Orioles Win One For Frank Robinson (4/28/2012)
During the week leading up to Saturday, April 28, 2012, we were looking forward to our first game of the season at Camden Yards. But the weather outlook was sketchy. Rain seemed to be in the forecast. And I was going back-and-forth regarding whether Kellan should join me and Tim for this game. I wanted him to join us, but I feared having to corral him in the rain. But on Friday, I made the decision: Kellan would definitely join us.
So let’s do it.
It was our first night game of the season. After having a nice relaxing day lounging around the house, we hopped in the car where Tim and Kellan kept themselves entertained during the drive south:
When we walked up to the stadium at 4:30 in the afternoon, a huge crowd was already waiting at the gates…
…, which apparently upset Kellan (he wasn’t too interested in getting his picture at the time).
Luckily, when it comes to Camden Yards, we know *people* and those people are permanently first in line…
…and so were we. In that last picture, along with Tim, Avi Miller and Matt Hersl, that is 1,100+ baseball ballhawk and east coast Oakland A’s fan, Rick Gold. Rick and I have known each other for a while through myGameBalls.com and twitter, but this was the first time we had ever met in person. Despite rooting for the wrong A.L. West team, Rick is a pretty cool guy.
Kellan grabbed a spot on the backpack-checking table and had a great time hanging out with the guys:
The crowd was so big because the Orioles were set to unveil a new Frank Robinson statue at a ceremony at 5:15 p.m. The ceremonyfeatured Robinson, Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer and others. As we waited at the gate, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron and his wife zoomed by (inside the gate) on a golf cart. A few minutes later, Eddie Murray walked by…
…and I took two of the worst possible pictures of him – that last one is the *better* of my two Eddie Murray pictures! The statue unveiling was part of the Orioles’ celebration of the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards. (Think, when Camden Yards opened, Fenway Park was a mere 80-year-old spring chicken of a ballpark).
I knew Hank Aaron was going to be at this game, and I really wanted to see him in person. But I didn’t want to sit through the crowded ceremony. So we headed into the ballpark for BP once the gates opened. As usual, we headed for the third base line:
Kellan absolutely loves wearing his glove and trying to catch baseballs around the house. His hand is so tiny that he cannot close the glove so he relies on the ball just landing in there and not bouncing out. Early in BP, he made his first ever attempt on a toss-up from a MLB player, Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz (who was wearing a “Brady Anderson” embroidered glove):
That is easily my favorite picture of the season so far. In our first three games, my camera has been annoying me like nobody’s business. It is ruining a ton of my pictures and really seems to have it out for me. But my camera apparently felt the gravity of the situation and it worked perfectly in the crunch and captured that last picture.
And thank you, too, Brian Matusz!
By the way, the ball bounced off of the side of Kellan’s glove and fell to his feet. But it was a great moment anyway.
Kellan grabbed his new baseball and held it tight:
Hey, remember that ceremony I mentioned? During BP, it was taking place in the picnic area behind the bullpens:
We decided to head over there for a little peak. But it was so crowded we could hardly see the panel of Hall of Famers – and my only picture attempt came out totally unrecognizable because I had to take the photo through trees, flowers, people, etc., etc.
We decided to head off to the restroom. Normally, cameras are off limits in the restrooms, but I couldn’t help taking this next one because Kellan looked so cute and funny lying on the flip-down baby changing table with is big baseball glove:
He was like, “Hey, let’s get this done so we can get back out there!”
And get back out there we did.
We headed back to the third base line. Unfortunately, he had taken Kellan’s umbrella stroller into the stadium, which was a terrible idea. Tim was in charge of rolling it around (empty) and finding places to stash it during BP. He seemed to like taking charge of this task and he was vehemently opposed to just leaving it out in deep LF while we went back to the third base line.
Anyway…when we returned to the field, the A’s pitchers were playing catch down the line. When he finished playing catch, we thought Jim Miller was going to throw a baseball to Tim. We were both excited for the third chance in three weeks for Tim to catch a toss-up from a player. But then Miller decided to walk it over and hand-deposit it into Tim’s glove:
Thanks, Mr. Miller!
Although there was no one in our vicinity blocking the rows of seats, Tim decided to climb back up to our spot in the tenth row (which I figured was out of foul ball range – I didn’t want any baseballs beaning my boys):
It was a long slow climb and during the process Tim dropped his baseball. It rolled all the way back down to the first row. I had to run back down and scooped it up for Tim.
Although we weren’t *at* the Frank Robinson ceremony, it was pretty cool being inside the ballpark during the unveiling. They had lots of nice videos playing on the scoreboards…
…and all of the speakers were broadcast over the PA system. It was really cool being in the same building and hearing Hank Aaron speaking about his friend Frank Robinson, and then hearing Frank Robinson talk about himself and his teammates.
Tim decided he wanted to scoot out to LF by the bullpens so we could see Avi. We walked out there, didn’t find Avi, and, almost immediately, it started raining and BP was cancelled. Out came the tarp:
And off we headed to the Club Level to eat some snacks and avoid the rain:
We were up there a loooooooooooooooooooooooong time. I’m not sure what time the rain started coming down, but it felt like we were up in the Club Level for about ten hours. When I finally looked at the clock on my phone, I saw that it was still another whole hour until the game was set to start! Yikes. Rain outs during BP make for a whole lotta down time.
After the boys ate a ton of snacks, we walked all over the Club Level and I took a bunch of photos of the various lounge areas. The Club Level at Camden Yards is not all that fancy, but it’s a good place to duck into and kill some time when it is raining. Here is what it looks like…
…and this is in a glass case just behind the main entrance to the Club Level:
We eventually ran into Avi and a couple of his friends in one of the little lounge areas. I sat down and chatted with them while Tim danced and tried to entertain everyone…
…and Kellan ran a million laps around two people sitting in chairs watching TV (one of them is above Kellan in that picture). Eventually, this resulted in a giant catastrophe – Tim decided to show Avi’s friends how fast he is, so he ran two laps around the chairs in the opposite direction of Kellan and the two collided chest-to-chest on the second lap. I could see it about to happen in slow motion as the scene unfolded, but I was helpless to stop it. Tim completely flattened Kellan, who fell back and smacked his head on the floor. It was a bad scene with lots and lots of crying.
Luckily, after five minutes sobbing uncontrollably on my shoulder, Kellan pulled through and was back to giggling and running around again.
When they did a second ceremony on the field, I snuck outside and snapped a few pictures:
In the upper left, that is Earl Weaver walking the “orange carpet.” In the bottom right, of course, that is Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.
Hidden under the orange sheet (bottom left), the Orioles presented Frank Robinson with a 2-foot tall replica of his new statue. Half an hour later, two guys walked by us in the Club Level carrying that little statue (which looked really heavy) to a suite (which I assumed was the owner’s suite) where all of the Hall of Famers watched the game.
All of a sudden, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer walked by and posed for a picture with (grumpy looking) Tim:
Although he has such a wonderful smile, Tim is prone to do these “grumpy” faces in pictures because he thinks it makes him look cool. He’s a big fan of being cool! Always has been. Growing up is an interesting process, eh? He keeps it fun, even if his *cool* / *grumpy* face stands in for his big smile in some pictures.
Anyway, after the photo with grumpy-faced Tim, Jim Palmer handed a “Luis Ayala” embroidered glove to Tim and was like “here, try this on.” Then Palmer handed Tim a baseball and was like, “here, hold this baseball…but you can’t have it because I have to give it to Frank Robinson.” I’m pretty sure the glove and baseball were used by Frank Robinson when he threw out the first pitch.
As the game started, it was time for some dinner. Kellan and I shared nachos…
…and Tim opted for some chicken fingers and fries.
After eating, the three of us headed out to the newly redesigned flag court:
The previous tall, two foot wide padded wall at the front of the flag court is now replaced with a short wrought iron fence. Just like when Tim was 2-3 years old, Kellan LOVED the flag court and he ran around like crazy all over the flag court and Eutaw Street.
Chasing Kellan in the flag court was too much work for both me and Tim, so we decided to take the long way around the ballpark on our way out to left field. On our way by RF, I noticed that the Orioles had a “20” painted on the grass in RF:
Of course, Frank Robinson played RF and the Orioles have retired his number 20.
While we were out in the flag court, it was the top of the second inning and the Orioles put up a 5-spot on the strength of six singles (by Adam Jones, Wilson Betemit, Chris Davis, Ronny Paulino, Robert Andino, and Nolan Reimold) and a sacrifice fly by J.J. Hardy.
That made the score 5-0 Orioles.
We never headed up there to check it out, but on our walk around the stadium, I took this photo of the new party deck above the batters’ eye:
And as we neared home plate, the A’s prized offseason acquisition, Yoenis Cespedes, had his turn at the plate:
He came up empty on that hack, and then hit a foul pop out to first base.
When we reached LF, we headed out to see the new Frank Robinson statue in the picnic area (which appears to be open to the public now, or at least it was for this game):
Then we grabbed some empty seats in section 86:
Although it was still drizzling a bit, the boys shared a swirl ice cream helmet:
And then they watched the very light rain fall on us:
Tim grabbed his glove and tried to catch specific drops as he tracked them on their way down to earth.
While we were out in LF, Adam Jones led off the top of the third inning with a single and then scored the Orioles sixth run of the night on a double by Wilson Betemit. That made it 6-0 Orioles. Things were looking good for the Orioles on a night dedicated to celebrating Frank Robinson.
Around the fifth inning, we relocated to the cross-aisle behind home plate. This was our view for a big chunk of the rest of the game:
Tim and I watched for foul balls (and a couple came somewhat close to us) while Kellan relaxed in my arms, never quite falling asleep.
During the seventh inning stretch, the Orioles Bird (as he is prone to do) sat on the ledge of the TV booth behind home plate. Kellan totally loved it and he repeated “BIRD!” about 800 times. While the Bird was up there, Kellan’s “BIRDs” were declaratory (i.e., “there is a bird!”). Then, after the Bird left the ledge, Kellan’s “BIRDs” turned inquisitive in nature (i.e., “where are you, bird?”). It was pretty cute.
In the seventh inning, Chris Davis blasted a monster homerun to RF:
The homerun cleared the flag court and crashed down on Eutaw Street. After the game, I heard one of the TV announcers mention that it was the 25th Orioles homerun to land on Eutaw Street…or maybe Davis was the 25th Oriole to hit a homerun out to Eutaw Street, I’m not quite sure.
I missed some scoring, the Davis blast made the score 10-1 Orioles.
We decided to head back up to the Club Level where we had left Kellan’s stroller at the front desk. We really went up there because Tim wanted to see Avi. We met up with Avi and watched Bryce Harper’s first at bat of his MLB career…an incredibly weak groundout to the pitcher.
And then we all (including Avi) headed back down to the Cross Aisle behind home plate. As we approached our spot, someone hit a foul ball to the guy sitting next to the person directly behind/above the spot where we had been standing for several innings. Had we been there, I might have had a play on it, but it would have required me to make a jumping catch above my head while holding Kellan, which would have been very difficult. We still could have got it if the ball had bounced down into the Cross Aisle, but the guy took the ball directly to his gut, and it fell harmlessly to his feet for an easy pick up. He was from Oakland (or at least he was decked out in A’s gear) so it was no doubt a cool moment for the guy.
Anyway, we went back to our same spot. Over the course of a bunch of innings standing in the Cross Aisle, none of the ushers ever told us to get out of there. In fact, one of them eventually came and said, “Hey, why don’t you just sit down right here?” He was concerned that someone else running for a foul ball might fun us over.
So we obliged him:
And each half inning until the game ended, we crept up a little closer to the field:
I took some random action shots…
…but the scoring was done for the night.
We kept moving forward because I wanted to go for an umpire ball. As we got closer and closer, about 10,000 kids, teens and adults all flocked to the tunnel with the same idea. I guess everyone wants one of those nice commemorative Camden Yards 20th Anniversary baseballs.
We made it to the very bottom spot and we were the first people there when home plate umpire Eric Cooper left the field of play. But he completely ignored everyone and gave out zero of those fancy commemorative baseballs.
We had one more idea – get over to the Orioles dugout (which was packed with fans) to see if anyone might toss up a commemorative baseball over there.
No such luck.
But that doesn’t mean there was *no luck* — indeed, there was a lot of luck left hanging in the night air.
As Orioles bullpen catcher Ronnie Deck approached the dugout, I called out, “Hey, Ronnie!” and gave him the obligatory *hit me* glove flap. He had an equipment bag (which no doubt had a commemorative baseball nestled inside) hanging from his shoulder, but Ronnie just held out his open glove to show us *no baseball*, but then he looked down into his glove and gave himself a little *hmmm, okay* shrug. He reached into his baseball glove, grabbed his batting gloves and tossed them to us.
The fans in front of us were nice enough not to intercept the gloves, which were clearly intended for us but would have been easy for another couple fans to catch before they reached us, and I caught them in my baseball glove.
Tim was SUPER-EXCITED about these batting gloves.
An usher took a picture of the three of us with our post-game prize:
Avi witnessed the toss-up from Ronnie Deck and came over to chat with us. Before we headed out, I took two pictures of Tim and Avi. Avi decided to smile in the first picture, and Tim decided to smile in the second picture, so let’s take a look at both:
Before we left the stadium, we got one last picture of Tim and his new gloves (no chance he is sharing them with his little bro!):
Note the cool “20” with a spot light on the side of the warehouse behind Tim. Cool.
When we got to the car, Tim told me not to tell mommy about the gloves. They were a secret. When we got off the phone, he asked if he could show her something when he got home. Something secret. He slept then entire ride home (as did Kellan). But at 1:00 a.m., Tim let mommy in on his little secret before hopping into his bed.
So, there you go, a great night of baseball at Camden Yards. Now we have an off-week and then it’s time for the Fifth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip. It is going to be an AWESOME trip this season with stops in Minnesota, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver. Our Mariners/Rockies games in Denver will mark a major milestone for me and Tim: we will finally have seen all thirty MLB teams play a home game (of course, with the opening of Marlins Park this season, we now have to go back to Miami before we can say we have been to every current MLB stadium – that will happen in September!).
This season’s GFS Roadtrip will also be extra special because it will feature a new and improved lineup: Jim, Todd, Tim and Kellan! That’s double the “Sons” and double the fun!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|3/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|6/4 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles|
|2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1|
|14 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 4, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 2, Orioles 1, Athletics 1|
|1 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park|
|3/2 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards|
|1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A|
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck