On June 1, 2013, we continued our quest to have Kellan see all 30 MLB teams play a game live. The Brewers were on the “must see” list and they were in Philadelphia, and so were we.
For some reason, we were running a bit late getting to the ballpark. We arrived before the gates opened, but there was already a healthy-sized crowd there before we arrived:
The reason for the big crowd: it was Photo Day!
The Phillies’ website said fans could get photos of their favorite Phillies on field starting at 2:30. I didn’t know exactly what that meant for the pregame schedule. The stadium was going to open at 1:30. Would there be an hour of BP before moving on to the Photo Day festivities? No.
As we reached the seating bowl, the field was already set up for Photo Day. I wish I would have taken a picture of it from the concourse, but I just wanted us to get down there onto the field. Several gates to the field were open along the front row of the foul territory seats on both sides of the diamond. Fans could walk around pretty much the whole field (with limited exceptions, like in front of the Phillies dugout). In the outfield, there were two catwalk’esque runways put together on each side – two in LF and two in RF. The runways ran about half way out into the outfield grass from the warning track and fans could stand out in the OF waiting for the Phils to arrive.
At the beginning, we hung out down the 3B line…
…and in front of the Brewers dugout.
A bunch of Phillies ballgirls started circling the field…
…signing autographs for the kids (or, I guess, adults, too). Each ballgirl has her own baseball card and they personalize all of their autographs. Two of the 7 ballgirls we met up with *loved* the name “Kellan.”
Interestingly, while the fans were blocked from going in front of the Phillies dugout, there were no similar restrictions in front of the Brewers dugout. If a Brewer wanted to come out to the field to run, stretch or throw, he had to walk through the crowd. It was pretty awesome. (By the way, this was the exact same situation that they had at Photo Day at Fenway Park in April).
I bought Tim that cheesehead Kellan is wearing in the photo above while I was on a business trip to Milwaukee in 2012. I figured it would be funny to wear at a Brewers game, and this was our first opportunity. Guess what? Everyone loves a fan wearing a cheesehead. We could hear people commenting on it all around us while the boys were passing it back and forth.
The Brewers liked it too. Like Tom Gorzelanny who stopped to get this photo with the boys on his way back to the dugout:
By the way, we were hanging out right here because half of the warning track was blocked off for fans in wheelchairs, but there were none at the time so it was a totally unblocked view of the field.
Brewers coach, Lee Tunnell, liked the cheesehead too…
…he tossed a baseball to us after playing catch with several Brewers.
We hung out by the dugout a bunch because it was fun watching what was going on in there. Tim touched (and made me touch) this…
…burning hot TV camera. After touching it, I was surprised it hadn’t spontaneously combusted. It was firey hot from the sun, which was beating down hard on us.
I wanted to find Yuniesky Betancourt. I was hoping to get my picture with him because (1) he’s a ex-Mariner, (2) he’s always been very nice to us, and (3) I was wearing my Jose Lopez jersey (who was Yuni’s doubleplay partner and buddy while in Seattle). But Yuni was nowhere to be found during pre-game festivities.
With no Yuni in sight, Tim posed for a photo by the bullpen with Michael Gonzalez getting interviewed in the background:
When it seemed apparent that we wouldn’t find Yuni, we headed toward the outfield. Kellan was content sitting on my shoulders and didn’t want to get down for any photos. Tim got a photo in LF with the foul pole behind him:
Check out his sweet shirt in that photo – “Cheesehead Cowpants.” I got him that gem while on a different business trip to Milwaukee…actually, to Racine, Wisc. Pairing the Cheesehead Cowpants shirt with Tim’s banana shorts is one of my favorite non-Mariners gameday outfits. It’s pretty hilarious, no?
Here’s a random photo in LF:
We headed over to the RCF warning track below the pizza wedge…
…so we could see the players-point-of-view when we’re usually looking down at them from the pizza wedge.
Check out how easy it would be to pick off a homer in CF:
No jumping required.
While we were out in CF, several Brewers were in the upper (visitors’) bullpen. The last two to leave were coaches, including Marcus Hanel. As Hanel walked by…
…we said hi to him and he handed us a spare baseball, he had two in his glove and he took the other back to the dugout with him.
Of course, we had to check in with the Mariners on the out of town scoreboard:
Finally, Phillies players started making the rounds. The “rule” was you weren’t supposed to get individual posed pictures with the players, you know, because they didn’t have time to pose for a picture with everyone. I think that’s always the rule at all of the ballparks. Anyway, some of the Phils just walked around saying hi and shaking hands. Some walked a bit and then randomly stopped to take a photo with one or two fans (Chase Utley). Others posed for photos with every single fan who wanted a picture. That’s how it oughta be!
We ran all over from RCF to LF and out the LF catwalk trying to get a bunch of player photos and looking for certain guys. We missed a lot of guys while looking for other player or because the guy didn’t want to stop for a photo. Here’s who we met:
First up, right in CF, we met Joe Savery…
…and Jonathan Pettibone.
Right after we got their photos, I saw Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz coming our way from LCF. We missed some guys (like Antonio Bastardo) trying to make sure we didn’t miss Chooch. And, happily, we did not miss chooch…
…or Charlie Manuel. If you ask me, both Charlie and Tim have hilarious faces in that picture, and eerily similar at that. If you couldn’t tell, we were out on a walkway in LF when we ran into Charlie. We stayed out there most of the time and we kept going back because it was less crowded than the warning track.
If you ever go to Photo Day on a blazing hot day, I highly recommend taking squirt bottles. The players love squirt bottles, and so do other fans, for the most part. When we asked Justin DeFratus for a picture, he took off his hat and said, “First, you have to squirt me in the face.”
After DeFratus posed for a picture with Tim, he remarked at what a good deal he and Tim had made. It was a pretty good deal too. Tim’s a lucky boy. Not many people can say they’ve squirted a uniformed major leaguer in the face with a squirt bottle!
While Cole Hamels passed by behind, Ryan Howard posed for a picture from afar as Tim squirted his bottle in the air…
…and Ben Revere sported shiny glasses and one of the straightest bills in the league.
We had a nice Mariners-based chat with both Larry Anderson (a former Mariner)…
…and Gary “Sarge” Mathews, Sr. (who likes to wear fancy hats like Mariners announcer Dave Sims). L.A. was really very nice. He chatted with us a minute or two about the Mariners and the beautiful Kingdome. Sarge claimed that he was wearing hats before Dave Sims. On twitter, Dave later told me he and Sarge both started wearing hats in 2007.
How about a couple Washingtonians? Mount Vernon, WA’s Kyle Kendrick…
…and Spokane, WA’s Ryne “HOF” Sandberg. I asked Kendrick how his family was enjoying the detour around the collapsed bridge in his home town. Not surprisingly, they were not big fans of it.
Several years ago, three future Major Leaguers playing for the AA Reading Phillies (now the Reading Fightin Phils or the “Fightins”) came to my Reading-Berk Business Softball League game against the R-Phils front office and they heckled us mercilessly. Those players were Kyle Drabek, Mike Zagursky, and current Phillies reliefer Michael Stutes…
…who totally remembered it when I mentioned the softball game to him. Next to Stutes and Tim, that’s Tim “Spray Man” Cook and 2007 N.L. MVP Jimmy Rollins. Rollins was riding around on that utility truck behind him in the photo. He would ride a little bit and then hop up for a few pictures. We had to chase him all the way down one of the runways before filing meeting up with him on the warning track. When he saw Tim, he said, “Come on, Spray Man!” and then he squirted Tim three times in the face while I took this photo. Great memory!
After getting that pic with J-Roll, we wandered around trying to find the best N.L. bullpen catcher, Jesus Tiamo, but to no avail. So, we headed off to grab some ice cream:
Ice cream in the shady on a hot day is good stuff.
While we ate ice cream we watched the grounds crew take up the four white runways in the outfield. Soon, it was time for the pitchers to warm up. When Jesus Tiamo headed out to the bullpen, we wandered down into the pizza wedge and he promptly tossed a ball to Tim…
…and another to Kellan.
I asked Jesus if he was out on the field for the photo session, but he said he was not. That’s too bad. It would have been great to get a photo with him.
Before the game got started, we went to the play area…
…and then we played some games:
We were happy to see that Santa Claus…
…was spending his vacation in Philadelphia, and apparently roots for the Phils.
We played enough games to get 20 stamps…
…the exact number you need to win one of these Citizens Bank Park mini-bats. When the guy realized I had two boys, he through in an extra bonus bat!
The game had just started by this point. We decided to head to the upper deck to grab some food and sit in the shade. On our way across Ashburn Alley in CF, Tyler Cloyd induced Ryan Braun…
…to fly out to Ben Revere in CF to end the top of the first with no score.
Within thirty seconds of taking that last photo, I found a $5 bill on the ground in Ashburn Alley:
After circling around to the concourse in LF foul territory we spotted the Phillie Phanatic…
…riding his ATV down the switch back ramp. That was kind of amazing because we never see the Phanatic out and about in the stadium. He’s usually just on the field or on top of the dugouts at the end of the game.
On the upper deck concourse, Tim and Kellan did some fake hitting and base running before we grabbed some food:
Speaking of food, after buying our hot dogs, I found another $5 bill on the ground! That raised the my found-money-at-a-ballpark grand total up to $30, all at Citizens Bank Park.
We sat here…
…in section 421 while we ate our lunch:
So, by the way, there was some scoring by this point that I haven’t mentioned. In the top of the second inning, the Brewers scored two runs on a single to RF and a throwing error by Delmon Young. That made it 2-0 Brewers.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Phillies got on the board when Brewers’ second baseman Jeff Bianchi couldn’t handle a bases loaded knock by Kevin Frandsen. The Brewers got out of the jam without giving up any more runs. 2-1 Brewers after four.
The Brewers got that run back pretty quick. In the top of the fifth, Aoki hit a single followed by a triple by Jean Segura. 3-1 Brewers after five innings.
The Phils got one more run in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Erik Kratz. Back to a 1-run game, 3-2 Brewers after six.
We were just relaxing. And having fun with squirt bottles:
We were right up at the top of the upper deck seats. Check out what we could see behind us:
That’s the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot. I’m not sure when they put in the covered parking. I’d never noticed it before…but then again, we never park over there.
We decided to hit up the kids’ play area one more time before it closed. One our walk down to the concourse, I got this shot…
…of the stairs. I love how there is one solitary row right about the tunnel. That’s be a sweet place to sit someday.
Visiting the kids’ play area turned out not to be a great idea. The kids’ play area is pretty big and parents can only see one side of it at a time from the area below. The kids went up to play and I sat on the ground in front of the play area taking some notes in my notebook and putting baseballs in baggies. Tim and Kellan came running by a couple times after going down the big twisty slide.
But then I didn’t see them for a while. A couple times I heard some crazy kid screams from inside the play area. They were spaced out over a minute or two. I grew concerned that it was Kellan and he was stuck inside the play area up top somewhere. I started walking around the play area and I found this scene on the back side:
Actually, this wasn’t right when I got there. There is a steering wheel type toy up there. When Kellan tried to play with it, a kid a little shorter than Kellan with a mohawk started hitting Kellan and pushing him into the walls (I missed all of that). He apparently also bit Kellan’s finger (I also missed that).
When I found Kellan, Tim was trying to push Kellan and the other kid apart. Kellan was screaming and crying. The mohawk kid ran off to the right.
I had no clue what was going on at this point. I just knew that Kellan was going ballistic crying. I asked a Phillies employee (the lady shown in the picture above) if I could go up and get him because he wouldn’t come down. She said parents couldn’t go up after kids. A minute later, I saw her up there. I still had no clue what was happening – if Kellan and that kid were just fighting (i.e., both being bad) or what. Then I saw that lady up there. My first thought was that she was going to kick Kellan out for fighting with that kid. But she was up there to find the kid with the Mohawk. The other kids told her where he went in the play area and she went and kicked him out of there.
She then came back to see if Kellan was okay. While she was away, two moms came up to me and told me what happened with the kid with the mohawk. They were both super mad and they mentioned that the mohawk kid’s dad was standing below laughing as he tussled with Kellan. One said that she wanted to run up there and kick that kid out herself.
Anyway, I was calling up to Kellan and asking him to come down. He was just standing up there crying and wouldn’t move. That lady up there couldn’t really get him to move, but she point out to me that he could walk to the right and take the slide down. I finally got him to walk over there and slide down to me. He was still crying and screaming when he reached me. I picked him up and popped him onto my shoulders and the three of us got out of there right away.
As we walked toward home plate through the concourse, Tim told me all about what happened up in the play area and Kellan instantly fell asleep (it was a tiring altercation with the little mohawk kid).
We had a goal of getting some mathematical photos for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, we headed to the RF foul corner, but we were too far away. So we headed to the SRO area behind the Brewers dugout.
In the top of the eighth inning, Jonathan Lucroy hit a solo homerun that put the Brewers up 4-2.
I’m happy to report that we were able to get both math photos that we needed:
And we got to see our Yuni Betancourt (unfortunately) not hit a homerun:
When Kellan woke up, he started spraying his bottle and eventually hit this cameraman:
I told Kellan not to do that, but the cameraman turned around and said, “no, please do!”
In the ninth inning, we ended up heading down into section 129:
Freddy Galvis led off the ninth inning with a solo homerun:
The crowd was excited for a Phillies comeback. Kellan was most excited about how thoroughly he had doused his face with his spray bottle:
Jimmy Rollins followed with a pinch hit single. Interestingly, Kyle Kendrick pinch ran for Rollins. Ben Revere sacrifice bunted Kendrick to second. Cesar Hernandez followed Revere. During his at bat, the Brewers picked Kendrick off second base for the second out of the inning. And, wouldn’t you know it, Hernandez then hit a double off the RCF wall. Had Kendrick not been picked off, Hernandez’s double would have tied the game.
With a one run lead still intact, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez intentionally walked Dominic Brown and then got Michael Martinez to ground out to end the game.
Brewers win 4-3.
Following the final out, it was super easy to get into the corner spot at the home plate end of the Brewers dugout. We got home plate umpire Tom Hallion’s attention and he bounce-passed a baseball to Tim off of the top of the dugout.
Tim hammed it up when someone took a shot of us…
…before heading to the gates.
The game ended at just about 7:00 p.m. and we ended up playing catch…
…in the parking lot for half an hour before hopping in the car or the ride home.
It was another great day at the ballpark!
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|17 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers|
|22 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2|
|55 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 4, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2|
|9 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field|
|30 Player+ Photos – 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, 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|
|5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo|
June 9, 2012 was a fun day. My folks were visiting from Washington and we all headed out to Pittsburgh for Ballhawkfest 2012 featuring an interleague battle between the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates or, as it would turn out to be, the Kansas City Monarchs against the Homestead Grays.
We had a full day on the 9th so we drove out to Pittsburgh the night before the game and stayed in a hotel. The first order of the day was to play a little homerun derby. PNC Park regular and mygameballs.com member Rick Sporcic had booked us an incredibly interesting ballpark called Officer Paul J. Sciullo III Memorial Field. As you can see from this panorama:
There is a bridge directly behind/above the tall chain-linked centerfield fence. And it was definitely in play.
The derby crew was small, but all the guys were cool. In addition to me, Tim and my dad (my mom and Kellan played around in the shade in deep CF/RF), there was Rick Sporcic, his buddy Hunter Stokes, Ballhawkfest veteran Garrett Meyer, Ballhawkfest veteran Alex Kopp, and Alex’s dad Mark Kopp.
I was in the outfield most of the time and didn’t have my camera. So I only got a few pictures, mostly taken by Tim and Garrett.
Here is Garrett taking some hacks against Rick:
I didn’t get any pictures of Rick hitting, but he was definitely the batting champ of the day. In his second round, he hit approximately 800 homeruns.
Garrett got some cool pictures of Alex pitching to me:
I hit about 5-6 homeruns onto the bridge. Several went to CF where the bridge wasn’t very far from home plate. My best hit went to LF and I was surprised when it carried all the way to the bridge. In the following photo, I’ve laid our derby park on top of PNC Park so I could see how far my longest homerun went:
I was shocked by how small the derby park was when I put it on top of PNC Park. But, you know, any time you’re hitting a baseball over an outfield fence it is fun.
Here is another picture that Garrett took that shows one of my homers sailing onto the bridge:
One of the best parts of the derby (which I completely failed to capture on film) was watching my dad hit. He was lacing some hard line drives all over the park and eventually hit one bomb to leftfield.
Good job, pa!
After two rounds of homerun derby, we finished up with Garrett pitching to Tim:
Tim put on a good show. He even took some successful lefty hacks.
After lunch, we all headed over to a local restaurant. Two noteworthy things happened at the restaurant. First, the service was horrible. We had to wait for our food…
…for close to an hour. This ultimately resulted in our bill getting cut in half by the manager. Second, Milwaukee’s Best, Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohanek, and his wife April showed up. They missed the derby because they had a morning flight in from the dairy lands of Wisconsin.
After lunch, even with the long delay, we had a good chunk of time before the gates would open at PNC Park. My folks, the boys and I passed the time with a visit to the Duquesne Incline:
Eventually, it was time to head to PNC Park. PNC was Kellan’s 12th MLB stadium. This was also my mom’s first game at PNC Park. I’m not sure of her stadium total, but let’s see if I can figure it out. I’ve been to games with my mom at: Safeco Field, the Kingdome, The Big A (as a kid), Dodger Stadium, Oakland Coliseum, Veterans Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Camden Yards, Fenway Park, new Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Tropicana Field. Okay, so my mom might be tied with Kellan at 12…but, then again, she might have been to the Astrodome with my dad before I was born. Hmmm…not sure.
Anyway, as we approached PNC Park for my mom’s and Kellan’s first time, my mom and Tim got their picture with the Willie Stargell statue:
When the ballpark opened, Rick took over and ended up getting all of us non-season ticket holders into the stadium with the season ticket holders.
While almost everyone else huddled up in LF, we got Tim’s picture with the Pirate Pig…
…and then headed over to RF foul territory:
RF foul territory is a pretty good spot to hang out in during BP at PNC Park. A lot of the time over there, it was just us Cooks or us and Zac Weiss.
When we arrived Jeff Francouer was playing catch with a football in front of the 1B dugout. He was a little past 1B and his partner was close to home plate. His partner tossed a few balls past him and I kept yelling, “Hit me, Frenchie! Hey, I got a tight spiral!” He thought it was pretty hilarious, but didn’t let me get in on the football tossing action.
Charlie Morton tossed us a baseball pretty quickly after we arrived:
About thirty seconds later, a Pirates batter hit a foul down the line. I caught it on one big hop.
Shortly thereafter, Juan Cruz tossed a baseball to Tim…
…and Tim made a nice catch on it.
Right after throwing the ball Tim, Cruz grabbed another baseball and tossed it to my mom. So everyone had a baseball already:
Double thanks, Juan!
I gave my glove to my mom so she could patrol the line with my dad and the boys:
My mom didn’t get any other baseballs, but my dad could 4-5 on the day.
It was a great time down the line. In addition to a bunch of baseballs, we pictures with three players. First, Tim (and sort of Kellan) got a pitcher with hard throwing Kelvin Hererra:
I didn’t know it before this game, but Jose Mijares is super nice and really likes kids. He saw Kellan standing along the wall with his glove and walked over and put a baseball into Kellan’s glove. Then he handed out some high fives to both boys:
I really wanted to try to get a picture with Yuniesky Betancourt and/or Johnny Giavotella (to whom one of my friends from New Orleans had asked me to pass along a message that New Orleans is rooting hard for his success). They ended up taking some grounders together:
And then Giavotella came over and posed for a picture with Tim:
And I passed on the news that his home town is rooting for his success (which I imagine wasn’t too much of a shock to him). He seemed like a real nice kid.
While the Royals pitchers were running sprints in the outfield, Greg Holland…
…fielded a batted ball and tossed it over to me and Kellan.
Then righty-former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt went on a tear hitting foul balls down the RF line. I caught one of Yuni’s one-hoppers.
My dad got one of his that was sliced into the seats just behind the handicapped seating area. And then Tim snagged one that Yuni sliced into the seats right where my dad had already got one from Yuni. It was the first *hit* baseball that Tim had ever snagged on his own:
And he loved that it had a nice scuff mark from hitting the concrete.
Tim’s baseball from Yuni was our last baseball of the day. Tim and Grandpa both wanted to see if they could get Yuni to sign their baseballs (they never got near him) so they headed over to the wall just past the dugout:
While Yuni never stopped by, Humberto Quintero did, and he posed for this picture with Tim:
Toward the end of BP, my folks went off to tour the stadium a bit…
…while the boys and I hung out with Matt Peaslee and Erin Wozniak¸ who we know through Matt’s Pittpeas MLBlog and met in person for the first time last year:
Matt and Erin are good people, and huge Pirates fans. Follow Matt on Twitter and you will always know when the Pirates win a ballgame (NOTE: Matt just tweeted that linked tweet exactly when I typed this part of this blog entry!).
After parting ways with Matt and Erin, we grabbed some ice cream helmets and headed out to LF for a group shot with most of the Ballhawkfest guys:
Everyone had success and BP. All told, I think we combined to snag over 50 baseballs as a group. Not too shabby.
After the group photo, we headed to the picnic tables by the Alleghany River to eat our ice cream…
…do some ballpark birding…
…, and play some catch.
And then it was game time. We had some lovely seats in the four row of section 137:
When the teams took the field, we realized it was Negro Leagues throw-back day. The Pirates were sporting Homestead Grays uniforms and the Royals were representing the Kansas City Monarchs:
I thought both uniforms really looked great, with a slight edge to the Monarchs uniforms. I really liked the look of the red and grey Monarchs uniforms paired with the Royals royal-blue spikes (shown below).
We had the first five seats on the aisle…
…, which worked out great for Kellan (as we’ll see below).
Yuniesky Betancourt kicked off the scoring in the top of the third inning with a 2-run homerun to LF:
I also enjoy seeingYuni do well. A lot of Mariners fans like to rag on Yuni, but I’ve always liked the guy. I liked him as our short stop. And I like him for being an incredibly nice member of the brotherhood of former-Mariners players.
Good job, Yuni!
I was all set to catch a game homer…
…or to help Kellan catch a between-inning warm up baseball. But neither came to fruition.
Section 137 is only about 6 rows deep and Kellan spent almost the entire game walking up and down the stairs between rows A-F. A lot of the time, he hung out right at the fence:
While Kellan was playing in the aisle, Tim and a blast (as he always does) with this grandparents:
I thought this was one of the funniest pictures of the night:
Kellan was working a strong game with the ladies sitting out in LF too:
By the way, did you see the Elivs Presley guy sitting in row C? That was his gimmick because we were sitting behind Pirates leftfielder Alex Presley.
By the way, I should mention that the Royals scored their third (and final) run of the night in the top of the fourth inning to go up 3-0.
But then the Pirates came charging back with five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.
That put the Pirates up 5-3, and that score would stick.
There was an odd play late in the game. I can’t remember who the batter was. But he hit a single to CF that Andrew McCutchen totally booted:
The ball rolled to the CF wall giving the batter second base for free. But the batter came flying around 1B and bit the dust — face first into the infield dirt. He had a retreat to first base and, because he didn’t take second, McCutchen didn’t get charged with an error.
Here is a look at the “Monarchs” with their royal blue shoes:
Around the 6th or 7th inning, we headed to the pizzeria behind the left bleachers. This big pepperoni pizza…
…was only $21. That would normally be expensive for a pepperoni pizza, but for ballpark pizza, that seemed incredibly reasonable. I was thinking a whole pizza would cost $45 or something like that!
After eating, we took a little tour around the upper deck. We stopped in at section 318:
Where we finally got a good look at the front of the “Grays” jerseys:
My camera has quickly been turning into a piece of junk this season. It completed the metamorphosis at this game. Here is a great family picture that my camera completely ruined:
Tim grabbed onto his grandfolks…
…and we headed out to section 301 down the RF line:
This is what it looked like from the cross-aisle in section 301:
We then hustled back to our seats and watched the rest of the game from our seats. The Pirates held on and the Parrot came out to *Raise The Jolly Roger*:
But our day wasn’t finished just yet. After the game, the boys saw their first concert:
A washed up and reduced to 3-members, Boyz II Men.
All-in-all, it was a great day!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|12/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates|
|19 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3|
|69 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 4, Pirates 3|
|11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1|
|10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park
1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
|5/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Johnny Giavotella, Kelvin Hererra, Humberto Quintero; Kellan – Willie Bloomquis|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|
After starting out our 2011 season with an outstanding doubleheader in Baltimore (Tim’s first doubleheader), our second game was slated to be the Marlins at Phillies on Saturday, April 16, 2011. Unfortunately, rain wiped out most of the games in the NE region of the United States that day, including our game in Philadelphia.
The Phillies rescheduled the game for June 15th, thus freeing us up to travel to the Nation’s capital on April 17, 2011 for our second consecutive single-admission doubleheader, featuring the Milwaukee Brewers and the Washington Nationals.
The action was slated to start at 1:10 p.m. I was confident there would be BP, so we arrived 2.5 hours early. The Nats and Brewers did not disappoint. There was full batting practice by both teams.
After a 30-second stop in the LF seats, we headed over to RCF – section 143 – which was practically empty. A few minutes later, a Nationals batter hit a ball onto the warning track in deep CF. Nationals bullpen coach came walking out toward CF with his fungo bat in hand…
…I waived to get his attention, then pointed to the baseball on the warning track and then to Tim. He nodded and started walking toward the ball. He had a long walk. At the same time, a groundskeeper behind the CF wall saw the ball and walked out to get it. I yelled down toward him, “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!”
Luckily, he grabbed the ball and tossed it to Coach Lett. Lett turned and, true to his nod, fired the baseball to my waiting Rawlings glove.
Thanks, Jim Lett!
By the way, it was one of the ultra-soft leather “Training” baseballs that the Nationals like to use for BP.
A few minutes later, we relocated to the seats next to the Nationals bullpen at section 139. There was a group of Nats in RF. They tossed a few baseballs to Nats fans.
Finally, this happened…
Thanks, unidentified dude!
All the while, a 45’ish year old dad of two 10-12’ish year old boys was yucking it up in the first row of section 140 because his boys had been the recipients of several toss ups. He was quite happy…until one of his boneheaded boys dropped his baseball down into the gap between the seats and the RF wall. Doh!
The guy was perplexed. What to do!? The groundskeepers in the bullpen said they couldn’t do anything about it. Even if they could, it would require accessing a gate and walking between the wall and the stands. They had no reason to go out of their way to do it to help the dad of the newly baseball-less boy.
Tim and I were down in the first row looking at the boy’s baseball. Then we started watching the groundskeepers spray painting the pitching rubbers bright white…
…I looked back toward my right and witnessed something absurd. The Dad of the baseball-less boy climbed down into the gap – a good 10-15 feet down – and grabbed the dropped baseball, and another BP homer that found the gap.
As he was climbing up, I could see security running from multiple directions with rage-filled faces, ready to sink their verbal teeth into this apparently clueless dad.
I was amazed later to learn that they didn’t eject him from the stadium. But they did remove him for the outfield seats for the remainder of BP. The truly amazing thing was that the Dad was bold enough to yell at the security people (really just retired guys working as ushers) that he only did it because no one would go get his baseball.
UNSOLICITED ADVICE: If you (or your kid) get a baseball, put it in your pocket or backpack. If you don’t, and you eventually drop it into a 10-15 gap behind the outfield wall, DON’T CLIMB DOWN THERE TO GET IT!!! Just live with your boneheaded move.
Next, we relocated to the middle of section 141 where this was our panoramic view of Nationals Park:
Tim sat and munched on some crackers while I incompetently watched a BP homerun land two rows directly in front of me. Had I climbed over even just one row of seats, it would have been an easy on-the-fly grab. Oh, well.
When the Brewers came to bat, we relocated to the second deck in search of a Monster Prince Fielders Bomb. I’m a fairly nervous father of an extremely-high-energy-low-attention-to-danger son. So I told Tim he had to stand behind this glass barrier if he was going to stand in the front row:
Fielder did, in fact, several (maybe 4) homeruns into the second deck. One of them landed about 3 rows above me and bounced directly over my head (too high and out of reach) and back down onto the field.
That was the only one that was anywhere near us. Another was 3 sections toward CF and I started to run for it before totally biting it trying to jump a row a seats. Tim thought it was pretty comical. He described it to his mommy by saying that my “neck hooked onto one row of seats and his feet hooked onto another row of seats and his body just hung in the air!”
At another point, a Brewers pitcher spotted us all alone in section 241 (literally no one within 100 feet of us) and fired a baseball to us. Well, he meant to throw it to us, but he launched it about 8 rows above us. I didn’t even see it land. I ran up a couple rows, walked row-to-row and could not find it anywhere. Meanwhile, a 12’ish year old kid ran from two sections over. He saw the ball, grabbed it and then laughed at me for missing out on the baseball clearly meant for me and Tim. I went back over to Tim and he said, “That boy stole our baseball!!!” It was pretty funny. I explained to him that I couldn’t find it (it blended in was nudged under the back of a seat and blended in with the white pavement) and he had a right to grabbed it if he could find it.
Still, the next day, Tim told his mommy how the boy “stole our baseball.” Yep, it was pretty funny.
Anyway, after Prince Fielder finished hitting, I told Tim we could go to the kids play area for a bit. But first, we walked toward RF foul territory and got this picture with the Nationals Park sign in the background:
In addition to the normal play fort-thingy, the Nats put in an inflatable batting station. And it was a really nice one with an excellent red plastic bat (that fit time perfectly). It was a long line to bat and we made our way slowly to the front. A little girl who had no clue how to hit was directly in front of Tim in line. On her first swing, she completely missed the ball, and then took a ferocious backswing and unintentionally drilled a perfect line drive directly into Tim’s nose.
Tim was not pleased.
And he shed some big time water works.
Once he calmed down, he took it out on the whiffleball:
He was trying to hit a Popfly over the hitting station like he had done at Spring Training in Peoria.
As the game was set to start, we bought some expensive, but quite tasty, chili nachos (more just “meaty” nachos)…
We had seats in section 105, but we started the game in section 104. Here was our panoramic view of Nationals Park from our temporary seats in section 104:
After an inning or two, it started to fill up in LF so I figured we should go get some ice cream and return to our actual ticketed seats.
On the way to get ice cream, Tim managed to destroy this water fountain:
On the way back to our seats, Tim struck a pose with his fancy (and too expensive ($8) M&M’s vanilla ice cream helmet):
In our real seats in section 105, we sat next to a nice Nats fan who Tim chatted up like nobody’s business. The Brewers took an early 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Casey McGehee in the first and pitcher Yovani Gallardo in the fourth. Faced with the deficit, the Nats fan put on a rally hat, which prompted Tim to do the same:
Hard hitting Danny Espinosa followed in the bottom of the fifth with a 3-run homerun. Here he about to score the fourth Nats run of the game:
As we approached DC by car, Tim saw a big battle ship in the Anacostia River. I knew you could see the ship from the concourse in RF foul territory. Eventually, we decided to head over there to look at the ship.
On the way, we walked through the 200 level “Conference Center” concourse. For some reason, we’d never been on this level before. We got this panoramic view of Nationals Park from the concourse behind section 203…
Before leaving this spot, we got a nice picture of Adam LaRoche grounding out to Prince Fielder…
Next, we decided to continue on toward RF to see the battle ship. The only issue is that the suite level indoor concourse was in our way – and we couldn’t access it. So we took an elevator up to the top deck. Check out who was in our elevator:
It was Jake the Hoya. Tim charged into the elevator when it opened and was totally freaked out when he saw Jake standing there. He was too scared to get a picture with Jake. Even as we exited the elevator, he was hustling to get away from big, bad Jake.
On the final portion of our walk toward the RF concourse where we would be able to see the battleship, Ivan Rodriguez hit the 310th homerun of his Hall of Fame-to-be career.
That made the score 7-2 Nationals.
Finally, we made it to the spot – and there was the ship!
Before heading down the concourse ramps, Tim pointed out the Capitol Building:
Tim wanted to hit again. But he was scared of a repeat nose-bashing. So he hid behind me as we made our way through the line:
We hustled down toward the front of the section at the last out, but we were too late and missed out on getting a baseball from the home plate umpire. So, we stood around, chatted with a fan from Seattle, and got our picture taken above the visitors’ dugout:
As we shuffled around in the fancy seats between games, I kept an eye open for discarded tickets on the ground. I figured a lot of Nats “fans” wouldn’t be up for two games. I was right. We ended up finding 4 really nice tickets.
There was a 30 minute break between games. Among the first Brewers to come out to warm up for game two was former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt:
Before the second game started, we got a great picture of Tim and Teddy Roosevelt:
We had an even better ticket than the section1 114, row L seat. But I wanted to wait to make sure they were empty.
We decided to go to the kids play area one more time. On the way to the play area, I took a picture of what would become “our” ticketed seats for the rest of the game:
And Tim wanted a picture with the blossoming trees behind section 106:
After some playing, we reported to our section new section. I showed the usher our ticket for seat no. 3, but asked if it was okay if we sat in the empty seats in the middle of the section – I think it was no 25’ish. He told us it was no problem.
So, here is a picture of Tim standing in front of my seat:
Game two was a good one. It was tied 1-1 for a long time. The decisive blow came in the bottom of the seventh when Danny Espinosa hit a bases clearing 3-run triple to put the Nats up 4-1. T he Nats would eventually win 5-1.
Toward the end of the game, Tim got on the (really) big screen for flashing some fancy dance moves:
When they put him up on the board, everyone in the two sections behind us gave him a big cheer. It was really cool. Later, he could be overheard telling people in our section how, “I was on TV dancing!”
We stayed in our seats until the end of the game. When the final two people made their way in from the Brewers bullpen, we were still hanging out and Marcus Hanel rewarded us with this baseball:
And that was it. Our second doubleheader of the season was in the books.
Before heading out, we had a Nats employee take our picture:
2011 C&S Fan Stats
4/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
4/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals; Kellan – none]
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)
9 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 1 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers)
2/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park; Kellan – none]
10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]
*includes Spring Training
In 2008, we only spent parts of two days in Seattle. In July, we went on an Alaskan cruise with 25 family members to celebrate my grandparents’ 65 anniversary. Our ship docked back in Seattle in the morning on July 19th, and a few hours later we were at Safeco Field for our only Mariners home game, and our final Mariners game, of 2008.
Aside for the final score of the game, it was a beautiful day.
My dad, my uncle Tom, and Tim and I entered the ballpark right as the game started. We grabbed some snacks and watched the top of the first inning from a standing room counter behind section 145:
We had great seats in the field level down the 3B line in the shallow outfield foul territory. My mom, aunt Barb, and my parents friends and co-season ticket holders, Lynn and Steve, met up with us. But it ended up that Tim and I spent most of the game on our own, away from our excellent seats.
We first split off from our family and friends so Tim could get a delicious Ben & Jerry’s chocolate ice cream helmet. But we ended up never returning to our normal seats because the Mariners went down 9-2 by the third inning, and the two people circled in this picture (of Ichiro stepping into the box in the top of the third)…
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The Indians scored three runs in the top of the first on the “strength” of terrible pitching by Miguel Batista. The Indians first inning was highlighted by a homerun by former Mariner Shin-Soo Choo.
In the top of the second, I took this picture of Brian LaHair’s first career at-bat…
Here is a picture of Tim checking our the stadium from our actual ticketed seats:
At the end of the second, we parted ways with my family to grab Tim’s ice cream helmet. We took it to the standing room counter just above the visitors’ bullpen. We were standing right behind Raul Ibanez…
This was Tim’s second career ice cream helmet and his first with real ice cream (not soft serve).
After Tim finished his ice cream, an usher spotted us. The Mariners are very antsy about kids sitting on this counter (or on their dad’s shoulders while standing right here) because on the other side of the counter is a 20 foot drop into the bullpen.
So we headed down the stairs and walked over to the Mariners bullpen. Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was warming up…
After watching Dickey, we headed over to RF and watched Ichiro patrol his domain – he had already had an outfield assist, robbing Ben Francisco of a hit by forcing out Jamie Carroll at second base in the first inning.
When we got to those seats, Raul Ibanez was stepping into the box to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Check out the view from these seats!
Adrian Beltre followed Raul with a single.
The Mariners made a push that was too little too late. Ultimately, Raul made his way around the diamond to score the Mariners’ third run of the game. Beltre then scored the M’s fourth run…
Check out these seats! I loved them!
R.A. Dickey entered the game in the seventh…
Yuniesky Betancourt led off the bottom of the seventh for the Mariners…
During and following Yuni’s at-bat, I had an excellent opportunity to take some close-up photos of Ichiro. At the time, Ichiro was riding a six game hitting streak in games attended by Tim, but he was 0-3 so far on the day.
Let’s see what happened. First, Ichiro’s head popped into view over the dugout roof just in front of us…
In the ninth, Ichiro was up for his final at-bat following a two-out single by Yuniesky Betancourt. Ichiro capped the day’s scoring with a 2-run homerun off of his fellow-countryman, Masa Kobayashi. All in all, he had a great day, 2-5 with a single and homerun, 2RBI and an outfield assist.
Unfortanetly, the Mariners just could not overcome the 8 earned runs Batista gave up in his 2-innings of work. Despite the loss, Tim and I had a great time at Safeco Field and couldn’t wait to come back in 2009.
On September 3, 2007, we headed up to NYC to take in a Mariners game in the Bronx. We went with my friend Marc from college. Marc is also from Seattle, but in 2007 he was working in the investment world in NYC. This was the first time I’d seen him since college. And, it was Tim’s first trip to NYC and to “The House That Ruth Built” (and Griffey destroyed).
We came up to NYC for the weekend, and we stayed with another friend from college, Davlynn, who also lived in NYC in 2007. The day before the game, Davlynn took us to the American Museum of Natural History…
…where Tim REALLY enjoyed seeing lots of dinorsaur bones. Trust me. He looks utterly bored in this picture, but he really loved the museum. So, if you find yourself at 79th & Central Park West in Manhatten, check it out.
We also took Tim to Central Park to play a little baseball on a field that we miraculously found to be empty…
Soon, it was time to meet up with Marc and his wife, Angie, and take the 4-train up to the Bronx.
Now, I’m a good baseball fan. So I’m dutifully teaching Tim a healthy disrespect for the pinstriped-team from the Bronx. Upon entering the ballpark, he already had the heebeegeebees from the cramped confines of the ballpark and the overwhelming aroma of corporate greed that would soon bring wall street crashing to the ground:
I assured Tim that there was nothing to worry about. The Mariners would surely destroy the home team. The Mariners would be throwing their young ace, King Felix Hernandez, while the home squad would be trotting out an old goat, a pre-Mitchell Report Roger Clemens. I was ready for a historic Clemens loss, and I would not be dissappointed.
So, as the game began, Tim was cautiously optimistic and ready to see his Mariners put on a show to remember:
“Yes,” I explained, “so mind your P’s and Q’s.”
By the way, not everyone was a fan of the opposition, that is Marc shown behind Tim’s outreached arm. He’s a good Mariners fan.
Now, I wouldn’t lead Tim astray, it WAS a great and historic game. In fact, despite the fact it didn’t feature former-and-future Mariners great Ken Griffey, Jr., this is one of the best games I’ve ever witnessed.
The game started like so many Mariners games do: Ichiro hit a line drive single to right field. So things were already off to a good start. Ichiro extended his hit streak to five games in the five games Tim had attended to date. But that was all the M’s managed in the top of the first.
The bottom of the first was the only bad part of the game. King Felix had some first inning jitters and fell behind by 1 run.
But don’t worry, the M’s came back in the top of the second. Raul Ibanez started off the inning with a single to LCF. Ben Broussard walked. And then Clemens fired a wild pitch to the backstop sending Ibanez to 3B. Finally, Jose Lopez got an infield hit to score Rauuuuuuuuul! And just like that the Mariners had tied it up 1-1.
Tim was happy about this turn of events:
By the way, check out the old water-soaked wood on the bottom of the upper deck (behind/above us). You don’t see that in a modern stadium! Well, really, I think you don’t see that anywhere — not in Boston or on the north side of Chicago, which were much older than this 1970’s re-model job.
The top of the second was just the Mariners warm-up act. They were about to lower the boom on their hosts.
Ichiro led off the top of the third inning with a homerun blast to LCF. Not only did the hit give the Mariners the lead (for good), but it was Ichiro’s 200th hit of the season for the SEVENTH season in a row! Hooray for Ichiro!!! And hooray for us for being there to witness this piece of history.
Meanwhile, King Felix kept mowing down opposing batters.
In the top of the fourth, the Mariners scored three more runs on a single by Adrian Beltre, hit-by-pitch for Jose Lopez, a double by Yuniesky Betancourt, and another single by Ichiro.
By this point, Tim and I were having a great time watching our Mariners dominate:
At some piont in the 4th inning, Roger Clemens hurt his leg falling off the mound awkwardly. In an unprecedented move, Joe Torre brought former Orioles great Mike Mussina into the game in relief. A quick review of Moose’s bio will reveal that this was the ONLY relief appearance of his probably-Hall of Fame career — 537 games, 536 games started.
Here’s the second piece of history involved in the game, this must be one of the most combined career wins that one team has ever had on the mound in one game. I’ve tried to get someone from ESPN.com to research and determine if there has ever been more combined wins by a team in one game, but I haven’t been able to get the answer. After Mussina gave up two more runs, he was replaced by Chris Britton, who ultimately gave way to Kyle “New York’s Finest” Farnsworth. (By the way, I once saw a shirt for sale outside this ballpark that said, “Anybody But Farnsworth.” That gave me a chuckle.)
Anyway, as of September 3, 2007, Roger Clemens had 354 wins (and he would NEVER win again), Mike Mussina had 247 wins, Britton had zero career wins (he is still stuck on zero), and Farnsworth had 27 career wins. All totaled, the Mariners faced off against SIX HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT (628) career wins. What do you think, is that a record? I’ve certainly never heard of a team throwing more career wins in one game.
But all of those career wins were no match for King Felix Hernandez and his (then) 27 career wins. Tim was all like…
The scoreboard showed the happy totals:
After the game, we tired to get a nice family picture, but Tim wasn’t into posing at the time (possibly because we’d just sat in ridiculously hot weather for 3+ hours). But combining the two pictures, you can get a semi-panaramic view of the field:
Thanks to the Mitchell Report and the amazing falling from grace of Mike Piazza’s favorite opposing pitcher, this game proved to be the final loss of Roger Clemens’s former-future-Hall of Fame career. But more importantly:
I’ve been pretty busy lately and I’m lagging behind with my game entries. So, a little untimely, I present the grand finale of The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2009.
This was a big game for us. Royals vs. White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on the south side of Chicago. With this game, we could check the Royals off of Tim’s list and, at age three-and-a-half he would have officially seen all 30 MLB teams play live. I was pretty excited about the accomplishment and I had a little something special planned. Ever since watching Curious George receive a frozen ice cream “trophy” from Chef Pischetti, Tim has loved trophies. And he’s asked me a bunch if he would ever be able to win a trophy somehow. So as a surprise, I had a special trophy made for the occassion. More on that in a bit.
We started out the day at our hotel by O’Hare airport. It was nice not to have any long distance driving this day. We decided to spend the day playing around at the hotel. A little swimming in the pool followed by a little baseball in a patch of grass outside. Here is a shot of Tim’s pitching motion:
He headed to the game early to catch some BP. The line to get into the parking lot was slow moving, so Tim and I hopped out of the car and played some catch in the parking lot while my dad parked the car:
We headed into the park and the Royals were already hitting. We missed the White Sox completely. That was fine. My goal revolved solely around the Royals. Because they were the 30th and final team for Tim, I had a goal of trying to get a picture of Tim with a Royal player and his Trophy. More specifically, I wanted to get his picture with one of the three former Mariners now playing for the Royals — Gill Meche, Willie Bloomquist or Yuniesky Betancourt. My ultimate goal was Gill Meche because he pitched (and won) Tim’s first game back on September 12, 2006.
My dad went off to explore the park a bit and Tim and I went down to the field behind 1B. I scanned the field for Meche, Willie or Yuni. Within a couple minutes, Willie ran out onto the field from the Royals dugout and started taking ground balls at 2B — his new primary position now that Yuni has joined the Royals.
We were probably 125 feet from Willie. Any time Willie looked remotely in our direction, I shouted his name. My thought was to simply get his attention and motion for him to come over to the stands. My hope was that he would come over after taking grounders. He looked in our direction a couple times, but there were no signs of him being inclined to come over. BTW, I figured he probably thought I wanted to get his autograph.
Eventually, a batter hit a weak grounder that rolled to a stop in the grass about 20 feet into the OF grass between 1B and 2B. After Willie fielded a fungoed grounder deep in the hole between 1B-2B, he ran over to the ball sitting in the grass, picked it up and fired it directly to us.
Here was our view (with the arrow marking the flight of the ball thrown to us):
We certainly appreciated the ball from Willie. But it wasn’t what we were looking for. Unfortunately, Willie figured (whatever we wanted) the ball should suffice. After he finished taking grounders, he ran back into the Royals clubhouse.
I then spotted Gill Meche in the OF, but there was no possible way to get anywhere near him. I never saw Yuni on the field. Alas, my goal of getting Tim’s picture with a Royal and his trophy failed.
But don’t worry, we survived the minor dissappointment.
After checking out the scene behind the Royals dugout and chatting with a stadium attendant, we turned our gaze to CF where we noticed this:
The Man In Yellow — our MLBlogs friend and Milwaukee home run catcher extraordinaire, Nick Yohanek a/k/a the Happy Youngster.
I asked Tim if he wanted to go say “Hi” to Nick and we enthusiastically answered in the affirmative. So we headed out there. On the way, we witnessed Nick catch a homerun ball.
When we got out there, my dad was standing near by. We said hi to Nick and introduced him to my dad, whom he had not met the day before in Milwaukee. Nick then introduced us to a MLBlogger named Ben a/k/a Jerseyboy. I didn’t realize at the time, but I knew about Ben. He has a ridiculously huge collection of authentic MLB jerseys. Something like 1,500 of them. I was actually the first person to ever comment on Ben’s blog back a couple months ago, when I suggested he add a vintage Spike Owen Mariners jersey to his collection.
As we chatted, BP ended and then it started sprinkling. We took refuge in the concourse where we continued chatting, I realized Ben was the guy with the jerseys, we sampled the U.S. Cellular Churos, and I took this panaramic:
After a few minutes chatting in the concourse, the PA announcer told us the start of the game was being delayed for about 40 minutes. My dad decided to go somewhere or other — probably the team store to buy a U.S. Cellular ball. Tim, Ben and I decided to tour the upper deck so I could take some panaramic views.
On the way, I took this picture of the upper deck concourse, which due to the interesting lighting I thought looked pretty cool:
From the LF corner of the upper deck:
On our walk from LF to RF, we stopped so I could buy some nachos and drinks (complete with League Policy violating caps). We sat in the upper deck and chatted while Tim destroyed our nachos:
That’s Ben in the Royals’ jersey. On the right, as we chat and Tim scarfs nachos. On the left, chatting with my dad in RCF following the conclusion of BP.
Ben and I realized we share a common practice. We both help ourselves to copious amounts of pocket schedules at each stadium we visit. While walking the upper deck, we both filled our pockets with White Sox pocket schedules. (Following the season, I think I’ll put together an entry showing the schedules I have collected this season).
Soon, the grounds keepers prepared the field and it was time for baseball. We headed back down to the field level and parted ways. Ben hooked up with Nick, and Tim and I joined my dad in our seats down the 3B line (not far from the foul pole). Mondays are half price ticket days at The Cell, so we got a good deal on some good seats.
Here was the view of Mark Buerhle from our seats:
The lead off batter for the Royals was none other than “Willie Ballgame”:
Pictured above to the right is Willie’s first at bat in the first. To the left, Willie took over at short stop a couple innings into the game after Yuni Betancourt was drilled by a foul ball in the Royals dugout. Between Big Willie and Big Willie is a picture of the ball Big Willie threw to us during BP.
Early in the game (maybe even the first inning, not sure now), Tim wanted to play catch. We headed out to the RF concourse as Yuni came to bat and fouled a ball off the plate:
A few moments later, Tim and I were playing catch when Yuni yanked a bomb into the White Sox bullpen in LF. Tim and I went over to check out the situation. We could see the HR ball sitting in the bullpen. So Tim hopped onto my shoulders and we walked down to the first row between innings to gaze upon the ball — and to be in position in case someone in the bullpen decided to toss it into the crowd.
As the bottom of the inning was about to start, we headed back up the stairs to resume our game of catch. That’s when a *first* happened, I heard a voice:
Alex – “Are you Todd?”
Todd – (turning to see young Alex K) “Yes.’
Alex – (To Tim) “And you must be Tim. Hi, Tim. (To me) Hi, I’m Alex. I read your blog and knew you’d be at this game.”
Although I had previously recognized and introduced myself to several MLBloggers at games (specifically, Zack Hample and Nick), this was the first time anyone had ever recognized me and Tim from our blog. I gotta say, it was somewhat funny and cool. I like that MLBlogs has created a community of people who end up running into each other while out at the ball park. And this game had a lot of them.
Anyway, I quickly realized that I had seen Alex before. In fact, I recognized Alex from an article I’d read recently on MyGameBalls.com — click here. Alex is a young Hample-in-Training and is already quite adept at obtaining baseballs at MLB games. You can read about his adventures (including his baseball road trip that crossed paths on this night with our baseball road trip) on his MLBlog — RiverAvenue. (By the way, up above in the picture of Nick in CF, Alex is standing a few feet behind Nick wearing his Royal blues — shortly after that, he would catch a homerun ball that is documented with excellent photos on his blog).
Alex and I began to chat a bit. A few seconds later, Nick showed up. Alex and Nick needed to get to work on their efforts at retrieving the Betancourt home run. But first, we needed to get a picture together:
(make that a picture with poor lighting).
Tim and I went back to playing catch. This is where we played (with the arrow pointing to where Tim stood and the photo taken from where I stood):
After a few minutes, we headed back over to see how Alex and Happy were making out. Right then, some White Sox batter blasted a home run into the same bullpen. Tim and I ran down the stairs in the off chance it would bounce up to us. But it didn’t make the seats. Then a White Sox bullpen coach ran out and grabbed the new home run ball and threw it over Happy and Alex and into the very seats they’d just been occupying in about row seven. The coach then gestured toward Betancourt’s home run ball with a foul look on his face. He looked up at the crowd and plugged his nose like Betancourt’s home run ball stunk. He then scampered back into the bullpen seating area. It was a funny scene.
Alex then accompanied me and Tim to the ice cream stand where Tim and I got our White Sox ice cream helmets. We then said our good-byes and Tim and I rejoined my dad in the seats for some ice cream and more baseball:
…I’d tell you who these pictures are of, but I’m not sure. They’re Royals, but not former Mariners. So its hard to say. By the way, did you notice those three characters sitting in the second row behind the Royals’ dugout? One of them caught a foul ball sitting there. I’ll let you track down their game entries to figure out which one of them got the foul ball.
Tim got all jacked up on his ice cream and started having a blast in the seats:
After a bit, Tim and I decided to go check out the OF concourse some more. We found a bunch of cool “trophies” out there:
A portion of the batters eye has a cut out where the the camera men are set up. I stuck my camera through the cut out and took this panaramic:
The White Sox were staked to a modest lead. Bobby Jenks was warming up in the Chisox bullpen. I realized the game was about to end and we’d never visited RF. So, we took a last picture of Tim along the front row railing by our seats…
…and a shot of Jenks as he ran out to the mound…
…and then we took off for RF so I could take this panaramic…
…we continued circling the concourse and ended up in the exact same spot where I’d taken the first rain delay panaramic while chatting with Ben, and we got there just in time to see Jenks finish off the Royals for the White Sox win:
It was time to head down to the Royals dugout for a little trophy presentation — Tim loved it:
In case you cannot tell, the trophy says:
Timothy J. Cook
30 MLB Teams
Sept. 12, 2006 – Aug. 17, 2009
I love the picture in the upper left. He is trying to make a 3-0 with his fingers to represent seeing 30 MLB teams…but he was having a little trouble with it. He had to concentrate real hard.
So there you have it, our second annual baseball road trip. It was, in a word, excellent. With the exception of not getting a picture with a Royals player, the trip met all of my expectations and goals. The most important of which is further detailed in an entry I posted immediately upon our return to the hotel after this game — Milestone Achieved.
I am now officially looking forward to The (Third Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.
Season Fan Stats:
25 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
11 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, and U.S. Cellular)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
21 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, and White Sox (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
22 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry)
3 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
9 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)