Welcome To The Great White North (6/26/10)

On Saturday, June 26, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and drove from our home in Pennsylvania to the Canadian Colony of Citizens Bank Park to see the hometown Toronto Blue Jays take on the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.

Due to the G20 Summit being held in the Blue Jays’ customary hometown, the Jays moved this game to their newly conquered southern colony, which is actually situated in the American city of Philadelphia.

This would be our final game of the first half of the 2010 season.  We arrived early for BP in hopes of catching at least one baseball to complete a perfect first half of the season.  When we rolled into the stadium, a situation was brewing that was ideal for our chances at accomplishing a much bigger goal than getting a baseball at this game.  But we’ll get there soon enough.

We entered the stadium through the LF gate and made our way over to section 141 in LF.  This was our view at the beginning of BP:

1 - citz section 141 panorama.jpg
The home team Blue Jays were batting.  The rest of the stadium wasn’t open yet.  The outfield isn’t our strong suit for BP because I don’t like Tim to be exposed to homerun balls wizzing by his head left and right.  Since we were confined to the OF, we hung out near the foul pole where the action was limited.

Tim was feeling like a real big kid because he was sporting the Mariners backpack…

2 - IMG_7956.JPG
…that he got for Christmas from his Uncle Jason and Aunt Alison.

Nothing came too close to us during the beginning of BP.  A few balls were hit into the next section over, but we stayed put and didn’t make any effort to run around for HR balls.

Shortly before the rest of the stadium opened, the ideal situation started to unfold.  The visiting Phillies pitching corps headed out to RF to do some stretching, running and throwing.  Back when this was the Phillies home field, this stretching, running and throwing routine would occur earlier in the day when the rest of the stadium was closed to the fans.  You could only watch from all the way across in LF.

But things had changed in the colony of Citizens Bank Park since the Canadians invaded.  Within minutes of the Phillies pitchers arriving in RF, the yellow-plastic covered chain was lifted and the fans were allowed into the infield and RF portions of the ballpark.

We hurried over to RF.

W
en we arrived along the RF line, my favorite pitcher of all-time, Jamie Moyer, was sitting on the ground (next to Roy Halladay, who isn’t too shabby himself) stretching a mere 10-15 feet from us:

3 - Moyer and Halladay stretching.JPG
In that top right photo, Halladay is looking directly at us.  I imagine he was thinking, “Why is this guy taking a picture of me stretching?”  But the joke was on him, I was focused on the MAN, Mr. Moyer.

As he was stretching, Tim and I said, “Hi, Jamie!”

No reaction from Moyer.

Then, all of a sudden, Moyer stood up and walked directly, and I mean D-I-R-E-C-T-L-Y, to me.  I was confused.  Was my favorite pitcher ever coming over to say “hello”?

At the last second before reaching us, Moyer bent down to grab something off of the ground.  I looked down over the wall.  Directly below us was a baseball glove that was spread wide open and it was holding about 10 baseballs.  As Moyer grabbed a baseball, I asked, “Jamie, is there any way we could get our picture with you when you’re done throwing?”  (On our pre-season list of 20 goals for 2010, a picture with Jamie Moyer was goal number 14).

No reaction whatsoever from Moyer.

For half a second, I was a little dissappointed.  I had hoped Jamie would have at least acknolwedged us.  But then I thought about the man he is.  First, it is well-documented that he is one of nicest and most generous guys around — for example, see The Moyer Foundation.  Second, he is able to continue performing at the Major League level at age 47 because he sticks to a training regimine that keeps him in game condition.  So, while I wished my favorite pitcher of all-time could have given us a nod or a quick “hello,” I figured he probably has some hard and set self-imposed policies that he needs to focus on his work during his workout routine and not get distracted by the fans.

Immediately after grabbing a ball from the glove below us, Moyer ran out to shallow RF and started playing catch with Halladay:

4 - Moyer and Halladay tossing.JPG
As I looked around, I noticed a familiar face…

5 - Mike Zagurski.JPG
…Mike Zagurski.  With this BP appearance, Zagurski took the honor of being the first person to ever personally heckle me (and my entire team during an adult recreational softball league game) and then appear on field as a major leaguer during BP.

The heckling came last year while my company softball team was playing the Reading Phillies front office.  The game took place during the AA all-star game and Zagurski had a couple days off.  He chose to spend some of that time watching some softball.  Zagurski and another AA Reading Phillies player heckled our team mercilessly for seven innings.  The best part was their persistent taunting of my then 47-year old opposite-field slap-hitting colleague by referring to him as “Ichiro.”  I was, in fact, quite happy with the Ichiro reference.

Anyway, Zagurski has once again been called up to the big club and this was the first time we’d ever seen him in Philadelphia.

But our focus was Jamie Moyer.  Well, my focus was on Moyer.  Tim focused a little bit on the sun beating down on us.  He asked to leave the field to get out of the sun.  We compromised by having me stand over him and shade him with my body and my large glove over his head.  Before striking the compromise, an usher came up and gave Tim a little plastic Phillies Phanatic figurine, which Tim really liked.

As part of the compromise, we agreed we would relocate to the shade right after Moyer and Halladay finished their throwing.

Roy and Jamie took turns pitching to each other: 

6 - Moyer the flame thrower Halladay the receiver.JPG
Without even discussing it, they both all of sudden knew their routine was complete.  Halladay all of a sudden ran off to the Phillies dugout.  Moyer turned around and threw their warm up ball to “the bucket.” (I guess they had put the Phils bucket out by this time).

I was all set to tell Tim we could head toward the shade when Moyer tossed his ball to the bucket.  I figured Jamie would follow Halladay to the dugout.

I figured wrong.

Instead, he turned around and jogged directly back toward us.  As he coasted into the wall, Moyer asked “So you guys want to get a picture?”

I could not believe it!

How cool is that?!

I was incredibly happy, and a bit flustered.  I reached into my pocket and grabbed my camera.  As I pulled it out, I popped the battery pack and had to put it back together.  I asked a lady if she could take the picture.  She agreed. 

She couldn’t figure out my camera (which is incredibly easy).  It felt like I was wasting tons of Jamie’s time.  I tried to explain it to the lady.

Meanwhile, Jamie quietly chatted with Tim.  He playfully tapped Tim on the top of his hat and asked him if he was from Seattle and if he was a big Mariners fan.

I was very happy to learn that the lady got a shot of Tim and Jamie chatting:

7 - chatting with Moyer.JPG
Finally, she was ready to take our picture…

8 - TJCs and Jamie Moyer1.JPG
…but it didn’t seem like she’d really taken it.  I was wrong, but I just didn’t want to miss this opportunity.  I asked her to try again.  Jamie was super cool.  He just waited and chatted with Tim.

She took another picture…

9 - TJCs and Jamie Moyer2.JPG
…and I could tell she’d successfully got the picture.

I told Jamie how much I appreciated everything he did for the Mariners.  He held out his hand to shake mine.

Did I mention Jamie Moyer is awesome?

As Jamie and I started turning away from each other, several other fans pounced, “Jamie, can you sign this ball, picture, hat, etc., etc.?”

Jamie turned around and ran into the outfield to shag baseballs during the Phils BP, and he was gone.  His trip to the foul line wall was exclusively to meet, greet and pose for pictures with us.

This guy is awesome!

A big, huge THANK YOU, Jamie Moyer!!!

After parting ways with Moyer, we headed to RF so Tim could hang out in the shady back row.   I stood in the row right in front of Tim.  I was hoping I could catch a deep drive.

This was our view from section 105:

10 - citz section 105 panorama.jpg
The guy in the white shirt who is cut in half toward the right side of that picture was the only thing that stood in front of me and my first clean catch BP homerun of the season.  A ball came right to him.  I jumped a row to stand right behind him.  If he wasn’t there, I had it easy.  But I didn’t interfere with him and he made a nice two-handed, bare-handed catch in front of his kids.  Nice job, sir.

Soon, we saw Zagurski all the way across the field in deep LF.  We decided to head over there.  I was thinking it would be pretty cool if we could get a baseball from a guy who had heckled me during a softball game.

Here was our view in foul territory in section 140:

11 - citz section 140 panorama.jpg
…Zagurski and (I think) J. Happ, were standing down there just chatting about pitching:

12 - the softball heckler.JPG
Unfortunately, a Zagurski baseball wasn’t in the cards on this day.

Tim kept entertained by inspecting the foul pole:

13 - checking out the foul pole.JPG
He looked that pole up and down and did some knocking on it.

After Tim finished his foul pole inspection, we were hanging out in the first row in foul territory.  The shade had reached all the way down to the first row, so it was perfect.  All of a sudden a Phillies batter hit a long foul looping line drive toward us.

It was a few rows in front of us and 2-3 seats into the section to our right (section 139).

I did a little diagram to illustrate the crazy path the ball took from the bat to my glove:

14 - crazy hops.JPG
We started in the first row of section 140 at the “T&T.”  I ran across the aisle and into a row of seats.  I took this picture about 10 minutes later.  I don’t think those two people (who I have X’d out) were sitting in those seats (then again maybe they were), but a couple people were sitting in my path.  I couldn’t get to the spot where the ball would land.

I decided to pull up short and hope that it would take a crazy hop toward me, which seemed illogical (in my head it seemed like it would actually hit the seats and bounce back onto the field).  Anyway, it took the crazy jump that we needed it to take.  It bounced all the way over me.

I ran back to the “2” when the ball took a second crazy bounce.  It jumped off the stairs and zig-zagged to the seats in section 139.  It then bounced over me again.  I went up to the “3.”  The ball clanked off of some seats where people were sitting.  I was sure they would grab the baseball, but no one even made an effort for the ball.

As I swiped at the ball with my glove, it kicked off the seats and headed back over to section 139.  Finally, I grabbed it on yet another bounce at the “4.”

I handed the ball to Tim and a couple people cheered him for getting a baseball.

Tim proudly posed with his baseball and his Tuxedoed Phanatic:

15 - crazy hops ball and tuxedo phanatic.JPG
About 1 minute after I finally grabbed the crazy bouncing ball, the Phillies retreated to the club house and the grounds crew broke down the BP equipment:

16 - good-bye canadian BP.JPG
The crazy boucing ball was the first ball hit anywhere near us in section 140 and it came just in time.

Still flying high on the joy of our Jamie Moyer encounter (and the “icing on the cake” baseball), we headed to the kids play area so Tim could do some pre-game playing.

As usual, on our way over there, the Citizens Bank Park emergency response team…

17 - concourse emergency response.JPG
…was cruising through the concourse down the 1B line with its lights and siren blaring.

After some time in the play area, we started to make our way to our seats.  On the way, we stopped at the speed pitch.  Tim lit up the radar gun…

18 - 20 mph gas.JPG
…with 20 and 21 mph smoking fastballs.  We’ve never even noticed this speed pitch in RF.  It was great.

I took three throws as well including two strikes into the glove of the fake catcher.  I think my fastest pitch was a firey (actually pathetic) 56 miles per hour.  Later, my wife would make fun of me for pitching so slowly.

After pitching, we headed to our seats in section 145, row 10, seats 1-2.

We were joined by my friend Greg and his date, both of whom I failed to take a decent picture.  Despite the lack of photo evidence, they were great seat mates.  Tim had a blast with both of them.

As we reached our seats, the Phanatic was pumping up the crowd in CF:

19 - Phanatic whips crowd into a frenzy.JPG
At the last minute before the game started, Tim and I decided we needed nachos.  This required us to walk around the entire field level concourse.  As we passed by the bullpens in RCF, Jimmy Rollins stepped into the batters’ box to get the action going in the top of the first…


20 - J-Roll Steps In to Lead off game in top of 1st 6-26-10.JPG
…he was facing Shaun Marcum.

We had never sat in LF before at Citizens Bank Park.  I’m not sure why, but they always have ushers checking tickets for people to get into the LF seats.  So we had never even been in the LF seats before other than a couple times passing through during BP.

Behind the LF seats is a restaurant (I guess that’s what you would call it) called Harry the K’s.  Hanging above the Harry the K’s seating area, there are three big paintings that I had never seen before.  I think I have these in the right order.  Closest to the LF foul line, there is this painting of the old-time Phils from the dugout…

21 - from the dugout painting Harry the K's.JPG
 
…looking out over Connie Mack Stadium a/k/a Shibe Park, the Phillies home from 1927-1970.

In the middle is this picture of a Phillies batter rounding first base…

22 - rounding first painting Harry the K's.JPG
…at Citizens Bank Park, which before this series had been the Phillies home ballpark from 2004 through 2010.

Finally, closest to LCF is this painting from the cheap seats…

23 - from upper deck painting Harry the K's.JPG
…looking down on Veterans’ Stadium, the Phillies home from 1971 through 2003.

Finally, we got to our seats.  This was our view of the closest player, Phillies left fielder and former Mariner Raul Ibanez…

24 - view of Rauuuuuul Ibanez 6-26-10.JPG
…and looking toward CF, here was our view of Shane “The Flying Hawaiian” Victorino:

25 - view of Shane Victorino 6-26-10.JPG
And here was our view of the entire stadium from section 145, row 10, seat 1:

26 - citz section 145 row 10 seat 1.jpg
On Cole Hamel’s fourth pitch to the second batter in the home half of the second inning, Blue Jays catcher John Buck got the scoring going with a 2-run homerun right down the LF line.  This would be a Blue Jays trend for the day.

Trailing 2-0 in the top of the third inning, Ryan Howard grounded out weakly…

27 - Ryan Howard grounds to 2B in top of 3rd 6-26-10.JPG
…to second base.

In the third inning, Jays’ slugger Adam Lind duplicated Buck’s blast.  After Lind deposited his own homerun in the seats down the LF line, the Jays lead 3-0.

The visiting Phillies went all out on the entertainment front.  They brought their mascot, the Phanatic on the roadtrip (as previously noted above).  Between innings at one point, the Phanatic and a muscle man tried unsuccessfully to lift a big huge weight.  Finally, this strong little boy showed them how it is done:

28 - the strong kid.JPG
It was almost time for the visiting Phillies to get in on the scoring.  But first, the Jays needed to hit another homerun right down the LF foul line.  Their third such homerun of the day came off of the bat of Alex Gonzalez in the bottom of the fourth inning and it scored both Gonzalez and Fred Lewis.

Things were looking good for the hometown Blue Jays.  They had a comfortable 5-0 lead going into the top of the sixth inning.

That is when visiting Ryan Howard launched a homerun into the batters’ eye in deep CF.  Here is Howard rounding third…

29 - Ryan Howard scores on HR in top of 6th 6-26-10.JPG
…and scoring the only Phillies run of the day (and the final run of the game).

 As we sat in our LCF seats in section 145, I had time to look around and see the sights.  We weren’t far from Ashburn Alley, but I had never noticed the little directional arrows on the Ashburn Alley street sign…

30 - Ashburn Alley sign.JPG
…a .308 career average to the left and 2,574 career hits to the right.  Those are the key numbers that (after never earning more than 41.7% of the writers’ vote in 15 years on the ballot) earned Richie Ashburn a spot in Cooperstown via the 1995 Veterans’ Committee vote.

Late in the game, the Canadian government sent down some of their Royal Canadian Mounted Police (a/k/a Mounties) to watch closely over the visiting Phanatic as he danced on top of the visitors’ dugout…

31 - The Mounties and the Phanatic.JPG
…one inappropriate gyration and the Mounties no doubt would have hauled the Phanatic off in cuffs.

Late in the game, I noticed “The Heckler” warming up in the visitors bullpen:

32 - Zagurski warms in bullpen 6-26-10.JPG
Soon, Zagurski became the first person to personally heckle me at a recreational league softball game…

33 - Mike Zagurski 6-26-10.JPG
…and then go on to appear in a MLB game at which Tim and I were in attendance.  The Heckler pitched one scoreless inning.

The Phillies could not mount a comeback and fell to the Blue Jays 5-1.

After the game ended, someone took a shot of Tim and me at the front of section 145:
34 - TJCs in section 145 6-26-10.JPG
And to cap off the great day at the ballpark, we headed over to the LF line and Tim got his picture…

35 - Brittany the rookie ballgirl.JPG
…with rookie ballgirl, Brittany, who was “playing” in just her second game since being called up to the Show.  Like Bridgette the week before, Brittany also gave Tim an autographed baseball card.

So
it was a great day highlighted by our brief time with Jamie Moyer.  I’m still super excited about getting to meet, shake hands, chat, and get a picture with my favorite pitcher of all-time and the most winningest pitcher in Mariners history.

Thanks, again, Jamie Moyer!!!

Due to the impending birth of Tim’s new little brother, Kellan, this would be our last game for almost a month (this is also why I am wearing a bluetooth device in my ear in all of these pictures — so I wouldn’t miss the call if Colleen called during the game).  It was a great way to finish off the first half.  Hopefully the second half will be as much fun as the first half.

2010 Fan Stats:

17 Games

16 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)

14 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)

36 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays,

36 - phanatic phils bp ball.jpg
5 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 1 Twins)

10 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park)

12 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

8 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)

4 Comments

Brittany huh? Next time you see her be sure to put in a good word for your friend in Pittsburgh. A lot of red in the stands for this being a home game for the Blue Jays. I figured that would be the case. Funny about Zagurski. when th ephils wer ein pittsburgh everybody was raving about the guy.
http://pittpeas.mlblogs.com

Hi, Todd! I love the photo of Jamie Moyer and Tim chatting so intimately across an incredibly low guard fence (regretfully, this is impossible in most Japanese ballparks)! Best regards to Ichiro in Reading from a Japanese Ichiro fan!

MATT-
Yeah, I’ll def. put in the good word for you with Brittany next time we’re at Citz Bank Park. ;-)

NAO-
I love that photo too!

Great post and some wonderful pictures. Too often people here about how players didn’t do this or didn’t do that, it’s really nice to read about Moyer taking the time to take a picture with you guys.
I heard Jamie do an interview in the off season about how much he was looking forward to this season. He sounded like a rookie just happy to make the ball club. I wish every player could have that attitude.
http://wrigleyregular.mlblogs.com/

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