Last Game of 2012 (9/29/12)

Our baseball season came to a close at Camden Yards on September 29, 2012, where the surging Orioles faced off against the floundering Boston Red Sox.

We had four goals for this game:  (1) have a ton of fun taking in our final game of the season, (2) catch at least one baseball to complete our first ever perfect season of getting at least one baseball at each game we attended, (3) try to get our hands on at least one more Fenway 100 commemorative baseball, and (4) have even more fun.

The past several seasons, the Orioles have had a lot of signs all over downtown Baltimore during a bulk of the season, and then in September they were nowhere to be seen.  I was excited to see whether thing would be different in September 2012 with the Orioles just a game back in the A.L. East and in wild card position.  And it was:

There were Orioles banners all over downtown Baltimore, as well as an Orioles van!

We arrived at Camden Yards with plenty of time to spare before the gates opened:

It was the final statue (Brooks Robinson) dedication night so there was a huge crowd when we arrived at the CF gate:

We met up with Alex Kopp and Avi Miller (and Avi’s sister and friend), and past time Felixing…

…and eating various special flavored oreos until the gates opened.

When the gates opened, we grabbed our Brooks Robinson statues, handed them off to Avi (who had given us free tickets in exchange for our statues), and headed over to foul territory down the LF line:

By the time the gates opened, a huge crowd was ready to head inside for the dedication of Brooks Robinson’s new statue.  Earlier in the season we were at Camden Yards for the dedication of Frank Robinson’s statue.  At that game, the line outside the ballpark was also huge, but BP was pretty much just like any other game.  But that was early in the season before the Orioles acquired tens-of-thousands of new fans.  BP at this game was packed.

We were in a prime spot to get a ball from one of the Red Sox pitchers…

…and we were hoping it would be one of those beautiful Fenway 100 commemoratives.

Eventually, an Orioles batter hit a ball down the line into the LF corner and this trainer guy…

…tossed it over to us.

Thanks, unidentified trainer guy!

That made Tim and me 27-for-27 and Kellan 25-for-25 on the season!  Our first ever perfect season, which was pretty cool.

But we still had our sights set on snagging one of those Fenway 100 baseballs.

The only Red Sox reliever who was near us and I recognized was Andrew Bailey:

He was in the last set of Red Sox down the line and, as you can see, he was on the OF side as they warmed up.  But then they did some pitching to each other.  Bailey came in to approximately 60 feet and popped-a-squat to play catcher.  After his partner finished pitching they switched spots and Bailey pitched from the warning track just in front of us.  As he pitched, I could tell that he was using a Fenway 100 baseball!

As we watched Bailey with great interest, our ears were treated to a number of speakers telling tales of the great Brooks Robinson – who was no more than 100 yards from us at the time:

By the time Bailey finished pitching, the seats around us at had filled in with fans.  But, luckily, I was the first and only person to call out, “Hey, Andrew!”  When he turned around, I pointed to Tim and asked if he could toss his ball over.

On his first throw, I didn’t think the ball was going to make it into the stands so I reached out for it and Tim and I clanked our gloves together and the ball bounced back towards Bailey.  He tossed it again and I stood back so Tim could make a high catch on it:

What a beauty:

Thanks, Andrew!

It was getting so crowded down the LF line that we decided to relocate to LCF by the bullpens.  On or walk over there, this was our view of the Brooks Robinson statue ceremony:

Here is the best view we ever got of Brooks or his statue:

Shortly after setting up shop by the bullpens, Tim declared it was snack time.  He was wearing his new white (and highly stainable) Felix Hernandez jersey that his grandparents gave him after the Ichiro trade.  Snack time brought on the first of several stain-preventing outfit changes for Tim:

In that picture above to the left, he is stuffing his white jersey into a bag so he can enjoy some “pirates” (shown in the middle picture).

Not much was happening in the OF, either from a homerun or a Red Sox toss-up perspective.  So we entertained ourselves by chatting, snacking, crowd watching, and taking pictures.

Here’s a picture of a temporary banner the Orioles hung behind home plate to thank their new fans – winning creates new fans:

Here’s a picture of the boys just clowning around in the seats:

Now check out this picture of the crowd:

It’s hard to believe that is Camden Yards!  As I said, winning creates new fans.   If you have a very keen eye (and know what he looks like), you might be able to spot a red-shirted Alex Kopp in that last picture.

After BP ended, we hung out by the bullpens until around game time.  Alex came over and we chatted with him a bit.  With the crazy BP crowd, he had not managed to catch a baseball.  But he ended up getting one from Rick Adair at the bullpen before the game started.

Just before game time, we started to make our way over to the kids’ play area.  By that point, they had cleared the statue area so they could clean up all of the seats, etc., used during the ceremony.  This was our view of the final new statue as we passed by:

Pretty much at every game we spend some time in the kids’ play area and some time watching the game.  At this game, we let the kids call the shots and it resulted in what might be a world, single-game record for amount of time spent in a kids’ play area.

We started with some air-T batting:

We did a little bouncing:

Tim took his cuts in the batting cage:

And then we landed at the pitching cage, where we would spent a huge amount of time at this game:

In Tim’s first turn in the pitching cage (three tosses per turn), Tim threw the fastest recorded pitch of his young life:  37 blazing miles per hour.  He matched it once more during the night (and I didn’t get a picture of either of them), but most of this pitches clocked in between 33-36 miles per hour.  Kellan, on the other hand, did not throw a single clockable pitch.  But he was definitely a fan favorite in the pitching cage.

After the first pass through the kids’ play area, we decided to pull the old switcheroo – dessert before dinner.  It was the bottom of the first inning with no score, and we headed to the statue area for our last ice cream helmets of the season.

It was packed out there.  Every seat was filled with a brand-new Orioles fan or a dejected Red Sox fan, and all of the good standing room spots were full.  The boys grab some non-prime seating spots along the wall where I could sort of see the action:

Adam Jones went down swinging…

…to the first inning.

We watched the scoreless top of the second inning from the same spot.  And Kellan made certain that he didn’t waste even a drop of melted ice cream:

During the bottom of the second inning, the Orioles put a little rally together and the boys and I decided to head back behind home plate and then back to the kids play area.  On our way through the cross aisle, an usher was kind enough to take our picture:

As we approached the cross-aisle behind third base, Manny Machado hit a ground ball single up the box and into CF.  Chris Davis scored the first run of the night on the play.

We made it back to home plate just in time to watch Lew Ford…

…foul out to end the inning.

So, with the score 1-0 Orioles after two inning, we were off to the kids play area again.  On our way, we stopped to get the boys’ picture with a muscle car:

(Tim loves pointing out muscle cars when we are in the car).

And then it was off to the pitching cage again:

(those lines are running from the muscle car toward the cage).

We stayed at the kids’ play area for a long, long time doing all sorts of playing.  Like this…

…and this:

And some standing around waiting to play, like this:

When we finally left the play area, the game was heading into the bottom of the fourth inning and it was still 1-0 Orioles.  We headed out to the flag court.  It was packed out there:

I should mention that right before we headed to the flag court, or maybe even while we were en route to the flag court, Chris Davis launched his 30th homerun of the season deep into the seats in RCF (much more CF than RF).  That made it 3-0 Orioles and the place was going crazy – partially because the Orioles were playing a “Gangnam Style” parody video on the big screen called “Camden Style.”

We were out in the flag court for the top of the fifth.  Unforutnately, the lead off batter walked and then Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a 2-run homerun into the seats in RCF just past the flag court.

That made the score 3-2 Birds.

The Orioles Bird was out in the flag court and, despite the Salty-Bomb, he was plenty happy about the O’s 1-run lead.  He celebrated by eating Tim’s head…

…and a few minutes later, he came back to shake Tim’s hand while we were on our way back to the play area.

On our way back to the play area, I noticed this big picture of Memorial Stadium:

I’m not sure how long its been there.  Maybe it’s always been there.  But I have never really paid attention to it.  I was never at a game at Memorial Stadium.  But it is cool to see that the Orioles paid tribute to it on the design of the home plate area at Camden Yards – the two look very similar.

After our final many rounds of pitching in the cage…

…we headed off to the club level to meet up with Avi and have some dinner:

While we were in the Club Level, Avi was none-to-pleased to see Adam Jones and Chris Davis fail to communicate properly, leading to a dropped ball by Davis and a game-tying third run for the Red Sox.  That was in the top of the sixth inning.

The score remained 3-3 until the bottom of the seventh inning, which Machado led off by belting a homerun into the LF seats.  And just like that, the O’s were back on top 4-3.

In the eighth inning, we decided to head down to the field level.  On our way through the Club Level on our way to the elevator, I snapped some pictures of the décor:

We headed here…

…for the rest of the game.  This was my standing-room view from the cross-aisle behind second 32:

I should mention that the Yankees had already lost their game against the Blue Jays.  With the Yankees loss, the O’s were just half a game back in the A.L. East.  The team and the crowd badly wanted a share of first place.

The Orioles sent in their All-Star closer Jim Johnson to get the final three outs of the game.  Meanwhile, we pondered the idea of going for a post-game umpire baseball.  We moved more directly behind home plate in the cross-aisle.

It took six pitches, but Johnson mowed down Cody Ross on strikes.  Eight pitches later, Johnson retired Mauro Gomez on a line drive to RF.  It was no routine liner though.  It was softly hit and former-Royal/Expo/National/Phillie/Met/Mariner Endy Chavez had to race in and make a nice diving catch to record the out.

When the whole crowd rose to its feet in anticipation of the final out of the game, the Red Sox sent Saltalamacchia to the plate, and I sent Tim down the stair case to get into position for an umpire ball.  Kellan and I stayed at the top of the stairs where this was our view of the Tim and the game:

This was the TV viewing audience’s view of Tim and the game just prior to the final pitch of the night:

And so was this:

That guy right next to Tim is about to tap him on the shoulder and give him the open seat right along the umpires’ tunnel.

On the third pitch of the at-bat, Saltalamacchia flew out to LF to end the game.  Tim was already in perfect position.  The crowd was going crazy and no one was leaving.  So Kellan and I had an easy time making our way down the stairs to the fourth row (two rows behind Tim).

I had told Tim already that the umpires’ name was Greg Gibson.  When the four umps converged on the warning track just behind home plate, Tim must have already called out Gibson’s name because once they opened up the umpires’ gate, Gibson ducked into the tunnel and walked right over to Tim.  They had a little conversation that probably lasted 10-20 seconds.  And then Gibson pulled a beautiful Camden Yards commemorative baseball out of his pouch and set it into Tim’s glove before giving Tim a final smile and turning back toward the exit.  Two steps later, Gibson handed another beautiful commemorative baseball to Kellan.

Double thanks, Mr. Gibson!

We quickly relocated to the first row to watch the stadium celebrate.  The highlight of the celebration was when the Orioles Bird ran over and gave all three of us high fives through the protective netting.  I thought that was pretty funny in light of the fact that we were all wearing Mariners jerseys.  But, hey, we were celebrating right along with everyone else.  It was a great atmosphere.

A few minutes later, an usher took a final, blurry photo of the three of us before we started to pack up to get out of there:

It’s been another great season with my boys, and a lot of fun having Kellan join in the fun with Tim and me.

On our way out of the ballpark, Tim posed for a picture with Brooks Robinson’s number 5 posted on the warehouse:

They had already locked up RF and CF gates into the flag court and CF bleachers:

But Eutaw Street was rocking:

On our way out, we tried to go over and get a better look at the new Brooks Robinson statue, but about 3,000 other people had the same idea and this is as close as we got:

And just like that, our in person MLB season was over…

…, goodbye, Camden Yards.

We can wait to come back for more in 2013.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

27/25 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
44 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies   9, Orioles 7, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
155 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins   7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 11, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 8,   Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6
27 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 13, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway   Park 2, 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 Park10/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (4); 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

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