Author Archive

Tim’s Highlights: Liberty Lightning Game 1 (4/18/13)

Tim has his first coach pitch game of the season today.  His squad is called the Liberty Lightning.  They had a great game and Colleen got a bunch of great shots of Tim playing the field.  So Tim and I made a little video highlight reel tonight before bed.  Here you go:

PS – Tim likes to jump for joy after making a good play (you might have noticed this).

PPS – Go Lightning!

Let’s Get Back to Baseball (4/6/13)

Baseball season is back! It is an exciting time of year. It’s slowly but surely getting warmer in Pennsylvania. Tim is now playing coach pitch baseball in our local Little League. We’re playing a lot of baseball in the backyard. And, on April 6, 2013, Tim, Kellan and I hit up our first Major League Baseball game of the young 2013 season.

The whole day was good. Even having to pack all of our stuff into the car and drive…

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…more than an hour to the game was great fun. We listed to music, most notably “Orion” by Metallica, which remind Tim of the constellation, Orion’s Belt, that his Grandma pointed out to him a year or so ago. We love listening to music in the car.

Tim and I played several of our standard car games too. You know, classic Cook Family car games like (i) the alphabet game (we go through the entire alphabet and each of us has to point out something starting with each letter of the alphabet), (ii) the number game (Tim calls out a number and then we have to spot it somewhere), and (iii) the turkey vulture game (see who can spot the most turkey vultures. We also played a new game that time made up, the rhyming game (it involved rhyming, if you can image that).

As you might have noticed from the picture above, our destination was Philadelphia. We arrived plenty early and had some fun hanging out at the LF gate:

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Early season games are a little crazy for us because I end up brining about 10 changes of clothes – so we won’t get stuck in the wrong kind of weather. We had so much stuff for this game that my HUGE backpack couldn’t’ handle it all. So for the first time ever, Tim was in charge of his own stuff. As the workers prepared to let the fans into the ballpark…

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…, Tim and I prepared our backpacks for their first security frisking of the season.

And then we headed for the LF corner, which was cold and shady:

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We were in LF for until about 5 minutes before the Phillies opened the rest of the stadium, and almost nothing was going on. The Phils were hitting, a little. There might have been 2-3 homers hit to LF. Kyle Kendrick was running back-and-forth across the outfield warning track with a stop watch. In by the 3B dugout, two Royals (or Royals coaches) played catch with a football (pictured above with yellow arrow).

Finally, I made the call that it was time to head toward RF. We all jumped into the second row and took no more than two steps when a Phillies batter laced a ball down into the LF corner. Kellan was already up on my shoulders for the walk to RF. I told Tim to hold on. Kellan and I popped back over the row of seats to the front row, and Erik Kratz tossed us our first baseball of the season. (pictured above with other yellow arrow).

Thanks, Erik!

We headed over to RF with a few minutes to spare before the seats were opened to the fans. We had just enough time to buy a big bottle of water. And then we headed down to the tip of the pizza wedge. We staked out some prime real estate in section 101.

Within a few minutes, a Phillies batter lunched a towering fly ball right at us. I didn’t have to move my feet at all. But I didn’t think it would carry far enough. I leaned forward to try to backhand the ball over the fence, but then it carried a bit further than I expected. I ended up making the UGLIEST chest high, backhanded, two handed catch of all time. When it was all said and done, but ball was right on my palm and about 80% of the ball was hanging outside of my glove. But I caught it.

Down below us, Raul Valdes was walking from CF to the warning track below us to grab a ball that rolled to a stop out there. He watched me catch the ball and then he picked up the other ball and tossed it up to Tim. Tim made a great sure-handed catch with his trusty glove.

Thanks, Raul!

I handed the homerun ball to Kellan and the boys posed with their prizes:

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Then we started about the most peaceful 45 minutes or so of all time. The sun was shining and it was nice and warm. There were tons of fans in LF, but RF was still fairly quiet. We just sat and relaxed and the Phils chatted to each other below…

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…and Cliff Lee ran back-and-forth from the RF foul line to CF.

I got two awesome pictures of Kellan just chilling:

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We watched some groundskeepers water the bullpen (including watering the bottom mound from the top bullpen)…

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…and Tim made funny shadows in the bullpen grass.

The Royals pitchers started throwing down the LF line while the Phillies were wrapping up BP. By the time the Phillies retreated from the field…

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…the Royals were playing long toss. Ah, baseball stuff. Gotta love long toss, right?

That Phillies player running off the field in the last photo was Antonio Bastardo. I took his picture because he had just made me laugh. As he started to clear the field, he grabbed one last baseball from the warning track and threw it to a kid (maybe 13-14 year old) about 15-20 seats down from us. He hit the guy right in the chest. The ball rattled around in the kid’s glove, but then fell to the ground in the first row. Bastardo saw the kid botch the easy catch and said loudly, but to himself, “Come on, bro!” with a sound a legitimate disappointment and then he sprinted to the dugout.

Royals BP was a lot of fun. They hit very few homeruns, and nothing remotely near us. But the stadium just had a great, relaxed, first-weekend-of-the-new-baseball-season vibe.

The only down point was that some random kid jumped over the second row of seats and stood right between Tim and Kellan for a while:

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It was very odd because the rest of the front row in section 101 was wide open.

Jeremy Guthrie was out in RF having fun with some teammate…

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…and another big group of guys were socializing in CF.

A Royals coach who was wearing a catchers’ glove (pictured above standing behind Guthrie) ran out to CF to grab a few stray balls and he tossed on of them to us.

Thanks, Coach!

When we said hi, Guthrie gave the boys and I a big wave, smile and “Hi!” A little while later, he came over and tossed a ball up to us.

Thanks, Jeremy! Good luck this season!

Eventually, our buddy, Tang, from Kansas City wandered by and joined us in the pizza wedge. Kellan had asked to sit on my lap for a while, so I had Tang take out picture:

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Toward the end of BP, Luke Hochevar tried to throw a baseball to Tim, but he threw it too high and it sailed right over Tim. Kellan and I were eating some snacks and I had a hand full of food. I helplessly tried to slap the ball down as it sailed past Tim, but it was a lost cause.

We shrugged it off and moved on with life. But Hochevar wasn’t satisfied. He called over to a teammate in straightaway RF who had just fielded a ball. Hochevar gave his teammate the universal throw-me-that-baseball glove flap. The teammate tossed it over and Hochevar made a perfect second throw to Tim. And Tim squeezed it into this glove with no problem.

Double thanks, Luke!

And that was all for BP.

I asked Tang if he would help us out with a photo we needed for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. He kindly agreed. We decided to trudge all the way up to the upper deck for the photo. On the way, we witnessed a tragic and fatal fire far off in the distance.

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Up in the upper deck, we Tim and Kellan got their picture with Tang (another MBG.com member) with every drink holder in the row filled with a baseball:

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Thanks, Tang!

While I was taking the picture, an usher offered to take one of all of us. We happily took him up on his offer and he did a first rate job:

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Then we went over to the tip of the upper deck version of the pizza wedge and looked down at the odd angles of Citizens Bank Park:

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Pretty cool.

Then, at Tim’s request, we headed up to the last row of the upper deck and I got a picture looking over the back of the seats down to the “Games of Baseball” and Bull’s BBQ area:

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Once we made it back down to the field level, Tang split off from us and we headed over so the kids could play the running game:

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The boys played the running game a few times and the quiz game a couple times. And then it was time for the game to start.

We headed over to section 112 where it looked like this:

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Check out Tim’s *pro* SRO form:

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And here was the first pitch of our 2013 baseball season:

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John Lannan to Alex Gordon for Ball 1. Eventually, Gordon would go down on strikes.

Then we headed to the kids’ play area:

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Quite oddly (note, this was only the second home game of the season for the Phillies), the TV in the play area was not working. So I had no clue whatsoever what was happening in the game as the boys played for a while. Eventually, I would find out that *nothing* was happening.

While in the play area, I reorganized all of our stuff and came to a horrifying realization: we had lost Kellan’s glove! When I realized this I rounded up the boys and we began retracing our tracks.

Eventually, I figured that maybe we left it down in section 101 during BP. As we approached the top of section 101, I started to ask the two ushers if anyone had found a kid’s glove. But before the words could come put, I saw Kellan’s glove tucked into some a bag (or something) hanging on the fence railing at the top of section 101.

That was a big relief!

We decided to celebrate with ice cream. Tim convinced me that the old switcheroo (desert before dinner) was in order. It made complete sense. We would eat ice cream before it got too cold, then we’d eat a warm dinner later.

Even though it as only the second home game of the season, there were tons of empty seats in the upper deck. So we decided that we would get our ice cream down the 3B line (our normal spot0 and then head upstairs to eat it.

On our way to the ice cream place, we noticed that the “Schmitter” stand moved during the offseason and a Federal Donuts is now in the old Schmitter spot:

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But, nevermind, we had more important things to think about: Ice Cream.

We were greeted at our standard ice cream spot, by our standard ice cream lady with a very non-standard ice cream option. Behold, the beautiful and wonderful new $9 jumbo Phillies cookie sundae ice cream helmet:

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That guy consists of two huge cookies, a healthy (or unhealthy?) heaping helping of hand-dipped chocolate ice cream (no soft serve here), caramel sauce, whipped cream and sprinkles!!!

While this monster of a sundae is more expensive than a standard ice cream helmet, it is big enough that we only needed one to share between the three of us. And just check out that beautiful two-tone helmet!

I smashed out tray and folded it in half and it made a perfect table for the boys to share the sundae:

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And check out our beautiful view from the very back row of section 433:

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I always love it when you can look down on the top of the foul pole:

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And Tim always loves it when there are huge chunks of cookies in his ice cream!

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Seriously, after Tim’s very first bite of this sundae, he proclaimed (almost involuntarily), “THIS IS AWESOME!”

After the ice cream, it was about the 4-5 inning, the score was still 0-0, and the boys were officially freezing from the ice cream. They threw on their winter jackets…

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…and we headed off in search of that warm dinner. As we walked around toward RF, the Royals scored two runs and the Phils scored 1. I was on the phone with my wife, we couldn’t see the field, and we had no idea that anything had happened. I literally started to tell Colleen that the score was still 0-0 when I looked up and saw the score and was like, “Whaaaaaaatt? Huh?”

I still have no clue how those runs were even scored.

After scrapping the initial plan of nachos, and the second plan of pizza, Tim settled on…

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…hot dogs! We went up to the walkway way out in CF to eat. Unfortunately, it was pretty windy out there and the SRO counter was too tall for Tim. We ate sitting on the ground. Eventually, Tim spilled most of his food on the floor. Ooops.

We went to the team store to warm up a bit…

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…and the Royals scored again (on back-to-back doubles by Francoeur and Miggy Tejada). I figured that at some point this season, we’d finally see some scoring in person. I was right.

We decided to go meet up with Tang in section 132. Until the inning break, we watched the game from the SRO area behind section 131:

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Each half inning in the 8 and 9, we keep working our way closer to the home plate end of the visitors dugout.

During a momentary break in the action, I got this random photo of Frenchy chatting up the home plate up, Jeff Kellogg:

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Maybe that’s not very exciting, but I liked it and thought I’d share it.

Here was our view in the top of the ninth with the Royals up 3-1:

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I should note that the fans started racing for the gates when it hit the ninth inning. It was a little sad. Such a short time ago the Phillies fans believed the Phils could win every game. Now they are giving up and heading for the doors when down by only 2 runs in only the second home game of the year!

Well, guess what? Those fans missed out. Because after Eric Hosmer made the last out of the top of the ninth…

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…, the Royals’ closer, Greg Holland, walked three Phillies (Utley, Howard and Michael Young) in a row to start the bottom of the ninth. Holland then struck out Dominic Brown and John Mayberry, in pretty embarrassing fashion too.

It all came down to pinch hitter Kevin Frandsen. On Holland’s first pitch, Frandsen laced a ball into the RF gap. Everyone was already on their feet, including us, and a distressed Tang who wanted his Royals to pull out the victory. On contact I announced (to myself), “Well, we have a tie game.”

But somehow the ball rattled around in RF or the outfielders were sluggish and Michael Young motored around all the way from first base for the walk off win.

What fans were still in attendance were going B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

After the game, we all tried to make it down near the umpires’ tunnel, but there was just too much celebrating to get through the crowd down there. The four of us (Tang included) settled into a spot just above the dugout where the players head down the steps into the clubhouse.

The Royals high tailed it out of there. Eventually, a bat boy stuck his head out and started throwing about 7-8 balls into the crowd, including one to us and one to Tang.

Thanks, Batboy!

I had Tang take one last wintry looking picture of us above the dugout:

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Then, right as we started to leave, another baseball started rolling across the top of the dugout. A loud and crazy adult fan grabbed and handed it to Tim. I suggested we give it away to another kid, but Tim wanted to save it for autographs…so we did.

We said our goodbyes with Tang, and headed to our car. Minutes later, the boys were out like a light.  Sweet dreams, boys!

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And then, as I traditionally do, I called and chatted with my mom on the drive home.

It was a nice day of baseball, and it was great to be back at the ballpark again after a long winter.

BONUS PICTURE:

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NOTE: This is the fan ball from the end of the game. It is very suspicious to me. It is obviously game rubbed up. It also has two big reddish smudges on it, which to me clearly means it was used in the game. It might be a ball that was fouled straight back against the net. However, those are usually rolled over to the MLB authenticators on the 1B side dugout, I believe. One other theory has bounced around in my brain: it could be the ball that Frandsen hit to win the game, which the game tape shows ended up with the Royals catcher, Salvador Perez, and entered the Royals dugout. Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

1 Game

2 Teams – Royals, Phillies

1 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo)

7 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 3

1 Stadium – Citizens Bank Park

The “Youngblood”

My friend, Alan Schuster, created and runs MyGameBalls.com. It’s a great site for baseball fans who like to attend games in person and come away with a few spheroidal souvenirs. We’ve met some great guys through Alan’s site. I like to do what I can to give back to the site. This offseason that took the form of writing a short article that is currently posted on the site.  Go over to MyGameBalls.com and check it out.

Here’s the article in its entirety (although you should really go to the site to read it.  Here, just click the picture below and you’ll magically be transported through time and space, all the way to MyGameBalls.com):

youngblooding

And, just for kicks, here are links to our game reports for the two two-city, day/night doubleheaders discussed in the article:  September 6, 2010 & May 7, 2011.

1977 Seattle Mariners Inaugural Series Program

I was at my parents’ house in late January. Whenever I’m home, I spend time poking around in the closet of my boyhood bedroom. When I moved out years ago, I left a ton of baseball cards and other baseball stuff in there. It’s always fun to go hunting and see what I can find. This time, I found something really cool: The official program of the 1977 Seattle Mariners inaugural series against the California Angels.

When the Mariners played their first ever regular season game on April 6, 1977, I was one year old and living in Southern California.  I did not attend this game.  Not even close.  I’m not entirely sure how I came to own this program.  But it is pretty darn cool.  So I thought I’d share it here.

Let’s take a look page-by-page, starting with the cover:

1977-1

Now, I should explain that I took all of these pictures with my cellphone camera.  So some of them are just fine and others are blurry.  Sorry about that.  I didn’t take my normal camera on this trip.  As we take  look at the program, I’ll make a comment or two when I feel like it, but mostly this entire is just going to be page-after-page-after-page of the program.

It was a different world back in 1977, and the program features several advertisements that I highly doubt would be included if the Mariners debuted in 2013.  The first such ad was inside the front cover:

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And your 1977 Seattle Mariners:
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…and an ad…
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…and the rest of your 1977 Seattle Mariners:

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I like this idea — the compiled 1976 stats of the players who became the 1977 Mariners:

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Whoever originally owned this program, gave up on scoring in the seventh inning (weak, original owner.  weak!):

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Here’s a good ad.  Back in college, I banked at SeaFirst (which no longer exists) and was very happy with their banking services:

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In addition to the first game, I also missed helmet night and ball day (boo, me!):

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Seattlites were new to this Major League Baseball stuff, so the M’s thought it the fans could use a little (very little) lesson in baseball statistics:

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And a lesson in scoring a baseball game:

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And a lesson on the controversial Designator Hitter position:

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I’m guessing note many of these guys are still around…

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…and I wonder if Fred Genzale is the father, uncle, or brother of Henry Genzale who….uh, oh…did Henry Genzale retire?  He’s been the M’s visiting clubhouse manager since (at least) the 1990s (or maybe he was the equipment manager back then).  (Note:  Henry Genzale also let me serve as the Mariners bat boy for a spring training game back in 1991, which was a completely awesome experience for which I will be enternally gratetful to Mr. Genzale).

Okay – here is hands-down the best advertisement in the program:

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Here is an absolutely beautiful sight:

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I sure wish I had a 1977 Mariners pocket schedule.  But this 1977 Mariners regular season schedule will have to do:

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Another ad you wouldn’t see in 2013 adorned the back cover of the program:

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There you go:  Official Mariners history!

Hope you enjoyed it..

The Pavarotti of Intentional Talk

I enjoy watching MLB Network in my down time.  And, when doing so, I enjoy watching replays of “Intenional Talk”…

IT

…with Kevin Millar and Chris Rose.

During each episode, Kevin and Chris show a video clip of someone caught on tape doing something embarrassing.  They call the bit “Got Heeeem.”  Lately, I’ve noticed that they have been setting up the Got Heeeem bit with a video of someone saying “Got Heeeem” — sometimes the person is a MLB ballplayer, a coach, a celebrity or a broadcaster.  Other times, it appears to me to just be some random person from the world.  So I’ve been thinking I should film Tim or Kellan saying “Got Heeeem” and send it in to see if they’d use it.

I didn’t plan it out at all.  But the other night when it was just me and Kellan still awake at the house, I pulled out my phone and asked Kellan to say “Got Heeeem.”  I didn’t tell him *how* he should say it and he just naturally extended the “Heeeem” to “Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem.”  I thought it was pretty cute.

It was January 23rd.  I filmed Kellan saying the line twice.  The second take was better than the first.  So I edited it down a bit and tweeted it to Millar, Rose and the Intentional Talk twitter account:

IT-tweet

I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch “IT” the next day (Thursday, January 24th) so I programmed our DVR to record the show.  But I never actually watched it (still haven’t).   On January 25th, although I still planned to watch the recorded show from the 24th, I went on with life assuming that they did not use Kellan’s “Got Heeeem” clip on the January 24th show and that it would never see the light of day.  Part of this assumption was because I had never heard anything about it, no one responded to my tweet.

But, in the evening on January 25th, I received a tweet from a fellow MyGameBalls.com member asking if Kellan was just on Intentional Talk.  Here is the exchange:

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This was some exciting news (that I very much appreciated receiving from Danny).  Sure, it’s just a little 7-second clip on a cable show that tons of people have never even heard of, but the idea of Kellan having a “speaking role” on a show I watch pretty regularly was definitely a cool thought.

I’d already missed the original showing of the program and we had plans to go out to dinner.  I recorded the next showing, which aired while we were out to dinner for Tim’s birthday.  And when we got home, there he was…

Kellan on IT

…”Got Heeeeeeeeeeeee, eeeeee, eeeeeeeeeeeen”!  (He actually ended his “Heeeem” it with an “n,” instead of an “m”).

While our family watched the show together for the first time standing around the TV, Kellan looked around at us and then pointed up at the TV and exclaimed, “It’s me!”   Tim was a bit jealous, especially because his little bro was on TV on Tim’s birthday.  But I told Tim not to worry, we’d make our best effort to get him onto “Got Heeeem” in the future, during the 2013 season, with a bit of luck.

I took a very poor quality video of the scene on my cellphone, but the boys were pounding on drums or what-have-you in the background and I couldn’t get a decent recording of it.  Luckily, fellow-MLBlogger Nick Batters came to the rescue.  He downloaded the free podcast and put together and emailed to me this great little clip:

I could watch that all day!  I wish Kellan would have been wearing one of his Mariners t-shirts so he could be showing his Mariners pride.  But, heck, it was late and he was already suited up for the night in his jammies.  Anyway…

I absolutely love how Millar and Rose give Kellan an ovation after his “Got Heeeeem” and how Rose dubs Kellan the “Pavarotti” of Intentional Talk.  That’s a title I can get behind!

Today, I watched the whole episode for the first time and I noticed that they gave “Special Thanks” to us and the other fans who had contributed questions or pictures for the show:

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My overal take on having Kellan on Intentional Talk:  Awesome!

If you can get on there, I highly recommend it.

That’s all for now.

Cook & Son’s MLB Adventures (Vol. 1)

The offseason and January 1st are for remembering the past and looking forward to the future.

As far as remembering our baseball past goes, here’s a video that I made in 2010 that I absolutely love:

I really need to put together Volume 2 soon.

That’s all for now.  Go Mariners!

Spike Owen & Harold Reynolds

As the title of our blog suggests, our blog is about one thing:  our family’s baseball adventures.  I don’t write about trades or trade rumors, MVP debates, player values, or Hall of Fame elections.  I have strong feelings about all of those things.  But I’m not a sportswriter.  It’s not my job to tell people what I think they should think about the current happenings in our great sport.  There are hordes of paid sportswriters for that.  I’m here to document my family’s personal baseball history, and that’s about it.

This makes the offseason pretty quiet around here.

But there is baseball and baseball stuff going on in the Cook household year round.  I recently wrote about Tim’s first winter clinic for his little league.  There will be another clinic in a couple weeks, and we’re eagerly looking forward to it.

In my downtime, I’m still working away updating our Baseball Logs (which I get behind on during the season) and our online Baseball Museum, and planning our 2013 season (fyi, be on the lookout for three generations of Cook boys in the Lone Star state in 2013).  But lately, there are two additional baseball items taking up some of my time and, since they fall in line with the concept of documenting our personal baseball history, I thought I’d do a short update about them.

They’re not so much “items” as they are people — two of my favorite former-Mariners:  Spike Owen & Harold Reynolds:

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Spike Owen was my original all-time favorite baseball player.  I have two distinct “where was I when” memories about Spike.  I was standing right here…

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…at my elementary school (there used to be a baseball field there) when my assistant baseball coach explained that Spike Owen played short stop for the Mariners (fyi, I played short stop for the Sherwood Eagles!) and he wore number 7 (fyi, I also wore number 7!).  From that very moment, Spike was instantly my favorite player.  Several years later (1986), I was in the basement of my family home (sitting on a cabinet/desk thingy to be exact), when my buddy, Dan Mosely, called to tell me the unthinkable:  Spike Owen was traded to the Boston Red Sox!  By this time, I was already a huge Mariners fan, but had never paid any attention to the postseason.  As a result of Spike’s traded to the Red Sox, I watched the World Series for the first time ever and REALLLLLY wanted Boston to win.

After 1986 (with no internet), it became pretty hard to follow Spike Owen, particularly during his years in Montreal.  Basically, all I could do was read box scores in the newpaper (people used to do that in the 1980s).

While Spike became my absentee-favorite ballplayer, over the next several years, I never officially announced a new favorite Mariner.  In retrospect, it was clearly Harold Reynolds.  That is, it was Harold Reynolds until 1989, when Ken Griffey, Jr. showed up on the scene.  Since 1989, Griff has held the title of my all-time favorite player and, unless Tim and/or Kellen make the pros, I assume he always will be my favorite baseball player.

So, why am I spending time thinking about Spike and Harold all of these years later?  Let’s start with Spike.

I have been a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) for a number of years now (4 or 5 years, I guess).   But I’ve never been an active participant in SABR.  However, recently I have been chatting with another local SABR member who is active in the SABR BioProject.  Through the BioProject, SABR is trying to have its members write 1,500+ word biographies of EVERY MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYER EVER!!! (plus, managers, umpires, owners, etc., etc.)  They have a loooooooooooooong way to go to reach that goal.  So, I decided to get involved.

When I first considered getting involved, I quickly realized that the only way it would interest me is if I could have my participation in the BioProject compliment my efforts to document our family’s personal baseball history.  My first assignment of choice became clear:  I would volunteer to write the BioProject biography of the man who played a foundational role in my life-long love of baseball and the Mariners, Spike Owen.

Shortly after putting in the request, I was officially assigned the Spike Owen biography by the BioProject Committee.  Lately, I have been researching Spike’s career (and life) via the internet and I have learned a whole lot of stuff I never knew about Spike.  I thought I would share a few interesting things I have uncovered.  My favorite old article I have found (from shortly before Spike’s call up to the Mariners) highlights the relationship between Spike and his minor league roommate and double play partner, Harold Reynolds:

owen-reynolds combination clicks

Two other interesting notes, (i) Spike was the short stop for the Expos during Dennis “El Presidente” Martinez’s perfect game in 1991 and (ii) Spike was the Captain of the 1982 Texas Longhorns baseball team where his teammates included his future 1986 Red Sox teammates, Roger Clemens and Calvin Schiraldi.

Spike’s relationship with Harold Reynolds extended beyond the minors.  Spike was called up to the Mariners before Harold.  Spike played about 60 games for the Mariners in 1983 before Harold was called up and played his first game on September 2, 1983.  Interestingly, Harold made his Major League debut as a pinch runner for Ken Phelps following an at-bat when Phelps pinch hit for Spike.  Three days later, Harold started his first game for the Mariners.  Spike hit lead off with Harold in the nine-hole, meaning that Spike was on deck when Harold had his first career at-bat in the Major Leagues.  Twelve years later, Harold played his final game in the Major Leagues as the starting second basemen for the California Angels.  His teammate and starting third basemen for the Angels that day:  Spike Owen.

Let’s talk some Harold Reynolds.

harold card

Harold played almost his entire career for the Mariners.  He was awesome.  People in Seattle loved him (at least that was my perception at the time, I certainly loved the guy).  He collected over 1,000 career hits for the Mariners, he was a 2-time All-Star and 3-time Gold Glove winner for the M’s.  Plus, he won the 1991 Roberto Clemente Award for his charitable efforts.

It has never made sense to me that Harold has never been inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame.  He is an obvious choice to me.

So, last year, I created a Twitter account called @HR4MarinersHOF with the intent of posting pro-Harold tidbits as a sort of grassroots campaign to get Harold enshrined in the Mariners Hall of Fame.  Unfortunately, almost immediately after I created the account and started posting a few Harold factoids, the Mariners announced that Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson (both great choices, as well) would be enshrined as new Marines Hall of Famers during the summer of 2012.  So, I decided to put @HR4MarinersHOF on hold until the 2013 Major League campaign.

Now is the time.  If you’re a Mariners fan and appreciate what Harold did for the Mariners, please give @HR4MarinersHOF a follow, a tweet, a retweet, or whatever you want to do to voice your feelings about Harold Reynolds and the Mariners Hall of Fame.

Happy New Year and we’ll see you in 2013!

Liberty Baseball’s Winter Clinic

So it’s cold these days in Pennsylvania.  We’ve been playing a lot of catch with foam and plush baseballs in the kids’ playroom.  But it has been a while since we’ve been able to get out in the backyard for some real baseball.

And just as the metaphorical winter rust was starting to form, along came Tim’s Little League, Liberty Youth Baseball, with its Winter Clinic!  We all met up at the Life Sports Center at Albright College.  The clinic started out with a little pep talk from Liberty’s fearless leader, Jason Weigand (in blue), and…

IMG_5843.

…Kutztown University’s head baseball coach, Chris Blum.

The indoor training facility was really big and cool.  It was split into four separate areas.  After the boys split into groups, each group headed off to one of five stations.

Tim was in the youngest group.  Most of his ground were 5-6 year olds and a couple were 7-8 (I think).  Their group started in the hitting station.

First, a coach went over the proper grip of the baseball bat, stance at the plate, and swing:

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Next, half of Tim’s group went to a batting cage and the other half went to a group of three batting tees.  Unfortantely, I was chatting with someone while Tim was in the cage hitting live pitching (thrown by former Major Leaguer, Eric Valent,) and I forgot to get a picture of him hitting.  But here he is exiting the cage after his final hack:

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Although he hadn’t hit live pitching in probably a month, Tim hit pretty well.

And then it was off to the batting tees:

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By the way, I only had my phone to take pictures and this training facility has huge windows all the way down both sides of the building…so it was tough to get pictures that were even half-way decent.

And here is my favorite picture that I go today:

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After everyone in the group had hit in the cage and at the batting tees, all of the groups switched stations.  Tim’s group moved all the way to the other end of the building…

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…where they practiced fielding grounders…

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…and making the throw to first base (although, in reality, it was more like throwing to third):

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All of my fielding pictures were blury, but here is one of my favorites:

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The next station was pitching and catching.  But the 7-8 year old division in Liberty (which will be Tim’s division for the 2013 season) is coach pitch, so Tim’s group just practiced catching:

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The day after our final MLB game of the season, Tim got a new Tim Lincecum signature glove that he’s still getting use to.  But he did a good job catching normal throws and little pop flies tossed by Eric:

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Tim really likes playing catch now.  I love it.

The next station was practicing baserunning.  Once again, I was busy chatting.  I failed to take any pictures during the baserunning station.

At the final station, the boys practiced taking grounders and fly balls like they were playing in the outfield.   After fielding the ball, the boys practiced making strong throws in to the infield:

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The most amusing part of this station was that the kids were also supposed to be practing calling the ball like an outfielder.  The comical part was that the boys were screaming out, “I got it!” and “Mine!” while they were at the back of the line, but then you could hardly hear the boy at the front of the line calling the ball.  and a lot of them wouldn’t call “I got it” until right after they caught the ball.

Here’s another shot of Tim winding up for a big throw:

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After the final station, the boys gathered again for a few parting words…

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…and then they came in for a big “Liberty” chant:

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And that was that.  A great clinic.  Lots of fun.

On the walk back to our car, Tim posed with a nice silver fire hydrant:

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(If you haven’t noticed yet, getting his picture with fire hydrants is kinda Tim’s thing).

On our way home, we stopped off at the local Rawlings outlet store.  And then we capped the afternoon off with a 1-on-1 game of baseball in the backyard while Kellan napped.  We practiced all of the techniques taught during the clinic and Tim was looking really good as he beat me in our game — of course, he never actually let me bat.

We’re aleady looking forward to the next Liberty clinic in January!

Every Team At Every Stadium

With our 2012 games all written-up here on our blog, I am now in the process of updating our Baseball Logs.  There are still nine teams (the Rangers, White Sox, Tigers, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Reds, Brewers and Astros) that Kellan has not yet seen play a game in person, and he has only visited 17Major League ballparks he has yet to visit.  (But, heck, he’s only 2 years old…so he’s doing pretty well for himself as a baseball fan).  Tim and I, on the other hand, have now seen every Major League team play at least one home game and at least one road game:

touch em all checklist

It felt great to finally check off our final stadium.  But I don’t feel like our journey is now complete.  Far from it, in fact.  I want to visit every stadium a lot.  I want to get to know every stadium inside and out.

So, with my little “Touch ‘em All Checklist” complete, it is time to move on to the BIG LIST that I have often though of, and just finally put together:

Every Team At Every Stadium

Okay…yeah, this one is going to take some awhile.

Hmm…I wonder if there is anyone alive who can actually say they have seen every MLB team play at every stadium.  I doubt that I will ever be able to complete the chart.  But I plan to have a lot of fun with my boys trying.

Bring on 2013!  (And welcome to the A.L. West, Astros).

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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