For months, we planned to visit Citi Field on August 25, 2012, for our only Astros game of the season. It was going to be our best opportunity of the season to try to get our hands on one of the Astros 50th Anniversary commemorative baseballs, we had already caught at least one of each of the other five 2012 regular-season commemorative baseballs.
A couple days beforehand, I bought our tickets on stubhub. The night before, we were all set to head up to Citi Field.
And then I realized something: no one had bought the Phillies-Nationals tickets we had listed on stubhub! Oye!
I put our Mets-Astros tickets back on stubhub, took a loss when they resold, but avoided the bigger loss that would have resulted from not selling or using the Phillies tickets. And, just like that, we had a new plan for August 25, 2012: Nationals-Phillies at Citizens Bank Park!
It was only Kellan’s second Phillies game ever.
We arrived before the games opened. While in line, we played a little catch, ate some snacks, and hung out with the Tishlers (center)…
…, Tami (mom), Harrison (son), and Seth (dad).
The Tishlers are a fun family that we have run into and spent some time with at several Phillies games this season. Twelve-year-old Harrison is an up-and-comer on MyGameBalls.com, and Seth brings his glove and likes to get in on BP action as well.
Tim loves hanging out with older kids and he always has a blast hanging out with Harrison. While waiting in line, Tim whipped out his camera and took a picture of himself and Harrison:
When the gates opened, Tim and I ran over to the LF seats and Kellan enjoyed the ride on my shoulders. We’ve only ever got one “hit” baseball at Citizens Bank Park, a BP homerun at Kellan’s first Phillies game that bounced around in the seats before I grabbed it.
But almost right off the bat this happened:
Kellan and I were standing at the green dot (he was still on my shoulders). Tim was standing just to my right, closer to the foul pole. A Phillies batter hit a homerun directly over our heads. I turned around watched it hit off the first seat in about row 10 or so. It ricocheted on a single bounce right to me. I casually lifted my glove and caught it right in front of my head and Kellan watched on from above.
That was the first hit baseball that I have ever caught with Kellan on my shoulders. I thought it was pretty cool, but Seth really thought it was great. He was all smiles and quickly let me know that he thought it was awesome how casually I caught the ball with Kellan up there.
Before going on, I should point out the guy in the last picture who is standing closest to the camera wearing a dark Phillies shirt and his son in the front row (left of the green dot) wearing a Phillies jersey. About 10 minutes after I took that picture, the guy approached me and asked if I had a blog. He didn’t seem to know us by name, but he had read our blog and recognized us from our Mariners gear. He was a nice guy. Unfortunately, I can’t remember his name. He introduced us to his son and several other family members. I think he said that he has been to about 17 MLB stadiums. The best thing about the interaction was how he asked who we were. He asked me something like, “Are you the guy who takes his son all over to different MLB stadiums and takes tons of pictures of everything?” While I don’t know if I am “the” guy, I definitely am “a guy” who does that.
The clouds started to sprinkle the tiniest little bit of rain. So we headed over to the back of the one foul territory section that is open during the first hour of BP and took cover under the second deck seats.
Shortly after arriving there, a security guard came over and asked if it was the boys’ first Phillies game. I pointed at Tim and said, “He’s been to lots of Phillies games,” and then pointing to Kellan, “and this is his second Phillies game.”
I didn’t see it yet. But I had the strong feeling that the guy had a baseball and wanted to give it to a kid experiencing his first game. We certainly do not meet that criteria and I didn’t want to pretend we did. When he did, in fact, pull out a baseball, I practically tried to talk him out of giving it to us. But he also didn’t seem like he wanted to make the effort to find another little kid who might be at his/her first game. So he gave the baseball to Kellan:
(By the way, that is the same baseball in both pictures). It was our 109 baseball of the season, setting a new Cook family single-season record.
Even though he didn’t get to make a true baseball rookie’s day like he had originally planned, I’m pretty sure he was happy with his decision to give the baseball to Kellan because Kellan gave him the cutest 2-year-old “Thaaaaaank you!” which gave the guy a chuckle and a huge smile.
Thanks, security guard guy!
Just before the security guard found us, I had opened a bag of cheesy rice cakes, which we refer to as “pirates.” When the guy handed the baseball to Kellan, his fingers were already a cheesy mess.
Tim and Kellan kept throwing back the pirates like they were going out of style:
Normally, we head out to the pizza wedge when the rest of the stadium opens. But we decided to head down the LF line to watch the Nationals pitchers warm up because we had heard recently that they were using old commemorative baseballs (Shea Stadium and Nationals Park) from 2008.
Just before the rest of the stadium opened, three of the Nats coaches were hanging out down the LF line, with one of them sitting in the seats:
When we got down there, Tim and Kellan got the most hilarious picture ever with Steve McCatty, the only one coach who was still down there.
We watched the Nats pitchers warm up…
…and it appeared that none of them were using commemorative baseballs.
The highlight (or maybe lowlight?) of our time over on the foul line was that someone hit a foul ball in our direction. It was going to land several rows below us. The Tishlers were right there, but they were focused on the Nats pitchers.
I screamed, “HEEEEEEEEADDDDS UPPPPPPPP!!!!!”
It didn’t help.
The ball nailed Seth in the shoulder.
Once the Nats pitchers began to disburse, the boys and I relocated to the pizza wedge. Two Nats were hanging out in RCF. One of them fielded a baseball near us and tossed it up to us…
…before walking back to our spot. It was Tom Gorzelanny (T.G. in the picture above).
Now, the baseballs the pitchers were using along the LF line were from the pitchers baseball bag. The baseball that Gorzelanny tossed to us was a batted ball from the BP bucket, and we were very happy to find it was 2008 Shea Stadium final season baseball!
Double thanks, Tom!
I was very happy for us to get one of the 2008 Shea Stadium baseballs because Tim and I went to a Phillies-Mets game during the final month of baseball at Shea Stadium.
I soon overheard someone mention that they had caught a 2008 Nationals Park inaugural season baseball.
Now remember “S.B.” in that picture above? That’s Sean Burnett. I had no clue who it was at the time. But at one point, a nearby fan started chatting with him a little bit and I overheard the fan call him “Sean.” The second he finished chatting with the fan and turned around to walk back to Gorzelanny, I called out, “Hey, Sean!” When he turned around, I made a bold move, I asked Burnett if he came across a Nationals Park commemorative baseball during BP if he would toss it up to us. Without hesitation, Burnett said, “Sure!”
A few minutes later, he caught a fly ball right by us and tossed up to us a beautiful 2008 Nationals Park commemorative baseball!
Look at these two beauties:
Before long, the Tishlers arrived on the scene. I got a picture of Tim and Harrison in the tip of the pizza wedge, but Kellan wanted nothing to do with being in the picture:
Harrison had snagged a baseball or two, but no commemoratives. He really wanted to get one of each of the 2008 commemoratives. Before too long, someone tossed a Nats Park baseball to Harrison.
As BP progressed, a couple No. 1 overall picks made their way out to CF. Bryce Harper was only out there for a short time…
…until he had to go take his hacks in the cage.
But Stephen Strasburg spent a bunch of time out there shagging fly balls:
When one of his teammates hit a baseball to the CF warning track, Strasburg ran over, fielded the ball and tossed it up to us. It was another Nationals Park commemorative baseball.
Now, I don’t really remember the timing of this hit. But at some point during BP, one of the Nationals hit a homerun over the pizza wedge:
It hit the back wall of the Phillies’ bullpen, and rolled out in the grass between the bullpen mound and bullpen plates. While still focusing on the field in hopes of getting a Shea Stadium baseball, Harrison also set his sights on the homerun baseball waiting in the bullpen.
Toward the end of BP, a Nationals batter hit a homerun directly to us. We were in the first row of the pizza wedge (section 101). Kellan was standing in front of me leaning on the railing and Tim was to my right. The baseball sailed right over Kellan and into my waiting glove.
I turned it over to find that it was another Shea Stadium commemorative. Tim immediately instructed me to, “Give it to Harrison! He needs a Shea ball.”
But Harrison said he wanted to get one on his own. I must admit, I was a bit relieved that Harrison didn’t want that baseball because it was the first BP homer I had ever caught on the fly at Citizens Bank Park.
So we turned our focus back to watching Harrison and hoping he would be able to snag a Shea Stadium baseball of his own. While we watched, Tim demolished some more cheesy pirates:
Well, some of them, as you can see above, escaped Tim’s mouth and found their way onto the warning track.
Eventually, the Phils cleared the field and, a bit later, Roy Halladay and the bullpen coaching crew headed out to the bullpen:
As Phils bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo (an all-round nice guy by all accounts) walked across RF and approached the warning track by the bullpens, Harrison told Tiamo that there was a left-over BP ball in the bullpen and asked if Tiamo would toss it up to him. In the picture above to the right, Tiamo is the guy in the middle (wearing No. 81). He happily obliged Harrison’s request and that baseball ended up being the Shea Stadium commemorative that had evaded Harrison during BP.
I wanted to snap some pictures of Roy Halladay warming up before the boys and I departed the pizza wedge for the play area. But he took his sweet time getting ready to throw. After visiting the bullpen mound to grab a baseball from the bag, (shown above), Halladay headed out into CF where he and Erik Kratz (who I had never heard of before at the time) did some stretching while lying on the ground:
Although we are a Rawlings family, I liked the look of Halladay’s Nike glove. But doesn’t that just seem weird? A Nike glove? I am all about Nike shoes, but I am going to keep my Nikes on my feet and continue to let Rawlings outfit my glove hand (and Tim’s and Kellan’s too).
Roy then slowly made his way to the little boys room in the bullpen (and the following shot also includes a better shot of Tiamo):
And then he did a bunch of stretching against the CF wall…
…before finally starting to play catch with Kratz:
We decided it was time for a little gaming. Last season, the Phils had a speed pitch, a trivia game, and a running the bases (in place) game. This season, Chickie’s and Pete’s has taken over the speed pitch area and only the trivia and base running games are left. But Tim has fun with both of them:
The trivia game asks all Phillies trivia. Tim knows none of the answers and I know very few. But sometimes we get lucky on them. The base running game is pretty funny to watch. Each time we did it, Kellan would run about 5-10 steps and then just stop to watch Tim run.
From there, we headed on to the nacho stand and then the kids play area. Kellan hadn’t had any real lunch (just snacks) following his nap so I hoped he would eat nachos with me while Tim played in the play area. That was silly. He ate 2-3 cheesy chips, but all he wanted to do was play.
I released him first into the little kids portion of the play area:
But he really wanted to go into the big kids play area. I thought it was too big for him. But Tim did some excellent big brothering. He took Kellan up into big playarea and showed him all around. It was really cute. I could see Tim showing and explaining stuff to Kellan up there. They posed for a picture together in one of the spheres:
And they even climbed all the way to the very top so they could ride the big spiraling slide all the way to the bottom:
Kellan had a blast with his brother and the other big kids. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable with Kellan going up there alone yet, but he did great with Tim.
The game started while we were walking to the playarea. Halladay retired the Nationals in order in the top of the first and then Phillies scored two runs on RBI singles by Chase Utley and John Mayberry.
Finally, I decided it was time to head to the seats. But one our way, we swung by the ice cream spot in the concourse behind 3B. I always ask for a tray with our ice cream, but for some reason I failed to do so this time. With an ice cream helmet in each hand and Kellan on my shoulders, Tim and I began the long walk from the 3B side, around the scoreboard in LF, behind the batters’ eye, and to our seats in section 104 (RF). It wasn’t overly hot at this game. In fact, it was somewhat pleasant. But that didn’t prevent both helmets from melting down and dropping all over my shoes on the walk. It was pretty crazy, after the game, you could clearly tell that I had held Tim’s chocolate-vanilla twist in my right hand and Kellan’s vanilla helmet in my left hand.
I dropped the boys and the ice cream in our seats in row 14 and then quickly ran 20 feet over to the nearest concession stand to get trays for the boys to use to hold their helmets. Finally, we were ready to eat ice cream…
…and watch some baseball:
That last picture is from the top of the fifth inning. In that picture, Roy Halladay is pitching to Kurt Suzuki and Danny Espinosa is leading off first base. Espinosa and Roger Bernadina had already both hit singles in the inning.
While Suzuki was hitting, Bernadina was over at second behind held closed by Chase Utley:
Suzuki singled to load the bases. Gio Gonzalez failed to help his own cause. He put the ball in play, but Bernadina was forced out at home plate.
But rookie Steve Lombardozzi came through for Gonzalez. He hit a single to CF that scored Espinosa and Suzuki to tie the score at 2-2. Bryce Harper grounded out to end the inning, but the damage was done. Halladay’s lead was gone and we had a new ball game.
Just like old times in Philadelphia, look who was patrolling RF:
We didn’t stick around too long in our seats. The boys needed some real food. So we got out of there. At our last Phils game, Tim and I got pizza and sat in the upper deck. We decided to do that again. But first we stopped by the RF councourse and played a few more games:
You get 1 or more stamps in a little book depending on how well you do in each game. The more stamps you collect the better prize you can get when you cash in your stamps. Tim collected 10 stamps which were good enough for a Citizens Bank Park pencil and this weird “water bottle”:
It was much more “bag” than it was “bottle” but Tim loves it. We filled it up and headed up to the upper deck in search of pizza.
We got a picture of the boys and the Liberty Pig:
Finally, we grabbed some pizza…
…and found some seats in section 424:
The Phils regained the lead in the bottom of the 6th inning when John Mayberry, Jr. hit a solo homerun to LF. They tacked on an insurance run in the 8th inning on a sacrifice fly, also hit by Mayberry.
During the late innings, the Phillie Phanatic pumped up the crowd from the top of the Phils’ first base dugout…
…and Kellan was super-excited about it:
As it got to the 8 inning, we decided to walk down to the field level concourse. We were considering making an attempt at an umpire ball, which is always difficult at Citizens Bank Park, but we weren’t certain. We figured we’d just go down and check out the situation first.
On our way out of section 424, we had an usher take our picture:
And then we started a long walk down the concourse to the RF corner and then back-and-forth down the switch-back ramps to the field level:
When we finally got down to the field level where the red line turns into a green line, I realized something. When we sat down in section 424, I had set Tim’s new water bottle down on the ground behind our seats. I had a sneaking suspicion that I had left it there. We stopped and checked my backpack. Nothing.
So we followed the green line (which is a magic line that shows through the seats) up a set up stairs and all the way back to section 424.
This whole walking process took so long that it was already the bottom of the ninth when we retrieved the water bottle. We grabbed a standing room spot behind the 300-level seats to watch the final three outs of the game. While Jonathan Papelbon warmed up for the Phils, Tim posed with his new missing tooth hole:
And then Paps got to work. He struck out Jayson Werth and induced a fly ball out from Roger Bernadina.
The Nats hopes came down to Danny Espinosa:
But on this pitch (the third pitch of the at bat)…
…, Papelbon struck out Espinosa to record the “W” for the Phillies.
It was a little weird seeing the final out from the upper deck. That doesn’t happen too often for us. Before we headed out of there, we had an usher take one more picture of the three of us…
…as the Phillies celebrated in the background.
Then we slowly made our way to our car.
All around, the whole day was a lot of fun. I like the slightly less packed Citizens Bank Park of 2012. Two thumbs up!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|21/19 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|
|33 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|113 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, 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 2, Braves 1|
|21 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2|
|11/11 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; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank 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|
Shea Stadium – New York Mets
Shea Stadium upper reserve section 10, row M, seat 7:
Shea Stadium mezzanine section 19, row A, seat 7:
Here’s a random, non-game-entry post for your Wednesday night.
You might have noticed from our blog that I like to take a lot of pictures, to visit a lot of stadiums, and to make things out of wood (usually baseball bats). Well, these three passions come together on the wall of my home office. Last season, I made 5″ x 7″ frames to display pictures from the 9 stadiums Tim and I had visited together to that point. (FYI, that includes Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Yankee Stadium (1923), Great American Ball Park, Progressive Field, PNC Park, Shea Stadium and Chase Field).
Well, last weekend, I finally updated my wall through the 2009 season (click to enlarge picture):
If you click on the picture, you will see that I added frames for the 9 new stadiums Tim and I visited in 2009: Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankees Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, H.H.H. Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular Field, and Rogers Centre.
By the way, all of the links take you to the game entries that correspond with the framed pictures.
Also, I guess I should mention two more things: In the 8″ x 10″ picture of Tim just left of center, Tim is standing in Rittenhouse Square in Center City Philadelphia, just before his first game at Citizens Bank Park (his second game of his life).
In the 8″ x 10″ picture just right of center, that is Ken Griffey, Jr. holding a sign that says “Hi Todd.” My mom had him pose for that picture on his first day of Spring Training in 2008 (literally, his first day back in a Mariners uniform) and my folks gave it to me for my birthday.
Its good to finally be caught up with my frames. However, soon the 2010 season will start and we are set to add Dodger Stadium, Angel Stadium Not of Los Angeles, Petco Park, AT&T Park and the Oakland-Alameda County Colesium. And, I’d really like to get to Comerica Park, but right now it is a long shot for 2010.
Its time to turn our panoramic attention toward the National League.
Scroll down to find: Chase Field, Great American Ball Park, Wrigley Field, PNC Park, Miller Park, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Shea Stadium, and Nationals Park.
Coming later in 2010: AT&T Park, Dodger Stadium, Petco Park and more of many of the above.
Chase Field – Arizona Diamondbacks
Chase Field section 115 (left) and section 114 (right):
Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles Dodgers (1962-present)
AT&T Park – San Francisco Giants (2000-present)
Petco Park – San Diego Padres (2004-present)
Wrigley Field – Chicago Cubs
Wrigley Field section 422 (approximately):
Wrigley Field section section 235, Row 11, Seat 4 (obstructed view of second base):
Great American Ball Park – Cinncinati Reds
Great American Ball Park section 140, row Z:
PNC Park – Pittsburgh Pirates
PNC Park from atop the standing area spiral concourse:
Miller Park – Milwaukee Brewers
Miller Park section 422:
Citizens Bank Park – Philadelphia Phillies
Citizens Bank Park section 421 (left) and section 420 (right):
Citizens Bank Park section 423:
Citi Field – New York Mets
Citi Field from Willets Point subway platform (7-Train):
Citi Field section 15 in the Sterling Club seats:
Citi Field section 12 (left) and section 11(right) in the Sterling Club seats:
Citi Field section 526 row 9 seats 14-15:
Shea Stadium – New York Mets
Shea Stadium upper reserve section 10, row M, seat 7:
Shea Stadium mezzanine section 19, row A, seat 7:
Nationals Park – Washington Nationals
Nationals Park section 316:
Nationals Park section 101 (left) and section 102 (right):
There you go. That is every NL panoramic ballpark view I have created and posted on our blog so far. I love doing these, so check back in the future and there will be some new panaramics mixed in with these one.
When early September 2008 rolled around, I thought to myself, “Self, Tim has never been to Shea Stadium and it is about to close. Let’s not let that happen without getting Tim up to Queens.”
So, early in the morning on September 7, 2008, Tim and I hopped in the car and made our way up to Manhatten. As is my standard practice, we parked on the upper west side. We then walked with Tim on my shoulders from approximately 84th & Amsterdam to 42nd & Seventh Ave. After a 7-train ride from Times Square station to Willets Point, we arrived at Shea Stadium.
It was a day-night doubleheader. We would attent only the day game. As we made our way up to our seats in Upper Reserve section 10, Row M, the visitors’ dugout (occupied by the Phillies) welcomed us to Shea:
And here was our view of Shea from the upper deck:
At least as I perceived it, Shea always got a bad rap. Particularly, because everyone glorified Yankee Stadium (which to me was utterly unimpressive — particularly when compared to the other “old” ballparks, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park). Anyway, I always liked Shea Stadium. I probably attended 8 games total at Shea between 2000-2008 and I always found it to be a much more pleasant place to watch a ballgame than its neighbor in the Bronx.
Some kind Mets fan agreed to take our picture:
Note how Citi Field appears to be about 2 feet away from Shea beyond the outfield fence. I was both amazed and saddened the following April when Tim and I attended our first game at Citi Field and we discovered that Shea was already demolished and hauled away.
Soon, it was time for the game to begin. The atmosphere in the stadium was electric. The Phillies and Mets are pretty big rivals. Entering the day, the Mets were leading the Phillies atop the N.L. East by two games.
The pitching was an epic battle between two “old goats” — my favorite pitcher of all-time, Jamie Moyer, and future Hall of Famer, Pedro Martinez…
Early on, both old goats were dealing…
In the second inning, Pedro walked Jayson Werth. Former Mariner Greg Dobbs followed with a double, Matt Stairs with a sac fly, and Carlos Ruiz hit a double. And just like that, the Phillies led 2-0.
Two batters Pedro did manage to retire in the second were Ryan Howard and Jamie Moyer…
It was a big snack day for Tim. We started off with some french fries. Then, it was time for a Shea Stadium Mets ice cream helmet:
Here are a couple stadium views from inside the concourses and ramps on our way down to the field level…
Moyer was still pitching a gem.
Since the stadium would soon be history, I wanted to document as much of it as possible. Here is a stadium map that hung inside the concourse behind section 31 in the Loge level:
As you can see, the standing room area is in an inside concourse with a screen in front of it. Back in 2003, I watched almost an entire game from the corresponding standing room area down the LF foul line. Its a nice little spot. Interestingly, that other game I watched from the standing room area was also part of a Sunday doubleheader and it was also a 7 inning, 2 hit, zero earned run win by Jamie Moyer.
Tim and I hung out there a little while so Tim could run around in circles.
Here is a panoramic view of Shea Stadium from the seats closest to the standing room area:
….which I thought was pretty interesting. Seems like most stadiums have ketchup and mustard pumps, not little packets. I wonder if someone bought this ketchup and mustard contraption once the Mets started trying to sell off any-and-everything from Shea Stadium. Actually, if you want one of these, click here.
We saw that there were plenty of empty seats toward the home plate area. This wasn’t a planned doubleheader and it wasn’t a make-up of a game from early in the season. No. This game was supposed to be played the night before. In fact, we had planned to attend the game on September 6th. Anyway, it appeared that some of the people who planned to attend the game on the 6th couldn’t make it on the 7th. And we were the beneficiaries.
I snapped some pictures of the Phillies stellar corps of infielders on our way to our final seats of the day…
…Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmie Rollins each had one hit on the day. But the big hitting star of the day was Greg “The Dobbers” Dobbs who was 2-4 with a 3-run 4th inning homerun off of Pedro Martinez. He also scored 2 runs. After the 4th inning, the Phillies led 6-0.
And here are our final seats of the day in (I believe) section 215:
And it was nice to see Mets first basemen and big-time slugger, Carlos Delgado…
Here is a shot of the Phillies dugout and the Mets logo behind home plate as Shane “The Flying Hawaiian” Victorino approaches the plate:
Moyer lasted 7 innings before Scott Eyre came in and gave up the only two Mets runs in the 8th inning. The Phillies won the game by a final score of 6-2 to move to 1-game back of the Mets. In the nightcap, Johan Santana beat Cole Hamels and the Mets re-took a 2-game lead in the N.L. East, a lead they would build to 3.5 games a few days later and then squander to miss the playoffs completely.
This was the 14th to last game game at Shea Stadium. It was great to add Shea to Tim’s baseball stadium resume. We got one more picture to commemorate the day…
On our way out of Shea Stadium for the final time, I took a picture of the four seating decks above the field level…
Goodbye, Shea Stadium.
For a while, I’d been wanting to go back to Citi Field for a second game. We’d gone in April when the Stadium was just two weeks old. I wasn’t a huge fan of it then. It was too crowded and I felt like we couldn’t get anywhere near the field.
Well, a few weeks ago, I found a pair of $25/ticket upper deck tickets on Stub Hub for $3 each. We couldn’t pass it up.
I was excited to see Citi Field again, not only because I knew it would be far less crowded due to the Mets poor performance but, because it would be our first game ever in the month of October. Plus, I was hoping we’d get a ball — our first ever in Queens.
We started out early by driving to New York (or as Tim says “You Nork”) and, as the picture below shows…
…we headed through the Lincoln Tunnel, parked in the Upper West side, hopped on the C-Train at 81st Street, transferred to the 7-Train at 42nd, watched all of the graffiti go by in the rooftops of Queens, and arrived at Citi Field at about 11:40 a.m.
We entered the stadium through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and headed up the escalator toward LF to see if there would be BP taking place. After getting denied access to the field section behind the 3B dugout, we headed down the line and grabbed a spot on the railing by LF. The Astros were hitting and this was our view:
There were two Astos pitchers shagging balls down in the LF corner and Tim was watching them like a hawk:
In the picture above to the left, the middle guy is Samuel Gervacio and the guy on the right is Wilton Lopez. Lopez was having a grand old time toying with the crowd. On every ball he caught, he faked like he was going to toss into the stands and then he’d turn around with an ear-to-ear smile and throw it in toward the bucket. Eventually, former Astro and current Astros coach Jose Cruz (above to the far left) walked out to LF with his fungo bat.
As by strolled by, I asked him, “Hey, coach, can you fungo a ball up here for my son?” He nodded “yes” and pointed at Tim as if to say, “Is that him?” I nodded, “Yes.”
Meanwhile, Lopez was taunting the crowd with yet another ball. Quitely but very authoritatively, Cruz called out to Lopez and motioned for the ball. Lopez’s face instantly turned from playful-kid to serious-and-respectful. He toss the ball to Cruz without hesitation.
Cruz turned around and tossed me this:
“Thanks, Mr. Cruz!”
Tim was a little upset that he did’t catch it himself. He got bit by the catching bug, I guess, after meeting up with Ryan Rowland-Smith in Toronto the previous weekend.
At this point, Tim was just wearing his socks and his shoes were in my backpack. I told him to put on his shoes so we could head out to the OF and poke around. He wasn’t too interested in his shoes. So, I popped him up on my shoulders and we walked to the LF seats. On our way, I heard, “Hey, Todd!” I looked up and it was Alex K. from “Riveravenue.” We’d met Alex in Chicago at Tim’s 30th MLB team milestone game. We’d exchanged some emails and knew we might run into each other at this game.
As we went over and started chatting with Alex, I heard another voice call out, “Hi Todd and Tim.” It was Joe from “Baseballexperiences.” I’d never met Joe before, but I’d read about him on Zack Hample’s Blog and, through Zack, on his own blog.
Joe introduced himself and said he reads our blog. Its always cool to meet people from MLBlogs. And these guys would turn out to be extremely cool and fun to roam around the stadium with at several points during the day. They were absolutely great with Tim and he couldn’t get enough of them.
We started by chatting and then a picture:
Joe is on the left and Alex is holding Tim on his lap as he reclines on the back of a seat in LF. Note that Tim is holding his shoe. We pulled the old Billy Madison “everyone my age __________, its the coolest!” trick on Tim (we filled in the blank with “wears shoes”), and it worked like a charm. Tim was happy to wear his shoes after seeing that Joe and Alex were also wearing shoes.
Tim then showed off his first Citi Field ball to his new “guys”:
After a few minutes, one of the guys asked if Tim and I wanted to go over to the dugout. I said we couldn’t because we had upper-deck tickets. They both assured us it was no problem. Joe had an extra ticket on him — maybe it was his dad’s, I’m not sure. Anyway, we were up for checking out the restricted area so we followed Joe:
The guy standing a couple sections in front of Joe in the green jacket asked “do you guys have tickets over here?” Joe flashed his ticket and the guy responded, “Yep, you do, head on in, guys.” I think he automatically assumed we all had the right tickets. He didn’t seem too concerned about checking the rest of our tickets, but I showed our loaner ticket anyway.
And that easily, we were behind the dugout where there was hardly anyone in the stands. This was our view:
…and it worked. Alex and Joe both called out, “Hey, Stech,” to Astros bullpen coach Strech Suba (I think he’s the bullpen coach, at least). I think Suba threw three balls over. Tim and I got one. Joe got one. And, I think (but am not positive) that Alex got one as well. A big time assist and thank you to Alex and Joe for that ball.
Tim was looking the other way when Suba threw us the ball. As I caught it, he turned his head to look toward Suba. My glove was above his head and I instantly transferred the ball from my glove to my bare hand and from my bare hand to Tim’s glove. I then erupted with, “Tim, you just caught that ball!” Joe and Alex followed suit with a lot of enthusiasm. Tim was fooled, and was happy to have “caught” another ball himself.
All of a sudden Astros pitcher LaTroy Hawkins was standing right by us (and was photographed by Tim):
Joe and Alex, along with some other people, went over to see if he was autographing. But he announced to everyone in the section that he wasn’t signing. He was chatting with his friends who he doesn’t get to see much because (he said) he doesn’t get to NYC much. He stood there and chatted with some people for a long time.
BP ended and Alex and Joe suggested we head out to the kids’ play area — they were always thinking about what would make the day more fun for Tim.
When we got there, Tim and Alex posed by the fence showing off the auto-repair slums across the street from Citi Field…
We waited through the line for the whiffle ball field. Before hitting, Tim cycled through the OF:
By the way, the auto-slums are just to the left of the 3B line of the whiffle ball field.
Next, Tim had his chance at bat. You only get a couple hits before you round the bases. But Tim loved it:
In the top left, we see Tim taking a hack on the whiffle ball field’s jumbo screen. Top right, two fielders make an effort for the ball but Tim shots it between them for a liner off of the LF wall. Then it was time to round the bases.
Tim loved the whiffle ball field.
Next, we parted ways with Alex and Joe. They went to watch the Astros play catch down the RF line. Tim and I went into the second deck to look down at the field and the home run apple:
Then it was time to grab an ice cream helmet and some seats in section 122 (I still had the ticket Joe gave me — he told me to keep it):
To the left, you see our view of the plate. To the right, Alex took a shot of us as Tim scarfed down his chocolate ice cream with sprinkles. By the way, I just mentioned Alex again. He and Joe saw us in our seats and came and sat by us in the first inning.
This was our field view:
Remember how I said we got $3 tickets because people were disenchanted with the Mets by this point in the season? Well, check out the empty seats to our left and right:
I took my only action shots in the first inning. Miggie Tejada laced this pitch up the middle for a line single to CF:
In the bottom of the first, the third out was made at first. The Astros first basemen (who is that, Berkman?), ran over to the dugout and a cluster of kids gathered in the first row to ask for the third out ball. Alex said, “hold on, I have to run down there.”
As he left our row, Berkman launched the ball over all of the kids. It was like it was in slow motion. Alex left us at the perfect time. It was like he was a wide receiver being led by a deep bomb. He and the ball converged just as it reached head level. And then he ran back up showing off the third out ball:
After the second inning, Tim was getting restless. I asked him if he wanted to go see the Pepsi Porch in RF (second deck)…where I told him he could see the train passing back-and-forth. He did.
On the way, we stopped by the Jackie Robinson Rotunda to get pictures with the big 42 (Tim took the picture of me and the 42):
Here is a panaramic view from the bridge leading out to the Pepsi Porch:
Here was the view from the top:
We continued touring around the upper deck. I decided to head back to the home plate area of the upper deck. On the way, I took a panaramic view into the stadium from the back side of the upper deck concourse:
See all of the glass on the second deck across the stadium — behind the LF foul pole? That’s a restaurant. I asked Alex and Joe if they’d ever gone there. One of their dad’s had been and wasn’t impressed. There is a deck at the bottom of the restaurant (outside the glass), but apparently they won’t let people out on the deck because they made the railing too short and fear that people will fall into the field level.
Back to the tour. Here is the view from the upper deck behind home plate:
Due to the Sterling Club and suites that close-off the main concourse from the field behind home plate, and the railings and ushers that keep the commoners from getting into the seats behind home plate, this is the best view most people will ever get from behing home plate at Citi Field.
As you approach Citi Field from the subway, you will notice that the upper deck seating behind home plate is set way back from the front of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda entrance. Well, in the upper deck there is a huge circular concourse area above the Rotunda and behind home plate. The ground has a huge baseball design built into it, which I thought looked nice. Along the outside of the concourse (the outer edge of the Rotunda roof), there are food stands, a team store (one of at least 3-4 at Citi Field). In the middle, there are standing tables where you can stand, eat your food and watch the game on yet another jumbo screen — this one hanging from the back of the upper deck seats:
I gotta admit, that’s pretty cool. They have a similar picnic area behind home plate and above the main enterance at Safeco Field, but people up there have no clue what is going on with the game. Nice touch, Mets. They have another one of these jumbo screens on the back of the CF scoreboard for the parents standing in the play area with their kids.
Speaking of CF, that was our next stop. This is the view from the concourse in deep CF:
With that, our touring was concluded and Tim wanted to take some hacks in the soft toss cage. There are two cages. One for little kids with soft toss or a batting tee (depending on the kid’s choice). The second has a slow pitching machine. Here is Tim in the soft toss cage:
Right after Tim hit in the cage, the rain started to pour down. It was the end of the fifth inning (an official game), and the umps called for a rain delay.
Tim and I trudged around in our rain gear until we eventually found ourselves back in the Rotunda. Tim saw some teenagers climb half-way up the “2” in Jackie Robinson’s big blue “42.” Tim wanted to do it too, but (a) it was too high and (b) dad was having none of it. By this time, it was about 2:30 or 3:00 pm, and Tim was ridiculously tired (no nap) and he lost it when he wasn’t allowed the scale the wet, slippery and tall 42.
As I tried to calm him down a bit, Alex and Joe found us. They tried their best to cheer him up but he was whiney and crying up a storm. Then, Alex asked him, “Tim do you want to go upstairs and play catch?” Instantly, Tim’s crying stopped on a dime. “Yes!!!,” he responded. “Ahh, HA!,” I said to Alex and Joe, “you’ve witnessed some of Tim’s classic fake crying!” One of them asked, “You were faking it, Tim?!” Tim responded, “well, I was a little sad.” Classic Tim, the actor!
We had time to kill. So next, we went and looked at all of the “game used” stuff the Mets had for sale in the field level concourse.
After looking at that stuff for a bit, Alex and Joe asked if we want to go into the Sterling Club. Now, the Sterling Club is the ultra-exclusive and pricey luxury club level area for all of the people with the big railed-off cushy seats behind home plate. Alex’s dad had got tickets somehow. After paying $3 per ticket, how could I pass up an opportunity for Tim and I to see the Sterling Club.
Joe and Alex entered the club. Safely inside, Alex passed off his ticket to Joe and came and passed it off to me. Joe then re-entered on his own. Tim and I strolled around a minute in the Rotunda and then headed up the Sterling Club escalator and into the club.
The lighting in there wasn’t friendly to my camera, all of my pictures came out blurry somehow. But he is some of what we saw:
In the top left, there is a ridiculously fancy looking restaurant, which looked out of place (and was totally empty) at a ballpark. See the red arrow in top middle of the restaurant? Its pointing to floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the visitors’ practice batting cage, which are pictured at the top right. For perspective, the restaurant is to the left as you enter the Sterling Club and it is located roughly behind the 3B dugout. As you view them in both of the top pictures, the field is to the left of the restuaurant and the visitors’ batting cage.
At the bottom left, there is a fancy bar (and Joe’s head). For perspective, the restaurant is behind me as I took that picture and home plate is behind the left side of the bar.
In the bottom right, we are sitting in a little nook in the far opposite side of the Sterling Club next to a bunch of windows overlookign the Mets batting cages (they have two cages, the visitors have only one). For perspective, the Mets (1B side) dugout is just behind and to the right of me as I took this picture.
At this end of the Sterling Club, there is another fancy bar. This one is more of a lounge style bar. The bar is across the back wall (opposite the field) and the rest of the room has scattered seating.
In that picture, we are drinking delicious FREE MILKSHAKES. It was the best chocolate milk shake I’d had in a long time.
Here is the view from the cushy Sterling Club seating behind home plate:
This lasted about 10 minutes before an usher shut us down.
Next, we decided to go check out the old home run apple from Shea Stadium. It is behind the bullpens in deep, deep, deep right CF. On our walk out there, it started to rain hard again. Here is a picture of Tim, Alex and a little girl staying dry under the top hat:
After spending some time by the bullpens and in the RF concourse (where Tim clanked Cow Bell Man’s cowbell, Tim and Joe ran several races and Alex and Joe swung Tim around by his feet and hands), the rain stopped!
We headed toward the 3B dugout just in time to witness the removal of the tarp:
Tim and I decided to hang out in LF. Almost everyone else decided to sit in the infield. As a result, if anyone was going to hit a homerun to LF, there would be great odds that we would collect our first ever home run ball. Check out how empty the OF was (heck, check out the whole stadium!):
In the top of the 9th inning (with the Mets winning), we moved to the infield and sat by the tunnel where we knew the umpires would leave the field after the game. Here was the excellent view:
Although we’d already got two balls on the day (our first ever in Queens), I wanted to get a ball from the umpire because it would be a commemorative Citi Field inaugural season ball — this would be our last and best opportunity to get one of those balls. Soon, Alex and Joe both turned up. They had the same idea.
Tim was ready to catch a foul ball (below to left)…
After chatting with Alex and Joe a little bit more, we said our good-byes (we’ll be keeping our eye out for those guys next season) and Tim and I headed to the 7-Train platform.
On the way out, I took the following night-time photo of Citi Field:
And that’s the story of our final national league game of the season. After this game, I have a much better feeling about Citi Field. I still don’t like the closed-off concourse behind home plate or the design of the standing room areas (no standing counters), but we had a great day in Queens. The following day, we’d be in Baltimore for the final game of the season.
Season Fan Stats:
32 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun (Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)
13 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, “Jacobs” Field, and Rogers Centre)
25 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
27 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
35 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 3 Astros, 2 Rangers, 2 Umpire, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
6 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry)
5 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, 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)