Who was the first batter at the first MLB game you ever attended? Personally, I have no clue.
But I can tell you that Frank Catalanotto took “strike 1” when Tim watched Gil Meche deliver the first pitch of his first Major League game back on September 12, 2006. And I can tell you that Luke French delivered “strike 1” to Rajai Davis with the first pitch of Kellan’s first Major League game back on October 1, 2010.
Our goal has been to meet and get an autograph from each of those guys. And on August 5, 2013, which marked the first full day of our 2013 Seattle vacation, we finally caught up with Rajai Davis. Here is the story of that day.
We had four Mariners games planned for the trips. On our way down to this one, we were happy to have Colleen “Mommy” Cook…
…join us for her first game of the season.
We arrived plenty early and entered through The Pen entrance…
…in left field.
At the outset, Tim hung out with Granpda while Kellan, Colleen and I headed out by the batters’ eye:
There were two baseballs in the grass out there and an usher eventually tossed one our way.
I then split off from Colleen and Kellan and headed over to the LF corner to check out Edgar’s Cantina. It’s nice, but I’ll never really spend any time here for at least a decade or two because kids are not allowed in there (which seems silly to me since people drink alcohol everywhere in the ballpark…and all ballparks). Anyway, here are a couple photos. First, the view to home plate:
And through the window looking into the visitors’ bullpen:
Someone hit a homerun into the Cantina while I was in there. They put a net over the top of the fans during BP, but the ball still trickled down and made its way into the hands of a fan back toward the bar.
So long, Edgar’s, I’ll come check you out again once the boys are in college or something.
When they opened the rest of the ballpark, Tim and my dad headed to RF for a bit and Yoervis Medina tossed a ball to Tim.
Colleen, Kellan and I headed to foul territory in LF. We had one major goal for this game: get a special autograph from Rajai Davis. I knew the 3B line would be our best bet to make it happen.
As the Blue Jays took the field, the scene looked a little like this:
The three of us went to the lower “X” on the far right side of the photo. Davis was playing catch with one of his teammates and he was in shallow CF throwing to his partner just behind 3B.
I made a big sign (just like I made for Tim’s first batter, Frank Catalanotto) that read:
When I spotted Rajai out in shallow center, I yelled, “RAAAAAAJJJJJJJAAAAAAAAAIIIIIII” at the top of my lungs and held the sign high over my head.
Davis looked over and gave me a nod and a little “hold on a minute” hand gesture.
I knew we were going to succeed in our two three-year old Davisquest.
After taking some fungo’d pop flies in LCF, Rajai made his way over to us (and my dad, who had joined us) took a lot of pictures:
Top Left: I’m showing Rajai the photo of the first pitch of Kellan’s first MLB game back on October 1, 2013. The picture was already signed by the M’s starting pitcher, Luke French.
Top Right: While a Rueters photographer snapped away, Rajai and I look up to track a ball after hearing the crack of the bat.
Bottom Left: Rajai points at the picture and mumbles (as if half to himself and half to me), “Ah, Oakland A’s. Luke French. Yeah…that’s a good night for Mr. Davis.” After the game, I checked the box score and found that Mr. Davis went 2-3 with an RBI and 2 walks on the night. Nearly everything went wrong that night. The M’s lost 9-0. Thankfully, the one thing that went right was that Rajai was retired on the second pitch of the game. So Kellan started his MLB career with the Mariners throwing “strike 1, out 1” on his first two pitches.
Bottom Right: Rajai signs the photo for Kellan.
After signing the photo, Rajai was super cool (and patient) and hung out long enough for my dad to snap a few more photos of us (in which, for some reason, Colleen tried to lean back out of the photo instead of joining us – silly girl):
Here’s a close up of Rajai and Kellan (and me since I was holding Kellan):
And here’s a photo I found after the game by search google for “Rueters Rajai Davis”:
That photo was posted on several sports websites around the world…I’m not sure why, but I won’t argue about it.
Finally, check this out:
How many people have a picture of the first pitch of their first MLB game signed by both the pitcher and batter AND photos with both of the players?? Not many, I am sure. In fact, Kellan is the only one I know (we are still trying to track down Tim’s first pitcher, Gil Meche).
After our Rajai Davis experience, we headed further down the LF line for a while:
There were so many Blue Jays fans down from Canada that we stood no chance at getting any toss-ups.
Late in BP, Colleen and my dad stayed with the boys in the shady foul territory and I headed out to RF to try my luck at catching a BP homer. It was really sunny out there…
…and I came nowhere near catching any homers.
Check out my dad, Colleen and the boys (you can only see Tim in this photo) hanging out in LF foul territory…
…behind a line of Blue Jays fans. I’m pretty sure that there are more Blue Jays fans at BP at Safeco Field when the Blue Jays visit Seattle than there are at any Blue Jays home game.
On my way back over to foul territory, I stopped by the Mariners bullpen to check out the new setup…
…, which is the result of the M’s bringing the fences in for the 2013 season. Last season, there was a tall chain link fence between the bullpen and the fans. Now, it is just a low railings. Much more access and less interference between fans and players. I like it.
Here are a few views of the newly reconfigured LF area:
Lower Right: Edgar’s Cantina from the seats next to the LF foul pole.
Lower Left: The hand operated scoreboard is now above Edgar’s and set back 10-15 feet from the field – it used to be right above the OF wall.
Upper Right: Tim touching the LF foul pole.
Upper Left: The new standing room area above Edgar’s Cantina. This area replaces two sections of seating that used to be in LF.
Next, we headed off to the Kids’ Play Area for a bit:
Last season, we concluded that Tim wouldn’t be able to go in the play area this season. This season, he was a smidge taller than the height limit, but they still let him in with Kellan – and he still had lots of fun.
While we watched the kids play, my dad posed for a picture with the Rajai Davis sign and…
…then I drew a “Hit It Here” sign on the back of the Rajai sign.
Before the game started, we headed back to the bullpen to watch Hisashi Iwakuma warm up for the game:
And then Tim acted like he was throwing this Pepsi sign on our way to our seats:
We made it to our seats in CF in time for Kuma’s first pitch to Jose Reyes:
And that’s when I noticed that one of the Blue Jays’ BP homers had busted the out-of-town scoreboard above the bullpens:
It was like this the entire game, but was fixed by the next day.
For most of the game, my dad and Tim sat next to each other…
…and Colleen, Kellan and I sat right in front of them, with me on the aisle seat.
The game was a pitchers’ dual with R.A. Dickey…
…going pitch-for-pitch with Kuma.
In the bottom of the second inning, Justin Smoak hit an infield Popfly that just missed hitting the international space station…
…and it almost went for a base hit, but for the last minute diving catch by Jays third baseman, Brett Lawrie.
In the second inning, Kellan and I set out on foot for a little adventure. First, we headed out to the SRO area in CF by the Mariners bullpen:
Check out the shadows on “MarinersVision” in those bottom two picts. The sun was streaming into the ballpark from low on the horizon across Puget Sound resulting in a shadow of the lighting fixture clock in LF being cast against the screen.
Next, we headed to the SRO bar area Edgar’s Cantina:
I guess, in theory, this is somewhat like the Flag Court in Baltimore or the LF corner in Cleveland, but it is much smaller and is partially covered with an overhang. Not bad though.
Next up, we headed over to the Mariners team store, where Kellan wanted me to buy him a stuffed Mariners Moose thingy (which I meant to buy later in the week, but forgot to do)…
…and then we headed back to our seats. By this point, it was the fourth inning and I had to shake my head at the fact that people were still arriving for the game!
In the bottom of the fifth, it looked like the M’s were getting something going. Dustin Ackley led off the inning with a single. After Humberto Quintero flew out, Brad Miller slapped a single…
…of his own. But that’s all the M’s could muster in the inning. Two more quick pop outs followed and the game went into the sixth inning with a scoreless tie.
Here are some random, mid-game cute pictures of Colleen and Kellan:
We held the “Hit It Here” sign a bunch when the M’s were batting. But no one ever hit us with a homerun.
I had forgotten about this, but Mariners home games against the Blue Jays are usually annoyingly crowded. I’m all for tons of fans showing up at Safeco Field. But I’m not for tons of visiting fans showing up. I don’t particularly enjoy hearing the crowd at Safeco Field cheer AGAINST the Mariners. I get enough of that phenomenon when we see the M’s play road games. When I Seattle, I like the crowd to go crazy IN SUPPORT of my boys in blue. This was the wrong series to attend from that perspective.
Anyway, due to the large’ish crowd (at least large’ish for a Mariners Monday night game), the people running the play area handed out these cards…
…at the beginning of the game. They ran 15 minute shifts throughout the night and Tim and Kellan (accompanied by Colleen) had their chance to play a bit more from 8:40 to 8:55 p.m.
While they were away at the play area, my dad came down a row to sit next to me. Soon, a couple of my high school friends sent me messages that looked like this:
My dad and I made the Mariners broadcast with my “Hit It Here” sign. I think that picture is pretty funny because (1) my dad is smiling like he knows we’re on TV, (2) I’m doing something weird with my mouth (maybe I was eating something???), and (3) Kellan’s cute little glove looks so tiny on the corner of the chair in front of me (next to my knee). I only wish they would have put us on when Colleen and the boys were all there. Tim would have gotten a kick out of that. Oh, well.
In case you were wondering, he was the Mariners outfield for the game:
Michael “The Beast” Morse, Michael “The Condor” Saunders and Rauuuuuuuuuuuul Ibanez.
And, in case you were wondering again, here is the oddly cool green-based Ken Griffey, Jr. shirt that Tim wore to the game:
So, Justin Smoak led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a massive Smoak-bomb to deeeeeeep RF:
That put the M’s up 1-0 with only sixth defensive outs to go and Kuma dealing a gem on the mound. I was feeling quite positive about the prospects for an M’s “W”.
But it wasn’t our night. Kuma gave up a lead off triple to Brett Lawrie in the top of the eighth inning. After retiring Josh Thole, Kuma gave up an RBI single to Jose “Jose, Jose” Reyes. Tie ball game.
Funky Cold Yoervis Medina then came in and recorded the second out of the inning. But then he gave up a single to Jose Bautista, a wild pitch sending Reyes to 3B, and a walk.
By this point, Tim and I were over by the Mariners bullpen…
…watching Oliver Perez warm up:
And just taking photos of the bullpen setup that was still very new to us:
Unfortunately, Perez gave up a 2-RBI line drive single to Mark DeRosa. That put the Jays up 3-1, and that was the final score.
On our way back to our seats we were hopeful for a Mariners comeback (that was not in the cards). We stopped along the way at what I think is one of the most unique spots in any MLB stadium – The Pen’s lounge area with open flames:
The boys love that spot. Unfortunately, you cannot see the game whatsoever from there.
The M’s gave it their best shot, but couldn’t come back. Final score 3-1 Blue Jays.
After the game, we got some family pictures before heading out:
While we prefer Mariners wins, it is always great to be at Safeco Field, and we left this game knowing we had three more opportunities to see the M’s win at this beautiful ballpark over the course of the week.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|19 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers, White Sox, Braves|
|32 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 4, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4|
|93 Baseballs – Mariners 13, Royals 4, Phillies 19, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 3, Umpires 7, Reds 9, Nationals 3, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6, White Sox 3|
|11 Stadiums – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park|
|33 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Rajai Davis|
|11 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo, Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez, Rajai Davis|
The Sixth Annual installment of The Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip on the evening of May 23, 2013, when my dad (Jim), Tim, Kellan and I…
…hopped into our car and headed north to Syracuse, NY. All we did on May 23rd was to drive to our hotel.
The baseball and sight-seeing portion of the Roadtrip kicked off the following morning, on May 24, 2013. And we had a jam-packed day on the 24th.
After grabbing some free breakfast at our hotel, we hopped back into the car and headed over to Niagara Falls:
The falls are split into two parts, the American Falls and, I guess it’s probably called, the Canadian Falls (but who knows, that’s just a guess). In those last two photos above, we’re all standing next to the top of the American Falls.
There is a chunk of land between the two parts of the falls, and there is a bridge you can walk…
…(or drive) across to the other part of the falls. Hey, look at that sign, it calls the “Canadian Falls” “Terrapin Point Horseshoe Falls.” And check out that statistics: 675,000 gallons/second of water flow during the summer. That’s a whole lot of water.
That Terrapin Point Horseshoe Falls sign is at the top of a hill that looks down on this view:
After first, I stayed up at the top of the hill as my dad and the boys walked down to the point. Check out the scene as they approached the edge of the falls:
The whole thing is so big (and impressive) that it’s hard to get everything in the picture, even from a long distance away:
Here’s a closer view that shows both sides of the horseshoe:
WARNING: I’m going to show a lot of pictures that have nothing to do with baseball. Here is another, of Tim at the top of the horseshoe:
And one of all of us taken by a nice passerby:
Back at the top of the hill, here’s another shot of my dad:
See how my dad is holding his cellphone? We’d just received text messages from Verizon saying (this is a paraphrase) “Welcome to Canada, your phones ain’t gonna work no more!”
As we got hot chocolate…
…and walked back toward the American Falls, we both made calls trying to figure out what was going to happen with our phones once we actually entered The Great White North. The bottom line was, unless we were going to pay bazillions of dollars, our phones weren’t going to work.
Oh, well…it was time to pull on some blue plastic ponchos…
…and hop onto the Maid Of The Mist for a closer look at the falls:
It was really misty out there:
See all that *white* behind Tim, that’s mist, which was blocking my camera’s view of the falls.
Here’s my attempt at a panorama from the Maid of the Mist:
And another, using my camera’s “sweep” function, which I usually never use:
After the boat ride, we got a some more falls pictures…
…before heading back to the car. And then it was off to Canada across the rainbow bridge:
Check out my GPS in the photo above to the bottom right! No phones, no GPS. Aye, aye, aye!
Luckily, it is super easy to get to Toronto:
The stadium didn’t open until 5:30, and we were hours early. So we headed to the top of the CN Tower, where the boys sat/stood/laid on a glass floor 116 stories above the Rogers Centre:
Check out the view from the main observation deck:
But we didn’t stop there. We headed up to the Sky Pod…
…ONE-HUNDRED AND FORTY-SEVEN STORIES above the Toronto streets below!
This was officially the highest up in the air we’d ever been while NOT in an airplane. In that last photo, that is the Rogers Centre above and immediately to the right of the CN Tower. Above and to the left of the CN Tower we looked down on a train round house that is across the street from the Rogers Centre and CN Tower.
While up in the Sky Pod, the boys played a little fake baseball…
…because, why not!?
Here’s a shot of the boys looking at the city over 1,460 feet below:
And here is the view back up toward the CN Tower from the area right below the glass floor:
After visiting the CN Tower, we stopped by the Blue Jays’ team store, where we founds a Jays Mickey and Jays pig:
And my dad and Kellan got their first ever views inside the Rogers Centre:
But it still wasn’t time for baseball quite yet. Our CN Tower tickets also came with access to a ride of some sort (that the boys were too young to ride) and a 3D movie called “Legends of Flight.” Here is Kellan wearing his 3D glasses and waiting for the movie to start:
The movie was pretty awesome. We sat in the front row and the boys kept trying to grab all of the airplanes flying at us. It was pretty awesome.
After the movie, which was about 30 minutes, we headed over to the roundhouse to poke around a bit:
Finally, it was getting close to game time…or at least gates opening time. We took a walk all the way around the Rogers Centre…
…and then we hopped in line at Gate 6…
…, which is down the RF line.
From growing up at the Kingdome, I love attending games in domed stadiums. The one bad thing, however, is that photos often come out blurry inside domes. Therefore, when we headed into the stadium and camped out down the RF line…
…I had no clue who that blurry guy is at the end of the red arrow. And because he’s so blurry, I can’t even ask our buddy, Avi. Anyway, he was kind enough to toss a baseball to us.
Thanks, mystery Oriole!
Before that guy tossed us a baseball, I thought I was going to catch a one hopper off the bat of an Oriole, but it hopped to high for me to reach, and my dad ended up snatching it up several rows behind us. His first ever Major League baseball snagged outside of the United States! Way to go, Pa!
Things were pretty slow down the RF line, so we headed out CF, just to the left of the batters eye. And look who we saw out there:
In case you can’t tell, aside from my dad sitting in the first row, that’s our buddy Zack Hample off in the distance in the bright orange Orioles shirt.
Zack came over and took this photo of us…
…, which unfortunately does not have my dad in it (because it is the best group photo we got all night).
As is often the case, all of the Orioles looked exactly the same to me. Unfortunately, Avi wasn’t there (since we were in Canada and all) and I couldn’t call Avi because our phones didn’t work (since we were in Canada and all). Luckily, Zack recognized everyone and told us that Jim Johnson was standing right in front of us.
Shortly thereafter, an Oriole hit a homerun that hit the batters’ eye and bounced back down onto the field. Luckily, it bounced over a bunch of people and Jim Johnson grabbed it. I called out his name and pointed to Tim and…
…we had to thank Mr. Hample for the assist.
Thanks, Jim (and Zack)!
The ONLY Oriole I could recognize (because he was wearing his BP jersey and not a name-hiding pull-over) was Brian Matusz. He was in the LF corner so we headed over there. When a ball got hit down into the corner, Brian handed it over to Tim:
We kept on the move. Next, it was off to RCF. Something funny happened there:
Someone hit a ball to Orioles coach Wayne Kirby right below us. When Tim asked for it, Kirby tried to fungo it up to us, but came nowhere near us. He chased the ball and then tried to toss it to someone else. He missed them too. He then fielded it again and tried to toss it to us again, but missed us by ten feet. The ball went right to the guy above in the red, which was absolutely fine.
A couple minutes later, the guy came over and gave the ball to Tim. Usually, I try not to let other fans give us baseballs. I usually tell them we’ve already got one, thanks, but they could give it to another kid. But I didn’t get a chance to stop the hand off this time.
So, anyway, when fans successfully give us baseballs, we try to give them to other kids or use them for autographs. There was a kid in the RF corner who had been there all BP trying to catch a ball and I didn’t think he had succeeded. I told Tim we should go give the fan-ball to him. Tim agreed. He handed the ball to me and we started to head over to the RF foul corner.
On our way out of the section, an usher thanked us for coming to the game and asked if Kellan had caught a ball. I was holding the fan ball so I held it up triumphantly and said, “Yep!” So Kellan and I walked by her and the usher handed a baseball to Tim. I guess she wanted both of the boys to get a baseball.
Thanks, usher gal!
The kid was in the RF corner as we started walking over there…but then BP ended, the Orioles ran off the field, and *poof* the kid disappeared. We trekked all over looking for him. He was *gone*!
Oh, well. I gave the baseball to my dad and (as you’ll see two entries from now) he gave it to a kid Tim met up with at Comerica Park.
Here was the best pre-game scene down the RF line:
That’s Adam Jones getting all stretched out.
Here was the view from our seats in Section 115R, Row 7:
Kellan was in a roaming mood. Heck, he’d never been to Rogers Centre, can you blame him? So we roamed…behind home plate:
We ran into the Blue Jay in the concourse:
When Tim, Colleen and I visited Rogers Centre in 2009, I never visited the 200 level for some reason. So that’s where we headed. Here was the view from behind section 240:
Here’s something interesting we found in the concourse:
I liked how they built a TV that looked like the scoreboard into a big picture of the outfield. Now, see the section between the two red arrows? Historically, that’s been a restaurant or something like that. Well, that’s gone now and it’s just a SRO hang out. We’ll see it in just a second.
Here’s a panorama from behind section 243, just to the right (while facing the field) of that glassed in restaurant):
Just for kicks, here’s what it looks like from right behind the big “Budweiser” sign:
And here is a panorama from the middle of the SRO homerun porch (I just made up that name…who knows what it’s really called):
We needed to get a picture with a “Rogers Centre” sign for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. I planned for us to get one outside after the game because there isn’t a big Rogers Centre sign inside the stadium. But we ran into this sign…
…out in LF, so I snapped a quick picture just in case. Luckily, I did because it was the only one we got.
We kept walking and got this panorama behind section 207:
Just about now, I realized that we forgot to get a picture with Zack! Zack is a great guy and we should get a picture with him anyway, but getting a picture with him at this game would also get us two bonus points in the photo scavenger hunt because he is the Rogers Centre all-time career leader.
I figured that Zack would be behind the Orioles’ dugout going for a third out ball. And he was:
A couple innings later, he snagged a third out ball from Manny Machado.
Before Kellan and I went on our expedition, I told Tim we would come back with ice cream. And we did, in these sweet new Blue Jays’ ice cream helmets:
Ice cream time in Canada!
Let’s catch up with the game, shall we? This game was a homer-fest.
In the top of the first, Nick Markakis and Manny Machado led off the game with back-to-back singles. J.J. Hardy then followed with a bomb. In the bottom of the frame, Melky Cabrera hit a lead off homerun.
3-1 Orioles after one inning.
In the top of the second, Danny Valencia doubled, Steve Pearce walked, and Yamaico Navarro singled. That brought us back to Nick Markakis, and he cleared the bases with a double of his own. Adam Jones ended the top of the second with a foul out on this swing:
Brett Lawrie led off the bottom of the second with a laser of a homerun:
The Jays scored another run of a Colby Rasmus double followed by an Emilio Bonafacio RBI single. Sadly, former-Mariner Munenori Kawasaki…
6-3 Orioles after two innings.
Chris “Crush” Davis led off the top of the third with another homerun:
After a Matt Wieters walk, guess what Danny Valencia did? He hit a two run homerun.
And, similar to the second, Manny Machado fouled out to end the third:
My dad wanted to see the Rogers Centre a bit so we all set out on foot. We headed to the 500-level down the LF line. Here’s what it looked like from section 540…
…, which was closed so an usher asked me dad to vacate the section.
As we circled the upper deck, check out what we found:
It was a vending machine full of baseball cards. Pretty cool.
We got a shot from section 524…
…and another from section 518:
After Muni batted again…
…, we headed down a little hallway, corridor thingy in CF. I think the front wall (to the left) of the hallway was part of the hotel at the Rogers Centre.
Circling back to the LF corner, we took a switchback ramp down to the 200-level:
After checking out the homer porch, we ran into Neal Stewart from BIGS seeds…
…and Zack Hample in the CF concourse. Neal gave us more sample packs of BIGS seeds.
We kept walking through the 200 level concourse. Eventually, we came across a cool painting of the Rogers Centre…
…with its roof open. See how the CN Tower is right over the wall in RF? I’d love to see a roof-open game at the Rogers Centre some day.
Next, we got this panorama, which I think must be about section 211:
We found our way to section 215, where there is a bar called “Bar 12” (named after Roberto Alomar). We walked through it and found these seats:
More specifically, these seats:
In the top of the sixth inning, Adam Jones hit a solo homerun to make the score 10-3 Orioles. In the bottom of the inning, got two runs back on an RBI double by Kawasaki and an RBI single by Cabrera.
Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista followed with a harmless single…
…but did not score.
After six innings, the score was 10-5 Orioles.
Something really odd and cool happened next. I had bought a big soft drink that came with a free refill. Kellan popped up onto my shoulders and we headed to this concession stand…
…where the guy who filled my Diet Coke was really nice. While he was filling the soda, a guy came out from the back (I felt like he was one of the *cooks*, if there are such things at MLB stadiums) and he…
…gave Kellan a baseball! Look at that, a free refill and a baseball in the 200 level! Kellan loved it!
Thanks, concession guy!
The usher in charge of section 215 (who had checked our tickets an allowed us to downgrade from section 115 to section 215) brought activity books and crayons for the kids:
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Adam Lind led off with a solo homerun:
10-6 Orioles after seven innings.
After the end of the eighth inning, the weirdest and worst part of the night began. It started harmless enough. After the last out of the eighth inning, I noticed a HUGE patch of empty seats behind the Blue Jays’ (3B) dugout. I told my dad that Kellan and I were going to head behind the 3B dugout to see if we could get a third out ball after the top of the ninth (we got right behind the home plate end of the dugout, but the third out ball was tossed to the OF side of the dugout) and then we were going to meet up with Zack behind the Orioles (1B) dugout at the end of the game. And that is exactly where we ended the game:
An Oriole (couldn’t tell who) tossed us a baseball after the Orioles won the game and Zack took this picture of us:
Kellan and I looked around for my dad and Tim. They were nowhere to be found. We kept looking around. And we kept looking around. And we kept looking around.
No Tim. No Dad. No Tim and Dad.
It made no sense.
I started wondering if I had mistakenly said we would be behind the Orioles *bullpen*, not dugout.
The ushers eventually asked everyone to head out of the seating area. On the way out, I took this photo from the top of section 117:
No Tim and Dad anywhere in that picture, right?
We walked out to the Orioles bullpen. No Tim and Dad. We exited the stadium. No Tim and Dad. We walked to our car. No Tim and Dad. (We left a note on the car telling them where to meet us).
We walked back to the stadium. Despite being promised absurd phone charges, I turn on my phone and called my Dad. Nothing. Straight to voicemail. We walk around the stadium some more. I called again. Nothing.
I am very nervous by this point. It’s been more than half an hour since the game ended. I figured my dad would have turned his phone on by now too. Now I’m thinking my dad must have gotten hurt and they were sitting in a first aid office or hospital with Tim having no clue how to reach me.
I called again, but accidentally dialed my wife. I probably scared her because I was panicked. I’m not a fan of losing my son and dad in a foreign country with no phone service.
We walked through the team store. Nothing. We started walking around the stadium looking for a first aid office. Nothing.
I had no clue what to do. We start walking back toward Gate 6 where we had entered the stadium. All of a sudden, I spotted Tim and my Dad way off in the distance walking away from the stadium in the wrong direction (i.e., not toward our car). We ran them down. Success! We were all back together again.
I have no clue what happened. My Dad and Tim said they were behind the Blue Jays’ (3B) dugout, not the Orioles’ (1B) dugout. I don’t see them in any of my pictures, or any of the other pictures I’ve seen. They said *they saw* Zack behind the Orioles’ dugout, but somehow didn’t see me and Kellan. That doesn’t make much sense because we were standing right next to Zack behind the dugout. My dad *had* turned on his phone and tried to call me, but couldn’t get through to me, just like I hadn’t been able to get through to him. He had also already called first aid and had all sorts of security personnel looking for us.
Aye, aye, aye…it was a terrible way to end an otherwise great game at the end of a great day, and it wouldn’t have happened at any other MLB stadium because our phones would have worked and we would have found each other right away. Geez, how did we all manage before cellphones!
As a result of this frustrating episode, we NEVER got a group picture of all four of us Cook boys at the Rogers Centre (booo!). In fact, that picture Zack took (way above) of us talking to Neal in the CF concourse is the ONLY picture with all four of us in it at Rogers Centre (booooo!).
We also did not get a picture outside of the stadium with the Rogers Centre sign.
We hopped in the car and headed toward London, Ontario…
…and the boys crashed out very quickly in the back seat.
Woah! What a day!
2013 C&S Fan Stats
13 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays
14 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2
41 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2
7 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre
14 Player Pictures – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen
5 Autographes – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo
The 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip is extra special for several reasons. First, it is the Fifth Anniversary of the GFS Roadtrip. Second, we have expanded the GFS roster to include Kellan. And, finally, by checking off Busch Stadium (Cardinals), Kauffman Stadium (Royals), and Coors Field (Rockies), Tim and I would finally have seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game – we had already seen all 30 teams play a road game.
I wanted the Mariners to be involved in the game when we saw our final team play a home game. During the offseason, I decided it would happen in Colorado when the Mariners visited the Rockies in May.
The Roadtrip kicked off on May 12, 2012. We started in Minnesota. It is the first city we have visited on two separate roadtrips. We went to the H.H.H. Metrodome during its final season in 2009. And now we were back to check out Target Field.
But first, we had to get to Minnesota…
…and this will officially be Kellan’s final “infant on lap” trip. He’s getting to be huge these days. But we have a nice flight nonetheless and were greeted by my dad at the gate. His flight had landed about half an hour before ours.
After a brief rest in our hotel room, we took to the streets of Minneapolis on foot – destination Target Field:
We arrived before the gates opened. The crowd at the RF (Kirby Puckett) gate was getting big already. We got some pictures with a couple statues (Kirby and Kent Hrbek)…
…and then headed around the stadium to the shaded Tony Oliva gate.
Our first inside view of Target Field was from the left field corner and the Twins were taking BP:
The Blue Jays were already stretching by the dugout. Soon, they started to walk down the foul line to play catch. Luis Perez…
…gave us a smile as he walked by so I asked if he’d pose for a picture with Tim and Kellan. He said he would after he played catch. I asked, “Ah, then, could we get your warm up ball when you’re done too!?” He said yes and then headed off to play catch.
But then he must have decided he didn’t want to forget about us, because he walked back over to us a minute later and handed Kellan our first ever baseball at Target Field.
One of our big goals of this game was to get Rajai Davis to sign Kellan’s first MLB pitch picture. We soon spotted him playing catch just behind third base. Unfortunately, he was on the field side instead of the foul line side. Anyway, Kellan and I went over there on the off chance we could hook up with Davis:
In the picture above to the left, Rajai is all the way out in CF playing long toss. While we were watching Davis play long toss, the on-field security guard to the right grabbed a ball that had been hit against that protective screen and he walked over and handed it to Kellan.
Thanks, Security Guard!
That was it for BP as far as baseballs go.
And we never got any closer to Davis. He drifted off into CF after finishing playing long toss.
Kellan and I headed back toward the corner spot where Tim and my dad were still waiting on Perez to finish playing catch and come back for a picture…
…, but it was too hot and sunny and Tim surrendered to the sun. He was going to burst into flames if he waited any longer for Perez. So, sadly, we did not get a picture with a Blue Jay.
Instead, we headed toward home plate. We noticed that they let you down into the dugout seats (inside the Moat) during BP. Here is a panorama from within the moat:
Next, we grabbed some water for the boys. And then Tim and grandpa headed off to the team store and Kellan and I headed to the shady spot in RF. On the way, he fell asleep:
Tim and grandpa met up with us and we hung out here for the rest of BP:
Once BP ended, we headed up to the upper deck in the outfield to check out the stadium. An usher was kind enough to take a nice picture of us:
That picture was taken here:
Tim can be temperamental about getting his picture taken sometime…probably because he’s been photographed about 100,000 times in six years. Anyway, I wanted to get our Target Field bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, but for some reason Tim was adamant that he didn’t want to be in it – just Kellan. So, this was “take 1” of the bonus picture:
Here is what it looks like from the front row of the section just below the CF Target Field sign:
While we were up there, we found a couple of the statues from past all-star games and Tim did funny poses with both:
As we continued to circle around to LF, Tim and I headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium. Check out how steep the steps are in the LF upper deck seats:
Here is what it looks like from the back row up there:
Behind 2B, they had a softball homerun hitting contest set up. Two fans faced off against the hardest hitting mascot ever:
The mascot blasted 6 bombs on 7 swings, including one that hit the back wall of the upper deck.
Then we found another all-star statue. I think this one might be for this season:
After that picture, Tim declared he was extremely hungry. Instead of nachos, he wanted pizza. We walked and walked and walked before we found pizza, but finally found it. And we also found the most awesome food item in the history of Major League Baseball…
The NACHO HELMET!
For the record, our nacho lady only filled ours half way, which was plenty for me and Kellan, but every other nacho helmet I saw all day was overflowing the top of the helmet. We ate our nachos in our seats in the last row (row 10) of section 141:
I really liked these seats. They were great.
Joe Mauer, P.J. Walters and (I’m guessing) the Twins pitching coach headed in from the bullpen for the game to start:
These three dudes were all set for the first pitch of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip:
And this was it:
We were desperately needing a water refill, which required me and Kellan to walk all the way behind home plate to find a water fountain. On the way, we saw Jose Baustita bat up close:
All game long, the concourses were absolutely packed:
For the first 3.5 innings, it was a scoreless pitchers’ duel between P.J. Walters and Drew Hutchinson (two guys I had never heard of before this game). To that point, this foul ball by Joe Mauer was one of the offensive highlights of the so-far uneventful game:
Eventually, Kellan needed to get moving. We headed to Target Plaza so he could stretch his travel-weary legs:
After running around for a while in Target Plaza, we headed upstairs in CF. At the deepest part of CF, this is what the concourse looks like:
While I took some pictures, Kellan worked his arm muscles and abs:
Then we took a look at the bullpens:
And deep LF:
And straight away LF:
Then it was time for another leg workout. Kellan ran up and down this ramp from the field level to the upper deck about 3-4 times:
At the top of the ramp, Kellan wanted a solo picture posing with the Twins pig:
And then it was more running. He ran a lot!
Eventually, we headed back to our seats through the field level concourse. I took a picture from the concourse behind the odd seats in deep RCF:
They are tucked under the upper deck seats.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Hutchinson loaded the bases and then walked in the first run of the game for a 1-0 Twins lead.
Before sitting down again, Kellan and I grabbed some two-toned dipping dots helmets:
Those are some sweeeeeeet helmets. I love ‘em. These are our first two-tone helmets.
You can see this in some of the panoramas, but I figured I should take a picture of the “have’s” seating on the fancy side of the moat:
On the last game of the 2011 GFS Roadtrip, Johnny Damon hit a ball off the top of the RCF wall at the Trop. They called it a homerun. I could tell with my unaided eyes that it had hit the bar on the top of the fence and bounced back onto the field without leaving the ballpark. They reviewed it. And eventually Damon was told to head back out to second base.
In the top of the sixth inning of this game, Jose Bautista became the second player in as many GFS Roadtrip games to hit a disputed shot to the wall:
With my unaided eye, I could tell it bounced in the bushes above the OF wall and it should be a homerun. I was right. After stopping for a few minutes at 2B, Jose was told to finish his trip around the bases:
The boys were growing restless and I still needed to tour around the upper deck in the infield. We decided to make it a four-man trip. First, we headed to a little hallway on the second deck on the 1B side where Tim got his picture with a model:
And then we headed all the wall down the RF line in the upper deck – where the usher told me to reposition myself to take these pictures (I must have been blocking the view of some people in a downtown building because there was nobody (and no seats) behind me):
Then we walked around the upper deck:
There were a lot of people in the concourse up there too. Unluckily, as you circle around home plate, there is an elevated walkway so you can stay out of the concourse.
Circling around home plate, I asked an usher to take our picture…
…and he warmed me that the sun would blast us in the face in the photo.
As we walked, I continued to take photos of the field…
…and of my boys and dad:
As we walked, we saw an awesome play. Someone hit a foul pop up behind 3B. The Jays short stop Yunel Escobar rushed back to make the play, but he bobbled the ball up into the air and Jays left fielder Jose Bautista swooped in to snatch it out of the air for the rare 6-7 put out:
Tim and I climbed to the highest seats in LF for this picture:
And at the bottom of that section, I snapped this cute picture of Tim, Kellan and my dad:
As we headed back to the RF corner to head down to the lower level, Joe Mauer launched a deep drive. It was the craziest I have ever heard a crowd go for a double:
We headed back to our seats, but then I realized I never went up into the RF bleachers. So Tim and I headed over there. On the way, we took this picture of the worst SRO area ever:
All you can see is the right fielder and a TV screen. On the plus side, it is completely shaded (under the RF bleachers).
The connection between the RF seats and the CF seats makes for some crazy angles at Target Field. I wish I had done a better job photographing it. But I did get this awesome picture of two lone seats at the top of a mini-flight of steps:
Then we *scaled* the RF bleachers. It was like rock climbing, I would imagine. At the top I got this panorama:
And this photo of nervous-from-the-height Tim:
Here are some fun angles that make it look like the bullpen is at the bottom of a hole:
And then it was time to slowly walk back down the steep steps:
Approaching the stairs down to Target Plaza, I got this picture of the plaza…
…and one of Tim in front of the Twins Live set.
Late in the game, Bautista was on first base and I was just sure something was about to happen. I was right, they tried to pick him off first unsuccessfully:
It was dark now and the ballpark signs looked great – check it out:
The Blue Jays had pulled ahead to a 2-1 lead, and they held on to win the game, which pleased Tim. He had declared the Blue Jays to be his team to win early in the game.
After the game, I had an usher take a family shot of us…
…and it took Tim a few minutes to realize I had duped him into posing for a Target Field bonus picture. Haha!!
On our way out of the stadium, Tim (in quite possibly his oldest looking picture ever) showed his respects for the Great Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist (#18):
So there you go. One game down on the Roadtrip. Another great night and another great stadium. In the morning, we would drive to St. Louis for a couple games between the Cardinals and Cubs at Busch Stadium. It would prove to be a super long drive, but well worth it.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|5/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|9/8 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins|
|6 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2|
|25 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1|
|3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2|
|5/4 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak|
We just received a package of Christmas gifts in the mail from my folks. Tucked in the bottom of the box, my folks had stashed a little surprise from the past:
Clicking on the picture will enlarge the certificate and display this explanatory note:
“The pitch was clocked by a Radar Gun, an instrument used to measure Major League pitchers. This speed-measuring equipment has been verified to be accurate within one percent.”
So, that’s right, as a nine year old phenom, I lit up that official “Radar Gun” at a blazing 46 miles per hour (or at least within one percent of 46 miles per hour).
I remember the old Kingdome speed pitch. It was just inside the Dome’s northern gate — just off to the right in this picture. I couldn’t heat up the gun then, and I can’t heat it up now. But its always been fun trying.
As you can see at the top of the certificate, there are a bunch of holes from where I tacked this “Official” certificate to the wall of my boyhood bedroom. You will also notice that I did my best to obliterate one of the speed pitch sponsors. I was a coca-cola drinking kid, and I didn’t want this “new generation” inspired soft drink logo muckin’ up my bedroom walls (FYI, I still prefer coke products).
Its cool to get back this little momento of past feats. But what is even cooler is getting confirmation of a random date of a game I attended in the first few years of my Mariners fandom: May 4, 1985.
With the help of Baseball-Reference.com, I was able to review a detailed description of this game — and it was a great one for a young Mariners fan.
- The Mariners won the game by a score of 8-1 over the Blue Jays.
- My favorite Mariner, Spike Owen, hit a 2-run homerun — his first of the season and sixth of his career.
- Matt Young pitched a 1-run complete game for his second win of the young season.
Hey, what more can you ask for in a night at the Kingdome. Good times.
On Saturday, June 26, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and drove from our home in Pennsylvania to the Canadian Colony of Citizens Bank Park to see the hometown Toronto Blue Jays take on the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.
Due to the G20 Summit being held in the Blue Jays’ customary hometown, the Jays moved this game to their newly conquered southern colony, which is actually situated in the American city of Philadelphia.
This would be our final game of the first half of the 2010 season. We arrived early for BP in hopes of catching at least one baseball to complete a perfect first half of the season. When we rolled into the stadium, a situation was brewing that was ideal for our chances at accomplishing a much bigger goal than getting a baseball at this game. But we’ll get there soon enough.
We entered the stadium through the LF gate and made our way over to section 141 in LF. This was our view at the beginning of BP:
The home team Blue Jays were batting. The rest of the stadium wasn’t open yet. The outfield isn’t our strong suit for BP because I don’t like Tim to be exposed to homerun balls wizzing by his head left and right. Since we were confined to the OF, we hung out near the foul pole where the action was limited.
Tim was feeling like a real big kid because he was sporting the Mariners backpack…
Nothing came too close to us during the beginning of BP. A few balls were hit into the next section over, but we stayed put and didn’t make any effort to run around for HR balls.
Shortly before the rest of the stadium opened, the ideal situation started to unfold. The visiting Phillies pitching corps headed out to RF to do some stretching, running and throwing. Back when this was the Phillies home field, this stretching, running and throwing routine would occur earlier in the day when the rest of the stadium was closed to the fans. You could only watch from all the way across in LF.
But things had changed in the colony of Citizens Bank Park since the Canadians invaded. Within minutes of the Phillies pitchers arriving in RF, the yellow-plastic covered chain was lifted and the fans were allowed into the infield and RF portions of the ballpark.
We hurried over to RF.
en we arrived along the RF line, my favorite pitcher of all-time, Jamie Moyer, was sitting on the ground (next to Roy Halladay, who isn’t too shabby himself) stretching a mere 10-15 feet from us:
In that top right photo, Halladay is looking directly at us. I imagine he was thinking, “Why is this guy taking a picture of me stretching?” But the joke was on him, I was focused on the MAN, Mr. Moyer.
As he was stretching, Tim and I said, “Hi, Jamie!”
No reaction from Moyer.
Then, all of a sudden, Moyer stood up and walked directly, and I mean D-I-R-E-C-T-L-Y, to me. I was confused. Was my favorite pitcher ever coming over to say “hello”?
At the last second before reaching us, Moyer bent down to grab something off of the ground. I looked down over the wall. Directly below us was a baseball glove that was spread wide open and it was holding about 10 baseballs. As Moyer grabbed a baseball, I asked, “Jamie, is there any way we could get our picture with you when you’re done throwing?” (On our pre-season list of 20 goals for 2010, a picture with Jamie Moyer was goal number 14).
No reaction whatsoever from Moyer.
For half a second, I was a little dissappointed. I had hoped Jamie would have at least acknolwedged us. But then I thought about the man he is. First, it is well-documented that he is one of nicest and most generous guys around — for example, see The Moyer Foundation. Second, he is able to continue performing at the Major League level at age 47 because he sticks to a training regimine that keeps him in game condition. So, while I wished my favorite pitcher of all-time could have given us a nod or a quick “hello,” I figured he probably has some hard and set self-imposed policies that he needs to focus on his work during his workout routine and not get distracted by the fans.
Immediately after grabbing a ball from the glove below us, Moyer ran out to shallow RF and started playing catch with Halladay:
…Mike Zagurski. With this BP appearance, Zagurski took the honor of being the first person to ever personally heckle me (and my entire team during an adult recreational softball league game) and then appear on field as a major leaguer during BP.
The heckling came last year while my company softball team was playing the Reading Phillies front office. The game took place during the AA all-star game and Zagurski had a couple days off. He chose to spend some of that time watching some softball. Zagurski and another AA Reading Phillies player heckled our team mercilessly for seven innings. The best part was their persistent taunting of my then 47-year old opposite-field slap-hitting colleague by referring to him as “Ichiro.” I was, in fact, quite happy with the Ichiro reference.
Anyway, Zagurski has once again been called up to the big club and this was the first time we’d ever seen him in Philadelphia.
But our focus was Jamie Moyer. Well, my focus was on Moyer. Tim focused a little bit on the sun beating down on us. He asked to leave the field to get out of the sun. We compromised by having me stand over him and shade him with my body and my large glove over his head. Before striking the compromise, an usher came up and gave Tim a little plastic Phillies Phanatic figurine, which Tim really liked.
As part of the compromise, we agreed we would relocate to the shade right after Moyer and Halladay finished their throwing.
Roy and Jamie took turns pitching to each other:
Without even discussing it, they both all of sudden knew their routine was complete. Halladay all of a sudden ran off to the Phillies dugout. Moyer turned around and threw their warm up ball to “the bucket.” (I guess they had put the Phils bucket out by this time).
I was all set to tell Tim we could head toward the shade when Moyer tossed his ball to the bucket. I figured Jamie would follow Halladay to the dugout.
I figured wrong.
Instead, he turned around and jogged directly back toward us. As he coasted into the wall, Moyer asked “So you guys want to get a picture?”
I could not believe it!
How cool is that?!
I was incredibly happy, and a bit flustered. I reached into my pocket and grabbed my camera. As I pulled it out, I popped the battery pack and had to put it back together. I asked a lady if she could take the picture. She agreed.
She couldn’t figure out my camera (which is incredibly easy). It felt like I was wasting tons of Jamie’s time. I tried to explain it to the lady.
Meanwhile, Jamie quietly chatted with Tim. He playfully tapped Tim on the top of his hat and asked him if he was from Seattle and if he was a big Mariners fan.
I was very happy to learn that the lady got a shot of Tim and Jamie chatting:
She took another picture…
I told Jamie how much I appreciated everything he did for the Mariners. He held out his hand to shake mine.
Did I mention Jamie Moyer is awesome?
As Jamie and I started turning away from each other, several other fans pounced, “Jamie, can you sign this ball, picture, hat, etc., etc.?”
Jamie turned around and ran into the outfield to shag baseballs during the Phils BP, and he was gone. His trip to the foul line wall was exclusively to meet, greet and pose for pictures with us.
This guy is awesome!
A big, huge THANK YOU, Jamie Moyer!!!
After parting ways with Moyer, we headed to RF so Tim could hang out in the shady back row. I stood in the row right in front of Tim. I was hoping I could catch a deep drive.
This was our view from section 105:
The guy in the white shirt who is cut in half toward the right side of that picture was the only thing that stood in front of me and my first clean catch BP homerun of the season. A ball came right to him. I jumped a row to stand right behind him. If he wasn’t there, I had it easy. But I didn’t interfere with him and he made a nice two-handed, bare-handed catch in front of his kids. Nice job, sir.
Soon, we saw Zagurski all the way across the field in deep LF. We decided to head over there. I was thinking it would be pretty cool if we could get a baseball from a guy who had heckled me during a softball game.
Here was our view in foul territory in section 140:
Tim kept entertained by inspecting the foul pole:
After Tim finished his foul pole inspection, we were hanging out in the first row in foul territory. The shade had reached all the way down to the first row, so it was perfect. All of a sudden a Phillies batter hit a long foul looping line drive toward us.
It was a few rows in front of us and 2-3 seats into the section to our right (section 139).
I did a little diagram to illustrate the crazy path the ball took from the bat to my glove:
We started in the first row of section 140 at the “T&T.” I ran across the aisle and into a row of seats. I took this picture about 10 minutes later. I don’t think those two people (who I have X’d out) were sitting in those seats (then again maybe they were), but a couple people were sitting in my path. I couldn’t get to the spot where the ball would land.
I decided to pull up short and hope that it would take a crazy hop toward me, which seemed illogical (in my head it seemed like it would actually hit the seats and bounce back onto the field). Anyway, it took the crazy jump that we needed it to take. It bounced all the way over me.
I ran back to the “2” when the ball took a second crazy bounce. It jumped off the stairs and zig-zagged to the seats in section 139. It then bounced over me again. I went up to the “3.” The ball clanked off of some seats where people were sitting. I was sure they would grab the baseball, but no one even made an effort for the ball.
As I swiped at the ball with my glove, it kicked off the seats and headed back over to section 139. Finally, I grabbed it on yet another bounce at the “4.”
I handed the ball to Tim and a couple people cheered him for getting a baseball.
Tim proudly posed with his baseball and his Tuxedoed Phanatic:
Still flying high on the joy of our Jamie Moyer encounter (and the “icing on the cake” baseball), we headed to the kids play area so Tim could do some pre-game playing.
As usual, on our way over there, the Citizens Bank Park emergency response team…
After some time in the play area, we started to make our way to our seats. On the way, we stopped at the speed pitch. Tim lit up the radar gun…
I took three throws as well including two strikes into the glove of the fake catcher. I think my fastest pitch was a firey (actually pathetic) 56 miles per hour. Later, my wife would make fun of me for pitching so slowly.
After pitching, we headed to our seats in section 145, row 10, seats 1-2.
We were joined by my friend Greg and his date, both of whom I failed to take a decent picture. Despite the lack of photo evidence, they were great seat mates. Tim had a blast with both of them.
As we reached our seats, the Phanatic was pumping up the crowd in CF:
At the last minute before the game started, Tim and I decided we needed nachos. This required us to walk around the entire field level concourse. As we passed by the bullpens in RCF, Jimmy Rollins stepped into the batters’ box to get the action going in the top of the first…
We had never sat in LF before at Citizens Bank Park. I’m not sure why, but they always have ushers checking tickets for people to get into the LF seats. So we had never even been in the LF seats before other than a couple times passing through during BP.
Behind the LF seats is a restaurant (I guess that’s what you would call it) called Harry the K’s. Hanging above the Harry the K’s seating area, there are three big paintings that I had never seen before. I think I have these in the right order. Closest to the LF foul line, there is this painting of the old-time Phils from the dugout…
…looking out over Connie Mack Stadium a/k/a Shibe Park, the Phillies home from 1927-1970.
In the middle is this picture of a Phillies batter rounding first base…
Finally, closest to LCF is this painting from the cheap seats…
Finally, we got to our seats. This was our view of the closest player, Phillies left fielder and former Mariner Raul Ibanez…
On Cole Hamel’s fourth pitch to the second batter in the home half of the second inning, Blue Jays catcher John Buck got the scoring going with a 2-run homerun right down the LF line. This would be a Blue Jays trend for the day.
Trailing 2-0 in the top of the third inning, Ryan Howard grounded out weakly…
In the third inning, Jays’ slugger Adam Lind duplicated Buck’s blast. After Lind deposited his own homerun in the seats down the LF line, the Jays lead 3-0.
The visiting Phillies went all out on the entertainment front. They brought their mascot, the Phanatic on the roadtrip (as previously noted above). Between innings at one point, the Phanatic and a muscle man tried unsuccessfully to lift a big huge weight. Finally, this strong little boy showed them how it is done:
It was almost time for the visiting Phillies to get in on the scoring. But first, the Jays needed to hit another homerun right down the LF foul line. Their third such homerun of the day came off of the bat of Alex Gonzalez in the bottom of the fourth inning and it scored both Gonzalez and Fred Lewis.
Things were looking good for the hometown Blue Jays. They had a comfortable 5-0 lead going into the top of the sixth inning.
That is when visiting Ryan Howard launched a homerun into the batters’ eye in deep CF. Here is Howard rounding third…
As we sat in our LCF seats in section 145, I had time to look around and see the sights. We weren’t far from Ashburn Alley, but I had never noticed the little directional arrows on the Ashburn Alley street sign…
…a .308 career average to the left and 2,574 career hits to the right. Those are the key numbers that (after never earning more than 41.7% of the writers’ vote in 15 years on the ballot) earned Richie Ashburn a spot in Cooperstown via the 1995 Veterans’ Committee vote.
Late in the game, the Canadian government sent down some of their Royal Canadian Mounted Police (a/k/a Mounties) to watch closely over the visiting Phanatic as he danced on top of the visitors’ dugout…
Late in the game, I noticed “The Heckler” warming up in the visitors bullpen:
The Phillies could not mount a comeback and fell to the Blue Jays 5-1.
it was a great day highlighted by our brief time with Jamie Moyer. I’m still super excited about getting to meet, shake hands, chat, and get a picture with my favorite pitcher of all-time and the most winningest pitcher in Mariners history.
Thanks, again, Jamie Moyer!!!
Due to the impending birth of Tim’s new little brother, Kellan, this would be our last game for almost a month (this is also why I am wearing a bluetooth device in my ear in all of these pictures — so I wouldn’t miss the call if Colleen called during the game). It was a great way to finish off the first half. Hopefully the second half will be as much fun as the first half.
2010 Fan Stats:
16 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
14 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
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)
12 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
8 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)
And on April 10, 2010, so did Tim and I.
From the back of the “backpack” line, this was our first view into this modern yet classic ballpark:
Tim really matured last season to the point where I feel comfortable arriving early for batting practice. So that is just what we did. We arrived just as the gates opened. But, like the other non-season ticket holders (or people who bought “season” tickets on the secondary market), we were stuck in the CF bleachers and the RF flag plaza until the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30.
Here is a (good of Tim and bad of me) self-portrait as we watch out over the Orioles portion of BP.
We ran around a little on Eutaw Street, but mostly hung out in the CF bleachers before the rest of the stadium opened. But Tim, still at only 4 years (not even 4.5 yet), is still too small for me to feel very comfortable in an active BP homerun zone.
At this point, we’re more of the watch-it-from-down-the-baseline type of guys. So the second the main part of the stadium opened, we headed toward the 3B side. I was hoping to run into newly traded former-Mariner Brandon Morrow, who I wanted to thank for his 3 years or service and wish him good luck in Toronto. But he had pitched the night before and we never even saw him on the field at this game.
One of my goals for this season is to try to get more pictures with players. I’m not a big autograph guy. But I like to get in an autograph line by a dugout and ask for a picture when we get to the front. A Brandon Morrow picture was top priority, but it didn’t work out.
As we circled around home plate, I saw Cito Gaston signing autographs at the home plate end of the Jays’ dugout. We headed over there. But he stopped just as we were about 20 feet away and he started walking toward the the batting cage.
I called out, “CITO!”
And when he spun and looked at us (Tim was up on my shoulders looking cute as a button, no doubt), I pointed to a baseball laying on the ground a couple feet from the Jays’ manager and I asked something to the effect of, “Anyway, my boy can get that ball?” And here is how it played out…
As I called out “CITO!”, we were at the beginning of the red arrow and he was approaching the “O” in “Opening” painted on the grass. The ball was on the ground where pictured. As he approached the ball and it was obvious he was getting the baseball for us, we were standing at the red “X.” One problem, there was a big screen in front of us. So we walked down to the end of the screen and I leaned out and bent my glove arm around the screen in a basket for him to set the ball into. After picking up the ball, he walked about 3 feet toward us and then threw it. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to catch it leaning over with Tim on my shoulders and my arm bent around the screen, but it all worked out perfectly. And just like that, we were in business for 2010. One baseball.
Often times, Tim wants to go explore after we get a baseball. He likes to leave the rest for other people. But today, he was so excited he yelled, “Let’s try to get another baseball!”
So we headed off toward the group of Jays pitchers down the 3B line in the outfield. I was still looking for Brandon Morrow. As we passed 3B, Edwin Encarnacion…
…was fielding grounders — not fungo grounders, BP hitter grounders. As we passed him, he sat back on his heals and butchered a hot grounder smoked off of the bat of one of his teammates. I shouted out, “Edwin, that ball is no good. We’ll take it!” He threw the ball over toward the bucket and then turned and looked at us. He gave the “hold on a minute” finger, which is always a good sign to get from a MLB player.
A few minutes later, he fielded a ball, turned and fired it to me, and we had our second baseball of the season, and last of BP. It was time to explore.
I have taken a lot of panoramas of Camden Yards — see here — but almost all of them (or better yet, all of them), are from various spots on the right side of the diamond – CF bleachers, 1B foul, behind home plate. Nothing in LF or the 3B line. So that is where we headed.
Tim led the way through the seats in the sections above cross aisle that rings the field level seats at Camden Yards…
Next, it was time for a very, very special treat. He headed out to the concourse and walked behind third base where a stadium attendant took this picture of a very happy father and son team:
Yes! Orioles ice cream helmets at Camden Yards! In case you are new here, read this and this to see why we were so excited. I do not have confirmation that our grassroots campaign had anything to do with getting ice cream helmets at Camden Yards, but my guess is that it did. A lot of really cool people helped me on the mission and I think it was hard for the Orioles to ignore the people. Power to the people!
We enjoyed the spoils of victory from our ice cream seats along the 3B line, right about where Encarnacion tossed us a baseball about 1/2 an hour before.
I wanted to get a special picture to commemorate this special occassion…
…so I brought one helmet from each team at whose home stadium Tim and I have had the pleasure of enjoying an ice cream helmet. I tried to do an ice cream helmet panorama, but it didn’t come out right. So I cut the bottom row of helmets out of the two side pictures and put them along the bottom of what was supposed to be the middle picture in the panorama. Still, I like how it came out
Its a good collection that I look forward to adding onto this season.
All sugared up, it was time for Tim to get some pre-game exercise. Off to the play area…
The wood play fort the Orioles have had for (at least) the past several seasons was gone. So was the pitching station. But the bouncy house was still there and it was joined by a air blowing batting Tee that Tim loved. We went back several times throughout the game for more bouncing and more hitting.
After our first round at the play area, we headed out to RCF and bought tickets for four more Orioles games — including two Mariners games, a Red Sox game, and a White Sox game.
Then it was up several excalators into the upper deck for more exploring and panorama picture taking. Here is the view from the cross-aisle behind section 378:
The upper deck seats at Camden Yards really go provide a great view — from anywhere in the park.
We continued to explore by walking around the top row of the stadium from the LF corner to a little passed first base. And I took some action shots along the way.
Is it just me or does it look like Vernon Wells…
By the way, we were around section 350 when we took those shots of Wells. And a little closer to home plate when I captured this ugly swing by Lyle Overbay:
On the way, former Mariner Adam Jones hit this pitch to LCF for the second out in the bottom of the first:
Here was the view from our hot dog seats in Section 310:
We sat up here until the fourth and it was 0-0 at that point. We then went to bounce and hit a little more. While we were gone, the Blue Jays scored the first run of the game (and the winning run) on a bases loaded Hit by Pitch. Interestingly, the O’s intentionally walked Travis Snider to load the bases so they could then serve up a bean-ball to Jose Molina.
After bouncing and hitting, we headed to the flag courtyard where we witnessed the ugliest scene we’ve ever witnessed (close up at least) at a ball game, and definitely the ugliest ever at Camden Yards:
Two groups of drunks got into a huge brawl. There were knuckle-sandwiches handed out left and right, people thrown to the ground, and at least one lady who jumped in to try to break it up got pushed out of the way so more knuckle-sandwiches could be administered.
This fight was by far the lowlight, but all in all, this was the absolute worst crowd I have ever seen at Camden Yards. I attribute it to the game being the first weekend night game of the season. The hooligans in town who probably aren’t real O’s fans came out because of the novelty of baseball being back, and they were loud, rude, obnoxious and drunk. Again, not just these guy. These guys just took it the extra step, which hopefully landed them in the back of a paddywagon…I don’t know because I snapped a couple pictures and then got Tim the heck outta there.
Forced out of our beloved standing room area, we landed in the seats down the 1B line. Excellent seats where we stayed maybe two innings.
Somehow, maybe during the fight or maybe during a bathroom break, the Jays scored again and we missed it again. And, interesting, again it involved an intentional walk to Travis Snider to load the bases for Jose Molina. This time Molina hit an RBI single.
In the seventh, I took this shot of Adam Lind…
In the bottom of the 8th or top of the 9th, we landed here, in some of the best foul ball seats around…
…that’s one of the best action shots I’ve ever got between the hit ball captured in the air, Wieters jumping up to try to snag the ball and throw out the would be base-stealer, the runner advancing, etc., etc.
Before the bottom of the 9th, we got our classic Camden Yards behind home plate photo — taken by a nice usher whose wife just bought my same camera and loves it:
All there was left to do was attempt to get a nice rubbed up baseball from the umpire after the final out, a trick we learned last season from the “The Baseball Collector” himself, Zack Hample. We got 3 umpire balls in 2009 and it is a great way to end a great day at the ballpark.
The home plate umpire was 31-year umpiring veteran, Joe West.
Camden Yards is the most relaxed ballpark in the world. The ushers typically don’t care about anything. But the guy in the bright orange jacket two or three pictures up wouldn’t let us go down and take one of the many, many empty seats all around the umpire tunnel. If he’s let us go down, it was almost a guaranteed umpire ball. But it was a no go, so we decided to head out to RF to watch the bottom of the 9th from there before making our way to our car. But on the way out there, we decided to hit the rest room. And then we decided to fill-up Tim’s water bottle. We were in the outer concourse behind 1B, but none of the water fountains were working. So we kept walking to the next fountain.
Once we finally found a working fountain, we filled up Tim’s water bottle and headed back into the stadium to walk to RF on the inner cross aisle. But, little did we know, we were right back behind home plate again…but on the other side of the umpires tunnel. The usher over there was letting tons of people stand in the aisle, so we stood with them.
Down to the O’s final out, Nolan Reimold hit a towering pop-fly to short stop. That’s exactly the kind of final out you want, something (other than a strike out) that requires the umpire to stay at home plate. We were off with the crack of the bat.
We had to weave in and out of a few fans making their way up the stairs. But we reached the tunnel at the same time as Joe West. He gave baseballs to two little kids on the other side of the tunnel. I asked him if he had one to spare for Tim. He nodded and started to reach toward me. I extended my glove. Then he thought better of himself, denied my glove, reached high and gave it directly to Tim. An excellent move by Mr. West. That’s what 31-years experience will do for a guy.
Thank you, Joe West!
And thank you to the nice family whose daughter captured our post game celebration, complete with “Woody” from Toy Story:
On a final sad note, my normal “gamer” green cargo shorts are going to have to be retired. As you can see in that last picture, they tore wide open exposing the inside of my right front pocket to the world. This leave me in quite a bind as I have to decide upon a replacement pair by next weekend. These shorts have been my main game shorts (and bowling shorts) since 2007. They will be missed.
2010 Fan Stats:
2 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays)
1 Ice Cream Helmet (Orioles)
3 Baseballs (2 Blue Jays, 1 Umpire)
1 Stadium (Camden Yards)
My parents are two of the luckiest people around. During the regular season, they live at my boyhood home about 15 miles from Safeco Field. During Spring Training, they live at their winter home about 3 miles from the Mariners spring training home — the Peoria Sports Complex.
Before the 2008 season began, Colleen, Tim and I headed to Peoria to meet up with my folks and my Mariners for some Spring Training.
Courtesy of Google Maps, here is an aerial view of the Peoria Sports Complex:
At the top center is the stadium where the Mariners and Padres play their home spring training games. The Mariners spring training fields are below to the left. The two fields to the far left are the Mariners Single-A training fields. The next two fields to the right are the Mariners Double-A and Triple-A fields. Next, is the Mariners secondary Major League field. Above that field is the Mariners administrative building and parking lot. Next to the administrative building to the right is the Mariners primary Major League field. Below the primary field, is a partial field where they do infield drills.
Then on the right side, the Padres have a mirror image of the Mariners training fields.
Spring training is incredibly cool and relaxing. One thing I love is all of the open grass between the training fields. It is a perfect set up that allowed us to watch the Mariners run drills and take BP while my dad and I played a lot of catch:
Those pictures are all taken in the grass between the Mariners Major League fields and the administrative building, which also has a big bullpen set up and indoor batting cages lining the big open grass area. In fact, you can see the bullpens behind my dad and Tim in the top two of the last four-picture set.
In the first day or two of our trip, we just watched the Mariners training. Here is Ichiro watching Raul Ibanez taking BP on the main field:
On our first day there, we ran into Mariners catching prospect Adam Moore who was working out one-on-one with a coach on the secondary Major League field…
…after he finished up, we got his autograph on one of the baseballs Tim had collected earlier in the day and got Tim’s first picture with a professional ballplayer. Finally, at the end of 2009, Moore made the Mariners major league roster. Hopefully we will see a lot of him in 2010.
I really enjoyed watching the Minor Leaguers…
Ah, remember how I mentioned it is relaxing at Spring Training…
…this is an ideal way to spend a morning, relaxing with your family and playing catch with your dad while watching the Mariners prepare for the regular season.
Yep, and then we got more baseballs…
Spring Training is also good for normal bats too…
…that’s a bat that my dad got from a Mariners minor leaguer. No cracks or anything. Just a nice fully-intact bat. Tim and I got two bats from minor leaguers as well, both with small cracks.
Here’s another cool part of Spring Training…
While my dad and I would play catch, Tim would run around with his grandma…
Soon, it was time for some games, so we would head to the main stadium in the afternoons:
Here is a view of the main stadium:
Here is a view of where we sat at most of the games:
When we arrived at Spring Training, they’d already played a bunch of games. And Ichiro was batting .000 (zero hits so far). He was something like 0-20.
His luck would change as soon as we arrived. Actually, he didn’t play in our first game. But in his very first at-bat that Tim and I saw him have in the spring, he got his first hit of the spring…
During one of the games, I took “The Ruthian” challenge:
On this trip, I also was able to achieve a life long dream…
…my first ever Mariners game (or any professional baseball game) on my birthday. I always wished growing up that I could have rounded up a bunch of my friends and gone to a Mariners game on my birthday. But its hard to do when you weren’t born during the baseball season. So this was a real special treat for me. And, as a special gift, Ichiro and Adrian Beltre both hit a homerun for me, and the Mariners got me the win.
For our final spring training game, we sat on the outfield berm…
But we still managed to get a picture that I absolutely love:
BUT WAIT…our pre-season baseball wasn’t finished yet.
Several of my colleagues are big Phillies fans and share the “weekend” ticket package…or maybe its just the “Sunday” ticket package. Whatever. The Phillies had two more pre-season games after breaking camp in Florida. They call it the “On Deck” series. And one of my colleagues gave us their tickets because no one in the group was going to use them.
So, a day or two before opening day, Tim and I headed down to Philadelphia for a freezing cold game against the Blue Jays.
This was our view from our seats in Section 130:
Okay, he wasn’t really saying that. But I LOVE that picture. Hilarious.
It was so cold that we gave up our excellent seats and headed over to the sunny seats in the leftfield porch:
I was fine leaving early. So we made a deal that we’d leave after spending one inning behind the Phils dugout watching Moyer up close. We made our way over there in time to see Pat Burrell step to the plate…
We got a great close-up view of Moyer on the mound:
And with that, we called it a day, and a pre-season, and we went home and waited for our favorite holiday, Mariners opening day.
Welcome to my first “turn-back-the-clock” game entry. When I took Tim to his first game back in 2006, I didn’t even know MLBlogs existed. Tim and I went to about 20 games or so between 2006-2008 and I plan to tell those stories this off-season. This is the first.
When I found out toward the end of the 2005 baseball season that our first (and so far only) child due to be born in early 2006 was going to be a boy, I got really excited about the idea of having a little baseball partner. I was looking forward to playing catch in the yard and teaching my son how to hit. And I was really excited to have a little partner with whom to go to MLB games and, hopefully, to love the Mariners as much as I do.
Tim was born in January 2006. I decided I wanted his first game to be a Mariners home game and I wanted it to be late in the season so he would be at least six months old…so he could at least somewhat “experience” the experience, not just “be there.” I picked Tuesday, September 12, 2006 as the big day. The opponent would be the Blue Jays.
Now, I’m a guy who likes to make an event out of things. I’m not against creating my own holidays. And I didn’t want this day to be just any other day…because it wasn’t. September 12th would be Tim’s FIRST BASEBALL GAME and, better yet, his FIRST MARINERS GAME! This was big. So I fully intended to do it right. And with help from some important people, most notably my awesome parents, it was done right!
I started out by simply emailing the closest people in my life sort of a “save the date” and open invitation. I definitely wanted my parents and my best friend (and co-best Mariners fan) Paul to be there. I was hoping also that Colleen’s folks (from Virginia) and her sister’s family (including my nephew, Gill, who (much to my dismay) I have still failed to get to a MLB game!) to join us.
Following my email, my mom had an amazing idea. I have two cousins who both live in Western Washington and both have daughters 2 months older than Tim. Plus, my parents have season tickets with their best friends, Lynn and Steve, and they have a grandson who is also two months older than Tim. So my parents offered to get a suite so all four kids plus TWENTY-FIVE friends and family members could join together for this (personally) historic event.
Big, huge, enormous thanks to my folks!
So, we weren’t messing around. This was going to be seriously awesome.
I decided I couldn’t go in there empty-handed. In a possibly unprecedented move, I made a set of three custom baseball cards to commemorate Tim’s first game, complete with fake 1-game 2006 seasons stats (fyi, Tim had some great stats). Here is what they looked like:
Before we knew it, it was September and our trip to Seattle was upon us. The big day started with a run around Green Lake with my father-in-law, Kevin, and then some painting in my folks’ garage…
It was a 7:05 start and the weather was gloriously sunny. Beautiful. Our suite was down the 1B line just foul of rightfield. In the picture below to the left, the red arrow is pointing to our suite…
When we arrived at the stadium, I already had Tim’s first game ticket encased in an inch-thick screw down jumbo baseball card holder — where it will be locked down for all time. The guy at the Suites entrance thought it was pretty unusual, but his scanner had no problem scanning the ticket through the glass.
Plus, it gave me the opportunity to explain to the ticket guy that four little kids would be celebrating their first game ever in suite number 5, which resulted in unexpected but much welcome extra-special treatment.
Shortly after arriving, we met up with my cousin, Janet, her husband, Destry (who runs ridiculously fast (i.e., sub-2.5 hour) marathons, and their daughter and Tim’s co-guest of honor, Julie. Here we are hanging out in the three rows of seats in our suite:
…note the Ted Williams jersey on the wall behind us. Each of the suites at Safeco Field is named after a Hall of Famer. My guess is that the best suite will some day be called the “Ken Griffey, Jr. Suite.”
After watching lots of Mariners games on TV with me throughout the season, Tim was excited to finally be making his MLB debut…
We got a “BP Group” picture of the folks who were there early:
After the group shot, it was time to hit field level. This is literally the second picture ever taken of Tim in the field level of a MLB ballpark and the first with MLB ball players shown in the background…
…any guesses who wore number “47” for the Blue Jays in 2006? Well, wouldn’t you know, it is none other than current Mariners bullpen catcher and Chief-Cook-and-Son-Baseball-Giver, Jason Phillips. If the first picture had to feature non-Mariners, I think its pretty darn cool that it was Phillips.
Once we were down on the field level, we took a peak back up at our suite, where Uncle Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy, was doing his best Tricky Dick Nixon above my painting project:
Yes, the “First Gamers Club!” I spent a lot of time debating if the sign should say this or “The September Call-Ups” I think both are great. But in the end this seemed better for the paper I used for the sign, plus it is more easily understood by non-baseball people. FYI, they showed our sign on the jumbo screen during the game!
By the way, Laura is my cousin’s Daniel’s daughter and Kasey is Lynn and Steve’s grandson. They weren’t there for BP, but you’ll see them soon.
After that picture above behind the 1B dugout, we spotted my dad down the 1B line. He was seeing if he could catch a ball. So, we went down and joined him. Immediately upon meeting up with my dad (and about 1 minute after the picture behind the dugout), Colleen took this picture of three generations of Cook boys enjoying an evening at the ballpark:
Until recently, I had no clue who he was. But as he fielded the ball, I yelled, “ITS MY SON’S FIRST GAME CAN WE GET THAT BALL!?!?!?”
Without pause, he immediately turned around, walked over to us, and set Tim’s first MLB ball ever into my glove!
After we got that ball and posed for a bunch of pictures with it, I decided we’d accomplished all we needed to during BP. It was time to walk Tim around his new baseball home. Time to get acquainted with Safeco Field.
We started by heading up to the field level concourse and walking out to centerfield.
Now, about this time, you might be wondering why there were two guys with red arrows pointing at them in at picture above. Well, when we reached CF, I heard someone yelling from the field. Still standing in the concourse, I looked down and I saw that guy in the picture above with the smaller red arrow pointing at him. He had a baseball in his hand, and he fired it up to us (still in the OF concourse) for Tim’s second ball of his life! WOW!!!
A few minutes later, we met up with Janet and Julie in LF foul territory and we gave Tim’s second baseball to Julie so she too would have a keepsake from her first MLB game:
Colleen’s mom and sister (and her family) couldn’t make the trip, but Colleen’s dad, Kevin, and his uncle Bob and aunt Ann did. Here I am hanging out with Kevin and Bob before the game:
The game had not started yet so Tim grabbed a bite to eat — the old standard (bottle of milk) and a new treat (his first dog at the ballpark, he finished about 2-3 bites of the dog):
And then the big moment arrived, and my dad was thoughtful enough to capture history for us — Tim’s first MLB pitch ever:
Tim and Kasey spent some time enjoying the game from the front row of the suite:
Bottom left, my sister-in-law (brother’s wife, not Colleen’s sister), Alison with Tim and my dad. Bottom right, my mom, Tim and me.
Remember how I said I originally did not know who gave us Tim’s first baseball? Well, I figured it out earlier this season (2009). First, I noticed he was a left hander from the picture of him walking back out to his spot in the OF in the picture above. So I looked up every lefty who played for the Blue Jays that season. I then took the 3-4 possible mystery men and put them into Google Images. I wasn’t positive, but my front runner was a September call-up named Davis Romero (who has never made it back to the bigs and is still playing Triple-A ball for the Blue Jays).
Then one day I was combing through old game pictures and I found the following picture from Tim’s first game:
At the top right, there is a TV screen mounted on the ceiling of our suite where (if you click to enlarge the picture) you can see that Davis Romero is warming up in the Blue Jays’ bullpen. More importantly, its not too difficult to tell that Davis Romero, indeed, is the mystery man who gave us Tim’s first ever MLB ball.
So, at long last, “THANK YOU, DAVIS ROMERO!”
Anyway, we kept snapping away at the pictures, here are Tim and Colleen in the suite:
Here is a shot of my mom with two of her sisters Margaret (left) and Carol and, of course, Julie too:
And as the Mariners led the Blue Jays, we just kept snapping away at the photos and having a grand old time in suite number 5:
Bottom left, Alison, my dad and Steve. Bottom right, half of my dad with Tim, Destry, Julie, Kasey and Lynn.
But then, the tiredness kicked in. Tim had a tiredness-inducing double whammy going here. First, it was late at night for the boy (9’ish o’clock). Second, we were on the West coast just two days removed from our home in Pennsylvania and he was still on east coast time — so it was really three hours later for Tim.
So, Tim spent some time chilling out under a blanket strapped to either me or Colleen in a baby bjorn:
In between photo sessions, we actually watched the game:
It was great to have “Pauliewog” there for Tim’s first game because I’m gonna rely on Paul a lot in life to re-enforce for Tim the finer points of Mariners-fandome and provide him a shining example of a positive Mariners attitude.
And before we knew it, the Mariners WON! The first in-person Mariners win of Tim’s life — I couldn’t have scripted it better:
I think this game was the start of something beautiful. Welcome to a new era, the Tim-and-Todd-traveling-baseball-fans era.
By the way, Ichiro went 1-5, Raul Ibanez (1st inning) and Adrian Belte hit homeruns, and Gil Meche got the win. You coudn’t have scripted a better first game experience.
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