October 2010

Family & Safeco Field (9/30/10)

Tim’s little brother, Kellan, was born in July and there was no way that I was going to allow him to miss out on meeting the Mariners during the first baseball season of his life.  And there was no way Kellan was going to experience his first game anywhere but Safeco Field.  So, as the season drew to a close, we found ourselves in Seattle.

Kellan’s first game was slated for Friday, October 1, 2010.

But we were in town a couple days early to visit my family and the Mariners were playing.  There was no way that Tim and I were gonna miss out.  On Thursday, September 30, 2010, we gathered up my mom, dad, and brother Jason, and headed down to Safeco Field.

We had Colleen’s sister’s family in town with us and a lot going on, so we headed down late and missed batting practice.  When we arrived, no one was on the field.  So, we headed to the play area…


2 - safeco play area.JPG…Tim always enjoys the Safeco Field play area.  When he finished up playing, we found the Mariners Moose nearby…

3 - moose 2010.JPG…and posed for a picture with him in his little Moose den.

Next, we figured we better head over to the Mariners dugout to see what was going on with our Mariners.  And that’s when we saw one of the prettiest sights we’d seen all season:

5 - hello safeco 2010.JPGAh, beautiful Safeco Field.  We love this place.

Other than Chone Figgins stretching down the RF line, none of the players were on the field.  But we did see some of the Mariners top brass…

4 - Howard Lincoln.JPG….President & COO Chuck Armstrong.  “Hmmm,” I wondered, “what’s up with Chuck.”

After a bit, there were a bunch of Mariners warming up down the RF line.  Tim and I headed over there…

6 - greg halman warmups.JPG…and we were essentially the only people around when Greg Halman finished playing catch.  I called out, “Hey, Greg!”  He turned around and fired the ball to us.

Thanks, Greg!

 It was just minutes until game time, so we reported to our seats in RF.  We picked RF because the week day crowds had been tiny lately at Safeco Field and we figured our chances of getting near a homerun ball would be decent.  Also, as an added bonus, we’d been near Ichiro.

Speaking of Ichiro.  Turns out Chuck Armstrong was in the dugout because he was getting ready to present Ichiro with some awards of some sort…

7 - congrats ichiro.JPG….for being the first Major Leaguer to collect 200 hits for ten straight seasons.

We were pretty busy chatting and generally having a good time during the game, so I did a pretty shabby job at getting action shots.  But we’ll do our best to take you through the night.

Here was our crew…an excellent bunch of ballgame companions (note that Tim was busy eating a hot pile of nachos)…

8 - view of ichiro.JPG…and here was our view of Ichiro as he played catch with Franklin Gutierrez between innings.

And this was our view of the game from Section 109, Row 25, seats 5-9:

9 - safeco section 109, row 25 panorama.jpgNow is that a great looking ballpark or what?  By the way, Row 25 is the third row back from the field in RF at Safeco.

As for the game, it started off nicely.  It was the A’s and the Mariners.  Doug Fister took on Gio Gonzalez.  Both pitchers were “on” at the beginning.  Despite some hits by both teams through the early innings (including a first inning single for Ichiro (his 209th hit of the season)), the game was scoreless through four innings.

It was a lot cooler at this game than we were used to while attending games in the northeast.  So, a couple innings into the game, my mom, Tim and I visited the M’s team store and I got a great deal on a new Mariners sweatshirt for Tim.

On the way back to our seats, we decided to walk by the Mariners bullpen.

I noticed something interesting, something that I’d never noticed before…

10 - flat pitching rubber.JPG…a little cut out at the front of the M’s bullpen mound with a flat ground pitching rubber.  That was a new one on me.

As I stood at the fence starring at my camera’s LCD screen and taking some of the worst and most blurry pictures of all time of Ichiro batting…

11 - blurry ichiro.JPG…my mom mentioned, “Hey, Ryan Rowland-Smith just looked over at you.  Hey, Ryan Rowland-Smith is walking over here.”

I looked away from my camera, and there was Mr. RRS.

Hey, Ryan!

It was great to catch up with RRS.  It was interesting to chat about what it was like in the clubhouse as the Mariners were 97 losses into the season and four days away from the off-season.  It was also cool to get a sneak preview into his very interesting training plans for the off-season.  I felt a bit bad seeing RRS watching the game from the bullpen after a tough season.  And I was hoping I’d get a chance to see him pitch once more and close out the season on a positive note.  While it wouldn’t happen at this game, I would get my chance.

Soon, we headed back to our seats.  It was time for a chocolate cihp cookie dough ice cream helmet…

12 - M's ICH 2010.JPG…but as things got sweet for Tim, they got sour for the Mariners.

Between the fifth and sixth innings, Doug Fister gave up 6 runs and Brian Sweeney gave up the seventh run of the game.  Quickly, our pitchers’ dual turned ugly.

But after 97 losses, we were used to seeing the M’s trailing their opponent and we were able to still have a good time…

13 - fun in RF.JPG…as we watched the Mariners on the way to their 98th loss of the season.  Hey, check out that great new sweatshirt on Tim.  Its a zip-up with a teal inner hood.  Very nice.

(By the way, I made Tim take off his new sweatshirt and wear his old green sweatshirt to eat his ice cream helmet.  That guy is sloppy with the ice cream.)

It was also very nice to be hanging out behind Ichiro:

14 - its Ichiro.JPGAnd, of course, it was nice to get a chance to snap a picture of the Greg Halman ball:.

15 - Halman baseball at safeco.JPGSpeaking of Greg Halman, he made an outstanding diving catch in left field.  In fact, it was such a nice, high speed diving catch…

15b - halmans new belt…that he broke his belt in the process.

 After Halman’s catch, I figured I should go back over by the bullpen to snap a shot of Halman.  While I was there, I also snapped a picture of the Mariners’ mop-headed September call-up, Dan Cortes…

16 - Dan Cortes bullpen and airport.JPG…interestingly, five days later with the season concluded, we were getting ready to board our airplane back to Pennsylvania while Mr. Cortes was getting ready to board his flight back home to the Los Angeles area.  (FYI, the white and red arrow is pointing to my brother and parents).

Well, we made it to the 8th inning.  It was still 7-0 A’s, and despite fairly empty seats, we’d managed to go the whole game without catching a homerun.

And then, the perfect opportunity arose…and I totally botched it.

With two outs in the top of the 8th inning, Chad Pennington hit a homerun in our direction.  I had an open lane to the ailse.  It seemed like it was going to land 5-10 rows behind us and right on the aisle.  I bolted to the aisle and headed up three rows.  Then the ball totally died.  I turned around but couldn’t make it back to “the spot.”  The spot, sadly, was precisely at the aisle seat…

17 - homerun failure.JPG….in THE ROW IN WHICH I WAS JUST SITTING.  It was right there, on my side of the green railing.  RIGHT THERE!  Had I stayed put, I could have caught it easily.

I still had a chance.  Someone bobbled the ball.  I made a dive for it down the stairs while passing under that railing, which ultimately resulted in several flesh wounds and two large buises but no baseball.

Aye, aye, aye…

Oh, well.  while I really would like to catch a game homerun some day, I would much, much, MUCH prefer that it not be a homerun off of the Mariners.

Anyway, it was moving into the 9th inning.  Tim and I decided to head over to the 3B dugout in hopes of getting our hands on our first ever Safeco Field umpire ball.

Here was our first view as Anthony Varvaro pitched to Kevin Kouzmanoff…

18 - Varvaro to Kouzmanoff.JPG…the white arrow is pointing to my brother and parents.  We were in the concourse standing room area for that picture.

A few minutes later, we mae it to the first row right on the umpire tunnel, but an usher told us we couldn’t sit in the “charter” seats.  I asked her how far back we had to go.  Row 11 was acceptable.

So, this was our view from the 11th row of Ichi’s final at bat of the night when,…

19 - Ichiro 210 of 2010.JPG…after a hard foul liner right over our heads, he smacked a single for his 210th hit of the season.

After the final out of the game — and an 8-1 loss — home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman handed a beautiful rubbed up baseball to Tim (pictured below).  It was the 105th baseball in the “Todd & Tim Baseball Partners Era.”  Our next baseball would be our first of the “Todd, Tim & Kellan 3-Man Baseball Team Era.”

It was a miserable loss, but it was great being back at Safeco Field and it was great spending the evening with my family.

On the walk back to my brother and parents in RF, an usher took this excellent shot of me and my boy
...

20 - We love this place.JPG…and then…

21 - Five Cooks at Safeco Field.JPG…another usher took this excellent shot of all of us.

As we left the park, I was excited to know that we’d be walking back into the park less than 24 hours later for the first game of Kellan’s life!

2010 Fan Stats:

27 Games


22 - Halman 104 and Dreckman 105.jpg20 Teams
(Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)

23 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (1), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

62 Baseballs (13 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, 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, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

15 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, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

10 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, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

Guys Night Out In Baltimore (9/18/10)

The day before Tim’s 4th MLB Anniversary game, my buddy Greg accompanied me on a trip to the car dealer to get some equipment installed on my wife’s car.  Greg (and his former-lady friend) had accompanied me and Tim to a Blue Jays home game in Philadelphia back in June.  While waiting on the car, I asked Greg if he would be interested in going to Camden Yards with us the following weekend.  He was.

Some people arrive two hours before a baseball game, chase balls during BP, and explore the stadium before and during the game.  That’s me and Tim.

On the other hand, some people show up five minutes before first pitch, report to their assigned seats, and stay put thoroughout the game other than trips to the concourse for food/drinks/bathroom visits.  Heck, they may even leave early to “beat traffic.”  That’s Greg.

But on September 18, 2010, Greg proclaimed that he wanted the full Cook & Son ballgame experience.  So Tim and I called the shots at this game.  Let’s see how it turned out.

The only bad part of the night was that Baltimore was invaded by hordes of Bronx-based baseball fans.  The line to get into the stadium…

1 - too many bronx fans.JPG…was ridiculous.  Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people were there before the gates opened.

With the help of Mr. Avi Miller, we had “season tickets” allowing us to access the main stadium while the riff-raff were confined to Eutaw Street and RF-CF.  With the help of some other Camden Yards regulars, we managed to get into the stadium ahead of 98% of the hundreds of people pictured above.

Thanks, OPACY regulars!  (Its good to know people).

Five minutes after the gates opened, we were in LF and…


2 - from tillman to tim.JPG…Chris Tillman (the player above on the right*) tossed a baseball to Tim.  After we got the ball, Greg asked if he could hold it.  It was the first time he’d EVER touched an actual Major League baseball.

I wanted Greg to catch a BP homerun.  Unfortunately, the O’s stopped hitting early and the Bronx horde (much like the evil Jun Horde of Beastmaster fame) made an early entrance:

3 - the early intruders.JPGNon-season ticket holders were not supposed to be let in until 5:30.  But we think they were let in early because there were simply too many “Juns” to be contained out on Eutaw Street.

We decided to head up to the upper deck to see some sights.

When we reached the top of the winding ramps, Tim popped a squat in the concourse…

4 - strike.JPG…and had us lob him some pitches.  Look, a no-eyes catch!

 Next, we headed over to LCF and watched the action out on Eutaw Street… 

5 - upper deck view across camden.JPG….it was packed.  Then we headed into the seats where I got this shot of the bullpens and batters eye…

6 - camden bullpens.JPG…the team from the Bronx was peppering the back wall of the batters eye with homeruns.  I think there were about 8 balls hit in there.  Also, notice all of the strips of grass transplanted for use in the outfield.

In centerfield, we spotted Mariano Rivera…

7 - bronx pitchers.JPG…who I’m guessing must be the last baseball player who wears the number 42.

After spitting lots of sunflower seeds out of the upper deck, we headed around the upper deck concourse toward right field:

8 - OPACY upper deck concourse 3B side.JPGThen it was down to the field level concourse for some fun in the kids play area.  But it was ridiculously packed.  So, after Tim took some hacks, he decided to head to the Camden Club for some dinner.

On our way out of the play area, we noticed this sign showing the evolution of the Orioles’ logo:

9 - orioles evolution.JPGI like ‘em all except the angry “Cuckoo” Bird second from the right.  That one is just silly.  This sign raises the question, what did the O’s use from 1989-1996?

Eutaw Street was insanely packed:

10 - crowded eutaw street.JPGWe ended up getting the same table in the Camden Club where we sat with my mom back in July.  This time, I realized I could open the window a tiny bit.  So I stuck my arm out and took these shots looking down on crowded Eutaw Street:

11 - Birds eye of eutaw street.JPGAs we waited for our dinners to arrive, we could see C.C. Sabbathia warming up in the visitors’ bullpen:

12 - carston charles warms in bullpen.JPGTim the photographer took this shot of me and Greg hanging out at our table:

13 - a table with a view.JPGWe arrived at the Camden Club pretty late in the pre-game festivities.  When we ordered, our waitress told us that our food wouldn’t arrive before the game started.  That was fine with us.  We ended up watching the first 2-3 innings from our table in the Camden Club.  It was quite pleasant up there.

Derek Jeter led off for the visitors and Jeremy Guthrie “welcomed” him to Baltimore with a first pitch to the back/elbow…

14 - beaned.JPG…to see the video clip, click here.

Eventually, our food came, and it was delicious:

15 - stabbed burger.JPGTim and a chicken strip posed for a picture by the window:

16 - chicken fingers and OPACY views.JPGUnfortunately, after hitting the Bronx short stop, Guthrie walked the Bronx third baseman and then gave up a 2-out 2-RBI single to the Bronx catcher.  So the O’s trailed 0-2 after the first inning.

For the record, we were rooting for the O’s.  My forever first and favorite team is the Mariners.  My second favorite team is whoever is playing the team from the Bronx.

After the sun dipped behind the stadium, I was able to get a halfway decent panorama:

17 - camden 8th floor camden club panorama.jpgWe headed down to the field around the third inning.  On our way, I talked the elevator operator into letting us get out on the second floor (while she continued on with other elevator passengers) so Tim could get a good look at the Camden Yards model…

18 - OPACY model and Os front office.JPG…and Greg could get his picture in front of the glass doors to the O’s front office.  Tim loves that model.

When we got to the field level, it was time for something special…

19 - one more Os ICH.JPG…the first ice cream helmet of Greg’s life.

Even with the packed house, we were able to find some nice unoccupied handicapped accessible seats in the cross aisle behind section 16.  This was our view:

20 - Camden section 16 panorama.jpgUnfortunately, this guy’s game was on…

21 -  clown pants.JPG…and he was gunning for his twentieth win of the season.  And when he did in fact win it later this evening, it was the first time a pitcher in either league had won 20 games since 2008 and the first time Sabbathia had won 20 in a season in his career.

On a side note:  In 2008 there were several pitchers who won 20 games (Cliff Lee, Brandon Webb, Roy Halladay, and Mike “20 & Retire” Mussina), and Tim, my parents and I witnessed Brandon Webb record his 20th win of the season at Tim’s second MLB Anniversary game in Arizona.  It was also the first time Webb had ever won 20 in a season.

Things were going the visitors’ way all night. 

The O’s couldn’t get them out…

22 - disputed but correct call.JPG…and Buck “The Miracle Worker” Showalter couldn’t argue his way into any additional outs.

In addition to Sabbathia’s milestone 20th win, we’d also witness Robinson Cano hit a lesser milestone with a 2-run homerun in the 5th inning.  When A-Rod touched the plate on Cano’s homerun, it marked the first time in Cano’s career that he had reached the 100-RBI mark.

We had plenty of fun, nonetheless.

23 - happy and serious tim.JPGIn that picture above to the right, Tim looks pretty serious.  Possibly because we were on a mission to finish off our final two pictures needed to complete the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt.

Earlier in the game, we found a mulleted beer vendor and were able to check off the highest point value picture in the scavenger hunt.  Only one picture remained.  Above, Tim is wearing my glove as a hat and there is a long rope’ish looking thing coming off of my glove.  We needed to find an usher to pretend to cut the string.  And we had a tip from the aforementioned OPACY-crew regular, Avi Miller.

After watching A-Rod very satisfyingly ground out weakly to 3B…

24 - enjoy your winter.JPG…we decided to head toward LF to find Kelly, the usher Avi advised would be a good choice for our final scavenger hunt picture.

On our walk toward LF, Tim looked up and spotted the Bird sitting in the press box window…

25 - wave from the bird.JPG…without even realizing he was doing it, I managed to capture the Bird as he waved to Tim.  Tim was very excited to be the recipient of the Bird’s wave.

We decided to get an usher to take our picture in the concourse behind home plate…

26 - TJCs and Greg at OPACY.JPG…this same usher usually takes our picture every time Tim and I visit Camden Yards.  He always does a fine job.

Out in LF, we grabbed some seats in the last row.  Eventually, an usher walked by and I spotted “Kelly” on her name tag.  I flagged her down and asked if she knew Avi.  She did!  And she was more than happy to help us with the final scavenger hunt picture once the half inning concluded.  Here is the final scavenger hunt photo:

27 - acting with ms kelly.JPGA difficult part about this one is that you either (i) had to find an usher with a pair of scissors (I guess meaning he/she really intended to cut some ball retrieving devices during BP) or (ii) you had to bring scissors to the game (something that didn’t really seem possible).

Well, it turns out that the letter actually is possible.  Without planning it or even knowing I was doing it, I brought a pair of craft scissors to the game.  Security at the gate did not find them because (unknown to me), they were in by back pocket.  Apparently, I had driven 2 hours to Baltimore while sitting on these scissors, but never noticed.

During BP, I felt something in my back pocket and figured it was Tim’s sunglasses.  I grabbed the “sunglasses” and was delighted to find they were actually a pair of scissors I’d used earlier in the day to help my wife with a project around thehouse.  So, I knew we *had* to get this photo.  Interestingly, we’ve never used the glove trick, so we had to figure out how to rig it specifically for the photo.  Luckily, it all came together with some MacGyverish ingenuitity.

Shortly after we got the picture, the 9th inning was on us.  We planned to go for an umpire ball.  I made a rookie mistake, but we were able to overcome it.

The last time we were at Camden Yards, I saw the same usher who took our picture (above) seating some little kids to go for an umpire baseball.  So, when he took our picture at this game, I asked him if he could seat us down there to go for an umpire ball.  He said he would take Tim down to the umpire tunnel, but Greg and I couldn’t come because we didn’t have tickets for that section.

Well, that wouldn’t work because there is no way Tim would go off on his own with an usher and then ask for an umpire ball.   In fact, without me, he is not tall enough to see over the wall of the umpire tunnel.

The problem was that the guy now *knew* we didn’t have tickets for that area.  If I had not asked, he never would have even questioned it.  Anyway, we made our way down there at the top of the ninth.  We were on the other side of the tunnel (not in that usher’s section) about 8 rows back.  But then I got greedy.  I saw that rows 3-5 were completely empty on the other side of the tunnel.  So we headed over there.

The usher saw us and told us Tim could stay, but Greg and I could not.  I told him Tim wouldn’t stay there on his own.  But the guy wouldn’t budge.  Again, I never should have asked him in the first place.  Anyway, as the three of us exited the section, a couple was leaving the same section and they walked over and gave us their tickets (unsolicited).  We thanked them profusely and then turned around.  I walked up to the usher and showed him the tickets.  He waved us in and gave his blessing for us to sit anywhere we wanted in the section.

We ended up here…

28 - semi-ticketed seats.JPG…sitting directly behind the usher.  With no one else on that side of the tunnel, it was easy pickens for Tim to get an umpire baseball from Tony Randazzo.

Thanks, Tony!

Sadly, Chad Gaudin shut the door in the bottom of the ninth and the O’s fell to the visitors 11-3.

Before heading out, a nice fan took one more group shot of the three of us:

29 - post-game photo op.JPG

As we slowly left the stadium, Greg gave me his assessment of the Cook & Son ballpark experience:  two thumbs up.  He’d never seen so many parts of a stadium or been “on the go” throughout a game and he found it to be quite fun.

So did we.

Hopefully, Greg will be back for another game or two with us next season.

2010 Fan Stats:

26 Games


102 - Chris Tillman.JPG20 Teams
(Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)

22 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

60 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 9 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)


103 - umpire Tony Randazzo.JPG12 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, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

15 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, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

10 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, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2010)

On Sunday, September 12, 2010, Tim and I headed out of the house early in the morning en route to Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary game.  I had debated in my head for months about which game we would attend.  It was between Marlins @ Nationals or Phillies @ Mets.  We’re more interested in the Phillies and Mets.  But we already saw the Phillies on Tim’s First Anniversary.  So, we hopped in the car and headed south to Washington, D.C. for a date with the Marlins, Nationals, and Tim’s “Poppy” (his materal grandfather, who I call Kevin).

In addition to all the excitement surrounding it being Tim’s MLB Anniversary game, we had the opportunity to do something special at this game.  If we could manage to get two baseballs at this game, Tim and I would hit the 100 baseball mark on the fourth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball (which was given to Tim by Blue Jays September call-up, Davis Romero).

It was a drizzly morning.  We arrived right as the gates opened (2.5 hours before game time), but there was no batting practice.  When we arrived, there was no action on the field at all.  But a Marlins pitcher was throwing in the bullpen out in LF.

I had no clue who he was.  But I noticed he had his name stitched on his glove, so I zoomed in…

2 - alex sanabia.JPG…to find out it was Alex Sanabia.

As we watched Sanabia throwing under the supervision of his pitching coach, Poppy arrived.  In addition to the three of us, there were a few other people (maybe 5 or so) watching Sanabia pitch.

When Sanabia finished up, he walked under us and I called out, “Hey, Alex, any chance you could toss up that baseball for my son (pointing at Tim).”

And just like that, Tim has baseball number 99 in his hands:

3 - 99th baseball.JPG

Thanks, Alex!

After a while, some Nationals gathered around the bullpen in RF.  We took Poppy, who was visiting Nationals Park for the first time, over to RF to look down into the Nats bullpen.  But then some Marlins came out.  Given the options, I thought it would be a lot better to get number 100 from a Marlin.  So we headed back over to LF.

We couldn’t go into the infield seats until 12:00 o’clock.  So we just hung out in the outfield and watched…

4 - scouting number 100.JPG…I had no clue who any of the Marlins were down there.   Finally, the ushers waved us toward the infield.  We were free to roam wherever we wanted to in the stadium.

We made our way to the LF foul line where we stood behind a pitcher who we’d never heard of before (despite the fact we’d actually seen him pitch two innings against the Phillies the weekend before).  I used my zoom to figure out…

5 - hello jay buente.JPG…that it was Jay Buente.

Poppy wandered off to find a hot dog for lunch while Tim and I watched the action on the field.  Finally, Buente and his partner finished up and Buente started walking toward the baseball bag.  There were literally zero other fans along the foul line with us.  As Buente passed right in front of us, I recycled my question to Alex Sanabia, “Hey, Jay, any chance my son could get that baseball?”

Buente took 1-2 more steps toward the bag and then took a sharp left turn and walked the baseball over and handed it to Tim.  I was quick to ask if he’d hang out for two seconds to get his picture with Tim…

6 - 100th baseball.JPG…and Buente was happy to do so.

100 Thank yous, Jay Buente!

Sweet!!

After Buente walked away, Tim turned toward me and held the ball high over his head and yelled with excitement, “We have 100 baseballs!”

Wow – that’s cool!

We were just about to go meet up with Poppy when Marlins pitcher Brian Sanches wandered by.  We got Sanches to autograph a spare baseball we had in our bag (FYI, when fans insist on giving baseballs to Tim (meaning, I cannot talk them into giving it to another kid), we use them for autographs.  This ball was from Cleveland.).

Then Sanches, who seemed to be an incredibly nice and genuine guy, posed for a picture with Tim:  

7 - brian sanches.JPGThanks, Brian!

Finally, we met up with Poppy.  I had a hot dog, but Tim wasn’t hungry.  After eating, it was time to walk around the stadium with Poppy.  First, we stopped in LF to get our picture with a guy in a Cowboys jersey for the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt.

Next, we headed into the upper deck to check out the Capitol Builiding and Washington Monument.  We got a photo of Poppy, Tim and the Capitol building:

9 - poppy tim capitol.JPGThen we looked down over the seats and into the field:

8 - sosa and veras.JPGThose two guys in LF in the picture to the left above are Jose Veras and Jorge Sosa.  I yelled down “JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORGGGGGEEE!!”

Sosa looked up and I flashed my glove at him.

Jorge was holding a baseball and he reared back and cocked his arm like he was going to give it a mighty toss up to me.  Then he stopped and made an exaggrated “oh, my arm is hurt” look and pointed to his arm.  Then he gave a big chuckled and went along on his way.  I’ve always thought it would be cool to catch a baseball in the upper deck and this was the closest we’ve ever come to doing it.

Oh, well, on with the stadium tour.  We walked around to the RF side and gazed upon the river (just like we’d done the weekend before with my cousin, Nathan).  Out in the distance, Poppy pointed out Fort McNair…


10 - poppy and fort mcnair.JPG…where a young Poppy just back to the States after a tour in Vietnam met a young Grammy (Tim’s maternal grandma).  The story goes that Poppy was to be reassigned to Texas to finish out the final year of his military commitment.  After a tour in southeast Asia, Poppy wasn’t too excited to spend another year away from his home in the northeast.  So he headed to the Pentagon to meet with some military big wigs and request a change of assignment to be closer to his home in New Jersey.  The officer in charge couldn’t get him to New Jersey, but he offered to change Poppy’s assignment to a job in Washington, D.C.  Poppy jumped at the opportunity, and Grammy (who worked for the officer) was in charge of typing up Poppy’s change of assignment orders.

Eventually, Poppy would begin courting Grammy.  They’d marry.  Have a daughter.  Have another daughter.  Have both daughters move away to Philadelphia where the younger daughter would meet and eventually marry a guy who had just moved to Philadelphia from Seattle.  The younger daughter and the guy from Seattle would have a kid.  They’d take the kid to his first baseball game on September 12, 2006.  Poppy would also attend the kid’s first game.  And fourth years later, Poppy, the guy from Seattle, and the kid would go to another baseball game on September 12, 2010, where Poppy would point out the building where the whole the whole story began.  And then they would all go buy some more hot dogs and nachos, and then report to their seats in CF.

Here was their view:

11 - nats park section 143 row A seats 5-7 panorama.jpgFor the second week in a row, we had front row seats in the OF.  This time, it was in section 143.

Once again, Nyjer Morgan was playing CF for the Nationals…

12 - nyjer morgan still not suspended.JPG…because he was still appealing his two suspensions.  Eventually, he’d prevail on one of his suspensions, I believe.

This is what it looked like as we watched the game:

13 - hanging with poppy.JPGAlthough it looks a little gloomy, the weather was actually ideal for us.  No rain at all and none of the brutal sun that chased us from our seats by the fourth inning the week before.

Tim ate some extremely unimpressive nachos…

14 - nachos.JPG…he still liked them despite their relative unimpressiveness to other nachos Tim had enjoyed this season.  In the picture above to the right, he is pretending that the chip is his mouth wide open.  Four year olds are easily entertained.

There was some more unusual entertainment early in the game…

15 - squirrel.JPG…a squirrel ran across the outfield.  Eventually, he’d run up and down the chain link fence in front of the Nationals bullpen.  They should have chased that squirrel down and taken him away in handcuffs for running on the field during the game.

Hey, there was a game played too.

Mike “The Beast” Stanton was in the house.  And he brought a big bat with him…

16 - Mike Stanton bomb number 1.JPG…on this swing, Stanton crushed a homerun DEEEEEP into the leftfield stands.  That put the Marlins up 1-0.  Later in the inning, Emilio Bonafacio hit an RBI single to make it 2-0.

Then things got a little interesting.  Bonafacio stole second.  Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann tried to pick Bonafacio off of second, but threw the ball high and behind second baseman Adam Kennedy.  Kennedy should have caught the ball, but it tipped off of his glove and scooted into shallow RF.

Bonafacio took off for third with blazing speed.  Meanwhile, Kennedy jogged after the loose ball like he was bored and had nothing better to do.  Bonafacio had his afterburners on.  I shouted, “HE’S GONNA SCORE!!!”  And that is just what he did.  He scored from second base on a failed pick-off move and Kennedy’s laziness in chasing the ball.  This is what Kennedy looked like as he hung his head in shame:

17 - adam kennedy post bonehead play.JPGThe Marlins led 3-0.  But the Nats were about to get in on the action.  In the bottom of the second, Ivan Rodriguez came to the plate with the bases loaded.  On this swing…

18 - pudge hit.JPG…he hit a single to left field scoring Adam Dunn and Mike Morse.

Mike Stanton was not pleased that the Nats had closed the gap to 3-2.  In the top of the third inning, Stanton flexed his muscles again on this pitch…

19 - Mike Stanton bomb number 2.JPG…another deep homerun to left field.  This one was a 2-run job staking the Marlins to a 5-2 lead in the top of the third.

Starting in the bottom of the third, the Nats would score one run an inning for the next three innings.  And the Marlins scored a single run in the fourth.  None of those runs were particularly exciting or notable, other than the fact that one of them was credited to future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez (on a weak grounder to 2B in the bottom of the fourth inning).

So that made the score 6-5 Marlins after five innings.

In the middle innings, Tim enjoyed an anniversary ice cream helmet…

20 - nats anniversary ice cream helmet.JPG…choloate with sprinkles, of course.

And, we cheered on everyone’s favorite running President, Teddy Roosevelt…

21 - presidents race.JPG…but he came in a distant fourth place in the 4-man Presidents race.

Yeah, we were having fun.  It was a great day:

22 - dudes.JPGThe outfield seats were practically empty.  I was hoping a homerun would come our way.  When Adam Dunn would bat, I camped out in the stairway with room to run in every direction…

23 - adam dunn positioning.JPG…above to the left is my view of Big Adam Dunn during his at bats.  To the right, my view of Tim and Poppy (and some guy who stood the whole game a couple seats away).

Of course, no homeruns came anywhere near us.

In the sixth inning, Tim wanted to go to the kids play area.  That’s when the drama began.  Tim was so excited he was running up and down the outfield stairs as Poppy and I followed him.  On his way up the stairs, Tim tripped and smacked both shins on the edge of a concrete stair and his forehead right on the top of the next stair up.

He went crazy with the water works.

It was legitimate water works.  He had scrapes on both knees and over his left eye.

Tim no longer wanted to go to the play area.  He wanted to go to the first aid office and get some bandaids.  So that’s what we did.  He was still huff’n and puff’n.

As we walked to the office, I snapped this picture of our new buddy, Brian Sanches…

Sanches to Pudge.jpg…pitching to Pudge Rodriguez.  Sanches would strike out Pudge, Willie Harris and Ian Desmond in the bottom of the sixth inning.  He’d also qualify for his first win of the season.

The people in the first aid office had just the thing to cure Tim’s blues.  In addition to some bandaids, they gave him a plastic cup with a metalic silver Nationals “W” on one side and a metalic silver picture of Nationals Park on the opposite side.  Between the bandaids and the cup…

blue and metalic silver nats cup.jpg…Tim started to feel a lot better.

We grabbed some seats around 1B just in time to see Adam Dunn bat again.  He hit this foul ball…

24 - Dunn fouls.JPG…and then eventually drew a walk.  No homeruns for Big Dunn on this day.

Here was our view from the seats we found in section 133:

25 - nats section 133 panorama.jpgWe were still in these seats in the top of the 8th when Hanley Ramirez struck out looking to end the inning…

26 - Hanley Ramirez disagrees.JPG…and then stood at the plate with his hand on his hip and feet crossed talking to umpire Wally Bell for what seemed like forever.

Heading into the top of the ninth, we decided to swing around to the 3B side to go for an umpire ball.  But as we walked through the concourse behind 1B and about to duck into the closed off tunnel behind the fancy clubs and restaurants behind home plate, I noticed that the guard watching the entrance to the fancy seats directly behind home plate was leaning far over a railing watching something in the seats.

We decided to walk in there like we belonged and see what would happen.  With Tim on my shoulders I breezed right by the usher and into the fancy seats.  Right as we got into the seats, someone hit a pop foul ball about 10 feet away from us.  As people were going for the ball, Tim and I took some seats undetected.  Interestingly, there was a ticket in the drink holder where we sat down so we were golden incase someone came and asked to see our ticket.

This was our view from section 124:

27 - nats section 124 panorama.jpgWith all of the commotion from the foul ball, I didn’t even realize that I had no clue where Poppy was.  I called his cellphone and discovered that another usher stopped him as he walked into the fancy seats behind us.  I guess that foul ball really helped us out.  Anyway, it was the ninth inning and Poppy told us to enjoy the fancy seats and he’d meet up with us after the game.

Thanks, Poppy!

Mike Stanton was up again in the ninth…

28 - Stanton no third homerun.JPG…but failed to hit his third homerun of the day.  He would have to settle for 3-4 day with 2HR and 3RBI.

Now, the “fancy” seats behind home plate are segregated between the “fancy” seats, the “really fancy” seats, the “ridiculously fancy” seats, and the “outrageously fancy seats.”  We were in the “really fancy seats.”

However, I realized we could still go for an umpire baseball if we could get into the “ridiculously fancy” seats (or, heaven forbid, the “outrageously fancy” seats) at the end of the game.  Actually, if we could get into the “outrageously fancy” seats, an umpire baseball would be almost guaranteed.  But we had no fanciful thoughts about making it into the “outrageously fancy” seats.

We headed over to the far side of section 119, where this was our view:

30 - nats section 119 panorama.jpgThose stairs to the left lead down into the “ridiculously fancy” seats.  An usher sits right at the bottom of the stairs, to keep people with mere “really fancy” seats out, no doubt.  I figured we could probably get down there and sweet talk her, if need be, right at the end of the game so Tim could ask for an umpire ball in the “ridiculously fancy” seats.

First, Tim did some kung fu:

29 - Kung Fu baseball fan.JPGAfter Ian Desmond grounded out to end the game, things went even better than we could planned.  We rushed down the stairs.  The usher at the bottom of the stairs stood up and walked toward the field.  As she made her way to the field, she opened a gate to the “outrageously fancy” seats.

All of a sudden we found ourselves in the IDEAL spot.  In that kung fu picture above, there is a little kid wearing a bright blue shirt in the first row at the far left side of the picture.  That is where we were standing when home plate umpire Wally Bell walked off of the field.

Essentially, when a kid stands in that spot with no other kids present as the umpire comes off the field, that kid is going to get an umpire baseball.  It is close to guaranteed.

And when Wally Bell set this baseball (baseball no. 101) in Tim’s glove…

31 - No. 101 courtesy of Wally Bell.JPG…we had officially embarked on a new journey:  the journey to baseball no. 200.

Thanks, Wally Bell!

Okay, so the game was over and it was time to go meet up with Poppy.  We had to exit the seats and make our way around the concourse toward CF.  But we were in the first row of the fanciest seats at Nationals Park.  We had to get a picture: 

32 - Lexus Club concourse behind home plate.JPGAnd, how do people in those seats leave the field of play?  They exit through the uber-fancy Lexus Club.

Sounds good to us!

It was dark in there.  These were the best pictures I could get of the bar and the area behind the bar:

33 - Nats Lexus club.JPGThat bar (above to the right) is directly inside the glass doors directly behind home plate at Nationals Park.  The picure above to the left is taken from the 1B side of the Lexus Club.  To the left and behind those big panels that spell “NATIONALS” is restaurant-style seating.

To the far 1B side of the club there is a wall of windows.  In the windows closer to the field you can watch the Nationals take BP in the underground cages…

34 - Nats batting cage and interview room.JPG…as you walk toward the back of the club (away from the field), there are more windows that peer in on the interview room.

It was pretty sweet in there.  One cool thing that I tired unsuccessfully to photograph was a hallway with pictures of a whole bunch of U.S. Presidents throwing out first pitches at MLB games.  Sadly, the lighting in there was so weird (and we needed to get back to Poppy so I rushed and) none of my pictures came out.

Anyway, we headed back out of the field, circled the concourse, met up with Poppy, and went and got in line for KIDS RUN THE BASES!

YES!

This was Poppy’s first Kids Run The Bases and only the second MLB field he’d ever walked on before (the first being Camden Yards where he once attended a wedding).

Poppy stood in for me in our traditional Kids Run The Bases right field distance marker picture:

35 - poppy and the OF wall.JPGNote:  both Tim and Poppy are standing in fair territory.  Excellent.

Running the bases, as always, was awesome:

36 - 4th anniversary bases 1st and 2nd.JPGAnd, amazingly, I actually got a decent picture of Tim at each base:

37 - 4th anniversary bases 3rd and home.JPGBefore heading out, we got a picture of Tim by the “Nationals Park” sign on the rock wall behind home plate…

38 - nationals park sign behind home plate.JPG…we’d just been in those blue seats right on the other side of the rock wall.

A nice fan took a picture of the three of us on the field to mark the occassion:

39 - Poppy and TJCs.JPGYes, coming to Nationals Park for Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary was the right call.

40 - anniversary battle scar.JPGUnquestionably.

We got our 100th baseball.

Spent some great quality time with Poppy.

Visited the Lexus Club.

Ran the Bases.

Other than maybe “not bashing your head on a concrete step,” what more can you ask for in a day at the ballpark?  Not much.

It was another great MLB anniversary.

Thanks, MLB!

2010 Fan Stats:

25 Games

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

21 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (3), Indians, Yankees)

58 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 8 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

12 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, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

15 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, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

10 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, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field) 

MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt

We record the baseballs we catch at MLB games on MyGameBalls.com, an excellent site created last year by Alan Schuster.

On March 29, 2010, Alan announced a contest for the 2010 season:  The 2010 MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt Contest.

Alan created a list of twenty photos participants should try to collect while inside MLB stadiums during the 2010 season:

scavenger hunt list.jpgOn April 4, 2010, we published our 2010 Cook & Son Baseball Agenda and goals, including goal number 19:  “Win MyGameBalls.com photo-scavenger hunt.

So, we wrote down the list (actually, we mistakenly only wrote down 19 of the 20 photos) in the trusty notebook that we’d eventually carry with us to 29 games at 13 stadiums in 2010…

scavenger notes.jpg…and we set out to collect the scavenger hunt photos.

Actually, we got off to a slow start.  Both Tim and I fist bumped players in April and May, but I could never get a picture of it.  Finally, without realizing it, we got our first scavenger hunt photo in Baltimore on May 11, 2010, when we recreated a picture of the first time Tim and I met Zack Hample…

1 - 6pts - ZBH - MGB Top 10.JPG…who of course isn’t just in the Top 10, he is No. 1 on the MyGameBalls.com all-time list.  An excellent night, we got our first scavenger hunt picture and watched our first Mariners win of the season.

In Pittsburgh, Tim and I bought a white headband and inscribed it with “MyGameBalls.com,” but we never got the picture.  Instead, we kept the headband handy and finally got the picture when we were back in Baltimore on June 5, 2010

2 - 4pts - MGB headband.JPG…when we witnessed Red Sox Nation’s invasion of Camden Yards.

We got our third scavenger hunt photo on the same night and like our first photo, we didn’t even realize we got it until a couple days after the fact.  You see, we met a couple great guys (actually a whole great family), Todd and Tim Dixon a/k/a “Todd (HI)” and “Teemo” at this game.  We “knew” Todd (HI) and Teemo from our blog comments and it was great to finally meet them in person.  However, they arrived right at game time and totally missed BP.  At the end of the game, Tim, Teemo and Teemo’s sister, Jessica, went for umpire baseballs.  Victor Carapazza gave Tim a baseball, but the Dixon’s came up empty handed at their first and only game at Camden Yards.  Tim got a baseball during BP, so we gave his umpire ball from Carapazza to Teemo so he would have a baseball from Camden Yards…

3 - 2pts - Ball to Teemo.JPG…at the time, Teemo was 8 years old.

A few days later, we flew to California and met up with my Dad for the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.  At our first game of the trip in Oakland on June 9, 2010, we secured our fourth picture when Tim met and high-fived Stomper:

4 - 3pts - High Five Stomper.jpgWe really tried to take advantage of the roadtrip.  Our goal was to get a scavenger hunt picture at each game.  On June 10, 2010, we were still in Oakland when we got this picture with Jered Weaver…

5 - 7pts - Weaver All-Star.JPG…this was an interesting picture because it wasn’t a scavenger hunt qualifying picture at the time it was taken.  The 2010 All-Star team had not been set yet.  However, with a little gaming of the system, a month later, Joe Girardi helped us secure the all-star picture when he named Weaver — who by rule could not pitch in the all-star game because he pitched the last game of the first half of the season — as a “replacement” for C.C. Sabbathia who also could not pitch for the same reason.  Weaver was ultimately replaced on the active all-star roster by Andrew Bailey.

A few minutes later, we were able to get Tim’s picture with former Mariners pitcher, Joel Piniero…

6 - 5pts - Piniero Fist Bump.JPG…and I flat out told/asked Joel, “we’re in a photo scavenger hunt, could we get your picture fist bumping my son?”  Joel is awesome.  Of course, he obliged.

On June 11, 2010 in Los Angeles (actual Los Angeles, not Anaheim), Joel pitched a gem to beat the Dodgers in the “freeway series,” and there were just enough Angels fans in attendance to help me mock-celebrate this homerun by Howie Kendrick…

7 - 8pts - Homer.JPG…who can be seen between second base and third base.  Just for kicks, we got this picture again late in the season (see inset picture).

On June 12, 2010, we were in San Diego and Tim was wearing his Mariners uniform (complete with baseball pants and stirrup-looking socks) when we got this picture in the bleacher-beach…

8 - 7pts - Baseball Pants.JPG…I included the second picture (to the right above), which was taken a couple days later in San Francisco to show Tim’s stirrup-socks.  This was actually a tough picture to pick which one I would submit.  I actually took this picture where Tim is standing in the bleacher seats behind the beach for the competition, but you couldn’t actually tell his pants were baseball pants.  So I went with the one in the beach section of the bleachers where it was more evident that they were baseball pants.

The following day, were were back at Petco Park when we got what I considered to be possibly the hardest picture in the contest…

9 - 4 pts - Umpire Joe West.JPG…a picture with 3B umpire “Cowboy” Joe West.  This picture came about in an odd way.  Home plate umpire Angel Hernandez gave Tim the baseball he is holding in the picture after Felix Hernandez won an absolute gem of a game.  West then snatched the baseball out of Tim’s hands and exited through the umpire tunnel.  West then came back laughing and gave the ball back to Tim.  I pounced on the opportunity to ask him for a picture.  He was more than happy to oblige.

Back in Pennsylvania, we headed to Citizens Bank Park on June 20, 2010 (Phathers’ Day), and we came away with two more scavenger hunt pictures.  The first was with a Phillies Ballgirl named Bridgette…

10 - 3pts - Phillies ballgirls.JPG…originally, Tim was too shy to get his picture with Bridgette.  But I told him it would help us win the contest and then he was all over it.  After he saw Bridgette run on the field to catch a foul grounder, he ended up quite enjoying that he met a ballgirl.  In fact, the next week, he asked if he could get his picture with another Phillies ballgirl, Brittany.

After the Phathers’ Day game, Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra tossed us a Target Field commemorative baseball…

11 - 3pts - 2010 Commemorative.JPG…resulting in this scavenger hunt qualifying photo (note: also pictured is the Father’s Day blue wrist band that we received from Twins bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek).

On June 26, 2010, the Phillies were “on the road” in Philadelphia to face off against the home town Blue Jays and we made our way to the Great White North for the game.  Due to the flip-flopping of the BP order (the home team Blue Jays hit first) and the unbridaled awesomeness of Jamie Moyer…

12 - 7pts - Moyer Vizquel.JPG…we got my favorite picture of the entire competition:  a picture with Jamie Moyer, age 47.  FYI, Moyer is my favorite pitcher of all-time.  In August in Baltimore, Tim got his picture with Omar Visquel, who is also a former-Mariner still playing in MLB over the age of 40.

On July 22, 2010, we were in Baltimore once again and we hooked up with Hall of Famer and, more importantly, baseball TV reporter/personality Jim Palmer…

13 - 6pts - Jim Palmer The Reporter.jpg…after getting a normal picture with Palmer, I asked if we could also get one shaking hands.  We clapsed hands in a traditional hand shake, and then Palmer switched it up with the “cooler” hand shake featured in the picture.  Palmer is one cool dude.

During this same game, we purchased the first funnel cake of Tim’s life and snagged this picture…

14 - 2pts - Eating Funnel Cake.jpg…after this picture, we’ll stick with ice cream helmets.

On August 8, 2010, we met the Sultan of Swat, George Herman “Babe” Ruth himself, in Baltimore…

15 - 5pts - Ruth Retired 1935.jpg…and I snapped this picture as he gave Tim his autograph.  The Babe retired in 1935, well before the 1990 cut off for this scavenger hunt photo.

On August 20, 2010, we were in New York and we were equipped with Tim’s cousin’s Kate’s pink backpack…

16 - 5pts - pink backpack.jpgReal men wear pink.

On September 6, 2010, Tim and I pulled an I-95 day/night doubleheader.  We were in Washington, D.C. in the morning when we got this shot of Livan Hernandez…

17 - 5pts - MidAir.jpg…and finally I was able to capture a baseball sailing toward us in a photo.  Thanks, Livan!

On September 12, 2010 (game not yet written up), we celebrated Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary at Nationals Park.  The Dallas Cowboys would take on the Washington Redskins later in the day and when we spotted this fan in the LF seats during pre-game warm-ups (no BP)…

18 - 4 pts - Cowboys Jersey.jpg…we finally got our “non-baseball professional jersey” picture.

And so we entered September 18, 2010 (game not yet written up), having checked off all but one of the photos in our little spiral notebook.  Unfortunately, I realized I had failed to include one of the pictures in my notes — an usher cutting a ball retrieving device.  The last two pictures would be difficult because we’ve never made or used a “device” and we’d been searching for a mulleted fan all month to no avail.

It was looking bleak, but then an odd twist of fate signaled that this night was *our* night.  Just before the game started, I realized that I had a pair of craft scissors in my back pocket (I’d used them earlier in the day while helping my wife with a project).  So, we had to get it done.

I kept my eyes wide open in hopes that a guy who was all business-in-front and party-in-back would cross our path.  We were thrilled when this kind beer man came peddling his goods by our seats…

19 - 9pts - party business.jpg…I simply approached him and said excitedly, “Hey, can I get a picture with you beer man!?”  He was more than happy to give me a picture and a high-five turned awkward hand clasp.

Earlier in the afternoon, Camden Yards regular and all-around good guy, Avi Miller, gave me a tip on who to approach regarding the “device” picture.  First, we had a figure out how to rig a “device” for the staged photo…

20 - 5pts - Cut Glove Trick.jpg…and when we found “Ms. Kelly,” she was happy to meet someone who knew Avi, and just as happy to help us out with our 20th and final photo.

Shortly after this last game, I notified Alan Schuster that we’d completed all of the photos.

On September 27, 2010, Alan announced the official results on MyGameBalls.com:  “Cook & Son Crowned Scavenger Hunt Champions.”

On October 8, 2010, our prize (an MLB.com gift card) arrived in the mail.  And we were happy to find that Alan had included some “hardware” suitable for framing:

scavenger hardware.JPG(Note: in real life, the certificate looks much better than it does here — this is a photo (not a scan) of the certificate and the washed out part at the top is the flash).

Thanks, Alan!

He had a ton of fun trying to collect these pictures while at the ballpark in season.  We are definitely looking forward to having fun trying to defend our Championship in 2011.

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