During the offseason, I typed out a list of the nine Major League teams that Kellan had not yet seen play a game live. On April 20, 2013, we reduced the list to eight when Tim, Kellan and I headed down to Baltimore to meet up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in our first Camden Yards game of the season.
Tim has only seen the Dodgers twice. So we really haven’t had many opportunities to see Dodger all-stars like Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, or Andre Either. I was really looking forward to seeing these guys up close during BP. But, unfortunately, I knew BP might not happen because the Orioles planned to do an on field tribute to Earl Weaver before the game. On April 19th, our BP fate was sealed. Rain washed out the Friday night game and a day-night doubleheader was scheduled for Saturday. We were going to attend the night game.
As we approached Camden Yards a bit after 4:00 p.m., fans were streaming out…
…from the first game, which was won by the Orioles.
We met up with Avi…
…Tim Andreson, and Romeo (whom we’ve seen a lot at games, but I had never known his name). Three huge lines had formed at three of the four gates closer to the warehouse side of Eutaw Street. For some reason, there were no fans at all lined up at the fourth gate on the field side of Eutaw. We were deep in line at the second gate when one of Avi’s friends (who I’ve seen a lot but have no clue what her name is) came and told us that an usher said the fourth gate was also opening with all of the rest. So, as you can see in the photo above, we jumped up to first in line at the fourth gate.
When the gates opened at 5:00 p.m., we were among the very first people to run inside. When we approached the gate above the bullpens where they let season ticket holders in early, the gate was locked. Almost no one was in the stadium. I called over to an usher and he explained that the stadium was closed until 5:30 because stadium workers were cleaning up after game 1. Indeed, there were some stadium workers in the upper deck down the 1B line. But the field level was essentially empty.
Oh, well. We stood here for the next half hour and watched one Orioles pitcher throw a bullpen session…
…and, after he was finished, we just watched the grass grow.
This was the scene behind us:
If you’re a regular at Camden Yards, you probably recognize most of the people in the forground of that photo. To the far right is “stretch lady,” the hugger wearing the hard hat with feather Mohawk is Romeo, the guy to the left of Romeo’s head is Boston Doug (I just gave him that nickname), just behind Romeo’s hugging partner in the white jacket is Tim “Homerun” Anderson (I also just gave him that nickname). The girl with the long hair front in center in that photo is Avi’s friend who told us about the fourth gate opening. I feel like I should know her name.
This was our first Orioles game since our Camden Yards friend Matt Hersl was killed in a terrible, tragic, stupid, senseless one car wreck. The driver of that car better get the book thrown at him. Matt was a big character and a staple-part of all of our Camden Yards experiences over the last several years. It was really weird that Matt wasn’t in that crowd above. Normally, in this situation, he’d be standing right at the front of the line with all of these Camden Yards regulars.
I worked up this photo…
…, which I happened to have on my phone, and showed it to the usher standing at the gate. He gave me a business card so I could send it to the O’s as my suggestion of honoring Matt. I doubt it will happen, but it would be really fitting.
Anyway, pregame was incredibly slow and uneventful. When the gates opened at 5:30, we hustled around to the Dodgers dugout where there was absolutely no action. We sat and chatted with Tim Anderson for a long time:
Look how excited T.A. is to hear about T.C.’s Kirkland Brand Nut & Seed bar!
After snacking a bit, the boys jumped back two rows and put on an air guitar concert:
Eventually, a Dodgers coach who (from a far) I initially thought was Don Mattingly came out and started chatting with someone in the front row right by the end of the netting. We ran over there to get a closer look. It wasn’t Don. But our new vantage point gave us a nice view of Dodgers starter Josh Beckett:
When a catcher headed out to the Dodgers bullpen, we figured we might as well follow along. So we watched A.J. Ellis…
…practice blocking balls in the dirt. When he finished up, he chatted with a guy in the stands who I think must have been his high school coach. He gave the guy two baseballs, and then autographed them after chatting for a few minutes. And the coach gave Ellis a jersey and hat. The jersey said “Ellis” on the back. He held it up with a smile and posed for a picture taken by some guys above/behind the bullpen. In the photo above to the left, Ellis is talking to the guys above the bullpen…possibly old high school teammates.
While Kellan and I watched all of this play out, Tim chatted up Romeo like you wouldn’t believe:
Of the time Tim spends awake and not at school, I think he is talking 97% of the time. The boy loves to chat and explain everything in great detail. I love Tim’s chattiness and energy.
Around 6:00 p.m., a ceremony started on field in memory of Earl Weaver. Weaver passed away over the offseason.
After a while, we headed over there to see what was going on. Rich Dempsey was speaking while he walked over there and, essentially, he spoke about how much he hated Weaver every day of his playing career, but later realized that he loved him.
Cal Ripken, Jr. and…
…Buck Showalter gave traditional “I-hated-him-free” talks about the great Earl of Baltimore.
I felt cheated by our lack of pregame time getting to see Dodgers. None of the big names were anywhere in sight. Eventually some guys, including Matt Kemp, came out to warm up along the LF foul line. Only about five guys game out.
I got a nice picture of Jerry Harriston running by us…
…and when the Dodgers headed in Luis Cruz tossed us his warm up ball. Actually, he had used that ball to play three-way warm-up catch with Nick Punto and Jaun Uribe.
With no action on the field, we headed off to the kids’ play area. After the kids’ heated up the radar gun…
…, I promised we could come right back after watching the first few Dodgers batters in the top of the first inning. So we headed back out to the field for the National Anthem:
And then we watched Carl Crawford lead off the game with a hit-by-pitch:
For aesthetic appeal, those Crawford pictures are out-of-order. The picture above on the fight (where Crawford is fouling the ball down the LF line) is actually the first pitch of the game.
Nick Punto was the second batter of the game and he singled to CF, sending Crawford to 3B.
He hung out in the cross aisle behind home plate until Matt Kemp batted:
Kemp hit a liner to SS that J.J. Hardy couldn’t handle in the air, but he picked up to force out Punto at 2B. Crawford stayed put at 3B. Then, as we walked back to the play area, Adrian Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to score Crawford from 3B and put the Dodgers on the board 1-0.
Unfortunately for Beckett, that was all of the run support he would get on the day.
Back at the play area, Tim and Kellan played a new game where you try to slingshot stuffed oriole birds into nests:
And they took some hacks in the cage. Here Kellan swung at a ball that the machine threw behind him:
And then they threw more pitches in the speed pitch:
Tim usually throws around 32-33 mph. The crowd always gets a kick out of Kellan when he pitches, but he can’t throw it fast enough to register on the gun. I missed getting a picture of it, but on Kellan’s last two throws, the guy running the speed pitch pushed a button that made the speed register come up at “125 mph.” The small crowd roared and applauded Kellan for his prodigious heater.
Next, we decided to grab some food. We headed out to Eutaw Street and around to the concession stand in LF. On our walk, Chris “Crush” David crushed a solo homer to tie up the game 1-1.
I can’t really place where we were at the point of each additional scoring play, so I’ll just say now that the Orioles scored 5 more runs during the game on fifth-inning doubles by Manny Machado and Adam Jones, and a sixth-inning homerun by Machado.
On our walk, we got pictures of the boys and Earl Weaver posing with their hands in their back pockets (well, Kellan used his front pockets)…
…, preparing to take their hacks with Eddie Murray…
…, and pitching with Jim Palmer:
Avi met up with us in line for food. The place was packed for this game. In fact, Avi had got us some great seats in LF and we never even sat in them because it was way too crowded down there.
We decided to eat our food (hot dogs) on top of the batters’ eye…
…, which was also craaaazy packed:
After I took some pictures, an Orioles worker came and told me that I can’t use my camera flash when on top of the batters’ eye. I asked why and she explained it bothers the batters. That’s an absolutely logical and fine policy…but (looking at that last photo) do you think the batters could see my flash during this game while buried behind 5-rows deep of standing room only fans?
For some reason (probably “because it’s fun”), Tim attacked Avi with food:
In that picture above to the left, Tim is trying to force-feed “pirates” (one of our favorite snacks) to Avi. Above to the left, Avi and Tim are hot dog wrestling.
After eating, we headed down from the batters’ eye and headed toward left field in search of ice cream – the word was that the O’s had new, two-tone ice cream helmets in 2013.
On our way, we met up with the Orioles Bird:
We decided to get ice cream in the upper deck and grab some last-row upper deck seats. I had already seen the two-tone helmets, so I knew they existed. But the upper deck only had the old, all-black helmets. So, after trekking up to the upper deck, we headed down many flights of stairs on our way back down to the field level. There, we found the two-tone helmets and he headed back up all of those stairs again.
During all of that walking, I got a group text from Alex Kopp showing off his new, fancy third out all that he’d just got from Adrian Gonzalez that this same game. I texted back that we were at the game too. Then Avi and Alex coordinated via text and we all met up at the very top of section 306:
Check out this beauty of an ice cream helmet:
And here is what the game looked like (zoomed in) from section 306:
The ice cream was good. But it made the boys freeze. Check out this multi-layered, frog-hatted ice cream eater:
Soon after Alex got that third out ball, he got a foul ball too. In the process, one of his fingers could smashed and was all bloody. So we all eventually headed to the first aid room. I wanted to get a good picture of the first aid room, but a lady was laid out on a cot. So this is the best I could do:
We spent the rest of the game either in the cross-aisle behind home plate or in the seats behind home plate. From the cross-aisle, I got a picture of the warehouse with Earl Weaver’s number “4” lit up in lights:
Here was our view from the cross-aisle:
Here (on the left) is Matt Kemp’s 8th inning ground-into-double-play…
…and A-Gon following (maybe not on that exact swing) with a harmless single to LF.
In the ninth, we took our normal Camden Yards ninth inning seats:
Trailing 6-1 in the top of the ninth, Andre Ethier…
…couldn’t help the Dodgers’ cause. He grounded out for the 25th Dodgers out of the night.
The crowd as a whole got a kick out of the horse fan sitting behind home plate:
Bonus points for anyone who can spot Avi and Boston Doug in this shot:
The game ended with a 6-1 Orioles win. On his way out of the ballpark, home plate umpire Tim McClelland gave a baseball to both Tim and Kellan.
After the game, an usher took a blurry picture of us:
And Manny Machado got shaving cream pied during his post-game interview:
It was great to be back at Camden Yards. On our way out of the seats, we got our Camden Yards bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
The boys both fell asleep right away once we hit the road.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
7 Teams – Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers
7 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo), Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2
13 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 3, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2
4 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards
11 Player Pictures – Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen
Since Kellan’s birth in mid-July, our family has been crazy busy. Tim and I only went to one game in July. But we had big plans for August.
It all started on August 8, 2010, when Tim and I hopped in our trusty Prius and headed down to Camden Yards to see the Orioles take on the Chicago White Sox.
We had one major goal for the day: get Tim’s picture with former Mariners ace Freddy Garcia. I loved Freddy as a Mariner, and I thought it would be great to meet him. And what better place than at Camden Yards? I don’t know if there is another stadium where the players are as accessible as they are in Baltimore.
One problem, we didn’t have “season tickets” that would allow us to get into the main part of the stadium half an hour early. And our man with the season tickets hook-up, Camden Yards regular Avi Miller, was home ill.
So, we hung out in the shady seats in RCF for the first half hour…
…it really didn’t matter too much though. There was no batting practice and almost no one was on the field. One Oriole was running in deep RF, and he gave Tim a wave a said “hi” as he ran by at one point. A little later, a couple White Sox came out to play catch in shallow LF. I used my camera to zoom in on them, and Freddy was not among them.
When the stadium finally opened, we headed over to the 3B line to watch the remaining White Sox play catch. I did not recognize any of them…
Eventually, Mr. 68 headed back toward the dugout. He tossed a baseball to a kid in a White Sox shirt and another to a kid in a Mariners hat…
There was NOTHING happening on the field.
We headed over to LF for no apparent reason. While over there, we ended up getting a special picture — with Babe Ruth — for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. Then we got a picture of the two of us in the cross-aisle…
We hung out over there for a while, but then I had an idea. There is something special that the O’s do before pretty much every game. The O’s Bird heads out to LF and plays a little whiffleball with kids he pulls out of the crowd. He does all sorts of funny stuff, like throwing a base when the kids are running the bases.
Its been my goal all season to get Tim involved, but it hasn’t happened. In the car ride on the way down, I asked Tim if he’d like to try to play whiffle ball with the Bird. I had to prep him for the possiblity because he takes his base running seriously. I feared that he would get upset if he didn’t understand that the Bird likes to do things such as throw the bases while a kid is running the bases. It was good that I prepped him, because he didn’t understand why the Bird would do that. I told him it was just to be funny and play a joke on the kids. Tim liked that and he was excited to try to get in on the whiffleball.
When I remembered it, I asked Tim if he still wanted to try to play whiffleball with the Bird. He did. So I suggested we head back into the stadium. Right when we made it down the LF line, I saw two O’s employees walking out with an equipment bag. I flagged them down and asked if Tim could get in on the whiffle ball action. The answer was “YES!” Sweet.
When the Bird arrived, the guy I’d asked came over and pulled Tim out of the stands…
Essentially, each kid just takes one hit and then rounds the bases. Tim was ready for the next pitch…
As Tim rounded first, the Bird ran to second base…
[TIME OUT: I have to mention that the last picture is one of my favorites. As Tim is rounding first, you can see Juan Pierre and Alex Rios walking in shallow CF, Carlos Quentin is at the far right walking toward the foul line, and a couple Orioles are playing catch in deep CF. How cool is that? The next kid actually hit the ball to “RF” and Alex Rios fielded it and gunned it back to the Bird.]
…Instead, the Bird just stood there as Tim approached to touch second. Then, the Bird grabbed the base and used it like a matador’s red cape…
Tim immediately bolted for third. He thrives on eluding would-be taggers. The Bird chased behind Tim trying to tag him…
Tim scored! And then he kept running straight back to me. He was only out there for a minute or two, but he had a blast and absolutely loved it. He wants to do it again!
After whiffleball, a former Mariners great (but not Freddy Garcia) was signing autographs down the foul line. I had totally forgot that slick fielding former M’s short stop Omar Vizquel plays for the White Sox this season. But, guess what? He does.
And here he is signing the baseball that Erick Threets had given to Tim earlier in the day:
Now here is something interesting (at least to me). We’re not big autograph guys (we’re picture guys). In fact, before reading it on other MLBlogs, I had never even heard the term “the sweet spot.” But, over the past two seasons, Tim and I have collected about 10-15 autographs on baseballs that we’ve caught at games, and Omar is the first and only player to ever sign his name on the sweet spot. Every single other player has signed his name on…whatever they call the non-sweet spot.
As I said, autographs are good, but we’re picture guys. So this was the real prize:
For the record, that is Tim and a future Hall of Famer. I know his offensive numbers aren’t all that special (actually, his hit total is pretty special), but I would put Omar Vizquel up against any short stop in the history of baseball. The guy is absolutely incredible with the glove. I seriously do not think there has been a better short stop in the game, at least during my life time. And guess what? Omar’s offensive numbers are as good or better than Ozzie Smith’s numbers. So for my money, the guy is a first ballot Hall of Famer.
Bottom line: when we weren’t able to get a picture with Freddy, this picture with Omar more than made up for the disappointment.
A few minutes later, we watched Omar show off some of his fancy glove work…
…along the foul line. Omar can catch a baseball by letting it just tap the heel of his glove to deaden the throw before his bare hand swipes the ball out of the air. Its truly amazing, and incredibly hard to do. I’ve only been able to do it a couple times in my life. I should have taken a video of it because Little O was doing it here and trying to teach his teammate (not Ramirez, but the guy out in CF) how to do it. If you ever want to learn a thing or two about catching a baseball, you should seriously consider just taking a seat and watching Omar during pre-game warm ups.
By the time the game started, we’d already had a full day’s worth of fun.
It seems like we are always on the RF/1B side of the stadium at Camden Yards. I wanted to switch it up. We started off the game in the handicapped accessible seats in the cross-aisle behind section 62. We were standing in the cross-aisle and I asked the usher which way was north so I could figure out which direct the sun would be moving. I told him we wanted to avoid the sun. He suggested we sit in the handicapped accessible seats behind the section he was working, which were shaded at the time.
Here was the view:
Tim pointed out the pitchers mound for me…
Then, Tim took over the controls of the camera. Here are some samples of the shots he took:
In the top of the first, Guthrie gave up a single to Alex Rios and a double to Paul Konerko, but escaped without giving up any runs. Buehrle sat the Orioles down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first.
The first scoring of the day occurred in the bottom of the second inning. O’s left fielder Felix Pie drove a solo homerun deep into the flag court yard in RF.
Two batters later, Cesar Izturis…
As the all-time greats go, 1,000 hits is nothing. But when you think about it, to be able to collect 1,000 hits in major league baseball is pretty special. So congratulations to Cesar.
In the bottom of the third, I was all set to try to get an action shot of Omar Vizquel adding another hit to his impressive resume (as of today he has 2,778 hits). Unfortunately, I had to settle for this picture…
…of Omar about to hit a foul ball. Omar did actually get a hit in this at bat and I did get a picture of the swing, but Tim walked in front of the camera. It would be the only picture Tim blocked on the day, and it would be Omar’s only hit. Oh, well.
A couple innings later, we found ourselves sitting in LF where this was our view:
However, we did see Omar hit again (in the top of the 5th inning) while we were in LF:
The score did not stay tied long. And we didn’t stay long in LF. Tim wanted to move back into the shade. So we went and grabbed an Orioles Ice Cream Helmet and relocated to another set of handicapped accessible seats, this time in the cross-aisle behind section 47.
Here was our view:
All of the Birdland faithful were hoping that Adam “Not Pacman” Jones could make it back-to-back-to-back RBI doubles, but, alas, he could not. With this not mighty enough swing…
By the way, Tim really latched onto Quentin during this game. During pre-game warmups we were discussing the players we were watching and I pointed out Quentin. Tim started talking about “Carlos” like they were old buddies. Each time Quentin came to the plate, Tim would mention, “Hey, its Carlos.” And after this catch, we discussed how Tim’s good friend “Carlos” caught that high pop fly.
Fan favorite Jeremy Guthrie was still in the game and he was “dealing”…
After Little O bunted this Guthrie offering foul…
Leading off the bottom of the 7th inning, Cesar Izturis started in on his second thousand hits by driving a 2B to deep LCF for his 1,001st hit. After advancing to 3B on a passed ball, Izturis scored the O’s fourth and final run of the day on a single by Brian Roberts.
Guthrie was back on the hill in the 8th inning, and he mowed down the ChiSox 1-2-3, including this harmless ground out by Paul Konerko…
While scouting out seats from the cross-aisle slightly shaded toward 1B, someone (can’t remember who) hit a foul ball DIRECTLY to the handicapped accessible seat that I had been sitting in for the last several innings. All I would have had to do was stand up and make the uncontested catch. Bummer.
Anyway, this was our view for the bottom of the ninth inning:
…and then a homerun to Ramon Castro. That made the score 4-3 Orioles. But that was all she wrote. Simon would get the next two batters (Brad Lillibridge and Juan Pierre) to secure the win for Guthrie and the save for himself.
Something else interesting happened during the ninth inning, the ushers on both sides of the umpire tunnel were actively assisting kids in trying to get an umpire ball. One usher stopped by and told Tim and a girl sitting behind us “The umpire’s name is Phil, you should ask him for a baseball when he leaves the field” while another usher on the other side of the tunnel brought three little kids down to the second row and sat them right on the tunnel with instructions to ask Cuzzi for a baseball.
Cuzzi came off the field after the final out and handed one baseball to one of the kids the usher had sat on the 3B side of the umpires tunnel. Then he approached Tim and placed a second baseball in his glove…
Thanks, Mr. Cuzzi!
Hey, guess what? It was time for Kids Run the Bases!
The O’s held the promotion exclusively for members of the O’s Dugout Club. We visited the extremely helpful and nice O’s fan assistance office to inquire about how Tim could become a member so he could run the bases. It costs $12 and comes with all sorts of goodies. But the lady in the fan assistance office (probably rightfully thinking we were in from out of town and were not O’s fans) suggested that we could probably run without Tim becoming a member of the club. So, we saved our $12 and did not join the club.
I was a little nervous because almost every kid in line was wearing some evidence of being a member of the club, everyone but Tim. But it didn’t matter. They made no effort to check to see if people were members of the club.
When we reentered the stadium to run the bases, the usher who is usually out on Eutaw Street spraying fans and giving out baseball cards was spraying people with his water bottle in the concourse. But he wasn’t handing out any baseball cards…that is, he wasn’t until we arrived.
As Tim approached to get sprayed, I said to him, “You gotta say “‘Hit me!'” Immediately upon saying that to Tim, the usher (whose name, I think, is Greg??), proclaimed, “He said the MAGIC WORDS!”…
It was time to run some bases. As Tim waited in the line at first base (the O’s were making the effort to space out the runners, which we always appreciate), I got a shot of the visitors dugout:
I got this shot of Tim stomping on second base:
Third base also cooperated with my camera:
Before heading up into the stands, we posed for a few pictures on the field, including this one…
…with the baseball from Phil Cuzzi.
- Whiffle ball in the outfield with The Bird;
- An autograph from and picture with former Mariner and future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel;
- Kids Run The Bases; and
- Father-Son fun.
Wow – It was an excellent day! Not only that, it was a truly excellent weekend of baseball fun (this was the Sunday immediately following our campout in the Reading Phillies’ outfield).
Fun, fun, fun.
Thank you, Baseball. We missed you!
2010 Fan Stats:
17 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics and White Sox; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
16 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
40 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox)
10 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park)
13 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
9 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
6 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards)
Hope springs eternal in the month of April. And entereing April 2008, I was hopeful that the Mariners were about to embark on a successful campaign in the AL West. And I was happy to be there at the beginning of it all. For the first weekend of the 2008 season, the Mariners were in Baltimore and that is where we met up with them on April 6, 2008.
As we approached the field for the first time of the season…
Soon after we arrived, the Camden Yards grounds crew removed the tarp from the field…
With no batting practice taking place, we took the opportunity to get a family picture by the LF foul pole:
Then we headed over to our seats in centerfield:
And even better, Felix Hernandez was dealing like crazy on the mound. In his second start of the season, he pitched 8 scoreless innings, gave up only 5 hits, struck out 6 and maintained his flawless 0.00 ERA.
To go along with King Felix’s mastery, Raul Ibanez put together a 3-4 day at the plate including his first homerun of the season to help lead the Mariners offense.
Everything was looking great, and Tim (and I) was having a blast…
…yep, I caught me a knucklehead.
As the innings ticked by and the Mariners marched toward an apparent win, the kids were excited to see the Orioles Bird visit the outfield seats:
But then things turned dark.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Mariners had a 2-0 lead. King Felix had dominated from his 1st pitch to his 97th pitch. But for some reason, soon-to-be-fired Mariners manager, John McLaren pulled Felix and went to the bullpen.
It took Eric O’Flaherty only three batters to get the first two outs, and give up the first Orioles run of the day. O’Flaherty’s fourth-and-final batter-faced, Luke Scott, hit a single. That was all she wrote for O’Flaherty.
With two outs, a runner on first, and a 1-run lead, Mark Lowe entered the game. Another bad decision by McLaren. Lowe’s first batter hit a single sending pinch-runner Adam Jones to third. Lowe then threw a wild pitch and Adam Jones came in to tie the game at 2-2…
We started praying for extra-innings. But one batter later, Luis Hernandez hit another single bringing in the losing run.
Aye, aye, aye…a great day with friends at the ballpark ended in misery…it was a gut-wrenching Mariners loss. Unfortunately, it would be a sign of things to come for the 2008 Mariners.
Now, I realize that the title of this entry looks a little risque. But I assure you it it not. Read on and eventually you’ll see what its all about.
On October 4 – the final day of the regular season (for everyone except the Twins and Tigers), Tim and I headed down to Camden Yards for our final game of what has been an outstanding 2009 season.
It was sad to think it was all coming to an end, already. As we drove south, there was evidence of the end of baseball. The “This Is Birdland” billboard off of Route 83 in York, PA — gone. It has been there all season. Worse yet, the Birdland billboards in Baltimore itself were also gone. Finally, all season every street in downtown Baltimore had been adorned with numerous Orioles lamp-top signs. All gone. Sad.
So, here we were in Baltimore, closing out our in-person baseball season on the final Sunday of the season in the same place we had opened our in-person baseball season back in April on the first Sunday of the 2009 season.
Tim and I have seen a lot of great things and created a lot of great memories this season. I was ready for one more day of it, but wishing there would be more.
Our first peak down Eutaw Street revealed some stadium attendants readying this beautiful baseball venue for one more hoorah before the off-season:
We arrived early for batting practice. But when we arrived I figured out that I had mistakenly thought it was a 1:05 start. In fact, it was a 1:35 start and the stadium wasn’t even open yet. So we had some time to kill before the gates opened at 11:35.
No problem. Every time we’d visited Baltimore this season, I’d wanted to get a picture of Tim with the Babe Ruth statue. Now, we finally had some free time to do so:
Notice how there is no “8” in the bottom right picture? About a month or two ago, four teenagers decided it would be a great idea to steal Ripken’s “8.” It was all caught on camera and they were caught red-handed a short time after taking the “8.” I was surprised it still had not beeen restored to its normal spot.
In my pictures this season, I’ve shown a lot of views of the warehouse from the field area. It looks like a long brick building from there. But you can’t tell how deep of a building it is. So, I took this picture from outside the CF gate that shows the warehouse isn’t very wide:
When they finally let us into the stadium, we found there was no BP. I guess it wasn’t a huge shock. It was a Sunday day game and the last game of the season and both teams were long since eliminated. But, still, I thought they might hit just because it would make the fans happy. No dice.
Despite no BP, they still had the stadium closed off except for season ticket holders who were free to go into the stadium to not watch BP:
Finally, they opened the rest of the stadium. Tim hopped up on my shoulders and we walked the main field level aisle to take in the scenes of Camden Yards. Here is our view as we approached home plate:
…the guy closest to us in the picture above to the left is Brandon Leauge. Tim and I walked up to the railing and Tim yelled, “HI, ICHIRO! Can I have that baseball?” I explained that League wasn’t Ichiro. Tim asked where Ichiro was. Not here, unfortunately.
A few minutes later, Jeremy Accardo (pictured above to the right) walked by on his way to the dugout. He walked up to us and pulled a ball out of his back pocket and handed it to Tim.
Then he proceeded down the baseline and started signing autographs by the end of the Jays’ bullpen. With ball still in hand, Tim followed Accardo all the way down the line. I followed along and grabbed a sharpie out of my backpack. I told Tim to get up to the front of the group and ask Accardo to sign the ball he’d just given Tim. Tim got up to the front and set the ball and sharpie on the top of the fence and then he uttered one of his funniest lines of the season:
“Excuse me, can you scribble on my ball?”
Accardo and the entire group of autograph seekers broke into laugher. Accardo scribbled on Tim’s ball.
Then we headed to the kids’ play area. First, Tim heated up the gun on the kids’ speed pitch:
…usually the bouncy house is packed. But it was only Tim and that little girl for a while. No one was in line so they got to bounce for a long time. Eventually, the girl grabbed onto Tim’s leg and took him down like a freestyle wrestler. Tim fell to the ground and complained to his tormentor:
“Don’t play with me. I’m not a toy!”
As game time approached, we headed back to the field and watched the grounds crew chalk the batters box:
Finally, it was game time and we headed to our seats. We were right on the railing by the batters eye. Check out all of the grass they’ve transplanted from the batters eye area to fix grass on the field:
Wow — somehow I put this picture totally out of place. But check out how wide open and empty the concourse was behind 3B…
Back to our seats in CF, I took this action shot of Ricky Romero striking out (I think) Brian Roberts:
…see the red arrow? It is pointing to the seat I’d be sitting in to end our in-person baseball season. See the guy in the seat in front of the red arrowed-seat? After each pitch, he presses a button that flashes up on a little screen a description of the pitch (i.e., 92 M.P.H. fastball).
For the second weekend in a row, we were sitting behind Vernon Wells…
If you’ve been following this blog this season, you know that Camden Yards is the only stadium we’ve ever visited that doesn’t have ice cream helmets. Since early June I’d had an idea and I finally implimented it at this game…
I wanted to do this in late June when we saw the Nationals in Baltimore, but I forgot the helmet at home somehow.
It was pretty cool to be scraffing down a Seattle Mariners ice cream helmet in Baltimore. And, I’m pretty sure that Tim is the only person to have an ice cream helmet in Baltimore this season. That’s pretty cool to say. But, I hope that thousands of people get the joy of eating an ice cream helmet at this classic ballpark next season.
By the way, this was an excellent ice cream helmet. Real strawberry ice cream with chunks of strawberries and sprinkles. Delicious.
After his ice cream helmet, Tim asked to go to his favorite spot, the flag pavillion. On the way, he posed for this picture at the top of section 90:
Tim loves the flag pavillion…
This was our view from over the RF wall…
…we were out toward the CF side because the wall is lower on that side. Down by the RF foul pole, the fence is about a foot taller, it seems, and you have to stand right at the fence to see over it. In CF, you can stand back a little bit and still see the action.
Tim decided that the big diamond shaped pattern on the ground was a baseball field, and the dark corners were bases…
In the picture to the top left, Tim is sitting in the “dugout.” After a few seconds, he yelled “Now batting, Roehner” (fyi, Roehner is Tim’s imaginary pro-baseball player friend). Then he jumped up (top right) and ran toward the home plate corner of the pattern and said, “Yay, I’m up.” It was pretty cute.
I’ve taken a lot of pictures of this awesome park, but I realized I’d never taken a panaramic view of the Eutaw Street warehouse. Well, here you go:
Oh, yeah, my man Ken Griffey, Jr. can hit some BOMBS! The one on the left is the only ball to ever hit the warehouse on the fly. (Yes, I’ve included a picture of this before, but who cares, its worth a second, third, or fifteenth picture, so don’t count on this being the last).
Late in the game, we headed behind home plate and hung out in prime foul ball territory — above the main cross aisle. This was our view:
In this picture, Tim is looking down into the main aisle taking rapid fire pictures of people walking by:
Here are a few of my favorite shots Tim took toward the end of the game:
Top left, Tim’s view from his perch on my shoulders (you can see he is looking over my shoulders). Top right, Tim took a shot of some writers in the press box. Bottom right, this cute little fan waved up to Tim as he was taking his rapid fire fan shots (it was hilarious when this picture came up in the sequence of his fan shots). Bottom left, I’m filling up Tim’s travel water cup (actually a baby’s sippy cup) at the water fountain out beyond RF.
Back to our foul ball spot behind the plate, here is a panaramic view:
As the ninth inning approached, I asked Tim if he wanted to go down behind home plate and see if the umpire would give us a ball at the end of the game. Of course, he did. So, we found some great seats in the 8th row off of the umpires’ tunnel. Here was the view:
The game went into the bottom of the 11th inning still tied 3-3. The Blue Jays brought in Brandon League to try to shut down the O’s for one more inning. Big mistake. The first batter got a solid base hit. The second batter laid down a nice sacrifice bunt. League fielded it near 1B and *shot put* over the head of the first basemen for an E-1. With runners on first and second and no one out, the third batter laid down another sacrifice bunt. Again, League fielded it. Again, League threw it away. This time he spiked it into the dirt in front of 1B. It went by whoever was covering 1B and squibbed into shallow RF. The lead off batter scored easily from 2B. And that was it. Season over for the O’s and Jays.
And it was “go time” as far as trying to get our final umpire ball (and final ball period) of the 2009 season. One piece of background here. During the 9th or 10th inning, Tim yelled “Umpire can I have a ball?” during a break between half-innings. The umpire looked up at Tim, but had no expression on his face. Still, I thought he had heard Tim.
Now, back to the end of the game. We were in the 8th row on the 1B side of the umpire tunnel. We couldn’t get any lower because there were people in every other row — mostly adults, but a few kids at the very bottom. But right when the third out was recorded about 10,000 kids flooded the first row. I figured there was no chance for us to get an umpire ball in the 8th row.
Triple-A call-up umpire Todd Tichenor walked through the gate and emptied his baseball bags into his umpire’s mask. He had about 6 balls, it seemed. He stopped in the first row and gave them all out to screaming little kids. I figured the deal was done. No umpire ball.
Then Tichenor started walking into the tunnel. He walked directly below us. Tim and I were peering over the brick wall and I said, “Hey, do you have one more ball for my son?” Without looking up, Tichenor stopped directly in front of us. His right hand reached into the bag attached to his right hip and pulled out *the final umpire ball of Camden Yards 2009 season* and lofted it directly up to us.
“THANK YOU, BLUE!”
Tim got all excited when he looked at the baseball and saw the MLB batter logo on the ball. “Daddy, there is a Mariner on my ball!” A few minutes later he would add, “When I was a baby, I didn’t realize there were Mariners on the baseballs.” That gave me a chuckle.
Sadly, we started to make out way out of the stadium for the final time in 2009. Just then, we saw the Oriole’s Bird signing autographs down the 1B line. We made our way to the front of the line and got a high five and a very serious looking picture with the Bird:
As we approached CF, we looked back toward the field. The gates to the OF seats were locked up, and we could see the Bird heading into the umpire’s tunnel for the final time of the 2009 season…
We took one last picture on our way out of Camden Yards:
But wait, when we arrived home, I watched the Mariners beat the Rangers for finish with 85 wins and a grand celebration on the field after the game. It was an awesome end to the Mariners season.
Bring on 2010!
Season Fan Stats:
32 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun (Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)
13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, “Jacobs” Field, and Rogers Centre)
25 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
27 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
37 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 3 Umpire, 3 Astros, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1, 1 Blue Jays)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
6 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Aaron Hill, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry, Jeremy Accardo)
5 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)
Up Next: Cook & Son’s 2009 Season-In-Review Wrap Up
Well, I’m new to this blogging thing, and I somehow managed to do this write up and delete half of it. So, with mild frustration, I’ll give it another go. (Click Picture for Bigger Version).
Safeco Field is my baseball home. However, on Sunday, Tim and I trekked down to Baltimore to visit our baseball home-away-from-home:
We visit Camden Yards every season to see the Mariners. However, this trip was to see the Rays — one of the final 10 teams we need to see this season so Tim can say he’s seen ’em all. Seeing the Rays vs. O’s also gave us a chance to catch up with two former Phils, Pat “The Bat” Burrell and Adam Eaton.
Here is a shot of Burrell fouling off a pitch against Eaton. We bought tickets in the cheap seats ($9/upper deck left field), but never sat in our seats. At the beginning of the game, we grabbed some snacks (nachos for me, fries for Tim) and found some nice seats behind the left field foul pole. As we munched on our ball park fare, we witnessed a very un-Camden Yards event, unruly patrons being threatened with ejection from the park.
Apparently, three 20’something guys, brews in hand, had been the recipients of several profanity complaints. They did not react well to the news that further cursing would result in the boot. As the guards were leaving, the lead hooligan said to his accusers, “Thanks a lot for the warm welcome to Camden Yards. Happy Easter!” Tim got all excited and started yelling really loudly, “Happy Easter! Happy Easter! HAAAAAAPPPPY EASTERRRRR!”
Meanwhile, the Pride of the Snohomish Panthers got Pat the Bat to pop out to right. As you may know, Adam Eaton is from Snohomish, Washington where his high school was a conference rival with my Edmonds-Woodway Warriors. I figure he grew up a Mariners fan and, like me, a huge fan of Ken Griffey, Jr. So, I found it interesting to see Eaton was sporting the sacred “24” on his back. One of my co-workers, a die-hard Phillies fan, told me it wasn’t a very good way for Eaton to pay his respects to Griff (a reference to Eaton’s poor performance while playing for the Phillies).
After we finished our food, we headed to the upper deck to check out the view from the general vicinity of our actual seats. Not too bad:
We also saw this bush made into a batter up there.
Next, we headed to Tim’s favorite spot at Camden Yards — the standing room area above the rightfield wall. It has an official name, honoring some former Oriole I can’t remember, but I like to just call it the flag pole courtyard. We we arrived at the flagpole courtyard, we were happy to see a beautiful flag announcing to the world the Mariners early-season dominance over the AL West:
Tim became so emotional after seeing this, he had to hug the Mariners first place pole
Tim loves running around all of the poles. And he always finds a puddle in need of some stomping. But this day, around the 5th or 6th inning, we received a surprise visitor out at the flag pole courtyard:
Right before this picture, Tim and The Bird had a full-on battle, a dancing battle. At the outset, it looked like the Bird was creeping up to Tim to give him a high five. But as the Bird approached, Tim busted out some crazy up-down arms/in-out legs dance moves. And the Dance Battle had begun. After Tim busted his moves, the Bird mirrored the moves. A small crowd gathered to watch and laugh. Tim then shimmied backwards, laid out backwards on the ground and rolled over a couple times. The Bird followed with the same. The crowd laughed more. Then, it was Tim’s turn. He popped to his feet and ran hard to the right looking back at the Bird over his shoulder and – BOOM! – he ran straight into the AL East first place flag pole (Blue Jays) and hit the deck. He thought it was hilarious. The Bird then started hobbling around like he was drunk.
Here is another picture of us with the Bird. This is actually pre-Battle, when Tim was sizing up his competition. A couple innings later (I believe in the 8th), Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena hit back-to-back jacks for the Rays. Pena’s HR ball landed just about where we are standing in this picture. It easily landed on the cement within 10 feet of us. I was blinded by the sun (as was everyone else) and totally lost the ball. The ball crashed hard to the pavement and bounced dirctly into a guys cheek bone and, from his face, back onto the field. A few minutes later, an Orioles attendant ran out with a bag of ice and a bottle of water for the guy.
Here is a good view of the flag courtyard:
The Pena homerun landed a couple feet closer to the camera from the closest pole direclty in the middle of the picture (the Rays flag pole). The Dance Battle with the Bird went down between the two furtherest poles in the middle and left side of the picture. Hey, while we’re standing right here, how about a picture of the original foul pole from Memorial Stadium?
Unless you’re in the tunnel, you cannot see the field from the concourse. However, there is plenty of standing room inside the stadium.
So, after hanging out for a long, long, long time in the flag pole courtyard and taking some picts for the panaramics above, it was time for a Cook tradition – ice cream in a home team helmet! Wait, the Orioles are one of the few teams out there who don’t have ice cream helmets. NOOOOOO!!!! I put in an official request (well, I told the lady in the fan assistance office that it was “official”) that they get ice cream helmets in the near future.
Tim didn’t seem to mind not having a helmet. And soon it was time for some jumping in the bouncy house!
Unfortunately, when it was time for Tim’s group of kids to clear out of the bouncy house, Tim (predictably) did not want to leave so this guy had to go get him (check out that sad face!):
Here is picture from the kids’ area looking toward the concourse.
From where I am standing with the camera, it is a hard right to get to right field and Eutaw Street. After taking this picture, we headed back to the courtyard for the Pena homerun. We then headed toward home plate to watch the rest of the game from the fancy seats. One great thing about Camden Yards (great for fans, not for the Orioles ownership) is that it is pretty empty a lot of the time. Lots of great seats to sit in. Here is a picture of us between the courtyard and home plate. An attendant actually took this right as we got to the field before the game.
And here are some view from the seats you can sit in after paying $9/ticket for the upper-deck:
We only sat in these seats for 1 inning. Tim was starting to get tired and grouchy from having no nap. After an inning, we went up directly behind home plate to see if anyone would foul a ball straight back. If they did, I figured I’d get it easily because no one was up there — maybe three people besides us. Well, I was wrong. A ball did get fouled straight back, but it hit the seats and richoted straight up. It landed on a little fence/ledge below the TV / radio booths. It then rolled toward the first base side for about 20 feet. Tim was on my shoulders and I trailed below the ball waiting for it to fall down. Unfortunately, it fell down about 5 feet in front of me and bounced once before falling down the stairway and directly to a teenage boy running up the stairs for the ball. Had the ball come down a foot or two in either direction, it would have missed the stairs and we would have gotten it easily. Bummer!
Anyway, here is a nice picture of the reverse view of the Pat Burrell photo above. When I took the Burrell photo, we were sitting almost directly where the attendant in the ridiculously bright orange jacket is standing in this photo…and the hooligans I mentioned earlier were sitting to the left in the first row above the aisle (the raised seats) and directly against the tunnel out to the concourse. Anyway, that, in a nutshell, was our first game of the season. As for the actual game, the Rays won 11-3. The Orioles scored all 3 of their runs in the bottom of the 9th. James Sheilds got the win, Adam Eaton the loss. Homeruns by Longoria, Pena, Zobrist, and Barlett. A 3 RBI triple by Carl Crawford. It was an action-packed game, and an extremely fun game, particularly for a game without the Mariners I’ll leave you with some season fan stats and a couple more pictures fo me and the little guy taken by the very accomodating stadium attendants:
Season Fan Stats:
1 Stadium (Camden Yards)
2 Teams (Orioles, Rays)
0 Ice Cream helmets (Booo Orioles!)
1 Awesome Day of Baseball
Next Up: Padres vs. Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, April 19, 2009