I woke up on May 2, 2008 with no plans except to put in a solid day at work. Soon, my plans would change.
I received a call in the morning. One of my collegues has a brother who is an executive in the Phillies front office. Tim and I would be joining a group of guys later that night in one of the Phillies Hall of Fame Club suites:
Tim and I had never been to the Hall of Fame Club. Citizens Bank Park has two levels of suites. The normal “Suite Level” is just above the field level and is accessed through a “no frills” suite level walk way. You can see that here.
The HOF Club is above the 200-level seating. The “concourse” for the HOF Club isn’t a concourse at all. Instead, its a indoor “Club” with a bar and couches, etc., etc.
For some inexplicable reason, I failed to take pictures of the HOF Club as a whole. But, I did take a picture of a wall of baseballs in the club…
…the wall is pretty cool. However, the balls clearly aren’t game balls or even batting practice balls. They were never used. I think it would be more impressive if the balls were rubbed up with mud and/or scuffed so you knew they’d seen some action on the field below the HOF Club.
I also took a zoomed in picture of the bottom of the bar in the HOF Club…
Anyway, the bat bar is pretty cool. But, again, the bats obviously aren’t used. I think it would be pretty sweet if they’d upgrade the bar with game used bats with scuff marks, pine tar stains, player signatures burned into the barrels, etc., etc. Still, its a cool bar.
So, we made our way into the suite. The Phils were hosting the Giants. The Phils jumped out to a quick lead in the first inning when Jayson Werth singled, stole second, and was driven in on Chase Utley’s 12th homerun of the still young season.
As the Phils were holding down the Giants’ offense, Tim was scarfing down delicious suite food. After a jumbo hot dog main course, Tim moved on to a seemingly never ending dessert course. Here he is showing off our “suite” view of the game and his first “sweet” tasting chocolate covered pretzel:
This may well have been Tim’s first chocolate covered pretzel of his life, but it wasn’t his last of the night. He would have just kept going, so I had to step in and stop him after 2…or maybe 2-and-a-half…pretzels.
He was a happy, sugar filled little boy…
One note about that picture. You’ll notice I am not wearing my usual all-Mariners attire. I opted for the red Rawlings T-shirt and my Reading Phillies hat because I was essentially a guest of the Phillies at this game. There was no way I was dressing Tim up in Phillies garb (actually, I couldn’t if I wanted to he doesn’t own any). But I felt too bad to have us both in all-Mariners gear with no Phillies representation.
Anyway, we were having a great time as the game progressed. We split time between the three rows of seats in the front of our suite and the indoor section of the suite. As I mentioned, Tim was all hopped up on sugar and was full of energy…he was so excited he was literally running laps around the suite — as you can see in this short video clip.
As Tim ran laps of the suite, I spent some time chatting with our bartender. (Oh, yeah, our suite had its own bartender). He was a nice guy. He was a school teacher at a high school in the city. His wife let him work for the Phils part-time in the evenings. He usually worked somewhere else in the stadium. Somewhere with a better view of the game than from behind the bar at the back of the suite. He described his part-time job as getting paid to have season tickets to his favorite team. Nice.
So, after I shut down the chocolate covered pretzels gravy train…
…Tim moved on to big chocolate chip cookies. Yeah, its a tough life for young Timothy.
Each time Pat Burrell strode to the plate, I told our suitemates that he would almost certainly hit a homerun because he always hits a homerun for Tim. But the Giants kept him in the yard each time I made my announcement.
Late in the game, Tim kept graviting toward the bottom corners of the suite seating area. When I headed over to see what was going on, I found Tim…
…in deep conversation (well, “deep” for a 2 year old) with one of the stadium attendants working in the 200-level. He moved back and forth between the bottom corners of the suite chatting up this lady and another lady stationed below the other corner of the suite. Eventually, one of them gave Tim a little plastic Philly Phanatic figurine.
Sadly, like our last night game, Tim started getting mighty tired late in the game. Then something bad happened, Kyle Kendrick and Ryan Madison combined to give up three runs in the top of the seventh and the score was tied. Eventually, we headed into extra innings. Tim just couldn’t make it any longer.
Leading off the top of the tenth, former-Phil Aaron Rowand hit a solo-homerun off of J.C. Romero. That was it for us. With Tim having already reached the point of exhaustion, we headed to our car.
As we made our way to our car, Romero gave up two more hits but retired the Giants without surrendering any more runs. When we reached our car and I was strapping Tim into his car seat, we could hear the crowd chanting “M.V.P.! M.V.P.! M.V.P.!” Chase Utley was up. Soon the crowd erupted. I turned on the radio and learned that Utley had singled with one out. Ryan Howard struck out looking for the Phils’ 26th out of the night.
Then, on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, with 2-outs, a full-count, the Phils trailing by a run, the mighty Pat Burrell fulfilled my prophesy. He hit a 2-run walk off homerun to send the Phillies-faithful (and me and Tim) home happy.
Ah, good times.
So it was June 2007 by the time Tim’s second MLB game rolled around. Tim was about a year and a half old by this point and he was running around on his own and ready to have some fun at the game.
Unfortunately, Tim’s second game wouldn’t feature the Mariners. Instead, I introduced Tim to the National League and two teams competing for the N.L. East crown, the Phillies and the Mets. Tim’s second game would take place at his second MLB stadium, Citizens Bank Park.
At about 70 miles, Citizens Bank Park is the closest MLB stadium to our home in Berks County, Pennsyvlania. Philadelphia is the closest “big city” to our home. But in a year and a half of life, Tim had not yet visited the city where his parents met back in 1999. So, I decided to take him down early to see a tiny bit of the city before the game.
I had bigger plans, but time was running short before the game. So all we did was visit Rittenhouse Square:
I lived about 5 blocks from Rittenhouse Square when my wife and I met, and I’d walk through the Park everyday on my way here or there. Tim loved running around the Park for a short while. And then we were off to South Philadelphia.
We attended this game with a group of people from my office. Tim was a lucky little guy. His second game was also his second game in a suite! We arrived as the game was beginning, said our hellos, and started doing what you do in suites — we started eating tasty food:
Here is a look at the suite:
To the left, that’s a look from the entry way through the suite. To my left as I took that picture is a kitchenette area featuring various drinks, chips, crackers, dips, cheese trays, etc. And against the wall to the left (off camera) is a large flat screen for those who want to watch the game on TV rather than turning 90 degrees to their right and watching it live.
In the picture to the left, do you see the blue sky and clouds painted on the ceiling? The middle section of the ceiling looks like a nice sunny day and it has a picture of the Philly Phanatic skydiving into the suite. The middle picture is Tim pointing up at the Phanatic. He thought it was really cool.
Above to the right is a view of the field from the suite. When I took that picture, I was still standing in the main “suite” part of the suite. In front of me is a standing counter (actually, it also has tall chairs) and on the other side of the counter are three rows of stadium seating for the folks in the suite.
Here is a panaramic view of the field from the bottom of our three rows of stadium seating (featuring Tim in the bottom right corner):
Tim ran around the suite like crazy and provided comic relief for my colleagues. But after a while, he wanted to explore outside the suite. The main level of suites at Citizens Bank Park has its own concourse (just above the main concourse). Its just a big elevated walkway with access to all of the suites, but no concession stands, etc.
Tim and I exited our suite and he started running down the walkway toward home plate and then around toward LF. I took a video of him running and took the following screen shots from the video clip:
To the left is a view of the suite level concourse. This picture is just foul of third base. The suites and the field are to our right. The banners hanging to the left are hanging above the main concourse and are just inside what I consider to be the stadium’s main entrance (between home and 3B).
Above to the right is a view of the main entrance taken right around that hanging Jimmy Rollins banner shown in the picture to the left. Just to the left of the main entrance is McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon. Across the street to the right of the picture you can see the Spectrum, which Pearl Jam is closing down this weekend. Click here for a peak inside the Spectrum and see how Pearl Jam tied the World Series and Seattle-connection, Raul Ibanez, into their recent concert.
Back to the game. We reached the end of the suite level concourse and I found someone to take our picture with All-Time Mariners Career Wins Leader, Jamie Moyer:
In 2006, I’d been hoping all season that Moyer would pitch for the Mariners during Tim’s first game, but sadly he was traded before the trade deadline…and before Tim’s big day at the park. If he had to be traded I was happy he went to Philadelphia where Tim and I would still be able to see him pitch.
After a little roaming around, we returned to the suite and it was time for an important “first” — Tim’s first ice cream at the ballpark (in fact, I think this was also his first ice cream of his life):
As you can see, it wasn’t Tim’s first ice cream helmet (not quite yet). But it started a grand tradition — ice cream at the ballpark — it is a tradition that would just be made better with the introduction of the ice cream helmet on a later date.
Of course, soon after the last picture, I captured another (related) “first”…
And then there was nothing left to do but get our picture with the field…
The game didn’t go so well for the Phils. They lost 8-3. The star of the game was Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran who went 4-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. Paul LoDuca and David Wright also hit homeruns for the Mets.
Not much good happened on the Phils’ side of the box score. Ryan Howard was 2-4 with a homerun and 2 runs scored. Carlos Ruiz was also 2-4. But J.A. Happ earned the loss in his major league debut, and his only major league action in 2007.