During the week leading up to Saturday, April 28, 2012, we were looking forward to our first game of the season at Camden Yards. But the weather outlook was sketchy. Rain seemed to be in the forecast. And I was going back-and-forth regarding whether Kellan should join me and Tim for this game. I wanted him to join us, but I feared having to corral him in the rain. But on Friday, I made the decision: Kellan would definitely join us.
So let’s do it.
It was our first night game of the season. After having a nice relaxing day lounging around the house, we hopped in the car where Tim and Kellan kept themselves entertained during the drive south:
When we walked up to the stadium at 4:30 in the afternoon, a huge crowd was already waiting at the gates…
…, which apparently upset Kellan (he wasn’t too interested in getting his picture at the time).
Luckily, when it comes to Camden Yards, we know *people* and those people are permanently first in line…
…and so were we. In that last picture, along with Tim, Avi Miller and Matt Hersl, that is 1,100+ baseball ballhawk and east coast Oakland A’s fan, Rick Gold. Rick and I have known each other for a while through myGameBalls.com and twitter, but this was the first time we had ever met in person. Despite rooting for the wrong A.L. West team, Rick is a pretty cool guy.
Kellan grabbed a spot on the backpack-checking table and had a great time hanging out with the guys:
The crowd was so big because the Orioles were set to unveil a new Frank Robinson statue at a ceremony at 5:15 p.m. The ceremonyfeatured Robinson, Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer and others. As we waited at the gate, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron and his wife zoomed by (inside the gate) on a golf cart. A few minutes later, Eddie Murray walked by…
…and I took two of the worst possible pictures of him – that last one is the *better* of my two Eddie Murray pictures! The statue unveiling was part of the Orioles’ celebration of the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards. (Think, when Camden Yards opened, Fenway Park was a mere 80-year-old spring chicken of a ballpark).
I knew Hank Aaron was going to be at this game, and I really wanted to see him in person. But I didn’t want to sit through the crowded ceremony. So we headed into the ballpark for BP once the gates opened. As usual, we headed for the third base line:
Kellan absolutely loves wearing his glove and trying to catch baseballs around the house. His hand is so tiny that he cannot close the glove so he relies on the ball just landing in there and not bouncing out. Early in BP, he made his first ever attempt on a toss-up from a MLB player, Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz (who was wearing a “Brady Anderson” embroidered glove):
That is easily my favorite picture of the season so far. In our first three games, my camera has been annoying me like nobody’s business. It is ruining a ton of my pictures and really seems to have it out for me. But my camera apparently felt the gravity of the situation and it worked perfectly in the crunch and captured that last picture.
And thank you, too, Brian Matusz!
By the way, the ball bounced off of the side of Kellan’s glove and fell to his feet. But it was a great moment anyway.
Kellan grabbed his new baseball and held it tight:
Hey, remember that ceremony I mentioned? During BP, it was taking place in the picnic area behind the bullpens:
We decided to head over there for a little peak. But it was so crowded we could hardly see the panel of Hall of Famers – and my only picture attempt came out totally unrecognizable because I had to take the photo through trees, flowers, people, etc., etc.
We decided to head off to the restroom. Normally, cameras are off limits in the restrooms, but I couldn’t help taking this next one because Kellan looked so cute and funny lying on the flip-down baby changing table with is big baseball glove:
He was like, “Hey, let’s get this done so we can get back out there!”
And get back out there we did.
We headed back to the third base line. Unfortunately, he had taken Kellan’s umbrella stroller into the stadium, which was a terrible idea. Tim was in charge of rolling it around (empty) and finding places to stash it during BP. He seemed to like taking charge of this task and he was vehemently opposed to just leaving it out in deep LF while we went back to the third base line.
Anyway…when we returned to the field, the A’s pitchers were playing catch down the line. When he finished playing catch, we thought Jim Miller was going to throw a baseball to Tim. We were both excited for the third chance in three weeks for Tim to catch a toss-up from a player. But then Miller decided to walk it over and hand-deposit it into Tim’s glove:
Thanks, Mr. Miller!
Although there was no one in our vicinity blocking the rows of seats, Tim decided to climb back up to our spot in the tenth row (which I figured was out of foul ball range – I didn’t want any baseballs beaning my boys):
It was a long slow climb and during the process Tim dropped his baseball. It rolled all the way back down to the first row. I had to run back down and scooped it up for Tim.
Although we weren’t *at* the Frank Robinson ceremony, it was pretty cool being inside the ballpark during the unveiling. They had lots of nice videos playing on the scoreboards…
…and all of the speakers were broadcast over the PA system. It was really cool being in the same building and hearing Hank Aaron speaking about his friend Frank Robinson, and then hearing Frank Robinson talk about himself and his teammates.
Tim decided he wanted to scoot out to LF by the bullpens so we could see Avi. We walked out there, didn’t find Avi, and, almost immediately, it started raining and BP was cancelled. Out came the tarp:
And off we headed to the Club Level to eat some snacks and avoid the rain:
We were up there a loooooooooooooooooooooooong time. I’m not sure what time the rain started coming down, but it felt like we were up in the Club Level for about ten hours. When I finally looked at the clock on my phone, I saw that it was still another whole hour until the game was set to start! Yikes. Rain outs during BP make for a whole lotta down time.
After the boys ate a ton of snacks, we walked all over the Club Level and I took a bunch of photos of the various lounge areas. The Club Level at Camden Yards is not all that fancy, but it’s a good place to duck into and kill some time when it is raining. Here is what it looks like…
…and this is in a glass case just behind the main entrance to the Club Level:
We eventually ran into Avi and a couple of his friends in one of the little lounge areas. I sat down and chatted with them while Tim danced and tried to entertain everyone…
…and Kellan ran a million laps around two people sitting in chairs watching TV (one of them is above Kellan in that picture). Eventually, this resulted in a giant catastrophe – Tim decided to show Avi’s friends how fast he is, so he ran two laps around the chairs in the opposite direction of Kellan and the two collided chest-to-chest on the second lap. I could see it about to happen in slow motion as the scene unfolded, but I was helpless to stop it. Tim completely flattened Kellan, who fell back and smacked his head on the floor. It was a bad scene with lots and lots of crying.
Luckily, after five minutes sobbing uncontrollably on my shoulder, Kellan pulled through and was back to giggling and running around again.
When they did a second ceremony on the field, I snuck outside and snapped a few pictures:
In the upper left, that is Earl Weaver walking the “orange carpet.” In the bottom right, of course, that is Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.
Hidden under the orange sheet (bottom left), the Orioles presented Frank Robinson with a 2-foot tall replica of his new statue. Half an hour later, two guys walked by us in the Club Level carrying that little statue (which looked really heavy) to a suite (which I assumed was the owner’s suite) where all of the Hall of Famers watched the game.
All of a sudden, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer walked by and posed for a picture with (grumpy looking) Tim:
Although he has such a wonderful smile, Tim is prone to do these “grumpy” faces in pictures because he thinks it makes him look cool. He’s a big fan of being cool! Always has been. Growing up is an interesting process, eh? He keeps it fun, even if his *cool* / *grumpy* face stands in for his big smile in some pictures.
Anyway, after the photo with grumpy-faced Tim, Jim Palmer handed a “Luis Ayala” embroidered glove to Tim and was like “here, try this on.” Then Palmer handed Tim a baseball and was like, “here, hold this baseball…but you can’t have it because I have to give it to Frank Robinson.” I’m pretty sure the glove and baseball were used by Frank Robinson when he threw out the first pitch.
As the game started, it was time for some dinner. Kellan and I shared nachos…
…and Tim opted for some chicken fingers and fries.
After eating, the three of us headed out to the newly redesigned flag court:
The previous tall, two foot wide padded wall at the front of the flag court is now replaced with a short wrought iron fence. Just like when Tim was 2-3 years old, Kellan LOVED the flag court and he ran around like crazy all over the flag court and Eutaw Street.
Chasing Kellan in the flag court was too much work for both me and Tim, so we decided to take the long way around the ballpark on our way out to left field. On our way by RF, I noticed that the Orioles had a “20” painted on the grass in RF:
Of course, Frank Robinson played RF and the Orioles have retired his number 20.
While we were out in the flag court, it was the top of the second inning and the Orioles put up a 5-spot on the strength of six singles (by Adam Jones, Wilson Betemit, Chris Davis, Ronny Paulino, Robert Andino, and Nolan Reimold) and a sacrifice fly by J.J. Hardy.
That made the score 5-0 Orioles.
We never headed up there to check it out, but on our walk around the stadium, I took this photo of the new party deck above the batters’ eye:
And as we neared home plate, the A’s prized offseason acquisition, Yoenis Cespedes, had his turn at the plate:
He came up empty on that hack, and then hit a foul pop out to first base.
When we reached LF, we headed out to see the new Frank Robinson statue in the picnic area (which appears to be open to the public now, or at least it was for this game):
Then we grabbed some empty seats in section 86:
Although it was still drizzling a bit, the boys shared a swirl ice cream helmet:
And then they watched the very light rain fall on us:
Tim grabbed his glove and tried to catch specific drops as he tracked them on their way down to earth.
While we were out in LF, Adam Jones led off the top of the third inning with a single and then scored the Orioles sixth run of the night on a double by Wilson Betemit. That made it 6-0 Orioles. Things were looking good for the Orioles on a night dedicated to celebrating Frank Robinson.
Around the fifth inning, we relocated to the cross-aisle behind home plate. This was our view for a big chunk of the rest of the game:
Tim and I watched for foul balls (and a couple came somewhat close to us) while Kellan relaxed in my arms, never quite falling asleep.
During the seventh inning stretch, the Orioles Bird (as he is prone to do) sat on the ledge of the TV booth behind home plate. Kellan totally loved it and he repeated “BIRD!” about 800 times. While the Bird was up there, Kellan’s “BIRDs” were declaratory (i.e., “there is a bird!”). Then, after the Bird left the ledge, Kellan’s “BIRDs” turned inquisitive in nature (i.e., “where are you, bird?”). It was pretty cute.
In the seventh inning, Chris Davis blasted a monster homerun to RF:
The homerun cleared the flag court and crashed down on Eutaw Street. After the game, I heard one of the TV announcers mention that it was the 25th Orioles homerun to land on Eutaw Street…or maybe Davis was the 25th Oriole to hit a homerun out to Eutaw Street, I’m not quite sure.
I missed some scoring, the Davis blast made the score 10-1 Orioles.
We decided to head back up to the Club Level where we had left Kellan’s stroller at the front desk. We really went up there because Tim wanted to see Avi. We met up with Avi and watched Bryce Harper’s first at bat of his MLB career…an incredibly weak groundout to the pitcher.
And then we all (including Avi) headed back down to the Cross Aisle behind home plate. As we approached our spot, someone hit a foul ball to the guy sitting next to the person directly behind/above the spot where we had been standing for several innings. Had we been there, I might have had a play on it, but it would have required me to make a jumping catch above my head while holding Kellan, which would have been very difficult. We still could have got it if the ball had bounced down into the Cross Aisle, but the guy took the ball directly to his gut, and it fell harmlessly to his feet for an easy pick up. He was from Oakland (or at least he was decked out in A’s gear) so it was no doubt a cool moment for the guy.
Anyway, we went back to our same spot. Over the course of a bunch of innings standing in the Cross Aisle, none of the ushers ever told us to get out of there. In fact, one of them eventually came and said, “Hey, why don’t you just sit down right here?” He was concerned that someone else running for a foul ball might fun us over.
So we obliged him:
And each half inning until the game ended, we crept up a little closer to the field:
I took some random action shots…
…but the scoring was done for the night.
We kept moving forward because I wanted to go for an umpire ball. As we got closer and closer, about 10,000 kids, teens and adults all flocked to the tunnel with the same idea. I guess everyone wants one of those nice commemorative Camden Yards 20th Anniversary baseballs.
We made it to the very bottom spot and we were the first people there when home plate umpire Eric Cooper left the field of play. But he completely ignored everyone and gave out zero of those fancy commemorative baseballs.
We had one more idea – get over to the Orioles dugout (which was packed with fans) to see if anyone might toss up a commemorative baseball over there.
No such luck.
But that doesn’t mean there was *no luck* — indeed, there was a lot of luck left hanging in the night air.
As Orioles bullpen catcher Ronnie Deck approached the dugout, I called out, “Hey, Ronnie!” and gave him the obligatory *hit me* glove flap. He had an equipment bag (which no doubt had a commemorative baseball nestled inside) hanging from his shoulder, but Ronnie just held out his open glove to show us *no baseball*, but then he looked down into his glove and gave himself a little *hmmm, okay* shrug. He reached into his baseball glove, grabbed his batting gloves and tossed them to us.
The fans in front of us were nice enough not to intercept the gloves, which were clearly intended for us but would have been easy for another couple fans to catch before they reached us, and I caught them in my baseball glove.
Tim was SUPER-EXCITED about these batting gloves.
An usher took a picture of the three of us with our post-game prize:
Avi witnessed the toss-up from Ronnie Deck and came over to chat with us. Before we headed out, I took two pictures of Tim and Avi. Avi decided to smile in the first picture, and Tim decided to smile in the second picture, so let’s take a look at both:
Before we left the stadium, we got one last picture of Tim and his new gloves (no chance he is sharing them with his little bro!):
Note the cool “20” with a spot light on the side of the warehouse behind Tim. Cool.
When we got to the car, Tim told me not to tell mommy about the gloves. They were a secret. When we got off the phone, he asked if he could show her something when he got home. Something secret. He slept then entire ride home (as did Kellan). But at 1:00 a.m., Tim let mommy in on his little secret before hopping into his bed.
So, there you go, a great night of baseball at Camden Yards. Now we have an off-week and then it’s time for the Fifth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip. It is going to be an AWESOME trip this season with stops in Minnesota, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver. Our Mariners/Rockies games in Denver will mark a major milestone for me and Tim: we will finally have seen all thirty MLB teams play a home game (of course, with the opening of Marlins Park this season, we now have to go back to Miami before we can say we have been to every current MLB stadium – that will happen in September!).
This season’s GFS Roadtrip will also be extra special because it will feature a new and improved lineup: Jim, Todd, Tim and Kellan! That’s double the “Sons” and double the fun!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|3/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|6/4 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles|
|2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1|
|14 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 4, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 2, Orioles 1, Athletics 1|
|1 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park|
|3/2 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards|
|1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A|
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
On September 12, 2011, Tim had a rough afternoon. He fell on the playground at school, banged up his knee, and had to go see the school nurse:
But don’t you worry, things were about to turn around for young Tim. Today was his Fifth MLB Anniversary and we were about to have an awesome evening of baseball at Camden Yards.
You might have noticed that Tim had a little turtle that he has been bringing to games the last couple months. His name is “Shelly” (yeah, he’s a boy!). Tim got Shelly at the Baltimore Aquarium the day after Kellan’s first birthday and he loves that little turtle like crazy.
On our drive to the ballpark, Tim devised a plan revolving around Shelly:
First, he wanted Shelly to get his first baseball at the game. Second, he wanted to get a player to sign the ball for Shelly. I told Tim we’d do our best to achieve these goals.
The first goal would not take long. I bought cheap (super cheap) but good (really good) tickets on stubhub, but they were not “season” tickets, and we were running late and arrived after the ballpark opened and Avi Miller was already inside the ballpark.
So we were stuck in CF-RF for about 10 minutes upon entering the ballpark.
We wandered down into section 90 to see what was happening. A few moments later, former-Mariner Chris Jakubauskas…
…saw me put on my Mariners jersey. Jak ended up calling to one of his Orioles teammates who had a baseball. The teammate tossed the ball to Jak and then Jak waved and then tossed the baseball to us.
Tim promptly declared that this baseball was for Shelly:
The last couple minutes before the rest of the ballpark opened to non-season ticket holders ticked by ever so slowly. But finally we were permitted to make our way into RF foul territory and around home plate. We were going to head down the foul line toward the LF foul pole. By this time, the Rays were hitting and the Orioles had all exited the field. As we past third base and the infield dirt, the batter hit a soft grounder that rolled to a rest in the grass behind short stop. Rays pitcher J.P. Howell ran over from shallow CF, grabbed the ball, waved to us and made a long throw our way.
Mere seconds after gloving the ball, a familiar voice came from behind us, “That’s J.P. Howell.” It was our friend and future
Orioles Fan Hall of Famer Avi Miller.
Avi knew it was Tim’s fifth MLB anniversary. Although he was wearing a Rays hat…
…, Avi announced that he had brought a Mariners hat in honor of Tim’s anniversary. Very kind, Mr. Miller.
The three of us walked down the line toward the foul pole and a Rays batter hit a grounder down the line and directly to the on-field usher (Tom) who was standing directly in front of us. Tom grabbed the ball and turned and gave it to Tim. Big thanks, sir!
Avi headed back out into left field and Tim and I stayed put. It was an unusually small BP crowd. But after hanging out in foul territory for a bit, Tim wanted to head out into LF as well.
As Tim and I circled around the foul pole, a batter hit a baseball to the wall just below us. There were really no fans anywhere around us. When Juan Cruz walked over to retrieve the baseball, I said, “Hey, Juan. Any chance we could get that baseball?”
Cruz looked right at us with a odd (but otherwise indescribable) expression, and then turned and walked away without saying a word.
So, we headed out to section 186. Not too much was going on. We chatted a bit with Matt Hersl. We chatted a bit with Avi. At one point, Avi asked if we knew a player’s name…
…it was Juan Cruz. I told him that I was pretty sure it was Juan Cruz, but he’d given us a really weird look earlier so maybe I was wrong. Hmm…maybe I’d call him the wrong name?
Nah…I looked in our little book where I record all sorts of stuff. Yep, Juan Cruz had tossed us a baseball earlier in the season…and my list confirmed that his name was, indeed, Juan Cruz.
Eventually, someone hit a laser line drive homerun directly over our head. I jumped for it and it probably sailed less than a foot over my glove.
Like two seconds, I heard someone yell (at us) from the field. It was Juan Cruz! I was utterly confused. He was probably 2-3 sections over toward the LF foul pole. He held up a baseball and pointed at us. I wasn’t sure if he was looking pointing at us or someone else. Tim was standing directly in front of me. In fact, I had my hands on his shoulders as I looked at Cruz with a confused look on my face. (A little backstory, I am incredibly terrible at deciphering what people with accents are saying, and Cruz is from the Dominican Republic, but for some reason it sounded like he was yelling with a thick southern accent). He yelled
something that was completely indecipherable to me:
Cruz – “BLAH, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”
Todd – (confused) What!?
Cruz – “BLEE, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”
Todd – (even more confused and not even sure if he was yelling at me or someone else!) “What!?”
Cruz – “BLEE, CAH, BLAHHHH!”
Todd – (really embarrassed by this point) “What!?!?!?!?!”
Cruz – (pointing at Tim directly in front of me) “BEEEEE CAREFULLLLLL!!!!”
Ah, ha. Finally, it all made sense — he didn’t want to hit Tim with his throw!
Todd – “Oh, okay!”
And then he threw me a strike.
Thanks (and sorry), Juan!
After the baseball from Cruz (already our fourth of the day), the main highlight of the rest of BP was that James Shields made a ridiculously awesome catch, leaping high over the wall in LCF to pick off a would-be BP homerun.
Wait, there was another highlight during BP. Tim got his picture sitting in one of Camden Yards’ two orange seats (the one where Cal Ripken, Jr.’s 278th homerun landed), and then Shelly got his picture in the Ripken orange seat too:
Wait, again, there was still one more highlight of BP. At one point, Tim and I were chatting with one of the Orioles regular leftfield ushers (Miss Kelly). After attending a bunch of O’s games over the last couple years and hanging out with Avi and some of the
other LF regulars, Kelly clearly recognized us. But I was pleasantly surprised when she actually knew Tim’s name! “Wow,” I thought to myself, “If an usher knows us by name, I guess we are officially *quasi-Camden-Yards-regulars!” I like it!
After the Rays cleared the field, the extremely small crowd of BP-goers cleared out of LF except for us, Avi and one or two other guys. There were tons of BP homers strewn about the ground in the Orioles’ and Rays’ bullpens.
After a while the pitchers, catchers, and coaches headed out to the bullpens. Former-Mariners pitching coach and current Orioles pitching coach was kind enough to toss us a baseball from the Orioles bullpen.
Adair also noticed our Mariners shirts and stopped to chat a bit. He asked Tim who his favorite player is (Ichiro) and his favorite pitcher (Tim faltered, but then agreed when I suggested Felix Hernandez). I told Adair the story of my mom getting one of the Rick Adair prank t-shirts that Ken Griffey, Jr. had made during spring training in 2010. He got a kick out of that.
After Adair left, another Orioles coach (or a guy who at least seemed to be a coach) came over and started talking to some fans and signing some autographs. We decided to put Tim’s pre-game autograph plan into action. It worked perfectly, and now we are proud to say that Tim’s little turtle Shelly is the proud owner of a baseball from Rick Adair bearing a personalized autograph from Orioles Hall of Famer Scott McGregor:
Nice! Thanks, Scott!
It was getting close to play area time. But we hung out for a few more minutes. Eventually, Rays coach Jim Hickey entered the visitors’ bullpen:
There were still probably three BP homers laying in the grass. Avi asked Hickey for one and he responded, “You’re too old!” He then turned and weakly tossed a ball in our direction. But it didn’t clear the fence and it bounced down into the stairway that leads from the back of the bullpen down to the bullpen bathrooms. His second toss was on the money.
Interesting side note, someone else later tossed the other ball (the one that Hickey failed to get over the fence) to Avi.
That was it for our field-area pre-game festivities. We’re typically pretty good at getting 1 or 2 baseballs during BP. But due to the incredibly small BP crowd, we amazingly came away with six baseballs! It was pretty crazy.
Aside from a game in 2010 when we got 10 baseballs (including 7 easter eggs), we had never gotten more than 7 at a single game.
Interestingly, we had come into this game sitting on 191 baseball since Tim’s first game. Coming into the game, I did not even consider the possibility that we would have a chance to approach the 200-plateau at this game. But with six baseballs in our backpack, I began to wonder. I jokingly told Avi that *all we needed* was to get 3 baseballs during the game to hit 200.
There was still no way I thought it could happen, but in the back of my mind, I thought it would be pretty cool to do it because Tim had gotten his first baseball on September 12, 2006 and his 100th exactly one year earlier on September 12, 2010. How cool would it be to hit 200 on September 12, 2011? Pretty cool, was my thought.
But enough with the wild speculations, we had a play area to get to.
Tim started out by posing for (another) picture with one of the big bird bobbleheads (this time with his trusty companion, Shelly):
And then he played like a mad man:
As play areas go, Camden Yards is always a fun one. Lots of things to do and not too crowded to have fun.
As game time approached, we grabbed a hot pile of nachos…
…and our awesome $5.00 tickets from stubhub:
Actually, that view is from row four of section 10, and our seats were actually about 10-15 feet to the left in row 4 of section 12. Anyway, the seats were awesome, and there was a constant possibility that the ballgirl would catch a foul grounder and give it to Tim.
I mean, check this out:
The ballgirl was sitting just on the other side of the guy in the blue shirt and blue hat. She did get a grounder early and gave it to
the son of the guy in orange directly in front of Tim in that last picture. But we didn’t stick around in these seats (we need our freedom to move around!) long enough to see if she’d eventually give Tim a foul ball.
Here’s an interesting picture:
I took it because the Orioles’ first base coach’s last name is “Kirby,” and that is also the name of our awesome black lab (interesting fact: my wife and I met at a dog park thanks to Kirby!). The picture is also interesting because it shows home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. Cuzzi has given us a post-game baseball once before. Hmm…I wondered if he might do it again. We’ll have to wait and see.
The Rays got on the board first in this game. In the top of the third inning, the Rays scored three runs on a 2-RBI double by Ben Zobrist and an RBI single by Sean Rodriguez.
Despite the awesome seats and very real possibility of getting a foul ball from the ballgirl, Tim wanted to roam. And so, we roamed. First, we tracked down the highly accessible Orioles Bird:
Then it was time to grab a 5th Anniversary ice cream helmet. We decided to head out to LF:
Here is a panoramic view of Camden Yards from our very, temporary seats in section 80:
When Evan Longoria stepped to the plate, I sent Avi a less than prophetic text declaring that I was about to catch Evan Longoria’s homerun (note: Avi, in fact, caught Evan’s first homer of the 2011 season). In reply, Avi mentioned that he was sitting a couple sections to our left; over by the bullpens. So, after Longoria failed to hit a homerun to me, we relocated to section 86, where Avi delivered on his promise to wear a Mariners cap in honor of Tim’s 5th MLB anniversary:
Over the next several innings, we sat in a lot of different seats in section 86, but here is just one of our short-time views of the ballpark from section 86:
We spent a lot of time during the game hanging out by the Rays bullpen.
Right below us during a big portion of the game, was Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi:
That hyper-crazy look on Tim’s face was induced by a three-pronged attack on his senses – chocolate ice cream, chocolate sprinkles, and chocolate sauce! Only on his MLB anniversary!
I had no clue what Cursi’s name was, but Avi did and he passed on the info to me and Tim. Had it stuck in my brain a little better, it
might have paid off in a big way. In the bottom of the sixth inning (with the O’s trailing 4-1), Orioles catcher Matt Weiters hit a homerun that was hearing almost right to us. But it was a tiny bit to our left (toward centerfield) and not quite far enough to reach us. The homerun landed in the Orioles bullpen, bounced over the wall into the Rays bullpen, and right to Scott Cursi. We were literally the closest people to Cursi at the time. I wanted to ask him to toss the homerun ball up to us, but “Scott” just couldn’t get off of my tongue. Before I could recall his name, he rolled the ball back toward the bullpen bench. It rolled past the bullpen and to a police officer stationed at the other side of the bullpen. The cop set the ball down against the back wall of the bullpen for a few seconds. Eventually, one of the players gave him the “it’s okay” sign, and he tossed the homerun ball to a fan above the bullpen. Shucks!
At one point, Tim went down a couple rows and visited with…
…Avi, Flava Dave (glove on head) and Tim Anderson (Markakis jersey). In the picture above, Tim is taking great joy in pointing out the Dora the Explorer backpack in the Rays bullpen.
So, late in the game we were still sitting on 197 lifetime baseballs. I continued to tell Avi in jest that “all we need is three more balls
before the end of the game” to reach 200! But it wasn’t looking it was going to happen – and why would it? I doubt we have ever got three baseballs after the start of a game before – certainly, we have never gotten three baseballs after the seventh inning stretch.
But this was Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary! Magic was in the air!
In the seventh inning, Scott Cursi gave a baseball to a Rays-fan Dad who was celebrating his daughter’s first birthday game (hey, if it was also her first game, she has a great MLB anniversary!). After he tossed up that baseball, I called down, “Hey, Scott, it is not my boy’s birthday, but it’s a really special day for him. Any chance he can get a baseball too?” Cursi responded in the affirmative. Then he walked over to his equipment bag (bullpen catchers always have a bunch of loose balls in their
equipment bags!), pulled out and examined two different baseballs, and then tossed one of them to us.
I was super-excited. Could 200 actually happen on Tim’s MLB anniversary? We relocated down by Avi and the guys next to the Orioles bullpen. Avi had seen us get the ball from Cursi. “Just two more!”, I reported!
In the eighth inning, our buddy Chris Jakubauskas started warming up for the Orioles…
…he was pitching to Orioles bullpen catcher (and Avi’s chum) Ronnie Deck. Avi was optimistic that Deck would assist us in reaching the 200-plateau on Tim’s MLB anniversary. When Jak threw his final pitch, he walked off of the mound without waiting for a return throw from Deck. Ronnie jumped to his feet, and I yelled out, “Hey, Ronnie, can we get the baseball, please!?”
Ronnie took 2-3 almost exaggerated running steps toward the bullpen bench, and then stopped on a dime, spun, and tossed us the baseball over the fence.
Holy cow, I thought, this might actually happen!
We knew what had to happen. “We’re heading to the umpire’s tunnel, I announced to Avi, Flava Dave, and Mr. Anderson!
Luckily, this was one of the least attended games of the season. The crowd was particularly sparse with the O’s trailing 5-2 going into the ninth inning. The ushers were checking tickets and we were able to take the ideal seats beside the umpire tunnel:
As the ninth inning progressed, Tim and I chatted with the guy who sits beside the tunnel and punches the buttons that displays the pitch information (speed and kind of pitch). I tried my best, but I failed to correctly decipher a single pitch.
As the game drew to a close, I kept waiting for kids to storm the tunnel area, but it wasn’t happening. Finally, Mark Reynolds struck out to end the game…
…and Phil Cuzzi walked back to the net behind home plate. After the field crew quickly opened the entrance to the tunnel, Cuzzi stayed put. He was waiting for his three colleagues to join him before he exited the field.
The mustachioed usher on the other side of the tunnel had brought a little girl down to make an attempt for an umpire ball. But the little girl and Tim were the only kids in sight while Cuzzi waited for the other umpires. I looked around expecting a flock of kids to run to the tunnel. It never happened.
As Cuzzi ducked under the net and entered the tunnel walkway, it was just the little girl and Tim who were waiting for him. I could not believe it. Our 200th baseball seemed like a guarantee at this point.
First, Cuzzi placed a baseball into the little girl’s hands. Next, he turned around and spotted Tim. He reached out and placed a beautiful, rubbed up gem of a baseball into Tim’s (actually Kellan’s) baseball glove.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Cuzzi!!!
On the fifth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball, and the first anniversary of our 100th baseball, Tim held up his glove with a smile and displayed our 200th baseball:
I truly could not believe it. Aside from the 7-easter egg fluke game in Cleveland, we had never got nine baseballs at a game. It was like the baseball gods were smiling down on Tim trying to make his 5th MLB anniversary as special as possible.
Mission accomplished, baseball gods!
As the fans filed out of the stadium and the relievers made their way to the dugouts, Tim got a post-game photo with Flava Dave:
And then we spotted a couple Rays players lingering along the foul line wall. He headed over there and Tim autographs from
and Tim’s picture with rightfielder Brandon Guyer…
…and third basemen Russ Canzler:
Before heading for the gates, we got a final Father-Son Camden Yards picture by the dugout:
When I looked back at the field on our way up to the cross-aisle, I noticed something funny – Brandon Guyer had jumped the wall and was standing with the fans (who I suspected were his friends and family) in the seats:
On the way out, we stopped on Eutaw Street so Tim and Shelly could say good-bye for the offseason to Ken Griffey Jr.’s deep RCF homerun maker:
And (okay, that other picture wasn’t the *final* father-son picture), I took a parting shot of Tim and I on our way out of the gates:
It is always sad when we know we will not visit Camden Yards until the next season.
Tim said his respects to Babe Ruth…
…and then we called it a night.
It had been an amazing…
…Fifth MLB Anniversary for Tim.
September 12th is quickly becoming one of my very favorite holidays!
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|29/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|19/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]|
|23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).|
|91 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 6 Marlins,
|13/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]|
|18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen,
Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star|