Sun-Baked PNC Park (5/23/2010)

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:

1 - PNC Parks Front Door.JPGThere was more rain in the forecast, but the rain was a no show.  Maybe it was exhausted from the long night at PNC Park the night before.  Sunday was a beautiful sunny day.

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…

2 - PNC kids day pirates smiley cookie.jpg…but we didn’t hang around outside too long because we could see that the Braves were taking BP.  We headed into the ball park after Tim got a big, free Pirate smiley face cookie.

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:

3 - Melky Snitker.JPGThere 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.

Thanks, Melky!

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.

Thanks, Coach! 

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:
4 - Tim Cook & Tommy Hanson.JPGAfter 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:

4a - PNC 1B foul3.jpgTim 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:

5 - PNC RF line 5-23-2010.jpgSee 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:

60-tommyhanson-62.JPGBefore BP ended, we headed around to the LF line to watch the Pirates pitchers warm up…

6 - pirates throwing chipper waiting.jpg…and I got a shot of Larry “Chipper” Jones on the way.

After both teams finished warming up and returned to their clubhouses, Tim and I decided to grab some nachos and check out our seats.

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:

8 - PNC section 105 row V seat 10 panorama.jpgThose seats are Section 105, Row V, Seats 9-10.

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…

9 - nachos and ice cream helmet.jpg…immediately upon finishing our nachos, Tim was ready for some ice cream.  We swung around to the 3B concourse to grab some ice cream helmets.

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…

7a - mclouth foul bomb in 1st.jpg…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:

10 - PNC section 101 panorama.jpgAn 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…

10 - milledge drilled in 2nd.jpg…in the second inning, Lastings Milledge got drilled by a fastball and it took him a few minutes to recooperate before he made his way down to 1B.

Once again, I was pulling for former Mariner Ronny Cedeno to have a big day…


11 - cedeno watching ball.jpg…he would ground out in this second inning at bat and go 1-4 on the 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:

12 - Tim and the Parrot.JPGTim 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.

13 - mccutchwhiffen on this pitch in the 4th.jpgI got lots of good and funny shots of Tim who was having a blast playing with his pierogies or just generally being a kid…

14 - head banded dude.jpg…I love the head band shots.  We saw the head band at Target in the morning before the game and Tim just had to have it.  He didn’t wear it much, but it was hilarious when he did.

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:

15 - cox pulled medlin in 6th.JPGWe had possibly the best view in the stadium of the photo finish in the pierogie race:

16 - pierogie home stretch.jpgThe results are in:  Section 101 at PNC Park is an excellent place to watch a game:

17 - watching some baseball.jpgAs for the game itself, it was an excellent one.  It was a pitchers’ dual between Kris Medlen and Zach Duke.

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):

18 - hipper jones grounds out to first in 8th.jpgHey, how about a random cute picture of Tim and a pierogie?  Sure, here you go:


19 - Tim and pierogie.JPGIn the ninth inning, we headed over to the concourse behind Section 113…

20 - PNC section 113 panorama.jpg…to see if we could figure out where the umpires would leave the field so we could go for a post-game umpire baseball.  We couldn’t figure it out.

But we did get this awesome picture of Andrew McCutchen hitting a single to CF in the bottom of the ninth…

21 - mccutchen singles in 9th.jpg…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…

22 - PNC section 125 concourse panorama.jpg…and these shots of pinch hitter Jason Heyward — he walked:

23 - heyward in 10th.jpgHere was the nice sunny view from Section 137 in LF:

24 - PNC section 137 standing room panorama.jpgWe 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:

25 - PNC section 144 panorama.jpgWe 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!!!

26 - raise the jolly roger.jpgTime to go home?  Heck, no.  It was Kids Run The Bases time!

We got in line on the River walk and Tim hung out on my shoulders and watched the boats on the river:

27 - River walk river-watching.jpgWe 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…

28 - RF warning track.JPG…Unfortunately, the distance sign is at the very top of the wall so we couldn’t get it in the picture with us.

Another standard picture, approaching the infield on the 1B warning track…

29 - approaching PNC infield.JPG…the foul territory is very narrow down the RF line so we got to actually walk in fair territory part of the way.

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…

30 - PNC Kids Run The Bases.jpg….note that in the top right picture Tim cut first base in order to pass about bunch of kids.  Hopefully the umpire wasn’t looking!

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…

31 - Tim and the Pitts P.JPG…and this panorama from behind home plate…

32 - PNC home plate field panorama.jpg

…and a father-son picture behind home plate:

34 - TJCs on PNC 3B warning track.JPG

Now check this out, I snapped a picture of the Pirates’ dugout…

33 - pirates dugout scouting report.jpg…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.

How about another picture as we made our way down the 3B line?  Why not:

35 - Tim on PNC 3B warning track.JPGWhat a beautiful day and a beautiful setting.  Can you blame me for taking so many pictures of this great scene?

As we made our way to the far exit at the LF “corner spot, Tim inspected the dirt on the warning track:

36 - Tim PNC dirt inspector.jpgOn our way out of the seating bowl, we snapped this panorama from the cross aisle behind Section 129:

37 - PNC section 129 cross aisle panorama.jpgAnd this one from the concourse behind Section 132:

38 - PNC section 132 concourse panorama.jpgThen we said good-bye to PNC Park.  It was a great weekend at the ballpark.

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:

39 - heading home.jpgThe 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:

7 Games

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) 

8 Comments

Very impressive Todd. It was cool to see and your boy on the front page too. You both know how to do a stadium right. Your entries are easy to follow, pictures are great and it’s not hard to tell that baseball for you is about your family. I respect and admire that. Keep up the great work brotha…D
http://baseballsnatcher.mlblogs.com/

Keep the great entries coming! Loving PNC Park cant wait go be there! looks like you and Tim are having loads of fun being at the games :)

-James
http://gatheringbaseballs.mlblogs.com/

As a Mariners fan, I know that it is a bittersweet day for you, Todd. One of the greatest ever, Ken Griffey, Jr., has retired. I’m also writing this as I’m watching Armando Galarraga dealing. He’s perfect thru 8 and could provide us with history: First season in MLB History with 3 perfect games – 2 in 5 days.

D-
Thanks, man. You do a darn fine job, yourself.

JAMES-
Thanks. Definitely check out PNC Park soon. Loads of fun, always!

WLARUSSO-
I think it was just bitter, actually. I wanted Griffey to play forever. The only sweetness comes in all of the great articles and video clips coming out over the last 24 hours analyzing his greatness. Wow – the Gallaraga game was crazy. Pretty unbelievable — not that a call was blown, that happens every day, just the circumstances and implications of the wrong call.

Todd:
I’ve been reading for a while but it’s my first time commenting. Anyways, I just started doing panoramas with my new camera, and I can’t quite get the format down to put them up here. What do you set the thumbnail at to get it all in to the entry?
Thanks!
Wiley Koehler
http://baseballtraveler.mlblogs.com

Hey — I check in with your blog all the time — it’s awesome!

I have a three-year-old daughter who is a big fan of Safeco and the Mariners — we take a trip at least once a year from Idaho. We caught a Kids Run the Bases game last August (after a Royals game — Greinke vs. RRS — RRS did great), and we will be there for the July 11 game to run the bases again. Tip: if you’ve got a stroller (I know, Tim is pretty big, but maybe you know someone to take with you to the game who has a younger kid), the field staff will, after you’ve run the bases, direct you to take your stroller out through the hallway that runs past the visitor’s locker room (instead of having you leave the field by walking back into the stands). Very cool — we saw all the old Mariners who are with KC now, as they came out after showering.

Anyway — I actually decided to comment because I thought you would want to know that Ryan Doumit is also a Washington native — from Moses Lake.

WILEY-
Sorry for the long delay in responding. I’ve been mighty busy lately. I set almost all of my pictures at 550 width.

IDAHOMARINER-
Ah, man, I want Tim to run the bases at Safeco Field. But we just haven’t been able to schedule a trip that coincides with it. Maybe next season. Thanks for the tip about the stroller. Also, very cool to hear that about Doumit I didn’t know that. That’s great the Moses Lake is represented in MLB! I’ll be sure to cheer him a little extra next time we see the Pirates play.

Im glad that I could provide some entertainment for your family while you were at Camden Yards. I thought it was really funny that a friend came acrost your blog and informed me a picture of my friend in I were in it!(the game over picture)

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