Who was the first batter at the first MLB game you ever attended? Personally, I have no clue.
But I can tell you that Frank Catalanotto took “strike 1” when Tim watched Gil Meche deliver the first pitch of his first Major League game back on September 12, 2006. And I can tell you that Luke French delivered “strike 1” to Rajai Davis with the first pitch of Kellan’s first Major League game back on October 1, 2010.
Our goal has been to meet and get an autograph from each of those guys. And on August 5, 2013, which marked the first full day of our 2013 Seattle vacation, we finally caught up with Rajai Davis. Here is the story of that day.
We had four Mariners games planned for the trips. On our way down to this one, we were happy to have Colleen “Mommy” Cook…
…join us for her first game of the season.
We arrived plenty early and entered through The Pen entrance…
…in left field.
At the outset, Tim hung out with Granpda while Kellan, Colleen and I headed out by the batters’ eye:
There were two baseballs in the grass out there and an usher eventually tossed one our way.
I then split off from Colleen and Kellan and headed over to the LF corner to check out Edgar’s Cantina. It’s nice, but I’ll never really spend any time here for at least a decade or two because kids are not allowed in there (which seems silly to me since people drink alcohol everywhere in the ballpark…and all ballparks). Anyway, here are a couple photos. First, the view to home plate:
And through the window looking into the visitors’ bullpen:
Someone hit a homerun into the Cantina while I was in there. They put a net over the top of the fans during BP, but the ball still trickled down and made its way into the hands of a fan back toward the bar.
So long, Edgar’s, I’ll come check you out again once the boys are in college or something.
When they opened the rest of the ballpark, Tim and my dad headed to RF for a bit and Yoervis Medina tossed a ball to Tim.
Colleen, Kellan and I headed to foul territory in LF. We had one major goal for this game: get a special autograph from Rajai Davis. I knew the 3B line would be our best bet to make it happen.
As the Blue Jays took the field, the scene looked a little like this:
The three of us went to the lower “X” on the far right side of the photo. Davis was playing catch with one of his teammates and he was in shallow CF throwing to his partner just behind 3B.
I made a big sign (just like I made for Tim’s first batter, Frank Catalanotto) that read:
When I spotted Rajai out in shallow center, I yelled, “RAAAAAAJJJJJJJAAAAAAAAAIIIIIII” at the top of my lungs and held the sign high over my head.
Davis looked over and gave me a nod and a little “hold on a minute” hand gesture.
I knew we were going to succeed in our two three-year old Davisquest.
After taking some fungo’d pop flies in LCF, Rajai made his way over to us (and my dad, who had joined us) took a lot of pictures:
Top Left: I’m showing Rajai the photo of the first pitch of Kellan’s first MLB game back on October 1, 2013. The picture was already signed by the M’s starting pitcher, Luke French.
Top Right: While a Rueters photographer snapped away, Rajai and I look up to track a ball after hearing the crack of the bat.
Bottom Left: Rajai points at the picture and mumbles (as if half to himself and half to me), “Ah, Oakland A’s. Luke French. Yeah…that’s a good night for Mr. Davis.” After the game, I checked the box score and found that Mr. Davis went 2-3 with an RBI and 2 walks on the night. Nearly everything went wrong that night. The M’s lost 9-0. Thankfully, the one thing that went right was that Rajai was retired on the second pitch of the game. So Kellan started his MLB career with the Mariners throwing “strike 1, out 1” on his first two pitches.
Bottom Right: Rajai signs the photo for Kellan.
After signing the photo, Rajai was super cool (and patient) and hung out long enough for my dad to snap a few more photos of us (in which, for some reason, Colleen tried to lean back out of the photo instead of joining us – silly girl):
Here’s a close up of Rajai and Kellan (and me since I was holding Kellan):
And here’s a photo I found after the game by search google for “Rueters Rajai Davis”:
That photo was posted on several sports websites around the world…I’m not sure why, but I won’t argue about it.
Finally, check this out:
How many people have a picture of the first pitch of their first MLB game signed by both the pitcher and batter AND photos with both of the players?? Not many, I am sure. In fact, Kellan is the only one I know (we are still trying to track down Tim’s first pitcher, Gil Meche).
After our Rajai Davis experience, we headed further down the LF line for a while:
There were so many Blue Jays fans down from Canada that we stood no chance at getting any toss-ups.
Late in BP, Colleen and my dad stayed with the boys in the shady foul territory and I headed out to RF to try my luck at catching a BP homer. It was really sunny out there…
…and I came nowhere near catching any homers.
Check out my dad, Colleen and the boys (you can only see Tim in this photo) hanging out in LF foul territory…
…behind a line of Blue Jays fans. I’m pretty sure that there are more Blue Jays fans at BP at Safeco Field when the Blue Jays visit Seattle than there are at any Blue Jays home game.
On my way back over to foul territory, I stopped by the Mariners bullpen to check out the new setup…
…, which is the result of the M’s bringing the fences in for the 2013 season. Last season, there was a tall chain link fence between the bullpen and the fans. Now, it is just a low railings. Much more access and less interference between fans and players. I like it.
Here are a few views of the newly reconfigured LF area:
Lower Right: Edgar’s Cantina from the seats next to the LF foul pole.
Lower Left: The hand operated scoreboard is now above Edgar’s and set back 10-15 feet from the field – it used to be right above the OF wall.
Upper Right: Tim touching the LF foul pole.
Upper Left: The new standing room area above Edgar’s Cantina. This area replaces two sections of seating that used to be in LF.
Next, we headed off to the Kids’ Play Area for a bit:
Last season, we concluded that Tim wouldn’t be able to go in the play area this season. This season, he was a smidge taller than the height limit, but they still let him in with Kellan – and he still had lots of fun.
While we watched the kids play, my dad posed for a picture with the Rajai Davis sign and…
…then I drew a “Hit It Here” sign on the back of the Rajai sign.
Before the game started, we headed back to the bullpen to watch Hisashi Iwakuma warm up for the game:
And then Tim acted like he was throwing this Pepsi sign on our way to our seats:
We made it to our seats in CF in time for Kuma’s first pitch to Jose Reyes:
And that’s when I noticed that one of the Blue Jays’ BP homers had busted the out-of-town scoreboard above the bullpens:
It was like this the entire game, but was fixed by the next day.
For most of the game, my dad and Tim sat next to each other…
…and Colleen, Kellan and I sat right in front of them, with me on the aisle seat.
The game was a pitchers’ dual with R.A. Dickey…
…going pitch-for-pitch with Kuma.
In the bottom of the second inning, Justin Smoak hit an infield Popfly that just missed hitting the international space station…
…and it almost went for a base hit, but for the last minute diving catch by Jays third baseman, Brett Lawrie.
In the second inning, Kellan and I set out on foot for a little adventure. First, we headed out to the SRO area in CF by the Mariners bullpen:
Check out the shadows on “MarinersVision” in those bottom two picts. The sun was streaming into the ballpark from low on the horizon across Puget Sound resulting in a shadow of the lighting fixture clock in LF being cast against the screen.
Next, we headed to the SRO bar area Edgar’s Cantina:
I guess, in theory, this is somewhat like the Flag Court in Baltimore or the LF corner in Cleveland, but it is much smaller and is partially covered with an overhang. Not bad though.
Next up, we headed over to the Mariners team store, where Kellan wanted me to buy him a stuffed Mariners Moose thingy (which I meant to buy later in the week, but forgot to do)…
…and then we headed back to our seats. By this point, it was the fourth inning and I had to shake my head at the fact that people were still arriving for the game!
In the bottom of the fifth, it looked like the M’s were getting something going. Dustin Ackley led off the inning with a single. After Humberto Quintero flew out, Brad Miller slapped a single…
…of his own. But that’s all the M’s could muster in the inning. Two more quick pop outs followed and the game went into the sixth inning with a scoreless tie.
Here are some random, mid-game cute pictures of Colleen and Kellan:
We held the “Hit It Here” sign a bunch when the M’s were batting. But no one ever hit us with a homerun.
I had forgotten about this, but Mariners home games against the Blue Jays are usually annoyingly crowded. I’m all for tons of fans showing up at Safeco Field. But I’m not for tons of visiting fans showing up. I don’t particularly enjoy hearing the crowd at Safeco Field cheer AGAINST the Mariners. I get enough of that phenomenon when we see the M’s play road games. When I Seattle, I like the crowd to go crazy IN SUPPORT of my boys in blue. This was the wrong series to attend from that perspective.
Anyway, due to the large’ish crowd (at least large’ish for a Mariners Monday night game), the people running the play area handed out these cards…
…at the beginning of the game. They ran 15 minute shifts throughout the night and Tim and Kellan (accompanied by Colleen) had their chance to play a bit more from 8:40 to 8:55 p.m.
While they were away at the play area, my dad came down a row to sit next to me. Soon, a couple of my high school friends sent me messages that looked like this:
My dad and I made the Mariners broadcast with my “Hit It Here” sign. I think that picture is pretty funny because (1) my dad is smiling like he knows we’re on TV, (2) I’m doing something weird with my mouth (maybe I was eating something???), and (3) Kellan’s cute little glove looks so tiny on the corner of the chair in front of me (next to my knee). I only wish they would have put us on when Colleen and the boys were all there. Tim would have gotten a kick out of that. Oh, well.
In case you were wondering, he was the Mariners outfield for the game:
Michael “The Beast” Morse, Michael “The Condor” Saunders and Rauuuuuuuuuuuul Ibanez.
And, in case you were wondering again, here is the oddly cool green-based Ken Griffey, Jr. shirt that Tim wore to the game:
So, Justin Smoak led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a massive Smoak-bomb to deeeeeeep RF:
That put the M’s up 1-0 with only sixth defensive outs to go and Kuma dealing a gem on the mound. I was feeling quite positive about the prospects for an M’s “W”.
But it wasn’t our night. Kuma gave up a lead off triple to Brett Lawrie in the top of the eighth inning. After retiring Josh Thole, Kuma gave up an RBI single to Jose “Jose, Jose” Reyes. Tie ball game.
Funky Cold Yoervis Medina then came in and recorded the second out of the inning. But then he gave up a single to Jose Bautista, a wild pitch sending Reyes to 3B, and a walk.
By this point, Tim and I were over by the Mariners bullpen…
…watching Oliver Perez warm up:
And just taking photos of the bullpen setup that was still very new to us:
Unfortunately, Perez gave up a 2-RBI line drive single to Mark DeRosa. That put the Jays up 3-1, and that was the final score.
On our way back to our seats we were hopeful for a Mariners comeback (that was not in the cards). We stopped along the way at what I think is one of the most unique spots in any MLB stadium – The Pen’s lounge area with open flames:
The boys love that spot. Unfortunately, you cannot see the game whatsoever from there.
The M’s gave it their best shot, but couldn’t come back. Final score 3-1 Blue Jays.
After the game, we got some family pictures before heading out:
While we prefer Mariners wins, it is always great to be at Safeco Field, and we left this game knowing we had three more opportunities to see the M’s win at this beautiful ballpark over the course of the week.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|19 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers, White Sox, Braves|
|32 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 4, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4|
|93 Baseballs – Mariners 13, Royals 4, Phillies 19, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 3, Umpires 7, Reds 9, Nationals 3, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6, White Sox 3|
|11 Stadiums – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park|
|33 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, Rajai Davis|
|11 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo, Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez, Rajai Davis|
In 2008, we only spent parts of two days in Seattle. In July, we went on an Alaskan cruise with 25 family members to celebrate my grandparents’ 65 anniversary. Our ship docked back in Seattle in the morning on July 19th, and a few hours later we were at Safeco Field for our only Mariners home game, and our final Mariners game, of 2008.
Aside for the final score of the game, it was a beautiful day.
My dad, my uncle Tom, and Tim and I entered the ballpark right as the game started. We grabbed some snacks and watched the top of the first inning from a standing room counter behind section 145:
We had great seats in the field level down the 3B line in the shallow outfield foul territory. My mom, aunt Barb, and my parents friends and co-season ticket holders, Lynn and Steve, met up with us. But it ended up that Tim and I spent most of the game on our own, away from our excellent seats.
We first split off from our family and friends so Tim could get a delicious Ben & Jerry’s chocolate ice cream helmet. But we ended up never returning to our normal seats because the Mariners went down 9-2 by the third inning, and the two people circled in this picture (of Ichiro stepping into the box in the top of the third)…
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The Indians scored three runs in the top of the first on the “strength” of terrible pitching by Miguel Batista. The Indians first inning was highlighted by a homerun by former Mariner Shin-Soo Choo.
In the top of the second, I took this picture of Brian LaHair’s first career at-bat…
Here is a picture of Tim checking our the stadium from our actual ticketed seats:
At the end of the second, we parted ways with my family to grab Tim’s ice cream helmet. We took it to the standing room counter just above the visitors’ bullpen. We were standing right behind Raul Ibanez…
This was Tim’s second career ice cream helmet and his first with real ice cream (not soft serve).
After Tim finished his ice cream, an usher spotted us. The Mariners are very antsy about kids sitting on this counter (or on their dad’s shoulders while standing right here) because on the other side of the counter is a 20 foot drop into the bullpen.
So we headed down the stairs and walked over to the Mariners bullpen. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was warming up…
After watching Dickey, we headed over to RF and watched Ichiro patrol his domain – he had already had an outfield assist, robbing Ben Francisco of a hit by forcing out Jamie Carroll at second base in the first inning.
When we got to those seats, Raul Ibanez was stepping into the box to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Check out the view from these seats!
Adrian Beltre followed Raul with a single.
The Mariners made a push that was too little too late. Ultimately, Raul made his way around the diamond to score the Mariners’ third run of the game. Beltre then scored the M’s fourth run…
Check out these seats! I loved them!
R.A. Dickey entered the game in the seventh…
Yuniesky Betancourt led off the bottom of the seventh for the Mariners…
During and following Yuni’s at-bat, I had an excellent opportunity to take some close-up photos of Ichiro. At the time, Ichiro was riding a six game hitting streak in games attended by Tim, but he was 0-3 so far on the day.
Let’s see what happened. First, Ichiro’s head popped into view over the dugout roof just in front of us…
In the ninth, Ichiro was up for his final at-bat following a two-out single by Yuniesky Betancourt. Ichiro capped the day’s scoring with a 2-run homerun off of his fellow-countryman, Masa Kobayashi. All in all, he had a great day, 2-5 with a single and homerun, 2RBI and an outfield assist.
Unfortanetly, the Mariners just could not overcome the 8 earned runs Batista gave up in his 2-innings of work. Despite the loss, Tim and I had a great time at Safeco Field and couldn’t wait to come back in 2009.