August 2010

Camden Yards: Infield, Outfield & All Around

Since Kellan’s birth in mid-July, our family has been crazy busy.  Tim and I only went to one game in July.  But we had big plans for August.

It all started on August 8, 2010, when Tim and I hopped in our trusty Prius and headed down to Camden Yards to see the Orioles take on the Chicago White Sox.

We had one major goal for the day:  get Tim’s picture with former Mariners ace Freddy Garcia.  I loved Freddy as a Mariner, and I thought it would be great to meet him.  And what better place than at Camden Yards?  I don’t know if there is another stadium where the players are as accessible as they are in Baltimore.

One problem, we didn’t have “season tickets” that would allow us to get into the main part of the stadium half an hour early.  And our man with the season tickets hook-up, Camden Yards regular Avi Miller, was home ill.

So, we hung out in the shady seats in RCF for the first half hour…

1 - hanging in the shade.JPG…it really didn’t matter too much though.  There was no batting practice and almost no one was on the field.  One Oriole was running in deep RF, and he gave Tim a wave a said “hi” as he ran by at one point.  A little later, a couple White Sox came out to play catch in shallow LF.  I used my camera to zoom in on them, and Freddy was not among them.

When the stadium finally opened, we headed over to the 3B line to watch the remaining White Sox play catch.  I did not recognize any of them…

2 - Erick Threets.JPG…but I noticed that one of them had “68” written on the heal of his spikes.

Eventually, Mr. 68 headed back toward the dugout.  He tossed a baseball to a kid in a White Sox shirt and another to a kid in a Mariners hat…

3 - Thanks Erick.JPG…when we got home, I discovered that Mr. 68 has a name:  Erick Threets.

Thanks, Erick!

There was NOTHING happening on the field.

We headed over to LF for no apparent reason.  While over there, we ended up getting a special picture — with Babe Ruth — for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.  Then we got a picture of the two of us in the cross-aisle…

4 - LF corner.JPG…Tim looked kind of bored, huh?  Yep.  So it was time for the play area:

5 - play area 8-8-10.JPGWe hung out over there for a while, but then I had an idea.  There is something special that the O’s do before pretty much every game.  The O’s Bird heads out to LF and plays a little whiffleball with kids he pulls out of the crowd.  He does all sorts of funny stuff, like throwing a base when the kids are running the bases.

Its been my goal all season to get Tim involved, but it hasn’t happened.  In the car ride on the way down, I asked Tim if he’d like to try to play whiffle ball with the Bird. I had to prep him for the possiblity because he takes his base running seriously.  I feared that he would get upset if he didn’t understand that the Bird likes to do things such as throw the bases while a kid is running the bases.  It was good that I prepped him, because he didn’t understand why the Bird would do that.  I told him it was just to be funny and play a joke on the kids.  Tim liked that and he was excited to try to get in on the whiffleball.

When I remembered it, I asked Tim if he still wanted to try to play whiffleball with the Bird.  He did.  So I suggested we head back into the stadium.  Right when we made it down the LF line, I saw two O’s employees walking out with an equipment bag.  I flagged them down and asked if Tim could get in on the whiffle ball action.  The answer was “YES!”  Sweet.

When the Bird arrived, the guy I’d asked came over and pulled Tim out of the stands…

6 - whiffle1.JPG…as they walked toward the home plate along the foul line, the guy told Tim what to expect, and handed him a big orange bat…

7 - whiffle2.JPG…then the Bird unleashed a two handed double pitch.  Tim swung hard right between both balls…

8 - whiffle3.JPG…one of which (as you can see) actually went behind his head.

Essentially, each kid just takes one hit and then rounds the bases.  Tim was ready for the next pitch…

9 - whiffle4.JPG…he drilled a hard line drive right off of the Bird’s leg.  And then it was off to the races!

As Tim rounded first, the Bird ran to second base…

10 - whiffle5.JPG…I was hoping the Bird would fling the base far out into the outfield so Tim could run way out there to touch the base wherever it landed…

[TIME OUT:  I have to mention that the last picture is one of my favorites.  As Tim is rounding first, you can see Juan Pierre and Alex Rios walking in shallow CF, Carlos Quentin is at the far right walking toward the foul line, and a couple Orioles are playing catch in deep CF.  How cool is that?  The next kid actually hit the ball to “RF” and Alex Rios fielded it and gunned it back to the Bird.]

…Instead, the Bird just stood there as Tim approached to touch second.  Then, the Bird grabbed the base and used it like a matador’s red cape…

11 - whiffle6.JPG…Tim ran back and forth trying to kick the base out of the air…

12 - whiffle7.JPG…as the Bird did his best “oley!  oley!” routine.  After a couple passes, Tim actually did kick the base out of the air, which I think surprised the Bird.

Tim immediately bolted for third.  He thrives on eluding would-be taggers.  The Bird chased behind Tim trying to tag him…

13 - whiffle8.JPG…before Tim scored, the Bird tossed a ball at him, but missed.

Tim scored!  And then he kept running straight back to me.  He was only out there for a minute or two, but he had a blast and absolutely loved it.  He wants to do it again! 

After whiffleball, a former Mariners great (but not Freddy Garcia) was signing autographs down the foul line.  I had totally forgot that slick fielding former M’s short stop Omar Vizquel plays for the White Sox this season.  But, guess what?  He does.

And here he is signing the baseball that Erick Threets had given to Tim earlier in the day: 

14 - Little O Autograph.JPGNow here is something interesting (at least to me).  We’re not big autograph guys (we’re picture guys).  In fact, before reading it on other MLBlogs, I had never even heard the term “the sweet spot.”  But, over the past two seasons, Tim and I have collected about 10-15 autographs on baseballs that we’ve caught at games, and Omar is the first and only player to ever sign his name on the sweet spot.  Every single other player has signed his name on…whatever they call the non-sweet spot.

As I said, autographs are good, but we’re picture guys.  So this was the real prize:

15 - tim and Little O.JPGFor the record, that is Tim and a future Hall of Famer.  I know his offensive numbers aren’t all that special (actually, his hit total is pretty special), but I would put Omar Vizquel up against any short stop in the history of baseball.  The guy is absolutely incredible with the glove.  I seriously do not think there has been a better short stop in the game, at least during my life time.  And guess what?  Omar’s offensive numbers are as good or better than Ozzie Smith’s numbers.  So for my money, the guy is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Bottom line:  when we weren’t able to get a picture with Freddy, this picture with Omar more than made up for the disappointment.

A few minutes later, we watched Omar show off some of his fancy glove work… 

16 - watching a glove master.JPG…along the foul line.  Omar can catch a baseball by letting it just tap the heel of his glove to deaden the throw before his bare hand swipes the ball out of the air.  Its truly amazing, and incredibly hard to do.  I’ve only been able to do it a couple times in my life.  I should have taken a video of it because Little O was doing it here and trying to teach his teammate (not Ramirez, but the guy out in CF) how to do it.  If you ever want to learn a thing or two about catching a baseball, you should seriously consider just taking a seat and watching Omar during pre-game warm ups.

By the time the game started, we’d already had a full day’s worth of fun.

It seems like we are always on the RF/1B side of the stadium at Camden Yards.  I wanted to switch it up.  We started off the game in the handicapped accessible seats in the cross-aisle behind section 62.  We were standing in the cross-aisle and I asked the usher which way was north so I could figure out which direct the sun would be moving.  I told him we wanted to avoid the sun.  He suggested we sit  in the handicapped accessible seats behind the section he was working, which were shaded at the time.

Here was the view:

18 - camden section 62 handicap seats panorama.jpg

Tim pointed out the pitchers mound for me…

19 - tim in 62.JPG…oh, there it is.  Thanks, buddy.

Then, Tim took over the controls of the camera.  Here are some samples of the shots he took:

20 - photos by tim.JPGThe pitching match up was Mark “Send ‘em Home Early” Buehrle vs. Jeremy Guthrie.

In the top of the first, Guthrie gave up a single to Alex Rios and a double to Paul Konerko, but escaped without giving up any runs.  Buehrle sat the Orioles down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first.

The first scoring of the day occurred in the bottom of the second inning.  O’s left fielder Felix Pie drove a solo homerun deep into the flag court yard in RF.

Two batters later, Cesar Izturis…

21 - Cesar Izturis 1000.JPG…collected his 1,000th career hit on a little dunker of a single to CF.  After the O’s announced the milestone on the scoreboard, Izturis received a nice round of applause from the crowd.

As the all-time greats go, 1,000 hits is nothing.  But when you think about it, to be able to collect 1,000 hits in major league baseball is pretty special.  So congratulations to Cesar.

In the bottom of the third, I was all set to try to get an action shot of Omar Vizquel adding another hit to his impressive resume (as of today he has 2,778 hits).  Unfortunately, I had to settle for this picture…

22 - omar swinging.JPG…of Omar about to hit a foul ball.  Omar did actually get a hit in this at bat and I did get a picture of the swing, but Tim walked in front of the camera.  It would be the only picture Tim blocked on the day, and it would be Omar’s only hit.  Oh, well.

A couple innings later, we found ourselves sitting in LF where this was our view:

23 - camden section panorama.jpgWe had never sat in LF at Camden Yards so it was nice to take in the view from this spot while we ate some nachos:

24 - Tim in LF at OPACY.JPGUnfortuantely, there were no homeruns to LF while we were out there.

However, we did see Omar hit again (in the top of the 5th inning) while we were in LF:

25 - more cuts by Omar.JPGHe whiffed on that pitch, but eventually hit into a fielder’s choice and then scored the second run of the game on a single by Alex Rios.  That knotted the score at 1-1.

The score did not stay tied long.  And we didn’t stay long in LF.  Tim wanted to move back into the shade.  So we went and grabbed an Orioles Ice Cream Helmet and relocated to another set of handicapped accessible seats, this time in the cross-aisle behind section 47.

Here was our view:

26 - camden section 47 panorama.jpgAnd here is Mr. Perfecto 2009, Mark Buehrle:

27 - Mark Buehrle.JPGOf course, Tim was enjoying his chocolate ice cream helmet with sprinkles:

28 - ICH time.JPGAs I said, the score did not stay tied 1-1 very long.  In the bottom of the sixth, the Orioles took a 3-1 lead on the strength of back-to-back RBI doubles by Nick Markakis and Ty Wigginton.

All of the Birdland faithful were hoping that Adam “Not Pacman” Jones could make it back-to-back-to-back RBI doubles, but, alas, he could not.  With this not mighty enough swing…

29 - Adam Jones flies out.JPG…the former Mariners top prospect flew out to Carlos Quentin in RF:

30 - to Carlos Quentin.JPGBy the way, Tim really latched onto Quentin during this game.  During pre-game warmups we were discussing the players we were watching and I pointed out Quentin.  Tim started talking about “Carlos” like they were old buddies.  Each time Quentin came to the plate, Tim would mention, “Hey, its Carlos.”  And after this catch, we discussed how Tim’s good friend “Carlos” caught that high pop fly.

Fan favorite Jeremy Guthrie was still in the game and he was “dealing”…

31 - Jeremy crazyleg Guthrie.JPG…he was also putting so much pressure on his front leg that I feared it might snap in half on each pitch.

After Little O bunted this Guthrie offering foul…

32 - Omar the bunter.JPG…Jeremy got Omar to ground out to 3B to end the 7th inning.

Leading off the bottom of the 7th inning, Cesar Izturis started in on his second thousand hits by driving a 2B to deep LCF for his 1,001st hit.  After advancing to 3B on a passed ball, Izturis scored the O’s fourth and final run of the day on a single by Brian Roberts.

Guthrie was back on the hill in the 8th inning, and he mowed down the ChiSox 1-2-3, including this harmless ground out by Paul Konerko… 

33 - Paulie Konerko grounds.JPG…for the second out of the inning:

34 - out to SB.JPGIn the top of the ninth inning, Tim and I started the process of relocating behind home plate to make an attempt at getting an umpire ball from Phil Cuzzi…

35 - Phil Cuzzi.JPG…(BTW, how do you pronouce his name?  Cooou-zee or Kah-zee?)

While scouting out seats from the cross-aisle slightly shaded toward 1B, someone (can’t remember who) hit a foul ball DIRECTLY to the handicapped accessible seat that I had been sitting in for the last several innings.  All I would have had to do was stand up and make the uncontested catch.  Bummer.

Anyway, this was our view for the bottom of the ninth inning:

36 -Alexei Ramirez.JPGGuthrie was out and O’s closer Alfredo Simon was in.  After retiring the first batter of the inning, Simon gave up a single to Alexei Ramirez…

37 - Alexei Ramirez grounds out.JPG…and then a homerun to Ramon Castro.   That made the score 4-3 Orioles.  But that was all she wrote.  Simon would get the next two batters (Brad Lillibridge and Juan Pierre) to secure the win for Guthrie and the save for himself.

Something else interesting happened during the ninth inning, the ushers on both sides of the umpire tunnel were actively assisting kids in trying to get an umpire ball.  One usher stopped by and told Tim and a girl sitting behind us “The umpire’s name is Phil, you should ask him for a baseball when he leaves the field” while another usher on the other side of the tunnel brought three little kids down to the second row and sat them right on the tunnel with instructions to ask Cuzzi for a baseball.

Cuzzi came off the field after the final out and handed one baseball to one of the kids the usher had sat on the 3B side of the umpires tunnel.  Then he approached Tim and placed a second baseball in his glove…

38 - Here comes Mr Cuzzi.JPG…which Tim promptly dropped (his hand isn’t big enough to squeeze his glove closed), so Cuzzi fielded the booted ball and replaced it into Tim’s glove again:

39 - Thanks Mr Cuzzi.JPG

Thanks, Mr. Cuzzi!

Hey, guess what?  It was time for Kids Run the Bases!

The O’s held the promotion exclusively for members of the O’s Dugout Club.  We visited the extremely helpful and nice O’s fan assistance office to inquire about how Tim could become a member so he could run the bases.  It costs $12 and comes with all sorts of goodies.  But the lady in the fan assistance office (probably rightfully thinking we were in from out of town and were not O’s fans) suggested that we could probably run without Tim becoming a member of the club.  So, we saved our $12 and did not join the club.

I was a little nervous because almost every kid in line was wearing some evidence of being a member of the club, everyone but Tim.  But it didn’t matter.  They made no effort to check to see if people were members of the club.

When we reentered the stadium to run the bases, the usher who is usually out on Eutaw Street spraying fans and giving out baseball cards was spraying people with his water bottle in the concourse.  But he wasn’t handing out any baseball cards…that is, he wasn’t until we arrived.

As Tim approached to get sprayed, I said to him, “You gotta say “‘Hit me!'”  Immediately upon saying that to Tim, the usher (whose name, I think, is Greg??), proclaimed, “He said the MAGIC WORDS!”…

40 - Hit Me with Ramon Martinez.JPG…and he handed Tim a Ramon Martinez baseball card from his baseball card pouch.  Tim was quite happy to receive the card.  Little things can really make a kid’s day.

It was time to run some bases.  As Tim waited in the line at first base (the O’s were making the effort to space out the runners, which we always appreciate), I got a shot of the visitors dugout:

41 - OPACY visitors dugout.JPGThen I focused all of my picture taking efforts on Tim.  I always feel that Kids Run The Bases is one of the hardest times to get good pictures.  But it worked out well at this game.

I got this shot of Tim stomping on second base:

42 - stomping on 2B at OPACY.JPG

Third base also cooperated with my camera:

43 - rounding 3B at OPACY.JPGAnd after almost completely missing the shot, home plate was friendly to my camera too:

44 - scoring at OPACY.JPG

Before heading up into the stands, we posed for a few pictures on the field, including this one…

45 - Cuzzi Ball at Camden Yards.JPG

…with the baseball from Phil Cuzzi.

To recap:

  1. Whiffle ball in the outfield with The Bird;
  2. An autograph from and picture with former Mariner and future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel;
  3. Kids Run The Bases; and
  4. Father-Son fun.

Wow – It was an excellent day!  Not only that, it was a truly excellent weekend of baseball fun (this was the Sunday immediately following our campout in the Reading Phillies’ outfield).

Fun, fun, fun.

Thank you, Baseball.  We missed you!

2010 Fan Stats:

19 Games

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

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

40 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox)

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)

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

6 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards)

All-Star Ice Cream Helmet

If you’ve been here before, you might know that Tim and I like to enjoy an ice cream helmet while at the ballpark.

You might also know that we were disappointed during our recent Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip to discover that our division rivals, the California Angels of 2000 Gene Autry Way, Anaheim, Orange County, California 92806, had decided to scrap ice cream helmets from their menu at Angel Stadium.

Well, I wasn’t the only person who thought it was wrong that we came away from Angel Stadium ice cream helmetless.  Check out what just arrived in the mail for me and Tim:

DSC06453.JPG

Thank you, Matt “BloggingBoutBaseball” Jackson!

And, guess what?

The Angels were on TV to help me enjoy our new All-Star helmet:

DSC06461.JPGExcellent!  Even better than a normal Angels helmet.

Thanks again, Matt!

And to mark the occasion, the Angels decided to win their first game of the season against the Red Sox.

By the way, I have been crazy busy lately with work, family, life, etc.  We’ve been to three games in August so far with two more this weekend.  Hopefully I’ll finish our first August game entry this weekend.

Go Mariners!

 

The Ultimate MiLB Ballpark Experience (8/6/10)

Coming into the first week of August, we still hadn’t hit our first Reading Phillies game of the season.  But early in the week, my wife sent me an email at work about a promotion scheduled for Friday, August 6th.  We couldn’t pass it up.

The Promotion:  R-Phils Kids Club Night at the Ballpark.

Translation — camping in the outfield!  We have “camped” in KOA camping cabins, but Tim had never camped in an actual tent.

Sign us up!

We figured it would a late night, so we showed up a little late for the game.  As we entered the ballpark, Tim asked me to take some pictures of these “trophies” and other artifacts from R-Phils of the past:

1 - R-Phils old stuff.JPGI had some comp’d tickets from a rain out at the end of the 2009 season.  Our seats were in row 20 of red section 7.  Here was our view:

2 - firstenergy stadium red 7 row n seat 14 panorama.jpgShortly after we arrived, we were happy to see Hillbilly Hoff making a blue light special announcement from the top of the dugout:

3 - Hill Billy Hoff.JPGTim spent some time taking pictures.  His camera skills have improved a lot since last season:

4 - MiLB Picts by Tim.JPGI asked Tim where he wanted to camp.  He zoomed in on the Erie Seawolves’ centerfielder…

5 - camping spot.JPG…”Right where that ‘baser’ is standing.”  (BTW, Tim likes to call fielders “basers.”)

I was quite interested to see that former New York Mets outfielder, Timo Perez…

6 - Timo Perez Minor Leaguer.JPG…was playing for the R-Phils.  He ended up going 0-3 with three fly outs…on each of those three swings shown above.

The nights Roast Beef RBI guy was DH Tagg Bozied… 

7 - Tagg No Roast Beef Bozied.JPG…he failed to collect any RBIs and, therefore, we failed to win any roast beef.

Tim enjoyed his first MiLB ice cream helmet of the season:

8 - MiLB Ice Cream Face.JPGLater in the game, we relocated to the homerun trough in LF…

9 - racing in HR trough.JPG…where Tim spinted the length of the trough over and over and over and over and over.  And then a couple more times.

In the 8th and 9th innings, we found ourselves back in the infield.  Here was our quite excellent view…

10 - the blue seats.JPG…as the Seawolves beat the R-Phils.

After the game, they had a tennis ball throwing contest for charity…

11 - tennis ball throw.JPG…people bought the balls (which had numbers written on them) and then tried to throw their balls into various hoops and a basket in the back of a moving truck.

Next, it was time for some fireworks…

IMG_8938.JPG…which Tim absolutely loved.

After the fireworks, it was time to get ready for some camping!  We grabbed our tent and sleeping bags from our car and reported back to the main entrance.  Tim was psyched!

12 - let us in its camping time.JPG

We brought our gloves and we were ready to go crazy playing around in the outfield.  Camping, free reign in the outfield of a professional baseball stadium…what more could you ask for!?

Tim didn’t want to risk missing out on our spot in CF, so we sprinted out to the OF…

13 - camp site.JPG…we made it!  Sweet.  We were in the outfield…the beautiful, beautiful outfield.

And check this out, we literally put our tent up on top of the centerfielder’s spike marks:

14 - CF footprints.JPGI set up our tent…

15 - tent up time for some catch.JPG

…and it was “game on!”

Here was the veiw from the warning track in straight away CF…

16 - firstenergy stadium CF warning track panorama.jpg…with our tent right in the middle.

On the big screen behind Tim… 

17 - throwing like crazy.JPG…they showed a double feature.  First, it was the short movie “The Phanatic Goes to Hollywood.”  I don’t think anyone watched it because we were all busy playing catch and running around in the OF grass.  It was quite sight, fathers and son (and a few daughters) were spread out all over the place having a great time playing catch.

It was such an odd experience being out there in the OF with all of these other fathers and sons playing catch with tents all around us.  It was almost surreal…almost like we were in a movie or something.  In short, it was awesome.

You had to buy tickets to attend the sleep over.  They were $10/each, but kids 4 and under were free (they are free for R-Phils games as well).  So it was $10 total for me and Tim and our tickets came with a midnight meal.

We headed past the infield…

18 - infield view.JPG…and into the grandstand concourse to pick up our “dinner”…

19 - hot dogs and lemonade.JPG…ah, yeah, nothing beats some hot dogs and lemonade while laying on your sleeping bag in CF:

20 - food in the OF.JPGAfter eating, it was right back to playing catch and running around…

21 - more catching throwing and running.JPG…it was pretty funny playing with Tim.  It was almost midnight and he was a combination of ecstatic and exhausted.  But there was no slowing down in sight.

Play, play, play…

22 - more throwing.JPG

Check out how Tim was stumbling around with tiredness as he just kept playing…

By the way, my voice sounds weird in that clip because I was eating sunflower seeds while we were playing catch. Tim just kept playing and fake falling and rolling for ballls…

The entire OF was open for tents, but everyone (but us) was set up in LF or right behind 2B.  We were the lone strays out in CF, and RF was completely tent free.  Just wide open play space for all of the kids and adult-kids.

We headed over to RF and Tim practiced his accuracy by throwing balls off of the “25” and “53” in the lottery billboards…

23 - target practice.JPGHere was the view from the RF foul line…

23a - firstenergy stadium RF warning track panorama.jpg…I think the sprinklers really added to the surreal feel of the whole night.

Around midnight, people started settling in around their tents for the feature presentation.  I realized I hadn’t taken a picture of the two of us on the field, so I gave it my best shot…

24 - exhausted smile around midnight.JPG…Tim was so tired that this was the best smile he could manage in our three picture attempts.

From our tent, we could see the Reading Pagoda lit up off in the distance:


25 - pagoda lights.JPGAnd then it was time for the feature presentation — “Rookie of the Year”:


26 - movie time in CF.JPGPretty much everyone set up on their sleeping bags outside of their tents…

IMG_9023.JPG…although he looks like he is sleeping, Tim is actually watching the movie in that shot.  One really cool thing about the night (among the many cool things about the night) was that, as we laid next to each other watching the beginning of “Rookie of the Year,” Tim told me that he wished Kellan could have come with us.  I told him Kellan is too young to camp, but we can bring him next year.

After slowing down from all of the action, Tim was a goner.  He only made it about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes into the movie before he fell sleep.

I transferred him into our tent and then took a picture of the scene, now quieted down considerably for the movie: 

27 - our tent.JPGThe little guy was fast sleep…

28 - lights out.JPG….as I finished watching the movie.

Our little A-frame style tent felt so small.  Usually, you pull a little rope from each side and stake them in the ground to spread the tent out a bit.  But there were no stakes allowed in the OF!

I noticed that most people had much newer and cooler looking tents than my probably 15-20 year old tent…

29 - much better tents.JPG…I guess we’ll have to upgrade.

After the movie, people went to bed.  They turned off all of the stadium lights, but left the big screen lit up like a big night light.

I figured this was as unique of a ballpark experience as I was ever going to experience so I best make the most of it.  After all of the lights were out but our night light, and no one else was stirring, I took a final walk around the OF.

I think this is probably the most unique ballpark picture I’ll ever take:

30 - firstenergy stadium LCF warning track lights out panorama panorama.jpg

The infield and grandstand were peacefully resting up for another big day of baseball on Saturday…

31 - dark infield.JPG…here is essentially a reverse angle of the last picture that shows our night light…

32 - our nightlight.JPGFrom a deep sleep, we were awoken at 7 a.m. the next morning to the sound of the stadium PA annoucer thanking us for attending the night in the ball park.

Tim was still really tired and it took him a few minutes to finally make it out of the tent…

33 - sleepy center fielder.JPG…by then, most of the other campers were already gone!  I think they must have woken up early.  That or they are speed packers who didn’t want to maximize there experience.

Not us, we’re ballpark lingerers and experience-soaker-uppers.  So, it was time for a morning picture…

34 - after a great night.JPG…and some running in the OF…

35 - maximizing our time with more running in the OF.JPGBy the time we were all packed up…

36 - thanks RPhils.JPG…there were only two other tents left.  And, I recognized all of the remaining adults as employees in the R-Phils front office (I know them from playing softball against them).

So, we were the last remaining members of the “public.”

Oh, well.  So be it.

It was time for some more catch…

37 - wait lets throw some more.JPG…I mean, when were we going to have another opportunity to wake up in CF and play catch?  Not any time soon!  So we had to play some catch.  And we did.

Finally, we decided we better head out.  We stopped for another picture by the infield on our way to the gate behind 3B that leads to the concourse:

38 - morning infield.JPGAfter walking through the grandstand concourse, we decided we should poke our heads out one last time…

39 - good bye  FirstEnergy field.JPG…and wave a proper good-bye to our campsite.

This was one of the coolest nights.  Thank, R-Phils.  Sign us up for next year.

Thanks, Ma! Thanks, Grandma! (7/22/10)

Our new son Kellan’s due date was July 18th.  The closest major league ball park to our home is about 70 miles away.  Obviously, I didn’t want to miss Kellan’s birth.  Therefore, we scheduled zero MLB games for July 2010.

But you know what?  My mom ended up coming on July 2nd to help us and to be with Tim when Kellan was born.  My dad joined us the day after Kellan was born and was also great to have around.  But my mom ended up spending the entire month of July with us and she was amazing.

Although it was impossible to thank her enough, we figured we needed to try.  And, like us, she’s a big baseball fan.  We decided we should take her to Camden Yards for her first time.

We arrived early and hung out with the Camden Yards regulars outside the CF gate…

1 - arrived in Balt.JPGWe’re usually cheap seats guys at Camden Yards.  But my mom deserved the best.  Our new friend, Avi Miller…

2 - the Avi Hookup.JPG…used his season ticket holder status to secure us some amazing seats.

With the tickets in hand and time to spare before the gates opened, we decided to walk around the stadium so my mom could check the place out.

My mom liked the party area in CF…

3 - CF group party areas and BP.JPG…and we all liked that we could see BP going on inside.

Outside the 3B side of the stadium, we stopped on a patch of grass so Tim and I could play a little catch:

4 - catching outside camden.JPGHe’s getting better and better at catching the ball.  He’s finally using two hands.

We got a few pictures of my mom and Tim in Schaefer Circle.  Here are the best parts of those pictures combined together:

5 - Tim Grandma outside camden.JPGNext, we headed out to the far end of the warehoue (RF side) to get a picture with another Camden Yards sign:

6 - Tim Gma Warehouse Sign.JPGFor the first time this season, we entered the stadium through the RF gate:

7 - camden LF gate panorama.jpgThe Warehouse ends right at the CF gate.  But on the RF side, the warehouse runs another 100-200 feet passed the RF gate.  So fans don’t have to walk all the way around the warehouse to get to the RF gate, there is a passage…

8 - warehouse shortcut.JPG…under the warehouse.

The tickets Avi helped us buy included the magic phrase — “Season Ticket Plan” — that allowed us to get into the main stadium right when the gates opened.  Without those words on our tickets, we’d have to stay out in RF for the first half hour of BP.

The early access paid off quick.  As we approached home plate, we saw probable 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Bert Blyleven signing an autograph.  We ran over and chatted him up and then got this picture:

9 - circle me bert.JPGThanks, Bert!  You’ve been circled!

Bert was pretty cool.  He asked Tim if he was a Mariners fan.  I noticed Bert’s BEAUTIFUL Twins world series ring.  I complimented him on it.  He held it up for Tim, “do you think you’ll get one of these some day?”  I mentioned that if he does, hopefully it will say “Mariners” on it.  Bert held it up for Tim again, “This is a Mariners ring, it has a big ‘M’ on it!”

Hopefully some day I will get to see an actual Mariners world series ring.

After Bert took off, we turned around and watched the field.

Despite what it looks like in the following picture, the O’s were still hitting and this was our view:

9a - camden section 38 row 3 panorama.jpgNext to the two guys in the Morneau jerseys, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer was chatting with another O’s TV guy.  When there was a break in their conversation, I asked Jim for a picture.  He gladly obliged:

10 - HOF jim palmer.JPGAfter we left Jim, a bunch of autograph guys pounced on him.  He signed for none of them.  He was there just for our picture.

Thanks, Jim!

Speaking of Jims, we also got a big “hello” and wave from slugger Jim Thome who was waiting to get into the batting cage.

As the Twins prepared to start hitting, we headed down the LF line.  We had plans, we were hoping to quickly get our hands on a nice Target Field commemorative baseball and then head to the Camden Club for a nice dinner.

We weren’t the only people in the northeastern portion of the United States hoping to snag a Target Field baseball.  Our Citi Field friends, Joe Faraguna and Alex K, were in the house, as well as some other guys from MyGameBalls.com (including new 1000 baseball man, Greg Barasch – congrats, Greg, it was nice meeting you).

My mom snapped this picture of me and Alex…

11 - Alex 3d Stadium 3d State.JPG…because Alex joined an exclusive club — he joined Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohonek as the second member of MLBlogs/MyGameBalls.com whom Tim and I have run into at three different stadiums in three different states.  By the way, we first met Alex at U.S. Cellular Field and we have run into each other twice at Citi Field.

After this big Twins reliever…

12 - Jose Mijares.JPG…Jose Mijares finished playing catch, he pointed at us (Tim was on my shoulders) from about 150 feet out in LCF.  I pointed at myself, “Us?”, I still couldn’t tell if he really meant us.  He then threw the ball directly to the guy next to us.  I could have easily caught it, but it would have looked like I was totally reaching in front of and robbing the guy (an adult without a kid).  So I let it go.

But Mijares was having none of it.  He pointed a big forceful finger at the guy — POINT, POINT! — and then he pointed his big finger up at Tim — POINT, POINT!

The meaning was clear: “that ball is for that little kid, dude, give it to him now!!!”

The guy couldn’t disobey Mijares’ finger:

13 - nice Target Field Commemorative.JPG

It was a beautiful commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Jose!

After I visited LF to grab a look at Alex’s roster (confirming the ball giver was Mijares) and watching some out of control guy absolutely mug Joe on a BP homer (LF is definitely no place for Tim quite yet), we headed toward the Camden Club.

As we passed by first base, I saw Orlando Hudson taking grounders at 2B:

14 - Yo O-Dogg.JPGI absolutely love watching Harold Reynolds interview Hudson.  He’s got a great personality.  I shouted out a big, “Yo, O-Dogg!”  And Hudson turned around and gave us a big shout and a full armed wave.

Unless you are a “member,” you cannot make reservations at the Camden Club.  You can still eat there, you just can’t reserve a spot.  Nevertheless, I was happy that we were able to grab what appeared to be the last table with a window: 

14a - cc set up.JPGTim enjoyed blowing bubbles in his ice water.  And we all enjoyed out food, a lot:

15 - Camden Club Grub.JPGTop Left – Tim had chicken tenders and fries (in the bottom right he is lining up some french fries for an unprecedented simultaneous honey mustard and ketchup double dip)

Top Right – my mom had the “Bases Loaded,” which includes crab soup, a mini-Boog’s BBQ sandwich, a mini-crab cake, and a slider.  I talked her into it because Maryland is famous for its crabs and she likes the little suckers.  She loved the meal.

Bottom Left – I had a tasty bison burger with fries.

By the time we finished eating, Denard Span had led off the game for the Twins:

16 - span from above.JPGWe reported to our ridiculously awesome seats in section 36, row 20, seats 8-10 (10 being the aisle seat).  This was our view:

16a - camden section 36 row 10 seat 1 panorama.jpgThe match-up was Carl Pavano vs. Kevin Millwood.

After Joe Mauer doubled and Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer walked, the Twins won the game in the top of the first inning on a 3-run double by Delmon Young.

Pavano would shut the O’s down in the first.  And, for the rest of the game too for that matter.  He was just as impressive as he was on Phathers’ Day in Philadelphia.

The Twins featured some unimpressive play as well.  Specifically Nick Punto’s base running blunder in the top of the second inning.  After singling to start the inning, Punto was still on first with one out when Denard Span flew out routinely to centerfielder (and former Mariner) Adam Jones.

The usual rule is to go half way on such a fly out.  But, perhaps, Punto was feeling unusual.  He decided to go all the way to 2B and then wait on the bag for Jones to catch the ball.  It was almost as if he was tagging up to run back to first.  It did not work out so well.

He was doubled off with massive ease.  Here is Nick with egg on his face after his huge blunder:

17 - punto post bad baserunning.JPGI suspect that first base coach, Jerry White, was thinking “are you kidding me, Nick” in that picture.

In the third, I tried to get a picture of Orlando Hudson connecting for a base hit…

18 - O-Dogg grounds out.JPG…instead he grounded out to 2B.

In the middle of the third, Tim wanted to go to the kids play area, which had been revamped since our last game in Baltmore.

This batting tee cage was new:

19 - Os batting tee.JPGSo was this pitching cage…

20 - speed pitch and new play set.JPG…and this wooden playset.

The old and trusty bouncy house, however, was still there and going strong:

21 - bouncing.JPGOn our way back to the seats, Tim and I grabbed some ice cream helmets (for him and my mom) and a funnel cake (for me).  I prefer ice cream.

Carl Pavano was still dealing…

22 - markakis fouls.JPG…here to Nick Markakis in the bottom of the sixth.

Despite a tray full of sweets in his lap, Tim was tuned into the game:

23 - funnel cake and ICH.JPGBetween the bottom of the sixth and top of the seventh, I took Tim to the restroom.  While we were in there, we could hear the stadium erupt.  Something big was going on, but we weren’t sure what.

When we headed back to our seats, we tracked down the Bird so Tim could give him five:

24 - fiving the bird.JPGWhen we got back to our seats, my mom explained that J.J. Hardy had led off the seventh with a single and then should have been thrown out going back to first base.  The replays quite clearly showed that Hardy was out going back to first, but that wasn’t how first base umpire Gary Darling saw it.

The eruption we’d heard from the restroom was Ty Wigginton and the crowd going crazy when Hardy was called safe.  Wigginton was tossed from the game.

After Hardy scored the 5th Twins run of the night on a single by Drew Butera, the crowd went crazy.  As the teams changed sides, someone was jawing in the O’s dugout  Home plate umpire Bill Hohn was having none of it.  He yelled at the folks in the dugout.

O’s manager Juan Samuel then stormed out of the dugout…

25 - confrontation.JPG…and was booted from the game after throwing a nasty tantrum, capped off by a toss of his cap into the infield.

Jason Kubel couldn’t help the Twins tack on any more runs…

26 - kubel.JPG…in the top of the seventh.

It was time for the seventh inning stretch.  We all stood to sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”  I looked up at the big screen, and Tim and I were front and center on the screen.  I took this shot…

27 - TJCs on big screen.JPG…but failed to zoom in.

It must have been in the 8th inning when this 15-seconds-of-fame seeking fan ran onto the field and spent a while there…

28 - trespasser.JPG…he ran back-and-forth and back-and-forth.  He jumped into the crowd and then came back.  It was the longest fan on the field run I have ever witnessed.   Eventually he stopped running after the still incredibly angry home plate umpire Bill Hohn came out to yell at the kid.  The kid was eventually apprehended.

It kept getting hotter and hotter throughout the game.

Tim had to relax on Grandma’s lap:


29 - snuggling with grandma.JPGTim and his grandma found some papers and fanned each other to beat the heat:

31 - fanning grandma.JPGIn the ninth inning, Tim and I relocated to the third row behind home plate to go for an umpire ball after the game.  I took a shot of the Twins dugout…

32 - twins dugout.JPG…featuring A.L. MVP Joe Mauer in the foreground.

We had an unbeatable view of the ninth inning match-up beteen Pavano and Miguel Tejada…

33 - pavano vs tejada.JPG…Pavano won the battle on a ground out to 3B.

Several batters later, Jake Fox grounded out to 3B for the final out of the inning.

Tim hopped up and hung his open-gloved arm over the wall into the umpire tunnel.  We were hoping that Bill Hohn would find the bottom of Tim’s glove.  But it was a crazy and tense scene behind home plate.

First, the grounds crew couldn’t get the gate opened up to the umpires’ tunnel.  So all four umps had to stand there waiting.  A couple fans had some choice words for Mr. Hohn.  He was not a happy camper and had some choice words of his own for the unruly fans.

A couple seconds later, Hohn became the angriest person to ever give Tim a baseball at a MLB game…

34 - umprie bill hohn baseball.JPGThanks, Mr. Hohn!

Before heading toward the car, we got a picture of the three of us behind home plate:

35 - TJCs and Gma Camden Yards.JPGOn the way to the car, we stopped in Eutaw Street…

36 - ball markers.JPG…to check out a few of the homerun markers, including the Griffey markers.

It was a great night at the ballpark and a fun way to say “thanks” to my mom and Tim’s grandma for helping out so much as we prepared for Kellan’s birth and then as we started adjusting to being a family of four.

Thanks, Ma!  Thanks, Grandma!

2010 Fan Stats:

18 Games

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

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

38 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 6 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 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)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

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)

Kellan, Family & Baseball

With Kellan’s due date falling in Mid-July, we did not plan to go to any baseball games in July.  We actually did end up going to one game (for which an entry is still forthcoming).  But for the most part, July was all about spending time at home with our new boy and lots of visiting family members.

But that didn’t mean there wasn’t a lot of baseball for us in July.  Indeed, there was.  Lots.

My mom came out to stay with us starting on July 2nd, so she would be here to take care of Tim while Colleen and I were at the hospital for Kellan’s birth.  It ended up that she was with us almost all month (and was joined by my Dad the day after Kellan was born).  My mom had never been to one of my softball games.  However, being here for a month she was able to attend four of my games…

softballsingle…and we won them all, which was good enough to finish the regular season with a 8-4 record and qualify us for the playoffs.

Finally, on July 16th, Kellan was born.  By strategically wearing a spring training t-shirt to the hospital, I made sure that Kellan was introduced to the Seattle Mariners in (literally) the first minute of his life…

KellanDadMarinersShirt.jpg…the main picture there is the first picture of me holding Kellan, just shortly after his birth.  The inset picture shows that I, indeed, am sporting a Mariners shirt.  It was actually Colleen’s idea for me to wear this specific shirt for Kellan’s birth.  Good call!

July 18th was a big day for baseball.  Kellan and I posed for a special picture…

Kell-in-glove…that I had also done with Tim when he was a couple days old.

Next, my Dad and Tim hung out in the shop with me while I made Kellan’s first baseball bat:

kellan's first batLater in the day, Kellan got in on his first little game of family catch in the back yard…

four way catch…using some of Tim’s practice whiffle balls.

Finally, with a lot of attention going to the new guy in town, Grandpa gave Tim a special big brother gift…

new ichi helmet and new brother…a new Ichiro helmet, which Tim loves.

The next day, July 19th, I gave Kellan his finished 20-inch bat..

IMG_8454.JPG…which I made to match Tim’s first bat:

IMG_8457.JPGNow, one sad thing about July 2010 is the play of the Seattle Mariners.  In fact, for Kellan’s first month of life, the Mariners tied the worst month in their history with 22 losses.  Even though Felix Hernandez pitched the day Kellan was born, the Mariners could not earn Kellan the first-day-of-life victory that I wanted for my boy.

My mom and I watched pretty much every game this month.  She got a taste of how difficult it is when your team’s games start at 10:05 p.m. almost every day.

On July 21st, I snapped this picture showing Kellan going crazy in the post-game celebration following the second Mariners win of his life:

mariners win july 22.JPGFinally, during the weekend of July 24th-25th, the boys’ cousins, Gill and Kate, came to visit (along with Aunt Kimberly and Colleen’s cousin, Geralyn).  I decided that I needed to do something big to ensure the kids would have a fun weekend.

I decided to bring back Mariners Park at Cook Yards:

Cook Yards from Upper Deck Panorama.jpgTim and I pretty much always have a home plate and bases set up in the back yards.  But what sets Mariners Park at Cook Yards apart from the usual is the:

  1. “Chalked” 25-foot baselines (actually spray paint);
  2. “Chalked” batters’ box;
  3. Homerun distance markers on the outfield walls (dimensions: LF – 41′, LF gap – 45′, LCF – 50′, Deep CF – 63′, RF gap – 51′, and RF – 40′);
  4. “Chalked” coaches boxes in 1B and 3B foul territory;
  5. “Chalked” on deck circle (Featuring C&S logo); and
  6. Two tiered outfield fan seating (on field and BBQ deck seating).

Here were the main participants…

DSC06049.JPG…that’s Kate, Gill and Tim.  Also playing the field and taking hacks were:  Todd, Grandpa, Aunt Kimberly and our neighbor, Sarah.

The first batter in each round was Tim’s oldest cousin, Gill…

DSC06063.JPG…who is a fan of the run-with-the-bat technique.  Historically, Gill hasn’t been a baseball guy.  But the last two visits to our house, he’s had a lot of fun playing ball with Tim.  He was a big fan of hitting, running the bases, and scoring runs.  Hey, why not?  They’re all good stuff.

Gill is six years old and almost exactly two years older than Tim.  His younger sister, Kate, is 3 and about 9 months younger than Tim.  Kate isn’t quite ready to hit live pitching, but she can rip some liners off of the batting tee…

DSC06102.JPG…here, Kate is using the tee that I made Tim when he was one (right about the time he learned to stand).  However, she really prefers a “human tee,” which I provided for her:

IMG_8694.JPGOf course, Tim got his hacks in too…

DSC06130.JPG…and there was a lot of baserunning:

Cook Yards home plate panorama.jpgIf any universal truths can be derived from watching a sample of only three children playing baseball, I think it would be this:

All kids love running the bases and being chased by a fielder (or chasing base runners with the ball), but no kids enjoy actually being tagged out:

DSC06077.JPGOnce the kids had hit enough, they even let the adults take some hacks:

IMG_8709.JPGAh, good times in the back yard.  Long live Mariners Park at Cook Yards!

So, it was a different month for us with only one MLB game, but it was a excellent month filled with great family time and lots of fun, and baseball.

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