January 2010

2008 Roadtrip, Game 4: Nationals at Phillies (8/19/08)

We woke up on the morning of August 19, 2008 at home.  But the baseball roadtrip wasn’t complete just yet.  Tim, my dad and wife relaxed around the house all day while I went back to work.  In the evening, Tim, my dad and I headed down to South Philadelphia for the fourth and final game of our first baseball roadrip:  the Washington Nationals vs. the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

The entry will be a little light on the pictures because, although it was my dad’s first game at Citizens Bank Park, I’d been there plenty and, following my first game ever at Great American Ball Park and Progressive Field and probably my third game ever at PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park just didn’t seem that special or in need of photographing at this game.

We parked in the Phillies lot to the northwest of the ball park and made our approach…

1 - approaching from NW.jpg…we were in for a shock.  Veterans Stadium was always at about 50% capacity when I went there and, while Citizens Bank Park always had good crowds, I’d never felt the need to pre-purchase tickets to a Phillies game.  Yet, for this Tuesday night game against the Nationals (a team 25 games out of first place), all that was left at the ticket office was standing room tickets and “foul pole” tickets.  We made the silly mistake of buying the $24 foul pole tickets rather than the $14 standing room tickets.

Tickets in hand, we entered the park and walked around so my dad could see the lay of the land…

2 - random shots touring around park.jpg…I took some random pictures.

Before heading to our seats behind the RF foul pole, we headed up to the rooftop bleachers walkway where you can get a good elevated view of the ballpark from centerfield…

3 - citz CF sun deck panarama roadtrip.jpg…it looked something like that…well, exactly like that, actually.

Then we headed up to our seats.  The late afternoon sun was blazing down in our eyes as we headed into our row of seats…

4 - foul pole seats in section 205 row 10.jpg

My dad and Tim were sharing a pretzel and were ready for some baseball.

So, how about that foul pole thingy the ticket salesman had mentioned.  Here it is, the official “foul pole” obstructed view from Citizens Bank Park section 205, row 10, seat 15:

5 - foul pole view.jpg

Well, its not too bad.  It could be worst.  For instance, if we were sitting in seats 13 or 14 instead of 15-17, we would have had a straight shot at the bulky part of the foul pole.

Here is a closer look of our view of home plate:

6 - foul pole and home plate.jpgActually, looking at it now, I doesn’t seem too bad.  But it was pretty annoying.  I was instantly thinking, “why in the world didn’t we go for the standing room tickets?”  Really, it didn’t make any sense.  That was what Tim and I usually got anyway.  I think we got these because my dad wanted to have an actual seat — he’s old fashioned that way.

Anyway, we didn’t stay here long.  In fact, I’m not even sure if we were still here when Willie Harris staked the Nationals to a 1-0 lead with a solo home run off of Joe Blanton in the top of the first inning.

I know, however, that we certainly were not in the foul pole seats anymore by the bottom of the second when former Mariner Greg Dobbs hit a sac-fly to score Ryan Howard and even the game at 1-1.

So, if we weren’t in our foul pole seats, where were we?  You guessed it, we were in our usual $14 standing room spot.

One our way down to the field level, we swung by and said hi to an old friend who was “hanging out” in the field level 3B concourse…


7 - moyer in concourse.jpg…my dad hadn’t see the Mariners all-time “Wins” leader since his 2006 trade to the City of Brotherly Love.

It was time for an ice cream helmet…

8 - holy huge ice cream helmet batman.jpg…we went to our usual lady midway down the 3B line.   Its as if she doesn’t know how to turn the ice cream machine off.  She loads up a single ice cream helmet with enough ice cream to fill two helmets.  As you can see, with two ice cream helmets worth of sprinkles topping the chocolate monstrosity, Tim greatly approved.

If you are looking for this uber-generous ice cream lady, go to the Old City Creamery behind section 137…

4 - citz directory.JPG…then go to the counter space around the corner in the hallway and look for an old lady.

As happy as Tim was to have a mountain of ice cream, it was too windy for him at our standing counter space in the field level concourse.

So, with the score 4-3 Nationals, we relocated again to our final spot of the night.  The standing room area behind section 243 in the LF porch.  This spot was great because (i) it wasn’t windy, (ii) the seats behind us were elevated 5-6 feet so we could stand there without bothering the people sitting in the top section, and (iii) there was a big open handicap accessible seating area right in front of us with one one in it.

Of course, Tim wanted to play in that big open area…

9 - impromptu play spot.jpg…and this provided a very unique experience.  The fans in Philadelphia are famous for being…well…not all that nice or polite.  But on this night, they’d come to Tim’s aid.  Tim was happily playing around in the big open space, not bothering anyone, when an usher who was working the ailse way between sections 243 and 244 came to kick Tim out of that area.  She didn’t look happy or nice.  She bent over to stearnly address Tim when from all around us we heard, “HEY, LET THE KID PLAY, LADY!!!!!!  LET HIM PLAY!  LET HIM PLAY! LET HIM PLAY!!”

It was great.  The usher was obviously embarrassed by the public attention for trying to rain on a young boy’s parade.  I could see a switch go off in her head.  She turned to the crowd and yelled something in her defense…I can’t remember what it was.  And then she told Tim to “be careful.”

By the end of the night, Tim was literally making her do races back and forth across the length of the handicap area — from section 242 to section 244.  She ended up giving him a souvenir Phillies hat (I’ve never actually let him wear it).  It was a pretty awesome turn of events prompted by the crowd coming to Tim’s defense.

As a side benefit, since she couldn’t kick Tim out, a couple more kids came to play with him.  And she couldn’t kick them out either.

Maybe due to the outpouring of brotherly love flowing from the LF porch area, the Phillies decided to send the entire crowd home happy.  Down by one run in the bottom of the seventh, the Phillies tied it up at 4-4 as a result of singles by Pat Burrell and Greg Dobbs followed by a sac-fly by Chris Coste.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Phillies took their first and final lead of the game on a solo home run by Jayson Werth.

Brad Lidge then nailed down the save — his 31st save of the season in 31 save opportunities.

It was official, happiness all around.  We celebrated by making that usher take our pitcher in the once-forbidden handicap accessible seating area:

10 - 3 successful roadtrips.jpgAnd with that, we headed home and called it a (very successful) roadtrip.

Didn’t get enough roadtripping?  See our Second Annual trip here, here, here, and here.

Stay tuned in June for reports from The (Third Annual) Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.

2008 Roadtrip, Game 3: Mets at Pirates (8/18/08)

The roadtripping continued on the morning of Monday, August 18, 2008

1 - driving to pittsburgh.jpg
…we woke up at the KOA in Streetboro, Ohio, and made the 2 hour drive into Pittsburgh.  By around 11:00 a.m., we were hanging out with these guys outside PNC Park:

2 - stargell and clemente.jpg
Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente.  Two excellent ballplayers.  Two excellent statues.

Tim and I had been to PNC Park before.  My dad had not.  This was my Dad’s first view of the inside of the stadium:

3 - Dads first view of PNC.jpg
As you can tell, we entered the stadium from the CF entrance.  After snapping a photo of the field, we headed down to the RF corner and Tim played on the miniture whiffle ball field.  There was no BP and no one on the field so we had some time to explore the field.

After a few minutes playing in the kids area, we made our way down the 1B concourse and around to home plate.  As you can see (even with the second deck obstructing the skyline view), PNC Park is beautiful and has a spectacular view over the CF-RF stands.

4 - pregame behind plate.jpg
As you can also tell from that last picture, the Mets and Pirates pitchers came out to do some throwing.  We decided to make our way down to the Pirates pitchers…

5 - 3 Cooks behind 3B dugout.jpg
…after getting a Grandfather-Father-Son picture behind the 3B dugout.

So, here we are behind the Pirates pitchers.  Our first thought was, “Who are these guys?”

6 - Pirate Pitchers.jpg
They seemed like a nice bunch of guys.  But seriously, I didn’t know any of them.

After a minute or two, Tim and I jumped that railing and stood along the fence along the warning track.  Soon after that, someone threw a ball over our heads and directly to my dad.  I think it was Matt Capps.

A few seconds later, Matt Capps came over and started signing autographs.  My dad tossed his baseball down to us and we got Capps to sign it…

7 - Matt Capps.jpg
…and then we got our picture with him.  He was very nice.  And, for the record, I have since heard of the guy.  Maybe we’ll hear even more about him now that he’s left Pittsburgh.

A little bit later, Denny Bautista threw a ball to me and Tim…

8 - Denny Bautista.jpg
…actually, he rolled it to us from approximately where he is shown on the field above.   It was clear that he was rolling it to us, and everyone else was cool about it.  No one tried to intercept it.

We ended up getting a couple autographs on that ball, and a picture with one of the autographers…

9 - T.J. Beam.jpg
…T.J. Beam.  Another nice guy.

Here are the three autographs we got on that ball:

TJ Beam.jpg
          Tyler Yates #30                         Sean Burnett                          T.J. Beam #48

After getting our picture with Beam, we continued our stadium tour.  Next stop…

10 - Ralph Kiners hands.jpg
…Ralph Kiner’s hands.  This is in the LF concourse below the big spiral ramp up to the upper deck.

And speaking of that ramp, that was our next move…

11 - dad on upward spiral.jpg
…here is my dad about half way up the ramp (with Pedro Martinez playing catch behind him)…

12 - TJCs at top of spiral.jpg
…and here are me and Tim at the top.  And here is a panaramic view of PNC Park from the top of the spiral ramp:

13 - PNC Park LF upper HR panaramic.jpg
While hanging out at the top of the ramp, I noticed messages going by on the skinny screens between the field and second levels.  Then I saw a text message number, so I sent in a message to commemorate our trip:

14 - PNC text message.jpg
Then we headed around the upper deck.  I took this shot from the upper deck concourse along the 3B line:

15 - Josh Gibson entrance.jpg
That is the LF/3B entrance.  I’m not sure if it has an official name.  But it honors various Negro League baseball players.  As you can see, the large bats hanging over head list:  Harold Tinker, Leroy Matlock, Gus Greenlee and Sam Streeter of the Pittsburgh Crawfords; and Cumberland Posey, Sellers Hall, Vic Harris and Ray Brown of the Homestead Grays.

In the middle of the walkway is a statue of the great slugger, Josh Gibson.  In 2007, I got a picture of Tim and the Gibson statue.

Back to the tour, we ended up in the upper deck down the RF line.  Check out how cool the area looks with those golden bridges.  Excellent.

16 - Tim and Grandpa upper RF.jpg

Here is a panaramic view from the RF corner upper deck seats:

PNC Park RF upper foul panaramic.jpg

Finally, it was game time.  We headed to our seats where this was our view of PNC Park from section 139, Row D:

17 - our view.jpg
The Mets sent John Maine to the hill to face off against Paul Maholm.  The Mets were in first place in the N.L. East and were gearing up for another late season collapse.  The Pirates were standing in 5th place, a game up on the Reds and 20.5 back of the Cubs.

Argenis Reyes led the game off with a single and scored the Mets first run with two down in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Beltran.

The Mets scored again in the fourth inning when David Wright singled, Carlos Beltran doubled and Carlos Delgado hit Wright in with a weak grounder to first base.

All the while, John Maine was stifling the Pirates pitching 1-hit ball.  Ultimately, Maine pitched five innings and gave up only 2 hits.  I’m not sure why he didn’t come back in the sixth.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Lets see some sights along the way.  Look who was standing in front of us in CF…

17a - Nate McLouth.jpg
…2008 NL All-Star and Gold Glove center fielder, Nate McLouth.  He did nothing at the plate during this game.

Around the fourth inning, we decided it was high time we got some ice cream in us.  In a surprise move, Tim selected mint chocolate chip instead of his standard chocolate order.

On the way back to our seats, the Pirates Parrot (he probably has a name, but I don’t know it), was standing in the concourse right behind our seats.  I asked if we could get our picture with the Parrot:

18 - the Pirates Parrot.jpg
For some reason, Tim wanted no part of that happy Parrot.  Maybe he just wanted to get back to the seats for his ice cream.  Actually, Tim generally loves mascots.  But he is often intimidated and quiet once he finally gets up close next to a mascot.  I guess they are big strange characters for the little guy.

Hey, see that camera man behind the me, Tim and the Parrot?  He took note of us as we posed with the Parrot.  A couple minutes later, he was all-up-in-our-faces:

19 - Pirates cameraman.jpg
And this was the result…

20 - broadcasting ice cream helmet.jpg
…and so was this…

21 - more broadcasting.jpg
…Tim got a good 20 seconds of screen time!  He smiled and waved for the camera.  Ah, good times.

After the ice cream, we made a change.  We moved to the covered handicap-accessible / standing room walk way below the RF bleachers:

22 - RF shady handi-accessible seating.jpg
The Mets made a move too.  They replaced John Maine with Brian Stokes in the sixth inning.  It only took Stokes two batters and eight pitches to blow the save.  When Adam LaRoche’s 2-run bomb sailed over the OF fence, John Maine’s solid outing was wiped out.

In the top of the eighth, it was still tied 2-2 when the Pirates brought in Tyle Yates (the same Tyler Yates who autographed our baseball before the game).  Yates retired the first two batters, before giving up a single and two walks to load the bases.  The Pirates brought in Sean Burnett (yep, the same one who also signed our baseball before the game) to record the third out.  With a 1-1 count, Burnett induced an infield pop-up behind 3B by Carlos Delgado.  The Pirates escaped the bases loaded jam unscathed.

Then they came to the plate and did some work.  With three singles and a double, the Pirates scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth.  The final blow came on a 2-run double by future-Mariner Jack Wilson.

And so it became do or die time for the Mets…

23 - Mets last chance.jpg
…the Pirates were ready to record an ellusive “W.”

Not even the great Fernando Tatis could save the day for the Mets…

24 - ear tatis.jpg
…Tatis popped out to 1B.  Two of the next four batters would reach base, but the other two…wouldn’t.  Coming full cirlce, after leading off the game with a single, Argenis Reyes closed out the game with a ground-out to short stop.

Pirates Win!

As the Pirates celebrated behind us, I snapped one final picture of Tim and my dad before we headed out…

25 - pirates win and grandpas shoulders.jpg…it was time to drive back to our house for the night before heading to Philadelphia for the final game of The Inaugural Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.

2008 Roadtrip, Game 3: Mets at Pirates (8/18/08)

The roadtripping continued on the morning of Monday, August 18, 2008

1 - driving to pittsburgh.jpg
…we woke up at the KOA in Streetboro, Ohio, and made the 2 hour drive into Pittsburgh.  By around 11:00 a.m., we were hanging out with these guys outside PNC Park:

2 - stargell and clemente.jpg
Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente.  Two excellent ballplayers.  Two excellent statues.

Tim and I had been to PNC Park before.  My dad had not.  This was my Dad’s first view of the inside of the stadium:

3 - Dads first view of PNC.jpg
As you can tell, we entered the stadium from the CF entrance.  After snapping a photo of the field, we headed down to the RF corner and Tim played on the miniture whiffle ball field.  There was no BP and no one on the field so we had some time to explore the field.

After a few minutes playing in the kids area, we made our way down the 1B concourse and around to home plate.  As you can see (even with the second deck obstructing the skyline view), PNC Park is beautiful and has a spectacular view over the CF-RF stands.

4 - pregame behind plate.jpg
As you can also tell from that last picture, the Mets and Pirates pitchers came out to do some throwing.  We decided to make our way down to the Pirates pitchers…

5 - 3 Cooks behind 3B dugout.jpg
…after getting a Grandfather-Father-Son picture behind the 3B dugout.

So, here we are behind the Pirates pitchers.  Our first thought was, “Who are these guys?”

6 - Pirate Pitchers.jpg
They seemed like a nice bunch of guys.  But seriously, I didn’t know any of them.

After a minute or two, Tim and I jumped that railing and stood along the fence along the warning track.  Soon after that, someone threw a ball over our heads and directly to my dad.  I think it was Matt Capps.

A few seconds later, Matt Capps came over and started signing autographs.  My dad tossed his baseball down to us and we got Capps to sign it…

7 - Matt Capps.jpg
…and then we got our picture with him.  He was very nice.  And, for the record, I have since heard of the guy.  Maybe we’ll hear even more about him now that he’s left Pittsburgh.

A little bit later, Denny Bautista threw a ball to me and Tim…

8 - Denny Bautista.jpg
…actually, he rolled it to us from approximately where he is shown on the field above.   It was clear that he was rolling it to us, and everyone else was cool about it.  No one tried to intercept it.

We ended up getting a couple autographs on that ball, and a picture with one of the autographers…

9 - T.J. Beam.jpg
…T.J. Beam.  Another nice guy.

Here are the three autographs we got on that ball:

TJ Beam.jpg
          Tyler Yates #30                         Sean Burnett                          T.J. Beam #48

After getting our picture with Beam, we continued our stadium tour.  Next stop…

10 - Ralph Kiners hands.jpg
…Ralph Kiner’s hands.  This is in the LF concourse below the big spiral ramp up to the upper deck.

And speaking of that ramp, that was our next move…

11 - dad on upward spiral.jpg
…here is my dad about half way up the ramp (with Pedro Martinez playing catch behind him)…

12 - TJCs at top of spiral.jpg
…and here are me and Tim at the top.  And here is a panaramic view of PNC Park from the top of the spiral ramp:

13 - PNC Park LF upper HR panaramic.jpg
While hanging out at the top of the ramp, I noticed messages going by on the skinny screens between the field and second levels.  Then I saw a text message number, so I sent in a message to commemorate our trip:

14 - PNC text message.jpg
Then we headed around the upper deck.  I took this shot from the upper deck concourse along the 3B line:

15 - Josh Gibson entrance.jpg
That is the LF/3B entrance.  I’m not sure if it has an official name.  But it honors various Negro League baseball players.  As you can see, the large bats hanging over head list:  Harold Tinker, Leroy Matlock, Gus Greenlee and Sam Streeter of the Pittsburgh Crawfords; and Cumberland Posey, Sellers Hall, Vic Harris and Ray Brown of the Homestead Grays.

In the middle of the walkway is a statue of the great slugger, Josh Gibson.  In 2007, I got a picture of Tim and the Gibson statue.

Back to the tour, we ended up in the upper deck down the RF line.  Check out how cool the area looks with those golden bridges.  Excellent.

16 - Tim and Grandpa upper RF.jpg

Here is a panaramic view from the RF corner upper deck seats:

PNC Park RF upper foul panaramic.jpg

Finally, it was game time.  We headed to our seats where this was our view of PNC Park from section 139, Row D:

17 - our view.jpg
The Mets sent John Maine to the hill to face off against Paul Maholm.  The Mets were in first place in the N.L. East and were gearing up for another late season collapse.  The Pirates were standing in 5th place, a game up on the Reds and 20.5 back of the Cubs.

Argenis Reyes led the game off with a single and scored the Mets first run with two down in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Beltran.

The Mets scored again in the fourth inning when David Wright singled, Carlos Beltran doubled and Carlos Delgado hit Wright in with a weak grounder to first base.

All the while, John Maine was stifling the Pirates pitching 1-hit ball.  Ultimately, Maine pitched five innings and gave up only 2 hits.  I’m not sure why he didn’t come back in the sixth.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Lets see some sights along the way.  Look who was standing in front of us in CF…

17a - Nate McLouth.jpg
…2008 NL All-Star and Gold Glove center fielder, Nate McLouth.  He did nothing at the plate during this game.

Around the fourth inning, we decided it was high time we got some ice cream in us.  In a surprise move, Tim selected mint chocolate chip instead of his standard chocolate order.

On the way back to our seats, the Pirates Parrot (he probably has a name, but I don’t know it), was standing in the concourse right behind our seats.  I asked if we could get our picture with the Parrot:

18 - the Pirates Parrot.jpg
For some reason, Tim wanted no part of that happy Parrot.  Maybe he just wanted to get back to the seats for his ice cream.  Actually, Tim generally loves mascots.  But he is often intimidated and quiet once he finally gets up close next to a mascot.  I guess they are big strange characters for the little guy.

Hey, see that camera man behind the me, Tim and the Parrot?  He took note of us as we posed with the Parrot.  A couple minutes later, he was all-up-in-our-faces:

19 - Pirates cameraman.jpg
And this was the result…

20 - broadcasting ice cream helmet.jpg
…and so was this…

21 - more broadcasting.jpg
…Tim got a good 20 seconds of screen time!  He smiled and waved for the camera.  Ah, good times.

After the ice cream, we made a change.  We moved to the covered handicap-accessible / standing room walk way below the RF bleachers:

22 - RF shady handi-accessible seating.jpg
The Mets made a move too.  They replaced John Maine with Brian Stokes in the sixth inning.  It only took Stokes two batters and eight pitches to blow the save.  When Adam LaRoche’s 2-run bomb sailed over the OF fence, John Maine’s solid outing was wiped out.

In the top of the eighth, it was still tied 2-2 when the Pirates brought in Tyle Yates (the same Tyler Yates who autographed our baseball before the game).  Yates retired the first two batters, before giving up a single and two walks to load the bases.  The Pirates brought in Sean Burnett (yep, the same one who also signed our baseball before the game) to record the third out.  With a 1-1 count, Burnett induced an infield pop-up behind 3B by Carlos Delgado.  The Pirates escaped the bases loaded jam unscathed.

Then they came to the plate and did some work.  With three singles and a double, the Pirates scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth.  The final blow came on a 2-run double by future-Mariner Jack Wilson.

And so it became do or die time for the Mets…

23 - Mets last chance.jpg
…the Pirates were ready to record an ellusive “W.”

Not even the great Fernando Tatis could save the day for the Mets…

24 - ear tatis.jpg
…Tatis popped out to 1B.  Two of the next four batters would reach base, but the other two…wouldn’t.  Coming full cirlce, after leading off the game with a single, Argenis Reyes closed out the game with a ground-out to short stop.

Pirates Win!

As the Pirates celebrated behind us, I snapped one final picture of Tim and my dad before we headed out…

25 - pirates win and grandpas shoulders.jpg…it was time to drive back to our house for the night before heading to Philadelphia for the final game of The Inaugural Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.

2008 Roadtrip, Game 2 – Angels at Indians (8/17/08)


ruth 1927 bat.jpgOn the second day of the 2008 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip, we left Cinncinati and headed down to Louisville, Kentucky for a tour of the Louisville Slugger factory.  It was awesome.  But they don’t allow cameras in the factory, so I don’t have much to share on it.  So go check it out for yourself.  In addition to the factory, there is an extremely cool Louisville Slugger museum that includes a Babe Ruth bat that has 20+ notches that Ruth carved into it around the Louisville Slugger logo for each homerun Ruth hit with the bat during his record setting 60 homerun 1927 season.

On day three of the roadtrip, we made our way up north to Cleveland, Ohio and…

1 - Hey Its Progressive Field.jpg…Progressive Field a/k/a “The Jake,” home of the Cleveland Indians.

We had a game on tap between the Cleveland Indians and the Anaheim Angels of Orange County, California.

We parked a block or two away, walked passed one of the worst corporated named sporting venues of all-time, the Quicken Loans Arena, through a nice little court yard festival area…

3 - courtyard outside The Jake.jpg…and we arrived at the Jake.

2 - Approach to the Jake.jpgWe headed inside and my dad immediately took a picture of me and Tim and our first view of the field:

4 - Inside Jake.jpgThere was no BP so we had plenty of time to explore the stadium.  We started by heading toward the home plate area…

5 - Behind Dugout.jpg…then we walked the field level concourse…

6 - walking The Jake concourse.jpg…in the concourse toward RF, we saw a big picture of former Mariner and still Seattle resident (as far as I am aware), Omar “Little O” Visquel…

7 - little O.jpg…the inset picture of his signature is from the wall in Heritage Park, the Indians Hall of Fame.

We walked through the large RF-CF concourse with all of its various concession stands…

8 - RF Concourse.jpg…and we made our way out to Heritage Park:

9 - heritage park.jpgHeritage Park has two levels.  In the top left picture, Tim is shown standing in the middle of a big circle which is lined with HOF plaques.  Above, I have included pictures of some of the Indians HOF plaques.  These are some top-of-the-line HOF’ers:  Bob Feller, Tris Speaker, Cy Young, Larry Doby, Early Wynn, Nap Lajoie and Earl Averill.

You might have heard of these guys.

Well, on second thought, although he is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, maybe you don’t know Averill.  He isn’t quite on the same level as the rest included here.  He was voted into the National HOF by the veterans committee in 1975, 34 years after his final season.  I included Averill because, as his plaque notes, he is the “Earl of Snohomish.” 

That’s Snohomish, Washington.  I grew up in Edmonds, Washington, which is in Snohomish County.  Like Adam Eaton, Averill went to Snohomish High School, which many, many, many years after Averill graduated would eventually be in the same athletic conference, WesCo Triple-A, as my high school, Edmonds-Woodway High School.  More on Snohomish County and my former WesCo Triple-A foes later.

Back to the tour.  After Heritage Park, we headed to the upper deck so I could take pictures for this panaramic view:

9a - progressive 3B upper roadtrip panaramic.jpgFYI, Heritage Park is at the intersection of the LCF bleachers and the batters’ eye in CF.

Next, it was time for lunch…

10 - nacho time.jpg…Nachos!  A Cook family favorite.

Then it was game time.  This was our view from Section 175, Row M, Seats 3-5 at Progressive Field:

11 - lounging in seats.jpgA majority of the scoring occurred in the first inning of this game.

The Angels got on the board first.  After singles by future-Mariner Chone Figgins, Erick Aybar and Mark Teixeira, and a fielders choice by “Big Daddy Vladdy” Guererro, the Angels led 2-0.

The top of the Angels order would do most of the damage for the Angels on the day.  Figgins was 2-5 with 2 runs scored, Aybar was 2-5 with 1 run, and Teixeira was 2-4 with 1 RBI.

12 - our game view.jpgThen the teams switched sides and it was the Indians’ turn.  The Indians would match the Angels on a 2-run single by future-Mariner Franklin Gutierrez.  Gutierrez would eventually go 3-3 on the day.

The crowd was pretty low key…

13 - wow.jpg…but Tim can always find something to amaze him at the ballpark.  I have no clue what has his attention here, but I think its a funny picture.

In the bottom of the third, Ryan Garko hit a single…

14 - look at that future Mariner.jpg…that scored Jamey Carroll for the Indians’ first lead of the day.  Franklin would follow with another single.  I didn’t know it yet, but that guy rules.

Soon, it was time for ice cream helmets…

15 - indians ice cream helmets.jpg…Tim beat the heat by eating his ice cream sitting on the ground in the shady beneath his seat.

We’d driven to Cleveland in the morning from a camp ground an hour or so west of Columbus, Ohio.  Tim hadn’t napped so I knew he would crash at some point during this game.  That time came in the 4th or 5th inning.

I took him up to the concourse behind our section to get him out of the sun.  He fell asleep sitting on my shoulders and he stayed that way for 3 entire innings.

16 - shoulder nap.jpgWhile Tim was napping, the Indians and Angels scored their final runs of the day.  In the top of the fifth, Figgins singled and then scored on a passed ball by Sal Fasano.  That tied the score at 3-3.

Fasano would get his redeption by scoring the winning run for the Indians on a sixth inning single by Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore.

Speaking of Sizemore, you know where he grew up?  In Everett, Washington.  Yep, that’s the county seat of Snohomish County.  Sizemore graduated from my WesCo rival, Cascade High School.

Aside from rejuvenating Tim for the rest of the day, something else good came out of Tim’s nap.  In that picture above to the left, do you see the large usher in the green shirt and the dark-haired guy sitting under the “PR” in the “Express” sign?  Those two chatted the entire Tim I was standing up there.  The seated guy had a son (sitting right in front of me in the picture).  So the usher mentioned to him that it was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!  I had no clue.  The only advertised promotion was an art kit for kids.  Tim had never run the bases at a big league field (for that matter, neither had I), so I was extremely excited.  The usher told us where to go toward the end of the game to get in line.

After Tim woke up, we went back to our seats for a little bit.  I told my dad about it being Kids Run the Bases Day.  We decided to make our way over to the RF corner where the line would form.  On our way, an usher took a picture of us…

17 - RF foul corner.jpg…and since we were in Cleveland (and it was 2008), Tim wore his hat like C.C. Sabbathia.

We missed the uneventful ninth inning because we were in a long line snaking up the switch-back walkway from the field level to the upper deck behind the RF concourse.  Notably, Jeremy Sowers got the win for the Indians taking his season record to 2-6.  His only other win on the season was the Mariners-Indians game we had attended in Seattle back on July 19, 2008.

Anyway, the line finally started moving and we snaked our way under the stadium, and passed a sign that read:

ON THE JOB SAFETY BEGINS HERE

This Department Has Worked 19 Days Without a Lost Time Accident.

ACCIDENTS ARE AVOIDABLE

The “19″ was a red digital light that counts up each day from the last accident.

Anyway, eventually, we made our way out of the tunnels and through an entrance at the side of the visitors’ bullpen…

18 - visitors bulllpen.jpg…we walked out onto the RF warning track.  My dad took our picture against the OF wall (a picture we now try to duplicate at other parks)…

19 - 325 warning track.jpg…and I took my Dad’s picture with the warning track and OF grass behind him.

And much to my delight, since Tim was only two, I got to run with him…

20 - tim runs the bases.jpg…I gotta admit it, I was at least as excited about it as Tim.  It was really cool to be running behind Tim around the same bases we would eventually see Ken Griffey, Jr. circle after his 624th homerun.

After circling the bases, we met up with my dad and got a few more picture before we left the field of play.

21 - dugout and LF.jpgBetween the Angels loss (yeah, the Mariners were already out of it but its always good to see a division rival lose) and running the bases, it was an outstanding second game on the roadtrip.

We capped off the day at the KOA in Streetsboro, Ohio where my dad helped Tim roast the first smore of his young life:

22 - tims first smore.jpgA great day.

Baseball Roadtrip ’08, Day 1: Cardinals at Reds (8/15/08)

Last August, I did an entry summarzing The (First Annual) Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Road Trip.  The purpose of doing so was to give some background and context for the Second Annual Roadtrip that took me, Tim and my dad through Chicago, Minnesota and Milwaukee in August 2009.  Those entries were just a combination of emails I sent to family members while we were on our first roadtrip.  Now, its time to do actual game updates for those four games.

After I got off work on August 14, 2008, my dad (Jim), Tim and I packed into the car and drove to Washington, Pennsylvania where we spent the night at a KOA.   Over the next five days, we would visit Great American Ball Park in Cinncinati, the Louisville Slugger factory in Kentucky, Progessive Field in Cleveland, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

We woke up on the morning of August 15, 2008, and packed up our stuff to head to Great American Ball Park…

1 - camping hacks.jpg…as my dad packed his stuff, Tim stomped around the campground exploring and hit some whiffle balls off of his Tee.

I’d been watching the Reds on TV since Griffey was traded to Cincinnati, so I knew exactly where we had to go for dinner before the game…


2 - skyline.jpg…Skyline Chili was right on the way as we walked from our hotel to the ball park.  If you like cheddar cheese, this is the place for you.

Downtown Cinncinati slopes down toward the Ohio River, the Ohio-Kentucky border…

3 - welcome to GrAm BP.jpg…and Great American Ball Park.

Now, in the grand scheme of all of the new stadiums, I had heard that Great American Ball Park was nothing special.  But, you know what, I really liked it.  Its no Camden Yards or Safeco Field, but it had a special feel of its own.  In fact, I almost felt like it was a Major Leauge size minor league ball park.  That’s not meant to be insulting.  What I mean is that it sort fo felt *quaint* — maybe it was because we sat in the RF bleachers with the big steam boat nearby in CF and the river behind us.  Anyway, I liked it a lot.

As we approached the main entrance of the ballpark, we found a statute of Ted Kluszewski and a big banner thanking Griffey for his 600th homerun…

4 - kluszewski and griff.jpgTim monkeyed around in the grass between Griff and Kluszewski…

5 - Kluszewski and Timski.jpg…and practiced his power stroke.

Sixteen days before this game, Griffey was traded to the Chicago White Sox.  We’d planned to sit right behind him in RF.

By the way, I didn’t write an entry about it because Tim wasn’t with me, but after missing seeing Griffey’s 600th homerun in Philadelphia, a buddy from high school and I saw Griff’s 601st homerun at Yankee Stadium during interleague play.

With no Griffey in sight, I was all about seeing Albert Pujols do something special in this game.  As we entered the park, Albert was standing right there behind home plate speaking with Edinson Volquez…

6 - pujols volquez.jpg

…a few minutes later, Volquez walked into the Reds dugout just below me and Tim.  All I had on me was a cheap plasticy ball we bought on our way to play catch with on the trip.  Anyway, Volquez and some other unidentified Red signed it.

We headed out to the seats in RF to watch some BP.  It was pretty packed out there.  Tim and I squeezed into the first row and my dad hung back a row or two behind.  We were having no luck.  Then, on what I think was the final pitch of BP, someone hit a ball off the wall right in front of us.  As it bounced off of the wall, all of the Cardinals started to run toward their dugout.  But reliever Chris Perez turned around to grab that ball.  He grabbed it and started running back toward the field.  Then everyone yelled at him.  He turned around.  The 20-something guy next to us and I both pointed at Tim.  Perez fired the ball over to us.

Yes!

It was the first ball Tim had got this season.

With Tim’s new baseball in hand, we headed to the concourse behind 1B and made our way over the Reds Hall of Fame:

7 - got a ball going to reds HOF.jpgAs Team Halls of Fame go, this one probably sets the standard.  It is excellent.

Along the far end of the Reds HOF (closest to the outfield and Ohio River), there is a wall of 4,256 baseballs representing Pete Rose’s record-setting career hit total.

8 - pete rose wall of balls.jpgThe balls cover the wall the entire way as you ascend three flights of stairs.  If you click on that picture to enlarge it, you will see that the balls are all game (or at least BP) used.  They are all dirty and scuffed with bat marks.  Its an excellent visual representation of Rose’s hit record.

The Reds HOF is packed with jerseys, bats, gloves, and shoes with little descriptions of the Reds Hall of Famers.

9 - griffey bench seaver foster.jpgI was happy to see a Ken Griffey, Sr. jersey in there.  I’m a big proponent of team Halls of Fame.  I think the Baseball Hall of Fame should be reserved for the super-elite, best of the best of the best of the best.  Some peopel refer to “inner circle” Hall of Famers.  To me, the “inner circle” should be the entire Hall of Fame.  If a player is borderline, if an “argument” mut be made for a player’s candidacy to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I think that means that player is not a Hall of Famer.

But that doesn’t mean there is no place for such players.  If a player can’t make the Baseball Hall of Fame after years on the ballot.  No problem, those players can still be remembered forever by the people to whom they were most important in their respective team’s hall of fame.  Anyway, those are my two cents.

And anyone lucky enough to make it into the Reds HOF should be very pleased, indeed, this place is spectacular.

Check out this great picture they have on the wall of the members of the Reds HOF:

10 - Reds Hall of Famers.jpgDo you see Ken Griffey, Sr!  He’s almost right in the middle.  And he’s not just in the Reds HOF, we’ll see him again before the end of this entry.

Like a Safeco Field, they have a fake wall where you can pretend to pick-off homeruns.  Unlike Safeco Field, the Reds offer a variety of gloves from past and present.  Check out the sweet piece of leather I picked in the picture below:

11 - reds hof ooooold school glove picks hr.jpgHey, Ken Griffey, Jr. was represented in there as well…

12 - george k griffey jr.jpg…they had a little kids club house type area with little lockers with little jerseys they could wear and slides and things to climb.  In another area, they had a mock *man cave* full of stuff the ultimate Reds fan my have in his den.  Check out this picture of Ken Griffey, Jr.  Notice anything odd?

He signed it “George K. Griffey, Jr.”  I have never seen him do that before.

Soon, it was game time.  I took this panaramic view from our seats in RF.

13 - GrAm RF Panarama.jpgI bought these tickets literally the second they went on sale…in February or March or 2008…and the best they could give us in RF (where I was hoping Griffey might hit a homerun) was 3 rows from the top of the bleachers.


In to top of the first, Pujols popped out.  But the Cards scored two runs on a homerun by Rick Ankiel.

Then, in the bottom of the first, I got this picture just as Reds rookie Chris Dickerson hit his first career homerun.

15 - chris dickersons 1st career homerun.jpg

The ball landed in the Cardinals bullpen just below the glass partition to the left of the picture.

After Dickerson’s homerun, I tried to zoom in for a picture of Albert Pujols, but this is the best my old camera could do:

15a - Pujols.jpgNext, it was time to go get some ice cream helmets.  I headed out toward centerfield…

16 - top of second.jpg…but didn’t find any cream helmets until I made it all the way around to behind home plate.  So I ended up doing a full loop of the ballpark.  I’m sure the wait made Tim appreciate the ice cream even more:

17 - reds ice cream helmet.jpgI took this random shot of the LF seats and the scoreboard.

18 - LF stands and scoreboard.jpgThe scoreboard seems sort of short, doesn’t it?  Its really wide, but not very tall at all.

After we finished our ice cream, we headed back toward home plate because I saw some ballpark artwork I wanted to photograph while I had my hands full of ice cream helmets.  Here they are, two big mosaics of the .

19 - Champion Bat and Big Red Machine.jpgAbove is the 1869 Red Stockings, which according to Wikipedia were the first “openly professional” baseball team.  Below, is the Big Red Machine from the 1970s…including short-time Mariner and father of a future Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey.

Back to the game, in the top of the third, Pujols hit a ground rule double.  The first of two doubles and three total hits on the evening.  By the end of the third, a bulk of the scoring for the game was done.  The Cardinals were winning 4-2.  Each team would score only one more run.

Late in the game, I ventured out in search of some pizza and took some more ballpark pictures.  Here is Great American Ball Park from foul territory in the LF corner.

20 - view from LF foul corner.jpgOur seats are all the way across in the top corner of the RF bleachers.

Here are two more pictures:

21 - visitors bullpen and 3B concourse.jpgTo the right, a view of the extra wide concourse in foul territory down the 3B line.  To the left, a picture of the Cardinals bullpen.  Directly across the field I have circled in yellow the big open concourse pictured to the right.

After taking that shot of the bullpen, I turned to the right at took two more pictures:

22 - RF foul standing area.jpgTo the right, my dad in our seats up above the cardinals bullpen.  To the left, I backed up a bit and got a shot showing a little more of the standing room area down the RF line.

And when we were over there, we ran into a local celebrity, Rosie Red…

23 - Mr and Mrs Redlegs.jpg…I tried to also find Mr. Redlegs for a photo-op, but he was nowhere to be found.  The pictures to him above to the left are from earlier in the game.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals brought in Chris Perez.  He gave up one hit, but struck out two to secure the win for the Cards and the save for himself.

After the game, they shooed us out of the OF seats.  He relocated into the infield seats, where I took a couple more random stadium shots…

24 - views from infield.jpg…we got a group shot of the roadtrippers…

25 - 3 Cooks at Great American Ball Park.jpg…and then we settled into the seats for Tim’s first firework show of his life…

26 - tims first fireworks.jpg…it was an amazing firework show.  And an outstanding first day of our first roadtrip.

Tim would fall asleep on my shoulders as we walked back to our hotel.

A Sunny Day At Safeco Field (7/19/08)

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.

1 - welcome to safeco field.jpgIt turned out that it was turn back the clock day.  I think we were turning back the clock to 1988, as you can tell from this fake picture of Ichiro…

2 - 80srific Ichiro.jpg…it was definitely sometime in the 1980s.  Do you think Ichiro looked like that in the 80s?  I’m doubting it.

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: 

3 - popcorn behind section 145 at safeco.jpgWe 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)…

3a - fuzzy ichiro and red circle.jpg…ended up leaving early.  The lady saw Tim sitting on my shoulders and thought we were just an adorable father-son combo so she approached us and gave us their ticket stubs.

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…

4 - brian lahair debut at-bat.jpg…the Mariners were projecting big things from LaHair — they have never materialized.  He popped out to CF in his first career at-bat.

Here is a picture of Tim checking our the stadium from our actual ticketed seats:

5 - checking out safeco field.jpg

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…

7 - raul in LF.jpgThis was Tim’s second career ice cream helmet and his first with real ice cream (not soft serve).

6 - ice cream helmet.jpgHe loved it.

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…

8 - dickey knuckles.jpg…it was pretty cool watching his knuckler up close.  Hey, check it out, its Norm “The Sheriff” Charlton to the far right of that picture.

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.

9 - Ichiro in RF.jpgThis is where we were when the lady circled in red above gave us her tickets.

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!

10 - rauuuuuul on deck.jpgRaul would get plunked by the third pitch he saw from Jeremy Sowers in this at-bat.  By the way, to this point in the season, Sowers was winless with an ERA in the mid-6 range.

Adrian Beltre followed Raul with a single.

11 - beltre then lopez.jpgBy the way, check out those sweet retro-Mariners uniforms.  They looked so much better than I remembered them looking back in their day.

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…

12 - wild pitch scores beltre.jpg…on a wild pitch.

Check out these seats!  I loved them!

R.A. Dickey entered the game in the seventh…

13 - dickey.jpg…and then he entered the M’s dugout just below our seats four batters later after pitching a scoreless top of the seventh.

Yuniesky Betancourt led off the bottom of the seventh for the Mariners…

14 - Yuni and Tim.jpg…and, six months later, I ended up using this picture from Yuni’s at-bat to make baseball cards for all of the kids who attended Tim’s third birthday.

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…

15 - ichiro appears.jpg…as Sam Perlozzo headed to the 3B coach’s box, Ichiro headed to the on-deck circle to prepare for his at-bat…

16 - ichiro arises.jpg…as Betancourt faced Edward Mujica, Ichiro tugged on his sleave, stretched, and mentally prepared to do battle in the batter’s box…

17 - ichiro prepares.jpg…and then Ichiro made his classic approach to the plate…

18 - ichiro approaches the plate.jpg…followed by Ichiro’s classic pose (which, by the way, is currently pictured on my T-shirt as I type this entry)…

19 - ichiro poses.jpg…and on the first pitch he saw from Mujica, Ichiro extended his hit streak to all seven of Tim’s Mariners games…

20 - ichiro singles.jpg…with a single into centerfield.  Unfortunately, Ichiro would be stranded on base in the inning and the score would remain 9-4 Indians until the bottom of the ninth.

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.

21 - TJCs at Safeco Field.jpgGo Mariners!

Sitting On 599 & Eating Ice Cream

On June 2, 2008, the stars appeared to be aligning themselves for something wonderful.  I’d been watching with anticipation the past month.  I saw the possibility.  But could it really happen?

Then the day arrived.

Ken Griffey, Jr. and the Cinncinati Reds arrived in Philadelphia.  It would be Tim’s first opportunity in his life to see my all-time favorite player.  And if Griffey could connect for a homerun, it would be his historic 600th blast.  It all seemed too good to be true!

Sadly, it was.

I questioned whether the Reds would sit Griff so he could hit number 600 in Cinncinati.  But the Reds had 7 more games before returning to Cinncinati.  There was no way he would sit 7 games.

At this point, Tim was not quite 2-and-a-half years old.  He really wasn’t good for BP and a full game yet.  That was just too much.  But, we headed down to Philadelphia early for this one.  I wanted to maximize our time in Griff’s presence.  But when the Reds took the field for BP, Griff was nowhere to be seen.  This wasn’t promising for our chances of seeing number 600.

In fact, it ended up that Griff’s knee was acting up.  He was not in the line-up.

Anyway, as I said, Tim wasn’t really a BP guy yet.  So we did a little touring around the ballpark before the game…

1 - exploring citz bank park.jpgHe pushed his stroller all the way up the winding ramps up to the upper deck in the RF foul corner.  I took this shot as we turned the final bend in the ramps.  That’s Lincoln Financial Field in the background.

I think this was Tim’ first time ever being in an upper deck of a ballpark.  He was a little *iffy* about it.  I’m not sure if it was because he was uncomfortable being up so high or if it was because the sun was blazing down in our eyes.

2 - upper decking it.jpgSo we asked a nice patron to take our picture…

3 - TJCs up top.jpg…and then we headed for lower grounds.

We got some french fries and found a nice spot behind Section 106 at one of the many standing counters ringing the field level at Citizens Bank Park…

4 - getting read.jpgTim was much happier back on the field level.  So we waited for the start of the game (and confirmation that Griffey would not be playing).

Seeing Griff play and getting a chance to witness No. 600 was the entire reason we attended this week-night game.  With our hopes and dreams for the night spoiled (he would not even pinch hit), we needed to make the night special in some other way.

So, sitting behind Section 137 at Citizens Bank Park, we started a grand tradition…

5 - first ice cream helmet.jpg…we shared Tim’s first ever ice cream helmet!!!

Do you notice there is an extra spoon in the helmet?  This being Tim’s first ice cream helmet, he had not yet realized they were too good to share with his dear old dad.

I’d been watching the Reds pretty regularly for 8 seasons by this point (solely to watch Griff), so I was pretty familiar with their team.  While standing down the LF foul line in Section 137, it was a straight shot out to Adam Dunn.

6 - Dunn Griffs Cinci Buhner.jpg

In Griffey’s world, Dunn was to the Reds what Buhner was to the Mariners:  Griff’s friend and big Texan power hitting neighbor in the outfield.

That last picture was taken in the bottom of the first inning and the Phils were already getting business started.  After Shane Victorino singled with one out, Chase Utley staked the Phillies to a 2-0 lead with a 2-run homerun.

For about an inning and a half, it was as if there was no game being played at all.

7 - serious about ice cream.jpgTim was lost in the chocolate-vanilla swirled goodness of his first ice cream helmet.

After Tim finished his ice cream, we headed over to the home plate area, a little off toward first base, so we could get a peak into the Reds dugout…


9 - no griff in there.jpg…we couldn’t find Griff in there.  Yep, on the Griff-front, the night was a total bust.  But we had fun nonetheless.

Tim loves the kids playset at Citizens Bank Park.  In the 18 MLB ballparks Tim and I have visited, I’m pretty sure that it is objectively the best play area…

10 - phils playset.jpg…at some point, I always find Tim cranking on that wheel up on the second level.

By the way, for perspective for anyone who hasn’t visited Citizens Bank Park, those steel beams above Tim in that picture are supporting the winding walk way up to the upper deck where Tim was pictured above with Lincoln Financial Field in the background.  The play area is just to the outfield side of the main 1B side entrance to Citizen Bank Park.

Back to the game, in the top of the 4th inning, as Tim played in the play area, I watched on the Dads’ flatscreen TV as rookie Jay Bruce (the man who was playing RF in Griffey’s place) hit his third career homerun in this third career game.

We headed back out to the field level for the bottom of the 4th in time to see Pedro Feliz (2-run) and Chris Coste (solo) hit back-to-back homeruns off of Bronson Arroyo…

12 - hooray and cotton candy.jpg…Tim cheered on as he ate cotton candy (it was a high calorie night for Cook & Son), as the Phillies took a 5-1 lead. 

Late in the game, Tim wanted to play around in the field level concourse.  I snapped this picture of him hiding in a steel beam…

13 - hiding in the beams.jpg

…he always enjoys standing in these things at Citizens Bank Park.  He enjoys the little things in life.

We also ran into three nice ushers out in the concourse who each gave Tim a little souvenir:  a Philly Phanatic figurine, a little wood baseball bat keychain, and a Cole Hamels baseball card that was magically pulled from behind Tim’s ear.

Between a solo shot by Juan “Fireworks” Encarnacion in the fifth and a 2-run double by Dunn in the sixth, the Reds would score three more runs on the night, but Coste’s homerun would be enough for the Phillies.  In the bottom of the ninth, Brad Lidge nailed down the save 1-2-3 with two strike outs.  On June 2nd, Lidge’s ERA was still only 0.75.

Over the next two days, without Tim, I’d make two more efforts at witnessing Griff’s 600th homerun.  But he rode the bench both days.  His knee was still bothering him.  He pinch hit late in each game and walked twice on a combined 9 pitches.  I only saw him swing the bat once between the two games.  Both at-bats were incredibly intense.  The whole stadium was on its feet.  Philadelphia fans can be rude and crude and mean.  But I was extremely proud of them at these games.  They understood they had the chance to see history and I think a lot of them wanted it to happen despite the fact it would have been terrible for the Phillies in both games.  At the end of the final game of the series (the only game I didn’t attend and the only one Griffey played), the entire stadium gave Griffey a standing ovation.

Sadly, he went on to hit his 600th homerun in South Florida before a pathetic and heartless crowd.  It should have happened before one of those great sell-out crowds in Philadelphia, but at least his wife and kids were able to be there for the historic blast in Florida.

Winter Training Update

With the hot days of summer a distant memory, Tim has been spending most of his days playing with trains, riding his new scooter through the house and playing various “indoor games.”

But today, he asked if we could go outside and play some baseball.  Heck, why not!?  It was actually a beautiful sunny day here in eastern Pennsylvania and almost all of the most-recent snow had melted.  So we layered up the clothes (Tim picked his own crazy outfit), and we headed outside.

It had been awhile since his last BP, but Tim still did a decent job of putting the ball in play.  Despite the fact that our usual homeplate area was the only area of the backyard still covered in snow… 

1 - frosty the batter.jpg…Tim even hit a homerun up onto the deck.

Instead of throwing down our home plate, Tim drew this little triangular home plate in the snow…

2 - snowy home plate and batters box.jpgThe trampled area to the right of the plate was his batters box.  He kept kicking the snow out of the box and proclaiming, “Batters gotta kick the dirt!”

Of course, just like during the summer, I had to chase Tim around the diamond after every solid base knock that he hit.

3 - score tim score.jpgYou can see his bat dropped at home plate just above his head.  Tim loves to have me chase him.  And he loves it even more if I just can’t quite catch him before he scores.

At one point, Tim hit a high but short pop-up just behind the “pitcher’s mound.”  Tim yelled, “I got a hit!”  But I turned around, ran back about 4 steps and made the catch.  Then Tim yelled, “Oh, I’m out!”

This was sort of a big step.  Tim had been hitting, throwing and sort of catching for the past year or so.  He loves going to games and has seen a lot of baseball in his young life.  But other than “three strikes for a strike out,” he’s never really conveyed a real understanding of the rules of the game.  So I asked him what had just happened and was happy to hear him explain the following:

Tim:  “When you’re a hitter and someone catches your ball, you’re out.”

Todd:  “How do you know that?”

Tim:  “Because I’m a natural guy.”

Excellent!

My little natural guy and I had a great time during our first snowy “winter training” session.

4 - a natural guy.jpgHere is a better view of his hilarious outfit (taken as we were chatting about him being a natural guy).  Those are pajamas under his shorts, which he’s always referred to as “practice pants.”  His “batting gloves” are a pair of “Go, Diego, Go!” explorer gloves.

Giants vs. Phillies, Citizens Bank Park Hall of Fame Club Suite (5/2/08)

I woke up on May 2, 2008 with no plans except to put in a solid day at work.  Soon, my plans would change.

I received a call in the morning.  One of my collegues has a brother who is an executive in the Phillies front office.  Tim and I would be joining a group of guys later that night in one of the Phillies Hall of Fame Club suites:

1 - citz bank tix 5-2-08.jpgTim and I had never been to the Hall of Fame Club.  Citizens Bank Park has two levels of suites.  The normal “Suite Level” is just above the field level and is accessed through a “no frills” suite level walk way.  You can see that here.

The HOF Club is above the 200-level seating.  The “concourse” for the HOF Club isn’t a concourse at all.  Instead, its a indoor “Club” with a bar and couches, etc., etc.

For some inexplicable reason, I failed to take pictures of the HOF Club as a whole.  But, I did take a picture of a wall of baseballs in the club…

2 - Hall of Fame Club Wall of Balls.jpg…here is a closer view…

2a - Wall of Balls Odd Close-up.jpg…the wall is pretty cool.  However, the balls clearly aren’t game balls or even batting practice balls.  They were never used.  I think it would be more impressive if the balls were rubbed up with mud and/or scuffed so you knew they’d seen some action on the field below the HOF Club.

I also took a zoomed in picture of the bottom of the bar in the HOF Club…

3 - Hall of Fame Club Bar of Bats.jpg…honestly, I must have been off my game.  How in the world did I not take a picture of the entire bar area?

Anyway, the bat bar is pretty cool.  But, again, the bats obviously aren’t used.  I think it would be pretty sweet if they’d upgrade the bar with game used bats with scuff marks, pine tar stains, player signatures burned into the barrels, etc., etc.  Still, its a cool bar.

So, we made our way into the suite.  The Phils were hosting the Giants.  The Phils jumped out to a quick lead in the first inning when Jayson Werth singled, stole second, and was driven in on Chase Utley’s 12th homerun of the still young season.

As the Phils were holding down the Giants’ offense, Tim was scarfing down delicious suite food.  After a jumbo hot dog main course, Tim moved on to a seemingly never ending dessert course.  Here he is showing off our “suite” view of the game and his first “sweet” tasting chocolate covered pretzel:

4 - chocolate covered pretzels.jpgThis may well have been Tim’s first chocolate covered pretzel of his life, but it wasn’t his last of the night.  He would have just kept going, so I had to step in and stop him after 2…or maybe 2-and-a-half…pretzels.

He was a happy, sugar filled little boy…

5 - tim and todd and more chocolate pretzels.jpg…I think he’s gazing at me so lovingly in that picture because he was so happy that I introduced him to chocolate covered pretzels.

One note about that picture.  You’ll notice I am not wearing my usual all-Mariners attire.  I opted for the red Rawlings T-shirt and my Reading Phillies hat because I was essentially a guest of the Phillies at this game.  There was no way I was dressing Tim up in Phillies garb (actually, I couldn’t if I wanted to he doesn’t own any).  But I felt too bad to have us both in all-Mariners gear with no Phillies representation.

Anyway, we were having a great time as the game progressed.  We split time between the three rows of seats in the front of our suite and the indoor section of the suite.  As I mentioned, Tim was all hopped up on sugar and was full of energy…he was so excited he was literally running laps around the suite — as you can see in this short video clip.

As Tim ran laps of the suite, I spent some time chatting with our bartender.  (Oh, yeah, our suite had its own bartender).  He was a nice guy.  He was a school teacher at a high school in the city.  His wife let him work for the Phils part-time in the evenings.  He usually worked somewhere else in the stadium.  Somewhere with a better view of the game than from behind the bar at the back of the suite.  He described his part-time job as getting paid to have season tickets to his favorite team.  Nice.

So, after I shut down the chocolate covered pretzels gravy train…

6 - suite cookies.jpg

…Tim moved on to big chocolate chip cookies.  Yeah, its a tough life for young Timothy.

Each time Pat Burrell strode to the plate, I told our suitemates that he would almost certainly hit a homerun because he always hits a homerun for Tim.  But the Giants kept him in the yard each time I made my announcement.

Late in the game, Tim kept graviting toward the bottom corners of the suite seating area.  When I headed over to see what was going on, I found Tim…

7 - how you doing.jpg …in deep conversation (well, “deep” for a 2 year old) with one of the stadium attendants working in the 200-level.  He moved back and forth between the bottom corners of the suite chatting up this lady and another lady stationed below the other corner of the suite.  Eventually, one of them gave Tim a little plastic Philly Phanatic figurine.

Sadly, like our last night game, Tim started getting mighty tired late in the game.  Then something bad happened, Kyle Kendrick and Ryan Madison combined to give up three runs in the top of the seventh and the score was tied.  Eventually, we headed into extra innings.  Tim just couldn’t make it any longer.

Leading off the top of the tenth, former-Phil Aaron Rowand hit a solo-homerun off of J.C. Romero.  That was it for us.  With Tim having already reached the point of exhaustion, we headed to our car.

As we made our way to our car, Romero gave up two more hits but retired the Giants without surrendering any more runs.  When we reached our car and I was strapping Tim into his car seat, we could hear the crowd chanting “M.V.P.!  M.V.P.!  M.V.P.!”  Chase Utley was up.  Soon the crowd erupted.  I turned on the radio and learned that Utley had singled with one out.  Ryan Howard struck out looking for the Phils’ 26th out of the night.

Then, on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, with 2-outs, a full-count, the Phils trailing by a run, the mighty Pat Burrell fulfilled my prophesy.  He hit a 2-run walk off homerun to send the Phillies-faithful (and me and Tim) home happy.

Ah, good times.

The Cubs at Citizens Bank Park (4/11/08)

Remember Tim’s First MLB Anniversary game on September 12, 2007, we went with our friends Tim and Gabe?  Well, on April 11, 2008, Tim and I met up with Tim and Gabe once again and headed down to Citizens Bank Park to see the Phillies take on the Chicago Cubs.

The boys were having a blast before we even reached the stadium:

1 - loads of laughs in the car.jpgSomeone had given me four sweet tickets in Section 111, Row 23…

2 - 4-11-08 tix.jpg…which is down the first base line at Citizens Bank Park.

The seats were awesome.  Here was the view…


3 - greg dobbs ends the third.jpg…as Greg Dobbs grounded out to end the third inning.

The Cubs jumped out to an early lead when Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit back-to-back solo homeruns in the first inning.

We did lots of eating all night.  First, Tim started off with some hard pretzels we brought from home…

4 - baseball and pretzels.jpg…he even shared some with me!

Next, Tim moved on to some candy that Gabe had brought…

5 - candy.jpg…I can’t really remember what it was.  But that little guy loves candy!

Then, the funniest part of the night…

6 - dining on neighbors fries.jpg…Tim turned around, made friends with the 12′ish year old girl behind us, and then ate a bunch of her french fries.

While Tim was making friends with the french fry girl, I made friends with the guy sitting next to me.  I had to chat with him and get him to let me try on his glove…

7 - neighbor with dwight gooden spalding signature model glove.jpg…once I noticed he was sporting a near mint condition Spalding Dwight Gooden signature model glove.  The very same glove that I had from elementary school through high school.  It is the last non-Rawlings glove I’ve ever owned.  After I replaced it with a wonderful little black Rawlings, I surgically altered that Spalding glove.  I made it into a Trap-Eze (although it didn’t turn out nearly as good as my Rawlings Randy Johnson RBG10B-turned-Trap-Eze.  Unfortunately, I don’t have that mock-Trap-Eze anymore.

In the bottom of the 4th inning, the Phils were still losing 2-0 when Pat Burrell came to bat.  I looked over at Tim and proclaimed, “Tim, its Pat Burrell.  Maybe he’ll hit a homerun.  He always hits a homerun for you.”  Next pitch, two-run game tying homerun.  A guy behind us leans forward, “You should bring him to games more often!”

Pat “The Bat” would go 2-4 on the night with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored.

Wait, there were more snacks…

8 - tim and gabe in section 111 row 23.jpg…popcorn.  I’ve always thought that is a hilarous picture of Tim.

It was still 2-2 when hard hitting pitcher Carlos Zambrano…

9 - carlos zambrano at the plate.jpg…grounded out to end the top of the fifth.  And then the Phils would take the lead.  In the bottom of the fifth, former Mariner Greg “The Dobbers” Dobbs hit a run scoring double to center field.

The Cubs tied it up again in the top of the sixth with a solo homerun by Alfonso Soriano.  The Phils took the lead again (for good) in the bottom of the sixth on a double by Pat Burrell and a single by Carlos Ruiz.  In fact, that would cap the scoring for the evening.

There was one other fun on-field event that I can’t remember when in the game it happened.  As a huge Mariners fan, I love Sweet Lou Piniella.  I was hoping that Lou would go crazy and get tossed out of this game so Tim could see the Master at work.  It almost happened.  Lou stormed the field at some point during the game, but, alas, cooler heads prevailed and he returned to the dugout before getting tossed.  Still, it was great to see Lou doing his thing.

At this point in his life, it was difficult for Tim to stay seated for an entire game.  (Well, actually, it still is today).  At almost 2.5 years of age, Tim was much better at staying in the seats when accompanied by another kid.  But still, he got antsy late in this game.  So we took to the concourse for some exploring:

10 - walking the concourse.jpgTim was excited to find an unattended John Deere truck in the concourse out by the right field corner of the concourse.

11 - john deere.jpgNo one was around to tell Tim not to pretend to drive the John Deere.  He had a great time.

But he was really starting to get tired so the four of us headed out a little bit early.  So, we missed Brad Lidge nailing down his second save of the season — back when Brad Lidge was unstoppable.

On the way out of the ballpark, Big Tim suggested that we stop by the LF foul corner and pick up some “Schmitters.”  At this point in my life, I had never even heard of The Schmitter…

12a - The Schmitter.jpg
Don’t know The Schmitter?  Here’s a little info I found about it online –

The Schmitter.jpgThe Schmitter:

Ingredients:
1 servings Kaiser Roll
1 servings Lean Sirloin Tip Beef Steaks
1 servings Genoa Salami
1/2 serving 1000 Island (2 Tbsp)
1 servings Fried Onions
2 servings American Cheese
1 servings Sliced Tomato

Instructions:
brown sandwich steaks and salami. Layer in kaiser roll, cheese, steak,dressing, fried onions, salami, tomato, then more cheese.

Ah, the Schmitter hit the spot.

By the way, Gabe took that picture of Tim and his Schmitter.  Moments later, the boys were out…

12 - sleepy in the car.jpg…yep, it was a good night at the ballpark.

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