On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, we were right back at it for another Cubs-Cardinals rivalry game, the third game of the 2012 GFS Roadtrip.
The game was an odd 12:45 start. My dad and I debated what to do with regard to attending *BP* or just showing up for the game. We both suspected there would be no BP. In the end, my natural sense of “its-just-wrong-to-show-up-at-game-time” prevailed. We decided to take our chances with there not being BP.
As we approached the stadium, I pointed out a bunch of statues to Tim and mentioned that we should go check them out after the game, since there would still be plenty of day light after the game. Tim decided he couldn’t wait. He wanted to check them out ASAP.
My Dad and I agreed that he and Tim would go check out the statues while Kellan and I went to check out *BP* — or, more likely, pitchers’ pre-game warm ups.
Tim got creative and my dad took some wonderful posing-with-statues pictures at Busch Stadium’s LF entrance:
Meanwhile, Kellan and I headed into the stadium to find, in addition to several Cubs pitchers warming up down the LF line, the batting cage was set up for BP! We headed down the LF line. When the first set of pitchers finished throwing…
…super tall, Cubs pitcher Chris Volstad tossed us his warm up baseball.
Outside the stadium, Tim and my dad continued with some more serious statue poses:
Cut back to the field, there were still two sets of Cubs pitchers warming up along the LF line. There were a couple autograph seekers camped out down the foul line, but no one else seemed all that serious about catching a baseball. I figured our odds of getting another warm up ball were decent, provided that the pitchers didn’t notice that we got the ball from Volstad. To avoid that scenario, we moved about 10 rows back and walked over to the next section further away from the pitchers.
When Casey Coleman finished throwing with his Rafael Dolis…
…(he is the Cubs pitcher on the left)…I called out, “Hey, Casey!?” and I gave him a solid glove-flap when he looked at me.
BOOM – he chucked us his warm up baseball.
Back outside, Tim and Grandpa wrapped around the 3B side of the stadium and got a few more statue and other memorial pictures:
Meanwhile, Kellan and I (well, really, it was just my decision) decided to head out to RF where there was a tiny patch of shaded seats.
By the way, I ought to mention that I was fearful of the sun all day. The sun is Tim and Kellan’s kryptonite. Kellan seemed to like the relief from the sun:
This is what Busch Stadium looked like from our temporary spot out in section 127:
Before long, Tim and my dad met up with us in RF. Not soon after that, Shawn Camp…
…made a long toss to us after fielding a ball in RCF.
And he wasn’t done with us just yet.
The sun was still creeping in on us. So we retreated to the back of section 130:
Eventually, my dad and Tim headed down to the first row in the RF corner.
Kellan and I (again, really it was my decision) decided to head out to CF. Before I could even take a panorama, Tony Campana…
…tossed us a baseball.
Hey, thanks, Tony!
So, it was on to LF for us. On our way, we ran into Fredbird:
Kellan and I landed in section 172:
But it was just too sunny. We gave up pretty quick there.
Meanwhile, my dad and Tim were still in the RF corner…
…and so was Shawn Camp.
Tim remembered Camp’s name from ten minutes earlier when he’d thrown a ball to us. So when a ball was hit into an opening in the RF wall and Camp (for some odd reason) went after it, Tim waited for him to return with the ball. And then my precious, wee-little Tim called out, “Hey, Shawn, can you toss me the ball, please!?” (NOTE: I was 300 feet away and have no clue of the actual words, so I’m paraphrasing here). Camp responded in the affirmative.
And Tim gloved this baseball (and he and Grandpa went behind home plate so he could pose with it):
Thanks, again, Shawn!
And congratulations to my big boy, Tim, for getting this baseball 100% on his own!
Meanwhile, out in brutally hot and sunny LF, our main activities consisted of me taking pictures of the visitors bullpen…
…Kellan trying to run up the stairs to the concourse.
I took Kellan’s hint – he wanted out of the sun.
We walked the concourse toward CF where there is a “Welcome to Busch Stadium” sign…
…past the concession stands and tables in the deep CF concourse…
…and into the nice, completely shaded little-kids’ play area:
Kellan was the ONLY kid in there for a while. Eventually, Tim and Grandpa met us there and Tim and Kellan were the only kids in the play area, which was good for Tim. But the second another little kid showed up, the attendant told Tim he was too big for the play area.
So, while I took a panorama from the field from the play area…
…Grandpa took Tim to the speed pitch:
His best throw was 26 m.p.h., which he beat last year. But, hey, it is early in the season. He’s still getting “stretched out.”
The previous day, my dad hadn’t explored the upper deck at all. So we decided to explore up there as the game drew near.
We headed up the switch-back-ramp. On the second deck, I popped into the stairway between two suites and sections 230-229 to get this panoramic view of Busch Stadium:
We then got a picture of Tim and my dad with a “Busch Stadium” sign, which is on the back of the scoreboard:
And a partial panorama from the upper deck concourse:
Kyle Lohse’s first pitch of the game to David DeJesus???
It was a ball. His second pitch resulted in a line drive single to CF.
By default, we decided to watch the first inning unfold from the upper deck concourse in RF. As Tony Campana strode to the plate…
…Kellan practiced hanging from a railing.
Lohse’s first and only to Campana also resulted in a single to CF:
While all of this unfolded, our view from the concourse behind section 428 looked like this:
Lohse threw four pitches to the next batter, Starlin Castro. But Starlin turned that fourth pitch around for a third consecutive single to CF:
DeJesus scored on the play:
The Cubs followed Castro with a run-scoring double play (LaHair), double to CF (Alphonso Soriano), an RBI single to CF (Ian Stewart), and a fly out to RF.
Three outs and five hits to CF into the game, the Cubs led 3-0.
While the Cards muddled through the top of the first, I got a nice picture of Tim and Busch Stadium:
In their half of the first, the Cardinals scratched out three hits and plated two runs of their own. But we didn’t really see any of it because, after the top of the first, we walked around the upper deck a little bit so my dad could check it out.
My dad took this shot of Tim…
…with another St. Louis arch. This one was notable because it was the only “Pujols” I saw displayed in the ballpark. I am sure there are others somewhere, but they did a pretty good job of removing his presence around the stadium.
The fans were not quite as good. Many of them were still wearing Pujols jerseys and t-shirts, and at least a handful of those fans had used magic markers to put a big “X” through the “Pujols 5” on their backs. It’s too bad. The guy will undoubtedly go down as one of the best baseball players ever and he did incredible things for these guys while wearing a Cardinals jersey.
By my dad’s and my standards, it was a hot day, but no big deal. By Tim’s standards, it was like we were walking on the surface of the sun. Our seats were down on the field level in section 167. They were really nice tickets that I never should have bought for this day game. They were in the direct sunlight. I knew Tim would be miserable if we went down there. So we did just the opposite of what happens every day at MLB ballparks, we put our nice field level tickets away and we *snuck* up to the very last row of the upper deck down in section 440, which is down the 1B line.
This was our view:
It was actually really nice. Great view AND completely shaded.
It was made even a bit cooler by some nicely timed ice cream helmets:
Since we had eaten a nice breakfast not too long before coming to the game, I told Tim we could do a “switcheroo” and get ice cream first and lunch second. He was all for the switcheroo plan. In fact, he has suggested it at some other games since this one.
While we were eating a group of about 15 college gals came to claim their seats in the last row. So we had to move up to the second to last row.
The Cardinals scored again in the bottom of the second to knot up the score at 3-3.
Eventually, I asked Tim who he wanted to win. He was *crushed* the night before when he had picked the Cardinals and then they lost. He had a new plan today. He would wait to see the outcome of the game and THEN he would decide who he was supporting. Ah, a fool-proof method. He had to win!
While the boys chomped on their ice cream, I decided I should get some action shots. Here is one of the most interesting action shots I have ever captured:
I was completely confused about what happened on the play. So were the Cubs. They argued. The umpires deliberated:
But eventually they stuck with their initial call: Campana tried to pull back, but bunted the ball foul for strike three. He was out of there!
With two down in the top of the third, I was all set to capture another LaHair homerun. But after hitting a couple foul balls…
…he grounded out to Cardinals first basemen Matt Carpenter.
In the fifth inning with the score still tied at 3-3, we decided to grab some pizza for lunch and give our actual seats a try. They were beautiful:
But Tim just could not hack it. He was miserable. He couldn’t even last a half inning in the sun. I was fine leaving our seats mere minutes after sitting down in them because the lady directly behind me (who I will estimate was approximately 24 years old) literally dropped 2-3 f-bombs in every single sentence that came out of her mouth. I’m not easily offended…and I guess I wasn’t really offended here either, but this lady was ridiculous. In a ballpark full of kids and with two of them sitting literally 2 feet in front of you, an adult should know that they should note drop 100-200 f-bombs in a span of 10 minutes. I’m not joking with that number. Without any exaggeration, she dropped an f-bomb about every 5 words or so AND she talked constantly AND really loudly.
So, yeah, the seats were great, but I was fine getting my boys out of the pounding sun and profane atmosphere.
We needed shade, so we took refuge here…
…in the concourse just inside of Gate 4. It was a nice time and place for to call home and chat with mommy a bit.
Oh, I should mention that Matt Holliday hit a tie-breaking solo homerun in the fifth to put the Cardinals ahead 4-3.
After thwarting my efforts to capture his tenth homerun of the season a few innings earlier, Brian LaHair hit a blast in the top of the sixth that tied up the score, once again, at 4-4.
After eating and chatting with Colleen, we ended spending the rest of the game in the shady little kids’ play area in CF:
In Cardinals and Cubs swapped runs again in the seventh inning to make it 5-5.
While Kellan played, I was able to watch the action over the front wall of the play area enclosure. I was standing there in the eighth when Matt Carpenter put the Cardinals ahead 6-5 with this homerun:
If you click on that picture, you can see the homerun ball on the very top edge of the picture, directly above the catcher’s glove.
All the while, Kellan kept playing, sometimes in a manner that made him look like he is made of plastic:
After Carpenter’s homerun, Tyler Greene hit a triple and then Carlos Beltran pinch hit for the pitcher and drew an intentional walk.
That set up another cool action shot. Rafael Furcal followed with a hard hit grounder to 3B:
Greene got caught too far off the bag, there was a brief run down, and the Starlin Castro eventually tagged out Greene:
During some of the action, Grandpa took Tim to one of the big kid attractions – a cage where you could hit baseballs hanging from a metal arm. Tim had a great time taking some hard whacks at the ball and making it spin around the arm over-and-over-and-over:
And Kellan, he just kept playing in the play area:
Leading off the top of the ninth, Alphonso Soriano stepped to the plate. The announcer on the flat screen TV just above us commented that “Fonzie” can turn around a pitch pretty quick so Cardinals closer Jason Motte better pitch him carefully.
Well, he apparently did not, because “Fonzie” turned around the second pitch he saw for a deep, game-tying homerun to RF.
So it was 6-6 going into the bottom of the ninth.
For a dad who wants to watch the game, but has two kids who cannot stand the scorching hot sun and want to play around, this covered play area really was idea. I got tons of great action shots from my little spot on the play area wall.
But then some oblivious fan ruined my best one of the day:
It was a walk off double by Yadier Molina that scored Matt Holliday from second. As you can see, I captured Yadier a fraction of a second before he made contact with the game winning hit and right at the same time as this lady walked into my shot. (Queue the Debbie Downer sound effect).
Tim didn’t care about my photographic misfortune. By the end of the game, he was again set on the Cardinals winning.
Moments after the game ended and the other kids started to clear out, Tim leapt to the top of the big baseball glove toy and claimed victory as his:
ALL HAIL KING TIM!
Before leaving the stadium, I took one last Busch Stadium panorama from section 505:
And a nice lady who ended up asking us about our Roadtrip and as quite happy we had the opportunity to see a Cardinals win in St. Louis took our picture:
On our way out, I snapped this picture of a little baseball field in the bricks way out behind CF:
I’m not sure if it serves a purpose or is just nice to look at. It definitely is the latter, but it seemed like whenever we walked by it during these two games at Busch Stadium they had booths or some type events taking place on here – as opposed to having some kids playing whiffleball (which would have been better).
On our drive out of St. Louis we were heading West and would not pass through town again. So I got a last photo of the Gateway Arch…
…and then we drove off into the sunset.
The next day we would hop in the car and drive to Kansas City for our one and only game at Kauffman Stadium. More good times were definitely on tap, as we’ll see in our next entry.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|7/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|11/10 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals|
|9 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3|
|33 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1|
|3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2|
|6/5 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak|
So, we had a great first day of the Roadtrip in Minneapolis. But when we woke up May 13, 2012, it was time to start the “road” phase of the trip. This trip featured less driving days than some past trips, but the drives were generally longer. On May 13th, we drove all the way from Minneapolis to Saint Louis. It was about 550 miles total, cutting across Iowa and into Missouri.
Here are a couple photo highlights from the big drive:
Top Left: We grabbed some free breakfast at the hotel and hopped in the car to eat on the road.
Top Right: Somewhere in Iowa, we passed this statue-thingy of three fighter jets. Pretty cool.
Bottom Left: My Dad logged more miles behind the wheel than I did, but I spelled him for a good chunk of driving during the middle of the drive, at which point he did some reading.
Bottom Right: There wasn’t much to see in Iowa. This big fish in a gas station parking lot was one of the highlights.
There was a surprise waiting for us in the St. Louis area. My dad had booked the “Kozy Kaboose” for us at the St. Louis West KOA campground:
That caboose behind Tim was our hotel room! It had a queen sized bed and a couch with a pull-out bed (which looked incredibly uncomfortable, but it was actually just fine). Tim absolutely loved the caboose surprise.
Good work, Pa!
So, all we did on May 13 was drive, play at the caboose and play area right behind it, and go out to dinner at the local Applebees.
But we had a REALLY BIG day lined up for us on May 14, 2012.
I decided this would be the perfect day for us to wear the Roadtrip t-shirts I had made for us. They were plain white t-shirts with the following photo on the chest:
I made that picture from 13 different photos. It includes elements representing each of the four stadiums we would visit on the trip: Rocky Mountains (Colorado Rockies), the “twins” shaking hands over the river (Minnesota Twins), the St. Louis Gateway Arch with a humungous cardinal sitting on top (St. Louis Cardinals), and a lion (king of the jungle) wearing Sluggerrrrr the mascot’s crown (Kansas City Royals). It also features a Mariners compass logo that I drew on my computer using a real baseball, and with a Cook & Son Baseball Bats logo overlaid on the Mariners logo. Finally, it features a picture of me (from the 9/27/11 Mariners game in Seattle) holding Kellan (from the 5/12/11 Mariners game in Baltimore) standing with my Dad (from the 8/13/11 Marlins/Giants game at Sun Life Stadium), and Tim (from the 9/27/11 Mariners game). Oh, yeah, and the Rocky Mountains are rising up behind the outfield wall at Safeco Field (from the Safeco tour we took in 2009).
I made the shirts just for fun and, if I do say so myself, they were a big hit on the trip. People in St. Louis loved them and complimented us a lot throughout the day. So, if you were otherwise going to wonder what was on our shirts in the following photos, there is your explanation.
We started off in the morning by grabbing some food in the car and driving into St. Louis to visit the famous Gateway Arch. I had heard you could take an “elevator” to the top and I was very curious about how that works.
We parked in a cool little area of the city (if you are standing under the Arch and facing the city, we parked in the section just to the right of the arch)…
…and we walked over to hop a ride up the arch. The middle and right picture above show us in our tiny little “pod.” When you get inside the arch, it looks like there are 8 tiny elevator doors descending down some steps (with the high point toward the outside of the arch and the low point (elevator no. 8) toward the middle side of the arch). The door opens and you climb into a tiny pod with five seats. It is essentially like a ferris wheel car. You can feel that you are dangling from a connection at the top of the pod. Instead of going straight up, you start by going sideways toward the outside of the arch, then the 8 pods lift up like a dangling string of pearls. The pods have a glass door so you can see the inside of the arch as you ascend toward the top. And it is a crazy mess of stairways and sheet metal. When the pods reaches the top, pod 1 is then at the highest point toward the middle of the arch and pod 8 is at the lowest point toward the outside of the arch. We were in pod 7 on the way up. Hopefully that all makes sense.
Here’s a photo that hopefully gives you a sense of things:
In that picture to the left, Kellan and I are climbing the stairs at the top of the arch – going up from pod 7 to the observation deck. The picture to the right is a screen that is at the top of the stairs and shows the status of the pods on the two sides of the arch – we went up the “south tram” (which was the only tram in use while we were there).
I thought the observation deck would have a flat floor – nope. It is an arch and there is nothing flat about it, as you can see in the top left photo below:
As shown in the top right and bottom left photos above, there are a bunch of tiny windows that you can look out of for some amazing views of the city. Or, as shown in the bottom right, you can look straight down 630 feet!
The arch and the observation deck are triangular in shape. To look out the windows, you have to lean out over (or lay down on) the slanted outer wall. It is well worth it. Check out this view:
When we had our fill of the observation deck, we hopped into pod no. 8 and made our way back down to earth. We walked far enough away to get some fun pictures of the arch. Like these:
And this great one of Tim holding up the arch:
Way to sell it, Tim!
With plenty of time (hours and hours) until gates opened for the evening’s game, it was time to head to another activity. We had no other plans when we woke up, but on the drive to the arch, my wife texted me and said we should go to the “City Museum.” I asked the lady in the Arch gift shop about it and she said we would LOVE it.
She was right!
The City Museum is a huge museum of stuff for kids. It is a like a huge playground. Everything in the museum was found in the city of St. Louis and it was all built into the museum by a group of artisans who created the museum.
It was too crazy and huge to even photograph properly, so I’ll just show you this photo of Kellan climbing some stairs several stories above the ground:
All that I can say is, if you’re in St. Louis and you have kids GO TO THE CITY MUSEUM!
Oh, what the heck, let’s show you some more City Museum pictures:
We got tired and sweaty at the City Museum. Luckily, we still had time to go back to the caboose and nap a bit before the game.
Around 3:00 p.m., we drove back into the city (it was about a half hour drive for us) for the game. We are some not all that beautiful city pictures as we approached the stadium:
We parked in a lot beyond CF and then jumped in line at the CF gate (Gate 5):
Right as the gates were supposed to open, a worker arrived inside the gate and told everyone in our line that Gate 5 wouldn’t open for another hour. So we all had to find another gate. We picked Gate 4, which is in the LF corner.
That was probably better anyway, because I planned to head into foul territory anyway.
We were going to be sitting in section 168, which is right in the LF foul corner. Gate 4 lets you into the stadium just around the corner from section 168. So it was easy access to where we wanted to go.
Upon entering the stadium, Tim and my dad headed out to LF and Kellan and I went down the LF foul line, right to the corner spot. Very soon after arriving there, a ball was hit foul, kicked off of the stands well in from us and came to rest in shallow LF. There were no players even remotely near the ball.
And then something ridiculous happened. I looked on my phone to find that number 48 on the Cubs was Rafael Dolis. He was in LF pretty close to the warning track and a LONG way from that baseball. Fully expecting nothing to come from it, I called out, “Hey, Rafael!” Dolis looked at us and I turned and pointed to the ball in shallow LF and gave him a “hey, why not go grab that and toss it to us?” shrug.
That was the first ridiculous part. The second ridiculous part was that it worked.
Dolis started a long slow, incredibly slow, walk toward the baseball:
That is Dolis both coming and going on the left side of that picture. He walked all the way over to the ball and was immediately met by chorus calls from fans closer to the infield shouting for the baseball. He turned to them and pointed at us, “Its for them!” And then he tossed it to us.
Holy cow! Thanks, Rafael!
I was truly shocked he walked all that way just to hook us up with that baseball. It was very much appreciated.
With a Busch Stadium baseball in hand, Kellan and I retreated to the shady seats behind the Cubs (3B) dugout…
…while Tim and my dad stayed in sunny L (that is them in the first row at the bottom of the stairway).
Here was our view of Busch Stadium from behind the 3B dugout:
Tim and my dad headed out to CF. Nothing was hit their way and eventually an usher decided that Tim deserved a baseball.
Eventually, we decided to brave the sun again and we headed to the RF foul corner. Tim and my dad came and met up with us and we watched BP for a few more minutes. But it was pretty hot and we were thinking of just heading back to the shade behind 3B.
Just before doing so, a Cubs lefty sliced (or would it be hooked?) a foul ball down the RF line. We were on the wall in RF, which was probably 7 rows back in the seating configuration. All of the people in the first row or two (by the corner spot) were totally oblivious to their surroundings. I truly thought this ball was going to nail someone in the side of the head.
I screamed, “HEADS UP!” Everyone looked around frantically and the ball smashed down on the warning track and bounced high over about 10-15 people.
I was holding Kellan and *we* immediately broke down the row of seats. I made it just far enough to make a fully-extended backhanded catch of the one-hopper, all while Kellan clung to my body wrapped by my throwing arm.
Here is where we were when we caught it:
A female usher came down and congratulated me on catching the baseball and added, “Thank you for not dropping your son!” “Hey, no problem, “ I responded.
Almost as soon as we reached the shade behind 3B, BP was finished. We decided to walk further down the LF line until we found an usher who (loved our Roadtrip shirts and) was kind enough to take our picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt – Busch Stadium bonus picture!
That tiny little “Busch Stadium” sign was the best we could find in the ballpark for the bonus shot. It turns out it would get harder and harder to find a stadium sign inside the stadiums as this trip progressed. Interestingly, there are “Busch Stadium” logos on all of the garbage cans and in the upper deck concourse, but this was the best we could do by the field.
After getting our picture, we visited our seats. They were great!
But we didn’t stay long because there was a parade of kids going around the warning track and we wanted to get close because it was being led by…
That was as close-up we would get to him at this game.
Before the game, the four of us took a big lap around the entire field level concourse looking for a play area.
Along the way, we found cool looking hand operated (by apparently inaccurate) out-of-town scoreboards in the concourse down the 1B line:
The AL board said the Mariners were tied 3-3 with Oakland, but they were actually playing the Red Sox later that day, and they had just arrived in Boston from a series in New York. So I have no clue when these scores were last updated. That *old* Busch Stadium sign was attached to the NL out-of-town scoreboard.
We found a little kids play area (not for Tim) in CF, which was nice and shady. But it was for little kids only so we kept walking. Just behind the play area, we found this muscle car on a pitchers mound:
For some reason, Tim has been excited to point out muscle cars everywhere we go lately. So he wanted a picture pitching with the muscle car…and Kellan likes to copy everything his big brother does.
Once we finished out loop around the field level, Tim decided he was starving and he declared he wanted pizza for a second game in a row! We hadn’t even been paying attention to the food as we walked, so we started our second loop around and made it all the way to home plate before we found pizza.
We reported to our seats…
…and Tim artistically ate his pizza while Kellan slammed a tray of nachos (with my assistance):
The game was entertaining. Jake Westbrook was on the hill for the Cardinals…
…and he hung zeros on the board through the first four innings (until the Cubs put up a 4-spot in the top of the fifth inning). By the way, that is David DeJesus batting in the picture above to the right.
Tim decided he wanted the Cardinals to win. Personally, I was hoping the Cardinals would get destroyed so all of the fans would go home early and the stadium wouldn’t be as crowded. For the record, I hope that at all games except Mariners home games and Yankee road games.
For some reason, I don’t really care for Cardinals leftfielder (and big time slugger) Matt Holliday. I just don’t like how he carries himself. Maybe I’m completely wrong. But he just seems a bit smug to me.
So, I was amused when he botched an incredibly easy fly ball to LF:
Hey, the guy can mash. But his glove leaves much to be desired.
Each MLB stadium has its own policy regarding at what age (or height) a kid needs his own ticket. I am all for no buying Kellan a ticket whenever possible. Luckily, the Cardinals allow all kids THREE and under into the ballpark for free. That’s great!
But the stadium is so packed, that you actually do have to keep the little ones on your lap – like this:
…or standing in front of you – like this:
But it worked out just fine for us at this packed rivalry game, as you can see from these pictures…
…of Kellan enjoying some fruit snacks…
…while Tim punches out an all-star ballot (not actually voting) and looks around his thirty-first Major League Baseball stadium.
The Cubs sent practical joker, Ryan Dempster, to the hill…
…and he hung zeros on the board for the first five innings (until the Cardinals put up a 4-spot of their own in the sixth inning to knot it at 4-4). By the way, that is David Freese taking his cuts above to the right.
After eating, I needed to go tour the ballpark and take pictures. Tim decided to join me while Kellan (apparently against his wishes) stayed behind with Grandpa. Kellan loves spending time with his Grandpa, but his is a MAJOR daddy’s boy (and I love it!). He always wants to be with me. It’s really awesome. In fact, if I am walking down the street with him and a bunch of other people, he gets upset if anyone but me pushes his stroller. What can I say, I have the magic touch with that boy.
Anyway, unbeknownst to me (because I didn’t noticed my dad calling my cellphone), after a few minutes of being fine, Kellan had a melt down and cried uncontrollably (he’s good at that) until he and grandpa met up with me and Tim again.
Sadly, that took a while because Tim and I were having a great time touring around.
First, we headed to the second deck where we found some baseball team-themed Saint Louis Arches and Tim did his “Yesssss! I just won”…
…and “jumping for joy” poses!
He did more jumping for joy…
…and more winning poses as we found more Arches and Cardinals wall art in this odd little concourse area tucked behind the fancy clubs on the second level.
As we walked by, we saw this World Series trophy through the window of one of those fancy clubs:
I couldn’t tell what year it was from.
In both LF and RF, the concourses jut out a bit past the last section of seats on each of the upper levels. This provides a nice standing-room only opportunity for the fans. We took this panorama from the concourse extension on the second deck in LF:
And then we turned and I got these pictures of Tim and the real Arch…
…and Tim and the outfield.
Then we headed up to the third deck and got another end-of-concourse panorama:
If you know Busch Stadium from TV, this is right next to the section with the “Big Mac Land” sign.
After taking the panorama, a fan asked if we wanted a picture. Of course, we did:
And 30 seconds later, look who we found patrolling the concourse behind Big Mac Land:
Tim meekly told Ronald, “I went to McDonald’s today and ate a happy meal.” Ronald thought that was just *great*!
From the third deck in LF, you can walk down to the third deck seats or up to the four deck seats. We headed up to the very top of the upper deck in the LF corner for this panoramic view of Busch Stadium:
Then we continued on toward home plate. As you get closer to 3B, there is an escalator up to a higher concourse – once you go up the escalator, you then can walk *down* into what LF left would be the third deck, but in the infield is the second deck (hopefully that makes sense – the point is that the *second* deck in LF does not extend into the infield seating – it is replaced by suites.
Anyway, once you get up the escalator, you have officially reached the *highest* concourse in the stadium. Around 3B there is nothing above it, but once you get closer to the home plate, a *new* upper-deck rises above this *highest* concourse – this all seems very confusing. Just click on and look at the full-sized versions of some of our panoramas and it will make sense.
Anyway, at the back of the concourse around 3B, you can pose with the giant “St. Louis Cardinals” sign that is facing out of the stadium…
…and you can look down on a statue and big autographed baseball of Stan Musial on the ground outside the stadium.
Here is a panorama as we neared 3B:
Then we took this panorama closer to home plate, where the upper-upper-upper deck begins:
[Recall, all this while, Kellan is crying and pitching a major fit for grandpa while Tim and I are having a lovely time getting to know the ins-and-outs of Busch Stadium – poor Grandpa and Kellan!]
Anyway, we headed up to the very top of the *upper-est* deck in the stadium (behind home plate) for this panorama:
Is that a great looking ballpark or what? I love the arch in the background and the arch mowed into the outfield grass.
We continued walking around the stadium toward RF. This is what the concourse looks like behind the upper-deck:
As we approached the RF corner, I pulled and my phone and noticed that my dad and called and texted. His message was simple, “come help with Kellan.” My response was probably too ambiguous, “We’re coming from RF upper deck.” I meant, “Hold on! We’ll be there ASAP, but we have a long way to walk.”
We snapped one more, sun obscured, panorama from RF before heading down the elevator:
We ended up meeting in the LF concourse. Kellan was still letting loose with the water works, but he was instantly completely fine the second he saw me. The second my Dad passed him over to me, he was happy and ready for some ice cream – we met up at the ice cream stand. This was the real deal – Ben & Jerry’s. We decided on some delicious mint chocolate chunk:
Tim decided he wanted some blue cotton candy instead of ice cream. This was fine by me because it meant we could get this “blue tongued” shot for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
However, by the end of the game, I had officially declared: NO MORE COTTON CANDY!
It made Tim way too hyper…something his father suffered from as a boy, too.
We got back to the seats in time to see the Cubs score their four runs in the top of the fifth innings, which was highlighted by a homerun by former Mariner Bryan LaHair:
LaHair is having himself quite the season so far. This was his 9thhomer of the season. Prior to this season, he only had 5 homeruns in his career.
Kellan was all chilled out now that I was back with him in the seats. In fact, he was straight up lounging:
After a while, Kellan got restless. So I took both boys back up to the upper deck by 3B. The plan was to tire them out running up the switch-back ramp. And it worked. We got one more panorama up there:
Tim did some silly-sugar induced posing…
…and I got a shot of the upper deck rising above the upper-concourse. And then we headed back to our seats to finish out the game with my dad.
As we approached our seats, I took a shot of Tim showing the little triangular area at the end of the field level cross-aisle that is right behind section 168:
It is nice for standing when you don’t want to sit.
While we were watching the rest of the game, Tim was quick to spot King Felix when we flashed on the scoreboard:
Kellan was primed and ready (with Grandpa’s glove) to catch a foul ball…
…but no one, not even David Freese…
…could find us in the stands
A think night panoramas look great, so I got another shot from section 168 late in the game.
After the Cardinals tied the score at 4-4 in the sixth, the Cubs came back with a run in the eighth on a single by Alphonso Soriano and an unearned run in the ninth on a throwing error by 2012 World Series hero David Freese.
After the game, we got another group shot…
…which would have turned out better had Tim not been so sad that the Cardinals (who he picked to win at the beginning of the game) had lost. At the next game, he would devise a new strategy to avoid such post-game disappointment.
On the way out of the stadium, I took an almost-empty-stadium panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 167 (one section closer to home than section 168):
And finally, as my Dad ran all the way back to our seats to retrieve Kellan’s water sippy-cup (well, it is a little more advanced than a “sippy cup”), I took a final panorama of the night from the CF bleachers:
And that was all she wrote. Forty-five minutes sitting through a horrific post-game traffic jam and we were on our way back to the caboose excited to come back within about 12 hours for more Cardinals-Cubs baseball.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|6/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|11/10 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals|
|7 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 1|
|28 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 2, Cardinals 1|
|3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2|
|6/5 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak|
Last August, I did an entry summarzing The (First Annual) Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Road Trip. The purpose of doing so was to give some background and context for the Second Annual Roadtrip that took me, Tim and my dad through Chicago, Minnesota and Milwaukee in August 2009. Those entries were just a combination of emails I sent to family members while we were on our first roadtrip. Now, its time to do actual game updates for those four games.
After I got off work on August 14, 2008, my dad (Jim), Tim and I packed into the car and drove to Washington, Pennsylvania where we spent the night at a KOA. Over the next five days, we would visit Great American Ball Park in Cinncinati, the Louisville Slugger factory in Kentucky, Progessive Field in Cleveland, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
We woke up on the morning of August 15, 2008, and packed up our stuff to head to Great American Ball Park…
I’d been watching the Reds on TV since Griffey was traded to Cincinnati, so I knew exactly where we had to go for dinner before the game…
Downtown Cinncinati slopes down toward the Ohio River, the Ohio-Kentucky border…
Now, in the grand scheme of all of the new stadiums, I had heard that Great American Ball Park was nothing special. But, you know what, I really liked it. Its no Camden Yards or Safeco Field, but it had a special feel of its own. In fact, I almost felt like it was a Major Leauge size minor league ball park. That’s not meant to be insulting. What I mean is that it sort fo felt *quaint* — maybe it was because we sat in the RF bleachers with the big steam boat nearby in CF and the river behind us. Anyway, I liked it a lot.
As we approached the main entrance of the ballpark, we found a statute of Ted Kluszewski and a big banner thanking Griffey for his 600th homerun…
Sixteen days before this game, Griffey was traded to the Chicago White Sox. We’d planned to sit right behind him in RF.
By the way, I didn’t write an entry about it because Tim wasn’t with me, but after missing seeing Griffey’s 600th homerun in Philadelphia, a buddy from high school and I saw Griff’s 601st homerun at Yankee Stadium during interleague play.
With no Griffey in sight, I was all about seeing Albert Pujols do something special in this game. As we entered the park, Albert was standing right there behind home plate speaking with Edinson Volquez…
…a few minutes later, Volquez walked into the Reds dugout just below me and Tim. All I had on me was a cheap plasticy ball we bought on our way to play catch with on the trip. Anyway, Volquez and some other unidentified Red signed it.
We headed out to the seats in RF to watch some BP. It was pretty packed out there. Tim and I squeezed into the first row and my dad hung back a row or two behind. We were having no luck. Then, on what I think was the final pitch of BP, someone hit a ball off the wall right in front of us. As it bounced off of the wall, all of the Cardinals started to run toward their dugout. But reliever Chris Perez turned around to grab that ball. He grabbed it and started running back toward the field. Then everyone yelled at him. He turned around. The 20-something guy next to us and I both pointed at Tim. Perez fired the ball over to us.
It was the first ball Tim had got this season.
With Tim’s new baseball in hand, we headed to the concourse behind 1B and made our way over the Reds Hall of Fame:
Along the far end of the Reds HOF (closest to the outfield and Ohio River), there is a wall of 4,256 baseballs representing Pete Rose’s record-setting career hit total.
The balls cover the wall the entire way as you ascend three flights of stairs. If you click on that picture to enlarge it, you will see that the balls are all game (or at least BP) used. They are all dirty and scuffed with bat marks. Its an excellent visual representation of Rose’s hit record.
The Reds HOF is packed with jerseys, bats, gloves, and shoes with little descriptions of the Reds Hall of Famers.
I was happy to see a Ken Griffey, Sr. jersey in there. I’m a big proponent of team Halls of Fame. I think the Baseball Hall of Fame should be reserved for the super-elite, best of the best of the best of the best. Some peopel refer to “inner circle” Hall of Famers. To me, the “inner circle” should be the entire Hall of Fame. If a player is borderline, if an “argument” mut be made for a player’s candidacy to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I think that means that player is not a Hall of Famer.
But that doesn’t mean there is no place for such players. If a player can’t make the Baseball Hall of Fame after years on the ballot. No problem, those players can still be remembered forever by the people to whom they were most important in their respective team’s hall of fame. Anyway, those are my two cents.
And anyone lucky enough to make it into the Reds HOF should be very pleased, indeed, this place is spectacular.
Check out this great picture they have on the wall of the members of the Reds HOF:
Like a Safeco Field, they have a fake wall where you can pretend to pick-off homeruns. Unlike Safeco Field, the Reds offer a variety of gloves from past and present. Check out the sweet piece of leather I picked in the picture below:
…they had a little kids club house type area with little lockers with little jerseys they could wear and slides and things to climb. In another area, they had a mock *man cave* full of stuff the ultimate Reds fan my have in his den. Check out this picture of Ken Griffey, Jr. Notice anything odd?
He signed it “George K. Griffey, Jr.” I have never seen him do that before.
Soon, it was game time. I took this panaramic view from our seats in RF.
I bought these tickets literally the second they went on sale…in February or March or 2008…and the best they could give us in RF (where I was hoping Griffey might hit a homerun) was 3 rows from the top of the bleachers.
Then, in the bottom of the first, I got this picture just as Reds rookie Chris Dickerson hit his first career homerun.
The ball landed in the Cardinals bullpen just below the glass partition to the left of the picture.
After Dickerson’s homerun, I tried to zoom in for a picture of Albert Pujols, but this is the best my old camera could do:
…but didn’t find any cream helmets until I made it all the way around to behind home plate. So I ended up doing a full loop of the ballpark. I’m sure the wait made Tim appreciate the ice cream even more:
After we finished our ice cream, we headed back toward home plate because I saw some ballpark artwork I wanted to photograph while I had my hands full of ice cream helmets. Here they are, two big mosaics of the .
Above is the 1869 Red Stockings, which according to Wikipedia were the first “openly professional” baseball team. Below, is the Big Red Machine from the 1970s…including short-time Mariner and father of a future Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey.
Back to the game, in the top of the third, Pujols hit a ground rule double. The first of two doubles and three total hits on the evening. By the end of the third, a bulk of the scoring for the game was done. The Cardinals were winning 4-2. Each team would score only one more run.
Late in the game, I ventured out in search of some pizza and took some more ballpark pictures. Here is Great American Ball Park from foul territory in the LF corner.
Here are two more pictures:
To the right, a view of the extra wide concourse in foul territory down the 3B line. To the left, a picture of the Cardinals bullpen. Directly across the field I have circled in yellow the big open concourse pictured to the right.
After taking that shot of the bullpen, I turned to the right at took two more pictures:
And when we were over there, we ran into a local celebrity, Rosie Red…
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals brought in Chris Perez. He gave up one hit, but struck out two to secure the win for the Cards and the save for himself.
After the game, they shooed us out of the OF seats. He relocated into the infield seats, where I took a couple more random stadium shots…
Tim would fall asleep on my shoulders as we walked back to our hotel.
Heading into the final week of the 2007 season, I checked the Pittsburgh Pirates schedule and noticed that the Cardinals were coming to town for the final weekend of the season. For reasons discussed further below, I was excited to see the Cardinals and their monster first baseman Albert Pujols. So I told my wife to have a nice weekend at home because TIM AND I WERE ROADTRIPPING!!
We had lots of “firsts” on this trip — some “baseball firsts” and some “life firsts.” First, it was our first baseball roadtrip “camping” in a KOA camping cabin. Pittsburgh is about 4 or so hours away. So I figured it was a little too far to drive back home after a night game. I also figured staying at a KOA would be more fun for Tim than staying at a hotel. So we booked a cabin at the Washington, PA KOA.
We left in the morning and arrived in Washington, PA in the early afternoon. Tim loved roaming all around the camp ground:
With the assistance of our KOA hosts Rick and Sharon Leclair, our second “first” was a trip to West Virginia:
I’d noticed that West Virginia was really close to Washington, PA on the map. So I asked Sharon about it while checking in at the KOA. She advised that there was a place in West Virginia just about 17 miles down the road that might interest Tim. So, with lots of time to spare before the game, Tim and I hopped in the car, drove to West Virginia for the first time in either of our lives, and arrived a Cabela’s in Wheeling, WVa:
It was time for Tim’s third “first” of the trip — Pittsburgh, PA. We left West Virginia and headed into Pittsburgh for the game. I’ve been to Pittsburgh several times and each tiem the sole purpose was to attend a baseball game at PNC Park. I know next to nothing about the city other than PNC Park. But I can tell you its a neat looking place.
As you can see on the map below…
…downtown Pittsburgh is nestled between the Ohio, Allegheny and Monongahea Rivers. The red arrow points to PNC Park, which is across the Allegheny River from downtown Pittsburgh. Downtown and the ballpark are connected by a bunch of yellow bridges including:
The RCB is an automobile bridge most of the time, but before Pirates games (or at least this one) it is closed down and made into a pedestrian bridge. Although the bridges look a little weathered up close, they look beautiful from PNC Park with Pittsburgh’s unique-looking skyscrapers behind them.
Here’s a view of PNC Park from the Roberto Clemente Bridge…
Finally, it was time for Tim’s fourth “first” of the day — PNC Park. On our way into the park, we stopped so Tim could get his picture…
…with Hall of Famer Josh Gibson.
Soon, we were inside the stadium…
We were there in time to watch BP. But Tim was still too young for us to go out into the bleachers and test our luck at catching a BP homerun.
Instead, we grabbed some food and watched the Red Birds take BP. Going to games back then was a lot more difficult than going to games in 2009. As you can see, we had Tim’s on-the-go stroller with us…
…so, along with a back pack full of stuff, there was a lot to lug around to a ball game (and it made it a lot more difficult to take pictures too). But it made for a convenient place for Tim to sit and enjoy eating his ballpark frank before the game.
Anyway, at this game, our seats were in the lower section of the upper deck behind 3B. After BP ended, we went to our seats. They provided an outstanding view of the field, river, bridges and city. It was like a postcard…of course, I didn’t take a picture of it. Sorry.
We were out of our seats before the game even started, and we never returned to them. Instead, we spent most of our time during the game standing (or in Tim’s case running around in circles) on the big spiral walk way from the LF field concourse up to the upper deck concourse. Here is a shot of Tim standing at the top watching the grounds crew readying the field:
Do you see that braclet on Tim’s right wrist? At some point, a Pirates employee gave it to me. Its like a luggage tag, but its for lost kids. You put your name, seat number, cellphone number on it. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t lose Tim at this (or any other) game.
While up on the upper deck concourse, Tim had his fifth “first” of the day — his first time drinking from a water fountain. Tim thought the drinking fountain was great. He went back to it literally about 25 times throughout the game. And, he still loves drinking fountains today.
During the game, I took a fairly odd self-portrait of the two of us at the top of the spiral walkway:
The game was a good one. My main goal was to see Albert Pujols hit a home run. While that did not happen, he had a strong day at the plate going 3-5 with a double, 1 RBI and 1 run scored. I was also interested in seeing Rick Ankiel because his pitching troubles were still fresh in my mind. I wanted to see how he’d do as an outfielder and batter. He too had a strong performance. He went 3-4 with a homerun, 3 RBI, and 1 run scored. Generally, the story of the game was the Cardinals hitting and the Pirates not.
In the 4th or 5th inning, Tim and I relocated to a standing room area in RF…
…see that red arrow above? Well, maybe you should click on that picture to see it larger. If you do, you’ll see a chain link fence above the out-of-town scoreboard and below the RF bleachers. The chain link fence is part of the RF wall. Behind the chain link fence is a tunnel beneath the RF bleachers. There is a single row of seating along the front of the tunnel in groups of 2-3 seats at a time. I think the purpose of those seats is to have room for wheelchair seating. In 2008, I tried to buy tickets in that row of seating, but couldn’t figure out if or how I could do that.
Anyway, its a great place from which to watch a game with a young active son. I could watch the game while Tim ran circles around me without really bothering any of the other fans. There is also a “family restroom” in that tunnel, which is also handy when you have a young active child with you.
For some reason, I thought Ankiel was playing RF so I took this picture…
In the 6th inning, So Taguchi hit a seeing-eye single up the middle. It looked like either future Mariner Jack Wilson would snare the grounder from short stop or Matt Kata would get it from the second base position. Instead, the ball snuck by them both and Wilson and Kata ran into each other. In the process, Wilson took a direct shot to the side of the head from Kata’s knee. He went down hard and stayed down a long time. Eventually, they put him on a little flatbed type golf cart and motored him out of the stadium through a tunnel right below us in the RF foul corner.
The day had been really long for young Tim. He crashed hard by the 7th or 8th inning. That was fine with me, I’d achieved what I’d come to achive. So we left. By the time we got to the south of the Robert Clemente Bridge, Tim was fast asleep…
We drove back to the KOA and spent the night. The next day, we heaeded home to tell Colleen all about our adventures.
Our 2007 season was complete.
Now, there was one more “first” I haven’t mentioned yet, the most important first of the day. Amazingly, at the age of 31, this was my first time EVER seeing the Cardinals play live, and with the game I finally completed my 30-MLB Milestone. Compared to Tim seeing all 30 teams at 3.5, I guess doing it in 31 years is pretty unimpressive. But, I have a good explanation.
I grew in Seattle, which at the time was 812 miles from the nearest National League Park, Candlestick Park. Plus, there was no inter-league play until 1997. In 1997 and 1998, I went to at least one of the interleague games featuring each NL team that visited Seattle. But, that was just the NL West. I didn’t see most of the other NL teams until I moved to Philadelphia in 1999.
It was 2000 or 2001, when I first sat down and tried to figure out if I’d seen every team play at least once live. I had seen every American League team (including the Brewers) multiple times at the Kingdome. But I wasn’t sure if I had completed the NL. At that point, I could pinpoint at least one specific game in which I had seen every team play except the Montreal Expos. Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals.
I checked the Expos and Astros off the list in relatively short order. But for years, I could never get to a Cardinals games. It seemed like they would visit Philadelphia for only one series per season and I could never get to that series. So, it came to late 2007 and I saw this game as my first and best chance of actually getting to a Cardinals game. I planned the trip without hesitation. So, there you have it, at age 31, I finally could say that I had seen all 30 MLB teams play live. (Notably, Tim and I have now seen the Cardinals play in Pittsburgh, Cinncinati and Philadelphia.)
I didn’t keep a Baseball Log growing up, so I couldn’t put together a full game list for myself like I did for Tim’s 30-MLB Team Milestone. But I wanted to do something to illustrate my milestone. So, I tried to compile a list of at least one specific game when I saw each MLB team. By way of reviewing old ticket stubs (which I used to keep for years in the inside flap of my baseball caps), reviewing calendars, doing lots of research on Baseball-Reference.com, and exchanging emails with friends with whom I attended games throughout my life, I was able to pinpoint at least one specific game for every team except the Astros and Dodgers. Here you go (with brief comments for notable games):
Athletics – June 24, 1997 – Randy Johnson K’s 19 & Mark McGwire hits epic homerun.
Rangers – June 3, 1989 – Nolan Ryan 1-hits the M’s. Harold’s lead off hit is M’s only hit.
Angels – June 18, 1999 – My first game at Yankee Stadium.
Indians – October 10, 1995 – Game 1 of ALCS. Mariners win!
Royals – August 31, 1990 – The first game with Ken Griffey Jr. & Sr. playing together.
Twins – May 15, 2000
Tigers – August 30, 1990 – My first foul ball caught during an actual MLB game.
White Sox – April 5, 1999 – Final opening day at the Kingdome.
Red Sox – April 25, 1994 – Randy Johson (CG) beats Roger Clemens & Griffey hits HR.
Orioles – May 26, 1994 – Ken Griffey, Jr. hits a homerun and breaks arm making catch.
Rays – May 20, 2000
Blue Jays – September 12, 2006 – Tim’s First Game.
Yankees – August 25, 1995 – Griffey’s walk-off HR starts M’s charge to AL West title.
Giants – June 19, 2004 – Barry Bonds hits his 689th homerun in Philadelphia.
Dodgers – I saw them at Dodger Stadium in June 1994 and in Seattle in 1997-98.
Padres – June 1, 1999 – My first game at Wrigley Field on “moving to Philadelphia” drive.
Rockies – September 12, 2007 – Tim’s First MLB Anniversary.
Diamondbacks – August 8, 1999
Cubs – June 1, 1999 – Same as above (First game at Wrigley)
Cardinals – September 29, 2007 – This game! Finally!
Pirates – June 19, 2004 – Mariners beat Pirates and Eddie Guardado throws me a ball.
Astros – Two games in Philadelphia between 2000-05, but I can’t pinpoint the games.
Reds – September 4, 1999
Brewers – September 2, 1993 – Brewers playing in the AL (where they belong).
Phillies – April 12, 1999 – 1999 Home Opener and my first game at the Vet.
Mets – June 8, 2003 – Mariners sweep double-header at Shea behind Moyer and Garcia.
Expos – September 4, 2002 – My only “Expos” game.
Nationals – June 10, 2005 – My first “Nationals” game.
Marlins – September 9, 2007 – Tim’s first game seeing Jamie Moyer pitch in person.
Braves – April 12, 1999 – same as above (Phillies Home Opener)
There was one reason, and one reason alone, that I decided we should go to this game — Albert Pujols. The guy is a monster. I wanted to get our third peak of this future hall of famer. And I was hoping he would go yard for us.
We tend to go to more day games than night games. Many of them have no batting practice. So I decided we’d head down a little early for this game so we could watch some BP and maybe see Pujols put on a display of his skills before the game got started. I was also hoping we’d see Jamie Moyer. I’ve seen him hanging out signing autographs before games with his own sharpie. I was hoping he’d be out so we could try to get a picture with him.
However, none of it was in the cards. Little did I know that thousands of 7-year-old Jonas Brothers fans would be out in force. The Brothers Jonas were playing next door to Citizens Bank Park. They managed to make our 72 mile drive take over 2-and-a-half hours. We completely missed BP. It wasn’t the most pleasant driving experience.
Interestingly, we have NEVER made it to BP at Citizens Bank Park. Never.
Anyway, we were at the park early enough that we didn’t have to hurry to get into the stadium once we parked. The Phils fans have a good time before games. Tailgating is rampant. So we decided to play a little catch in the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot…
I wasn’t too excited to spend a lot of time looking at the directory because I didn’t know what time it was and if we were risking missing Pujols’s first at bat. Tim on the other hand wanted to take a nice, slow, thorough look at this thing. Luckily, it all worked out. We didn’t miss anything.
When we made our way into the field seats by the third base dugout, we found players stretching down the base lines, the Philly Phanatic warming up the crowd, grounds crew people were doing the final prep work on the field, and the announcer was reading the starting line-ups.
Here is what the scene looked like:
And, before long, it was game time. We sorta have a standard game plan at Citizens Bank Park, and it usually starts with watching the first couple innings from the SRO areas behind home plate. At this game, we decided to move a little to the right for the beginning of the game so we could get a good view of Albert. Unfortunately, no first inning fireworks — here is his swing resulting in a ground out to first base:
At the far right, you can see the ball (a blurr) just entering the picture. Sadly, there would be no Pujols HR on this day (although he did get one hit)…and this is the best I could do as far as action shots of Pujols goes. But here are some less interesting “batting stance” shots:
In the bottom of the inning, I was happy to get a chance to see my old buddy, Joel Piniero, on the mound…
…here he is shown with a picture of Chase Utley about to fly out to Ryan Ludwick in CF.
But back to Piniero. Joel was a Mariner from 2000-2006. Joel started out great with the M’s. It seemed he was poised to be a terrific starter for years to come for the Mariners. However, he cooled off. He ended his time as a Mariners with a career record of 58-55.
Anyway, it was great to see Joel in action once again — and he got the win for the Cardinals.
In the top of the second, the Cardinals took the lead 1-0 and Tim asked to go to the play area. I figured it was a good time to go because Pujols had just been up in the first inning and we probably had a while before he was up again. So, as requested, it was play area time:
Tim loves this little marble maze in the picture to the right. Actually, he generally just loves the Phillies play area. By far, it is his favorite of any park we’ve visited.
After playing in the play area for a few minutes, it started to rain a bit. Although it didn’t seem like much, they closed the play area. I told Tim we could go get his ice cream and check out the what is going on in the game.
Before we got ice cream, this is what we found on the field:
No play area. No game. Yep, its time for ice cream.
We headed up to the second deck because I had a brilliant idea that it would be less crowded. In my defense, I had some decent logic here. 90 percent or more of the field level seats are out in the open (in the rain) while much more of the second deck is under cover. So I figured the field level concourse would be packed.
Well, it might have been. But I’m not sure it would be possible to be any more “packed” than the second deck concourse. We got stuck walking through it and it took a while to get out — without ice cream. Check out what it looked like (taken from the third deck):
Now that I see that picture again, I guess that not many of the seats up there are covered. Oh, well.
We finally made it through the third deck to a food stand that *appeared* to have ice cream. By this time, Tim was begging and praying for some ice cream:
Well, they only had ice cream in pint cartons. That’s unacceptable. But they pointed us to “Seasons Pizza” where we could find ice cream helmets. (Referring back to the directory above, we usually get Tim’s ice cream helmet at “Old City Creamery” behind section 137 on the 3B line).
So on we marched on our ice cream buying-and-eating trek that would eventually have us see almost the entire ball park…or so it seemed.
Indeed, Seasons Pizza had ice cream helmets with chocolate sprinkles ($5.00). We bought Tim’s helmet and went up into the stands so he could sit down and enjoy his helmet. We went toward the top of the upper deck so we’d be under cover. There were tons of open seats because everyone was packed into the concourses below.
Here is Tim at the first stop on our ice cream eating tour:
The rain stopped. They started to uncover the field. Here is what it looked like from our first ice cream seats of the day:
Soon, people came for our seats. Tim decided he wanted to go down to the field level. I thought that seemed like a good idea. There are a lot of standing room counters on which tim usually sits to eat his ice cream while I stand and watch the game.
We headed down numerous flights of stairs until we found ourself in the field level concourse. Or, I should say, the still extremely over crowded field level concourse. Number of counter spots available: zero.
So we heaed up to the second deck down the LF line. Not gonna work.
So we headed back to the third deck where there are also lots of standing room counters. Unfortunately, they are out in the open and, consequently, they were soaked. But we eventually found one that was under cover.
The melted ice cream eating resumed:
It looked really cool up there with the sun coming through the rain clouds. The bad part was that they were about to start playing the game again, and we couldn’t see the field.
Instead, this was our view:
So it was on to our third set of ice cream seats — actually another counter, not seats.
This counter was wet too. But luckily I bring lots of extra clothes for Tim — in case he destroys his clothes with chocolate ice cream — so I could wipe down a spot for Tim to sit.
Here was our view from our third and final ice cream spot:
It was a long road to this final ice cream eating spot — but we were happy with our journey and destination. We recorded the moment with a self portrait:
Hey, look at that, the Ryan Howard shift!
Next, we decided to go spend some time in the outfield and by the bullpens. We’ve never really hung out by the bullpen at Citizens Bank Park before. So I thought it would be a nice plan.
On the way down the long ramps in the LF corner, I took some pictures of the front and back of the big scoreboard/video screen in LF…
…then it was time to head to Ashburn Alley in CF…
In the picture to the right, the green walls going down into a big pit are the walls of the bullpens.
Tim loved the statue of Richie Ashburn out there:
Tim kept calling the statue a “Trophy.” He loves trophies! In this picture, he is swinging a fake bat and then running to the base on which Richie is standing. He did that over-and-over-and-over-again.
Here is the view of Ashburn Alley from the Ashburn “Trophy”:
Next, we headed over to the area by the bullpens where we found a steel beam with a two foot high concrete base…
Tim had fun standing inside the groove in the beam, and the concrete base was great for boosting me above all of these fans (top right) standing around “watching” the game. We also had a good view of the bullpens if we scooted a few feet closer to CF:
In the picture to the right, the Phillies’ Andrew Carpenter is warming up (the ball looks like a blur in the middle of the picture) and the Cardinals relievers are milling about up top. Carpenter came in and gave up a HR to Julio Lugo.
I took the picture to the left because I thought it was an interesting view of the outfield wall. You can see the corner of the Phillies’ bullpen in the bottom right of that picture.
In the RF corner of the field level concourse, there are a couple big baseball games and a BBQ stand. I’ve never taken Tim over there because I haven’t wanted to test his patience standing in line for the games. However, at this game, I decided he was ready — and he did great standing in line watching the other kids play the game. Here is the game we played:
The kid in the Utley shirt is standing at the control box. There are two big buttons. One says “pitch” and one says “swing” When you press the pitch button, a door opens up on the pitcher’s hand and a volleyball sized baseball rolls down the board. Then you press swing and try to hit the ball into one of the slots at the top. You get three outs.
Most of the kids got three outs without getting any hits. The first kid we watched who got a hit was a pro at it. He ended up scoring four runs. Tim and I played together and we ended up with two triples and one run scored.
Here is the view of the RF-RCF seats and concourse from the Ballpark Pinball game:
These pictures are the same, but taken on different settings of my camera. The red arrow is pointing toward the top of our standing room beam.
And here is a picture taken from our beam toward the concourse leading to the RF foul pole and the 1B infield concourse:
You can’t tell from this shot, but the concourses at Citizens Bank Park provide a ton of room for standing room viewing of the game. My only complaint is that the concourses are often windy. However, it was nice at this game. Really no noticable wind in the RCF concourse area.
Next, Tim wanted to go up onto an elevated walkway all the way out in deep CF. They call it the “rooftop” for some reason. They have cheap bleachers out there. We took a couple panaramics up there, here is the first which is closer to the small section of bleachers (the bleachers are toward the RF side of the rooftop — and are shown in the first picture in this entry, below the liberty bell):
The rooftop seems like a nice place to hang out and have some drinks and food with friends. There are a bunch of picnic tables with umbrellas for shade up there. But the big brick wall blocks out your view of a huge portion of the outfield. The wall is the backside of the batters eye.
As you’ll see in the next picture, during the game, they fence off the bottom section of the historical time-line and wall of fame area to the left end of the brick wall. My guess is they do that so people don’t stand on the fence and bug the people in the bullpen, which is just below that area.
Here is another picture from the rooftop where you can see the red and blue fence blocking the area above the bullpen. Also, this is taken from deeper CF, toward left a bit, and it provides a much clearer view of the field:
We took this funny picture of ourselves before heading down from the rooftop:
Finally, we headed down to the fancy seats behind the Phillies dugout for the ninth inning. The Cardinals were blowing out the Phils so there were plenty of empty seats and no one checked out tickets when we went down between innings.
This was our view of the Phils hitting in the ninth:
Above, on that swing, Pedro Feliz grounded out. Below, two seconds later, Carlos Ruiz got nailed in the side of the leg. Matt Stairs followed with a fielder’s choice / error by Albert Pujols. Finally, J-Roll and Victorino grounded out to end the game.
At the beginning of the game, they announced that Adrian Johnson was the home plate umpire. They don’t have a separate umpire tunnel at Citizens Bank Park. I wasn’t sure if they would exit through the Phillies dugout or the Cardinals. I figured we’d try the Phillies side. But I figured wrong.
After the final out was recorded, Johnson started walking toward the Cardinals dugout. I yellowed, “Hey, Mr. Johnson, Adrian Johnson!” He stopped and turned around and looked my way for maybe five seconds. He couldn’t figure out who called his name. So he turned around again and left. No umpire ball for Team Cook. Thus, we snapped our family record 7 game streak of getting a ball. Oh, well. It wasn’t a surprise, we’ve got a grand total of 1 ball ever at Citizens Bank Park (from Rockies 1B coach and former Mariner Glenallen Hill) and 1 total ball ever from the Phillies (J-Roll in D.C. in May).
All in all, we had a great time at the ball park — highlighted by our tour of the park looking for a spot for Tim to eat his ice cream.
And, the Jonas Brothers must have let out early. It only took about an hour and a half to get home.
Season Fan Stats:
20 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
16 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers and Cardinals– and sort of the Giants)
16 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (4), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
18 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)