Tim’s little brother, Kellan, was born in July and there was no way that I was going to allow him to miss out on meeting the Mariners during the first baseball season of his life. And there was no way Kellan was going to experience his first game anywhere but Safeco Field. So, as the season drew to a close, we found ourselves in Seattle.
Kellan’s first game was slated for Friday, October 1, 2010.
But we were in town a couple days early to visit my family and the Mariners were playing. There was no way that Tim and I were gonna miss out. On Thursday, September 30, 2010, we gathered up my mom, dad, and brother Jason, and headed down to Safeco Field.
We had Colleen’s sister’s family in town with us and a lot going on, so we headed down late and missed batting practice. When we arrived, no one was on the field. So, we headed to the play area…
Next, we figured we better head over to the Mariners dugout to see what was going on with our Mariners. And that’s when we saw one of the prettiest sights we’d seen all season:
Other than Chone Figgins stretching down the RF line, none of the players were on the field. But we did see some of the Mariners top brass…
After a bit, there were a bunch of Mariners warming up down the RF line. Tim and I headed over there…
It was just minutes until game time, so we reported to our seats in RF. We picked RF because the week day crowds had been tiny lately at Safeco Field and we figured our chances of getting near a homerun ball would be decent. Also, as an added bonus, we’d been near Ichiro.
Speaking of Ichiro. Turns out Chuck Armstrong was in the dugout because he was getting ready to present Ichiro with some awards of some sort…
We were pretty busy chatting and generally having a good time during the game, so I did a pretty shabby job at getting action shots. But we’ll do our best to take you through the night.
Here was our crew…an excellent bunch of ballgame companions (note that Tim was busy eating a hot pile of nachos)…
And this was our view of the game from Section 109, Row 25, seats 5-9:
As for the game, it started off nicely. It was the A’s and the Mariners. Doug Fister took on Gio Gonzalez. Both pitchers were “on” at the beginning. Despite some hits by both teams through the early innings (including a first inning single for Ichiro (his 209th hit of the season)), the game was scoreless through four innings.
It was a lot cooler at this game than we were used to while attending games in the northeast. So, a couple innings into the game, my mom, Tim and I visited the M’s team store and I got a great deal on a new Mariners sweatshirt for Tim.
On the way back to our seats, we decided to walk by the Mariners bullpen.
I noticed something interesting, something that I’d never noticed before…
As I stood at the fence starring at my camera’s LCD screen and taking some of the worst and most blurry pictures of all time of Ichiro batting…
I looked away from my camera, and there was Mr. RRS.
It was great to catch up with RRS. It was interesting to chat about what it was like in the clubhouse as the Mariners were 97 losses into the season and four days away from the off-season. It was also cool to get a sneak preview into his very interesting training plans for the off-season. I felt a bit bad seeing RRS watching the game from the bullpen after a tough season. And I was hoping I’d get a chance to see him pitch once more and close out the season on a positive note. While it wouldn’t happen at this game, I would get my chance.
Soon, we headed back to our seats. It was time for a chocolate cihp cookie dough ice cream helmet…
Between the fifth and sixth innings, Doug Fister gave up 6 runs and Brian Sweeney gave up the seventh run of the game. Quickly, our pitchers’ dual turned ugly.
But after 97 losses, we were used to seeing the M’s trailing their opponent and we were able to still have a good time…
(By the way, I made Tim take off his new sweatshirt and wear his old green sweatshirt to eat his ice cream helmet. That guy is sloppy with the ice cream.)
It was also very nice to be hanging out behind Ichiro:
After Halman’s catch, I figured I should go back over by the bullpen to snap a shot of Halman. While I was there, I also snapped a picture of the Mariners’ mop-headed September call-up, Dan Cortes…
…interestingly, five days later with the season concluded, we were getting ready to board our airplane back to Pennsylvania while Mr. Cortes was getting ready to board his flight back home to the Los Angeles area. (FYI, the white and red arrow is pointing to my brother and parents).
Well, we made it to the 8th inning. It was still 7-0 A’s, and despite fairly empty seats, we’d managed to go the whole game without catching a homerun.
And then, the perfect opportunity arose…and I totally botched it.
With two outs in the top of the 8th inning, Chad Pennington hit a homerun in our direction. I had an open lane to the ailse. It seemed like it was going to land 5-10 rows behind us and right on the aisle. I bolted to the aisle and headed up three rows. Then the ball totally died. I turned around but couldn’t make it back to “the spot.” The spot, sadly, was precisely at the aisle seat…
I still had a chance. Someone bobbled the ball. I made a dive for it down the stairs while passing under that railing, which ultimately resulted in several flesh wounds and two large buises but no baseball.
Aye, aye, aye…
Oh, well. while I really would like to catch a game homerun some day, I would much, much, MUCH prefer that it not be a homerun off of the Mariners.
Anyway, it was moving into the 9th inning. Tim and I decided to head over to the 3B dugout in hopes of getting our hands on our first ever Safeco Field umpire ball.
Here was our first view as Anthony Varvaro pitched to Kevin Kouzmanoff…
A few minutes later, we mae it to the first row right on the umpire tunnel, but an usher told us we couldn’t sit in the “charter” seats. I asked her how far back we had to go. Row 11 was acceptable.
So, this was our view from the 11th row of Ichi’s final at bat of the night when,…
After the final out of the game — and an 8-1 loss — home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman handed a beautiful rubbed up baseball to Tim (pictured below). It was the 105th baseball in the “Todd & Tim Baseball Partners Era.” Our next baseball would be our first of the “Todd, Tim & Kellan 3-Man Baseball Team Era.”
It was a miserable loss, but it was great being back at Safeco Field and it was great spending the evening with my family.
On the walk back to my brother and parents in RF, an usher took this excellent shot of me and my boy
As we left the park, I was excited to know that we’d be walking back into the park less than 24 hours later for the first game of Kellan’s life!
2010 Fan Stats:
23 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (1), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)
62 Baseballs (13 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)
13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, 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)
15 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, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
10 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, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)
8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)
On June 13, 2010, two factors [incredibly awesome seats + extremely relaxed stadium staff during Kids Run The Bases] combined to result in one of the longest, more picture laden game reports that we have ever produced. Here it goes.
We woke up at the KOA in Chula Vista and hit the local Denny’s for breakfast. Then we came back, got ready for the Mariners game at Petco Park and used the spare time we had before the game to play in the KOA’s play area:
It was an afternoon game, so it was still morning when we got to the park. I know an extremely cool guy named Al who lived most of his life in our area in PA, but now lives in San Diego. Back in November 2009, he mentioned that he has the ability to get incredibly awesome seats at Padres games and offered to get them for us for this game. I was unsure if it would actually happen so I bought cheap outfield tickets before the season started to be sure we had tickets.
Al was planning to join us for at least part of the game so we arranged to meet him at the stadium. But we arrived about 45 minutes before him. So we used the cheap outfield tickets to head inside for BP. After Tim collected his Padres batting helmet giveaway, we headed in and found there was no BP today. Even worse was the fact that Tim couldn’t play in the Beach because it was closed. There was a “breakfast in the park” event on the warning track and I guess they didn’t want loud kids right next to the people who were literally eating breakfast at tables on the warning track.
Only two Mariners were on the field when we arrived.
Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith was doing his running and stretching routine in LF…
Soon, Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman came out to play some catch. While they were playing, I noticed that my Dad had wondered off. I wasn’t sure where he had gone. When Figgins and Kotchman finished playing catch…
…Kotchman walked back to the dugout. As I watched him approach the dugout, I saw that my Dad was the only person standing directly above the dugout — and he was wearing a Mariners shirt. Kotchman rewarded him with the his and Figgins’ warm up baseball.
Tim and I headed over to the dugout to hang out with my Dad. The stadium was empty and it was a cool “morning in the park” type atomosphere. People were quietly getting ready for a day of baseball. At one point, a guy started mowing the infield:
The Padres helmets came with number stickers. I put “18” on the back of Tim’s helmet. When we were standing behind the dugout with my Dad, Tim asked me to put a “5” on the bill of his helmet. Then he told me to put a “1” in front of the “5.” I did…
…and then Tim said, “5-1 just like Ichiro!” He was a little bummed out when I told him that we’d really done “15” — Milton Bradley — not Ichiro’s “51.” A second later, Al called us and we left the stadium and met him out front. Because we’d be entering the stadium again on new tickets, I told Tim he would get another helmet and we could put Ichiro’s “51” on it.
We headed out the exit in LF and then we circled…
My Dad, Tim, Al and I headed to our seats, which were in the 18th row directly behind home plate. They were amazing seats. A bunch of Mariners pitchers were playing catch down the 3B line, so Tim and I headed over there while my Dad and Al hung out chatting in our seats.
We stayed in the same place and watched a couple different sets of M’s pitchers play catch. First, Jason Vargas (foreground below) and Luke French (background below) played right in front of us. At one point, French threw a low and inside (for a righty) pitch that Vargas couldn’t handle…
…it trickled right by Vargas and into my glove. I immediately scooped it up and tossed it back to Vargas — he needed the ball and I couldn’t stand in the way of my team’s pitchers getting their work in. When I tossed the ball back to Vargas, I asked if we could get the ball back when they were finished. He said, “Maybe.” Unfortunately, the maybe turned into a “no” because Vargas and French got into a deep discussion about grips on the ball (see inset picture) and they kept handing the ball back and forth as they walked back to the dugout.
Next, David Aardsma and Brandon League started stretching right in front of us. The D.A. gave Tim a smile and a little wave…
…which Tim thought was pretty cool. After playing some warm up catch, League started pitching to Aardsma with the D.A. crouched on the foul line. Early on, a pitch trickled by the D.A. and I scooped it up. As I tossed it back to Aardsma, I asked if we could get it back after they finished playing catch. He gave me a more definitive answer than Vargas, “Yeah.”
As we waited for League and Aardsma to wrap up, former All-Star Chad Cordero walked by and was happy to sign an autograph and pose for a picture with Tim:
Tim was working on another All-Star ballot while we watched the pitchers warming up. League was still pitching to Aardsma. Eventually, Tim asked me if I would pick him up. For the first time, I took off my glove (set it on the wall) and bent down to pick up Tim.
The hard tossing Brandon League uncorked a wild and blazing fast ball past Aardsma. From the corner of my eye, I saw it skip off the outer edge of the warning track. As I lifted Tim up, the ball violently hit the very top of the padded wall…at literally the top inch of the wall. People shreaked as they thought the ball was going to smash me and Tim. Had the wall been an inch shorter, it would have slammed into my side. And it would have really hurt, I could tell. An usher came to ask us if we were alright. Luckily, the wall was just high enough and the ball bounced back onto the grass on the 3B side of Aardsma.
Soon, League and Aardsma switched positions and League was crouched on the foul line catching the D.A.
The day before, Ryan Rowland-Smith had told us that he has daily discussions with Cliff Lee about pitching. Today, we watched first hand as…
Eventually, Aardsma snuck a pitch by League and, for the third time, I scooped the ball up off of the warning track and threw the ball back. This time, I asked League if we could get the ball when they were finished. Instead of making us wait to find out the answer, he walked over and grabbed his wild pitch ball that had almost taken me out, and he tossed the baseball to me.
Soon thereafter, Lee and RRS headed over to RF so RRS could do some work off of the mound in the M’s bullpen. We decided to head over there as well. Actually, we didn’t know they’d gone over there. We just saw action in the M’s bullpen and figured we should see what was happening.
When we got over there, Lee was chatting up a Padre in the OF grass right next to the bullpen and RRS was pitching to Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips:
Between pitches, Phillips saw us and said hi. After RRS finished his work, Jason came over to the fence and chatted with us a bit. It was nice to chat with him. As we were splitting up, I asked if I could get his picture with RRS and he asked if we wanted a baseball. So, after he hooked us up with a ball — our ninth overall from Phillips and our 7th stadium getting a ball from him — he went to grab Ryan. But Ryan was busy talking to Rick Adair. When RRS was finished, he said hi to us and I asked if I could get his picture with Phillips. So, he grabbed Jason and they posed for the picture above.
Ryan knows that Jason is a Cook & Son Hall of Famer because he saw it on our blog, so he understood why I wanted their picture together. But I have no clue if Jason knows about the C&S Hall of Fame. I guess I should ask him later this season.
After the picture, Tim and I started heading back to our seats and Tim tapped me on the leg and quietly asked, “Can I ask Jason Phillips something?” (FYI, Tim pretty regularly asks me extremely quietly if he can ask people questions). We headed back over to the bullpen and I got Jason’s attention and said, “The little guy has something he wants to tell you.” Tim yelled out, “My favorite baseball players are the MARINERS!” That gave Jason a big smile.
Then we headed to our seats. Check this out:
Here was the view:
So you want to hear something crazy? We literally just left the bullpen where we were talking to Jason Phillips and we arrived at our seats where we discovered we were sitting right next to Jason’s family. Prodded by a very nice and talkative federal employee, we all started chatting. I ended going over and sitting right in front of Mr. Phillips for a bit and discussing our many run-ins with his son. He told us an interesting piece of trivia that I did not know: Jason Phillips hit the 5,000th homerun in Mets franchise history off of Randy Wolf of the Phillies. (FYI, Ken Griffey, Jr. achieved the same accomplishment for the Mariners in 2009).
The reason the whole discussion started in our section is because Jason’s dad was wearing some huge rings and the federal employee asked him what they were. Here is a look at one of the rings:
Jason’s dad is on a softball team that has won the world championship twice in the last couple years. And these were some huge and legit looking rings. Two seconds after this picture, Tim asked Jason’s dad if he could have this ring.
By the way, this wasn’t the only championship ring in our immediate vicinity. This ring was sitting on a finger two rows behind us on the opposite side of the stairs…
You might have noticed in the panorama a couple pictures above that there were military people standing at each position on the field. Sundays at Petco Park are military appreciation days. There were a bunch of military people on the field before the game…
This meant that the Padres were also wearing their camoflague jerseys…
…which I am showing off in this picture because I think the contrast in the first kid’s face and Heath Bell’s face is hilarious. That kid gunned the ceremonial first pitch to the backstop…and the throw would have been behind a left handed batter.
Soon, the game was underway. Ichiro led off with a walk…
This view of home plate was so great, I could hardly stop myself from taking pictures of every at bat.
I cannot thank Al enough for hooking us up with these seats. It was a joy to watch King Felix dominate the Padres from this amazing view:
The only downside about these seats was that they were right out in the open beneath the hot sun. No shade at all. Tim is a big fan of shade, and not so much of the sun. But we cooled the boy off with an ice cream helmet…
…early in the game. By the way, that is Jason Phillips dad three down from Tim wearing the royal blue hat and about to pop some seeds in his mouth. He was decked out in Blue Jays gear to support his other son, Kyle Phillips. And that is Al sitting right next to Tim.
The last time I saw King Felix hit in interleague play, he hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana. Today, he was all about sacrifice bunting…
Leading off the bottom of the third, Scott Hairston got the first Padres hit of the day off of King Felix, and then something crazy and horrible followed.
Tony Gwynn, Jr. hit this pitch on a low line to CF (see how Gutierrez is already reading the ball to be a little off toward LF)…
…and at the last minute, Gutierrez swooped in to try to snar it. But it fell a tiny bit short and rolled all the way to the wall. Gwynn was off to the races and he did not stop until he had a stand up “quadruple.”
I don’t think that I have ever witnessed a professional “inside the park homerun” before, Tim definitely had not. After witnessing this one, I think they should be called “quadruples” because they are a whole lot more like triples than they are homeruns. They’re fundamentally different than homeruns. Pretty exicting. I just wish the Mariners could have had a “do over” because Gutierrez catches everything and given a second chance, I know he would have caught this one too.
All of sudden, we were losing 2-0 despite the fact that Felix Hernandez was generally dominating the Padres. We needed some offense, and Milton Bradley was happy to provide it…
Soon, Tim needed some relief from the sun. So we took a walk in the shady concourse that turned into a tour of the remaining part of Petco Park that I didn’t see the day before. We headed up to the upper deck in RF…
By the way, check out the kids sitting digging in the sand with their backs turned to the field. Not a bright idea. Hopefully no kid ever gets (or has already gotten) tagged by a homerun into the Beach.
On our way back over to foul territory, a nice fan took our picture (with Ichiro batting in the background):
…I describe it as “weird” because from most places in the stadium these flags range from very hard to see to impossible to see. In fact, I never noticed them until walking by them…for the second time.
Even from above, Felix looked dominant:
Tim did his best attempt at standing at attention when this kind Marine officer (at least I’m guessing he is an officer, he appeared to be in charge of the rest of them) agreed to pose for a picture with Tim:
As we made our way down the walkway ramps to the field level, I took this shot showing the interesting architecture of Petco Park:
…and exploded a bunch of peanut shells. See that funny straw hat on the lady sitting in front of Tim in the top right picture? That old lady was unintentionally hilarious. She was a Padres fan and her husband was a Mariners fan who used to live in Seattle. At random times throughout the day, she would aggressively mutter “hit it over the fence! hit it over the fence!” at her Padres batters and she would sound disgusted if the Mariners did anything good.
Luckily, the Mariners gave her a few more opportunities to sound disgusted.
Going into the top of the 8th inning, the score was still 2-2. The Padres starter, Clayton Richard, had gone 7 innings giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs, but they lifted him for Luke Gregerson in the 8th.
Gregerson started off by giving up an infield single to Chone Figgins. Two batters later, Jose Lopez smacked this ball…
Although nothing more came of it, it was fun to see Milton Bradley talk home plate umpire Angel Hernandez into a hit by pitch later in the inning…
In the top of the 9th, the Mariners were still leading 3-2 when Joe Thatcher took the hill for the Padres. Thatcher promptly surrendered a single to Mariners catcher Rob Johnson. It was Rob’s third hit of the day and I later learned that it was only the second 3-hit day of his career. Interestingly, we were also present for his only other 3-hit game last season.
Felix Herandez came to the plate next and sacrificed his favorite catcher over to second base.
That brought Ichiro to the plate. Ichiro and the Mariners were looking for a little insurance for their slim 1-run lead. Ichiro started by bunting the first pitch foul…
Tim and I like to try to get a ball from the umpire after a game. But in the first four games of the roadtrip we hadn’t even tried. Since we were already sitting so close to the umpires’ tunnel at this game, we figured we might as well give it a shot.
The umpires’ tunnel at Petco Park is at the home plate side of the visitors’ dugout. In the bottom of the ninth, with Felix back on the mound gunning for a complete game, we headed over to try to stand in the cross aisle right behind the tunnel. An usher saw us and suggested that we sit in some of the open seats nearby. He pointed out some seats that he had in mind.
I asked him if it would be okay to go a little closer to the umpires’ tunnel. He said, “Oh, you want to try to get a ball after the game? Sure!” And he let us take these seats right above the tunnel:
In that picture, Felix Hernandez is about to walk down into the dugout. He got the first batter in the bottom of the ninth, but then surrendered a single to Adrian Gonzalez. When Scott Hairston hit an infield grounder, everyone in the stadium thought it was a game ending double play. But Hairston beat it out and Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu decided to pull Felix and put in David Aardsma.
Felix was upset about not getting to finish the game. But on his fourth pitch, the D.A. induced a pop fly by Nick Hundley and the scoreboard showed the happy totals:
After the almost double play, the usher came by to give us some advice on getting a ball from the umpire. He was very nice. But with the pop fly out, we had plenty of time to get into the corner spot right at the back of the dugout and side of the umpire tunnel.
Angel Hernandez walked off and walked right over to Tim and handed him this baseball…
…5 seconds later, 3B umpire “Cowboy” Joe West walked by and grabbed the baseball back from Tim and started walking into the tunnel with the baseball. He then turned back around and brought the ball back to Tim. He was very amused by his little prank. And we used the opportunity to give Joe West some high fives and then get this awesome picture (above left) of Tim and West.
I had wanted real bad to get a picture of Tim with an umpire for the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt. It seemed to me like it was the hardest picture in the competition to get. The umpires generally don’t linger on the field after games. They take off quick. So the fact that West decided to play a fast one on Tim and take his baseball back was the perfect opportunity.
Thank you, Joe West! And thank you, Angel Hernandez, too!
Our day at the ballpark wasn’t finished just yet. It was Kids Run The Bases time!
The line started deep in the Park in the Park…
We entered the field through a ramp next to the bleachers and beach:
The line took a while to finally get into the field. But finally we made it! And it was awesome. Some stadiums have strict policies and strict ushers enforcing them during Kids Run The Bases. Our first sign of the relaxed attitude was that an usher agreed to take this picture of us kneeling in front of the “400” foot sign:
We stopped right by the usher who took that picture so I could get a shot of Tim with the field behind him…
We always try to get our picture by the RF foul pole and OF fence distance marker. This turned out being one of my favorite pictures ever…
…first I told Tim to stand next to the “322” like he was playing outfield. Then I told him to jump against the wall like he was trying to catch a baseball. I absolutely love that jumping picture. Check that out, he’s hanging in the air!
The relaxed usher attitude carried over to the bullpen. Tim played a little catcher…
…by the way, we seemed to be the only people running around taking fun pictures on our walk to home plate. Sure, some people were taking pictures with the field behind them. But I didn’t see anyone else snapping pictures by the wall or in the bullpen. They missed out on some great photo opportunities!
Here is another random shot with the field behind Tim…
The Padres did a great job with the actual run too. They spaced the kids out really well. When we walked up, I must have looked like I wanted to follow Tim (which I did) because the 1B usher said to me, “Go for it!” So I followed Tim with my camera ablazing…
My dad stayed in the seats behind the 3B dugout where he got this video on his camera:
After the run, the ushers were still pretty relaxed. I got our standard “with the dugout” picture…
By the way, see those two windows behind the LF fence? Those go into the Padres team store. There is a door from the team store into a little triangle standing area just behind the fence where fans can watch the game from field level through the chain link OF fence.
After that last picture, we headed out to our car…
We stayed at the Chula Vista KOA again. After the game, we took a little dip in the pool…
…and then went to dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant in a little strip mall. It wasn’t an impressive place from the outside, but the food was delicious and the people were extremely nice. So, if you’re in Chula Vista, be sure to check out Casa Del Taco.
2010 Fan Stats:
14 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres and Nationals)
32 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 1 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres)
8 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park)
11 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
8 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)
We woke up in Pamona, California on the morning of Saturday, June 12, 2010, and were excited to venture further south through California, passed Angel Stadium in Anaheim (not Los Angeles), down the coast…
…to the city of San Diego, and then a little further south to our cabin waiting for us at the KOA in Chula Vista, California. But more than anything, we were excited because over the next two days we’d be watching our Mariners try to battle out of a slump and win some ball games.
After taking a dip in the pool at the KOA, we were off to Petco Park…
Tim loves a good sand box, so he was in sand box heaven. By the way, Tim was sporting a full Mariners uniform to this game — Ichiro jersey T-shirt, baseball pants, stirrup socks, and an M’s hat. I told him that maybe Ichiro would ask him to play with the team.
The CF gate opens half an hour earlier than the rest of the stadium and provides access to the bleachers and the beach. The “bleachers” are incredibly unique at Petco Park, check them out…
As Tim played with the dozens of buckets, shovels and other toys, the Padres were taking BP. Eventually, a ball rolled to the wall in the deepest center part of the beach and Luke Gregerson moseyed on over to pick it up right in front of me and my Dad.
As he picked up the ball, I asked him:
Todd – (Pointing at Tim) “Hey, could you please toss that ball over for my son over there in the Ichiro shirt?”
L.G. – “Ichiro shirt!?”
Todd – “Yeah, Ichiro shirt. But, hey, my Dad here works as an usher for Padres spring training games in Peoria!”
L.G. – Really?
Dad – Yep.
L.G. – (Tosses the ball)
Todd – Thanks!
I had no clue who the player was, but it said “57” on his back and my computer tells me that number 57 on the Padres is Luke Gregerson. So…
By the way, here is a panoramic view through the beach from a couple rows back in the bleachers…
Something funny happened when we were in the beach. The Padres pitchers, including team jester Heath Bell, were running sprints in RF when a baseball rolled to the middle of the warning track toward the RF side of the beach. When Health Bell finished up his work and started walking over to LF, a girl called out to him and asked for the baseball. He walked over and with his foot pushed the ball up against the wall (which is simply a chain link fence in the beach) and said, “there you go!” and then he ran off.
Then the girl, who was probably about 8-10 years old grabbed the ball through the fence and passed the ball back-and-forth from hand-to-hand as she went up the fence. When she got to head level, her dad picked her up so she could continue going up the fence passing the ball back-and-forth to herself. Finally, she was at the top of the fence and passed the baseball over the top to herself. I’ve never seen anything like that before at a game. Pretty cool.
Here is another view from the beach area — taken by my dad…
While we were hanging out in the Beach, a guy named Scott (who just commented on our last game) — Hi, Scott! — came up and introduced himself to me and said he enjoys reading our blog and checking out our pictures. Its always cool to meet someone who enjoys following along with our adventures on MLBlogs.
Soon, the rest of the stadium opened and we headed behind the batters eye toward the LF seats. On our way over there (as we passed a big concert stage), we ran into a mariachi band…
Anyway, we swung around to the field leve seats in LF where we hung out for just a few minutes…
…in that last picture that is Heath Bell crouched down like a catcher and a Padres player and ball boy looking kid were taking turns pitching to him. Later, Heath was practically wrestling the kid in the OF. Bell was having himself a good old time during BP.
To get from LF to the seats in foul territory down the 3B line, you have to go behind the Western Metal Supply Co. warehouse and up a couple flights of stairs. And that is what we did when we saw the Mariners come out and start stretching in front of their dugout.
Tim and I went down the 3B line and an usher informed us that we had to sit down to watch BP from foul territory. WHAT? That’s just weird. But whatever. This is the view from where we sat down:
As i was taking pictures, a nice guy who was probably in his sixties walked over and put a baseball in Tim’s hand and walked away before I could tell him he should give the ball to another little kid. I guess a lot of kids like it when some random fan gives them a baseball, but Tim has got a bunch of balls already in his life and the few times it has happened, I always tell the generous would-be ball giver that Tim has already got a ball and he should give the ball to another little kid. But this guy took off before I could say anything. “Hmmm…,” I was thinking, “what are we going to do with this random baseball?”
Meanwhile, the Mariners were jogging back-and-forth in front of their dugout…
…as they ran back toward 3B for the final time, Cook & Son Hall of Famer Ryan Rowland-Smith was at the front of the pack and he immediately noticed us sitting in the front row a couple sections passed 3B. He gave me a nod and I have him a wave with my glove.
Thirty seconds later, RRS was sitting on the wall chatting with me…
…and signing that ball the random fan had just given to Tim. We got RRS to sign baseball for us last season, so after he signed this ball, I gave it to my dad who has never got RRS’s signature.
Here’s the deal, RRS is awesome. He hung out sitting on that wall and chatting with me, my dad and Tim…
We talked about all sorts of cool stuff, but I am going to keep our conversation private becaues I didn’t ask RRS if he would mind if I shared our conversation on here. But I will note that one of the coolest parts was when RRS talked about the conversations he has on a daily basis with Cliff Lee as he tries to overcome his early season struggles. He got down in a catcher’s crouch and was showing us what locations he has been hitting and what locations he should be hitting. It was extremely cool to get a behind the scenes glimpse into the work that goes into being a professional pitcher.
By the way, did you notice that they stationed a security guard to stand behind RRS as he chatted with us? Not only that, the ushers actually let us stand during BP so we could chat with RRS. I guess that is one of the perks you get when a player comes over to chat with you at Petco Park.
Oh, yeah. I should also mention that I was wearing the jersey that RRS gave me!
Eventually, we went our separate ways.
We headed out to the LF corner. And right when we got there, Ian Snell tossed us a baseball. The Mariners were just starting to get into the cage by this point. So we decided to head over to the Padres dugout to watch Ichiro hit. On the way, I took this shot of the the concourse down the 3B line:
…Tim decided to tie himself in knots with the Padres scarf that they gave away to the fans at this game. After the first group of Mariners finished hitting they all ran out into the infield to pick up stray baseballs and return them to the basket at the pitchers mound. The pitcher was M’s batting coach Alonzo Powell. As he grabbed a ball just in front of the mound, I called out, “Hey, Alonzo!” He looked up and my Dad and I both flashed him some leather. He tossed the ball over to my Dad for his first baseball at Petco Park.
Next, we headed out to RF where this was our view:
The front row was shoulder to shoulder. A couple Mariners pitchers were in LF including the D.A., David Aardsma. Soon, a ball got over his head and rolled the wall in front of us. I shouted, “Hey, D.A.!” He looked up, made eye contact with me, and tossed me the ball on a weird angle as he walked back to his spot in LF.
And this is what I don’t like about a getting a toss up in a crowded area. The ball was plainly, 100% without a shadow of a doubt intended for me and Tim, and I caught it without moving my feet whatsoever. However, with the weird angle on which Aardsma threw us the ball, I ended up catching the ball 6 inches in front of a young (22’ish year old), moderately good looking girl. I don’t think anyone would have thought anything about it if I just handed the ball over to Tim, but to me it felt a little funny. Actually, it didn’t feel funny, because I knew the ball was intended for us. But it felt like it probably looked funny (does that make sense?). So instead of handing the ball to Tim, I just opened my glove, held it out for the girl (who was there with her boyfriend), and let her grab the ball out of my glove. And she did just that, without a “thank you” or the slightest hint of acknowledgement that I’d just done something nice for her, which was not very cool in my book.
The worst part is that the situation with the girl threw me off and I don’t think I even thanked the D.A.
So, thanks, D.A.!
BP wrapped up, we headed out to the Park in the Park. First, we checked out the Tony Gwynn statue:
I took another panorama from the beyond the CF wall of the Park in the Park in the Park…
Next, I took what very well may be the coolest panorama that I have ever taken…
Next, it was off to the other side of the seats right next to the warehouse, where I took this shot:
…then it was up to the second deck, which is some sort of special deck. It seemed like they don’t let you into these seats generally, but the usher said I could go in to take some pictures. Here is what it looked like from there:
Soon, I found myself right next to the warehouse. I wanted to get into the warehouse, but I didn’t know if I could. There was a sign in the concourse behind the warehouse that said there was a private party going on there. So, I went into the seating area and got this panorama right next to the warehouse…
…a stadium worker had just walked into the hallway. There was no rope and no one to say I couldn’t go in there, so I did. As I walked down the hallway, there were a couple open doors with soda fountains and random food prep paraphenalia strewn all about. At the other end of the hallway, there were two food server type stadium workers and neither of them said anything to me.
At the end of the hallway, I took a right and there was a narrow walkway that led out to the porch on the top of the warehouse. There was an usher standing in the middle of the walkway and two garbage cans blocking the way. I walked up and acted confused for the guy, “Are we on the warehouse? Am I not supposed to be here? Hey, can I go out there real quick to take a picture?” The guy looked a little confused right back at me and then said, “sure, okay.”
So, I made it out on top of the warehouse! And this was the view:
I headed back behind home plate and got this panorama:
I headed toward RF and got this picture…
Franklin Gutierrez walked on this pitch:
The Padres then intentionally walked Bradley…
It was time to head to our seats. I got this panorama on the way to our seats…
Tim played in the beach until they cleared out all of the non-bleacher ticketed fans. They made it to our seats shortly before I did. Tim was hungry so we got our customary nachos:
After the Mariners left three runners on base in the top of the first, the Padres showed them how to take advantage of scoring opportunties. David Eckstein led off with a single and was replaced on first after Chase Headley hit into a fielder’s choice. Adrian Gonzalez then blasted a two run bomb to put the Padres up 2-0. Unfortunately, that was all the offense the Padres would need.
Still, it was a good game and the Mariners were in it until the end thanks to a solid outing (despite the loss) by Cliff Lee — somehow I failed to take a single picture of Lee at this game.
In the second inning, the M’s cut the Padres lead in half. It started with Rob Johnson’s double down the RF line:
In the bottom of the second, I snapped this picture of Tony Gwynn, Jr. hitting a single on a swinging bunt:
I am not positive about this, but I think Gwynn (who I have probably seen play before) completes the third father-son set that I have seen play in the majors. Others include Ken Griffey-Ken Griffey, Jr. and Cecil Fielder-Prince Fielder. Maybe there have been others, but not that I can recall.
The next time Ichiro came to the plate, he grounded out. But check out the interesting stat that they put on the big screen during his at bat…
Soon, it was time for some ice cream. I walked all around the field level concourse looking for ice cream helmets. Here are some views from the concourse:
In that upper right picture, that big wall to the right is a slanted wall that runs from the upper deck all the way down to the ground outside the stadium. I finally found the “Kettle & Cone” stand where they have ice cream helmets. The tricky thing about finding it is that it is not on the main concourse. Rather, it is behind the concourse (if that makes sense) on the 3B side near home plate. Actually, in that upper right picture (with the slanted wall) if you click on it to view it full sized, you’ll see part of a red sign over a opening in the wall to the right. The red sign says “MERCADO” and the opening in the wall is a hall way that leads back behind the concourse to a big bar and a couple different food stands. That’s where the ice cream helmets can be found.
And this was my ice cream helmet’s view of the game from my seat in section 120, row 29, seat 1:
After showing you the Padres bullpen toward the beginning of this entry, I mentioned that I would show you the visitors’ bullpen at Petco Park a bit later. Well, in this picture of Figgy playing 2B, you can see the visitors’ bullpen in the background:
During this game, Tim fell in love with the all-star ballot. As shown here, with Grandpa’s assistance he kept busy…
Cliff Lee gave up his third and final run of the night in the fourth inning and then went on to pitch 7 innings, giving up 7 hits. Cliff actually went an inning deeper in the game than the Padres starter, Wade LeBlanc, who also gave up 7 hits in his six innings. The difference in the game was that LeBlanc and his relievers (including the baseball giving Luke Gregerson) kept the Mariners baserunner, just like Milton Bradley here in the sixth inning…
In the 7th or 8th inning, we decided to head out to the Park in the Park to see what the game looks like from out there. Before departing our seats in section 120, a nice fan took our picture…
…by the way, I bought some wet wipe before this game because I had forgot to bring any on the trip. I usually use them to wash down Tim’s chocolate covered face after he devours an ice cream helmet. Unfortunately, after buying the wipes, I misplaced them under the car seat and never took them to a single game on this trip. Therefore, like in this picture, Tim’s face was a bit chocolatey a lot during this trip.
We grabbed a spot on the hill in the PITP, and Tim stood in front of us and hit fake pitches and circled faked bases. Here he is standing at his fake home plate…
You know what, I took a video of Tim hitting a fake homerun, here it is:
Although it was only a two run game when Lee handed the ball off to the M’s bullpen in the 8th inning, the M’s relieves quickly put the game out of reach. Sean White got only one out in the 8th inning, but gave up 3 runs. Brandon League got the final two outs in the 8th and gave up one more run. Actually, to be more precise, I should mention that two of Sean White’s runs actually scored on a 3-run homerun that League gave up to pinch hittig Oscar Salazar.
Between the Salazar homerun and the victory, the batters’ eye was shooting blasts of fire into the air a lot in the evening hours at Petco Park:
We decided to hang out in the PITP for a bit to let the crowd thin out a bit, but then we realized the crowd was getting bigger. There was a post game concert in the PITP. So, we had another nice fan take our picture…
To book end the game, I took another picture of Petco Park from the parking lot…
In just about 12 hours, we would be back at Petco Park for a day game and hoping to see our second Mariners win of 2010.
2010 Fan Stats:
14 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres and Nationals)
11 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
8 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park)
10 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
7 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
Last season, I created the Cook & Son Hall of Fame and inducted Mariners bullpen catcher and former big leaguer Jason Phillips as the first member as a way to honor and say thank you to Phillips for being so incredibly nice to me and Tim and making the 2009 season extra special.
In May, I mentioned in a entry about our first Mariners game of the season (and our last game ever seeing Griffey play) that I we had an amazing interaction with Mariners pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith, which followed an amazing interaction that we had with him last September in Toronto. Since that game in Baltimore, I have had plans to induct RRS as the second member of the C&S Hall of Fame, like Phillips based on his going above-and-beyond the call of duty in terms of fan friendliness.
But, in the meantime, my favorite player of all-time (and Tim’s second favorite behind Ichiro), Ken Griffey, Jr. retired. I have known all along that I would induct Griffey into our little Hall of Fame as soon as he retired, as the first player to go into the C&S HOF based on his on-field achievements. So, with his sudden (and personally sad) retirement, Griff jumped RRS in order of induction.
But now it is RRS’s turn.
Without further adieu, Tim and Todd Cook are happy to announce the induction of Ryan Rowland-Smith as the third member of the C&S Hall of Fame, and the second member inducted based on above-and-beyond the call of duty fan friendliness:
Our first encounter with RRS came in August 2007 at Tim’s second career Mariners game and first career road game. It took place at Baltimore’s Camden Yards (at a time when they had no ice cream helmets!) and it was very brief. RRS pitched 1 innng in relief as the Mariners extended their record to 2-0 in Tim’s two Mariners games.
In 2009, Tim hit his stride as a baseball fan. He was finally old enough and had enough energy to go to batting practice and still stay awake for an entire MLB game. By September, we had collected a bunch of baseballs from BP, many tossed up to us by our beloved Mariners.
But there was one problem. All of the baseballs had either been tossed to me or handed to Tim. This made Tim feel downright childish (of course, he was only 3 years old). Late in the season, he started telling me that HE wanted to catch a baseball at game. My thought was that I could get Jason Phillips help us with Tim’s request.
So we headed to Toronoto in late September 2009 with a goal of having Tim catch a baseball in his own glove, most likely thrown by Jason Phillips. But there was no BP! So when I ran into and chatted with Phillips before the game, Tim was off in the kids play area with his mom.
Tim and my wife joined me in the field level seats shortly thereafter and we hung out and watched a bunch of the Mariners pitchers warm up. Enter Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith.
After playing catch with Garrett Olson, RRS set his glove down right by the foul line and headed over to the seats to sign some autographs. I could see that his warm up baseball was in his glove. When he got to us, I asked him if we could get our picture with him. He was extremely nice and was more than happy to pose for this picture:
While setting up that picture, I asked RRS if he would throw the ball in his glove to Tim. He agreed. Now, this next sentence I have re-written about 10 times and just can’t properly convey the feel. But I was struck by RRS’s tone and demeanor during this exchange. He conveyed the feeling that there never could be any doubt about my request, of course Tim had to have that baseball.
In the pictures below, RRS had just retrieved the ball from his glove and thrown it to Tim. But Tim dropped it! RRS picked it up and signed it and handed it back to Tim:
RRS then went on signing. He was still standing right next to us when someone didn’t have a pen. He asked if anyone had a sharpie. At the same time, Tim told me he was sad because he didn’t catch the ball. I handed a pen to RRS and asked him if he would re-throw the ball to Tim so he could try to catch it again.
Of course, he would. He signed the girl’s baseball and then grabbed Tim’s baseball, walked all the way across the warning track, and tossed it to him again. And Tim caught it! It was a great moment made possible by one incredibly nice Aussie.
I should mention that at some point during these exchanges with RRS, I told him that it was excellent that he was No. 18 and I mentioned that I was No. 18 when I played baseball. In fact, I am still to this day No. 18 in my softball league.
He asked me why I liked 18. I didn’t have a good answer. I just do. I think the genesis of it was that I just thought it was a cool looking number on the back of Darryl Strawberry’s jersey back in the day. He didn’t mention why he picked 18, but I later read on his (now inactive) blog that the M’s just gave him the number and he thought it was cool because the best pitcher on a team in Japan is usually No. 18. I have no clue if that is true, but I do note that Diasuke Matsuzaka wears No. 18. (I just found this blog entry on this topic).
Anyway, lets fast forward to March 2010. Spring Training was in full swing. I was busy planning out our 2010 baseball season. One of the topics on my list was to figure out my 2010 game uniform. If you haven’t noticed, I wore essentially the exact same thing to every game in 2009: green cargo shorts, button up M’s jersey, M’s official 2009 game undershirt, and white/blue M’s hat). I was wondering if I should switch it up for 2010. I think I must have been watching an M’s spring training game on MLBNetwork at the time with RRS pitching or maybe I was watching an internet video clip interview of RRS. Whatever I was watching, I got a flat out ridiculous idea.
In my defense, it was probably really late at night and I was probably really tired. But whatever the reason, I typed out the following letter to RRS:
The next day, I went to package up the letter in an envelope and send it off to the Mariners spring training facility in Peoria, Arizona. A little embarrassed, I showed it to my wife and we agreed there was a essentially a 100% chance that I would never hear anything from RRS in response to the letter.
I mailed it off, didn’t tell anyone else about it, and went on living life.
Eventually, we met up with the Mariners in Baltimore for the first time of the 2010 season. It was a damp May day with no BP. So we had a lot of time to kill before the game started. Tim was sitting on my shoulders as we stood in the CF seats just watching the activity around the ballpark.
Soon, RRS came walking from the dugout through CF. He was on his way to the bullpen:
I’d basically forgotten about the letter. Not really forgotten that I sent it, but figured it was a moot point and a done deal. I’d already noticed on TV that the Spring Training jerseys were also being used as the M’s BP jerseys. So weeks earlier when I noticed that fact, I officially gave up any hope (not that I ever actually had any) of my letter bearing fruit.
I had just read on his twitter page (@hyphen18) that he’d buzzed his hair. He was about 100 feet away when I called out, “Hey, Ryan, let’s see the new hair!” Without looking up, he laughed and took off his hat. Then he put his hat back on and looked up at us. Instantly…and I mean instantly (no hesitation whatsoever)…he pointed at us and exclaimed, “Oh, hey, man!“
He changed his course and started walking over to us:
RRS: You wrote me that letter (sizing up a sheet of paper with his fingers), right?
RRS: Sorry, I didn’t get back to you. I didn’t know how to get a hold of you.
[NOTE: If you are a professional baseball player, you should not feel obligated to apologize for not getting in touch with some random dude who asks (literally) for the shirt off of your back! Seriously, RRS is ridiculously nice!]
RRS: So, whats the deal? I mean, do you still want it?
TODD: ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!? Of course, I do! Oh, my gosh. Are you serious!? I sent the letter but never thought there was any chance you would actually say yes! I mean the letter was ridiculous!
RRS: Oh, no. No problem, man.
[NOTE: This conversation had a very similar vibe to the “could you throw Tim that baseball” discussion. The vibe was almost like, “Hey, you asked for my jersey, of course I’m gonna give it to you. Why would you ever doubt it?”].
RRS: Okay. Well, where are you going to be?
TODD: (not really understanding the question) I don’t know, here? Wherever you need me to be?
RRS: Will you be in Seattle at all?
TODD: Yeah, but not until the very end of the season. We’re coming in for the last series of the season to be there in case Griff retires.
[NOTE: I really wanted to be at his final game, and this actually ended up being the last time we saw Griff play].
RRS: Why don’t we meet up there? I only have one of them. So I can’t give it to you or I won’t have one. But if we’re in Seattle I can just get a new one.
TODD: Oh, yeah. I noticed they are your BP jerseys.
RRS: Yeah. So I need it for BP. But I can just get a new one if we’re in Seattle.
We chatted a little more, but I can’t really remember what exactly we said.
About half an hour later…
After this game, I was estatic. WOW! Ryan Rowland-Smith said he would give me his jersey! I mean, that’s ridiculous. I couldn’t wait! Ah, I wasn’t going to be in Seattle until the end of the season!
I decided I should make this as easy as possible for RRS. Ideally, I wanted to get it straight from him at the ballpark. But that could be complicated. So I sent him another letter thanking him for being so incredibly nice and generous and awesome. I included a stamped return envelope (a big one) in case he just wanted to mail the jersey. I also gave him a list of all of the Mariners games we would be in attendance for over the rest of the season.
Within one week from mailing that letter, my wife called me at work to let me know that I got a big envelope with my own writing on it. I couldn’t wait to get home that night!
Care to guess what was in that package? Yep, my new official Ryan Rowland-Smith AUTOGRAPHED spring training / batting practice jersey…
The jersey, by the way, is HUGE! Size 52! RRS is 6’3″ and I am a mere 5’11”. He needs a lot more fabric to cover his frame! If untucked, the jersey is like a dress on me.
Here are some screen shots of RRS wearing the jersey during spring training 2010:
I’ve had the jersey about a week and a half now and I still cannot believe it. Who has ever thought of writing to a professional baseball player and asking for his jersey? And who has ever heard of it ACTUALLY WORKING!?
By the way, the jersey has a few small scuffs on the bottom on one side. I think its cool that it shows some actual “wear-and-tear.” When I opened it, my wife asked, “Is it all sweaty and dirty smelling?” The Answer: No. It was washed and (as my wife and I have referred to it) “Mariner fresh” smelling!
THANK YOU, RYAN ROWLAND-SMITH! (And not just for the jersey, but for being such a down-to-earth, genuine, nice guy). Best of luck to you for a long and successful career, hopefully all with the Mariners!
In a C&S Hall of Fame first, Ryan Rowland-Smith has issued a brief (140 characters or less) induction acceptance speech via his twitter page:
“Thank you Cook and Son for my induction into their hall of fame! http://alturl.com/753w enjoy the jersey.”
Why don’t I just show you it? Here you go:
A very kind gesture, but all the thanks go to RRS. And a big congratulations for a strong outing yesterday — see the box score here. Hopefully this outing (five innings, 4 hits and 1 earned run) proves to be the first building block to a successful final four months of the season.
I wanted to maximize our time with the Mariners so we headed down to Baltimore in time for batting practice. Unfortunately, it started raining as we neared Baltimore. As we entered the centerfield seats, we found the tarp covering the field. No batting pratice.
It was about 5:20 at the time. Because we did not have “season ticket” tickets, we were stuck in CF until 5:30. So we couldn’t go over to the third base foul line where Ichiro was running sprints in the outfield and a couple of Mariners were playing catch.
After about 2 minutes in the seats, Jesus Colome came out to centerfield to grab two baseballs that were sitting out there in the grass. There were a bunch of O’s fans in the first 2 rows of the seats and we were hanging back in about the 10th row. Colome saw us and yelled to get our attention. He then proceeded to throw one of the baseballs nowhere near us. Seriously, while looking me straight in the eye, he managed to throw the ball about 30 feet to our left and about 7 rows below us. One of the O’s fans grabbed it as it ricocheted off some seats. Colome yelled, “Sorry!” and patted himself on the chest as if to say, “my bad.”
About 2 minutes later, something incredibly cool happened. I’m going to save the complete story for later, but here is the abbreviated version.
Ryan Rowland-Smith came walking through the outfield on his way to the bullpen…
…in that picture, Tim and I were standing at the “T&T” (Tim was on my shoulders) and I noticed Rowland-Smith as he was walking at the “RRS.” The yellow line shows the route he was intending to walk to the Mariners bullpen.
Background Fact No. 2: Over the off-season, I wrote a letter to RRS to (among other things) thank him for being so kind to us in Toronto, and I included with the letter the picture my wife snapped of us with RRS.
Background Fact No. 3: I follow RRS on Twitter where it had recently been implied that he buzzed his hair. Check him out @hyphen18.
So, as he approached the OF wall, I yelled out, “Hey, Ryan, let’s see the new hair!”
He laughed and (without looking over) took off his hat to show me his buzz-cut. Then, as he went through the door in the OF gate, he looked over at me and…
I was thinking, “Wow, RRS really likes seeing Mariners fans on the road!” But as he approached, he said, “You wrote me that letter, right?”
To put it mildly, I couldn’t believe it! I wrote him a letter months earlier about an interaction in Toronto and IMMEDIATELY upon seeing us in Baltimore (totally out of context), he recognized us and came right over to chat.
Here he is standing below us…
…and, to once again put it mildly, he came over to chat about something incredibly, amazingly, ridiculously awesome. That’s what I’ll save for later. For now, I will just note that we made plans to meet up later in the season about something I asked him in my letter. Also, I must note that RRS is officially one of the most fan-friendly, coolest dudes ever to wear a major league baseball uniform…hands down.
After chatting with RRS, we waited five more minutes for the rest of the stadium to open (by which point Ichiro was gone), and then we headed over toward the Mariners dugout. And guess who we ran into…
…you got it: Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith. Although Tim looks sorta “ho-hum’ish” in this picture, its not because he wasn’t happy to get his picture with RRS. It was because he was standing on top of a wet brick wall and he was scared he was going to fall off. RRS is holding him from behind to keep him steady.
We chatted for another minute or two with RRS. And he noticed the T-Shirt I was wearing under my jersey. It was a special shirt that Griffey made for his Mariners teammates during spring training. You can read about it (and how my mom got her hands on one of them during spring training) in our entry Griffey the Prankster. I told RRS that I had my mom send to shirt to me so I could wear it to this game to see if I could manage to get my picture with Griff. However, due to the SleepGate scandal (that had just broken the day before), RRS didn’t think Griff would be out on the field at all before the game.
A few minutes later, I saw Ichiro pop out of the M’s dugout with a bat and walk over to the O’s dugout/clubhouse entrance. So we headed over to the O’s dugout and confirmed with an usher that the M’s would be taking BP in cages back by the O’s clubhouse.
We said hi to most of the guys as they headed over to take BP…
Adam Moore said hi to us too:
Here is Figgy and a coach, Sweeney and M’s PR guy Tim Hevly (they were talking about SleepGate!)…
…Don Wakamatsu said hello to us, and Ken Griffey, Jr. did too. Unfortunately, that’s the best picture I got of Griff. As he approached, he saw my T-shirt and he said something to me that I couldn’t understand…something odd like, “Oh, so that’s what’s going on here.” In response, I mentioned that he’d given the shirt to my mom at spring training and asked if we could get a picture. He responded as if it was a possibility, but said he had to go hit first. Of course, by the time he finished batting, there were 50 people standing by the dugout. By that point, we decided there was no chance Griff would stop on his way back to the M’s clubhouse so we left to get something to eat.
After our nachos, we headed over to the bullpen to watch Cliff Lee warm up. Here he is on his walk to the bullpen:
By the way, our buddy Jason Phillips is in that blurry picture and he is the guy seated closest to Tim in the picture to the right. It was nice seeing him again. We exchanged a few words several times throughout the day. Its good to have him in the M’s bullpen again this season.
We continued sitting by the bullpen during the first inning, but then it started raining again. We took refuge under cover over by where we’d eaten our nachos. And I got some pictures of Griffey batting in the third inning…
And I got some pictures of Ichiro, also batting in the third inning…
I took tons of pictures (using my wife’s camera with a sequence feature) of Cliff Lee:
We got some random defensive shots:
I had to get Tim out of the standing room area pretty quick. It was covered with huge puddles and Tim wanted to jump in every single one. I was envisioning his little toes freezing later in the game inside wet socks.
So, we headed out to the concourse and got an ice cream helmet and a hot chocolate. We grabbed some ice cream seats in section 10 down the 1B foul line:
Pictured at the back of the photo is a guy named Avi who we met before the game. In addition to going to tons of O’s games, Avi reads our blog (and writes one of his own). Thanks, Avi! It was great meeting you.
Here is the view from our ice cream seats in section 10:
Ryan Langerhans broke the scoreless tie with a lead off homerun in the fifth. Later in the inning, the M’s scored again when Chone Figgins drew a bases loaded walk.
Here is a shot of Griff hitting in the sixth inning:
From our ice cream seats, we had a great view of Ichiro in RF. In these pictures, Ichi is playing catch between innings with Franklin Gutierrez.
Here is Tim after finishing off his ice cream and hot chocolate:
He absolutely loved the hot chocolate.
As we sat in section 10, I noticed the same guy catch two foul balls straight behind home plate. I decided he should go over there. However, when we arrived behind home plate, we noticed that the ushers were essentially taking the night off. Although there were ushers all around, they were letting people stand in the aisle and sit anywhere they wanted. So, after an usher took our picture…
And when we got home, I noticed that we’d been on TV while we were sitting in the third row behind Franklin Gutierrez:
We’d been sitting in the third row, but between innings Tim would stand in the first row above the dugout…so I snapped this picture of him:
Here was the view from the first row:
Ichiro hit another single in the 9th inning…
It was raining very lightly, so Tim wore my glove has a mask/umbrella…
I mentioned already we didn’t get a third out ball. Oddly, however, we did get a second out ball! Here Tim is with his first ever game used ball (well, it is possible that one of the umpire balls he’s gotten has been game used, but we *know* this one was used in the game):
With one out in the bottom of the ninth and Brandon League pitching, Matt Wieters grounded out to Ryan Langerhans at first base. Langerhans tagged Wieters for the 26th out of the game and then threw the ball around the horn. Somehow, the around the horn attempt failed. I’m not sure what happened. I think that Figgins threw the ball in the dirt to Jose Lopez and it got wet or dirty. For whatever reason, Lopez rolled the ball into foul territory. It ultimately came to rest right in front of us.
We were the only people in the first row behind the Mariners dugout. We were wearing all Mariners gear. Tim’s a cute kid. The ball was directly in front of us. It seemed almost like we were guaranteed to get the ball. And we did. An unidentified Mariner reached over the railing/netting and grabbed the ball off of the warning track, turned around and flipped it right to me.
Maybe two minute later, the Mariners won the game by a final score of 5-1. And Ichi victoriously ran off of the soggy field after high fiving his teammates:
Our friend, MLBlogger, and Baseball Collector extraordinaire, Zack Hample, was at the game. We’d spent some time with him during pre-game and then met up again after the game. As the Mariners bullpen headed to the dugout, Jesus Colome flipped a ball to Zack and John Wetteland bestowed a second baseball on me and Tim.
Moments later, Zack’s buddy Brandon captured this photo of me, Tim, and Zack:
This photo is a re-make of a picture we got moments after we met Zack in person for the first time last season — at the memorable Randy Johnson 300th win rainout “game.” After this photo, Tim and I walked to our parking garage with Zack and Brandon (on their way to their hotel).
It was a great first Mariners game of the season that included (i) a much needed Mariners win, (ii) Cliff Lee’s first win as a Mariner (and his first since the 2009 World Series), (iii) two memorable meetings with Ryan Rowland-Smith, (iv) fun interactions with several players about the Griffey prank shirt, (v) meeting up with some cool MLBloggers, and (vi) Tim’s first game-used baseball.
I already cannot wait to see the Mariners again…next month in San Diego on the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010! See you there, Mariners!
2010 Fan Stats:
8 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
5 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)
15 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)
4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
4 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, 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)
Due to Mother’s Day, we will be home both days this weekend with our special little lady. No games for Todd and Tim. Our next game action will be during the week next week when the Mariners visit Baltimore. For the time being, I figured I would share a non-game story from tonight.
One of my standing tasks at our house is getting Tim ready for and tucked into bed. We’re not big pre-bed story reading people. Tonight, however, Tim asked me to read him a story. So after a vigorous teeth brushing, Tim climbed into his bed ready for a story.
But before he could pick a book, something on his night stand caught his eye…
…it was the two baseballs we got last weekend at the Phillies/Mets game in Philadelphia.
The four most important baseballs we got last year reside on Tim’s dresser and the rest of our 2009 baseballs are on a shelf in my home office. A couple weeks ago, we had our first 11 baseballs of 2010 sitting loose on a table-top in our family room. Tim asked if we could put them in his room. While the two we got last week are on his night stand, the other 11 are now lined up across his dresser:
Our plan to read a story went out the door when Tim noticed the small “55” written inside the MLB logo on one of the baseballs on his night stand. He’d asked me to put those baseballs on his night stand and, once they were in place, he lined them up so they face his pillow.
Tonight, he asked me about the “55” and the other numbers written on some of the other balls on his dresser. What followed was a 20 minute walk down memory lane as we took several of the balls out of their cases to inspect them, played bare-handed catch from two feet apart, and discussed the games where we got the baseballs and the players who gave and/or autographed them for us.
We talked about the differences in the colors of the baseballs and how some baseballs — like our autographed Felix Hernandez baseball — look “dirty” because the players like it how it feels better in their hand that way.
We talked about our Willie Bloomquist baseball and how we got it the same night that Tim got his 30 Teams Trophy (also shown above on the night stand). Tim remembered that it was a rainy night at the ballpark that night. But he didn’t remember that was the same game at which he met Alex for the first time. Since meeting Alex in Chicago, Tim and I have run into Alex (and Joe, who Tim thinks are brothers) at Citi Field twice, including at the game in which we got the baseball to the far right on his dresser.
We talked about the numbers written inside the MLB logo and how they correspond to the order in which we caught them at Tim’s MLB games.
We talked about the ripped leather in a big scuff mark below the MLB logo on Tim’s 50th baseball and how it probably happened when the baseball was hit into the seats during BP and scraped across the pavement in the field level seating area at Nationals Park.
We talked about the umpires who have given us baseballs after games and, notably, how Tim had dropped the baseball that Bruce Dreckman gave him recently at Citi Field, and how another umpire picked it up and gave it back to Tim.
As we chatted, we tossed the various baseballs back-and-forth to each other. So many moments in life are forgotten forever. And that’s one of the reasons I love getting a baseball at a game. It gives us something tangible to hold onto and help tie us back into the memories of our days at the ballpark. Tonight, it was a great way to get ready for bed. It definitely beat reading one of Tim’s books for the 700th time.
Tim and I have had all of our baseballs from 2009 laying around unorganized and our ice cream helmets in a similarly disheveled state. So, I decided to get organized.
The four most important baseballs of the season are in Tim’s room on his dresser with his 30-MLB team milestone trophy, his Mariners Mr. Potatohead, and his miniature Ken Griffey, Jr. glove:
Those baseballs include:
- Willie Bloomquist/Royals ball (U.S. Cellular Field) – from Tim’s 30th MLB team milestone game (8/17/09).
- Felix Hernandez/Erik Bedard (Fenway Park) warm up ball signed by Felix Hernandez (7/4/09).
- Jason Phillips autographed ball (Yankee Stadium) – trade for A-Rod photoball for M’s pink backpack (7/2/09).
- Ryan Rowland-Smith’s autographed warm-up ball (Rogers Centre) — Tim’s first ball he caught himself (9/26/09).
NOTE: Honorable Mention Most Important Baseballs Awards go to the HHH Metrodome ball that we caught at the Metrodome (8/15/09) and the ball Jason Phillips threw to us on top of the Green Monster at Fenway (7/5/09).
The rest of our 2009 baseballs are now all in baseball cubes displayed on a bookshelf on which they fit perfectly:
As you can see, on the bottom shelf we have our ice cream helmet collection. Most piles are all the same team (e.g., the big Mariners and Phillies piles). But a couple teams are hidden beneath other teams (e.g., the Pirates and the other New York team). Eventually, I’ll need to figure out a better way to display our helmets.
FYI, the balls on the helmet shelf are mostly from my youth. I lost track of how many balls I caught growing up in the Kingdome. Eventually, I ended up playing home run derby with most of them (something me and my friends played constantly during the summers) and lost them in the woods beyond the outfield fence at Madrona Elementary School (which is a great place to play home run derby). Anyway, the end balls in the back row are from last season, the other nine are my only remaining Kingdome balls. You can see on one of them I wrote “Julio Franco” in red in really poor, youthful handwriting. It was back when he played for the Rangers, probably from 1989 or 1990. The ball to the right of the Franco ball was from Kirby Puckett.
While I’m at it, I might as well share one more picture:
These are balls from 2006-08. On the top shelf:
1. Tim’s first ball ever – from Davis Romero (Blue Jays) at his first game ever, and first game (obviously) at Safeco Field (9/12/06).
3. Tim’s third ball ever – from Brandon Morrow at his third game ever, second Mariners game, and first game at Camden Yards (8/9/07)
4. Tim’s fourth ball ever – from Glenallen Hill at Tim’s 1st MLB Anniversary, our only ball ever at Citizens Bank Park (9/12/07)
FYI, we gave Tim’s second baseball to my cousin’s daughter who shared her first game ever with Tim (as we will see in a forthcoming entry – ETA next week).
The rest of the baseballs are spring training balls from 2008. The top left ball is autographed by Adam Moore and the top right ball is autographed by Jose Vidro – both during spring training 2008.
Interstingly, this post now shows every baseball Tim and I have ever caught together except one, which we got during our first baseball roadtrip in 2008 and got autographed by some Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers. What the heck, lets show it too:
This ball is autographed by T.J. Beam, Tyler Yates, and Sean Burnett of the 2008 Pirates.
So, there you go, our entire Major League baseball collection and Major League ice cream helmet collections in one blog entry.