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|
In mid-June, my folks came to Pennsylvania for a quick visit. My mom had never been to Citizens Bank Park. So on June 10, 2011, we headed down to Philadelphia to see the Cubs vs. the Phillies.
My folks love Philadelphia, so before going to the game, we took a quick walk around the Rittenhouse Square area:
Then it was down to the stadium for us. On the way into the ballpark, Tim wanted to get his picture with this statute of Joe Brown…
…which he has been photographed multiple times in the past. My dad’s picture of me taking Tim’s picture actually came out looking much better than the picture I took.
A little further down the sidewalk, I gathered my folks together with Tim for this photo outside of the LF gate:
When we entered the ballpark, the Phillies were taking BP and LF was still the only part of the stadium that was open to the public. My dad hung out a few rows back in section 141 (the first section in homerun territory in left field), while Tim, my mom and I headed to the first row in section 140 (which is in foul territory and was in the shade).
A few minutes later, a ball was hit right down the line and it came to rest in foul territory. Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick was in LF and he slowly walked over to grab the ball. When he walked below us, he looked up at me and…
Kendrick: “Hey, is that a Mariners hat!?”
Kendrick: “And that’s a Mariners shirt!?”
(FYI, it was a t-shirt with an intentionally sorta faded original Mariners logo. Also, at some point during this exchange, Kendrick tossed us the baseball he had just grabbed off of the warning track. Thanks, Kyle!)
Kendrick: “Are you from Washington?”
Todd: “I live there for about 22 years, but live here now.”
Mom: “I live in Seattle!”
Kendrick: “I’m from Mount Vernon!”
Todd: “Cool. I used to play a lot of baseball in there when I played American Legion ball.”
Todd: “So, are you a Mariners fan!?”
Kendrick: (makes a wishy-washing, non-confirming/non-denying gesture)
Todd: “Well, were you a Mariners fan growing up?”
Kendrick: “Oh, definitely!”
My, Oh, My! Great to learn there is a Washingtonian and Mariners fan (I know he’s still a Mariners fan!) on the Phillies. I now have a newfound appreciation for Mr. Kendrick.
Here is a combination of the Kendrick hanging out in LF and the baseball that he tossed up to us:
After chatting with Kendrick, I headed out to CF to look around. My mom and Tim stayed put and my dad got this shot of Grandma reading to Tim the give-away book (Phillie Phanatic: The Philadelphia Story) that he received upon entry into the stadium:
On my way back to LF, I stopped in the front row just in front of my dad. Right then, someone hit a homerun directly in line with me. But it sailed over my head. I turned around sure that my dad would catch it. But he didn’t even see the ball coming and another guy caught the ball about one foot to my dad’s right.
I left the front row and met up with Tim and my mom again to watch the Cubs pitchers warm up along the LF line…
…and then my mom move over to section 141 and joined my dad in the front row.
Not much was going on, so Tim spent some quality time touching the foul pole:
When the Cubs pitchers’ finished throwing, a coach (who I think was Dave Keller)…
…tossed Tim a baseball.
When the rest of the stadium opened, we headed over to the “pizza slice” in RCF:
Kerry Wood (34) and Jeff “Fighting Irish” Samardzija (29) were both shagging balls in CF…
…I was thinking it would be nice if one of them tossed us a baseball, but James Russell (40) beat them to it. Russell tossed us a baseball from about 100 feet out into the grass. I was in the “pizza slice” where you cannot scoot back. I grabbed the railing and reached up as high as I could and just barely got it before it sailed over me into the bullpen.
Meanwhile, my dad was down 2-3 sections toward CF:
A Cub launched a homerun a couple rows back and he scampered up a couple rows and snagged the ball off of the stairs. My mom took this shot of my dad with is first baseball from Citizen Bank Park:
After BP, three generations of Cook boys tested their canons at the speed pitch…
…and there was no actual speed present. Actually, it should be noted that Tim heated it up to “28 miles for hour,” an improvement of 2 miles since his last effort.
Next, it was time for a brief play stop in the kids’ play area. Then, we headed up the ramp…
… for a little tour of the upper deck.
We entered the upper deck at section 312…
…and we thought it was a nice background for a group shot:
Next, Tim wanted to climb up to the very top row. So we headed to the section right behind home plate and climbed to the top. After taking in the scenery, we decided to go down a little lower to find an usher to take our picture. But a fan overheard us and offered to take our picture. Here is her camera handiwork:
And, what the heck, how about one more group shot from the bottom of the upper deck:
Tim decided to do a statue pose in that last shot.
It was game time. We reported to our seats in section 138 right as Roy Halladay was delivering the first pitch of the game.
I didn’t take this until late in the game, but here is a panorama from section 138, row 10, seat 8:
The Philadelphia International Airport is southwest of Citizens Bank Park and there is always a steady diet of airplanes traveling from right field toward home plate on their descent toward the airport. But all of a sudden at the beginning of this game, the airplanes all reversed course…
…Tim had a lot of fun watching airplanes traveling from home plate toward right field on their ascent from the airport.
We also had a lot of fun watching the Phanatic and his friends and family entertain people around the ballpark. Here is the Phanatic hanging out in the crowd down the third base line:
Note: it seems like the Phanatic always makes his first appearance during each game right around this same area down the 3B line.
We had never sat so close to a Phillies ballgirl. Between innings, Tim headed down and got this picture with Maureen:
Before getting Maureen’s autograph and photo, Tim reported to me that every ballgirl whose autograph he’d gotten in the past had signed her name with a little heart. He was sure that Maureen would adorn her baseball card with a heart too. But Maureen switched it up and signed her name with a little drawing of a baseball.
Those “friends and family” of the Phanatic included “Lady PhaPha”…
…who did a little dance with the second base umpire, Alan Porter.
Of course, in addition to the non-baseball entertainment, there was a game being played too. The Phillies took the lead early and led the whole way.
In the first inning, the Phillies scored a single run on a Ryan Howard groundout that scored Shane Victorino. In the second inning, they added two more on a two run homerun by Dominic Brown. I believe that this homerun makes Brown the first person whom Tim and I have seen hit a homerun in the minor and Major leagues.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, former-Mariner Raul Ibanez…
…hit a double down the right field line. But he was stranded on base and the score remained 3-0 Phillies.
Halladay was, as they say, dealing:
Yep, its official, he’s good.
By the way, here was our view of Raul out in left field:
It was official, we were having a good time and the ballpark and Tim highly approved of it:
Although the lead seemed insurmountable given Halladay’s dominance, the Phillies played a little tack-on in the bottom of the seventh…and it is a good thing that they did. After loading up the bases, Placido Polanco unloaded them with one swing:
Our new friend, James Russell, had to come in to finish off the seventh inning for starter Victor Zambrano:
And that put the Phillies up 7-0.
But then Uncle Charlie decided to that his relievers needed to get some work in. So Halladay’s day was done with a line of 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K.
The relief corps did not fare as well. Between Jose Contreras (4 runs) and J.C. Romero (1 run), the Phillies gave back 5 runs in the top of the 8th, and all of a sudden we had a ball game again. And the “boooooos” were raining down in Citizen Bank Park.
Late in the game, the Phanatic (1B dugout) enlisted the help of his mother (3B dugout) to get the crowd going again:
This has nothing to do with baseball, but I was quite happy with the zoom job my camera did on the moon:
At the end of the game, the Phanatic got some help from this guy in the green shirt and plaid shorts:
He was sitting just across the aisle from us and after a lot of hard work he got the wave going pretty good around the ballpark:
It must have worked because Michael Stutes got a hold and Antonio Bastardo got the save, which of course resulted in a win for both the Phillies and their ace, Roy Halladay.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|12/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|13/2 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals and Cubs; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles]|
|7 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2))|
|38 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs)
|5/1 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington; Kellan – Camden Yards]|
|11/7 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; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]|
|1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|
On Sunday, May 1, 2011, Tim and I set off for Philadelphia and our first non-doubleheader game of the season. Just like last May 1st, the Phillies would be taking on their division rivals, the New York Mets. Unlike last season, this game was a night game. In fact, it was the ESPN Sunday night game.
We arrived before the gates opened. But there was a problem: we were staring down 2.5 hours of batting practice, but while still in the parking lot we discovered that both Tim and I forgot to pack our gloves. Oh, no!
But on this date, baseball gloves were not necessary. With five lifetime baseball at Citizens Bank Park, we were about to have an unprecedented day.
Immediately upon entering the stadium, he headed to the LF corner and ran into former-Mariner, Raul Ibanez:
After a few minutes, we abandoned LF and headed to the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye. We checked out the empty bullpens (and noticed a Phillies BP baseball down below in the entrance way to the bullpen area), peered around the batters eye to watch some BP…
While behind the batters eye, they opened up the rest of the stadium. So Tim and I headed to the corner spot in RCF (section 101, row 1, seat 1). There is some extra space in the corner pasted seat 1, Tim literally “hung out” there:
Phillies back-up catcher, Dane Sardinha, was shagging baseballs right in front of us. While we were trying to figure out who in the world Sardinha was, Antonio Bastardo ran down a fly ball in straight away CF and then tossed us our second baseball of the day:
The Phillies’ “Four Aces” (minus the day’s starting pitcher, Cliff Lee) were hanging out in front of Section 103…
At one point, this groundskeeper walked by…
…and grabbed that baseball out of the bullpen entrance way. He walked over toward us (by the way, RF was filling up, but for some reason, not a single person joined us in section 101), and tossed the baseball up to us. Amazingly, without any gloves that was our third baseball of the day, in all of the games we’d attended with glove-on-hand, we’d never got three baseballs at a Phillies game before.
Eventually, the Phillies vacated the field and the Mets started taking their hacks. Mets third baseman, David Wright, was putting on a show. He jacked homer after homer into the bushes behind the CF fence. In fact, we watched so many baseballs fly into the bushes, Tim found this little birdie in the bushes:
By the way, this was our view of Citizens Bank Park from section 101, row 1, seat 1:
While hanging out in the corner spot, there was one close call with a BP homerun. Some unidentified Mets batter hit a homerun directly over our heads. It sailed about 5 feet over our heads. In seat 1 of section 101, there is no second row and it was not possible to back up to try to bare hand the homer. It sailed into the Phillies bullpen, bounced off of the back wall, and came to rest in the middle of the bullpen grass.
A little bit after 7:30, Cliff Lee headed out to the bullpen flanked by pitching coach Rich Dubee and bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo:
As Lee started stretching, Dubee headed into the bullpen and grabbed some baseballs out of the baseball bag. Tim asked Dubee if he could have a baseball. Dubee motioned/shrugged as if to say, “sorry, we need these baseballs to warm up Cliff Lee” (it was a highly communicative shrug). Dubee made eye contact with me and I pointed toward that Mets homerun ball that had flown over our heads. Dubee nodded as if to say, “yep, that one is all yours.” He then called to Tiamo and pointed to the Mets homerun baseball and then to Tim, “Give it to that little boy.”
After Tiamo carried out Dubee’s instructions, I snapped this picture of the two coaches:
The fastest of Tim’s three pitches clocked in at 26 blazin’ fast miles per hour. He loved the speed pitch. On his way out, they handed him a ticket (everyone gets one). He was sure it was some sort of award for pitching so far. We wrote “26 M.P.H.” on the back so he’d remember how fast he tossed the baseball.
Just outside the speed pitch, Tim posed for this picture with the Tiamo-Dubee-Mets-homerun baseball in front of the Liberty Bell Citizens Bank Park sign:
It was a great pitching match-up for this game: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Young. Both pitchers were on their game.
After Jimmy Rollins drew a walk in the bottom of the first, Ryan Howard came to the plate ready to get the Phils offense going…
During the break in the action, Tim posed with his Raul Ibanez baseball and the Citizens Bank Park sign:
During the game, Tim spent a bunch of time agonizing over his All-Star picks:
The game was 0-0 through the first four innings. Then, with two outs in the top of the fifth inning, David Wright (another guy who Philadelphians really seem to dislike) hit a single and then scored the first run of the day on Carlos Beltran’s RBI double.
Between the top and bottom of the fifth, Tim and I ran over to section 138 so Tim could get his picture with Emily, the Phillies ballgirl:
Between innings (not sure which innings), the Phanatic was ripping his way around the ballpark on his four-wheeler. I got this cool picture where the Phanatic is in focus and pretty much everything else is blurred a little:
He was giving up some hits, but Cliff Lee…
After a lot of work and careful consideration, Tim finished his All-Star ballot:
Still training 1-0, the Phillies missed an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Howard was left on base. The inning ended in a bizarre fashion. With Howard on 3B and Ben Francisco on 2B, Phillies catcher Brian Schneider seemingly checked his swing to work a full-count with two outs. Finally, about 5 full seconds after the pitch, home plate umpire Jim Wolfe checked with his colleague over at 3B and Schneider was rung up.
It was the most delayed strike out call that I have ever seen.
And it was followed by the quickest ejection call I’ve ever seen.
Charlie Manuel came charging out of the Phillies dugout to argue with 3B umpire Lance Barksdale, I don’t think Charlie had even reached the pitchers’ mound when Barksdale tossed him from the game. Charlie continued on his way to Barksdale and got his money’s worth out of the argument:
In the top of the eighth, a Mets leftie (I think Ike Davis) hit a foul ball that skipped around in the crowd before being grabbed by a lady within 10 feet of our seats. Here is a picture featuring my shoe for perspective:
Right around this time, something odd happened. I got a text from Avi Miller:
“In case they didn’t tell you at Phils game: Obama making announcement tonight unscheduled. Related to national security.”
Then a second text:
“Was supposed to be 10:30, but they’re still setting up so it could be any minute. Speculation is it could involve anything like Gadhafi, Osama [bin Laden], or even Libya in general. Who knows. Has to be big to do a Sunday night sudden announcement.”
Then a third text:
“Multiple sources saying Osama is dead and in US control. Will let you know. Obama hasn’t spoken yet, but that’s what all the news sources are saying.”
While I was exchanging texts with Avi, fans all around the stadium were apparently receiving similar texts from their friends and family. What an odd place to be, I thought, to learn big international news like this.
Meanwhile, life and the game went on.
It was getting late in the game and the Phils were down 1-0. I was thinking about relocating over by the 3B dugout soon so we could try to get our first ever umpire baseball at Citizens Bank Park. First, I needed a picture of us in our seats. A guy sitting behind us was happy to help:
Then things go really interesting. It started in LF, but soon the whole stadium was chanting “USA! USA! USA!” I missed most of the best and loudest chanting, but I was able to capture a few seconds of it:
Obviously, something was up. I texted Avi to see what Obama had to say. His response:
“that’s why. Officially announced and confirmed. Osama dead. Killed by bomb about 10 days ago, they were waiting to confirm body.”
Of course, we have learned over the course of the last week that a lot of the initial news about this event were incorrectly reported. But the gist of Avi’s message was accurate: President Obama had announced that U.S. Forces had killed Osama bin Laden.
Every once in a while, the chants came back: “USA! USA! USA!” A very memorable way to learn this news, indeed.
We decided to head over toward the 3B dugout. It can be hard to get down into those seats because the ushers usually patrol it pretty rigorously. But we slipped into the back row of section 130 with no trouble. It was really windy in the concourse (it always is at Citizens Bank Park), and Tim was instantly freezing. There was no one sitting in the last row of section 130. So we slid by the usher, sat in the last row, and I instantly took off Tim’s shoes and helped him pull a pair of sweatpants over his shorts.
It must have looked like we belonged, because the usher never said a word to us. Here was our view in the ninth and tenth innings from the back of section 130:
In the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Howard crushed a fly ball to the warning track in deep CF field. I was sure it was a walkoff homerun, so I grabbed Tim and we ran down the stairs toward the umpires tunnel. But Howard’s hit died and was caught on the warning track.
We pulled up and grabbed some new aisle seats at around row 10. Here was our view for the rest of the tenth and part of the eleventh innings:
Finally, in the twelfth inning (at 12:01 a.m.), we made our way to the penultimate seats, second row behind the home plate side of the dugout (Section 129):
The game just kept going and going. No one could score. Both teams seemed capable of advancing baserunners to third base, but that was it. Inning after inning, third outs erased all of the would-be winning runs.
The Phillies fans needed something to inspire them to inspire their Phils to do something special.
Enter the Phillie Phanatic. He hopped onto the 3B dugout and started running down the length of the dugout toward us giving everyone high fives:
Inside my head I thought, “What was that!?”
I scan the field and wondered, “Are they throwing t-shirts into the crowd?”
I saw the guy immediately in front of me bend over toward the empty seat to his right, like he’s grabbing for a t-shirt on the ground or something.
But I didn’t see anyone throwing t-shirts! “What’s going on!?,” I thought.
The Phanatic stopped at the end of the dugout and looked down at us…or, more precisely, at the guy bending down toward the empty seat:
The guy was not happy. The Phanatic bent over, put his arm around the guy, and said something to him. He (the Phanatic) then walked over to an usher about ten feet away, and said something to him.
The guy sat down holding his bleeding face. I could tell he was fuming mad and...
An usher got someone in the Mets dugout to throw up a towel to clean up the guy’s face. Another usher brought a bag of ice. A medic-type-guy arrived and convinced the guy to leave the seats and go get checked out at the first aid station. The guy reluctantly left.
Oh, by the way, he was a Mets fan. After he left, the Phillies fans made numerous jokes at his expense.
Oh, by the way, while all of this was happening, Mets pitcher Taylor Buchholz struck out Phillies back-up catcher Dane Sardinha…
Now, back to the bloody guy. The big question: what the heck happened to him!?
I honestly don’t know. I was literally the closest person to him when whatever happened to him happened to him. But I didn’t see it because I was looking toward the Phanatic advancing from the 3B side of the dugout. All I saw was “something” red whiz by (something that I initially thought was a t-shirt being tossed into the crowd).
I heard people muttering something about the Phanatic kicking the guy. I don’t know what that means. The Phanatic was running down the dugout giving out high fives. Could he have accidentally got too close to the edge of the dugout and ran into the guy (who I believe was standing up at the time) at full speed? I don’t know. Was the Phanatic’s red leg the “something” that whizzed by me as I reached up for a high five (and was left hanging)? I don’t know.
Bottom line, I have no clue what happened except that this dude was standing their one second, and the next second he was dripping blood all over the front row and the top of the dugout. I did a search for news articles that might have mentioned the fan getting hurt and found nothing. I guess I’ll never know for sure what happened.
For the rest of the game, these two guys were on hand-and-knee sterilizing and cleaning the area:
Tim kept asking me why the guys were pouring *sugar* on the blood (they said it was an absorbing powder/gel substance that sucks up the blood) and telling me to point out to the guys that there was a peanut shell full of blood on the ground under the seat. Tim is very observant when it comes to peanut shells.
Anyway, soon after Paulino tossed us the third out baseball, he hit the game winning RBI hit in the top of the fourteenth. It was almost 1 o’clock in the morning.
It seemed as if the Phils were folding up shop for the night when they sent Cole Hamels in to pinch hit with one out in the bottom of the fourteenth:
Tim was really, really tired:
But soon, John Mayberry, Jr. struck out to end the game. Tim was so tired that I was holding him as umpire Jim Wolfe approached the umpires’ tunnel. I called his name. He looked up and saw us. He grabbed a baseball, and tossed it right to us. But an extremely large adult fan in the diamond club section leaned over a railing, reached in front of us with his bare hand, and deflected the baseball right into Tim’s face.
That was all the half asleep boy needed: he burst into tears. The guy didn’t even notice what he’d done as he scrambled for the loss baseball on the ground. Jim Wolfe, on the other hand, saw exactly what happened. And he hollered at me, held up a second baseball and tossed it to me and Tim.
After we caught the second umpire baseball, the guy who had knocked the ball into Tim’s face had learned what he’d done from some other fans (generally everyone around was very sympathetic to poor little Tim getting nailed in the face) and he came over and apologized.
As we headed up the stairs to the exit, I asked Tim to hold up the replacement umpire ball so we could get a picture…
The picture and our little exchange about the memory actually helped a lot. I think Tim was more stunned (and exhausted) than he was hurt. After our exchange, he dried his tears and reverted to his usual happy little self.
Wow, what a day. Our first non-doubleheader of the season ended up going 14 innings (and until 1 a.m.), we witnessed a memorable crowd reaction to the announcement about Osama bin Laden, we got a third out baseball, our first umpire baseball at this stadium, and 6 total completely gloveless baseballs (more than doubling our lifetime total of 5 previous baseballs at Citizens Bank Park), and we witnessed the mysterious fan injury as the Phanatic ran by giving high fives and all of the “biohazard” clean-up that followed.
2011 C&S Fan Stats
5/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
6/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets; Kellan – none]
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)
15 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets)
3/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank 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
Back in March, I did an entry of satellite images of the ball parks we plan to visit in 2010. The first four stadiums I listed in order and for the fourth game I mentioned, “Next, we’ll be sticking closer to home for a very special game at Citizens Bank Park.”
On May 1, 2010, Tim and I attended that very special game, and it turned out to be way more special that I imagined in the first place.
Let’s start with an explanation of why I said it would be special. If you look at our 2010 season goals (or our blog in general), you’ll see that we love Kids Run The Bases days. Coming into 2010, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field (2008), Camden Yards (2009), Rogers Centre (2009), Citi Field (2009-10), Miller Park (2009), and Nationals Park (2009-10).
We’ve never been able to line up a trip to Seattle that coincided with a Kids Run The Bases day. So it is understandable that Tim has not run the bases at Safeco Field.
On the other hand, our failure to run the bases at Citizens Bank Park made no sense. It is, after all, the closest MLB stadium to our house. But in 2009, each of the kids run the bases days was on a business persons special day games. I couldn’t justify taking a day off of work to go to a day game in Philadelphia. So Tim was precluded from running the Citzens Bank Park bases.
I was perplexed at why a kids run the bases promotion would be doubled up with a business persons promotion. I have a colleague whose brother is the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing & Advertising Sales. So, I asked him about this odd situation. His brother had no answer…and life went on.
Fast forward to 2:28 p.m. on January 19, 2010, I’m diligently working away at my desk when I receive an email from my colleague that simply said, “Just for you.” It was a forward, so I scrolled down and found the following message from the inner-sanctum of Phillies management: “we added a run the bases on a weekend for your friend – may 1st.”
On Friday, April 30, 2010, my colleague called to make sure we were going to the game. His brother had called to remind him that they put this on the schedule for Tim so he hoped we’d be there. Of course! While the schedule said “sponsored by Modell’s Sporting Goods,” as we drove toward Citizens Bank Park we knew this Kids Run The Bases day was really brought to the kids of Philadelphia by Tim Cook.
Thank you, Phillies, for listening to the fans!
So lets get to the actual game. We arrived early for our first ever BP at Citizens Bank Park. A guy in a golf cart met us at our car and drove us to the LF gate. He also gave Tim a little green Citizens Bank pig key chain…which Tim named “Snortle.”
Outside the LF gate, Tim got his picture with a statue of Steve Carlton…
…which by my count makes Carlton the second person with whom Tim has got his picture with the real person and his statute (the first being Michael Jack Schmidt). He also got his picture with Joe Brown’s statue in the parking lot (that was actually after the game).
With Snortle in hand, we headed into the ball park. We had three goals for BP, two of which we would achieve.
First, get our picture with my all-time favorite pitcher, Jamie Moyer. Unfortunately, Moyer was in deep center field where the seats are maybe 15 feet above the field. No way to get a picture with a player there. So we just went out and stood near him.
Right after I took this picture, Tim yelled, “Hi, Jamie Moyer!” Moyer made eye contact with us and gave Tim a nice wave with his glove. Not just a little flip. A legit “hi, how you doing” wave. Very cool.
Soon thereafter, the Phils all started running toward the dugout, which is where we should have been. We might have been able to get Moyer’s attention while at field level. Anyway, I put Tim on my shoulders and we started to make our way toward the Phils’ dugout knowing that Moyer would be long gone by the time we got there.
That is when goal number 2 sealed the deal on not achieving goal number 1. Our second goal was to get a baseball. We’d only ever got one ball in all of our games at Citizens Bank Park. We made no real effort during Phils BP. We were just watching Moyer.
Then, as the Phils started running in and we started making our way toward the RF corner, I saw a Phils player on the field yelling up into the stands. I’d later figure out it was J.C. Romero. There were people lining the first and second rows and we were in row 4. Romero was motioning “up and over” with his finger. But it looked like he was motioning toward the very back of the section. I had no clue what he was doing. But he kept doing it. Finally, I said, “US!?!?!?” He said, “Yeah!” And held up a ball. Tim and I walked up to about row 7 and J.C. Romero lobbed…
…our second baseball ever at Citizens Bank Park directly into my glove. I handed it up to Tim and the crowd was happy to see the Phils reliever find a worthy recipient for the baseball. Our first ball at Citizens Bank Park was from Rockies first base coach (and former Mariner) Glenallen Hill. And we got a ball from Jimmy Rollins in D.C. last season. But this was our first baseball from a Phillie at a Phillies home game.
Thanks, J.C. Romero!
Goal No. 1 – failed. Goal No. 2 – complete.
Third goal, get Frank Catalanotto’s autograph. That might sound like an odd goal, but there is a back story (which we’ll get to).
The Mets were stretching in front of their dugout. We ran over there. I wrote out a quick and to the point sign…
…Tim grabbed the sign and popped up onto my shoulders. Literally within 10 seconds, we were communicating with Frank Catalanotto and arranging to meet in the first row about 30 yards down the 3B line. We got over there and we chatted with Frank, he signed our sign (shown above) as I dug through my backpack, and he posed for a picture with Tim…
That, my friends, is a picture of the first pitch of the first MLB game Tim ever attended back on September 12, 2006. Frank Catalanotto, playing for the Blue Jays, was the batter and he took a called strike from the eventual winning pitcher, Gil Meche.
I told Catalanotto the whole story. He thought it was awesome and he was SUPER COOL to us. It was awesome. For a non-game-related moment, this was one of the coolest and most memorable moments I’ve experienced at a ball park.
I have to give HUGE, HUGE gratitude to my dad for having the forethought to snap this picture while we were celebrating Tim’s first game. I absolutely love that he captured this moment for Tim and I am estactic about the idea of Tim having a picture of his first MLB pitch signed by both the batter and pitcher.
Hmmm….the pitcher. Gil Meche, be on the lookout for these two Mariners fans! Hopefully we can work it out this season.
At this point, the Mets hadn’t even started hitting yet. But it was blistering hot in the seating bowl and we already accomplished all of our BP goals except the Moyer picture, which wasn’t going to happen. So we took refuge in the shade…more specifically, in the kids play area:
…in that upper left picture, see that teenager in the upper tube? That guy works for the Phillies. His job is to control the traffic going down the slide. In the bottom right picture, Tim took “my order” about 2 dozen times and pretended to hand all sorts of food items out of those little holes to me
We went back to the play area several times throughout the day.
After our first play session, we headed toward the concourse behind home plate where I wanted to visit the ticket office. On the way, we got this picture of Tim and a fake Phanatic:
We made our way down to the Phils dugout to see if Moyer was around. He wasn’t. But then Roy Halladay popped out of the dugout and made his way to the bullpen and then the OF grass just outside of the bullpens…
After watching Halladay stretch a little, we went to our seats in section 104:
In those pictures, Tim is standing in the seat directly in front of ours. By the way, although he was a little sweatball, that is water from the water fountain on his shirt. He was having some water fountain difficulties just before these pictures.
Here is the actual view from our seats — Citizens Bank Park section 104, row 14, seats 4-5:
But we started the game in one of the many standing room areas behind the 3B field level seats. We were there to get our first close-up look at “Doc” Halladay. And this is what it looked like:
Then we grabbed an ice cream helmet for Tim and a couple drinks for both of us, and headed to our seats…
Jayson Werth stood almost right in front of us in RF. Here is what our view of the three outfielders looked like from our seats:
I brought my wife’s big fancy camera that takes quick sequence shots so I could get the Halladay shots above. I brought it out again for Raul Ibanez. Although I didn’t get anything too special of Raul, the shots are funny when you look at a bunch of them together…
Although he gave up three hits in the early innings, Halladay was dealing all day:
Early on, Pelfey was matching him pitch-for-pitch. But then came the fourth inning when the Phils offense did some damage.
Chase Utley started it out with a single:
Jayson Werth then hit an RBI single that found a bit of Alex Cora’s glove. Had Cora gloved the bloop single, it probably would have been a triple play because Utley was already around 3B and Howard was just a couple feet from 2B.
With two outs in the inning and a 3-0 score, things got real interesting. Tim had done a great job sitting in the seats for 3.5 innings. So I promised we would go back to the play area right after the third out. I packed up our belongings, including my glove.
Shane Victorino then hit a a three run homerun that I came within inches of getting. Here is another panorama from pre-game:
I was in seat number 4. Seats 1-3 were empty giving me a clear path to the aisle. The homerun landed in row 13 just across the aisle from us. The crowd collectively botched catching the ball and it fell to the ground. There was a girl in the first seat and I sort of dove over her in an effort to grab the loose ball. But as my hand was reaching toward the ball, the guy in the green hat (to the far right in the picture above) reached down and grabbed the ball cleanly by his feet. As I reached for it, I knew that guy would have to bobble it on the bare hand grab for me to have a chance. It was pretty exciting, but I missed out. Who knows what would have happened if I had my glove on my hand.
After the homerun, Tim asked me, “Did you smash your head when you jumped in there?” It was pretty funny. (FYI, as I type this, Chase Utley just hit a homerun off of Johan Santana that landed in Section 104 right around our seats).
After the inning, we headed back to the play area, which was over run by kids. It was kid pandamonium. And eventually Tim came out of the play set holding one shoe in his hand. He claimed that he got in a kid traffic jam in the tubes that de-shoed him. That was enough of the play area for Tim. So we got those nachos pictured above and headed back to our seats.
While we were in the play area, Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez hit a two run triple to bring the score to 8-0 Phillies. Pelfrey was long gone. In the eigth inning, Frank Catalanotto pinch hit for the second Mets pitcher (Raul Valdez)…
The Phanatic was pumping up the crowd…
We watched the top of the 9th inning from the concourse behind the 3B dugout. When the game ended, we made our way down to the first row and we were in a good position to get a ball from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa. Well, as good as you can be without being in the diamond club. But Kulpa gave one ball to a 20-something girl in the diamond club and his line-up card to a guy standing with the girl…and then he was gone.
No problems. It had already been an extra-special day.
I took this panorama as the crowd started to clear out…
A couple Mets approached the far end of the 3B dugout and threw a couple balls into the crowd. But we were all alone at the other end of the dug out (still at the spot from which I took that last panorama).
One of the ball tossers was Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello. For some reason, after throwing two balls into the crowd on the far end of the dugout, he walked down toward us and entered the dugout just below us. At the time, he had nothing in his hands, but a catchers equipment bag over his shoulder.
We were just standing there minding our own business when Racaniello took his first step down into the dugout. Right then, he looked up and saw Tim sitting on my shoulders. He looked at us like, “Hey, I got something for you.” He stopped and dug around in his bag and pulled out…
By the way, that is Tim’s green pig “Snortle” sitting on top of the Racaniello baseball.
It was time to run the bases. We made our way to the RF gate. On the way, I took this panorama from section 142…
Kids were already circling the bases. But we had to stop by the Phillies Wall of Fame, which is blocked off during games so fans don’t heckle the relievers in the bullpen (I guess that is the reason, at least). Here are some famous Phillies from the field and booth:
Then, Tim was off to the races:
The Phillies were great because they didn’t have a mob of workers kicking you out the second your kid crossed home plate (like some teams who will remain nameless). So I had time to take this field level panorama…
Great job, Phillies!
All-in-all, it was a great day at the ballpark and Tim was fast asleep only a few miles into our drive home.
2010 Fan Stats:
7 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
4 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)
13 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)
4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
3 Player Photos (Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
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.
Hope springs eternal in the month of April. And entereing April 2008, I was hopeful that the Mariners were about to embark on a successful campaign in the AL West. And I was happy to be there at the beginning of it all. For the first weekend of the 2008 season, the Mariners were in Baltimore and that is where we met up with them on April 6, 2008.
As we approached the field for the first time of the season…
Soon after we arrived, the Camden Yards grounds crew removed the tarp from the field…
With no batting practice taking place, we took the opportunity to get a family picture by the LF foul pole:
Then we headed over to our seats in centerfield:
And even better, Felix Hernandez was dealing like crazy on the mound. In his second start of the season, he pitched 8 scoreless innings, gave up only 5 hits, struck out 6 and maintained his flawless 0.00 ERA.
To go along with King Felix’s mastery, Raul Ibanez put together a 3-4 day at the plate including his first homerun of the season to help lead the Mariners offense.
Everything was looking great, and Tim (and I) was having a blast…
…yep, I caught me a knucklehead.
As the innings ticked by and the Mariners marched toward an apparent win, the kids were excited to see the Orioles Bird visit the outfield seats:
But then things turned dark.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Mariners had a 2-0 lead. King Felix had dominated from his 1st pitch to his 97th pitch. But for some reason, soon-to-be-fired Mariners manager, John McLaren pulled Felix and went to the bullpen.
It took Eric O’Flaherty only three batters to get the first two outs, and give up the first Orioles run of the day. O’Flaherty’s fourth-and-final batter-faced, Luke Scott, hit a single. That was all she wrote for O’Flaherty.
With two outs, a runner on first, and a 1-run lead, Mark Lowe entered the game. Another bad decision by McLaren. Lowe’s first batter hit a single sending pinch-runner Adam Jones to third. Lowe then threw a wild pitch and Adam Jones came in to tie the game at 2-2…
We started praying for extra-innings. But one batter later, Luis Hernandez hit another single bringing in the losing run.
Aye, aye, aye…a great day with friends at the ballpark ended in misery…it was a gut-wrenching Mariners loss. Unfortunately, it would be a sign of things to come for the 2008 Mariners.
My parents are two of the luckiest people around. During the regular season, they live at my boyhood home about 15 miles from Safeco Field. During Spring Training, they live at their winter home about 3 miles from the Mariners spring training home — the Peoria Sports Complex.
Before the 2008 season began, Colleen, Tim and I headed to Peoria to meet up with my folks and my Mariners for some Spring Training.
Courtesy of Google Maps, here is an aerial view of the Peoria Sports Complex:
At the top center is the stadium where the Mariners and Padres play their home spring training games. The Mariners spring training fields are below to the left. The two fields to the far left are the Mariners Single-A training fields. The next two fields to the right are the Mariners Double-A and Triple-A fields. Next, is the Mariners secondary Major League field. Above that field is the Mariners administrative building and parking lot. Next to the administrative building to the right is the Mariners primary Major League field. Below the primary field, is a partial field where they do infield drills.
Then on the right side, the Padres have a mirror image of the Mariners training fields.
Spring training is incredibly cool and relaxing. One thing I love is all of the open grass between the training fields. It is a perfect set up that allowed us to watch the Mariners run drills and take BP while my dad and I played a lot of catch:
Those pictures are all taken in the grass between the Mariners Major League fields and the administrative building, which also has a big bullpen set up and indoor batting cages lining the big open grass area. In fact, you can see the bullpens behind my dad and Tim in the top two of the last four-picture set.
In the first day or two of our trip, we just watched the Mariners training. Here is Ichiro watching Raul Ibanez taking BP on the main field:
On our first day there, we ran into Mariners catching prospect Adam Moore who was working out one-on-one with a coach on the secondary Major League field…
…after he finished up, we got his autograph on one of the baseballs Tim had collected earlier in the day and got Tim’s first picture with a professional ballplayer. Finally, at the end of 2009, Moore made the Mariners major league roster. Hopefully we will see a lot of him in 2010.
I really enjoyed watching the Minor Leaguers…
Ah, remember how I mentioned it is relaxing at Spring Training…
…this is an ideal way to spend a morning, relaxing with your family and playing catch with your dad while watching the Mariners prepare for the regular season.
Yep, and then we got more baseballs…
Spring Training is also good for normal bats too…
…that’s a bat that my dad got from a Mariners minor leaguer. No cracks or anything. Just a nice fully-intact bat. Tim and I got two bats from minor leaguers as well, both with small cracks.
Here’s another cool part of Spring Training…
While my dad and I would play catch, Tim would run around with his grandma…
Soon, it was time for some games, so we would head to the main stadium in the afternoons:
Here is a view of the main stadium:
Here is a view of where we sat at most of the games:
When we arrived at Spring Training, they’d already played a bunch of games. And Ichiro was batting .000 (zero hits so far). He was something like 0-20.
His luck would change as soon as we arrived. Actually, he didn’t play in our first game. But in his very first at-bat that Tim and I saw him have in the spring, he got his first hit of the spring…
During one of the games, I took “The Ruthian” challenge:
On this trip, I also was able to achieve a life long dream…
…my first ever Mariners game (or any professional baseball game) on my birthday. I always wished growing up that I could have rounded up a bunch of my friends and gone to a Mariners game on my birthday. But its hard to do when you weren’t born during the baseball season. So this was a real special treat for me. And, as a special gift, Ichiro and Adrian Beltre both hit a homerun for me, and the Mariners got me the win.
For our final spring training game, we sat on the outfield berm…
But we still managed to get a picture that I absolutely love:
BUT WAIT…our pre-season baseball wasn’t finished yet.
Several of my colleagues are big Phillies fans and share the “weekend” ticket package…or maybe its just the “Sunday” ticket package. Whatever. The Phillies had two more pre-season games after breaking camp in Florida. They call it the “On Deck” series. And one of my colleagues gave us their tickets because no one in the group was going to use them.
So, a day or two before opening day, Tim and I headed down to Philadelphia for a freezing cold game against the Blue Jays.
This was our view from our seats in Section 130:
Okay, he wasn’t really saying that. But I LOVE that picture. Hilarious.
It was so cold that we gave up our excellent seats and headed over to the sunny seats in the leftfield porch:
I was fine leaving early. So we made a deal that we’d leave after spending one inning behind the Phils dugout watching Moyer up close. We made our way over there in time to see Pat Burrell step to the plate…
We got a great close-up view of Moyer on the mound:
And with that, we called it a day, and a pre-season, and we went home and waited for our favorite holiday, Mariners opening day.
On September 3, 2007, we headed up to NYC to take in a Mariners game in the Bronx. We went with my friend Marc from college. Marc is also from Seattle, but in 2007 he was working in the investment world in NYC. This was the first time I’d seen him since college. And, it was Tim’s first trip to NYC and to “The House That Ruth Built” (and Griffey destroyed).
We came up to NYC for the weekend, and we stayed with another friend from college, Davlynn, who also lived in NYC in 2007. The day before the game, Davlynn took us to the American Museum of Natural History…
…where Tim REALLY enjoyed seeing lots of dinorsaur bones. Trust me. He looks utterly bored in this picture, but he really loved the museum. So, if you find yourself at 79th & Central Park West in Manhatten, check it out.
We also took Tim to Central Park to play a little baseball on a field that we miraculously found to be empty…
Soon, it was time to meet up with Marc and his wife, Angie, and take the 4-train up to the Bronx.
Now, I’m a good baseball fan. So I’m dutifully teaching Tim a healthy disrespect for the pinstriped-team from the Bronx. Upon entering the ballpark, he already had the heebeegeebees from the cramped confines of the ballpark and the overwhelming aroma of corporate greed that would soon bring wall street crashing to the ground:
I assured Tim that there was nothing to worry about. The Mariners would surely destroy the home team. The Mariners would be throwing their young ace, King Felix Hernandez, while the home squad would be trotting out an old goat, a pre-Mitchell Report Roger Clemens. I was ready for a historic Clemens loss, and I would not be dissappointed.
So, as the game began, Tim was cautiously optimistic and ready to see his Mariners put on a show to remember:
“Yes,” I explained, “so mind your P’s and Q’s.”
By the way, not everyone was a fan of the opposition, that is Marc shown behind Tim’s outreached arm. He’s a good Mariners fan.
Now, I wouldn’t lead Tim astray, it WAS a great and historic game. In fact, despite the fact it didn’t feature former-and-future Mariners great Ken Griffey, Jr., this is one of the best games I’ve ever witnessed.
The game started like so many Mariners games do: Ichiro hit a line drive single to right field. So things were already off to a good start. Ichiro extended his hit streak to five games in the five games Tim had attended to date. But that was all the M’s managed in the top of the first.
The bottom of the first was the only bad part of the game. King Felix had some first inning jitters and fell behind by 1 run.
But don’t worry, the M’s came back in the top of the second. Raul Ibanez started off the inning with a single to LCF. Ben Broussard walked. And then Clemens fired a wild pitch to the backstop sending Ibanez to 3B. Finally, Jose Lopez got an infield hit to score Rauuuuuuuuul! And just like that the Mariners had tied it up 1-1.
Tim was happy about this turn of events:
By the way, check out the old water-soaked wood on the bottom of the upper deck (behind/above us). You don’t see that in a modern stadium! Well, really, I think you don’t see that anywhere — not in Boston or on the north side of Chicago, which were much older than this 1970’s re-model job.
The top of the second was just the Mariners warm-up act. They were about to lower the boom on their hosts.
Ichiro led off the top of the third inning with a homerun blast to LCF. Not only did the hit give the Mariners the lead (for good), but it was Ichiro’s 200th hit of the season for the SEVENTH season in a row! Hooray for Ichiro!!! And hooray for us for being there to witness this piece of history.
Meanwhile, King Felix kept mowing down opposing batters.
In the top of the fourth, the Mariners scored three more runs on a single by Adrian Beltre, hit-by-pitch for Jose Lopez, a double by Yuniesky Betancourt, and another single by Ichiro.
By this point, Tim and I were having a great time watching our Mariners dominate:
At some piont in the 4th inning, Roger Clemens hurt his leg falling off the mound awkwardly. In an unprecedented move, Joe Torre brought former Orioles great Mike Mussina into the game in relief. A quick review of Moose’s bio will reveal that this was the ONLY relief appearance of his probably-Hall of Fame career — 537 games, 536 games started.
Here’s the second piece of history involved in the game, this must be one of the most combined career wins that one team has ever had on the mound in one game. I’ve tried to get someone from ESPN.com to research and determine if there has ever been more combined wins by a team in one game, but I haven’t been able to get the answer. After Mussina gave up two more runs, he was replaced by Chris Britton, who ultimately gave way to Kyle “New York’s Finest” Farnsworth. (By the way, I once saw a shirt for sale outside this ballpark that said, “Anybody But Farnsworth.” That gave me a chuckle.)
Anyway, as of September 3, 2007, Roger Clemens had 354 wins (and he would NEVER win again), Mike Mussina had 247 wins, Britton had zero career wins (he is still stuck on zero), and Farnsworth had 27 career wins. All totaled, the Mariners faced off against SIX HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT (628) career wins. What do you think, is that a record? I’ve certainly never heard of a team throwing more career wins in one game.
But all of those career wins were no match for King Felix Hernandez and his (then) 27 career wins. Tim was all like…
The scoreboard showed the happy totals:
After the game, we tired to get a nice family picture, but Tim wasn’t into posing at the time (possibly because we’d just sat in ridiculously hot weather for 3+ hours). But combining the two pictures, you can get a semi-panaramic view of the field:
Thanks to the Mitchell Report and the amazing falling from grace of Mike Piazza’s favorite opposing pitcher, this game proved to be the final loss of Roger Clemens’s former-future-Hall of Fame career. But more importantly:
On August 9, 2007, Tim and I headed down to Baltimore for Tim’s first Mariners road game. As best I can recall, I didn’t see the Mariners play in a road game until I was 23, also in Baltimore. Tim bested me by about 20 years on that front.
This was Tim’s third game of his life and it was being played in his third MLB stadium of his life. Not bad.
This would be a cool and memorable game too because (as strange as it sounds) it was Tim’s first game NOT in a luxury suite or, put another way, his first game in the seats.
And here he is checking out his first stadium seat of his life…
Not only was this Tim’s first game in the seats, it was our first game as a father-son team. At his first game, we had 27 other family members and friends with us in the suite. At his second game, we had 10-15 of my co-workers and their “significant others” with us in the suite. At this game, it would be just me and Tim, and we would prove to be stellar MLB game partners.
This season (2009) is the first time I felt like Tim was old enough and had enough endurance to go to batting practice before a game. Back in 2007 and 2008, we regularly arrived just before game time. While we arrived at this game after BP ended, we did have some time to check out the stadium before the game started.
After checking out our seats in CF, we headed behind the 3B dugout to get a classic Camden Yards picture with the field and warehouse in the background:
By the way, do you see that glove Tim is holding? It is a Rawlings RBG36B (circa 1992). I didn’t take that glove to a single game in 2009. It is nothing fancy. But it is my favorite glove. It is the glove I used in the outfield in high school. I formed it perfectly for my hand. It fits my glovehand like an extra layer of skin.
Anyway, back to Camden Yards.
After walking around a bit, we found ourselves in my second favorite spot to get a posed picture at Camden Yards — down the 1B line right where the concourse takes a turn toward RF.
We got a picture with home plate behind us…
It was game time. We headed out to section 90 (straight away CF) and took our seats behind Ichiro (and whoever played CF for the O’s in 2007). Here is Tim in his first ticketed seat (with a little booster seat helping him out):
After a while, Tim had enough of the seats and wanted to walk a bit. We made our way to the standing room flag pavillion in RF. I had never really spent time in the flag pavillion before this game. But starting with this game and continuing until today, the flag pavillion has proven to be Tim’s favorite spot at Camden Yards.
At this game, he was all about puddle stomping in the flag pavillion:
The Mariners were leading the game early when Tim and I got some nice person to take our picture out on Eutaw Street:
We were out in CF where there is nowhere to take refuge from the rain. So Tim and I ducked into the concourse behind the infield seats. We did some walking around until the rain let up.
When the rain let up, I decided we should go check out the Mariners bullpen. I didn’t realize at the time that there was covered seating for the players in the bullpen. I was wondering whether the relief pitchers would be in there or not. They were.
We headed over to the pen and looked down to see a couple Mariners pitchers milling about. And the above-pictured then-rookie Brandon Morrow was chatting with a somewhat scary groupie-looking lady who was standing in the LCF seats. Brandon somewhat looked “trapped” into talking to this lady. When Morrow saw us standing there wearing our Mariners gear I could tell he started thinking, “here’s my out!” He turned to us and asked if we were from Seattle. Scary groupie-looking lady was out of the Morrow loop.
Morrow and I chatted for a minute or two. Then I asked him if there was any chance Tim could get a baseball. Brandon was more than happy to oblige. He ran back over to the bullpen bench and grabbed a ball out of the baseball bag. He ran back over to us and fired a strike into my glove.
After the rain stopped, we headed back out to CF. This is what the view looked like from out there:
I think the rain delay was in the fifth inning with the score tied 5-5. Four of the O’s runs came on a grand slam by Miguel Tejada. The grand slam was Tejada’s 250th home run of his career.
After the rain delay, the Mariners piled on some runs and took a 10-5 lead. Tim was excited to walk down every row in the CF seats and touch all of the dripping wet seats:
Tim was cuddling up with his baseball in the car when we found the game on the radio…
As the box score shows, it was a great game. Ichiro was 3-6 to bring his average to .350 on the season. He also had 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. Raul Ibanez was 2-4 with 2 RBI. Jose Guillen, then the Mariners right fielder, was 1-3 with a HR and 2 runs scored.
Horacio Ramirez got the win for the Mariners to take his record to 7-3. Interestingly, before this game Ramirez was 6-0 at home and 0-3 on the road. So we saw his first road victory of the season. We also saw one inning by Mariners rookie Ryan Rowland-Smith who is the first player in MLB history with a hyphenated last name, and a darn nice guy.
Welcome to my first “turn-back-the-clock” game entry. When I took Tim to his first game back in 2006, I didn’t even know MLBlogs existed. Tim and I went to about 20 games or so between 2006-2008 and I plan to tell those stories this off-season. This is the first.
When I found out toward the end of the 2005 baseball season that our first (and so far only) child due to be born in early 2006 was going to be a boy, I got really excited about the idea of having a little baseball partner. I was looking forward to playing catch in the yard and teaching my son how to hit. And I was really excited to have a little partner with whom to go to MLB games and, hopefully, to love the Mariners as much as I do.
Tim was born in January 2006. I decided I wanted his first game to be a Mariners home game and I wanted it to be late in the season so he would be at least six months old…so he could at least somewhat “experience” the experience, not just “be there.” I picked Tuesday, September 12, 2006 as the big day. The opponent would be the Blue Jays.
Now, I’m a guy who likes to make an event out of things. I’m not against creating my own holidays. And I didn’t want this day to be just any other day…because it wasn’t. September 12th would be Tim’s FIRST BASEBALL GAME and, better yet, his FIRST MARINERS GAME! This was big. So I fully intended to do it right. And with help from some important people, most notably my awesome parents, it was done right!
I started out by simply emailing the closest people in my life sort of a “save the date” and open invitation. I definitely wanted my parents and my best friend (and co-best Mariners fan) Paul to be there. I was hoping also that Colleen’s folks (from Virginia) and her sister’s family (including my nephew, Gill, who (much to my dismay) I have still failed to get to a MLB game!) to join us.
Following my email, my mom had an amazing idea. I have two cousins who both live in Western Washington and both have daughters 2 months older than Tim. Plus, my parents have season tickets with their best friends, Lynn and Steve, and they have a grandson who is also two months older than Tim. So my parents offered to get a suite so all four kids plus TWENTY-FIVE friends and family members could join together for this (personally) historic event.
Big, huge, enormous thanks to my folks!
So, we weren’t messing around. This was going to be seriously awesome.
I decided I couldn’t go in there empty-handed. In a possibly unprecedented move, I made a set of three custom baseball cards to commemorate Tim’s first game, complete with fake 1-game 2006 seasons stats (fyi, Tim had some great stats). Here is what they looked like:
Before we knew it, it was September and our trip to Seattle was upon us. The big day started with a run around Green Lake with my father-in-law, Kevin, and then some painting in my folks’ garage…
It was a 7:05 start and the weather was gloriously sunny. Beautiful. Our suite was down the 1B line just foul of rightfield. In the picture below to the left, the red arrow is pointing to our suite…
When we arrived at the stadium, I already had Tim’s first game ticket encased in an inch-thick screw down jumbo baseball card holder — where it will be locked down for all time. The guy at the Suites entrance thought it was pretty unusual, but his scanner had no problem scanning the ticket through the glass.
Plus, it gave me the opportunity to explain to the ticket guy that four little kids would be celebrating their first game ever in suite number 5, which resulted in unexpected but much welcome extra-special treatment.
Shortly after arriving, we met up with my cousin, Janet, her husband, Destry (who runs ridiculously fast (i.e., sub-2.5 hour) marathons, and their daughter and Tim’s co-guest of honor, Julie. Here we are hanging out in the three rows of seats in our suite:
…note the Ted Williams jersey on the wall behind us. Each of the suites at Safeco Field is named after a Hall of Famer. My guess is that the best suite will some day be called the “Ken Griffey, Jr. Suite.”
After watching lots of Mariners games on TV with me throughout the season, Tim was excited to finally be making his MLB debut…
We got a “BP Group” picture of the folks who were there early:
After the group shot, it was time to hit field level. This is literally the second picture ever taken of Tim in the field level of a MLB ballpark and the first with MLB ball players shown in the background…
…any guesses who wore number “47” for the Blue Jays in 2006? Well, wouldn’t you know, it is none other than current Mariners bullpen catcher and Chief-Cook-and-Son-Baseball-Giver, Jason Phillips. If the first picture had to feature non-Mariners, I think its pretty darn cool that it was Phillips.
Once we were down on the field level, we took a peak back up at our suite, where Uncle Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy, was doing his best Tricky Dick Nixon above my painting project:
Yes, the “First Gamers Club!” I spent a lot of time debating if the sign should say this or “The September Call-Ups” I think both are great. But in the end this seemed better for the paper I used for the sign, plus it is more easily understood by non-baseball people. FYI, they showed our sign on the jumbo screen during the game!
By the way, Laura is my cousin’s Daniel’s daughter and Kasey is Lynn and Steve’s grandson. They weren’t there for BP, but you’ll see them soon.
After that picture above behind the 1B dugout, we spotted my dad down the 1B line. He was seeing if he could catch a ball. So, we went down and joined him. Immediately upon meeting up with my dad (and about 1 minute after the picture behind the dugout), Colleen took this picture of three generations of Cook boys enjoying an evening at the ballpark:
Until recently, I had no clue who he was. But as he fielded the ball, I yelled, “ITS MY SON’S FIRST GAME CAN WE GET THAT BALL!?!?!?”
Without pause, he immediately turned around, walked over to us, and set Tim’s first MLB ball ever into my glove!
After we got that ball and posed for a bunch of pictures with it, I decided we’d accomplished all we needed to during BP. It was time to walk Tim around his new baseball home. Time to get acquainted with Safeco Field.
We started by heading up to the field level concourse and walking out to centerfield.
Now, about this time, you might be wondering why there were two guys with red arrows pointing at them in at picture above. Well, when we reached CF, I heard someone yelling from the field. Still standing in the concourse, I looked down and I saw that guy in the picture above with the smaller red arrow pointing at him. He had a baseball in his hand, and he fired it up to us (still in the OF concourse) for Tim’s second ball of his life! WOW!!!
A few minutes later, we met up with Janet and Julie in LF foul territory and we gave Tim’s second baseball to Julie so she too would have a keepsake from her first MLB game:
Colleen’s mom and sister (and her family) couldn’t make the trip, but Colleen’s dad, Kevin, and his uncle Bob and aunt Ann did. Here I am hanging out with Kevin and Bob before the game:
The game had not started yet so Tim grabbed a bite to eat — the old standard (bottle of milk) and a new treat (his first dog at the ballpark, he finished about 2-3 bites of the dog):
And then the big moment arrived, and my dad was thoughtful enough to capture history for us — Tim’s first MLB pitch ever:
Tim and Kasey spent some time enjoying the game from the front row of the suite:
Bottom left, my sister-in-law (brother’s wife, not Colleen’s sister), Alison with Tim and my dad. Bottom right, my mom, Tim and me.
Remember how I said I originally did not know who gave us Tim’s first baseball? Well, I figured it out earlier this season (2009). First, I noticed he was a left hander from the picture of him walking back out to his spot in the OF in the picture above. So I looked up every lefty who played for the Blue Jays that season. I then took the 3-4 possible mystery men and put them into Google Images. I wasn’t positive, but my front runner was a September call-up named Davis Romero (who has never made it back to the bigs and is still playing Triple-A ball for the Blue Jays).
Then one day I was combing through old game pictures and I found the following picture from Tim’s first game:
At the top right, there is a TV screen mounted on the ceiling of our suite where (if you click to enlarge the picture) you can see that Davis Romero is warming up in the Blue Jays’ bullpen. More importantly, its not too difficult to tell that Davis Romero, indeed, is the mystery man who gave us Tim’s first ever MLB ball.
So, at long last, “THANK YOU, DAVIS ROMERO!”
Anyway, we kept snapping away at the pictures, here are Tim and Colleen in the suite:
Here is a shot of my mom with two of her sisters Margaret (left) and Carol and, of course, Julie too:
And as the Mariners led the Blue Jays, we just kept snapping away at the photos and having a grand old time in suite number 5:
Bottom left, Alison, my dad and Steve. Bottom right, half of my dad with Tim, Destry, Julie, Kasey and Lynn.
But then, the tiredness kicked in. Tim had a tiredness-inducing double whammy going here. First, it was late at night for the boy (9’ish o’clock). Second, we were on the West coast just two days removed from our home in Pennsylvania and he was still on east coast time — so it was really three hours later for Tim.
So, Tim spent some time chilling out under a blanket strapped to either me or Colleen in a baby bjorn:
In between photo sessions, we actually watched the game:
It was great to have “Pauliewog” there for Tim’s first game because I’m gonna rely on Paul a lot in life to re-enforce for Tim the finer points of Mariners-fandome and provide him a shining example of a positive Mariners attitude.
And before we knew it, the Mariners WON! The first in-person Mariners win of Tim’s life — I couldn’t have scripted it better:
I think this game was the start of something beautiful. Welcome to a new era, the Tim-and-Todd-traveling-baseball-fans era.
By the way, Ichiro went 1-5, Raul Ibanez (1st inning) and Adrian Belte hit homeruns, and Gil Meche got the win. You coudn’t have scripted a better first game experience.