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|