At some point during the 2009 season, I got in my head that I really wanted Tim and I to attend a doubleheader. But not a traditional doubleheader. September 6, 2010 was finally the day.
I made sure we had all of our tickets in my backpack in the morning:
It would be a two city day/night doubleheader. At 1:05 p.m., we would meet Washington, D.C.’s newest resident, my cousin Nathan, at Nationals Park for a game between the Mets and the Nationals. Then, we would drive up I-95 to Philadelphia where we would see the Marlins take on he Phillies at 7:05 p.m.
We made it to Nationals Park with no troubles…
We made it in plenty of time for BP. We decided to head over to RF where we could hang out in the shade, right in the corner spot above the Nationals bullpen.
After about 10 minutes, Livan Hernandez tossed us a baseball from a good way out into the RF grass. After trying like crazy over the last month, I was finally able to get a picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt…
Tim posed with his prize…
Nate just moved to D.C. and had never been to Nationals Park yet. So, we toured around the stadium a bit. We did a lap around the field level concourse and then headed up to the upper deck in LF where you can see the US Capitol building.
While up in LF, I got a picture of Tim and Nate:
After a bit more playing in the play area, we reported to our seats in the front row of section 141. This was our view of the field:
…and hitting lead off for the Nationals. He’d just received two separate suspensions of 7 or 8 games each for various altercations. But he’d appealed both suspensions and was in the line up. He managed to behave himself all day for us.
Jordan Zimmerman started for the Nationals and gave up two unearned runs in the top of the first thanks to an error by SS Danny Espinosa.
With big Adam Dunn on base, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez couldn’t even the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the second…
It was sunny and hot all day in D.C. It was like the sun was right on top of us. Tim’s not a fan of the sun, but he made the best of it:
Speaking of Willie Harris, he was playing RF for the Nats. Leading off the top of the third inning, Mets right fielder Chris Carter hit a ball to the wall dierctly in front of our seats. Harris came racing over at full speed. He thought he had a play on the ball. I stood up and leaned out as far as I could over the out-of-town scoreboard, but it was impossible to see the play directly below us.
After Willie raced out of our view, we heard a low *thud* and, all of a sudden, I saw a glove come flying into view and land half way across the warning track.
Harris had crashed into the unforgiving wall at full speed — interestingly, this same exact thing happened the last time we had front row seats in RF, but Jose Bautista made that catch — and Harris was hurting bad. I was quick with the camera:
After Nyjer Morgan helped him to his feet, Harris walked out into the grass and fell down to his knees again. Former Mariners manager and current Nats Manager, Jim Riggleman ran out to RF, as did the Nats trainer. And the result was that former Mariner Mike Morse came in to replace Harris in RF.
We were having a good old time in our front row seats:
One of those FanFotos people came by to take our picture, and I got her to take our picture again with my camera…
Eventually, the sun became too much for us. So we headed for some shady seats in the RF foul corner. That’s where we were when Teddy Roosevelt did not win the Presidents’ race…
I took this panorama from our ice cream seats toward the back of section 136:
After Ryan Zimmerman grounded out, Mike Pelfrey walked Adam Dunn and Roger Bernadina. Ivan Rodriguez then hit a looping line drive to Chris Carter in RF. I’m pretty sure that I would have caught the ball. But Carter came in and then couldn’t get back in time and the ball went over his head and all the way to the wall. Dunn and Bernadina both scored and Rodriguez ended up on third, with a double advancing on the throw.
It was an incredibly sloppy play and this picture shows the Mets moping as they returned to their respective positions:
After Tim and Nate finished their ice cream, we noticed that Abe Lincoln was in the concourse. We raced after him and got this picture:
We relocated back to a shady spot in RF:
I was starting to get nervous. This game was taking forever. I was hoping the game would conclude by 4pm because its a good 2-and-a-half hour drive from D.C. to Philadelphia. It was 3:45 and it was still the 7th inning.
I told Nathan that we’d have to leave by 4:10. It was disappointing, but I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic and arrive extremely late to the Philadelphia game.
But then something amazing happened. The entire 8th inning (from first pitch in the top of the inning to third out in the bottom of the inning) took about 8 minutes. The top of the 8th literally took 2 minutes and only 6 pitches from Scott Olson: ground out 4-3, ground out 6-3, ground out 6-3. The bottom of the 8th was almost as quick, but it included a double by Danny Espinosa (who went 4-5 with 6 RBI and 2 runs scored).
We ended up staying until the final out (luckily there was no bottom of the 9th).
And then we said our good-byes to Nathan and bolted to our car.
Luckily, the drive was a breeze. Through Maryland, past Wilmington, Delaware…
As we approached Philadelphia, Tim and I discussed the fact that we were heading to the Phillies game. Tim told me that after the Phillies game, we should drive around and find wherever the Mariners were playing and watch the Mariners game too. Unfortunately, the Mariners had already played a day game in Oakland. But I let the dream survive for a bit, I told Tim we’d try to see if we could track down the M’s after the Phillies game.
Twenty minutes before game time, we were in the parking lot at Citizens Bank Park…
The Phillies were playing a double-header of their own. Therefore, I highly doubt they even took BP before this game. Whether they did or not, we didn’t see any BP in Philadelphia.
After entering the stadium, he headed down to the Phillies dugout…
I called out to Mike and when he turned around he was happy to see our Mariners jerseys. We ended up chatting for a couple minutes. I wished him good luck as he and his teammates push toward his first post-season appearance ever and I thanked him for all he did for the Mariners.
He was extremely cool and was very appreciative of our well-wishes and thanks you.
We pretty much hung out right there until the game was about to start, including during the national anthem:
It was game time, so we reported to our assigned seats in section 104, row 14, seats 4-5. We really like these seats. They provide a great view of the ballgame and an opportunity to catch a long ball if you’re lucky. We were not.
In the first inning, I had my camera trained on controversial star, Hanley Ramirez…
On the hill for the Phils was their newest Roy…
Brown was one of the offensive stars of the night last season when we saw Pedro Martinez pitch a tune-up game for the R-Phils.
While the action played out behind him, Tim had fun with his fingers:
In the top of the second inning, I found something else that was picture-worthy: young slugger Mike Stanton:
This was a somewhat confusing at-bat…for both me and Stanton. On this swing, Mike and I both thought he struck out. You can faintly see the ball in “Chooch” Ruiz’s glove. Stanton turned and marched back to the Marlin’s dugout. I put my camera away and figured we’d catch some Stanton-based fireworks later in the game.
But it turns out that Ruiz dropped the ball.
Stanton marched back to the plate and crushed the longest homerun we’ve ever seen at Citizens Bank Park:
Stanton was Brown’s counterpart in right field so we had a good few of him. He’s a big guy:
But the Phils came roaring back in the bottom of the second inning. The Phils scored their first run of the night on a bases loaded walk by Carlos Ruiz.
Two batters later, Shane Victorino hit an RBI single to RF, but Mike Stanton cut down Domonic Brown at home for the second out of the inning.
Palacido Polanco then followed with a 2-RBI ground rule double and Chase Utley drove in the final run of the inning with a single.
The Phillies’ 5-run second inning gave them a 5-1 lead, and it was our (Tim’s and my) third 5-run half inning of the day.
Hey, two games in a day suits us. We were having a great time:
We decided to take a trip to the kids play area…
After the play area, we visited the main entrance on the 3B side of the stadium where we had noticed a bunch of painted Phanatics on our way into the game. Tim decided to get his picture with all twenty Phanatics, including these…
After the Phanatics, we stopped by our usual Philadelphia ice cream spot for a huge ice cream helmet:
Back in our seats, I got this “action” shot of Stanton manning RF…
The Marlins tacked on their final run of the night on a 5th inning homerun by Cameron Maybin. That made it a 1-run game until the Phils scored two more in the bottom of the inning. After Polanco led off the inning with a triple, Chase Utley hit him in with a single to centerfield. A couple batters later, Raul Ibanez hit a double to CF that scored the final run of the game.
Late in the game, we headed to the 3B side. The original plan was to try to get down by the umpires’ tunnel to try to get a baseball from the homeplate umpire, but we ended up finding some seats in section 131, which is a section or two over from the umpires’ tunnel. This was our view:
In that panorama, a Marlins rookie who we had never heard of was pitching. His name was Jay Buente and he pitched the final two innings of the night for the Fish.
By the end of the game, we made it down to the third row:
The score board showed the final:
…in case a kind Marlin wanted to toss a baseball up to Tim. No one did. Amazingly, it was somehow the first game of the season that we haven’t collected at least one baseball to display on Tim’s dresser.
I mentioned to Tim, “Well, it looks like we won’t get a baseball at this game.” Tim responded, “That’s okay, we got one this morning.” That’s a good attitude.
And it was a great day: morning, noon and night.
Speaking of night, we took a couple funny pictures in the parking lot before hopping in the car for the drive home…
Amazingly, after this long day of baseball, Tim stayed awake almost all the way home.
Two games in two cities in one day was an awesome experience. We were there for all 18 innings. We’d definitely do it again.
2010 Fan Stats:
20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)
20 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)
55 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees)
12 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)
13 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
9 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
7 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)
August 16, 2009 – Road Trip Day 3:
On the third day of the road trip, we awoke in Hixton, Wisconsin and headed east for the big city, Milkaukee, and a date with the Astros and Brewers at Miller Park. With this game, Tim would close out the National League. In fact, after this game, Tim would have seen every MLB team play live expect for the Kansas City Royals.
Now, if you’re looking for Miller Park, you have to drive down a long road – I-94 – passed Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet, Tim and Tom’s Cheese Shop, the Mousehouse Cheesehaus, Jim’s Cheese Pantry, the Wisonsin Cheeseman Outlet Store, and many, many, many other Cheese-Mega-Outlets. But don’t worry, you’ll find it. It is just past the place with the cheese. Its on the right. You can’t miss it. (Just follow the guy with the three-foot cheese disk strapped to the hood of his car).
In fact, it looks like this:
You also shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it because there will be about 20,000 people tailgating in acres of parking lots all around the Park. About 20,000 people hoisting Miller High Lifes and BBQ’ing brats while playing various object-tossing games and sitting in large circles of fold-up lawn chairs.
Once we found Miller Park, we hopped a ride on a stretch golf cart that took us to the Friday’s restaurant enterance to the Park. When it opened, he headed inside to find the field set up for batting practice (keep in mind this was a sunday day game) and two Astros playing catch in left field wearing shorts and micro-fibre t-shirts.
Since there was no other action going on at field level, we strolled up behind the guy who was closer to the stands. I didn’t recognize him. However, the back of his t-shirt had “31” hand written on a little white square of fabric and his shorts had “20” written on a similar little white square of fabric. Utilizing my crack research skills, after the game I looked up the roster on ESPN.com and MLB.com. One of them listed no one as number 20 and a gentleman named Bud Norris as number 31. The other, listed no one as number 31 and the same Bud Norris as number 20. And one of them provided a picture, in which I could easily recognize the t-shirt and shorts wearing ball player as none other than Bud Norris.
Tim was on my shoulders as my dad, Tim and I pulled up behind Mr. Norris. He glanced over at us and I asked, “You guys hitting today.” “No,” was his reply. “Hmmm…, any chance we can get that ball after your finished playing catch?” No answer.
We watched Bud and his colleague play catch for a bit. When they finished, they were only a short distance a part and the other guy ended up with the ball. He started to walk away and Bud went over to him and grabbed the ball. He turned around, made eye contact with me and fired a strike into my waiting glove.
“Thanks, Bud.” Hands down, the best “Bud” to ever walk the field at Miller Park.
A minute later, we started walking toward home plate, just checking out our surroundings. This was the view:
After watching a couple other Astos play catch and work on some mechanics by the 3B dugout, we made our way behind home plate and got this group shot:
And I took another panaramic view:
By the way, at this point, it was a little after 11:00, and it was hotter and muggier in Miller Park than any facility has any business being at 11:00 in the morning. The roof was closed, but the OF wall was open. It already felt disgusting. It would only get worse.
Note to the Brewers: air conditioning and fans. Look into ’em.
Next, we headed out to RF where the Brewers pitchers were starting to warm up. And my dad dropped a stack of receipts onto the RF foul territory warning track. Luckily, Brewers bullpen coach Marcus “Helping” Hanel was there to lend a helping hand.
With a shiny new baseball in hand before the Brewers even started taking BP, Tim decided he had no interest in BP. Instead, he would dedicate his pre-game time to playing catch with his dad. We found a nice spot in the RF concourse where no one cared if a father and son had a catch (for half an hour or so):
Note: in the middle picture, Tim is inspecting the ball after it acquired a stray piece of Miller Park lint. I had to help him remove it. It was a stubborn piece of Miller Park lint. After playing catch, we decided to walk around the park a bit. We headed to LF.
Now, I did not acquately document this with photos, but there is NO field visability in CF at Miller Park. They have really tried their best to hide the field from anyone who might be walking between RF and LF. There is a walkway behind the batters eye and scoreboard, but all you can see back there is a lovely view of Milwaukee out the windows and a big black canvas wall hiding the field.
LF isn’t much better. There is a Friday’s restaurant that has a porch. If you’re not in the restaurant, you can stand in the walkway behind it (I have a pitcher of this below), but a bunch of diners will be sitting between you and the field. Then there is the “inside” portion of the restaurant that completely blocks a big section of LF from the view of passers-by in the concourse.
So, we headed to the LF loge (second deck), where we could see the field! And Tim posed for this picture:
This was the view (not too shabby):
Next, we headed back to the field level and returned to home plate. Former Mariner (and a guy who is still loved by the Mariners fans) Mike Cameron was taking his turns in the cage. I snapped this picture of him because I thought it was even cooler than when Harold Reynolds used to carry his hat in his back pocket during at-bats:
Next, we headed out to RF foul territory where there are a bunch of attractions for the kids. Like this big baseball…
…which doubles as a photo booth in which you can make your own Brewers baseball cards. We did it twice, as shown above. For $2 you get two cards (of a single picture — i.e., we got two Tim Cook cards and two Tim, Todd and Jim cards).
Next to the photo ball, there are replicas of the racing sausages and a game where kids can race the sausages down a 40 foot track by peddling:
There is also a big baseball glove in which you can sit for a picture:
They have a fake dugout where you can stand with a fake Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun…
…and they also have a smaller version of Bernie’s home run slide, a contraption where kids can race a fake Cory Hart (I think that is his name), and some clowns painting faces (which I am against) and making balloon animals (which I am for).
As I mentioned, the heat…or better yet the humidity in the Park was staggering. So, we found a nice corner of the Park by the RF enterance where it was nice and cool. While we were over there, I noticed some plaques on the wall, one congratulated the people of Milwaukee for setting a new MLB attendance record in 1953. Then I found something a little more interesting…
…its a giant picture on the wall of Prince Fielder giving Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohanek a high five after the Brewers won the wild card last season. For those of you who don’t know him (and if you follow my blog, you most likely do), Nick is “Brew Town’s Ballhawk.” The dude is ridiculous when it comes to catching Major League home runs. He currently has 51 to his credit. You can see some of his work by clicking here. (While I am promoting Youtube video clips, you might as well click here too).
Tim and I met Nick back in June at Camden Yards. He is a top-notch guy.
Anyway, how cool is that picture? That would be too cool to be featured in a huge piece of art work at your home field. Congrats, Nick. You deserve it.
Next, we decided to grab some lunch and eat it in this nice cool corner of Miller Park. Since we were in Milwaukee, I decided to act like a local:
Brat, Miller High Life, Cheese Fries helmet.
Hands down, that was the best brat I have ever tasted. Amazing.
While I do not know for certain, I am going to tell myself the cheese on my fries came straight from the Cheese Chalet. It tasted like some classy cheese. And how about a cheese fry HELMET!!!? What a great idea. I am an advocate for more foods in helmets.
Tim enjoyed his hot dog…
After we ate, my dad went to the team store to buy a Miller Park baseball — something he does at every stadium he visits — and Tim and I went to the upper deck to take some stadium pictures. Here is what we found:
Right field loge:
…right field upper deck:
…first base upper deck:
…behind the plate upper deck:
…Hey, do you see what I see? Out in RCF? In the exclusive “Tundra Territory” section? A little speck of yellow? Could it be? The Happy Youngster? We’ll have to wait and see…
…left field upper deck:
While taking our tour of the upper deck, Tim and I missed the first pitch of the game. So, here is the second pitch…
…and as an added bonus, below the second pitch I have included a picture of Lance “The Big Puma” Berkman fouling off a pitch.
Next, we headed back toward our seats in RF. As we passed behind the view blocking batters eye, we heard the crowd go crazy, so we ran into this little blocked off eye sore in RCF just in time to watch Ryan Braun circle the bases following a homerun:
Just to the left of this little eye sore was the yellow speck I’d spotted from the upper deck behind home plate. But I didn’t know how to get in there to check to see if it was Happy. That section is gated off and guarded by an attendant during the entire game.
However, as we passed by, we saw a lady trying to take a picture of her husband standing in front of the field by the gate. The guard offered to take their picture, and to take it on the other side of the gate, from the super exclusive Tundra Territory walk way. After he took their picture, I asked him, “Could you take our picture up there as well?” He said, “no problem”:
While up there for the picture, I peaked around the corner and spotted that speck, that yellow speck from the upper deck:
Nick and I chatted for a bit and he thew Tim some baseballs. Although he wasn’t wearing his pajama pants, Nick also endorsed Tim’s decision to wear pajama pants to the ball park.
After a bit, Nick and I parted ways, and confirmed that we would most likely see each other the following day in the south side of Chicago.
Finally, we made it to our seats and this was our view:
It was time for ice cream helmets…
Our seats were right behind Astros RF Hunter Pence:
Around the 4th or 5th inning, Pence hit what was originally called a home run. However, after reviewing the hit on instant replay, the umpires reversed the call. As far as I can recall, it was our first time ever seeing an instant reply review. Later in the game (different at bat), Pence would hit a home run that would count.
By the way, one interesting thing about Miller Park is that the ball girl down the 1B line plays catch with the right fielders (for both teams) between innings. I have never seen that before.
Roy Oswalt pitched for the Astros:
Toward the 6th or 7th inning, we decided to wander around and watch the game from standing room spots around the ball park. Here is my dad watching the game from the aisle way behind the Friday’s porch seating:
And here is the Brewers bullpen just on the other side of the Friday’s porch:
As we made our way of the the 3B side of the field, the Brewers bullpen started to implode;
I figured I should get some shots of the Brewers’ big guns — like Ryan Braun (pulling back a bunt attempt in this photo):
Although Prince hit a home run in this game, this was neither the swing nor the at bat.
This game was a Kids Run The Bases game. My dad asked an attendant where and when the line started to form for running the bases. We were pleased to learn that runners get to line up inside the stadium (so we could still watch the game while in line).
On the way to the line, my dad took our picture with four of the five sunning sausages:
Tim definitely liked these sausages.
Next, it was off to the line. It was disgustingly hot, humid and sweaty in Miller Park by this time. As we watched the bottom of the ninth inning from very near the front of the huge run the bases line, I found myself rooting against the Brewers. I didn’t want them to tie up the game and send it to extra innings. If that happened, I feared we would have to leave to escape the humidity in Miller Park before running the bases.
Luckily, with two outs, Prince Field (the tying run) hit a bat to the base of the RF wall, but Hunter Pence hunted it down and snared it in his glove on a leaping play.
And just like that, Tim and seen every team in the National League play live!
Now, it was time to run the bases. I saw a couple other parents running with small children. I decided I’d try to get on the field with Tim. I asked the lady standing by first base if I could guide Tim around the bases. She said I could if I held his hand as we ran.
So I did.
But, as you can see, my grip wasn’t quite tight enough and Tim blazed out ahead of me on the base paths:
Somehow, between me and my dad, we couldn’t manage to get a single clear picture of Tim running the bases. Oh, well.
We then finished off our Miller Park experience by getting our traditional post-base running dugout picture…
…a three generations of Cooks on field picture…
…and a picture with a “trophy” of the greatest ball player ever to strap a Milwaukee jersey to his chest:
And then we walked to the car, and drove back to Chicago for the final day of our baseball road trip.
Despite the oppressive heat inside Miller Park, the third day of our trip was a smashing success.
Season Fan Stats:
24 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
10 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, and Miller Park)
22 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals Marlins, Pirates, Astros and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
20 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, and Brewers (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
21 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, and 1 Astros)
5 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, and the National League)
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
9 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)