Rain-Soaked PNC Park (5/22/2010)

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… 

1 - driving to PNC.jpgA couple notes about those pictures:

  1. 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).
  2. 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!
  3. 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…

2 - clemente stargell.jpg…and the Roberto Clemente Bridge just behind the Clemente statue.  I love all of the gold bridges crossing the river from downtown Pittsburgh to the North Shore.

When we arrived, the River walk was open…

3 - PNC Park Riverwalk.JPG…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:

4 - PNC section 18-17 panorama.jpgThere were three Braves playing catch down the 1B line.  Nothing else was going on in the stadium, so we headed over to watch them.  One of the three Braves was Takashi Saito…

5 - Takashi Saito.jpg…with whom we would soon have a nice interaction.  We’ll get to that soon.  First, Saito finished up playing catch and returned to the dugout.

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…

6 - Billy Wagner.jpg…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…

billy wagner ticket autograph.JPG…Billy headed to RF to play catch.

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…

7 - wagner ball autograph.JPG…and the final signed baseball (in the cube in which it now resides on Tim’s dresser).

Hey, it was time to play some catch outselves!

8 - PNC catch.JPGNone of the ushers said a word to us as we played catch in the field level seats.  Cool.

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:

9 - PNC section 13-12 panorama.jpgNote how the Pirates put a Braves logo on the visitors’ dugout.  Very thoughtful of the Pirates.

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:

9a - PNC section 333 row 1 panorama.jpgMy 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:

10 - Pittsburgh Baseball Club.JPGAfter 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…

11 - garrett jones figure.jpg…he named his Jones action figure “Ichiro.”  Ah, Tim is a good Mariners fan.  Tim was still playing with “Ichiro” when we made it all the way around to the LF foul pole to finish up our PNC360 tour.

More rain…

Hour an a half rain delay…

Check out the concourse as we went to get nachos…

12 - busy rain delay concourse.JPG

Everyone was hiding from the rain.

After nachos, it was time for ice cream helmets:

13 - pirates ice cream and cartoon.JPGTim 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:

14 - PNC section 119 panorama.jpgAnd this one, which is simply zoomed in more:

15 - PNC section 119 panorama 2.jpgAfter ice cream, it was time for some more exploring.

Here is the view from the concourse in LCF behind section 138:

16 - PNC section 138 concourse panorama.jpgHey, look, its Tim in section 339…

17 - Tim at PNC section 339.JPG….and here is a panorama from roughly the same spot in section 339:

18 - PNC section 339 back row panorama.jpgBy 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):

19 - PNC sections 337-336 panorama.jpgHere is a panorama from the concourse behind section 137 as the grounds crew is in the process of removing the tarp:

19a - PNC section 137 panorama.jpgIt was still pre-game.  Due to the rain delay, the game was going to start at 8:35 p.m. (twelve hours after we left home).  Eventually, we asked an ushed to take our picture in the LF concourse:

20 - TJCs in PNC LF.JPGWhen we spotted Jason Heyward warming up in RF, we headed over there:

21 - watching warmups.JPGAnd Tim held up this home made sign that Heyward never saw:

22 - stretching heyward.jpgEventually, the game started and Heyward hit a single in the first inning:

23 - heyward about to INF single.JPGSoon we headed over to LF and got this random picture on the walk over there:

24 - 406 wall.JPGWe watched most of the game from the standing area behind the LF reserve seating:

25 - staking out his ground.JPGThe ushers let Tim have free reign in the handicapped seating area behind section 137:

26 - running laps.JPGThis was our view of the Pitts M&M’s…

27 - McCutchen Milledge.JPG…and former short-time Mariner, Ronny Cedeno:

28 - cedeno the pirate.JPGThe Braves took the early lead in the second on a lead-off HR by Melky Cabera and an RBI ground out by Chipper Jones.  Then they tacked on another run in the third on a homerun by Eric Hinske.

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:

29 - legacy square statues.jpgGoing clockwise from the upper right:  “Judy” Johnson, “Cool Papa” Bell, Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, “Buck” Leonard, and…oh, no, Judy Johnson again!  Oops.

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:

31 - PNC RF ramp panorama.jpg

Here’s a random shot of the batters’ eye and bullpen from the spiral ramp:

32 - bullpens at PNC.JPG

I like this shot from the top of the ramp because it shows various levels of the ballpark…

30 -PNC levels.JPG…the spiral ramp, the infield seats, and the left field reserve seating.

Here is a panorama from section 317 behind home plate..

33 - PNC section 317 panorama.jpg…I wish I got that shot on a sunny day.  Its a majestic view of the ballpark and city from this vantage point.

Here is a random view of the upperdeck showing the pennants for the Pirates World Series Championships… 

34a - PNC upperdeck.JPG…none of those titles came during the current 17-year losing season streak…obviously.

Its a nice view from up in the upperdeck.  Tim was taking it all in:

34 - high above PNC.JPGThe Braves were throwing Derek Lowe…

35 - loweverrated.JPG…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:

36 - PNC section 325 panorama.jpgAbout  two minutes later, the Pierogies were racing!

36a - perogy race.jpgTim loves (to eat) pierogies so he was happy to see the Pierogies race.

After the race, I snapped this picture of thie “PIRATES” plants in the CF batters eye:

37 - Pirates batters eye bushes.JPGAs we wound back toward LF, we stopped to watch Nate “Former Pirate” McLouth…

37 - Nate McWhiff.JPG….whiff big time at this pitch for strike three in the sixth inning.

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:

38 - grounder to chipper jones.jpgBy the seventh inning, it was 10:30 (or later), and Tim was teetering on the brink of falling asleep after a big exciting day.

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:

38a - PNC CF ramp behind bullpen panorama.jpgBy the time we made it over to Heyward…

39 - heyward in RF.JPG…Tim was out like a light.

40 - TJC crashes late in game.JPGWith 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:

6 Games

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)

 

12 Comments

Great entry T! I’m really loving your latest panorama phase. I wish I had the camera/talent to do that at the BiA. I think I could get some great shots. Man, you guys are having some great player interactions this season! Wagner seemed pleasantly happy to interact with Tim. What a guy! With all of the walking you do at the ballpark each game it’s no surprise Tim “ran out of his energy”! Sarah’s 11 and she has a hard time staying awake at the games that we make a full day of. Kids wear out faster I guess.
Awesome stuff, can’t wait to read about Sunday’s game with the KRTB!
Brian
http://txbaseballfan.mlblogs.com

BTW — I love Tim’s sign for Heyward! It’s too bad he didn’t at least get a head nod or something. Maybe next time!

Hey.
You must grab this Heyward sign on your next Braves game.It’s awesome.PNC is my fav. park and I would really love to go there so I was happy that I could read about it from you guys. :) Wagners sounds like a great guy.

From Pierogies homeland known as Poland-
Rase

Great game Todd and Tim! Congrats on being featured on Mlblogs, you definately deserved it. Can’t wait to hear about day 2. Joe

my dad and little brother were at this game. i told em to keep an eye out for a guy and his son dressed in mariners gear! doubt they saw you tho. actually a nice crowd (by Pittsburgh standards) at all 3 games this weekend. im glad you were able to stay for sundays game. you saw a gem! love a good walk off. thank you for all the kind words you always have for Pittsburgh and PNC Park. while those bleacher seats are only 9 bucks i try to avoid them. the drunk fan you guys ran into is just one of many who know nothing about baseball and ruin a fun night for everyone.

i sent my dad this entry because i want him to know how great a dad you and him really are. ive said it before but you really are special to be sharing these precious memories with your son. if i can be half the dad you are to tim and how my dad is to be, ill turn out alright!
http://pittpeas.mlblogs.com

You must be the coolest Dad ever. Will you adopt me? LOL Seriously, great blog…and your son is a cutie!

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

Congrats on being featured! You have some wonderful pictures here! Love the entry! I love Saito-san. Tim is adorable.
Emma
http://crzblue.mlblogs.com

Todd and Tm, I’ve been reading your blog for years, but this is my first time commenting. Reading your blog truly brings a smile to my face. Documenting the games is an amazing way to keep the amazing memories going. Hope to run into u guys at a Nats game!

Todd,

Its amazing about the weird things that happen at baseball games. ( regarding Wagner throwing you that baseball ) Ive had many strange things happen to me as well, and its simply mind blowing. But its so much fun!

Keep up the great work!

Much respect,

Wayne

ahh you guys had a blast i bet! Well you’re certainly living my dream that’s for sure! What a dream it is indeed. I’m glad that Billy Wagner was so nice to you guys. It’s really sweet of him to give you that ball and weird as well haha.

We’re facing each other this weekend! Good win today but we’ll see about tomorrow and the next day ;)

http://mimi.mlblogs.com

Todd,
Another wonderful document of father-son baseball memories!! I love these clear and vivid photos (I’m impressed you are using a Canon camera)!
Also, a huge thanks for the link to my Ichiro blog. I never imagined I would continue it this long and see it linked to the sidebar of any other MLBlog. I hope you and Tim will have a happy encounter with my Ichiro-san somewhere, hopefully in this season.

BRIAN-
Thanks. Glad you like the panoramas. I bet you could do ‘em too. We are having some great player interactions. Its fun and all of the ballplayers we have met have been really cool. Luckily, Tim’s energy got all recharged over night for the Sunday game. As for the Heyward sign, I think we were inhibited by a bunch of drunk autograph seekers standing nearby. They were trying to get Heyward’s attention and then they saw the sign and kept yelling at him that “THIS BOY MADE YOU THIS SIGN! COME SIGN MY BALL! COME SEE THIS BOY’S SIGN!” It was ridiculous. Some of the other players saw the sign and gave us smiles, but Heyward never turned around. You could almost tell he was trying not to turn around because of these guys. I don’t blame him.

RASE-
PNC Park is great. You’ll love it if you ever get here to visit. Thanks for inventing pierogies! We love ‘em!

JOE-
Thanks. Your comment was how we found about that we were featured. That was pretty cool to go to the main page and see us there.

MATT-
If they saw us, they didn’t say hi. But you are right, it was a really good crowd both days we were there. For a big baseball fan, sharing the game with your son is an incredibly natural thing. I have no doubt you’ll have lots of similar experiences when you have kids.

JENN-
Thanks. I’ll have to run the adoption ideas passed my wife. ;-) Hey, how about that HALLADY PERFECTO!? Wow!

EMMA-
Thanks. Thanks. And thanks. Saito seemed to be very nice. Two thumbs up for him.

JASSER20740-
Thanks for the kind words. I’m not sure if we’ll be back at Nationals Park this season or not. But if we are, it will be on September 12th for Tim’s MLB Anniversary. Its between Nationals Park and Citi Field.

WAYNE-
Yep. I think the key to fun player interactions is going really early. Some people get mad when players don’t take time to sign autographs right before the game. But they are at work and in game mode by that time. Early in BP they’re much more likely to do something weird and cool, like Wagner did at this game.

MIMI-
Thanks. We’re trying our best to live the dream! So, we have a good series going in Anaheim. So sorry to hear about Morales. That was crazy.

NAO-
Thanks. And no problem regarding the link. I’ve linked the blogs I read the most. And I always enjoy checking in to see what you have to say about the M’s and Ichiro. Keep it up. And if we do have an Ichi-encounter, you’ll be among the first to know. I really appreciate your tutoring for our Ichi-quest.

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