only about 6 rows deep and Kellan spent almost the entire game walking up and down the stairs between rows A-F. A lot of the time, he hung out right at the fence:
While Kellan was playing in the aisle, Tim and a blast (as he always does) with this grandparents:
I thought this was one of the funniest pictures of the night:
Kellan was working a strong game with the ladies sitting out in LF too:
By the way, did you see the Elivs Presley guy sitting in row C? That was his gimmick because we were sitting behind Pirates leftfielder Alex Presley.
By the way, I should mention that the Royals scored their third (and final) run of the night in the top of the fourth inning to go up 3-0.
But then the Pirates came charging back with five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
That put the Pirates up 5-3, and that score would stick.
There was an odd play late in the game. I can’t remember who the batter was. But he hit a single to CF that Andrew McCutchen totally booted:
The ball rolled to the CF wall giving the batter second base for free. But the batter came flying around 1B and bit the dust — face first into the infield dirt. He had a retreat to first base and, because he didn’t take second, McCutchen didn’t get charged with an error.
Here is a look at the “Monarchs” with their royal blue shoes:
Around the 6th or 7th inning, we headed to the pizzeria behind the left bleachers. This big pepperoni pizza…
…was only $21. That would normally be expensive for a pepperoni pizza, but for ballpark pizza, that seemed incredibly reasonable. I was thinking a whole pizza would cost $45 or something like that!
After eating, we took a little tour around the upper deck. We stopped in at section 318:
Where we finally got a good look at the front of the “Grays” jerseys:
My camera has quickly been turning into a piece of junk this season. It completed the metamorphosis at this game. Here is a great family picture that my camera completely ruined:
Tim grabbed onto his grandfolks…
…and we headed out to section 301 down the RF line:
This is what it looked like from the cross-aisle in section 301:
We then hustled back to our seats and watched the rest of the game from our seats. The Pirates held on and the Parrot came out to *Raise The Jolly Roger*:
But our day wasn’t finished just yet. After the game, the boys saw their first concert:
A washed up and reduced to 3-members, Boyz II Men.
All-in-all, it was a great day!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|12/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates|
|19 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3|
|69 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 4, Pirates 3|
|11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1|
|10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park
1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
|5/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Johnny Giavotella, Kelvin Hererra, Humberto Quintero; Kellan – Willie Bloomquis|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|
On September 10, 2011, Tim and I headed off in our car for a weekend adventure to Pittsburgh. The plan was for two games at PNC Park. But the plan got cut short when our basement flooded in a storm and I was needed back on the home front. But we still had a quality 28-hour
adventure. Here is how it all went down.
He jumped on the PA Turnpike heading West toward Pittsburgh. We ended up stopping off in Mechanicsburg, PA so Tim could see where his parents got married:
It’s a gazebo on the Liberty Forge golf course. It had just opened when we got married back in 2003, and it was truly a beautiful sight for our wedding. After a brief visit (which occurred during a bustling golf tournament), we grabbed an early lunch and hopped back in the car.
We arrived in Pittsburgh in the early afternoon and relaxed at our hotel before heading off to the park. Our plan was to meet up PNC Park regular (and MLBlogger) Zac Weiss at the CF gate to see if we could get in early with the season ticket holders. But the roads immediately around PNC Park confuse the heck out of me. We ended up taking the wrong exit from the freeway, looping back around, and getting into a traffic-jam directly outside of PNC Park for 15 minutes. By the time we parked and made it to the stadium, the gates had been open for
15-20 minutes and Zac was already in there.
We waited on the Riverwalk for a few minutes, and then heading into the LF seats…
…when the stadium opened for non-season ticket holders. But the LF seats are small and they were relatively crowded. We briefly bumped into PNC Park regular (and MLBlogger) Nick Pelescak. After saying our hellos, I asked if the rest of the ballpark was open to everyone (there was almost no one in the park outside of the LF seats) and he confirmed that it was. So Tim and I headed up the LF escalator and down into the LF foul seats.
The plan was to walk down to the cross-aisle toward the bottom of the section and then circle all the way around to the RF foul line where several Marlins were playing catch. As we turned the corner into the cross-aisle, there were no other fans within 6-7 seating sections of us (except in LF, which is disconnected from the foul territory seats and not accessible without taking the elevator or spiral walkway). Just then, a Pirates batter hit a foul ball right over our heads into section 132. I quickly ran back up the stairway, cut into the seats and grabbed our first baseball of the day; with zero competition.
The very moment we made it to the RF foul line, former-Mariner Greg Dobbs was just finishing playing catch with monster-bomb-masher Mike Stanton. We were right behind him as he left the foul line and started to walk toward CF. I called out, “Hey, Greg!” He turned around and saw us, an
“oh, there you are” expression registered on his face, and then he tossed us our second baseball of the day; again, with zero competition.
We decided to go down the foul line to the handicap-accessible seating area. For some reason, it was almost completely empty for the duration of BP:
There were a handful of fans out there…including the aforementioned Zac Weiss, who can be seen in the background of the last picture wearing his black Pirates shirt.
Mike “The Beast” Stanton and Mike “Cammy” Cameron were hanging out along the foul line running sprints from the foul line out into CF:
When we first arrived in this spot, there was a baseball sitting on the warning track in RF. As Cameron walked around in foul territory catching his breath after running a sprint, I asked him if he would pose for a picture with Tim after he finished his warm-up routine. He happily agreed. Then I pointed out the baseball on the warning track and asked if he could toss it to Tim. He agreed again. Cammy is the man.
After running a few more sprints, Cammy wandered over to the little doorway at the end of the section and posed for this picture with Tim:
He also signed the baseball he’d already given to Tim:
And then he signed about 200 more autographs. The second he walked over to get a picture with Tim, every autograph hound in the stadium bolted straight for us. There was quickly a group of ten people. And then twenty. And then…who knows how many.
While we were getting Tim’s picture with Cammy, we got to chat for just a few seconds. I told him that my Dad caught one of his foul balls down in Miami on our Roadtrip. I then told him it was cool that he was wearing number “24” now-a-days since he was previously traded to the Mariners for Ken Griffey, Jr. He told me that he’d wore “24” when he was *young* – he did wear “24” when he broke into the Major Leagues with White Sox, but I got the feeling he meant he wore “24” when he was a kid, not just a young Major Leaguer. Anyway, after mentioning Junior, I told Cameron that he did an amazing job coming in and filling Griff’s void after the trade. He really did an outstanding job for the Mariners and us Mariners fans love him for it.
When Cameron finally started walking back to the dugout, a guy ran down the steps and called out, “One more, Mr. Cameron!?” Mike responded something like, “Man, I just signed a ton!” But he came back nonetheless and signed for this guy too. He was so awesome. I really couldn’t believe all the signing he did. And many of the beneficiaries were the big-time autograph dudes who gave board with 5-6 of his cards, and he
signed every single one. Mike is the man!
As he walked away, I asked Cameron if he got one of the Mariners 116 win, two-person McLemore and Cameron bobblehead. He started to launch
into a longer explanation, and then stopped himself. Bottom line, the answer was “yes.” He got one. So that’s cool. When he said he has one, Tim yelled out, “I have one too!” (Special thanks to Brian Powell for sending us his!).
After getting Tim’s picture with Cammy, we relocated to the shallow RF section of the handicap-accessible seating area. A Marlins lefty ripped a foul grounder right at us. Tim put his glove over the short wall and tried to scoop it up, but it went under his glove…and right into mine. Tim immediately turned around with a frustrated look: “Hey, I was gonna catch that ball!” “But you didn’t,” I explained, “it went right under your glove, so I had to catch it!”
Tim couldn’t argue with my logic, and he was happy to have the ball despite missing out on the grounder attempt.
He had fun leaning over the wall and practicing so he could catch the next ball hit down the line:
(Note: In the last picture, Cameron is still signing autographs in the background).
Tim also got a kick out of the fact that he could easily lean over the fence and rub his fingers through the warning track dirt:
So we had connected with two former-Mariner Marlins (Dobbs and Cameron), but the Marlins had still another former-Mariner – Jose Lopez. But
this is as close as we would ever get to Jose:
We spent some time during BP chatting with Zac Weiss:
Just before that last photo, Tim and I were at the back park of the handicapped-accessible seating area and Zac at the front (where he is pictured in that last photo). A grounder came down the line and snuck past Zac on an unfortunate (for him) bounce. I leaned as far as I could over the fence and scooped the ball off of the warning track.
As the Marlins cleared off the field, Zac, Tim and I headed over to the Marlins dugout on the 3B side. Alex Sanabia (who gave Tim the 99thbaseball of his life last season) was standing at the top of the dugout. He had a baseball and wanted to get rid of it. He looked at Zac and must have thought “too old.” Next, his gaze turned to Tim and he though “just right.” So Sanabia tossed us our sixth and final baseball of the day.
PNC Park is pretty amazing for BP. 95% of the fans attending BP were out in LF the whole time. There was lots of competition out there. Meanwhile, 1% of the fans were in the RF handicapped-accessible seats and we all got some easy, no-hassle baseballs. Great!
Ah, I forgot to mention, I thought we were going to get another baseball before the Sanabia ball. Zac, Tim and I were handing out talking (where we they are pictured in the last phone), and No. 21 on the Marlins drilled a one or two hopper right at us. I thought it was going to take a nice big (and easy) bounce right to me for an easy catch. Instead, it took a crazy back-spinning, low, sliding, superfast bounce right at us. It shot like a rocket right over our heads and went all the way over the seats and into an area where they store groundskeeper-stuff.
After hanging out by the dugout for a bit, we got our picture with Zac:
And then we all headed to the Riverwalk and then walked out to LF. Once we got out there, we split up with Zac because Tim wanted to walk up the spiral ramp. On our way, we ran into Nick Pelescak again and he took a walk with us. We headed up the ramp and got Tim’s PNC Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
We stopped at the top of the spiral ramp and chatted a while with Nick:
He’s a real nice guy and he’s hauled over 1,000 baseballs out of PNC Park and several other MLB ballparks over the course of the last couple years.
While in the upper deck, we took the occasion to check in with Tim’s first ever water fountain! Back on September 29, 2007, Tim used this fountain for his first ever water-fountain drink of his life. Since then, we check in on his first fountain whenever we’re in town. On our 2010 trip, his water fountain reunion photo didn’t make the cut on the blog report. So let’s check out both 2010 and 2011 now:
After heading back down the spiral ramp, Nick broke off to go find his wife and son and Tim and I went and bought some nachos. Here is an ultra-serious looking Tim eating nachos in our seats for the game:
We got those seats in section 136, row C for just a couple bucks per ticket on stubhub. That’s one of the perks of the end of the season – cheap tickets!
Here is a view of PNC Park from our seats:
Tim cut the serious act, and had some fun goofing around and eating nachos in the LF seats:
And then he did some random posing:
When the game started, it was all Marlins. Actually, the Marlins did not muster much offense either. But it did not matter because Anibal Sanchez was on fire. He was making the Pirates look silly – like this hapless hack back Derrick Lee:
Meanwhile, Tim was licking left over cheese off of his index finger and pretending that it was exploding in his mouth – like this:
Facing off against Sanchez, the Pirates had Jeff Locke make his MLB debut. Locke pitched five innings, gave up five hits, and three runs, and collected his first career loss. I got this picture of Locke’s first career Major League swing:
With one out in the bottom of the second inning, Neil Walker hit double. And that was all she wrote for the Pirates. Anibal Sanchez threw a complete
In the top of the third inning, we went to go get ice cream helmets. Tim got mint chocolate chip and I got (the incredibly delicious and highly recommended) Pirates Buried Treasure. Check out the cool view from the ice cream helmet line:
Ah, yes. PNC Park is incredibly beautiful.
The Marlins scored three runs while we were in line for ice cream. They were, ultimately, the only runs of the game. And we had no clue they even occurred. When we got back to our seats – after walking through this blue light area —
…there were runs on the board. And that’s all we knew. We saw Nick and Zac at the back of one of the sections in LF and I asked them if they caught any homeruns when we were off buying ice cream. They didn’t. And that is all I know about those three runs – they were three Marlins runs during which the crowd made absolutely no noise (so as to tip me off that anything was happening on the field) and they did not result in Nick or Zac catching any homeruns.
Just like last season, I enjoyed a “Pirates Buried Treasure” helmet and Tim had a mint chocolate chip helmet:
Here’s what it looked like from our seats after the sun went down:
After eating our ice cream, Tim wanted to roam around the ballpark and check out the river. We headed out to the Riverwalk area and Tim got a run-by head patting from the Pirates Parrot:
He posed with a picture of a P-shaped bush behind the bullpens…
…and then we headed down toward the river. This big barge arrived on the scene:
I am pretty sure it is the fireworks barge for the post-game fireworks.
We wandered through a little picnic area behind the batters’ eye:
And we checked out the view of the Roberto Clemente bridge:
Finally, we found a little nook in the picnic area that Tim thought resembled a bullpen. So we took turns pitching to each other…
…using the drain as home plate.
While I was pitching to Tim, he missed a pitch and it rolled to the steps behind our home plate. When he went to retrieve, an elderly Japanese couple were walking by. The man noticed Tim’s Ichiro shirt as he passed by and called out to his wife an excited, “ICHIRO!” with a point at Tim. He then
doubled back and walked a small loop around Tim to make sure he’d seen it correctly. After confirming his initial belief, he walked back to his wife and pointed at Tim with increased excitement, “ICHIRO!” And he looked over me with an approving smile. It was pretty cute.
After our bullpen session, we headed back to the LF seats. We hadn’t missed a thing – well, except a couple more Pirate strike outs – it was still 3-0 Marlins.
As I sipped a local brew with a snazzy pin-striped and Pirate-logoed can, an usher kindly took our photo standing in the concourse behind section 136:
It was time for more adventuring, and this was the last we would see of section 136 for the night. So I took one more panorama from the concourse before we started walking:
Tim wanted to see the upper deck some more. So we wanted around the big spiral walkway in LF:
There is a really small section of seating above the LF bleachers, just below the scoreboard, that I have never visited. In the past, it has always been chained off for private parties. I think it is called the “Pirates Deck.” As luck would have it, it was open to the public during this game. So we headed down the stairs at the back of the spiral walkway and entered the Pirates Deck.
The deck was almost empty. We headed to the last section in deep LCF and got Tim’s picture:
And then I took a panorama of PNC Park from the front row of section 339:
On our way out of the deck area, we noticed a switch-back ramp leading up to two seats perched behind the back row of the seats. It looked like an elevated perch for the King and Queen to sit and watch the competition down on the field. Since it was empty, we walked up the ramp and Tim asked me to take the following series of photos:
After the King’s Perch, we headed to the seats behind home plate. There was another little handicap-accessible seating area right behind home plate. We claimed a spot and watched the game from there for a bit. Standing was fine for a bit…
…but eventually Tim got the urge to climb on the railings…which I strongly discouraged.
After getting Tim off the railing, I got a panorama of PNC Park from section 316:
After exchanging a few texts, we met up with fellow MLBlogger Matt “PittPeas” Peaslee and his girlfriend Erin:
I suggested that pose in the classic Peas-pose (that you should no doubt recognize if you’re read his blog). Upon review, it appears that I need some work on my Peas-pose. My arms are way too high and straight. Tim’s Peas-pose needs some work too; he’s just doing a “we are the champions”
celebration pose! Matt is a great guy. It was good to finally meet in person.
The game was sailing by quick. After parting ways with Matt and Erin, Tim and I headed down the spiral walkway behind home plate. We planned on making an attempt for a post-game umpire baseball. It was the ninth inning, but for whatever reason, I thought it was still the eighth. After I got this photo from the concourse of Andrew McCutchen striking out…
…I realized it was the ninth inning and there was only one out left in the game! We scrambled to get into position, and post-game fireworks made it the easiest post-ninth-inning-third out trip ever from the concourse down to the umpire tunnel (because everyone stayed seated for the fireworks), but we arrived about 5 seconds too late. Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna had unloaded his entire baseball poach by the time we got into position. Oh, well.
The silver lining is that we were in the perfect spot (and found a couple open seats) when the fireworks started about 5 minutes later:
The fireworks show was great, and no one enjoyed it more than Tim (and Shelly):
To my amazement, the Pirates did not clear out the RF seats for the fireworks show. Check out how close it looked like the people in right field were to the fireworks:
After the fireworks show, an usher took a final father-son shot of us before we left the ballpark:
And then I noticed a cool “125th season” logo on top of the Pirates dugout:
I wonder why the Angels got a 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball, but the Pirates did not get a 125th season baseball? I’m guessing it is because they were not the “Pirates” the entire 125 seasons – since it says “Pittsburgh Baseball.” Anyway, it is too bad. That would have been a cool commemorative baseball.
After the game, we spent the night in a Pittsburgh hotel, and then did one *touristy* thing before heading home. We had heard of the Duquesne Incline from some friends. So we decided to check it out. While watching BP, I discussed the Duquesne Incline and discovered there are two inclines in town – the Duquesne and the Monongahela. So we did ‘em both.
First, the Duquesne Incline:
Essentially, it is a two track train that runs up a really steep hill in Pittsburgh.
At the top, there is a look out spot with a phenomenal view of Pittsburgh:
Following the river from left-to-right and taking the left (upper) fork, PNC Park is on the left (upper) side of the river between the first and second (Roberto Clemente) bridges.
Here’s a good view of the crazy incline train cars:
The two cars are pulled up the incline on big steel cables. They appear to be balanced against each other, when one is at the top, the other is at the bottom, and they always meet in the middle.
The Monongahela incline also provided a spectacular view of Pittsburgh (although with no view of PNC Park):
And there was a sign at the top pointing the way to ice cream:
After devouring some tasty cones, we rode the incline train back down to the bottom…
….and hopped into our car for the ride home.
Although we wanted to go to the Sunday game (featuring Kids Run The Bases), it was still a great little weekend father-son get-away.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|28/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|19/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]|
|22 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).|
|82 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 6 Marlins, 1 Pirates)|
|13/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]|
|16/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|7 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamie Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|* includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star|