It was a day game following a rain-delayed, extra late night game, and we were in the starting line-up. Actually, you couldn’t keep us away from the Braves vs. Pirates game on Sunday, May 23, 2010. This game was the whole reason for the weekend trip — our first ever Kids Run The Bases day at:
And it wasn’t just Kids “Run The Bases” day, it was an all-around “Kids Day.” We arrived at the stadium about two hours before game time, and it was in full kids festival mode…
The BP situation was a little confusing. Well, just the beginning of it. We entered the park through the River walk enterance in LCF. On weekends, the River walk opens 2.5 hours before the game and season ticket holders can enter the entire stadium at that time. But non-season ticket holders (like us) have to wait in the River walk for the first half hour. We know this because that is what happened on Saturday.
But on Sunday, we entered the River walk and no one stopped us at the CF/bullpen enterance into the main stadium. So I figured it must have been less than 2 hours until game time and the entire stadium was open to everyone. But as we circled the inner concourse, we could see people at all of the other entrances still locked outside the stadium. We were in there with what appeared to be a bunch of the BP regulars, but no one was following us. It was almost empty in there.
This would prove to work to our advantage.
The give-away for the day was a pair of wind-up pierogies. Still in the box, I stuffed them into our backpack right after the guy gave them to Tim. We were going to head over to the RF foul line to watch BP. But as we passed behind the Pirates dugout, Tim asked for the pierogies. So we stopped at the dugout so I could fish them out of our backpack.
After I gave Tim the pierogies, which he absolutely loved, I noticed that there was a baseball sitting in foul territory in front of the dugout. It looked like this:
There was absolutely no one else in the seats within 100 feet of the dugout. When Melky Cabrera walked around the batting cage to our side, I called out, “Hey, Melky.” He looked up and I pointed at the ball and then at Tim. Two seconds later, Melky tossed the ball our way.
I turned my back to the field and gave the ball to Tim. He showed me the pierogies. We generally weren’t paying any attention to the field until I heard a loud “Hey!” from behind me. Out of the blue, Braves third base coach Brian Snitker (who was in the process of hitting fungos to infielders) tossed us a second baseball.
After the unexpected second baseball, we decided to head over to RF. As we passed the Braves dugout, Tommy Hanson popped out and started signing autographs. Tim grabbed the Snitker baseball and a pen and walked up to Hanson and said, “Will you autograph my baseball?” I always think its cute when he asks for an autograph because it seems like most people just hold out a ball/card/ticket and a pen and the player grabs it and signs the item without any words being exchanged. But Tim always speaks up and gets the player to verbally commit to the autograph while he’s still signing for other people.
Better than the autograph, Hanson also posed for a picture with Tim:
After parting ways with Hanson, we headed a little further down the RF line. I watched BP while Tim played non-stop with his pierogies. He was having a blast with those things.
I decided to take a panorama through the little chain link fence on the foul territory warning track:
Tim kept playing and playing and playing with those pierogies. He put them in all sorts of make believe situations, many involving the threat of falling off of the wall or a step or a chair while Tim or I had to save them from falling to the ground below. Are are some random scenes:
See the bottom right picture? Someone hit a ball right down the line. There was an open gate to the field. I could tell the ball was going to hit the wall and then hit that gate and probably bounce into the handicapped seating area. By the way, the rest of the stadium was apparently still not open. There was literally no one else around us. I could have walked the fifty or so feet down to the gate and still got the baseball. But I didn’t. I ran down there, reached over the wall and scooped the ball off of the warning track right after it clanked off of the gate.
Here are the three baseballs we got at this game:
On our way to our seats, we watched the Pirates’ cool scoreboard game intro video:
(Click 720 HD for the best quality)
I missed the beginning of the video so I am not sure, but my best guess is that the first statue (the one that steals second base) is Honus Wagner. The second statue is Roberto Clemente. And the third is apparently Bill Mazeroski. The Pirates always have cool intro videos at the ballpark.
After the intro video, we made our way to our seats with a big pile of nachos. Thanks to reading about a ticket sale on the Pitt Peas blog (Thanks, Matt!), these seats cost us $7/ticket for this game:
As always, the nachos were excellent, but Tim had a hard time putting down his pierogies while eating and eventually he had cheesy pierogies that needed a major napkin scrub down…
On our way back over to section 105, the game started. As we passed behind the 3B dugout, I got this shot of Nate McLouth…
…he launched a monster foul bomb that just snuck over the last row of the RF bleachers.
We don’t like to be cramped in our seats and Section 105 was packed. But Section 101 in the RF corner was almost empty, so we grabbed some ice cream seats there:
An usher was walking around kicking everyone out who didn’t have Section 101 tickets. When he approached us he asked if we had Section 101 tickets. I said, “Section 105, but we’re hiding out here in the shade so he can eat his ice cream.” The usher said we could stay there because Section 101 was a downgrade from our real tickets. He then turned to Tim and said, “You can sit here, but you have to promise me that you’ll keep your dad under control.” I gave him a courtesy laugh, but Tim was too lost in ice-cream-helmet-deliciousness to really respond.
Here was our view of the plate (zoomed in) from Section 101…
Once again, I was pulling for former Mariner Ronny Cedeno to have a big day…
On Saturday, Tim was excited each time he saw the Pirate parrot. He would point him out and say either “There is the Phanatic!” or “There is a big green chicken!”
By Sunday, he’d figured out it was a parrot. And when Tim spotted the parrot coming up the stairs between Sections 103 and 105 early in the game, he yelled out, “Let’s get our picture with the parrot!” and he was off to the races.
We tracked down the parrot and got this shot:
Tim and I are usually on the go a lot during games. But Tim was very happy in our shady spot in Section 101. We stayed there without leaving the section until the 9th inning. This gave us plenty of time to get more action shots. Like this one of Andrew McCutchen — who was just a bit early on this pitch in the 4th.
We wanted to see ejection-legend Bobby Cox get tossed from a game this weekend. But he stayed calm. The best we could do was to get these shots of Cox pulling starting pitcher Kris Medlen from the game in the 6th:
The Braves took the early lead in the second when Melky Cabrera scored an unearned run on a David Ross single.
The Pirates tied it up 1-1 in the sixth when McCutchen hit a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly. Moments later, the Pirates took the lead when Garrett Jones scored on a single by Ryan Doumit.
Speaking of Doumit, I’ve never known much about him other than his name. But after this game, I won’t soon forget him because, among other things discussed below, he impressed me by coming to bat accompanied by the sweet sounds of Danzig’s “Mother”:
(Click 720 HD for the best quality)
Excellent call, Mr. Doumit.
Back to the game, the Braves knotted the score at 2-2 with a lead-off HR by Eric Hinske in the 8th inning.
Later in the inning, Future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones pinch-hit for Omar Infante and bounced out to 1B (you can see the ball at the right of the of picture):
But we did get this awesome picture of Andrew McCutchen hitting a single to CF in the bottom of the ninth…
…if you click to enlarge that picture you can see that the handle of his bat broke when he hit that ball. After I took that picture, a guy next to me in the concourse tapped my shoulder and asked me what kind of camera I was using. He saw the picture on the preview screen and was impressed. By the way, it is a Canon PowerShot SX200is.
When the Braves came to bat in the tenth, we headed out to RF in case someone would hit a homerun there. On the way, I got this shot of the field from Section 125…
We didn’t stay long in LF because we’d spent a lot of time there on Saturday. We decided to check out the RF bleachers. We walked around to Section 144, headed up the stairs into the seats, and grabbed two seats just above the tunnel.
Here was the view:
We made the wrong call. We should have gone one more section over toward the RF foul pole. Because about 5 minutes after sitting down, Ryan Doumit stepped to the plate. I said to Tim, “This guy likes Danzig so he might hit a home run.” He did. It was a screaming bullet of a line-drive and it landed exactly where we would have been had we decided to grab the same seats, but one more section over toward the RF pole. The guy who got the ball was sitting probably 20 seats over from us and one row behind us.
With the walk off HR, it was TIME TO RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER!!!
We got in line on the River walk and Tim hung out on my shoulders and watched the boats on the river:
We snaked our way across the River walk, out to the street behind the 1B line, and through a tunnel that dumped us out at the field right below Section 101. By the way, inside the tunnel we saw that there is valet parking under the River walk. I’m guessing that is for VIPs.
Someone was nice enough to take our standard RF foul line picture…
Another standard picture, approaching the infield on the 1B warning track…
Then the Pirates switched things up on us! Before this game, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field, Citi Field, Rogers Centre, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park and Miller Park and at every one of those stadiums, the kids started their trip around the bases at first base.
But at PNC Park, they had the kids start from home plate…
Another great thing about PNC Park is that they didn’t have people rushing us off of the field the second Tim touched home plate. So we had plenty of time to get some more pictures. I love this one featuring Tim and the “P” behind home plate…
…and a father-son picture behind home plate:
Now check this out, I snapped a picture of the Pirates’ dugout…
…and I saw a piece of paper sitting on the ledge behind the bench (yellow arrow to the left). I took a zoomed in picture of the paper. Above to the right, you see it is a picture of Omar Infante hitting a double off of Zach Duke. At the bottom it says “DUKE vs. O. INFANTE Inn. 6 Out 0 Runners none Count 3-2 Fly Ball Double.” I checked the game log, and this isn’t advanced scouting. This is “in game” scouting. Infante hit this double off of Duke in the sixth inning of THIS GAME! That’s pretty cool.
As we made our way to the far exit at the LF “corner spot, Tim inspected the dirt on the warning track:
But the fun didn’t end quite yet. We still had four hours in the car ahead of us. Here are just a couple of the sights from our drive home:
The mural at the top left is about 2 blocks from PNC Park, across the street from the Andy Warhol Museum. I thought it was cool that the mural had the windmills in it because there are a bunch of them in Western PA — as shown in the top right picture.
In the bottom left picture, that is a giant piece of art in Pittsburgh. I think it was just across the river in downtown. In case you can’t tell, the Robot man is made out of Pittsburgh’s yellow bridges. Very cool.
In the bottom right corner, Tim is using his “binoculars” to see the sights. He took a 20 minute nap in the car, but then was awake the rest of the drive home. Highlights of the drive included Tim telling me about 50 knock-knock jokes in a row, most concluding with a chicken doing something or other. Also, after discussing what championship the band Queen had won, we sang “We Are The Champions” about 4 times in a row at the top of our lungs. Good times on the road.
When we arrived home (about 2.5 hours after Tim’s bed time) Tim was still wide awake. He proceeded to tell mommy all of the great things we’d done and seen over the weekend.
The weekend was a complete success. Thanks, Pittsburgh.
2010 Fan Stats:
9 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
7 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, & Nationals)
19 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves)
5 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
6 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)
5 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)
4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
At about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 22, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and started making our way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This would be our first over-night road trip of the season.
I was really looking forward to this trip. We’d been to PNC Park before. In fact, in September 2007, it was our first ever father-son over-night roadtrip (and Tim’s first night ever away from home without mommy). But we’d never really explored the place. So that was part of the plan.
We had a blast chatting with each other and playing “I spy” and other driving games as we crossed the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania…
- I always enjoy the drive across PA because there are several long tunnels through “mountains” (if you were on the west coast you’d call these “hills”…mountains have snow at the top).
- The rest stop in the bottom left had special parking spots for “low emitting fuel efficient vehicles” like my Prius. But when we returned to our car, we found a Hummer H3 parked next to us in the “green” parking spots. Weak, Hummer driver. Weak!
- Tim LOVED our hotel room, which we got for a great price on hotwire.com…our first time ever using it.
It rained a lot during the day. But we headed to the park early in hopes of seeing BP. On our way over to the “River walk” entrance in LCF field, we snapped some pictures of Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente…
When we arrived, the River walk was open…
…but the rest of the stadium was only open to season ticket holders. From the River walk, I could see the tarp covering the field. No BP. We killed time watching boats in the river and birds flying all around the River walk.
Half an hour later, we were behind home plate taking in this soggy afternoon view:
Soon, Billy Wagner came out of the dugout and started signing autographs right by the OF end of the dugout. We were about 40-50 feet further toward RF.
At the time, Billy was sitting on 389 career saves, one behind Dennis Eckersley and number 6 on the all-time career saves leaderboard. After signing some autographs, he headed to RF to play catch. On his way by, I got him to take a picture with Tim…
…as you can tell by his big smile, Billy was really nice. He was very happy to meet Tim and pose for a picture. And he got a kick out of our Mariners shirts and hats. Tim was proud to announce that “We like the Mariners!”
After signing one of our tickets…
Then, Takashi Saito came back out to RF to play catch again. Thanks to another MLBlogger (thanks, Nao), I know a few Japanese words, one of which is a polite way to say “excuse me.” As Saito approached us, I told Tim to say “excuse me” in Japanese and, if Saito looked our way, to ask him for a baseball.
As Saito passed, Tim called out, “Sumimasen!” Saito quickly looked over with a surprised smile and Tim asked him for a baseball. As he continued to RF, Saito showed us the fronts and backs of both of his hands as to say “Sorry, I don’t have one.” No problem. It was pretty cool just having him react positively to Tim’s tidbit of Japanese.
Saito then played catch with Kenshin Kawakami in RF as his interpreter watched them. When Saito and Kawakami finished playing catch, Saito headed back toward the dugout. On his way, he looked our way and then headed over to a teammate (Cristhian Martinez) who was stretching nearby and asked him for the baseball resting nearby in his glove.
When I saw this, I told Tim, “He’s getting you a baseball!” It was awesome. Tim’s request was going to work! Saito got the baseball and started walking over to us.
Then The Weirdest Thing Happened!
Out of nowhere, we hear someone on the field yell “HEY, SEATTLE!” I looked out to RF and saw that it was Billy Wagner. Billy held up a baseball and then fired a perfect strike to my chest right as Saito was approaching us with the other baseball!
I caught Wagner’s baseball as Saito watched on. I yelled “Thanks!” to Billy and then showed the baseball to Saito. We smiled at each other and gave each other a mutual “wow, that was weird” expression and I thanked Saito for the gesture. He then headed back to the dugout with the baseball he’d grabbed from Martinez.
A few minutes later, Wagner headed back to the dugout and I asked if he would sign the baseball he’d given to Tim. He grabbed the ball and pen and knelt down next to Tim again and said, “I’ll sign this baseball for you if you give me a big “GO BRAVES!”” Tim complied with a big “Go Braves!” Wagner laughed at Tim and declared, “You’re too easy!”
He then explained to me how he was going to sign the ball (as in, where on the ball). I said, “do it however you want!”, which was funny because 2 second later another guy handed him a baseball and said, “Can you sign it on the sweet spot?” (we’re not very demanding with our autograph requests).
Anyway, here is a picture of Tim a few seconds after getting the ball from Wagner…
Hey, it was time to play some catch outselves!
Then, it was time to explore. I had an idea I’d been planning to do for a long time. Now was the time. It required us to walk to the LF upper deck. On the way there, I took this gloomy panorama over the visitors’ dugout:
The plan was to take pictures (hundreds of pictures) while we circled the stadium and then to make a 360 degree stadium video from them. You can see the finished product in our last entry.
By the way, the time stamp on our first 360 degree picture was 5:27 p.m. and the last picure was taken at 6:30 p.m. So, subtracting the 15 minute telephone call I had with my wife right as we made it into the field level behind the 3B dugout, it took approximately 45 minutes to take the 700 photos used in the PNC360 video.
Here is a panorama from the spot where I took the first of the PNC360 photos:
My original plan was to go all the way around the upper deck. But I was aiming my camera at the (tarp covered) pitchers mound, which made it so the Pittsburgh skyline was cut out of the pictures. So I cut diagonal down through the LF foul upper deck seats. However, do to this, I needed to get into the Pittsburgh Baseball Club seats at the lower portion of the upper deck. This is a special club for which you need special tickets — we didn’t have them.
Luckily, I did have a supercute kid. I tried to sweet talk our way into the club so we could go take pictures cutting diagonal through the seats. The lady working the door explained, “I wouldn’t let you do this, but he is just so cute.” So Tim’s cuteness got us in. I took a couple pictures in there but it is so dark they didn’t come out well. This is the best shot I got inside the club:
After passing through the club, we headed to the field level and took a hard-induced break. While I chatted with the wife on the phone, I took Tim’s Garrett Jones give-away action figure out of its box and gave it to Tim.
To put it mildly, he loves that action figure…
Hour an a half rain delay…
Check out the concourse as we went to get nachos…
Everyone was hiding from the rain.
After nachos, it was time for ice cream helmets:
Tim couldn’t look at me and smile for that picture because they were showing a bugs bunny baseball cartoon on the jumbo screen. By the way, the price and choices of real ice cream (or soft serve) at PNC Park were outstanding. The “Pirates Buried Treasure” ice cream was ridiculously good…and Tim loved his mint chocolate chip.
As we sat in our pre-game ice cream seats (section 119), I took this panorama:
Here is the view from the concourse in LCF behind section 138:
By the way, these are the general admission seats in LF. There are a couple rows of “reserved” outfield seats in front of these seats. How about another panorama? This one is from between sections 337(left) and 336 (right):
The Pirates came back with two of their own in the fourth on an RBI triple by Lastings Milledge and a sacrifice bunt by Cedeno.
We left the LF standing room area in about the 5th inning because a drunk Pirates fan was being excessively loud (in non-family friendly language) in his pointless taunting of a Braves fan (I’m not sure the Pirates have done enough to give their fans license to taunt…anyone).
Anyway, Tim wanted to explore the spiral ramp in LF and the upper deck. So we were off.
First, we checked out legacy square where Tim posed with some stars of the old Negro League:
Anyway, if you are at PNC Park check out Legacy Square. Can see little grey terminals next to each statue? Those are little TV screens where you can run a program that will tell you about each of these men. Very cool, Pirates. Good job.
Then we were off to the upper deck. Here is a panorama from the spiral ramp:
Here’s a random shot of the batters’ eye and bullpen from the spiral ramp:
I like this shot from the top of the ramp because it shows various levels of the ballpark…
Here is a random view of the upperdeck showing the pennants for the Pirates World Series Championships…
Its a nice view from up in the upperdeck. Tim was taking it all in:
…who I personally rank as one of the most overrated players in the game. He was given a No. 1 starter contract by the Braves, but his career record is only 147-121 (with 85 career saves). Don’t get me wrong, I’d personally take a 147-121 big league career. But he’s no Randy Johnson or _________ (insert the name of any other true No. 1 pitcher).
Tim was getting super-tired by around the 6th inning, which was making him more and more excited. Eventually, he ran into a handrail (bumped his head) and that was enough upper deck for him.
On our way back to the LF spiral ramp, Tim had to show me the most “adorable baby spider” out in the concourse. Then we ducked back into the seating area to take this panorama from section 235:
After the race, I snapped this picture of thie “PIRATES” plants in the CF batters eye:
Very briefly we headed back to the standing room area in LF. That’s where we were when Jason Jaramillo grounded weakly to future hall of famer, Chipper Jones:
We decided to go to RF to watch Heyward play the field. Tim was on my shoulders as we took the pictures for this panorama:
With sleeping Tim on my shoulders and a backpack full of rain gear, sweat shirts, long sleave shirts, extra t-shirts, two huge Garret Jones action figure pictures and who knows what else, my back was about to break under the extreme weigh.
So we took off early.
We missed Billy Wagner coming into the game and tying Dennis Eckersley in the all-time list with his 390th career save.
We walked to the car and I changed Tim into some night time sleeping cloths. He was still out. Then as we drove to the freeway, Tim woke up and asked “Is the game over?” He was a little upset that we left early, but he explained “I ran out of my energy.”
So we drove back to our hotel for the night. It was a good first day and game of the weekend roadtrip. We’d be back at PNC Park the next day for another game and we were already looking forward to it (and hoping the forecasted rain would stay away).
2010 Fan Stats:
9 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
6 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Pirates, Mets, & Nationals)
16 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Braves)
5 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
5 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
4 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
If you’re read this blog before, you’ve probably noticed I am not one to skimp on detail. I like to document everything we do at the ball park.
This weekend at PNC Park was no exception. In fact, I might have out done myself.
I haven’t even started working on our two game entries. In the meantime, check out a little something Tim and I put together while BP was rained out and the game delayed Saturday night in Pittsburgh. I call it “PNC360.”
(Make sure you have it on high quality — click “480p” at the bottom right of the video window).
This version of “Take Me Out to The Ball Game” is by Brave Combo and, I think, you can purchase it here.
When I make one of those “motion” pictures, I will typically take over 100 pictures over the course of several pitches. I just hold the button down and it goes *click* *click* *click* and so on.
This results in tons of unused pictures.
Well, I started fooling around with a bunch of my unused sequence pictures the other night and this video clip is what I came up with:
Tim liked the Griffey-Ichiro sequence so much that he wanted one of his own. So, Colleen took over the camera duties as I pitched to Tim last weekend. Here is the result:
As the credits at the end of the clips note, the songs on both clips are by Seattle rap legend, Kid Sensation, who is a friend of Ken Griffey, Jr. and a former section mate of mine at the Kingdome. You can read more about him in our prior entry “Griffey & Sensation: Two Kids Combine To Make Sweet Music.” And, if you would like to own either of these song (“Back Home” or “Ichiro!”), you can so by clicking here.
That’s all for now. We’ll be back in game action this weekend with our fifth stadium of the season and our fourth Kids Run The Bases day.
I wanted to maximize our time with the Mariners so we headed down to Baltimore in time for batting practice. Unfortunately, it started raining as we neared Baltimore. As we entered the centerfield seats, we found the tarp covering the field. No batting pratice.
It was about 5:20 at the time. Because we did not have “season ticket” tickets, we were stuck in CF until 5:30. So we couldn’t go over to the third base foul line where Ichiro was running sprints in the outfield and a couple of Mariners were playing catch.
After about 2 minutes in the seats, Jesus Colome came out to centerfield to grab two baseballs that were sitting out there in the grass. There were a bunch of O’s fans in the first 2 rows of the seats and we were hanging back in about the 10th row. Colome saw us and yelled to get our attention. He then proceeded to throw one of the baseballs nowhere near us. Seriously, while looking me straight in the eye, he managed to throw the ball about 30 feet to our left and about 7 rows below us. One of the O’s fans grabbed it as it ricocheted off some seats. Colome yelled, “Sorry!” and patted himself on the chest as if to say, “my bad.”
About 2 minutes later, something incredibly cool happened. I’m going to save the complete story for later, but here is the abbreviated version.
Ryan Rowland-Smith came walking through the outfield on his way to the bullpen…
…in that picture, Tim and I were standing at the “T&T” (Tim was on my shoulders) and I noticed Rowland-Smith as he was walking at the “RRS.” The yellow line shows the route he was intending to walk to the Mariners bullpen.
Background Fact No. 2: Over the off-season, I wrote a letter to RRS to (among other things) thank him for being so kind to us in Toronto, and I included with the letter the picture my wife snapped of us with RRS.
Background Fact No. 3: I follow RRS on Twitter where it had recently been implied that he buzzed his hair. Check him out @hyphen18.
So, as he approached the OF wall, I yelled out, “Hey, Ryan, let’s see the new hair!”
He laughed and (without looking over) took off his hat to show me his buzz-cut. Then, as he went through the door in the OF gate, he looked over at me and…
I was thinking, “Wow, RRS really likes seeing Mariners fans on the road!” But as he approached, he said, “You wrote me that letter, right?”
To put it mildly, I couldn’t believe it! I wrote him a letter months earlier about an interaction in Toronto and IMMEDIATELY upon seeing us in Baltimore (totally out of context), he recognized us and came right over to chat.
Here he is standing below us…
…and, to once again put it mildly, he came over to chat about something incredibly, amazingly, ridiculously awesome. That’s what I’ll save for later. For now, I will just note that we made plans to meet up later in the season about something I asked him in my letter. Also, I must note that RRS is officially one of the most fan-friendly, coolest dudes ever to wear a major league baseball uniform…hands down.
After chatting with RRS, we waited five more minutes for the rest of the stadium to open (by which point Ichiro was gone), and then we headed over toward the Mariners dugout. And guess who we ran into…
…you got it: Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith. Although Tim looks sorta “ho-hum’ish” in this picture, its not because he wasn’t happy to get his picture with RRS. It was because he was standing on top of a wet brick wall and he was scared he was going to fall off. RRS is holding him from behind to keep him steady.
We chatted for another minute or two with RRS. And he noticed the T-Shirt I was wearing under my jersey. It was a special shirt that Griffey made for his Mariners teammates during spring training. You can read about it (and how my mom got her hands on one of them during spring training) in our entry Griffey the Prankster. I told RRS that I had my mom send to shirt to me so I could wear it to this game to see if I could manage to get my picture with Griff. However, due to the SleepGate scandal (that had just broken the day before), RRS didn’t think Griff would be out on the field at all before the game.
A few minutes later, I saw Ichiro pop out of the M’s dugout with a bat and walk over to the O’s dugout/clubhouse entrance. So we headed over to the O’s dugout and confirmed with an usher that the M’s would be taking BP in cages back by the O’s clubhouse.
We said hi to most of the guys as they headed over to take BP…
Adam Moore said hi to us too:
Here is Figgy and a coach, Sweeney and M’s PR guy Tim Hevly (they were talking about SleepGate!)…
…Don Wakamatsu said hello to us, and Ken Griffey, Jr. did too. Unfortunately, that’s the best picture I got of Griff. As he approached, he saw my T-shirt and he said something to me that I couldn’t understand…something odd like, “Oh, so that’s what’s going on here.” In response, I mentioned that he’d given the shirt to my mom at spring training and asked if we could get a picture. He responded as if it was a possibility, but said he had to go hit first. Of course, by the time he finished batting, there were 50 people standing by the dugout. By that point, we decided there was no chance Griff would stop on his way back to the M’s clubhouse so we left to get something to eat.
After our nachos, we headed over to the bullpen to watch Cliff Lee warm up. Here he is on his walk to the bullpen:
By the way, our buddy Jason Phillips is in that blurry picture and he is the guy seated closest to Tim in the picture to the right. It was nice seeing him again. We exchanged a few words several times throughout the day. Its good to have him in the M’s bullpen again this season.
We continued sitting by the bullpen during the first inning, but then it started raining again. We took refuge under cover over by where we’d eaten our nachos. And I got some pictures of Griffey batting in the third inning…
And I got some pictures of Ichiro, also batting in the third inning…
I took tons of pictures (using my wife’s camera with a sequence feature) of Cliff Lee:
We got some random defensive shots:
I had to get Tim out of the standing room area pretty quick. It was covered with huge puddles and Tim wanted to jump in every single one. I was envisioning his little toes freezing later in the game inside wet socks.
So, we headed out to the concourse and got an ice cream helmet and a hot chocolate. We grabbed some ice cream seats in section 10 down the 1B foul line:
Pictured at the back of the photo is a guy named Avi who we met before the game. In addition to going to tons of O’s games, Avi reads our blog (and writes one of his own). Thanks, Avi! It was great meeting you.
Here is the view from our ice cream seats in section 10:
Ryan Langerhans broke the scoreless tie with a lead off homerun in the fifth. Later in the inning, the M’s scored again when Chone Figgins drew a bases loaded walk.
Here is a shot of Griff hitting in the sixth inning:
From our ice cream seats, we had a great view of Ichiro in RF. In these pictures, Ichi is playing catch between innings with Franklin Gutierrez.
Here is Tim after finishing off his ice cream and hot chocolate:
He absolutely loved the hot chocolate.
As we sat in section 10, I noticed the same guy catch two foul balls straight behind home plate. I decided he should go over there. However, when we arrived behind home plate, we noticed that the ushers were essentially taking the night off. Although there were ushers all around, they were letting people stand in the aisle and sit anywhere they wanted. So, after an usher took our picture…
And when we got home, I noticed that we’d been on TV while we were sitting in the third row behind Franklin Gutierrez:
We’d been sitting in the third row, but between innings Tim would stand in the first row above the dugout…so I snapped this picture of him:
Here was the view from the first row:
Ichiro hit another single in the 9th inning…
It was raining very lightly, so Tim wore my glove has a mask/umbrella…
I mentioned already we didn’t get a third out ball. Oddly, however, we did get a second out ball! Here Tim is with his first ever game used ball (well, it is possible that one of the umpire balls he’s gotten has been game used, but we *know* this one was used in the game):
With one out in the bottom of the ninth and Brandon League pitching, Matt Wieters grounded out to Ryan Langerhans at first base. Langerhans tagged Wieters for the 26th out of the game and then threw the ball around the horn. Somehow, the around the horn attempt failed. I’m not sure what happened. I think that Figgins threw the ball in the dirt to Jose Lopez and it got wet or dirty. For whatever reason, Lopez rolled the ball into foul territory. It ultimately came to rest right in front of us.
We were the only people in the first row behind the Mariners dugout. We were wearing all Mariners gear. Tim’s a cute kid. The ball was directly in front of us. It seemed almost like we were guaranteed to get the ball. And we did. An unidentified Mariner reached over the railing/netting and grabbed the ball off of the warning track, turned around and flipped it right to me.
Maybe two minute later, the Mariners won the game by a final score of 5-1. And Ichi victoriously ran off of the soggy field after high fiving his teammates:
Our friend, MLBlogger, and Baseball Collector extraordinaire, Zack Hample, was at the game. We’d spent some time with him during pre-game and then met up again after the game. As the Mariners bullpen headed to the dugout, Jesus Colome flipped a ball to Zack and John Wetteland bestowed a second baseball on me and Tim.
Moments later, Zack’s buddy Brandon captured this photo of me, Tim, and Zack:
re-make of a picture we got moments after we met Zack in person for the first time last season — at the memorable Randy Johnson 300th win rainout “game.” After this photo, Tim and I walked to our parking garage with Zack and Brandon (on their way to their hotel).
It was a great first Mariners game of the season that included (i) a much needed Mariners win, (ii) Cliff Lee’s first win as a Mariner (and his first since the 2009 World Series), (iii) two memorable meetings with Ryan Rowland-Smith, (iv) fun interactions with several players about the Griffey prank shirt, (v) meeting up with some cool MLBloggers, and (vi) Tim’s first game-used baseball.
I already cannot wait to see the Mariners again…next month in San Diego on the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010! See you there, Mariners!
2010 Fan Stats:
8 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
5 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)
15 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)
4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
4 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
Due to Mother’s Day, we will be home both days this weekend with our special little lady. No games for Todd and Tim. Our next game action will be during the week next week when the Mariners visit Baltimore. For the time being, I figured I would share a non-game story from tonight.
One of my standing tasks at our house is getting Tim ready for and tucked into bed. We’re not big pre-bed story reading people. Tonight, however, Tim asked me to read him a story. So after a vigorous teeth brushing, Tim climbed into his bed ready for a story.
But before he could pick a book, something on his night stand caught his eye…
…it was the two baseballs we got last weekend at the Phillies/Mets game in Philadelphia.
The four most important baseballs we got last year reside on Tim’s dresser and the rest of our 2009 baseballs are on a shelf in my home office. A couple weeks ago, we had our first 11 baseballs of 2010 sitting loose on a table-top in our family room. Tim asked if we could put them in his room. While the two we got last week are on his night stand, the other 11 are now lined up across his dresser:
Our plan to read a story went out the door when Tim noticed the small “55” written inside the MLB logo on one of the baseballs on his night stand. He’d asked me to put those baseballs on his night stand and, once they were in place, he lined them up so they face his pillow.
Tonight, he asked me about the “55” and the other numbers written on some of the other balls on his dresser. What followed was a 20 minute walk down memory lane as we took several of the balls out of their cases to inspect them, played bare-handed catch from two feet apart, and discussed the games where we got the baseballs and the players who gave and/or autographed them for us.
We talked about the differences in the colors of the baseballs and how some baseballs — like our autographed Felix Hernandez baseball — look “dirty” because the players like it how it feels better in their hand that way.
We talked about our Willie Bloomquist baseball and how we got it the same night that Tim got his 30 Teams Trophy (also shown above on the night stand). Tim remembered that it was a rainy night at the ballpark that night. But he didn’t remember that was the same game at which he met Alex for the first time. Since meeting Alex in Chicago, Tim and I have run into Alex (and Joe, who Tim thinks are brothers) at Citi Field twice, including at the game in which we got the baseball to the far right on his dresser.
We talked about the numbers written inside the MLB logo and how they correspond to the order in which we caught them at Tim’s MLB games.
We talked about the ripped leather in a big scuff mark below the MLB logo on Tim’s 50th baseball and how it probably happened when the baseball was hit into the seats during BP and scraped across the pavement in the field level seating area at Nationals Park.
We talked about the umpires who have given us baseballs after games and, notably, how Tim had dropped the baseball that Bruce Dreckman gave him recently at Citi Field, and how another umpire picked it up and gave it back to Tim.
As we chatted, we tossed the various baseballs back-and-forth to each other. So many moments in life are forgotten forever. And that’s one of the reasons I love getting a baseball at a game. It gives us something tangible to hold onto and help tie us back into the memories of our days at the ballpark. Tonight, it was a great way to get ready for bed. It definitely beat reading one of Tim’s books for the 700th time.
Back in March, I did an entry of satellite images of the ball parks we plan to visit in 2010. The first four stadiums I listed in order and for the fourth game I mentioned, “Next, we’ll be sticking closer to home for a very special game at Citizens Bank Park.”
On May 1, 2010, Tim and I attended that very special game, and it turned out to be way more special that I imagined in the first place.
Let’s start with an explanation of why I said it would be special. If you look at our 2010 season goals (or our blog in general), you’ll see that we love Kids Run The Bases days. Coming into 2010, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field (2008), Camden Yards (2009), Rogers Centre (2009), Citi Field (2009-10), Miller Park (2009), and Nationals Park (2009-10).
We’ve never been able to line up a trip to Seattle that coincided with a Kids Run The Bases day. So it is understandable that Tim has not run the bases at Safeco Field.
On the other hand, our failure to run the bases at Citizens Bank Park made no sense. It is, after all, the closest MLB stadium to our house. But in 2009, each of the kids run the bases days was on a business persons special day games. I couldn’t justify taking a day off of work to go to a day game in Philadelphia. So Tim was precluded from running the Citzens Bank Park bases.
I was perplexed at why a kids run the bases promotion would be doubled up with a business persons promotion. I have a colleague whose brother is the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing & Advertising Sales. So, I asked him about this odd situation. His brother had no answer…and life went on.
Fast forward to 2:28 p.m. on January 19, 2010, I’m diligently working away at my desk when I receive an email from my colleague that simply said, “Just for you.” It was a forward, so I scrolled down and found the following message from the inner-sanctum of Phillies management: “we added a run the bases on a weekend for your friend – may 1st.”
On Friday, April 30, 2010, my colleague called to make sure we were going to the game. His brother had called to remind him that they put this on the schedule for Tim so he hoped we’d be there. Of course! While the schedule said “sponsored by Modell’s Sporting Goods,” as we drove toward Citizens Bank Park we knew this Kids Run The Bases day was really brought to the kids of Philadelphia by Tim Cook.
Thank you, Phillies, for listening to the fans!
So lets get to the actual game. We arrived early for our first ever BP at Citizens Bank Park. A guy in a golf cart met us at our car and drove us to the LF gate. He also gave Tim a little green Citizens Bank pig key chain…which Tim named “Snortle.”
Outside the LF gate, Tim got his picture with a statue of Steve Carlton…
…which by my count makes Carlton the second person with whom Tim has got his picture with the real person and his statute (the first being Michael Jack Schmidt). He also got his picture with Joe Brown’s statue in the parking lot (that was actually after the game).
With Snortle in hand, we headed into the ball park. We had three goals for BP, two of which we would achieve.
First, get our picture with my all-time favorite pitcher, Jamie Moyer. Unfortunately, Moyer was in deep center field where the seats are maybe 15 feet above the field. No way to get a picture with a player there. So we just went out and stood near him.
Right after I took this picture, Tim yelled, “Hi, Jamie Moyer!” Moyer made eye contact with us and gave Tim a nice wave with his glove. Not just a little flip. A legit “hi, how you doing” wave. Very cool.
Soon thereafter, the Phils all started running toward the dugout, which is where we should have been. We might have been able to get Moyer’s attention while at field level. Anyway, I put Tim on my shoulders and we started to make our way toward the Phils’ dugout knowing that Moyer would be long gone by the time we got there.
That is when goal number 2 sealed the deal on not achieving goal number 1. Our second goal was to get a baseball. We’d only ever got one ball in all of our games at Citizens Bank Park. We made no real effort during Phils BP. We were just watching Moyer.
Then, as the Phils started running in and we started making our way toward the RF corner, I saw a Phils player on the field yelling up into the stands. I’d later figure out it was J.C. Romero. There were people lining the first and second rows and we were in row 4. Romero was motioning “up and over” with his finger. But it looked like he was motioning toward the very back of the section. I had no clue what he was doing. But he kept doing it. Finally, I said, “US!?!?!?” He said, “Yeah!” And held up a ball. Tim and I walked up to about row 7 and J.C. Romero lobbed…
…our second baseball ever at Citizens Bank Park directly into my glove. I handed it up to Tim and the crowd was happy to see the Phils reliever find a worthy recipient for the baseball. Our first ball at Citizens Bank Park was from Rockies first base coach (and former Mariner) Glenallen Hill. And we got a ball from Jimmy Rollins in D.C. last season. But this was our first baseball from a Phillie at a Phillies home game.
Thanks, J.C. Romero!
Goal No. 1 – failed. Goal No. 2 – complete.
Third goal, get Frank Catalanotto’s autograph. That might sound like an odd goal, but there is a back story (which we’ll get to).
The Mets were stretching in front of their dugout. We ran over there. I wrote out a quick and to the point sign…
…Tim grabbed the sign and popped up onto my shoulders. Literally within 10 seconds, we were communicating with Frank Catalanotto and arranging to meet in the first row about 30 yards down the 3B line. We got over there and we chatted with Frank, he signed our sign (shown above) as I dug through my backpack, and he posed for a picture with Tim…
That, my friends, is a picture of the first pitch of the first MLB game Tim ever attended back on September 12, 2006. Frank Catalanotto, playing for the Blue Jays, was the batter and he took a called strike from the eventual winning pitcher, Gil Meche.
I told Catalanotto the whole story. He thought it was awesome and he was SUPER COOL to us. It was awesome. For a non-game-related moment, this was one of the coolest and most memorable moments I’ve experienced at a ball park.
I have to give HUGE, HUGE gratitude to my dad for having the forethought to snap this picture while we were celebrating Tim’s first game. I absolutely love that he captured this moment for Tim and I am estactic about the idea of Tim having a picture of his first MLB pitch signed by both the batter and pitcher.
Hmmm….the pitcher. Gil Meche, be on the lookout for these two Mariners fans! Hopefully we can work it out this season.
At this point, the Mets hadn’t even started hitting yet. But it was blistering hot in the seating bowl and we already accomplished all of our BP goals except the Moyer picture, which wasn’t going to happen. So we took refuge in the shade…more specifically, in the kids play area:
…in that upper left picture, see that teenager in the upper tube? That guy works for the Phillies. His job is to control the traffic going down the slide. In the bottom right picture, Tim took “my order” about 2 dozen times and pretended to hand all sorts of food items out of those little holes to me
We went back to the play area several times throughout the day.
After our first play session, we headed toward the concourse behind home plate where I wanted to visit the ticket office. On the way, we got this picture of Tim and a fake Phanatic:
We made our way down to the Phils dugout to see if Moyer was around. He wasn’t. But then Roy Halladay popped out of the dugout and made his way to the bullpen and then the OF grass just outside of the bullpens…
After watching Halladay stretch a little, we went to our seats in section 104:
In those pictures, Tim is standing in the seat directly in front of ours. By the way, although he was a little sweatball, that is water from the water fountain on his shirt. He was having some water fountain difficulties just before these pictures.
Here is the actual view from our seats — Citizens Bank Park section 104, row 14, seats 4-5:
But we started the game in one of the many standing room areas behind the 3B field level seats. We were there to get our first close-up look at “Doc” Halladay. And this is what it looked like:
Then we grabbed an ice cream helmet for Tim and a couple drinks for both of us, and headed to our seats…
Jayson Werth stood almost right in front of us in RF. Here is what our view of the three outfielders looked like from our seats:
I brought my wife’s big fancy camera that takes quick sequence shots so I could get the Halladay shots above. I brought it out again for Raul Ibanez. Although I didn’t get anything too special of Raul, the shots are funny when you look at a bunch of them together…
Although he gave up three hits in the early innings, Halladay was dealing all day:
Early on, Pelfey was matching him pitch-for-pitch. But then came the fourth inning when the Phils offense did some damage.
Chase Utley started it out with a single:
Jayson Werth then hit an RBI single that found a bit of Alex Cora’s glove. Had Cora gloved the bloop single, it probably would have been a triple play because Utley was already around 3B and Howard was just a couple feet from 2B.
With two outs in the inning and a 3-0 score, things got real interesting. Tim had done a great job sitting in the seats for 3.5 innings. So I promised we would go back to the play area right after the third out. I packed up our belongings, including my glove.
Shane Victorino then hit a a three run homerun that I came within inches of getting. Here is another panorama from pre-game:
I was in seat number 4. Seats 1-3 were empty giving me a clear path to the aisle. The homerun landed in row 13 just across the aisle from us. The crowd collectively botched catching the ball and it fell to the ground. There was a girl in the first seat and I sort of dove over her in an effort to grab the loose ball. But as my hand was reaching toward the ball, the guy in the green hat (to the far right in the picture above) reached down and grabbed the ball cleanly by his feet. As I reached for it, I knew that guy would have to bobble it on the bare hand grab for me to have a chance. It was pretty exciting, but I missed out. Who knows what would have happened if I had my glove on my hand.
After the homerun, Tim asked me, “Did you smash your head when you jumped in there?” It was pretty funny. (FYI, as I type this, Chase Utley just hit a homerun off of Johan Santana that landed in Section 104 right around our seats).
After the inning, we headed back to the play area, which was over run by kids. It was kid pandamonium. And eventually Tim came out of the play set holding one shoe in his hand. He claimed that he got in a kid traffic jam in the tubes that de-shoed him. That was enough of the play area for Tim. So we got those nachos pictured above and headed back to our seats.
While we were in the play area, Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez hit a two run triple to bring the score to 8-0 Phillies. Pelfrey was long gone. In the eigth inning, Frank Catalanotto pinch hit for the second Mets pitcher (Raul Valdez)…
The Phanatic was pumping up the crowd…
We watched the top of the 9th inning from the concourse behind the 3B dugout. When the game ended, we made our way down to the first row and we were in a good position to get a ball from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa. Well, as good as you can be without being in the diamond club. But Kulpa gave one ball to a 20-something girl in the diamond club and his line-up card to a guy standing with the girl…and then he was gone.
No problems. It had already been an extra-special day.
I took this panorama as the crowd started to clear out…
A couple Mets approached the far end of the 3B dugout and threw a couple balls into the crowd. But we were all alone at the other end of the dug out (still at the spot from which I took that last panorama).
One of the ball tossers was Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello. For some reason, after throwing two balls into the crowd on the far end of the dugout, he walked down toward us and entered the dugout just below us. At the time, he had nothing in his hands, but a catchers equipment bag over his shoulder.
We were just standing there minding our own business when Racaniello took his first step down into the dugout. Right then, he looked up and saw Tim sitting on my shoulders. He looked at us like, “Hey, I got something for you.” He stopped and dug around in his bag and pulled out…
By the way, that is Tim’s green pig “Snortle” sitting on top of the Racaniello baseball.
It was time to run the bases. We made our way to the RF gate. On the way, I took this panorama from section 142…
Kids were already circling the bases. But we had to stop by the Phillies Wall of Fame, which is blocked off during games so fans don’t heckle the relievers in the bullpen (I guess that is the reason, at least). Here are some famous Phillies from the field and booth:
Then, Tim was off to the races:
The Phillies were great because they didn’t have a mob of workers kicking you out the second your kid crossed home plate (like some teams who will remain nameless). So I had time to take this field level panorama…
Great job, Phillies!
All-in-all, it was a great day at the ballpark and Tim was fast asleep only a few miles into our drive home.
2010 Fan Stats:
7 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
4 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)
13 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)
4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
3 Player Photos (Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)