September 12th is one of the best and most joyous holidays on the calendar. The holiday dates back to 2006 and marks a wonderful occasion – Tim’s in-person introduction to Major League Baseball and our Seattle Mariners. This is the story of Tim’s Sixth MLB Anniversary!
A little background is in order before we jump into the day’s events.
On September 12, 2006, we celebrated Tim’s first MLB game. It was a wonderful Mariners victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
On September 12, 2007, by total dumb luck, we ended up at Citizens Bank Park to witness the Colorado Rockies absolutely wallop the Philadelphia Phillies 10-0. When I realized during the game that it was the first anniversary of Tim’s MLB debut, I decided right then and there that I would make every effort within my control to take Tim to a Major League Baseball game on September 12th every single year.
And every single year since 2006, September 12th has been an awesome day for us.
On September 12, 2008, we visited Arizona with my folks and saw Brandon Webb win his 20th game of the season over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.
On September 12, 2009, we were thrilled to see the Orioles beat the Yankees in New York.
On September 12, 2010, we were in Washington, D.C. to watch the Marlins beat the home team Washington Nationals with Tim’s Poppy.
On September 12, 2011, we headed down to Baltimore and had a great time watching the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles.
I originally had a couple additional goals for Tim’s MLB Anniversary that have fallen by the wayside over the last couple seasons. First, I wanted to see two different teams play every season on September 12 (i.e., no repeat teams) until we could see the Mariners play again on Tim’s MLB Anniversary. Along the same lines, I wanted to visit a different stadium every year on Tim’s MLB Anniversary, at least until we could make it back to Safeco Field for another anniversary game.
Last season, our no-repeat-teams goal fell apart when we saw our second MLB Anniversary game featuring the Baltimore Orioles. This year, our no-repeat-stadiums goal was thrown on the scrap heap, too.
Planning was very difficult this year. September 12 was a Wednesday. I originally wanted to head up to Toronto to see the Mariners in a rematch of Tim’s MLB Debut game. But that wasn’t going to work for a mid-week game.
Our second plan was to head to Queens to see the Mets take on the visiting Nationals. That game would have preserved our no-repeat-stadiums goal and it was our plan for a long time. But in July or August, I got news that I had a very important business appointment scheduled for the early afternoon on September 12th in Philadelphia. With traffic, we live about 1.5 hours from Philadelphia. Tim would be in school until 3:10. Going to NY was out of the question.
Next, I thought about the Phillies…but their game was scheduled to start at 4 p.m. That was a no go, as well.
So, I looked back to Baltimore, site of Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary, and found that the Orioles would be playing the Rays on September 12, 2012 at 7:05 p.m. It was an exact rematch of last season’s MLB Anniversary game. It would obliterate all of our secondary stadium/teams goals. But with a little help from Colleen, I figured we should be able to make it to the game, and that was the only goal that really mattered. BP would be out of the question. But at least we should be able to make it for the game. So that was the plan.
Here is what had to happen to make it happen:
Colleen and Kellan picked Tim up from school at 3:10 and immediately hopped on the road down to Philadelphia. I was detained until around 4:30. When I freed up, I called Colleen to find they were still stuck in traffic. I hopped in my car and drove across Center City Philadelphia. Colleen and the boys reached Philadelphia while I was still stuck in traffic. I met up with Colleen and the boys at 30th Street Station in West Philadelphia.
The boys then hopped into my car and we hit I-95 South toward Baltimore. My GPS told me we were going to arrive at Camden Yards around 6:30. But traffic crawled coming out of Philadelphia. We broke out of the traffic around the Delaware state line. By that time, my GPS said we would arrive at the stadium around 7:10 – five minutes after game time.
Traffic was non-existent in Delaware and Maryland and we picked up a few minutes. After the boys spent around 4 hours in the car, we arrived at the Camden Yards parking lot right next to the Ravens stadium.
Avi Miller purchased our tickets while we were still in the car and very kindly came and met us at the gate to save us some time getting into the ballpark.
The game actually started while we were still parking our car and B.J. Upton hit a leadoff homerun to put the Rays up 1-0 while we were walking toward the stadium.
So we missed a few batters, whatever, we were at the ballpark for some MLB Anniversary baseball action!
So, each of the last two seasons, we had exactly one game per season at which we didn’t get a baseball. I don’t really worry about having a *streak* of getting a ball at each game – in fact, I have no clue what our current *streak* is – but I’ve had a goal of trying to complete a full-season getting at least one baseball at each game we attend. After this game, we would only have two more games this season. With no BP or other pre-game festivities, this would be our greatest challenge of the season.
During the home half of the first, we hung out behind home plate just in case an Oriole wanted to hit us a real game foul ball (something my boys have never caught and I haven’t caught since, probably, 1995). We hung out in the ideal spot:
We had no luck, but the Orioles did. On the strength of singles by Nate McLouth, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Wilson Betemit, the Orioles scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
By the way, this was a huge game for the Orioles. They were one game back in the east behind the first place Yankees who were facing the struggling Red Sox in Boston.
After the end of the first, we decided to head down the 1B line cross-aisle to say hi to Avi, and then go grab some pizza. While we were chatting with Avi, Carlos Pena led off the top of the second inning and smacked a foul ball directly to where Tim is standing in that last picture! Aye…we would have had a great shot of catching it had we stayed put.
It was pizza time. The outfield was totally packed. Instead of going in search of some pizza seats, the boys dined at Jim Palmer’s feet:
While we were hanging out with Jim, I noticed there were a couple other news statues out there – like Cal Ripkin, Jr.:
We decided that our best shot at getting a baseball at this game was to hang out in the new SRO area behind the visitors’ bullpen:
Here was our view for large chunks of this game:
Essentially, we split time during this game between the bullpen SRO area and the kids’ play area. It was time to hit the kids’ play area. Before heading over there, Tim wanted to check out the new statues. First he played catcher for Eddie Murray:
And here is a look at the whole Ripkin statue:
And then we headed down Eutaw Street…
…toward the play area. We cut through the cross-aisle behind the RCF seats…
…and then the flag court so we could watch a few seconds of the game on the way to the bouncy house:
The new bouncy house this season is great, except for one pesky thing. It is bigger and better for the kids. But the old bouncy house had a big loosely-knit net wall on one side that was great for taking pictures of the kids bouncing inside. The new one has a tight-knit net on all sides and it is impossible to get a good action shot of the boys bouncing inside.
The boys always enjoy getting a picture with the big Oriole bird bobbleheads…
…and the pig:
After playing in the play area, we planned to get ice cream helmets. There is an ice cream stand in the concourse down the 3B line. I figured we would get some helmets there and then head back to the bullpen area to eat ‘em. But as we passed behind home plate, we ran into our friend and Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl. When I mentioned that we were on our way to grab some ice cream, he reached into his backpack and pulled out two little cups of carvel ice cream and handed them over. That was pretty odd…, but, hey, thanks, Matt!
We headed out to LF and grabbed some ice cream seats in the cross aisle:
And then we headed back to the kids’ play area again:
I’ve gotten ahead of myself here. I should mention that the Rays scored a second run in the bottom of the third. For most of this game, the score was tied 2-2.
Late in the game, we headed back to the bullpen SRO. Tim spotted a HUGE bug on the front wall of the visitors’ bullpen:
Alex Cobb had started the game for the Rays and pitched 4.2 innings. After Cobb, the Rays cycled in a new pitcher pretty much each inning. Jake McGee in the fifth-sixth, Wade Davis in the seventh, and Joel Peralta in the eighth.
Rays bullpen catcher, and all-around nice guy, Scott Cursi was warming up pitchers all night below us:
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Cursi didn’t’ catch each of the pitchers. Some of them he just watched and consulted with another Rays catcher. Anyway, the game was still tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth. The Orioles brought in closer Jim Johnson. Meanwhile, Cursi was warming up Kyle Farnsworth in the Rays’ bullpen.
Johnson had a rough inning. After retiring the first batter, he gave up a single to Jeff Keppinger. Joe Madden sent Rich Thompson in to pinch-run for Keppinger. After Ben Zobrist flew out to CF, Thompson stole second.
Around this time, I realized that once we made it to the bottom of the ninth, the Orioles could win it on one swing with a walk off homerun. So I decided we would head to home plate once the game moved to the bottom of the ninth to see if we could get into position to go for an umpire baseball.
With two outs, Evan Longoria then hit a soft grounder down the 3B line that was ruled an infield hit. As Thompson broke hard for third, Manny Machado charged the ball hard, scooped it up in his bare hand and made a hard fake throw toward first. Thompson bit on Machado’s fake throw and rounded third hard. Machado instantly spun and threw behind Thompson to Orioles short stop J.J. Hardy. One throw later, Matt Wieters tagged out Thompson as he headed back toward 3B.
And that ended the top of the ninth inning.
I was all set to head toward home plate as Scott Cursi took the final warm up pitch from Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth headed toward the CF gate to enter the game and Cursi headed toward the bullpen bench. Before we left to walk toward home, I called out Cursi’s name. He looked up and tossed us Farnsworth’s warm up baseball. We shouted “THANKS!” and then started to turn toward home plate, but Cursi yelled for to us to stop. We looked back, and he pulled another baseball (an absolutely pristine Camden Yards 20th Anniversary commemorative baseball) out of his back pocket and tossed it to us too.
I must say that Scott Cursi has been amazingly cool to us this season. We saw the Rays play in five games and he tossed us SEVEN baseballs and spent a little time chatting with us in Seattle.
Thanks again, Scott!
Moments after Cursi tossed us those baseballs, we ended up sliding into a row of seats right behind home plate:
After making the key fake throw to help bring the top of the ninth to a close, Machado led off the bottom of the ninth and smacked a single into LF. He then took second on a sacrifice bunt by Robert Andino.
Usually, September crowds at Camden Yards are tiny and lifeless. This year was different. The Yankees had already lost to the Red Sox by this time so they were only half a game ahead of the Orioles. In other words, if Machado could touch home plate the Orioles would pull into a first-place tie with the Yankees.
The crowd was standing at attention, ready to erupt at a moment’s notice:
Right about this time, Avi (somewhere in the stadium) sent out the following tweet:
And, I was sort of a fortune teller. No, Adam Jones didn’t come to the plate in the ninth and the Rays hadn’t taken the lead, but Nate McLouth hit a single to RF for a walk-off win.
The place was going crazy: Orioles win! Orioles win! Orioles win!
As all of the craziness was going down, Tim, Kellan and I hustled down the stairs toward the umpires’ tunnel where (like Thompson an inning earlier) we got totally faked out by a bit of misdirection.
The home plate umpire is the only umpire who carries baseballs during a game (obviously). At this game, Marvin Hudson was the home plate umpire. When the first umpire ducked into the umpires’ tunnel, he handed out two baseballs on the other side of the tunnel. As he passed us, we called out, “Mr. Hudson!” and the umpire just walked right by us. We called his name one more time and then I realized something looked odd. He didn’t have baseball pouches on his hips or a face mask like a home plate umpire always carries off the field. Then, the umpire turned around and, looking at us, pointed behind him. We turned around and looked back toward and the field and the other three umpires. Right then, Marvin Hudson reached out and handed a beautiful rubbed up commemorative baseball to Tim:
I still have no clue who the first umpire was or why he had two baseballs. I’ve never seen a non-home plate umpire hand out baseballs after a game. Very odd.
Anyway, the whole stadium was partying for their now *first place* Orioles and Nate McLouth was, predictably, the recipient of a congratulatory pie to the face:
We got a celebratory MLB Anniversary picture before heading toward the gates:
On our way to the gate, Tim got his picture with this guy:
We have no clue what that guy is all about, but we see him all over the place in Baltimore and he’s a cool looking dude. So, naturally, Tim wanted a picture with him.
Now, I’d still never paid Avi for our tickets. So we ended up meeting up with him outside of the LF gate. After I handed over a tiny bit of money (because O’s tickets are incredibly cheap…and I hope that remains the case next season), we played a whole bunch of catch with Avi:
We had a blast playing catch with Avi after the game. It was the perfect end to another great MLB Anniversary game.
As we finally started to head toward our car, I told Tim got give me a big “six” with his fingers for one final Sixth MLB Anniversary picture and he delivered possibly the most awkward looking “six” possible:
This one was difficult from a planning and execution standpoint, but September 12th always delivers great times. I can’t wait to see where September 12th takes us next season for Tim’s Seventh MLB Anniversary!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|24/22 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves|
|40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 1|
|22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2|
|12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird|
|7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney|
On Sunday, September 12, 2010, Tim and I headed out of the house early in the morning en route to Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary game. I had debated in my head for months about which game we would attend. It was between Marlins @ Nationals or Phillies @ Mets. We’re more interested in the Phillies and Mets. But we already saw the Phillies on Tim’s First Anniversary. So, we hopped in the car and headed south to Washington, D.C. for a date with the Marlins, Nationals, and Tim’s “Poppy” (his materal grandfather, who I call Kevin).
In addition to all the excitement surrounding it being Tim’s MLB Anniversary game, we had the opportunity to do something special at this game. If we could manage to get two baseballs at this game, Tim and I would hit the 100 baseball mark on the fourth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball (which was given to Tim by Blue Jays September call-up, Davis Romero).
It was a drizzly morning. We arrived right as the gates opened (2.5 hours before game time), but there was no batting practice. When we arrived, there was no action on the field at all. But a Marlins pitcher was throwing in the bullpen out in LF.
I had no clue who he was. But I noticed he had his name stitched on his glove, so I zoomed in…
As we watched Sanabia throwing under the supervision of his pitching coach, Poppy arrived. In addition to the three of us, there were a few other people (maybe 5 or so) watching Sanabia pitch.
When Sanabia finished up, he walked under us and I called out, “Hey, Alex, any chance you could toss up that baseball for my son (pointing at Tim).”
And just like that, Tim has baseball number 99 in his hands:
After a while, some Nationals gathered around the bullpen in RF. We took Poppy, who was visiting Nationals Park for the first time, over to RF to look down into the Nats bullpen. But then some Marlins came out. Given the options, I thought it would be a lot better to get number 100 from a Marlin. So we headed back over to LF.
We couldn’t go into the infield seats until 12:00 o’clock. So we just hung out in the outfield and watched…
We made our way to the LF foul line where we stood behind a pitcher who we’d never heard of before (despite the fact we’d actually seen him pitch two innings against the Phillies the weekend before). I used my zoom to figure out…
Poppy wandered off to find a hot dog for lunch while Tim and I watched the action on the field. Finally, Buente and his partner finished up and Buente started walking toward the baseball bag. There were literally zero other fans along the foul line with us. As Buente passed right in front of us, I recycled my question to Alex Sanabia, “Hey, Jay, any chance my son could get that baseball?”
Buente took 1-2 more steps toward the bag and then took a sharp left turn and walked the baseball over and handed it to Tim. I was quick to ask if he’d hang out for two seconds to get his picture with Tim…
100 Thank yous, Jay Buente!
After Buente walked away, Tim turned toward me and held the ball high over his head and yelled with excitement, “We have 100 baseballs!”
Wow – that’s cool!
We were just about to go meet up with Poppy when Marlins pitcher Brian Sanches wandered by. We got Sanches to autograph a spare baseball we had in our bag (FYI, when fans insist on giving baseballs to Tim (meaning, I cannot talk them into giving it to another kid), we use them for autographs. This ball was from Cleveland.).
Then Sanches, who seemed to be an incredibly nice and genuine guy, posed for a picture with Tim:
Finally, we met up with Poppy. I had a hot dog, but Tim wasn’t hungry. After eating, it was time to walk around the stadium with Poppy. First, we stopped in LF to get our picture with a guy in a Cowboys jersey for the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt.
Next, we headed into the upper deck to check out the Capitol Builiding and Washington Monument. We got a photo of Poppy, Tim and the Capitol building:
Sosa looked up and I flashed my glove at him.
Jorge was holding a baseball and he reared back and cocked his arm like he was going to give it a mighty toss up to me. Then he stopped and made an exaggrated “oh, my arm is hurt” look and pointed to his arm. Then he gave a big chuckled and went along on his way. I’ve always thought it would be cool to catch a baseball in the upper deck and this was the closest we’ve ever come to doing it.
Oh, well, on with the stadium tour. We walked around to the RF side and gazed upon the river (just like we’d done the weekend before with my cousin, Nathan). Out in the distance, Poppy pointed out Fort McNair…
…where a young Poppy just back to the States after a tour in Vietnam met a young Grammy (Tim’s maternal grandma). The story goes that Poppy was to be reassigned to Texas to finish out the final year of his military commitment. After a tour in southeast Asia, Poppy wasn’t too excited to spend another year away from his home in the northeast. So he headed to the Pentagon to meet with some military big wigs and request a change of assignment to be closer to his home in New Jersey. The officer in charge couldn’t get him to New Jersey, but he offered to change Poppy’s assignment to a job in Washington, D.C. Poppy jumped at the opportunity, and Grammy (who worked for the officer) was in charge of typing up Poppy’s change of assignment orders.
Eventually, Poppy would begin courting Grammy. They’d marry. Have a daughter. Have another daughter. Have both daughters move away to Philadelphia where the younger daughter would meet and eventually marry a guy who had just moved to Philadelphia from Seattle. The younger daughter and the guy from Seattle would have a kid. They’d take the kid to his first baseball game on September 12, 2006. Poppy would also attend the kid’s first game. And fourth years later, Poppy, the guy from Seattle, and the kid would go to another baseball game on September 12, 2010, where Poppy would point out the building where the whole the whole story began. And then they would all go buy some more hot dogs and nachos, and then report to their seats in CF.
Here was their view:
Once again, Nyjer Morgan was playing CF for the Nationals…
This is what it looked like as we watched the game:
Tim ate some extremely unimpressive nachos…
…he still liked them despite their relative unimpressiveness to other nachos Tim had enjoyed this season. In the picture above to the right, he is pretending that the chip is his mouth wide open. Four year olds are easily entertained.
There was some more unusual entertainment early in the game…
…a squirrel ran across the outfield. Eventually, he’d run up and down the chain link fence in front of the Nationals bullpen. They should have chased that squirrel down and taken him away in handcuffs for running on the field during the game.
Hey, there was a game played too.
Mike “The Beast” Stanton was in the house. And he brought a big bat with him…
Then things got a little interesting. Bonafacio stole second. Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann tried to pick Bonafacio off of second, but threw the ball high and behind second baseman Adam Kennedy. Kennedy should have caught the ball, but it tipped off of his glove and scooted into shallow RF.
Bonafacio took off for third with blazing speed. Meanwhile, Kennedy jogged after the loose ball like he was bored and had nothing better to do. Bonafacio had his afterburners on. I shouted, “HE’S GONNA SCORE!!!” And that is just what he did. He scored from second base on a failed pick-off move and Kennedy’s laziness in chasing the ball. This is what Kennedy looked like as he hung his head in shame:
Mike Stanton was not pleased that the Nats had closed the gap to 3-2. In the top of the third inning, Stanton flexed his muscles again on this pitch…
Starting in the bottom of the third, the Nats would score one run an inning for the next three innings. And the Marlins scored a single run in the fourth. None of those runs were particularly exciting or notable, other than the fact that one of them was credited to future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez (on a weak grounder to 2B in the bottom of the fourth inning).
So that made the score 6-5 Marlins after five innings.
In the middle innings, Tim enjoyed an anniversary ice cream helmet…
And, we cheered on everyone’s favorite running President, Teddy Roosevelt…
Yeah, we were having fun. It was a great day:
Of course, no homeruns came anywhere near us.
In the sixth inning, Tim wanted to go to the kids play area. That’s when the drama began. Tim was so excited he was running up and down the outfield stairs as Poppy and I followed him. On his way up the stairs, Tim tripped and smacked both shins on the edge of a concrete stair and his forehead right on the top of the next stair up.
He went crazy with the water works.
It was legitimate water works. He had scrapes on both knees and over his left eye.
Tim no longer wanted to go to the play area. He wanted to go to the first aid office and get some bandaids. So that’s what we did. He was still huff’n and puff’n.
As we walked to the office, I snapped this picture of our new buddy, Brian Sanches…
The people in the first aid office had just the thing to cure Tim’s blues. In addition to some bandaids, they gave him a plastic cup with a metalic silver Nationals “W” on one side and a metalic silver picture of Nationals Park on the opposite side. Between the bandaids and the cup…
We grabbed some seats around 1B just in time to see Adam Dunn bat again. He hit this foul ball…
Here was our view from the seats we found in section 133:
Heading into the top of the ninth, we decided to swing around to the 3B side to go for an umpire ball. But as we walked through the concourse behind 1B and about to duck into the closed off tunnel behind the fancy clubs and restaurants behind home plate, I noticed that the guard watching the entrance to the fancy seats directly behind home plate was leaning far over a railing watching something in the seats.
We decided to walk in there like we belonged and see what would happen. With Tim on my shoulders I breezed right by the usher and into the fancy seats. Right as we got into the seats, someone hit a pop foul ball about 10 feet away from us. As people were going for the ball, Tim and I took some seats undetected. Interestingly, there was a ticket in the drink holder where we sat down so we were golden incase someone came and asked to see our ticket.
This was our view from section 124:
With all of the commotion from the foul ball, I didn’t even realize that I had no clue where Poppy was. I called his cellphone and discovered that another usher stopped him as he walked into the fancy seats behind us. I guess that foul ball really helped us out. Anyway, it was the ninth inning and Poppy told us to enjoy the fancy seats and he’d meet up with us after the game.
Now, the “fancy” seats behind home plate are segregated between the “fancy” seats, the “really fancy” seats, the “ridiculously fancy” seats, and the “outrageously fancy seats.” We were in the “really fancy seats.”
However, I realized we could still go for an umpire baseball if we could get into the “ridiculously fancy” seats (or, heaven forbid, the “outrageously fancy” seats) at the end of the game. Actually, if we could get into the “outrageously fancy” seats, an umpire baseball would be almost guaranteed. But we had no fanciful thoughts about making it into the “outrageously fancy” seats.
We headed over to the far side of section 119, where this was our view:
Those stairs to the left lead down into the “ridiculously fancy” seats. An usher sits right at the bottom of the stairs, to keep people with mere “really fancy” seats out, no doubt. I figured we could probably get down there and sweet talk her, if need be, right at the end of the game so Tim could ask for an umpire ball in the “ridiculously fancy” seats.
First, Tim did some kung fu:
After Ian Desmond grounded out to end the game, things went even better than we could planned. We rushed down the stairs. The usher at the bottom of the stairs stood up and walked toward the field. As she made her way to the field, she opened a gate to the “outrageously fancy” seats.
All of a sudden we found ourselves in the IDEAL spot. In that kung fu picture above, there is a little kid wearing a bright blue shirt in the first row at the far left side of the picture. That is where we were standing when home plate umpire Wally Bell walked off of the field.
Essentially, when a kid stands in that spot with no other kids present as the umpire comes off the field, that kid is going to get an umpire baseball. It is close to guaranteed.
And when Wally Bell set this baseball (baseball no. 101) in Tim’s glove…
Thanks, Wally Bell!
Okay, so the game was over and it was time to go meet up with Poppy. We had to exit the seats and make our way around the concourse toward CF. But we were in the first row of the fanciest seats at Nationals Park. We had to get a picture:
Sounds good to us!
It was dark in there. These were the best pictures I could get of the bar and the area behind the bar:
That bar (above to the right) is directly inside the glass doors directly behind home plate at Nationals Park. The picure above to the left is taken from the 1B side of the Lexus Club. To the left and behind those big panels that spell “NATIONALS” is restaurant-style seating.
To the far 1B side of the club there is a wall of windows. In the windows closer to the field you can watch the Nationals take BP in the underground cages…
It was pretty sweet in there. One cool thing that I tired unsuccessfully to photograph was a hallway with pictures of a whole bunch of U.S. Presidents throwing out first pitches at MLB games. Sadly, the lighting in there was so weird (and we needed to get back to Poppy so I rushed and) none of my pictures came out.
Anyway, we headed back out of the field, circled the concourse, met up with Poppy, and went and got in line for KIDS RUN THE BASES!
This was Poppy’s first Kids Run The Bases and only the second MLB field he’d ever walked on before (the first being Camden Yards where he once attended a wedding).
Poppy stood in for me in our traditional Kids Run The Bases right field distance marker picture:
Running the bases, as always, was awesome:
A nice fan took a picture of the three of us on the field to mark the occassion:
We got our 100th baseball.
Spent some great quality time with Poppy.
Visited the Lexus Club.
Ran the Bases.
Other than maybe “not bashing your head on a concrete step,” what more can you ask for in a day at the ballpark? Not much.
It was another great MLB anniversary.
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)
21 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (3), Indians, Yankees)
58 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 8 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, 2 Marlins)
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)
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)
“Hello, from Yankee Stadium!”
Tim’s first MLB game of his life was on September 12, 2006. Our Mariners beat the Blue Jays at Safeco Field. It was wonderful. Exactly one year later, we found ourselves at Citizens Bank Park watching the Rockies dismantle the Phillies. It wasn’t a pre-planned game. We’d received four (amazing) free tickets. It was a couple innings into the game before I realized it was September 12, 2007: the one-year anniversary of Tim’s first game. That was all I needed. A new tradition was born. Now, I fully intend to attend a MLB game with Tim on September 12th every year for the rest of my life.
Last season, we spent Tim’s second MLB anniversary at Chase Field watching the Griffey-less Reds taken on the Diamondbacks with my mom and dad.
This season, after much internal debate, we found ourselves in New York City for our second game at the new Yankee Stadium. The Orioles were in town.
The big debate was whether we should go to this game or the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Both games were sold out (or at least sold out of reasonably priced tickets (i.e., we can’t afford the Legends Suite at Yankee Stadium)). We opted for two single tickets (one in the bleachers and one in the upper deck) for $20 each at Yankee Stadium rather than two Standing Room tickets for $30 each (twice face value) at Citizens Bank Park.
Of course, after J.A. Happ was scratched and Jamie Moyer was named the starter in Philadelphia, I was second guessing my decision. But thanks to a blown 9th inning save by Ryan Madson erasing Moyer’s win, I definitely made the right decision.
As you will see below, we had a GREAT time in the Bronx. It was a very enjoyable game featuring an outstanding Yankees loss. Yea!
A little background for the pictures that follow. I am NOT a Yankees fan. I’m about as NOT a Yankees fan as anyone in the world. But, I generally take photos at games of the “stars” — certainly, if there is a *no doubt* future hall of famer playing, my M.O. is to photograph them playing. I really haven’t done that with the Yankees in the past, because I’ve only seen them play against the Mariners or the Reds (with Griffey) and I had more important things to photograph.
But today was different. No Mariners (unfortunately). No Griffey (fortunately, he’d be 1000s of miles away going 3-4 for the Mariners). And the Orioles aren’t exactly *stacked* with photo-worthy talent.
So, I was left almost forced to photograph the top Yankees. My apologies. Please do not mistake what follows as any endorsement of the Steinbrenner-led Yankees.
We got an early start to NYC and expected to make it to some of batting practice. However, after experiencing terrible traffic and parking situations, we ultimately arrived late. As we entered the stadium, Derek Jeter was stepping into the box in the bottom of the first:
When Jeter planted his foot in the picture to the left, he would watch his 2,723 hit scoot through the infield. This guy has been in the news a lot lately. The day before, he’d passed Lou Gehrig on the Yankees all-time hit list. A Yankee setting a new Yankee record means nothing to me. But I wanted Jeter to go hitless on 9/11 so we could be there for his record breaking hit. Not because I have any fondness for Jeter, but because I’ve liked Lou Gehrig ever since I read the book “Lou Gehrig: Boy of the Sandlots” when I was in third grade. In fact, I did a book report on that same book in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades And, I actually read the book each time. Anyway, Jeter eclipsed Gehrig’s mark the day before we arrived at Yankee Stadium.
While Jeter was batting. Tim stood on the empty riser pictured below…
…while I took those photos. Within 2 minutes, an usher spotted us and came over to kick Tim off of the riser. Its a very important riser. So, if you go to Yankee Stadium and see it sitting there empty, don’t even think of utilizing it in any fashion. It is not for you.
Jeter ended up stealing second. He then got to third…hmm…somehow. Mark Teixeira then lifted this pitch…
And, A-Rod’s double on this swing…
After the bottom of the first concluded, we walked through Bronx Central Station (also known as the Great Hall):
After taking the picture above on the left, I spun around 360 degrees and took the picture above on the right. In the name of exploring the unknown, we then followed the crowd up the stairs to the second deck.
Before moving on, did you notice anything special in those Great Hall pictures?
A backpack inside Yankee Stadium!!!
It appears the Yankees have re-tooled their illogical no-backpack policy.
For the record, it was illogical because, under the no backpack policy, that lady still could have brought that big bag over her shoulder into the stadium.
Of course, I didn’t know about the change. So I had a little string backpack, once again — like back on July 2nd.
Back to the story.
We proceeded up those stairs. I didn’t know where they would lead. I didn’t see any naturual light (so as to suggest a view of the field) at the top. So I wondered it it lead to the suite level, where we would not be permitted to venture. Luckily, it didn’t. It just lead to the second deck.
Once we got up there. I took Tim to the bathroom and sat him on the counter while I put on his shoes. (He’d just been wearing socks up to this point). While I was digging through my little string backpack bag, I experienced an extremely non-at-the-ballparkish moment.
Tim saw a bag of sun flower seeds amongst our stuff and he asked for some. I obliged. Then, he started spitting seeds on the ground. Can you believe it!? Spitting seeds on the ground in the bathroom at Yankee Stadium! I instantly had this bad feeling like we were going to get busted. Of course, we did not. But I guarantee I never would have had that feeling at any other ballpark. I think the mere fact I had that concern speaks to the feel at Yankee Stadium.
After putting on Tim’s shoes. We hung out in the standing room area behind the second deck seats. This was the view:
It was a great spot. I really enjoyed watching the game from this vantage point. What would have made it better would be if they installed some standing counter space behind the last row of seats. I didn’t see any standing counter space anywhere in the stadium at this game. Installing some would make the standing room experience a lot better.
For a few minutes, we stood right next to a cop and an usher, and we didn’t get reprimanded when Tim started doing this:
[NOTE: there is a seed that Tim just spit out floating in mid-air just to the left of Tim’s neck].
In fact, I think that female cop actually thought it was cute watching Tim spit seeds all over the relatively clean concourse floor.
The Orioles scored 6 runs in the top of the second! Nolan Reimold and Brian Roberts both crushed homeruns. Roberts’s bomb was actually a grand slam. I didn’t get any shots of either of those guys hitting. But here is a shot of the Yankees infield with one of the 6 Orioles to make his way around the base paths that inning:
I ran back and forth with him 2-3 times, then I just observed as he continued racing against himself. In the picture to the right, that black line across the concourse floor (at his elbow level) was used both as Tim’s start line and his finish line.
Finally, an Oriole who I thought was interesting enough to photograph came to the plate:
Between innings, Tim wanted to explore a little more. So we headed behing home plate toward the 1B line. There is a section of suites or some high rent club right behind home plate, so you can’t see the field back there. Instead, there is an interesting collection of floor-to-ceiling sized pictures of a bunch of Yankees:
My guess is that this includes everyone who has won an MVP award as a Yankee. For example, I looked up Babe Ruth to confirm my suspicion and noted that he did, in fact, win the MVP in 1923. (Interestingly, Ruth did not win the MVP in 1924 when he led the league in averge (.378), runs (143), homeruns (46), walks (142), on-base percentage (.513), slugging (.739), OPS (1.252), OPS+ (220), and total bases (391). Instead, the award went to Walter Johnson who went 23-7 with a 2.72 ERA. Personally, I am more impressed by Ruth’s performance in 1924.).
Note: I view the old great Yankees much differently than I view the modern Yankees. They seem like completely different creatures to me. So, you’ll have to excuse me that I cut off Don Mattingly and Alex Rodrigues in these pictures. They were the last two in the line.
In case you couldn’t tell, these pictures changed as you walked passed them.
After a short walk, we ended up on the 1B side with a very similar view of the field:
We’d eaten nothing but snacks since breakfast. So, we decided it was time to consume 1,410 calories of tasty, tasty, TASTY nachos.
My wife and I have long been big time nacho lovers (check out McGillin’s when in Philadelphia). So I have been very proud of Tim for selecting nachos at the ballpark several times lately.
With some help from me, Tim obliterated those nachos. We bought them behind 1B, but headed out to CF and ate them from atop the Mohegan Sun View Obstructor…I mean Sports Bar. Here was our view from up there:
While Tim chowed down on nachos, a guy standing nearby kept commenting, “That kid is gonna eat that whole thing of nachos!!!!” Meanwhile, I chatted with two guys (who appeared to be twin brothers) from the University of Washington (Go Dawgs) who are on a trip around the northeast.
After the U-Dubbers headed off to their seats, I heard that same guy proclaim, “Oh my gosh, that kid ate all of those jalapenos!!!”
For the record, I ate the jalapenos.
Before flying out to right to begin the bottom of the third, I snapped this picture of A-Rod swinging at and missing a pitch outside:
I wanted to sit in actual seats for Tim to eat his ice cream. So we found this spot in the last row of the upper deck in right field:
We left the upper deck after Jeter’s whiff. But before we leave it in this blog entry, let’s take a look at a few things I noticed up there.
First, below to the left, there were little spikey wires poking out of all of the steel above us. I guess they were concered that fans would want to hang from the beams in the roof:
Second, above to the right, the facade seems much more substantial at this version of Yankee Stadium. To me, the facade at the last Yankee Stadium looked cheap and flimsy. In person, I always thought it was massively unimpressive. This facade is much better.
Third, Yankee Stadium features noticable divisions between the *classes*. Field level tickets of any variety are ridiculously overpriced and should only be purchased by people with a lot of money to waste. But only the ridiculously non-cost conscious buyers can or should ever purchae tickets in the first ten or so rows. And to protect their unwise investment and egos, those ridiculously non-cost conscious get a moat to protect them from ever having to deal with the *merely rich* patrons who sit behind them in the field level, and special braclets so a *ridiculously rich* patron cannot give his or her ticket to a normal person upon exiting the Legends Suite. Sure, they can give up their ticket stub. But without the bracelet, the normal person doesn’t stand a chance of crossing the moat into the promised land. Here is a little visual illustration:
We left the upper deck seating because we decided to head out to the concourse behind the bleachers to play a little catch. On the way down the stairs, we stopped so Tim could watch the 4-train go by:
If you watched this game on TV, did you see that great catch Nolan Reimold made going into the stands in foul territory down the LF line? If you did, you’re lucky. These people were at the game and sitting in their seats, but they missed it.
Finally, we made our way to the narrow concourse behind the bleachers in LF. This should be about the worst spot in all of MLB to play catch at a game. It is way too narrow and gets way too much foot traffic. But I was amazed on July 2nd that none of the billion guards shut us down when we played catch for a long, long time during the Mariners victory over the Yankees.
But at this game, *amazement* simply doesn’t do the situation justice.
We started playing catch and a guard came over while I was holding the ball and started to grab the ball out of my hand in super-awkwardly-odd slow motion. Then he started grabbing my glove. I had no clue what was going on. Was this guy confiscating my glove and ball? It made no sense. Utterly confused, I questioned him:
Todd – “What’s going on here?”
Usher – “I want to play catch with your son.”
What? That was the last thing I was expecting. Not only was this guy condoning our playing catch in a busy and narrow concourse, he wanted in on the action! This is not your 2008 Yankee Stadium!”
Unfortunately…or maybe fortunately, things didn’t go as smoothly after I gave up my glove. The usher tossed the ball to Tim…
We all stood and watched in slow motion as the ball rolled directly into a hole in the wall:
The guy felt terrible. The ball was several feet back in there in some digusting looking water (with a partially eaten pretzel).
Another stadium attendant came over to discuss the situation. After a few seconds, he said, “Wait here. I’ll go get you a new ball from downstairs.”
The usher who threw the ball also left. He then came back with a big piece of metal (it looked like a drywall corner reinforcer) that he bent into a hook. With it, he successfully retrieved our ball. After he gave it back, he told us to stay put so we still get the replacement ball from the other attendant, and he thanked Tim for playing catch with him.
A few minutes later, the other attendant came back and handed us a real baseball. He put it in my hand and said, “This is a batting practice home run from before the game.”
Sweet! All in all, I think this catching session turned out idealy. First, we played catch. Second, we lost a ball making a fun memory with a stadium attendant. Third, we got our ball back. Fourth, we got a BP homerun despite missing all of BP. Outstanding!
Next, we parted ways with the usher and headed through the concourse under the bleachers (below center). We saw the entrance to the Mohegan Sun View Obstructor…oops…once again, I mean Sports Bar. Then we headed toward the 3B line field level standing room area. (On the right below is another random hallway that I’d never seen before. It is behind the food court area behind 3B and, I think, it leads to the Great Hall.
Jeter struck out again to end the game:
Actually, that isn’t the final strike (but I will pretend it is).
We headed down into the seats to watch the post-game festivities — random milling about by Yankees employees, etc. Really, I just wanted to get down there to try to get a picture with Tim.
But before getting a picture, we saw Jeremy Guthrie signing autographs by the end of the dugout. He signed and signed and signed and signed. He took pictures with fans. And he signed some more. Of course, we couldn’t go down there (even after the game its off limits for the normal fans).
But I’d heard that Guthrie was a cool guy. So I yelled out to him, “Hey, Jeremy!” He looked up but couldn’t find me at first. He went back to signing. I yelled again, “Hey, Jeremy!” Finally, he spotted me. I held up Tim’s newly acquired BP homerun ball. He looked a little conflicted for a second. You could see him thinking in his head. “Should I? Should I?” Finally, after a couple seconds, he nodded “okay” to me.
He signed another ball for some kid and then he looked back up to me and raised his hands as if to say, “throw it!” I complied. I took a picture (below to left) of him signing our ball:
After he signed the ball, he threw it back so delicately you’d think he was in an egg toss competition. The ball fell short. I would have gloved it but someone below reached up and intercepted it. But he’d seen the whole thing play out and he immediately returned it to us upon making the INT. Guthrie looked a little embarrassed about the bad throw and gave me a “oops, sorry” gesture with his hands.
Here is Tim’s ice cream helmet with the Guthrie autograph ball:
Finally, an usher took our picture before asking us to head out of the stadium:
We milled about a little more before leaving, and I took this panaramic view:
If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you can see that Guthrie is still down there signing and posing for pictures. Notice that the tarp is now out (it wasn’t out in the picture of me and Tim). I think he stayed there until he signed for every single fan who possibly wanted an autograph (well, those who were in the Legends Suite at least).
Then we headed out of the stadium.
On the way to the subway, I took a picture of the old stadium, which now looks like a long forgotten mess:
It appeared as if the upper deck was green. I couldn’t tell if it was moss or what. It is funny that this place was celebrated and made out to be the best place ever last season, but now it looks like this:
We definitely made the right choice in going to NYC for a satisfying Yankees loss rather than going to South Philadelphia to see Ryan Madson blow Jamie Moyer’s win.
In related news, Tim is officially a Yankee Killer! In three career games involving the Yankees, the Mariners have two wins and the Orioles have one win. The Yankees are 0-3. Excellent!
Season Fan Stats:
12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
23 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
26 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
5 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry)
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)