After starting out our 2011 season with an outstanding doubleheader in Baltimore (Tim’s first doubleheader), our second game was slated to be the Marlins at Phillies on Saturday, April 16, 2011. Unfortunately, rain wiped out most of the games in the NE region of the United States that day, including our game in Philadelphia.
The Phillies rescheduled the game for June 15th, thus freeing us up to travel to the Nation’s capital on April 17, 2011 for our second consecutive single-admission doubleheader, featuring the Milwaukee Brewers and the Washington Nationals.
The action was slated to start at 1:10 p.m. I was confident there would be BP, so we arrived 2.5 hours early. The Nats and Brewers did not disappoint. There was full batting practice by both teams.
After a 30-second stop in the LF seats, we headed over to RCF – section 143 – which was practically empty. A few minutes later, a Nationals batter hit a ball onto the warning track in deep CF. Nationals bullpen coach came walking out toward CF with his fungo bat in hand…
…I waived to get his attention, then pointed to the baseball on the warning track and then to Tim. He nodded and started walking toward the ball. He had a long walk. At the same time, a groundskeeper behind the CF wall saw the ball and walked out to get it. I yelled down toward him, “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!”
Luckily, he grabbed the ball and tossed it to Coach Lett. Lett turned and, true to his nod, fired the baseball to my waiting Rawlings glove.
Thanks, Jim Lett!
By the way, it was one of the ultra-soft leather “Training” baseballs that the Nationals like to use for BP.
A few minutes later, we relocated to the seats next to the Nationals bullpen at section 139. There was a group of Nats in RF. They tossed a few baseballs to Nats fans.
Finally, this happened…
Thanks, unidentified dude!
All the while, a 45’ish year old dad of two 10-12’ish year old boys was yucking it up in the first row of section 140 because his boys had been the recipients of several toss ups. He was quite happy…until one of his boneheaded boys dropped his baseball down into the gap between the seats and the RF wall. Doh!
The guy was perplexed. What to do!? The groundskeepers in the bullpen said they couldn’t do anything about it. Even if they could, it would require accessing a gate and walking between the wall and the stands. They had no reason to go out of their way to do it to help the dad of the newly baseball-less boy.
Tim and I were down in the first row looking at the boy’s baseball. Then we started watching the groundskeepers spray painting the pitching rubbers bright white…
…I looked back toward my right and witnessed something absurd. The Dad of the baseball-less boy climbed down into the gap – a good 10-15 feet down – and grabbed the dropped baseball, and another BP homer that found the gap.
As he was climbing up, I could see security running from multiple directions with rage-filled faces, ready to sink their verbal teeth into this apparently clueless dad.
I was amazed later to learn that they didn’t eject him from the stadium. But they did remove him for the outfield seats for the remainder of BP. The truly amazing thing was that the Dad was bold enough to yell at the security people (really just retired guys working as ushers) that he only did it because no one would go get his baseball.
UNSOLICITED ADVICE: If you (or your kid) get a baseball, put it in your pocket or backpack. If you don’t, and you eventually drop it into a 10-15 gap behind the outfield wall, DON’T CLIMB DOWN THERE TO GET IT!!! Just live with your boneheaded move.
Next, we relocated to the middle of section 141 where this was our panoramic view of Nationals Park:
Tim sat and munched on some crackers while I incompetently watched a BP homerun land two rows directly in front of me. Had I climbed over even just one row of seats, it would have been an easy on-the-fly grab. Oh, well.
When the Brewers came to bat, we relocated to the second deck in search of a Monster Prince Fielders Bomb. I’m a fairly nervous father of an extremely-high-energy-low-attention-to-danger son. So I told Tim he had to stand behind this glass barrier if he was going to stand in the front row:
Fielder did, in fact, several (maybe 4) homeruns into the second deck. One of them landed about 3 rows above me and bounced directly over my head (too high and out of reach) and back down onto the field.
That was the only one that was anywhere near us. Another was 3 sections toward CF and I started to run for it before totally biting it trying to jump a row a seats. Tim thought it was pretty comical. He described it to his mommy by saying that my “neck hooked onto one row of seats and his feet hooked onto another row of seats and his body just hung in the air!”
At another point, a Brewers pitcher spotted us all alone in section 241 (literally no one within 100 feet of us) and fired a baseball to us. Well, he meant to throw it to us, but he launched it about 8 rows above us. I didn’t even see it land. I ran up a couple rows, walked row-to-row and could not find it anywhere. Meanwhile, a 12’ish year old kid ran from two sections over. He saw the ball, grabbed it and then laughed at me for missing out on the baseball clearly meant for me and Tim. I went back over to Tim and he said, “That boy stole our baseball!!!” It was pretty funny. I explained to him that I couldn’t find it (it blended in was nudged under the back of a seat and blended in with the white pavement) and he had a right to grabbed it if he could find it.
Still, the next day, Tim told his mommy how the boy “stole our baseball.” Yep, it was pretty funny.
Anyway, after Prince Fielder finished hitting, I told Tim we could go to the kids play area for a bit. But first, we walked toward RF foul territory and got this picture with the Nationals Park sign in the background:
In addition to the normal play fort-thingy, the Nats put in an inflatable batting station. And it was a really nice one with an excellent red plastic bat (that fit time perfectly). It was a long line to bat and we made our way slowly to the front. A little girl who had no clue how to hit was directly in front of Tim in line. On her first swing, she completely missed the ball, and then took a ferocious backswing and unintentionally drilled a perfect line drive directly into Tim’s nose.
Tim was not pleased.
And he shed some big time water works.
Once he calmed down, he took it out on the whiffleball:
He was trying to hit a Popfly over the hitting station like he had done at Spring Training in Peoria.
As the game was set to start, we bought some expensive, but quite tasty, chili nachos (more just “meaty” nachos)…
We had seats in section 105, but we started the game in section 104. Here was our panoramic view of Nationals Park from our temporary seats in section 104:
After an inning or two, it started to fill up in LF so I figured we should go get some ice cream and return to our actual ticketed seats.
On the way to get ice cream, Tim managed to destroy this water fountain:
On the way back to our seats, Tim struck a pose with his fancy (and too expensive ($8) M&M’s vanilla ice cream helmet):
In our real seats in section 105, we sat next to a nice Nats fan who Tim chatted up like nobody’s business. The Brewers took an early 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Casey McGehee in the first and pitcher Yovani Gallardo in the fourth. Faced with the deficit, the Nats fan put on a rally hat, which prompted Tim to do the same:
Hard hitting Danny Espinosa followed in the bottom of the fifth with a 3-run homerun. Here he about to score the fourth Nats run of the game:
As we approached DC by car, Tim saw a big battle ship in the Anacostia River. I knew you could see the ship from the concourse in RF foul territory. Eventually, we decided to head over there to look at the ship.
On the way, we walked through the 200 level “Conference Center” concourse. For some reason, we’d never been on this level before. We got this panoramic view of Nationals Park from the concourse behind section 203…
Before leaving this spot, we got a nice picture of Adam LaRoche grounding out to Prince Fielder…
Next, we decided to continue on toward RF to see the battle ship. The only issue is that the suite level indoor concourse was in our way – and we couldn’t access it. So we took an elevator up to the top deck. Check out who was in our elevator:
It was Jake the Hoya. Tim charged into the elevator when it opened and was totally freaked out when he saw Jake standing there. He was too scared to get a picture with Jake. Even as we exited the elevator, he was hustling to get away from big, bad Jake.
On the final portion of our walk toward the RF concourse where we would be able to see the battleship, Ivan Rodriguez hit the 310th homerun of his Hall of Fame-to-be career.
That made the score 7-2 Nationals.
Finally, we made it to the spot – and there was the ship!
Before heading down the concourse ramps, Tim pointed out the Capitol Building:
Tim wanted to hit again. But he was scared of a repeat nose-bashing. So he hid behind me as we made our way through the line:
We hustled down toward the front of the section at the last out, but we were too late and missed out on getting a baseball from the home plate umpire. So, we stood around, chatted with a fan from Seattle, and got our picture taken above the visitors’ dugout:
As we shuffled around in the fancy seats between games, I kept an eye open for discarded tickets on the ground. I figured a lot of Nats “fans” wouldn’t be up for two games. I was right. We ended up finding 4 really nice tickets.
There was a 30 minute break between games. Among the first Brewers to come out to warm up for game two was former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt:
Before the second game started, we got a great picture of Tim and Teddy Roosevelt:
We had an even better ticket than the section1 114, row L seat. But I wanted to wait to make sure they were empty.
We decided to go to the kids play area one more time. On the way to the play area, I took a picture of what would become “our” ticketed seats for the rest of the game:
And Tim wanted a picture with the blossoming trees behind section 106:
After some playing, we reported to our section new section. I showed the usher our ticket for seat no. 3, but asked if it was okay if we sat in the empty seats in the middle of the section – I think it was no 25’ish. He told us it was no problem.
So, here is a picture of Tim standing in front of my seat:
Game two was a good one. It was tied 1-1 for a long time. The decisive blow came in the bottom of the seventh when Danny Espinosa hit a bases clearing 3-run triple to put the Nats up 4-1. T he Nats would eventually win 5-1.
Toward the end of the game, Tim got on the (really) big screen for flashing some fancy dance moves:
When they put him up on the board, everyone in the two sections behind us gave him a big cheer. It was really cool. Later, he could be overheard telling people in our section how, “I was on TV dancing!”
We stayed in our seats until the end of the game. When the final two people made their way in from the Brewers bullpen, we were still hanging out and Marcus Hanel rewarded us with this baseball:
And that was it. Our second doubleheader of the season was in the books.
Before heading out, we had a Nats employee take our picture:
2011 C&S Fan Stats
4/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
4/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals; Kellan – none]
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)
9 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 1 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers)
2/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park; Kellan – none]
10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]
*includes Spring Training
On the morning of June 14, 2010, we woke up in our KOA camping cabin in Chula Vista, California. We had a night game on tap in Anaheim and only a two hour drive. So we had some time to kill and we had two plans — Hollywood and lunch with my cousin.
We left the San Diego area early and headed straight to Hollywood for a little sight seeing. We parked in a parking garage connected to the Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard and then we hit the street on foot:
Top Right – we walked the sidewalk a bit and took some pictures with people of interest, like Matt Damon, Bruce Lee, and Kermit the Frog.
Bottom Left – right at the entrance to the street, there was a Mariners Mickey Mouse, which was also fitting for our trip. I guess for the All-Star game there are Mickeys all over the city, one for each MLB team. Later in the day, we found the Angels Mickey in front of the Big A.
Bottom Middle – Tim got his picture with wax Samuel L. Jackson at Madame Tussaud’s.
Bottom Right – Tim put his feet and hands in Humphrey Bogart’s (and others) cement prints at Groman’s Chinese Theatre.
By the way, here is a panorama of the Chinese Theatre:
As we walked down the street, we came to a big tent where Top Chef was putting on shows. They had some games you could do on the sidewalk including a little putting green. On Tim’s first “putt,” he took a near full hack…
…and hit the bright orange golf ball across Hollywood Boulevard. The camera man’s face in the middle picture is an instant classic. The funniest thing to me is that the camera man stopped filming as he made the shocked face. The arrow in the picture to the right is pointing to the ball resting on the other side of the street. Luckily, the ball weaved between several cars going both directions on its journey across the street.
After a short visit in Hollywood, we hit the road again and drove down to Huntington Beach…
While we waited for Molly and Eric to arrive, we watched surfers. This old school surfer on the left…
…made Tim’s day when he waved at him as he paddled by. Baseball player, surfer, fireman, truck driver, Tim loves it when people out in the world wave at him. Tim loved watching the surfers. He was also amazed when a father and son fishing on the peir caught a little baby shark. We watched them unhook it and then throw it back into the water.
After lunch, we hit the beach for just a little bit of running around and splashing:
In the top left picture, Tim is making one of many tiny little “sand castles” — which really were just mounds of wet sand. The waves kept washing away his castles. In the top right, that is Molly standing between me and Tim. She went to high school about a mile from this beach — looks like a tough life, eh?
After lunch and beach time, we headed to our hotel in Anaheim. After a little relaxing (and a little running for me), we hit the road for a mile-and-a-half drive to Angel Stadium of Anaheim. This was the view as we pulled into the parking lot…
We got a shot of Tim standing on a big baseball as we approached the entrance…
The highlights of the entrance are a bunch of huge wood baseball bats…
Once we headed into the stadium, we spent most of Angels’ BP hanging out behind the bullpens in right field. Here was the view from section 258:
We headed to this section for three reasons: (i) the sections behind the dugouts were almost empty, (ii) there was very little chance that any homeruns would come flying in there hot and take out little Tim, and (iii) Joel Piniero was out in LF (in the field just above the home plate in the bullpen) and I hoped he might want to hook us up with a baseball like he had for my dad several days before in Oakland.
Joel never looked out toward us. However, at one point, a homerun came right toward us. It was going to bounce in the upper bullpen. As it bounced, it went out of our view and then…
He posed with the new acquisition right where we caught it:
After catching the baseball, we met up with my Dad in the seats by the LF foul pole. This was the view:
After her took off, Tim and I watched this Angels pitcher…
Soon, Tim and I decided to do a little exploring. We headed out toward CF where we checked out the “Monster” sign in the “grass” in the big batters’ eye area. The “grass” is actually some sort of field turf. We also grabbed this panorama:
And, what the heck, we got another picture of Tim with his Angel Stadium baseball:
Then it was on to RF. As you head from LF to RF, there is an open concourse that runs behind the seats in LF and behind the batters’ eye in CF. As the concourse reaches RCF, it goes under the RF seats and there are a series of big tunnels…
We headed to the last row in the deepest part of RCF where we checked out the batters’ eye from the other side. Its an odd batters’ eye with the fake grass, big rock formation and water falls, and then a big green deck-like area right next to and in front of the RF seats.
Here was the view of the field from up there:
Oh, by the way, my Dad didn’t catch a homerun from Prince. He almost caught one from someone else, but he was robbed by another fan who was running wild out in the RF seats. Prince was blasting some bombs, deeeep bombs. My Dad did work his way down to the dugout area (which was generally closed off unless you had a ticket there) and got this picture of Prince hanging out down there:
Tim and I walked around the field level concourse next. Although there wasn’t anything particularly special about it, I liked the field level concourse at Angel Stadium. It was nice and open with a lot of head room above.
Here is a look down the front of the concourse looking from the RF corner toward home plate:
As we made our way around home plate toward the 3B side, we found this wall…
Here is a look at the concourse looking from home plate out toward LF…
…note the nice picture of former Mariner Joel Piniero. Also noteworthy, there is a Ruby’s about half way down in that picture. That’s the same place where we ate lunch on the pier in Huntington Beach earlier in the day. My Dad doubled up on the day having Ruby’s for lunch and dinner.
Soon, we found ourselves back out by the LF foul pole:
Tim and I were hungry, so we headed to a nacho stand. After ordering our nachos, I realized that I couldn’t find my wallet. I was praying that I left it in the hotel and had not lost it somewhere in the stadium. After the game, I discovered that is exactly what had happened. Anyway, no nachos for us, at least not just yet.
Eventually, we made our way back to section 258 where we’d got the BP homerun. My Dad found us and we hung out there a bit. Before long, a guy named Warren (who you might see commenting here from time-to-time under the name “yankeehater626”) stopped by to say hello. Actually, he did more than that, he had a special gift for Tim. I’ll show you it a little later.
It was great meeting and chatting with Warren. (Hi, Warren!) Notably, we chatted about the fact that Warren had just caught a foul ball and a home run ball at the same game at the Oakland Colesium (the day before Game 1 of the GFS Roadtrip) and several commentators on ESPN had apparently taken the opportunity to wrongfully mock Warren on the air when he was shown on TV giving the foul ball away to a young fan. Warren explained the whole situation and all of the media hype following it. It was very interesting…maybe he can provide a link to the blog entries he wrote about it in the comments here.
After splitting up with Warren, Tim stayed with my Dad and I did a little more exploring. First, I headed up to the upper deck in LF where it looked a little bit like this:
Heading back into the upper deck seating area, I noticed that the seats in the upper deck did not all look the same. Some of them (to the left) had an Angels logo (which is hard to see because it is just raised metal, no red or white paint or anything like that)…
…and some of them (right) had a weird yellow and white picture on them. You know what? On a hunch, I just typed in www.edison.com in my brower and confirmed that little picture is Edison International’s logo. According to Wikipedia, from 1998 to 2003, it was called Edison International Stadium of Anaheim.
I took the pictures of those seats as I climbed to the back row to take a picture over the back of the stadium of the big “A” out front:
This next panorama was taken from that concourse behind the RF seats:
On my way back to our seats to meet up with Tim and my dad, I headed down into the RF seats and then into the concourse below the RF seats. At the opening of the concourse under the RF seats, I walked by Angelitos, which appeared to be a Mexican restaurant…
Finally, I made it back to our seats. We sat in LF in section 260. It was game time and this was our view:
Speaking of $$, I still had no wallet. So my Dad bought us those nachos we’d had our eyes on…
After the nachos, we headed to the concourse to grab some ice cream helmets. I couldn’t find ice cream for awhile and did a bunch of walking in the concourse. And I took this panorama from the concourse behind section 208:
I had a discussion with two ladies at the concession stand trying to figure out the ice cream helmet situation. The first lady told me they used to have ice cream helmets, but now they only have rally monkey cups. She did not speak highly of the rally monkey cups. It did not matter, I was having no part of a rally monkey cup.
Here is the deal, I’d love to have an Angels ice cream helmet in our collection. An Angels helmet shows we attended a game in Anaheim. It doesn’t endorse the Angels. Its just memorabilia. But the rally monkey, he’s different. The sole purpose of the rally monkey is to support and encourage the Angels. We neither support nor encourage the Angels. In fact, I’d be happy if they went 0-162 each season.
So, no rally monkey cups for us. And, sadly, no Angels ice cream helmet either.
Anyway, there was a game to be played. And, thankfully, the rally monkey would have to stay in his cage on this night.
The Angels got the scoring started in the second inning. Kevin Frandsen hit a double to RF that scored Howie Kendrick and Juan Rivera. And, that would conclude the scoring for the Angels on this night.
One thing that I really liked about Angel Stadium is pictured below…
…its the thin scoreboard right behind home plate. It was so nice not to have to scan down the LF or RF line looking for the count or number of outs. All of the information was right there in front of us as we watched the batters.
Now, bring on the Brewers.
The Brewers got the game winning runs in the top of the third inning. First, George Kottaras (whose career first homerun landed about 15 feet from us last season in Boston) hit an RBI double scoring Alcides Escobar. The Brewers then loaded up the bases so Ryan Braun could unload them with a grand slam, his 10th homerun of the season.
Speaking of Braun, he was stationed right in front of us in LF during the bottom half of each inning:
There were plenty of interesting sights around the ball park in addition to the game. Like at Dodger Stadium three days ago, there were beach balls bouncing all around the stadium. We caught a beach ball twice so Tim could hit them. He quite enjoyed that.
Each time Hideki Matsui came to the plate, a group of fans in RF held up cards spelling out…
In CF, there is a row of trees popping up above the fence. From our seats, I noticed that the trees are not planted in the ground…
After Braun’s grand slam, the score stayed at 5-2 until the top of the sixth inning. In the sixth, the Brew Crew tacked on an extra run on a unique play. Casey McGehee hit a deep fly ball to the warning track in CF. If left untouched, it would have hit the wall right in front of those big potted trees. However, nine time gold glove winner Torii Hunter raced over and jumped to make a spectacular catch, but the ball would not cooperate. The ball hit the pocket of Hunter’s glove, rattled around, and popped out and over the fence for a solo home run.
Torii Hunter couldn’t believe it. Neither could the rest of us. You can check out the play HERE.
The Angels were trailing 6-2. So Tim was happy:
Throughout the game, this guy (who, I guess, might have been the soccer playing pitcher from above)…
…kept walking to the bathroom and then standing at the top of those stairs while a bunch of little kids screamed at him for baseballs. Eventually, he walked over and handed out a couple balls — two to little kids and one to an allegedly cute girl, I believe.
Angels Stadium has two big screens. One of them was behind us. The bigger big screen was in RF and looked like this:
Above, I mentioned that Warren brought Tim a special gift. Here it is:
I just mentioned in the entry for our first game in San Diego that I don’t like it when fans try to give baseballs to Tim at games. This is the exception. From reading our blog, Warrent knew we are huge Ken Griffey, Jr. fans. So he gave Tim this baseball that Griffey hit for a homerun during BP the last time he was in Anaheim, which was shortly before retired. I set up this picture like this because Warren mentioned that he caught the ball in RCF, just above where Tim is holding the ball in this picture.
A huge, Thank you, Warren!
This ball is now sitting in a case in a special spot in Tim’s room.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, I wanted to head back up to the upper deck in RF. I wanted to take some more pictures because the sun was so bright out there before the game. My dad wanted to check it out up there too, so we all headed toward RF.
On the way, I took this shot from the upper concourse behind the RF seats:
Casey McGehee was hit by a pitch after Braun’s single. McGehee was on first when Carlos Gomez grounded into a potential double play. But McGehee prevented the double play by taking out Angels short stop Erik Aybar, and I mean he took him out. Out of this game, and out of about the next 9 games as well.
Everyone rushed to Aybar to check on him…
…well, everyone but Angels leftfielder Juan Rivera. Eventually, Rivera noticed he was the only Angel fielder who had not gathered around Aybar. He walked reeeeealllly slowly toward the infield and finally joined the rest of his team before the trainers helped Aybar off of the field.
A little later, we noticed something in the sky behind 3B…
We decided to walk around to the 3B side to see if we could get a better view of the fireworks. We ended up watching the end of the game from right here…
For good measure, the Brewers added a twelfth and final run in the top of the 9th inning on a bases loaded ground out b Alcides Escobar.
And that was it. Final score 12-2 Brewers.
An usher took our picture before we headed back to the hotel:
By the way, at no point during this Angels home game were we ever in Los Angeles. Not the City of Los Angeles. Not the County of Los Angeles. Los Angeles was nowhere in sight at this California Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, California home game.
2010 Fan Stats:
14 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres and Nationals)
12 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies, Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
9 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim)
11 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
8 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)
When we made it home after the Roadtrip, Tim has his No. 24 baseball action figure (unfortunately, a righty) hit the Griffey ball that Warren gave to him…
…and then for good measure, we added in an opposing pitcher…
…thanks again, Warren.
Without exception, Tim and I always have a great time when we go to a baseball game. But whenever we drive to Camden Yards or Nationals Park, we pass a certain baseball/softball field on I-83 South, just a couple miles before Shrewsbury, PA, and I always look to see if a game is in progress. If a game is being played, I just know the day is going to be special.
At 9:53 a.m. on April 18, 2010 it was “game on”…
…we were about to experience a near perfect day. In fact, it would prove to be one of those “this is what life is all about” days. A father, a son, a memorable interaction with a new hero of the game, a spot in the warm sun eating ice cream, our Nation’s capitol, a future hall of famer showing he’s still got it, a game full of memorable moments, and a lap around the bases.
It all unfolded at Nationals Park…
We arrived early for BP. As we entered the seats in RCF, Nationals coach Julian Martinez was about to toss a ball into the stands. There was another father and son in the same section and as we walked down to the first row, the father (whose name I never got) pointed at us, and just like that Martinez redirected his attention and threw us a ball.
The D.C. Dad came over and said they’d already got a ball or two. It was incredibly nice of him to give us the assist. We ended up chatting for 10-15 minutes while we watched incredibly unimpressive BP by the Nats. He and his boy (who seemed to be about 8-9) live in the area, but far enough out that they were staying in a hotel for a couple weekend games. Two guys forging their own father-son memories. It was great chatting with them and I can’t thank them enough for helping us get a ball. We never know if we’ll be able to catch one at any given game. So it was great to secure the souviner. However, by the end of the day I felt a little bad that they gave up the ball for us, because we ended up having unprecedented luck. Anyway, many, many, many thanks, D.C. Dad and D.C. son. We hope you had a great weekend at the ballpark.
We split up after the Brewers started hitting. They went to explore elsewhere and we stuck around to see if Prince Fielder would be able to find us with a moon shot.
Tim was having fun spitting seeds into the gap between the wall and the seats…
…I was having fun watching all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman get in a little workout.
Then something funny happened. The man with one of the weirdest batting stances around, Craig Counsell, hit a ball through the open fence in CF into a storage area. And then someone else in the Brewers’ first BP rotation hit another ball into the storage area…
….in the picture above to the right, we were standing in the corner in the yellow circle. Counsell’s ball went into that opening and against a spare BP screen against the wall (see the red arrow). The second ball stopped right in the middle of the pavement behind the CF wall.
Within 2-3 minutes, a Nationals stadium attendant walked by and grabbed the second ball from the middle of the pavement and tossed it up to us. And 2-3 minutes later, another guy did the same thing with the Counsell ball. Both had sharpie marks across the “sweet spot”: a black squiggle on the Counsell ball and a straight blue line on the second ball.
That was it. Three balls with no effort was enough for one BP session. So we took off, and got this picture of Tim (who is sporting his “Diego” gloves and a new Mariners backpack) on our way out of the seats:
After about 10 minutes, we left because D.C. Dad mentioned several Nats sign autographs at the dugouts before each Sunday game. Tim seems to like collecting autographs since he asked Jeremy Accardo last season to “scribble on my baseball.”
On our way to the first base dugout, we walked slowly and watched the Brewers hit a little more. An usher gave Tim a baseball that was hit into the seats. Thanks to mygameballs.com, I knew that it was the 50th baseball that Tim and I have got together over the course of Tim’s first 56 MLB games. (FYI, mygameballs.com says it was our 52nd ball, but that is only because I recorded two of my Kingdome balls from long before Tim was born — had to represent for the Kingdome).
Anyway, one of my goals this season is to try to get pictures with a player from as many different teams as possible. So, after Scott Olsen signed Tim’s new “Official Practice Ball,” I snapped this picture…
Back to the play area.
After 10 minutes in the play area, Tim and I left to see if any Brewers were out and about with whom we might be able to get a picture. BP was finished and they were preparing the field. But one single player was on the field. It was a Brewer and he was signing autographs by the 3B dugout. We quickly made our way over from CF thinking all the while he would leave before we made it to the dugout. But he didn’t.
At the time, I didn’t know who it was. Tim handed his baseball up to him (the Brewers BP ball with the blue sharpie line on it) and asked for his autograph. Turns out it was Jeff Suppan — I could actually read his autograph!
I’ll admit it. I’ve never liked Jeff Suppan. I had no basis. He was just unimpressive to me. I’ve known the name for years, but never had a good feeling about him. But he was beyond cool to us. He was outstanding.
Some players just grab your baseball when you ask for an autograph and don’t say a word (admittedly some fans just hand the ball over without saying anything), but not Suppan. He greeted Tim’s inquiry with a warm, “Of course, I will, little guy.” (Or something along those lines).
As he signed, I asked him if I could stand Tim up on the railing for a picture with Suppan. In response, he focused on the standing on the railing part, not the posing for a picture part. He said, “Its alright by me!” Then, he leaned in for this GREAT picture:
And he wasn’t done yet. After the picture, he made a little small talk with Tim and then he stuck out his fist and said, “Hey, pound my fist!” Tim looked confused and opted for giving him “five.” Suppan replied, “Oh, no problem. High five!” Tim happily complied.
Its a total make over for Jeff Suppan in my mind. He didn’t have to act like that and most players wouldn’t. He went above-and-beyond the call of duty to give Tim a great experience. Based on his outstanding treatment of Tim, he is now my favorite Brewer and I will be pulling for him from here on out (unless pitching against the Mariners, in which case I still hope he gets shelled).
THANK YOU, JEFF SUPPAN! Very cool. Awesome. Outstanding!
Next, it was back to the play area. More fun.
Then, Tim and I took a little tour of the upper deck down the 3B line…and I took an unruly amount of panoramas. Here we go…
Nationals Park section 401 (last row):
Thats where we were when the game began. And it got interesting real quick. What happened in the top of the first also happened in the bottom of the second at our Pirates vs. Cubs game last season and I did a play by play. So lets do it again:
Jason Marquis made the start for the Nationals
- Rickie Weeks – single to 3B/SS
- Craig Counsell – single to CF
- Ryan Braun – single to LF (on the swing pictured below); Weeks scores (1-0)
4. Prince Fielder – hit by pitch (to load the bases)
5. Casey McGehee – walk (it looked like it hit him, but it was ball four); Counsell scores (2-0)
6. Jim Edmonds – hit by pitch; Braun scores (3-0)
7. Greg Zuan – single to LF; Fielder scores (4-0) — still no outs!
Former Mariner Miguel Batista relieved Marquis (whose ERA on the day was infinity).
8. Carlos Gomez – infield single to 3B (looked like an error to me); McGehee scores (5-0)
9. Doug Davis – sacrifice fly to CF; Edmonds scores (6-0) — the crowd goes crazy for the first out
10. Rickie Weeks – walk (re-loads bases)
11. Craig Counsell – grand slam; Zaun, Gomez, Weeks and Counsell score (10-0)
12. Ryan Braun – swinging strike out
13. Prince Fielder – walk
14. Casey McGehee – ground out to 2B — inning ended, damage done.
There you go, two season in a row now we have witnessed a 10-run half-inning.
By the way, we watched most of the inning from here — Nationals Park section 239 (concourse behind last row):
Here are a couple of Prince Fielder, who refused to go yard for us:
After the top of the 1st, we went back to the play area, where I reported to the dismayed stadium attendants that the score was 10-0 Brewers already. It was our final stop at the play area. Once again, fun times ensued.
Then it was back to the second deck in CF, where I got these action shots of Adam Dunn grounding out to Prince Fielder in the bottom of the third:
It was extremely windy at certain spots in the ballpark and it was fairly cold in the shade. But Tim still asked for an ice cream helmet. I knew we’d need to find some sunny ice cream seats…
…we found them in section 134. Tim enjoyed his real ice cream mint chocolate chip ice cream helmet. (NOTE – in a possibly unprecedented move, the Nationals are charging $2.00 for hot fudge topping this season. Not cool.).
Here is the view from the seats in which we sat until the 9th inning — Nationals Park section 134:
Tim usually likes to roam around a lot when its just the two of us, but he was very content to just hang out in these sunny seats and watch the game…
In the top of the sixth, Fielder still refused to hit a bomb for us. Instead, he popped out to Ryan Zimmerman at 3B:
Late in the game, it was time for the Presidents to race. I was excited to see if Teddy Roosevelt could finally notch his first victory. But when the CF fence opened, some make-shift Milkaukee sausages came racing out along the warning track instead of the Presidents…
…then three of the Presidents (but not Teddy) came racing out from CF too. Teddy was waiting down the 1B foul line with a couple big forks. He skewered the first three sausages and then body slammed the Chorizo. Amongst the carnage, the other Presidents raced by to beat the sausages.
In the ninth, we decided to relocate to the 3B line to see if we could get an umpire ball after the game — something we tried for once at Nationals Park last season but were denied.
First, we walked by the Nationals bullpen. A reliever was warming up. Nats bullpen coach, Jim Lett, looked up and spotted us. He motioned to us. And then fired a ball up to us, we never even asked for it. And just like that, we had our fifth ball of the day. Once last season we got 4 from the Mariners in Toronto, but this fifth baseball was totally unprecedented territory for us
Thanks, Mr. Lett!
So, we headed over to the 3B side. We grabbed some seats. This was our view from the top of section 117:
Instead, I took this shot of Adam Dunn hitting a single in the bottom of the ninth:
After the dancing, we saw some of those kids leave. So we headed down to about the 10th row. As I sat down, Tim said, “Closer! Closer!” He ran down to the first row where one guy was in the corner seat but the other three seats were empty.
Tim made this “silly face” (that’s what he called it) in this picture that shows how ridiculously good these seats are:
And guess who home plate umpire Mike Everitt threw a ball to as he approached the umpire tunnel? Were we in the twilight zone? We had amassed six baseballs!
The strangness wasn’t over just yet. It was time for Kids Run the Bases. As we watched the Brewers celebrate their win, the stadium emptied in record speed. Meanwhile, Todd Coffey started playing long toss with LaTroy Hawkins in LF-to-CF. How often does that happen after a game? Anyway, we had to head out to CF to exit the stadium and get in the Kids Run The Bases line. As we passed through the LF seats, there was literally NO ONE around. It was weird because the game had just ended 5-10 minutes earlier.
Anyway, Coffey and Hawkins finished up. Hawkins looked up. He fired his ball to us and over shot us be 7 rows. As it rifled over our heads, I thought “Oh, well. We have six baseballs! Someone else will grab that one.” I turned around, zero people in sight. Ball rattles around and deflects back to the first row. We walk over and pick it up. Seven baseballs!
Hawkins yells, “Sorry!” No problem, LaTroy.
What a weird day. We made almost no effort and walked out of Nationals Park with seven baseballs. A new Cook & Son record.
Then it was time! Kids Run the Bases. We love it.
We got a couple more pictures on our way out of the stadium…
…what a day. We had so much fun its ridiculous. We even had fun on the walk to the car.
A couple minutes later, Tim was fast asleep.
2010 Fan Stats:
4 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Brewers and Nationals)
2 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles & Nationals)
10 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 2 Umpires)
2 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Nationals Park)
2 Player Photos (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
2 Autographs (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
1 Kids Run The Bases (Nationals Park)
August 16, 2009 – Road Trip Day 3:
On the third day of the road trip, we awoke in Hixton, Wisconsin and headed east for the big city, Milkaukee, and a date with the Astros and Brewers at Miller Park. With this game, Tim would close out the National League. In fact, after this game, Tim would have seen every MLB team play live expect for the Kansas City Royals.
Now, if you’re looking for Miller Park, you have to drive down a long road – I-94 – passed Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet, Tim and Tom’s Cheese Shop, the Mousehouse Cheesehaus, Jim’s Cheese Pantry, the Wisonsin Cheeseman Outlet Store, and many, many, many other Cheese-Mega-Outlets. But don’t worry, you’ll find it. It is just past the place with the cheese. Its on the right. You can’t miss it. (Just follow the guy with the three-foot cheese disk strapped to the hood of his car).
In fact, it looks like this:
You also shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it because there will be about 20,000 people tailgating in acres of parking lots all around the Park. About 20,000 people hoisting Miller High Lifes and BBQ’ing brats while playing various object-tossing games and sitting in large circles of fold-up lawn chairs.
Once we found Miller Park, we hopped a ride on a stretch golf cart that took us to the Friday’s restaurant enterance to the Park. When it opened, he headed inside to find the field set up for batting practice (keep in mind this was a sunday day game) and two Astros playing catch in left field wearing shorts and micro-fibre t-shirts.
Since there was no other action going on at field level, we strolled up behind the guy who was closer to the stands. I didn’t recognize him. However, the back of his t-shirt had “31” hand written on a little white square of fabric and his shorts had “20” written on a similar little white square of fabric. Utilizing my crack research skills, after the game I looked up the roster on ESPN.com and MLB.com. One of them listed no one as number 20 and a gentleman named Bud Norris as number 31. The other, listed no one as number 31 and the same Bud Norris as number 20. And one of them provided a picture, in which I could easily recognize the t-shirt and shorts wearing ball player as none other than Bud Norris.
Tim was on my shoulders as my dad, Tim and I pulled up behind Mr. Norris. He glanced over at us and I asked, “You guys hitting today.” “No,” was his reply. “Hmmm…, any chance we can get that ball after your finished playing catch?” No answer.
We watched Bud and his colleague play catch for a bit. When they finished, they were only a short distance a part and the other guy ended up with the ball. He started to walk away and Bud went over to him and grabbed the ball. He turned around, made eye contact with me and fired a strike into my waiting glove.
“Thanks, Bud.” Hands down, the best “Bud” to ever walk the field at Miller Park.
A minute later, we started walking toward home plate, just checking out our surroundings. This was the view:
After watching a couple other Astos play catch and work on some mechanics by the 3B dugout, we made our way behind home plate and got this group shot:
And I took another panaramic view:
By the way, at this point, it was a little after 11:00, and it was hotter and muggier in Miller Park than any facility has any business being at 11:00 in the morning. The roof was closed, but the OF wall was open. It already felt disgusting. It would only get worse.
Note to the Brewers: air conditioning and fans. Look into ’em.
Next, we headed out to RF where the Brewers pitchers were starting to warm up. And my dad dropped a stack of receipts onto the RF foul territory warning track. Luckily, Brewers bullpen coach Marcus “Helping” Hanel was there to lend a helping hand.
With a shiny new baseball in hand before the Brewers even started taking BP, Tim decided he had no interest in BP. Instead, he would dedicate his pre-game time to playing catch with his dad. We found a nice spot in the RF concourse where no one cared if a father and son had a catch (for half an hour or so):
Note: in the middle picture, Tim is inspecting the ball after it acquired a stray piece of Miller Park lint. I had to help him remove it. It was a stubborn piece of Miller Park lint. After playing catch, we decided to walk around the park a bit. We headed to LF.
Now, I did not acquately document this with photos, but there is NO field visability in CF at Miller Park. They have really tried their best to hide the field from anyone who might be walking between RF and LF. There is a walkway behind the batters eye and scoreboard, but all you can see back there is a lovely view of Milwaukee out the windows and a big black canvas wall hiding the field.
LF isn’t much better. There is a Friday’s restaurant that has a porch. If you’re not in the restaurant, you can stand in the walkway behind it (I have a pitcher of this below), but a bunch of diners will be sitting between you and the field. Then there is the “inside” portion of the restaurant that completely blocks a big section of LF from the view of passers-by in the concourse.
So, we headed to the LF loge (second deck), where we could see the field! And Tim posed for this picture:
This was the view (not too shabby):
Next, we headed back to the field level and returned to home plate. Former Mariner (and a guy who is still loved by the Mariners fans) Mike Cameron was taking his turns in the cage. I snapped this picture of him because I thought it was even cooler than when Harold Reynolds used to carry his hat in his back pocket during at-bats:
Next, we headed out to RF foul territory where there are a bunch of attractions for the kids. Like this big baseball…
…which doubles as a photo booth in which you can make your own Brewers baseball cards. We did it twice, as shown above. For $2 you get two cards (of a single picture — i.e., we got two Tim Cook cards and two Tim, Todd and Jim cards).
Next to the photo ball, there are replicas of the racing sausages and a game where kids can race the sausages down a 40 foot track by peddling:
There is also a big baseball glove in which you can sit for a picture:
They have a fake dugout where you can stand with a fake Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun…
…and they also have a smaller version of Bernie’s home run slide, a contraption where kids can race a fake Cory Hart (I think that is his name), and some clowns painting faces (which I am against) and making balloon animals (which I am for).
As I mentioned, the heat…or better yet the humidity in the Park was staggering. So, we found a nice corner of the Park by the RF enterance where it was nice and cool. While we were over there, I noticed some plaques on the wall, one congratulated the people of Milwaukee for setting a new MLB attendance record in 1953. Then I found something a little more interesting…
…its a giant picture on the wall of Prince Fielder giving Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohanek a high five after the Brewers won the wild card last season. For those of you who don’t know him (and if you follow my blog, you most likely do), Nick is “Brew Town’s Ballhawk.” The dude is ridiculous when it comes to catching Major League home runs. He currently has 51 to his credit. You can see some of his work by clicking here. (While I am promoting Youtube video clips, you might as well click here too).
Tim and I met Nick back in June at Camden Yards. He is a top-notch guy.
Anyway, how cool is that picture? That would be too cool to be featured in a huge piece of art work at your home field. Congrats, Nick. You deserve it.
Next, we decided to grab some lunch and eat it in this nice cool corner of Miller Park. Since we were in Milwaukee, I decided to act like a local:
Brat, Miller High Life, Cheese Fries helmet.
Hands down, that was the best brat I have ever tasted. Amazing.
While I do not know for certain, I am going to tell myself the cheese on my fries came straight from the Cheese Chalet. It tasted like some classy cheese. And how about a cheese fry HELMET!!!? What a great idea. I am an advocate for more foods in helmets.
Tim enjoyed his hot dog…
After we ate, my dad went to the team store to buy a Miller Park baseball — something he does at every stadium he visits — and Tim and I went to the upper deck to take some stadium pictures. Here is what we found:
Right field loge:
…right field upper deck:
…first base upper deck:
…behind the plate upper deck:
…Hey, do you see what I see? Out in RCF? In the exclusive “Tundra Territory” section? A little speck of yellow? Could it be? The Happy Youngster? We’ll have to wait and see…
…left field upper deck:
While taking our tour of the upper deck, Tim and I missed the first pitch of the game. So, here is the second pitch…
…and as an added bonus, below the second pitch I have included a picture of Lance “The Big Puma” Berkman fouling off a pitch.
Next, we headed back toward our seats in RF. As we passed behind the view blocking batters eye, we heard the crowd go crazy, so we ran into this little blocked off eye sore in RCF just in time to watch Ryan Braun circle the bases following a homerun:
Just to the left of this little eye sore was the yellow speck I’d spotted from the upper deck behind home plate. But I didn’t know how to get in there to check to see if it was Happy. That section is gated off and guarded by an attendant during the entire game.
However, as we passed by, we saw a lady trying to take a picture of her husband standing in front of the field by the gate. The guard offered to take their picture, and to take it on the other side of the gate, from the super exclusive Tundra Territory walk way. After he took their picture, I asked him, “Could you take our picture up there as well?” He said, “no problem”:
While up there for the picture, I peaked around the corner and spotted that speck, that yellow speck from the upper deck:
Nick and I chatted for a bit and he thew Tim some baseballs. Although he wasn’t wearing his pajama pants, Nick also endorsed Tim’s decision to wear pajama pants to the ball park.
After a bit, Nick and I parted ways, and confirmed that we would most likely see each other the following day in the south side of Chicago.
Finally, we made it to our seats and this was our view:
It was time for ice cream helmets…
Our seats were right behind Astros RF Hunter Pence:
Around the 4th or 5th inning, Pence hit what was originally called a home run. However, after reviewing the hit on instant replay, the umpires reversed the call. As far as I can recall, it was our first time ever seeing an instant reply review. Later in the game (different at bat), Pence would hit a home run that would count.
By the way, one interesting thing about Miller Park is that the ball girl down the 1B line plays catch with the right fielders (for both teams) between innings. I have never seen that before.
Roy Oswalt pitched for the Astros:
Toward the 6th or 7th inning, we decided to wander around and watch the game from standing room spots around the ball park. Here is my dad watching the game from the aisle way behind the Friday’s porch seating:
And here is the Brewers bullpen just on the other side of the Friday’s porch:
As we made our way of the the 3B side of the field, the Brewers bullpen started to implode;
I figured I should get some shots of the Brewers’ big guns — like Ryan Braun (pulling back a bunt attempt in this photo):
Although Prince hit a home run in this game, this was neither the swing nor the at bat.
This game was a Kids Run The Bases game. My dad asked an attendant where and when the line started to form for running the bases. We were pleased to learn that runners get to line up inside the stadium (so we could still watch the game while in line).
On the way to the line, my dad took our picture with four of the five sunning sausages:
Tim definitely liked these sausages.
Next, it was off to the line. It was disgustingly hot, humid and sweaty in Miller Park by this time. As we watched the bottom of the ninth inning from very near the front of the huge run the bases line, I found myself rooting against the Brewers. I didn’t want them to tie up the game and send it to extra innings. If that happened, I feared we would have to leave to escape the humidity in Miller Park before running the bases.
Luckily, with two outs, Prince Field (the tying run) hit a bat to the base of the RF wall, but Hunter Pence hunted it down and snared it in his glove on a leaping play.
And just like that, Tim and seen every team in the National League play live!
Now, it was time to run the bases. I saw a couple other parents running with small children. I decided I’d try to get on the field with Tim. I asked the lady standing by first base if I could guide Tim around the bases. She said I could if I held his hand as we ran.
So I did.
But, as you can see, my grip wasn’t quite tight enough and Tim blazed out ahead of me on the base paths:
Somehow, between me and my dad, we couldn’t manage to get a single clear picture of Tim running the bases. Oh, well.
We then finished off our Miller Park experience by getting our traditional post-base running dugout picture…
…a three generations of Cooks on field picture…
…and a picture with a “trophy” of the greatest ball player ever to strap a Milwaukee jersey to his chest:
And then we walked to the car, and drove back to Chicago for the final day of our baseball road trip.
Despite the oppressive heat inside Miller Park, the third day of our trip was a smashing success.
Season Fan Stats:
24 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
10 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, and Miller Park)
22 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals Marlins, Pirates, Astros and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
20 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, and Brewers (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
21 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, and 1 Astros)
5 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, and the National League)
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
9 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)