Meeting Fenway (7/3/09)
The morning after watching the Mariners beat the Yankees in the Bronx, we woke up and ever so slowly drove to Boston. It was time for Tim to meet Fenway Park…
…and for the Mariners to battle the Boston Red Sox — the final team Tim needed to see to close out the A.L. East. As we walked down Lansdowne Street toward Gate C, the air was full of BBQ smoke and humidity:
(Remember, you can click on any of these pictures to see a bigger view).
We entered the bleachers and found ourselves behind the Mariners bullpen:
Batting practice was finished by the time we arrived. The catchers were stretching by the bullpens and the starting pitchers — Felix Hernandez (8-3) and Tim Wakefield (10-3) were about to arrive at the bullpens to warm up.
Hey, who is that standing in RF in front of the Mariners bullpen? Why its bullpen catchers extraordinaire Jason Phillips, “Hey, Jason!”
That is ball number 4 from Jason Phillips on the season, number 3 from Jason Phillips on the weekend, and Fenway is the third stadium with a ball from Jason Phillips this season.
You’re the man, Mr. Phillips!
My parents were excited to be back to Fenway for the first time since 2003, and for their first time ever to see the Mariners at Fenway.
I decided to go down to the first row in section 1:
In this picture, I had just gotten Jason Phillips’s attention. He walked over to the fence to chat with me. If you saw my entry from the night before, you may recall that I’d thrown an A-Rod Mariners photo ball to Phillips the night before at Yankee Stadium. I asked Phillips what he had done with my A-Rod ball.
Phillips: “I put it in the pink backpack!”
Todd: “Sweet! Thanks, man!”
We exchanged a celebratory high-five. He explained, however, that he couldn’t guarantee what would happen to it because he isn’t in charge of the pink backpack. So it might not last in there. That’s a-okay with me. I’m just happy it got in there at all. Either way, it is an honor if (i) the Mariners bullpen travels around with my A-Rod ball in the pink backpack or (ii) discards the A-Rod ball in a manner they deem appropriate.
Fenway is full of interesting views, and here are two of them I captured after chatting with Phillips:
Next, it was time to tour around Fenway and get to know the park:
You see first base coach Lee Tinsley standing next to Brandon Morrow in that picture to the left? A few seconds before this picture, he walked in front of where we were standing. I said, “Hi, Lee” and I flashed him my glove as if he had a ball — clearly, he did not. He nodded at us and walked into the tunnel to the M’s clubhouse. A few seconds later, he came back and stood right where he is standing in this picture. Tim and I were just standing around and taking in the scene and taking some pictures of the Mariners running in the outfield. Tinsley stood there for about 2 minutes and then, all of a sudden, he turned around and threw us a ball. He must have grabbed it when he went into the tunnel inside the dugout.
Here is what our view looked like at the dugout:
Next, we went out to the LF seats to watch the Mariners position players run and stretch. When we got there, it was time for the National Anthem:
I was excited — Griffey was playing!
While in this spot in the first row, Tim and I found ourselves sitting by a young boy named Tyler. I’d say he was about 8-9 years old. Tyler’s uncle has seats in the second row. He’s a nice guy, and a good Red Sox fan so I listened to him when he said Tim and I should just stay in the first row seats until some one came for them. If you say so, Tyler!
Here was our view as the M’s got ready for the game to start:
Here is a picture of us taken by one of Tyler’s seat-mates:
We sat in these seats for the first half of an inning — until Griff batted — and we chatted with Tyler the whole time, and a little with his family. We talked about two lopsided trades between the Mariners and Red Sox back in the 1990s — Jamie Moyer for Daren Bragg (advantage Mariners) and Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb (advantage Red Sox). At the end of the day, I think we’re the biggest winners — because Moyer became our all-time winningest pitcher in franchise history.
Anyway, back to the game, here was Tim’s view:
And here are some non-Mariners worth taking pictures of:
Here is some classic Ichiro leading off the game:
We got a great close-up look at my all-time favorite player — Mr. Ken Griffey, Jr.:
After Griffey’s at bat, we headed on for more of our walking tour of Fenway Park. Here is the concourse behind the seats in the LF corner:
Out in the concourse, we spotted a sign pointing to the staircase to the Green Monster seats. The gal checking tickets at the top of the Monster said I couldn’t get out there for a picture, but I could come back after the game. A lady who had tickets out there said she’d take a picture for me. Then she suggested that Tim and I should be in it. So she guilted the ticket checker into letting us go out about 10 feet onto the Monster for this picture:
Next, we walked the perimeter of the field level in the aisle that runs all the way from the Green Monster to the RF corner passed the Pesky Pole. Here is a panaramic view from behind home plate on the 3B side:
…and another from the 1B side:
Just to the right of this picture, there is a very cool looking ramp that leads to the rest of walkway around the 1B side of the grandstand and into RF:
It is truly amazing how small this park is compared to today’s standards. There is a concourse below the infield grandstand, but this little walkway is it as far as navigating behind the field level seats. On the other side of the aisle opposite the back of the seats there is just a 4 foot wall that overlooks the street outside of the park.
Along the wall is a step where people sit or stand to watch the game. It makes the aisle pretty small. But Tim and I loved it and, as you’ll see in our next entry, we spent a lot of time in this walkway over the course of the weekend.
On with the tour, the RF corner behind the Pesky Pole:
The grandstand seats are separated from the bleacher seats by an aisle that runs from the concourse out to the bullpen. Here is an interesting picture where you can see the back row of the grandstand (Section 1), the side row of the last section of the bleachers (Section 43), the break between the grandstand and bleachers, the concourse under the bleachers and a portion of the field:
With that picture, our ball park tour was finished for the day. It was time to grab some pizza and meet up with my folks to watch the rest of the game from the very back row of Section 42 of the bleachers:
We actually really enjoyed sitting in the back row. There is literally nothing behind you but a 1-2 foot thick concrete wall. We were able to stand up as much as we want without interfering with anyone’s view, and we sat next to a very nice group of recent grads from U.C.-Davis who were on a post-graduation tour of the United States in an R.V. Here was our view:
After pizza, we stood in the world’s longest ice cream line and picked up a $5.00 Red Sox ice cream helmet with crushed oreos topping:
After eating his ice cream, Tim spent some quality time in the bleachers with his grandparents:
Tim and I spent some time during the late innings standing in the exit ailses behind the Mariners bullpen where we had a good view of Jason Phillips, Chris Jakubauskas and the bullpen warrior helmets. I also noticed a little break in the side wall of the bullpen and took the bottom right picture through it:
I’m not sure who it was, but someone blew Felix Hernandez’s win. The game went into extra innings. Jakubauskas ended up coming in and pitching two strong innings for the win. Mark Lowe got the save despite a continuous stream of heckling while he warmed up and a career first homerun by George Kottaras in the bottom of the 11th that landed within 10 feet of me and Tim.
As Mariners announcer Rick Rizzs would say, here are the Happy Totals:
One note, when Ronny Cedeno came to the plate earlier in the game, the stadium announcer said, “Now batting, Randy…I mean, Ronny Cedeno.” Cedeno answered with a bomb to CF. As this picture shows, it was Randy’s…I mean, Ronny’s 4th bomb of the season.
After the game, I wanted to get a picture with the red seat in the RF bleachers. But first, we had to wait for the stands to clear out. While waiting, someone from the Red Sox bullpen walked over and handed us a ball.
“Thanks, unknown Red Sox bullpen dude.”
Here is the picture with the red seat:
According to Lauren, whose job is to be paid to watch all Red Sox home games while standing in the tunnel into the RF bleachers in Section 42, the red seat marks the spot where Ted Williams hit the longest homerun ever to land *inside* Fenway Park (i.e., maybe some longer home run has landed out on Lansdowne Street). She said it was 502 feet.
With that picture in hand, we hit the streets for a leisurely walk back to our hotel. Along our way, we ran into a familar face:
In case you don’t recognize him, that is Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik (zur-en-chick). Jack doesn’t shy away from the public. He too was walking back to the team’s hotel from Fenway along with thousands of others. It just so happened that my mom had booked us at the same hotel as the team, so we were walking to the same place. Jack came up to my folks and asked, “You folks from Seattle?” My mom yelled, “Jack!!!” And she complimented the fine job he is doing with the team.
Jack and his colleague — whose named I never heard, but he is apparently in charge of scouting for the Mariners — walked with us for a couple blocks. Tim was on my shoulders so he was at a perfect height to talk to Jack. They had the following conversation:
Jack: “Do you play baseball?”
Jack: “What do you play?”
Jack said something to the effect that he’d come scout Tim some day. I like that plan.
With that, we called it a day.
Season Fan Stats:
16 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
13 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
12 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), Red Sox and Yankees)
14 Baseballs (9 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
2 Autographs (Ryan Perry, Jason Phillips)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))