Gill and Kate’s Citizens Bank Park Debut and Some Crazy BP (9/22/2012)

On September 22, 2012, the boys and I went to our fourth and final game of the season at Citizens Bank Park.  And it was a special one because we weren’t alone.  We were joined by Colleen and a bunch of sorta-Phillies-fans, Uncle Kevin, Aunt Kimberly, Gill and Kate.

Kevin was raised in Manayunk and (to the extent he cares about baseball) identifies as a Phillies fan.  I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get these guys out to a Phillies game the past couple seasons.  So we put this game on our calendar at the very beginning of the season.

Colleen decided to skip BP and meet up with her sister and family at their hotel in Center City Philadelphia.  There was an interesting parade going on…

…when we dropped Colleen off along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

I should mention that this was one of those odd 4:05 starts.

We reached the LF gate at Citizens Bank Park in plenty of time to play some catch…

…before the gates opened.  After the literally opened the gates, but before the ballpark was “opened” to the fans, something bizarre happened…

…an usher appeared from the direction of LF or 3B, walked out to the gate and handed a baseball to Kellan.  And then he immediately turned and kept walking toward CF.  That is him at the end of the red arrow walking away from us in the middle picture above.

As I mentioned, it was a bizarre start to the day.  I threw in the green “1” in the picture above because (with VERY little effort on our part) things were about to get historically ridiculous for us.

Things started off normal enough.  We headed to the LF corner when the gates opened.  Tim was by my side and Kellan was relaxing on my shoulders when Steven Lerud spotted Kellan.  Kellan was wearing his glove.  When Lerud fielded a ball on the edge of the warning track, he turned around and asked if Kellan could catch it.  “No,” I explained, “but I can catch it for him.”  And that’s just what happened:

Thanks, Steven!

Things were quite in LF.  Eventually, we headed out to LCF where nothing much happened.  But then the rest of the stadium opened up, and we headed over to the pizza wedge.

Pretty much right when we arrived at the pizza wedge, Rod Nichols (September coaching call-up from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs) tossed us a baseball:

Nichols is the guy hiding behind the other guy next to the green “3.”   In that picture with the “3,” Tim is catching a baseball that Antonio Bestardo tossed up to him from the warning track.  A great catch by Tim!

Thanks, Rod and Antonio!

There were very few people out in RF, and even fewer after the Phillies cleared the field but Braves had yet to take the field.

Soon enough, Eddie Perez and Alan Butts sauntered out to the bullpen.  I told Tim their first names and he welcomed them to the outfield.  Eddie, who seems to be a really nice guy, waved at both of the boys from the outfield.  Then, as Perez and Butts made their way up the stairs toward the Braves bullpen (the upper bullpen), Perez veered off to his right into the Phillies bullpen:

Perez saw two baseballs sitting on the ground by the Phillies bullpen bench.  He grabbed them both and tossed them both to us!

Thanks and thanks, Eddie!

So, there you go.  The Braves hadn’t even come out for BP yet, and we already had caught six baseballs.  We decided to hit the restroom, get some water, and relax in the shade a bit until the Braves took the field.

While we were hanging out in the shady concourse behind section 102, we made a decision that our next two baseballs (assuming if got two more) would be for Gill and Kate.  In the world of MyGameBalls.com, we don’t “count” baseballs that we give away and I had already literally recorded the six baseballs we’d already caught in the little notebook we carry with us at games.  So we were really hoping we could get at least two more baseballs so we could have one each for Gill and Kate.

And right as BP started, something awesome, and then awkward, and then awesome (again) happened.  Tim Hudson (shown here later in BP)…

…ran across LF toward the bullpen entrance.  We were right in the tip of the pizza wedge.  Until Tim Byrdak tossed Tim a baseball (and then two more) earlier in the season, Tim and I had been on a five year mission to get Tim a baseball from a Major League “Tim.”  And, right at the tippy-top of our most wanted list sat the ultimate Major League Tims:  Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson.  Bot had eluded us.  But on this day, as Tim Hudson approached with a baseball in his glove, I called out, “Hey, Tim!  How about tossing a baseball to another Tim!” as I pointed down to Tim.  As  the green “7” above suggests, it worked!

We were super-excited to get a baseball (a beautiful one that appears to be “game rubbed”) from one of the best Tims in the business.

Thanks, Tim!

But then my thoughts immediately turned back to the decision we had made just a few minutes earlier – the next two baseballs would be for Gill and Kate.  Oh, no!

There was no way we could give up this Tim Hudson baseball.

So, I announced to Tim and Kellan, “Okay, our next two baseballs will be for Gill and Kate!

But then Paul Maholm wandered by and tossed a baseball to Tim…

…, and Tim made a great catch. When I announced, “Okay, there’s one for Gill and Kate.”  Tim replied, “No!  Not this one!”  He was too proud of his catch, and the really liked the nice grass stain on the baseball.

“Okay, our NEXT two baseaballs will be for Gill and Kate!”

But how many more opportunities would we even have!?

Well, luckily, we had at least two more:

Not too long after Tim caught the ball from Paul Maholm, Kris Medlin tossed a baseball to me.  And then Maholm fielded another baseball on the warning track right below us.  Tim called out to him, “Paul, can I have another baseball for my cousin?”  And Maholm obliged.

Thanks, Paul and Kris…from us and Gill and Kate!

So, those two balls don’t appear in our official count on MyGameBalls.com or the Cook & Son Baseball Museum (http://www.cookandsonbats.com/museum/”), but let’s put the “official” count aside and focus on what was in our backpack at the time…at the time, they represented numbers 9 and 10 on the day.

And the day wasn’t over yet.  In fact, it was still early in the Braves portion of BP!

Soon, a Braves lefty hit a homerun that landed in the first row of section 103 and then bounced up into the second row…

…where I scooped it up for our only hit ball of the day.

Okay.  Things were officially ridiculous at this point.  So, with half an hour left in BP, we decided to call it quits.  We  headed back to the water fountain for a refill, got some funny pictures of the boys standing inside steel beams…

…, took a cellphone picture (that one above) and sent it to Colleen to show Gill and Kate, watched some crazy German heritage day dancing (with whips!) in the concourse…

…, and then headed to the “Games of Baseball” for some fun:

So at this point, we had about an hour until the game was scheduled to start.  We decided to use that time to carry out a “Games of Baseball” mission.  When you play each game (of which there are only two this season – a trivia game and a race around the bases), you get stamps in a little booklet that can be traded in for prizes.  The top prize is a baseball string backpack that takes 30 stamps – an entire booklet.  We wanted it bad.

So we spent the next hour going back-and-forth amongst the BBQ smoke…

…from game-to-game-to-game-to-game…and so on.

At around 3:30, half hour until game time, we took a break to watch Roy Halladay warm up a bit:

I took that picture of the two coaches (above to the right) because that is Rod Nichols sitting on the bench.  He had tossed a ball earlier and I had no clue who he was.  I took this picture so I would have something to compare against whatever pictures I might later find of him on google while trying to figure out who the heck he is.

As Roy Halladay stretched in the outfield, our old buddy Jesus Tiamo made his way out to the bullpen and guess what?

He tossed Tim a baseball.

Thanks, Jesus!  You were truly awesome to us this season!

While that baseball goes down officially as our tenth baseball of the day, it was literally our twelfth, which was one more than our personal record at the time.

And then it was right back to the “Games of Baseball”:

It took  right up until game time, but we completed that whole stamp booklet and claimed the top prize!

Along the way, Gill, Kate, Kimberly, Kevin and Colleen arrived.  After I handed over the Medlin and Maholm baseballs to Gill and Kate, they got in on the gaming action too:

And then it was game time.  We reported to our seats, blue tongues and all:

(I should mention that lollipops are also awarded to “Games of Baseball” participants).

Although our seats at this game were in the upper deck, they were pretty awesome:

We were in the first row of section 427.  I liked it a lot; a very nice view of the game.  (By the way, that picture is out of order, it’s from later in the game).

We were late arriving to our seats because it took a long time for us to get all of the “Games of Baseball” stamps that we needed.  The game started while we were trudging through the concourse toward section 427.

Roy Halladay started for the Phillies and was not sharp.  He walked the leadoff batter Michael Bourn to start the game.  Luckily for the Phils, Bourn was caught stealing before Martin Prado hit a single to CF.  Prado was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Jason Heyward.  Right as we sat down in our seats, I pulled out my camera and just missed capturing Chipper Jones hitting a first-pitch single to RF.  This would be the last time we would ever see Chipper play and I really wished I would have got that picture.

Anyway, with Chipper on 1B and Heyward on 2B, Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate and jacked a 3-run bomb to RF:

That made it 3-0 Braves and, it turns out, it was a game-winning homer for Freeman.

I really wanted to get some good Chipper Jones pictures.  Here was my best effort for a defensive picture:

In the bottom of the first, Jimmy Rollins hit a grounder right down the line.  Chipper made a nice diving catch, but the ball was just foul.

The Phils would go scoreless in bottom of the first.

The Braves were right back at it in the top of the second.   Again, it started with Halladay issuing a walk to the first batter of the inning, this time Brian McCann.  After back-to-back strike outs, Hallady then gave up a single to Bourn and walked Prado.  That brought the J-Hey Kid to the plate.

And Heyward to this loaded up…

…and took a mighty hack sending the baseball down the RF line into the corner where it was fielded by Domonic Brown…

…, but all three baserunners (McCann, Bourn, and Prado) scored on the play.  Heyward ended up at second.  Hey wouldn’t stay there long.

Six earned runs and 5 outs into the game, Roy Halladay’s day was finished:

Jeremy Horst relieved Halladay…

…and, two pitches later, he gave up an RBI double to Chipper Jones (scoring Heyward).

After two innings, the score was 7-0 Braves.

We had lots of nice cousin time while piled in our seats:

We also did some birding.  Check out this red-tailed hawk that was perched on the light stand on the 1B side of the stadium:

(Special thanks to my uncle, Ed, for helping us identify that bird.  Ed raises falcons and knows a thing or two about birds).

Kellan snuck into this picture of Tim and Kate showing off their missing teeth gaps:

This season, Darin Ruf set a new single-season homerun record (38) for the Reading Phillies.  Ruf was called up to the big squad in September, made his MLB debut on 9/14, and pinch hit for Jeremy Horst in the bottom of the third inning of this game:

(Congrats on the great jersey number, Ruf!)

At the time, Ruf was batting .000 for his MLB career with zero RBI.  Well, we didn’t get to see Ruf’s first MLB hit.  But he did manage to lift a high fly ball to deep CF that was good enough for a sacrifice fly (scoring Kevin Frandsen who had hit a triple) and Ruf’s first MLB RBI.

By the way, in 12 games Ruf would eventually collect 11 hits and 3 HRs by the end of the season.

After three innings, the score stood at 7-1 Braves.  And it was time for us to trudge down the stairs …

…head toward home plate in the upper deck concourse…

…circle around home plate…

…, and pose with a pig…

…on our way to the kids’ play area:

Colleen and Kimberly caught up on their sisterly chit chat while watching the kids play:

I don’t think we have ever seen the play area so packed.  It was pandemonium in there!  And I was proud to see Tim stepping up his big brother game and helping his little bro navigate the crazy labyrinth of kids:

Oh, yeah, Ryan Howard hit a homerun while the kids were playing.  That made the score 7-2 in favor of the Braves.

We couldn’t hang out too long in the play area because it was just way too crazy.

Standard Operating Procedure said next it was time to race…

…up the ramps to the upper deck.  We stopped to get a red-faced cousin photo in front of the big Citizens Bank Park sign on the back of the upper deck seats:

Before heading back toward our seats, I pulled out my camera, zoomed out across eastern south Philadelphia, and snapped a picture of a cool sight – the S.S. United States:

If you click that link above, you can find out all sorts of cool facts about the S.S. United States.  The ship has been docked in south Philadelphia along the Delaware River for years.  Back when I lived in Philadelphia, I always thought it was a little eerie when I would ride my bike up Columbus Boulevard past the ship.

We made it back to our seats in time to watch Chipper Jones strike out to end the top of the sixth:

Kellan got quite excited when the Phillie Phanatic made an appearance on top of the Phils’ dugout:

In the top of the eighth inning, Michael Bourn lead off with a double and then scored on a Jason Heyward single.  Next, we watched our final Chipper Jones…

…at bat that we will ever witness.  It looked like this:

It ended with fielder’s choice to SS.  And here is one of the final pictures I will ever take of Chipper Jones, after he took the field in the bottom of the eighth:

In the bottom of the eighth, Kellan was a little squirmy.  He needed to take a walk.  On our way back to the seats, we spied on Gill, Tim and Kate from below:

With the Braves leading 8-2, Kevin, Kimberly and the kids decided to take off a bit early to beat the crowd.  Before they headed out, I took some random pictures of Kate and Tim…

…and then we all danced liked crazy to our all-time favorite Korean pop song, Psy’s Gangnam Style:

Right before they headed out, we had Kimberly snap a great family picture of us – one of the best of the season:

I’m not sure why he was so excited in this picture…

…, maybe it was because I told him that we were going to head down to section 130 for the ninth inning:

After an unprecedentedly crazy BP, we figured we would make an attempt at getting a post-game umpire baseball.  Kellan gave home plate umpire Jerry Meals a target while the Phillies were still taking their hacks.

When John Mayberry grounded out to end the game, we sprang into action and this was the result:

Here’s what happened.  We were sitting in the fourth or fifth row in section 130.  There were only two people sitting in section 129 (the closest section you can get to the umpire’s tunnel without being in the diamond club).  As Mayberry grounded out, Kellan and I slipped past those two people in the second row and then hopped into the last seat in the first row.  I thought Tim was following me, but when we got to the first row, he was nowhere in sight.  I figured he must have stayed with Colleen.  As Meals approached the umpire’s tunnel, I called out his first name:  “Jerry!”  He looked up and locked eyes with me, pulled out a beautiful rubbed up baseball and tossed it right to me.

Just then, out of nowhere, Tim popped up from below.  He had run straight down the stairs to the dugouts and then squeeze by everyone in the front row until he made it over to us.  He promptly threw up his glove in a “I’ll take one, too, Jerry” motion.  And Jerry obliged (although he bounced his throw on the dugout and it ended up landing under the seats in a plate of food).

Double thanks, Jerry Meals!

By the way, the 13 and 14 in the last picture count the Paul Maholm and Kris Medlin baseballs that we gave to Gill and Kate.  If you check out our entry for this game on MyGameBalls.com, it shows 12 (not 14).  Anyway, it was a crazy, crazy day at the ballpark.

After the umps cleared the field, it was the victorious Braves’ turn to head into the dugout following their on-field celebration.  Pretty much the entire team (except for the relievers) cleared the field by way of the stairs almost right below where we were standing.  As Chipper Jones headed reached the top of the stairs, he balled up his batting gloves and tossed them into the first row.  They were tossed probably 5-7 feet to our left.  I was holding Kellan so I didn’t even make a move for them.  But the guy right next to Tim dove out to his left and intercepted the gloves before they made it to the people standing in the gloves’ direct path.  It was a pretty cool pair of souviners for that guy to take home.

Right after Chipper tossed the gloves, a fan maybe five rows back in the diamond club yelled, “Hey, Chipper” and Chipper half looked up and waved with his glove.  It was clearly nothing more than a “oh, hey, there fans” gesture by Chipper, but the guy took it (completely unreasonably) as a “Hey, throw me that ball and I’ll autograph it for you” gesture.  He immediately chucked a baseball at Chipper.  It barely missed Chipper as he ducked out of the way.  It was sour ending to Chipper’s night, I could see him mouth some non-appreciative words to himself as he ducked into the tunnel below us.  All-in-all, it was a pretty hilarious scene.  The guy’s baseball (which was already autographed by several players) hit some other player(s) and then ricocheted onto the field.  I thought the guards down there would toss it into the dugout never to be seen again.  But they gave it back to the guy while giving him an earful of non-appreciative sentiments.

We took two more pictures on our way out of the ballpark:

Right as we reached the car, the skies opened up and it absolutely poured rain down on us:

Meanwhile, Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate had just exited the subway in Center City and were getting absolutely soaked on the walk to their hotel.

From a historically crazy BP, to all of the “Games of Baseball,” to all the family fun, it was a great day at the ballpark.  Sadly, we would only have one more day at the ballpark in 2012, and it would be the next weekend in Baltimore.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

26/24 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
42 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 9, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
151 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 9, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6
24 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 11, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway   Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park9/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners  Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (3); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

4 Comments

I figure you would know as a CBP regular, or closer to that than anyone else I know: Is the “baseball at the gate” a regular thing? In my only game getting there before the gates opened, I saw a ticket-taker give a baseball out. Now with you getting one at the opening of the gates, it makes me wonder whether this is a “thing”. Oh, and the raindrop pictures is absolutely amazing. That, and you should have filmed the Gangnam Style dance.
-Mateo
http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com

MATEO-
Prior to this game, I’d never seen anyone get a baseball outside the gate at CBP. It is always the same group of guys running the LF gate prior to BP. It wasn’t one of those regular ushers who gave the baseball to Kellan. It was some random guy who was not a gate worker. He showed up, handed off the ball and was gone just as quickly. Never seen anything like it at CBP before…or anywhere, frankly. FYI, I have plenty of videos of the boys dancing to Gangnam Style in our living room.

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