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STH Early-Bird BP, King Felix, & Little Grandma at Safeco Field (8/6/2013)

On Tuesday, August 6, 2013, we attended our second game of the season at Safeco Field. It was the second game of the M’s series against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays, and hopefully it is the last time we will ever have to see the Blue Jays play in Seattle. I like my Mariners home games to feel like home games! Unfortunately, a Mariners vs. Blue Jays game in Seattle feels more like a Blue Jays home game than a Blue Jays game at Rogers Centre.

Kellan took a nap on the drive down to the ballpark…

…and missed the nice view of Mt. Rainier. It was a beautiful day.

The M’s made up for the fact that the ballpark would be packed with obnoxious (very non-Canadian seeming) Blue Jays fans by hosting a season ticket holders’ early bird batting practice. I was excited for it because, even with the Pen opening early, Mariners fan never really get to see the Mariners much during BP. And I wanna see my M’s as much as possible!

The season ticket holders early BP gate was on the southeast corner of the ballpark:

And the M’s had a welcome banner and a bunch of people ready to hand out snacks-and-whatnot to the early-bird season ticket holders:

While it felt like there was a decent amount of people in line by the time the gates opened, inside Safeco Field felt gloriously empty. At the outset, Tim and my dad went midway down the RF line…

…and Kellan and I pulled up some seats right behind Jason Phillips…

…, who was playing catch with Hisashi Iwakuma.

Pretty quickly, Charlie Furbush tossed his warm-up ball to Tim.

Thanks, Charlie!

Meanwhile, Jason Phillips and I chatted a little bit. One of the main things I remember him saying was, essentially, that it was too bad that I had to see the Blue Jays while I was in town because it wouldn’t feel much like a Mariners home game. He nailed it.

Shortly after Tim and my dad joined us, Kuma and Jason finished playing catch and Kuma tossed the baseball to us.

Thanks, Kuma!

Tim and my dad decided to head out to RF, where most of the other season ticket holders also went once BP started up. I didn’t want to take Kellan in the sun so we headed over to the shady LF foul corner.

There were ZERO other fans on the entire LF side.   ZERO! For a long, long time. It was crazy.

Right when we got out to the foul corner, Danny Farquhar mosied out there. I asked Danny if he wanted to play catch. He responded, “No, but I’ll throw you guys a baseball.” And so he did:

Thanks, Danny!

Tim should have joined us in LF. Check this out:

My dad was hanging out in the front row ready to catch a homerun (that never came to him), but Tim didn’t like the sun so he sat in the shade for a bit.

Eventually, a ball was hit down the line and it came to rest (essentially) below us. Erasmo Ramirez came over and tossed it to us.

Thanks, Erasmo!

Kellan asked if he could throw the ball back to Erasmo, so I asked Erasmo if that would be okay. He agreed and, while standing on the edge of the grass (across the warning track), he stuck out his glove to give Kellan a target. And Kellan threw a bullet right to Erasmo’s chest. It was mighty impressive.

Kellan really liked throwing a baseball to a player so he asked if he could do it again when Farquhar was in the vicinity. I asked Danny if Kellan could toss him a baseball. He said sure and he tossed one up to me, and then Kellan rifled it back to him:

Meanwhile, Tim joined my dad down in the sun and ended up getting a toss up from Henry Blanco.

Thanks, Henry!

Kellan and I decided to circle around to CF to meet up with Tim and my dad. The season ticket holder day was officially awesome. The Pen was open…

…but everyone had to stay down there, except for “us” season ticket holders (my folks are season ticket holders!).

When we were above the Pen, we saw Tim and my dad in the corner in CF. Just then, Kuma tossed a ball to Tim and he dropped it into the gap:

Kuma then went into the gap, grabbed the ball and tossed it to Tim again.

Thanks, Kuma!

Shortly thereafter, we met up with Tim and my dad in CF. Then something unexpected and awesome happened. When balls get hit in the gap, the ushers grab them (usually either a guy named Adrian or Tim’s favorite usher “Tim C.”) and give them to kids. Well, a ball got hit down there, Usher Adrian grabbed it, and instead of handing it to Kellan, he tossed it to him from about 5-7 feet away:

The ball smacked (gently) off of Kellan’s chest/left shoulder, rolled down his left arm and settled snuggly in Kellan’s glove. It was officially Kellan’s first ever unassisted catch of a baseball at a Major League game!

Way to go, Kellan!

Thanks, Usher Adrian!

We celebrated by taking this funny picture of a squinty-eyed Kellan and his new baseball and Tim with the ball Kuma had just tossed and re-tossed him:

Next, a Mariner hit a homerun and it bounced into the open OF gate and rolled up and then down the canvas cover over the tunnel between RF and RCF. When it rolled down, it went right to Yoervis Medina. And Medina tossed it to us.

Thanks, Yoervis!

Next, we decided to circle all the way back around home plate and back to the LF foul corner. On the way, Michael Morse…

…autographed the ball that Kellan had caught (with help from the lady who is attached to that arm – she was in the lower seats that were roped off and she was able to hand the ball to Morse and get the ball back from him for us).

Back in the LF corner, we got one more ball from Lucas Luetge…

…who had to toss this ball to us several times before we finally got it.

Thanks, Lucas!

And that was early-bird season ticket holders BP! It was awesome!

We headed back out to CF for Blue Jays BP:

We sat in the front row behind Mark Buerhle…

…who was the only Blue Jay I recognized.

Blue Jays’ BP was a yawner. Very few homeruns. Almost non-existent toss ups. Blue Jays fans everywhere.

So we headed to the kids’ play area:

And the boys had a blast!

Eventually, my mom and a very special guest joined us in the play area. We decided that we should all head over to our seats on the 3B line. On the way, we stopped to get a picture at the King’s Court throne:

Look at that! It’s my Little Grandma!   (Since we were kids, my brother and I always called my mom’s mom “Little Grandma” and my dad’s mom “Big Grandma”).

This was our first ever four generation Mariners game! Since my Grandpa passed away last January, my Grandma had been living with my folks for a couple months and she had started joining my folks at almost all of their Mariners games. She really enjoyed it. I hope she continues going in 2014.

By the way, my Grandma was 91 at this time.

Besides early bird season ticket holder BP, I was also very excited for this game because King Felix was going to be on the mound for the M’s. Unfortunately, it was not Felix’s night.

In fact, Jose Reyes lead off the game by hitting a homerun on the very first pitch of the game:

By the way, I officially cannot stand seeing huge numbers of fans cheer against the Mariners at Safeco Field – not cool!

I can’t really remember what the deal was with our tickets for this game. We had my folks normal season tickets in section 141, row 23.  But I think we had 2-3 other seats that were right in that vicinity, but not necessarily together. So when we reached the section, my folks talked to their normal usher about getting us all together. We ended up sitting together toward the section where there were plenty of empty seats.

And a Mariners employee who I totally recognized sat right behind us during the whole game:

I chatted with him a little bit. At first, I thought it was Anthony Suzuki, but he was not. Whatever his name is (I’m not sure), he said he works with Kuma. He sat there the whole game and seemed to be fairly busy on his phone and his iPad.

My best friend since sophomore year of high school, the one and only Paul Samione…

…, was at the game with his brother, Kevin. Paul is the one leaning toward the aisle and laughing. His family shares some amazing season tickets. Throughout the game, Paul and I texted about our desire to never see the Blue Jays play in Seattle again.

Not much was doing offensively for the M’s in this game. Raul went down swinging in the second:

Mike Morse followed with a single to RF…

…but he didn’t score.

But this didn’t prevent us from having lot of fun:

How could we not with this beautiful view on this beautiful night:

The boys enjoyed some ice cream (as usual):

And they clowned around in the seats all night:

Guess what? This looks like Seager is about to hit a homerun…

…, but did didn’t.

In fact, the M’s didn’t score until the seventh, at which point the score was already 7-0 (six runs being charged to King Felix!). The M’s scored 2 in the seventh, but it was too little, too late.

But, as I said, we enjoyed ourselves anyway (well, except for having to put up with all of the Blue Jays fans). See, here’s proof, see my dad smiling despite the lop-sided score:

Lucas Luetge was a bright spot. He pitched two scoreless innings in relief:

But, lo-and-behold, the Mariners fell to the Jays by the final of 7-2. The game ended on a high pop out, which allowed me and Kellan to get down to right here by the time the final out was made:

On his way out, home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott placed a baseball into Kellan’s glove.

Thanks, Blue!

Before heading to the cars, we got a family photo back at the seats:

We waited for the place to clear out a bit and then took a slow walk around the concourse toward the outfield:

I took this panorama from the concourse in CF because, hey, why not?

There is an elevator in the back of the Moose Den that my grandma needed to take down to the street level:

On our walk to the cars, the boys posed with a nice red fire hydrant across the street from the LF gate:

And they played around with the lights in the ground outside the Clink (the Seahawks’ stadium):

Then we had a nice and restful drive back to my folks’ house.

Hey, it was a great day at the ballpark. Despite the loss, I was pretty excited just thinking forward to our next game, which would feature the induction of my all-time favorite player, Ken Griffey, Jr. into the Mariners Hall of Fame!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

21 Games                                                     
 
19 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers, White Sox, Braves
 
34 Ice Cream Helmets – Mariners 2, Phillies (jumbo) 4, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4
 
103 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Royals 4, Phillies 19, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 3, Umpires 8, Reds 9, Nationals 3, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6, White Sox 3
 
11 Stadiums – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park
 
33 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Rajai Davis
 
12 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo, Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez, Rajai Davis, Michael Morse

 

Stade Olympique: Part Deux! (3/29/2014)

On the morning of Saturday, March 29, 2014, we woke up in our hotel room and looked out the windows:

It was a great day for baseball! A great day for indoor baseball, that is. We were excite for our second game at Stade Olympique.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat at a little place in the shops of Dupuis Place (I think that’s what it is called), and then headed down the stairs to the Metro. Remember how I said the subway was really a bunch of linked-up electric buses? Here’s proof:

Kellan grabbed a window seat so he could watch the stops fly by.

Michel was waiting at the gates already. The pre-gate scene looked a lot like it had the day before:

We had seen most of the stadium the night before, but one place we never ventured was the right field bleachers. So that is where we decided to start off at this game:

It took about thirty seconds before we noticed the ramifications of the guy falling out of the bleachers the night before. See those guys:

They were huddling and talking about the fall – that’s where the guy landed, on his head.

Now, look up at the cross-aisle two photos above. It is a nice, wide aisle with a very reasonable set of railings.  You’ll see in a few more pictures that the railing is taller than Kellan, almost as tall as Tim, and higher than my waist. (By way of contrast, check out the crazy short railings at Tropicana Field [http://mlblogscookandsonbats.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/14-low-railing.jpg]). You would really have to try to fall over that thing, which is almost what happened. The guy climbed on the railing to try to start the wave. That’s just irresponsible spectating.

But when it’s the first baseball game in a particular stadium in a decade and a guy nearly falls to his death, the stadium staff are bound to change some things. And that this game, they first announced that we had to *stand back* from the railing. So, at first, we were standing in the cross-aisle, but a couple feet off of the railing. But that wasn’t good enough. A supervisor type yelled up from the bullpen area to the usher standing next to us and directed her to get everyone completely out of the cross-aisle and behind the glass that lined the first row of seats.

So if you look back at the panorama above, you can see that Tim is behind the glass and the cross-aisle is mostly open, other than people walking from place to place.

When I tried started to try to take a picture of the boys, the usher offered to take our picture – in the super dangerous cross-aisle by the forbidden railing:

And, apparently before we returned to our safe spot behind the glass, Kellan snapped this picture of a happy little Tim:

At one point, Juan Lagares tossed a baseball to Greg Barasch, who was several rows above us and a section over toward RF. Greg came over to show us that it was a 2011 All-Star ball.

Hmm…it would be nice to get one of those. We’d NEVER catch an All-Star ball – or any baseball with multi-colored laces.

Eventually, some Met (by the way, although the stadium opened two hours early (at 11:00 a.m.), the Blue Jays were long gone by the time the fans were let into the park) hit a homerun in our direction. I got a late start on it, and eventually ran down into the cross-aisle, reached my glove arm over the super-dangerous railing, and just got a piece of it at the very end of the pinky finger of my glove.

The ball deflected off of my glove and back onto the field. Some unidentified Mets pitcher (a guy with a beard – maybe, Bobby Parnell, but I’m not sure) watched this all happen. He immediately fielded the ball and tossed it right back to me.

Thanks, unidentified guy/maybe Bobby Parnell!

And, guess what? It was a 2011 All-Star game ball! (FYI, that was the All-Star game at Chase Field in Arizona).

At this point, it didn’t seem like everyone was being forced to stay in the seats in LF, so we decided to head over there.

After a long walk, we discovered that the same rule, indeed, was in effect in LF:

But Tim tried to break the rules and stay out in the cross-aisle…

…, which he managed to do for a while, before ultimately being told to get back into the seats with the rest of us.

BP was pretty much dead. Not many homeruns being hit. Not many baseballs being tossed up into the crowd. Not many Mets I recognized. And really loud music being blared in our faces from the make-shift Stade Olympique sound system.

Avi, Michel, Chris and Greg were all over in LF at this point too. At one point, I heard Greg say something to Bobby Parnell.

Ah, ha! We knew a player’s name! (I’m still not sure if it was Parnell who tossed us the ball in RF).

Almost immediately after learning which guy was Parnell, a baseball was hit to him. We (and Greg) called out to Parnell and, much to Greg’s non-delight, Parnell tossed the ball to us. And guess what?

It was a 2012 (Kansas City) All-Star ball! (Probably my favorite All-Star ball over the last decade).

Thanks, Bobby! (Sorry about the Tom Johnny!)

After BP, we went up into the back corner of the section 151 (the CF-most section of the LF bleachers) to take a panorama and chat with the rest of the guys. While we were up there, Chris took this shot for us:

Here is the panorama I took up there…

…and here is the scene generally:

Next, everyone decided it was time to go explore the stadium. We all started by exiting the bleachers through the tunnels that empty into the lower field level concourse. The boys and I had been in that part of the concourse the day before and it is a HUGE open area. When we all walked into the concourse, someone had the bright idea that we should play catch. And so we did:

Check out all of this room:

We tossed the ball every-which-a-way between Greg, Chris, Me and Tim, with period grounders in to Kellan in the middle. By the way, no one was walking around in this area of the concourse because the concourse ended just behind Tim and Greg (that’s where the construction area begins).

At one point, a security guard walked right by us. He literally walked ten feet from me and Tim on the back side of the concourse, and he didn’t even bat an eye at the fact that we playing catch.

The boys were getting thirsty, so we headed off to get some water. The rest of the guys all headed off to wherever it was they were going to explore. But after we got some water, Tim wanted to play some more catch. So we headed back to the big open concourse area.

As Tim threw the ball off the wall to himself, Kellan showed off our two All-Star balls:

Then I threw a bunch of pop flies to Tim over the various pipes…

…and then Tim made me throw him a bunch of *line drives* he had to run for so he could make what he labeled as *epic catches*!

Eventually, we decided to walk around a bit. We passed by the Expos-stuff-area where was found Andre Dawson’s 1983 N.L. Silver Slugger Award and his (broken) 1980 N.L. Gold Glove Award:

We made our way around home plate in the concourse. Here are some random shots of what the concourse looks like back there:

Eventually, we popped out into the field level seats on the 1B side. On the field, they (I’m not sure who *they* area – the Society for former Expos Fans, maybe) were celebrating the 1994 Expos:

We watched the end of the ceremony from the cross-aisle behind section 123:

Finally, just before game time, we headed down to the field to watch the Blue Jays’ pre-game throwing:

What happened next was really bizarre. As background, you need to know that I could not find the charger for my normal pocket sized camera when it was time to leave for this trip. So I had to bring Colleen’s hold (and huge) camera.   The camera barely fits in my cargo pants pockets. The camera also has a strap to hang around your neck.

Now, at this time, I had the camera jammed in my right cargo pocket with the strap hanging out of the pocket.

So, when pre-game throwing wrapped up, our plan was to head up to our seats in section 437. We turned around and the aisle we were standing in ran all the way up through both field-level cross-aisles and all the way to the upper field level concourse. With Kellan on my shoulders and Tim bouncing around as he tends to do while walking anywhere, we started trudging up the stairs all the way to the top.

When we were between the concourse and the upper cross-aisle (about 10-15 rows from the concourse), I tried to take a step with my right foot at my leg got pulled back. The camera strap had caught onto the arm rest of one of the aisle seats. I stopped, looked back, and maneuvered my leg to unhook the strap. I then turned back and resumed climbing the stairs, but all of a sudden I started to trip forward up the steps. All of a sudden everything was in slow motion and it was like I wasn’t in control of my feet. I couldn’t find the steps as I tried to walk and I starting falling forward with Kellan on my shoulders. Holding Kellan’s leg with my right hand, I tripod’d to save myself from falling down. Two guys jumped out of their seats and ran down to grab and stabilize me as well. I thanked them, stood up straight again, and started walking up the rest of the way. When I got to the top, I looked back and Tim was still 10 rows down and he was running up to me. He had the camera in his hand.

It turns out that after I unhooked the camera strap from the aisle-seat arm rest, it almost immediately got stuck again. As I was struggling to walk up the stairs, the camera was pulling me back down the stairs and eventually…

…ripped out my pocket, resulting in the camera falling to the floor. Luckily, Tim noticed the camera.

Thankfully, I have walked up and down so many flights of stadium stairs with either Tim or Kellan on my shoulders over the years that I am extremely comfortable walking around that way. It was great that those guys jumped up to stabilize me, but I knew I was never going to fall even if they didn’t. And Kellan didn’t panic at all. Actually, I’m not even sure he realized what was going on.

Anyway, we walked up, up, up…

…and found our seats in section 437:

While we walked through the upper deck concourse toward our seats, Tim asked if we could pull the old switcheroo (dessert before dinner – or, in this case, lunch). So we go them the same treats they enjoyed the night before:

Here’s a blurry look at the first pitch of the game:

Here’s an elevated view of where the guy fell the night before:

See the guy in the orange shirt in the cross-aisle? The usher during BP to me the guy fell about 5-10 feet behind that guy (closer to the RF foul pole).

Here’s a nice first inning match-up – Brandon Morrow vs. David Wright:

Ultimately, Wright when down swinging.

Before the game, Avi told me one of his goals was to sit in the far upper OF corners in both LF and RF. I could see with my naked eye that he wasn’t in the upper RF corner. So I zoomed in on the upper LF corner:

There you go. To the upper right, that is Chris in the Mets jersey (with Natalie’s blue sweatshirt barely showing to the right of Chris), Avi (in the black sweatshirt), Greg (in the white with a Mets hat), and Greg’s dad, one row down from Greg.

I asked Tim if he wanted to go join them. Of course, he did. So we walked all the way around the stadium the long way (couldn’t cut through CF because of the construction zone) hoping they would still be there when we arrived.

As we arrived, they were just starting to walk down the stairs to head to the RF corner. But, when they saw us, they decided to sit back down so we could experience the upper corner with them for a bit.

Here is a panorama from the corner of section 462:

I stepped out a few seats so I could get another view that wasn’t blocked (as much) by the construction barrier), check it out:

I loved that you can look behind the scoreboard (or advertisements above the scoreboard) and see people on the other side of the stadium. By the way, in case you couldn’t tell, this game was PACKED! Over 50,000 fans were in attendance.

Here’s another familiar and welcome sight from my childhood:

Just like the glorious Kingdome (by the way, look for the Kingdome later in this entry), huge speakers hung from the roof of the dome all around the stadium.

Once we finally decided we’d had enough upper deck LF time, we headed down to the cross-aisle and stood around a bit. Greg’s dad had gone somewhere and we were waiting for him to return. While standing in the tunnel leading from the concourse to the cross-aisle, I got this photo:

That’s officially the first random wall cut-out with two-by-fours that we’ve ever found at a Major League ball park. Yep, the Stade has character!

And when Tim decided to blow a big blast of air into this cut-out, we discovered that the Stade has some dust too….well, it has a lot of dust.

We moved out to the concourse to wait some more. I grabbed a “dee-it coke” from a hot dog stand. Then we stood around some more.

Eventually, we decided to leave Greg behind and had over to RF.

On our walk through the concourse, we looked off the back edge down to the lower (upper field level) concourse and we found a bunch of these things:

I don’t know what those area. My best guess is some kind of counter-weigh that helps support the roof of the dome.

Here’s something else you don’t find much at Major League ball park, big piles of garbage in the concourse:

Avi, Chris, Natalie, the boys and I all headed up to the RF upper deck corner. At this point, we still needed to find fans of the Rays, Rockies and Cubs. While we were walking toward RF, Chris finally spotted a Rays fan, in line for some food. In the concourses at both of these games, it always seemed like there were thousands of people waiting in line for food.

Once we got to the RF corner, I took no pictures whatsoever because the boys and I were hardly there. Tim wanted to play catch again, so we left the rest Avi, Chris and Natalie and headed downstairs.

I had two goals: (1) get some poutine and (2) go play catch in the LF concourse. I wasn’t sure where to find poutine. So we headed to the upper-field level concourse and just started walking from RF to LF.   When we got behind home plate, I took this panorama from the top of section 101:

Beautiful, eh? I really like the color of the roof. It gives the feeling that you’re at a night game with a hole in the roof.

As we walked toward LF in the concourse by third base, I heard someone call my name. We turned around to find this guy standing there:

That’s Alex – or as I always identify him for my wife “Alex of Joe & Alex.” You see, back in 2009, Tim and I ran into “Joe & Alex” a few times at Citi Field. Tim used to talk about Joe & Alex like we were going to see them at every game at every stadium, he really wished we would. He’s always loved hanging with older guys. We’d actually met Alex for the first time at U.S. Cellular Field on August 17, 2009 – see, here’s proof.  We’ve also seen him at Camden Yards in 2010 and Citi Field, again, in 2013. It was great to catch up with Alex at yet another stadium. But he really needs to grow back his crazy 2009 mop-hair, don’t you think?

While we were chatting with Alex, a 20’ish year old gal in a Rockies hat walked by, I pointed at her and yelled, “ROCKIES!!!” I think she thought I was crazy. But that meant all we needed was to see a Cubs fan to complete our challenge.

After chatting with Alex for a bit, we excused ourselves so we could continue on our quest to find poutine and play catch. We wandered all around the food places, all with massive, slow-moving lines. We passed under this balloon arch…

…and then settled in for a 2-3-inning wait in line at the Bienvenue Grill:

That’s not an exaggeration. The game (tied 0-0) was sailing by and we were in line for more than half an hour! Looking back on the game, I feel like we hardly saw any of it. But the one thing Michel told us we had to do in Montreal was to each poutine, so we waited it out.

It truly was incredible how terribly slow every food place was at Stade Olympique. It didn’t help that every line we ever stood in (well, except for the ice cream/popsicle stands) ran out of major food items while we were in line – or that they only announced the non-available food items in French.

After waiting in this line for half an eternity, a guy yelled out in French, “L’blah-blah-blah. Oui, blah, blah, blah. L’blee-blue-blah.” All us Americans looked around confused and started asking the locals what he said. “No, more hamburgers or hot dogs.”

Check out the energetic and ready-to-serve staff at Bienvenue Grill:

We were going to get hot dogs for the boys and a poutine for me to share with the boys. But with no hot dogs left, we doubled down on the poutine. By the time we got our poutine, it was the eighth inning!

I decided that we didn’t have time to go play catch. Instead, we headed over to the SRO area behind section 228…

…and we started chowing down on…

…our:

By the way, poutine is French fries, gravy and cheese kurd. And it’s quite tasty. (Although, Kellan decided he didn’t want any).

After we finished our poutine, we decided to head out to LF to see about playing some catch and to see if Avi or anyone else we knew was out there. We headed out toward LF in the cross-aisle. When we got out there – or here…

…, it was still tied 0-0 in the bottom of the eighth. And then Melky Cabrera hit a 2-run homerun to put the Blue Jays up 2-0 as the game headed into the top of the ninth.

We were going to meet everyone behind the Mets dugout after the game. Because of Melky’s homerun, I (once again) decided we didn’t have time to go back to play catch again. So we headed toward the infield. And we found Avi and the guys on the way. I told them that all we needed was to see a Cubs fan to complete the all-teams-fan challenge, and they reported that they had finally spotted a Cubs fan. So we did it!

When the game ended, we made our way down to the first for behind the dugout, and Eric Langill (or as his fan club said…

… Eric “Lawn-jeel”) tossed us our final Stade Olympique baseball (at least of this trip!).

Thanks, Mr. Lawn-Jeel!

Tim got a big kick out of the smily-face eggs on the back of the grounds crews’ jackets:

We all milled around a bit, trying to extend our time inside Stade Olympique. Eventually, we got some pics of me and the boys, and me and Avi…

…featuring my new, beautiful Kingdome shirt!

And I even found another Cubs fan:

On our way out of the first row, someone (I think Chris or maybe Greg) noticed this great, personalized season ticket holder seat in the first row above the dugout:

“Maybe this year”?? Well, *maybe* for the Natspos of Washington, D.C.

As we headed to the exits, I took our final Stade Olympique interior panorama (for now, at least) from mid-way up section 118:

And then we headed out into the Great White North to check out the outside of the stadium:

Once we got a little further away, I got a panorama:

We decided not to go up the tower (because the usher inside told us it wasn’t worthwhile), we decided just to go find the Olympic Rings. We headed up a flight of stairs, until we hit the glacier that was covering Parc Olympique:

The ground was a mix between snow, slush and ice puddles. Kellan was on my shoulders so he was safe, but I had to micro-manage Tim’s walking so he wouldn’t arrive at the Olympic Rings covered in ice-water from head-to-toe.

At one point, I turned around and snapped this pic of Chris, Avi and Natalie:

Check out the cool set up at the Olympic Rings:

By the way, we had to negotiate our places – Kellan had to win the gold!

Finally, we headed back to our hotel. We had a pretty lazy evening. I took this photo showing all of our commemoratives from the trip…

…and we went out to dinner at this little Italian place:

And then Avi did work for his classes until around 3am.

The following morning we packed up and hit the road, but not before Kellan took a little standing nap:

Then it was back to the U.S. of A.:

2014 Fan Stats
2 Game
2 Teams (Blue Jays, Mets)
1 Stadium (Stade Olympique)
8 Baseballs (Mets 5, Expos 2*)* Olympic Stadium Staff
5 Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star)
 

Bonus Photo – Lots of activity again at this game:

MyGameBalls.com Ballhawkfest 2013 (8/3/2013)

On August 3, 2013, we attended the MyGameBalls.com Ballhawkfest 2013 (the East Coast edition) in Philadelphia. And it almost didn’t happen.

First, there was a major scheduling conflict. The event was scheduled for the same weekend as the Mariners series at Camden Yards. I couldn’t imagine missing the Mariners in Baltimore. The thought of it was…well, it was unthinkable.

Next, we realized we had to fly to Seattle that very same day because we were heading out for Ken Griffey, Jr.’s induction into the Mariners Hall of Fame (which would happen the following Saturday). Normally, we fly out to Seattle on a Saturday and we return the following Sunday. Based on the scheduling of the Griffey MHOF game (something that was completely non-negotiable – we HAD to attend it), our “normal” schedule would have us flying on the day of Ballhawkfest.

But then we waited way too long to book our flight to Seattle. The ticket prices were ridiculous and the times weren’t great either. We ended up opting for a Sunday morning flight. And that meant we could go to (1) the Mariners at Camden Yards on Friday 8/2/13 and (2) Ballhawkfest on 8/3/13. Well, after securing our Mariners tickets, it turned out that 8/2/13 did not work. But 8/3/13 did. And this is the story of our day with our friends from MyGameBalls.com.

Because we didn’t find out we could go to Ballhawkfest until very late in the game, we didn’t get to order official shirts. But my wife found blank shirts that were exactly the same color and I made these shirts with my trusty set of sharpies:

I did the number on Tim’s back on the morning of the game, so his number was spot on.

Alan Schuster, who was going to join us for the Mariners/Orioles game on 8/2/13, stayed at our house on 8/2/13 and we caravanned down to Philadelphia (about an hour away) around 7:45 a.m:

As you can see, we were carrying a net in the back of my wife’s SUV. We brought it to use as a makeshift “L” screen.  Safety first, you know?!

We met up at FDR Park for a little homerun derby.  I’d never been to FDR Park before. It was perfect for our purposes. Check this out:

FDR Park used to be right across the Broad & Pattison intersection from Veterans Stadium, and it is just two blocks away from Citizens Bank Park where we went to the game and ate lunch at McFadden’s before the game. Also, check out CBP in the upper
right of that last pic. I cut out the field we played on at FDR Park, spun it around about 135 degrees and fit it on top of the field at Citizens Bank Park. It was definitely shorter, but it took a decent shot to get it out of our field at FDR Park.

Here is the crew we met up with at FRD Park (minus a few camera shy parents):

Cooks aside, from left to right our group included: Jenny and Benny Bang Bang, Rick “Unfortunately An A’s Fan” Gold, Mark Kopp, Alan “Mister MyGameBalls.com” Schuster, Alex “Fresh Off Catching A Chris Davis Eutaw Street Homerun The Night Before” Kopp, Harrison Tishler, Quinn Imiola, Dave “Big Papi” Imiola, Zack “Trying Not To Catch Any Game-Used Balls Today” Hample, Rick “Zoltan” Sporcic, Jeremy Evans and Max Pinsky.

We split into two teams and played homerun derby. The format was that each batter got two outs person inning. Any ball hit out of the park was worth 5 runs. Hits that landed in the outfield grass without being caught were worth 1 run. Any swing and miss, foul ball, ground ball or ball caught in the outfield was an out.

Our team was me, Tim, Jeremy, Alan, Dave, Benny and Jen.

The much better team included Rick Sporcic, Rick Gold, Zack, Alex, and Harrison.

It was a lot of fun playing ball with my boys:

I hit maybe 4-5 homeruns over the course of the morning. Tim put on a solid hitting display, and was only half the age of the next youngest player. Oh, yeah, Tim also made up the rule that a hit off of the “L” screen was good for 100 points…he made that rule right after the first time he hit the screen.  And, if you went by that rule, our team won big thanks to a few hits off the screen by Tim.

The other squad, unfortunately for us, put on a hitting clinic:

Upper Left:  “The” Alex Kopp showing his fine hitting form.

Upper Right:  Zack knocked a few long balls over the OF fence.

Lower Left:  Harrison “H” Tishler kept Tim on his toes with solid shots to left.

Lower Right:  The Babe Ruth and defending Ballhawkfest Homerun Derby Champion Rick Sporcic launched approximately 1,000 homeruns.  Rick hit ‘em deep, he hit ‘em long.  Rick put ‘em on the board.  Yes!

We didn’t let Rick’s barrage of homers put lower our spirits…

…., nah, the good guy were full of hope and ready to swing ‘em.

I was snapping pics in the dugout and in the outfield.  Some of my favorite pics were captured while we changed sides after a half inning.  Here’s my favorite:

I tried to stick right by Kellan in the outfield so I didn’t catch much…in fact, I think I only caught one fly ball all morning.  But my team mates had the outfield covered:

Benny was all over the place in LF catching balls.  Every time a ball was hit over there, Tim thought he was going to catch it.  But, eventually, Benny would make the grab.  I was happy with this outcome because the other team was hitting the ball pretty hard and I didn’t want Tim to take one off of his face.

During parts of the game, Tami and Seth Tishler patrolled homerun territory collecting the balls that we were hitting out there.  Seth joked that they were “ballhawking” the ballhawkfest homerun derby:

Here are some action shot of my teammates hitting from the diamond club:

Above to the left, Jenny Bang Bang demonstrates the old foot-on-home-plate method of hitting (note:  not the preferred method if you’re going by the official MLB rule book).  Above to the right, Dave Imiola hits a hard shot to RF in a Imiola vs. Imiola show down (i.e., that’s Quinn pitching his old man).

When our team was in the field, Kellan brought Tim’s bat with us to the outfield and I pitched tennis balls to him.  At one point, Kellan hit a homerun over the fence:

That photo is just a recreation of the event, not the real thing.  When Kellan hit his homer, he was actually another 10-15 feet in from the fence (closer to the in field) and I had my back to the fence.  He hit a nice poke to clear the fence.

After the derby, which my team lost (we needed about 40-50 runs in the bottom of the last inning but managed only 15 or so), we all headed over to Citizens Bank Park.  We parked out by the old Veterans’ Stadium infield and got a picture of the boys playing around at first base…

…before heading toward the stadium (and walking through a big BBQ festival that was getting ready for pre-game festivities).

We had two big tables at the restaurant.  One featured…

…Alan, the Kopps, the Imiolas (including Mom Imiola), Jeremy, Max, Rick Gold, and late arrivals Mateo Fischer and Chris Hernandez.

The other table featured…

…the Bang Bangs, Zack, the Tishlers and the Cooks.  In the picture to the left, Zack is signing a shirt that we all signed for Matt Hersl’s family.  Matt was one of the original members of MyGameBalls.com and organizers of the first Ballhawkfest.   Matt was tragically killed last winter when he was hit while walking on a side walk in Baltimore by an out-of-control car.  This Ballhawkfest was dedicated to him.  Benny is signing a photo/certificate type thing that we also all signed for Matt’s family.

Here’s another picture of our table that shows Jen too:

I think Zack has patented that display hand move so don’t try it in pictures unless you want to pay him royalties.  Kellan has a patent of his own, the eye-roll pose, which he is demonstrating above.

I should mention that Rick and his friend, Julie, hit baseballs for another half hour or more after we all left for lunch.  They showed up to lunch eventually, but after all of those picture were taken.

During lunch, Alan handed out certificates for last year’s awards (Ballhawk of the Year —> Zack; Photo Scavenger Hunt Champs —> us!) and gave out a bunch of prizes that people had donated.  When Benny saw Tim’s Ken Griffey, Jr. back pack, he tried to get it donated as a prize and suggested that he should be the winner.  Nice try, Benny!

As lunch started to break up, Dave announced that it was Quinn’s 14th birthday so we all sung “Happy Birthday” to him and then Alan broke open a HUGE box of seeds donated by BIGS seeds.  If you look three photos above, there is a big card board box on a table behind the waiter.  That was the box of seeds.  It was packed with full-sized BIGS packs and everyone took a bunch of bags.  I think we got 3-4 bags ourselves.

Big thanks to BIGS seeds!

Eventually, we all scurried off to the LF gate to get in line.  While most of us just milled about and chatted at the gates…

…Mateo and Tim played catch.

Much of the discussion at the gate was about how Zack’s bazillion game streak of getting a baseball was definitely going to end at this game because all of us were there AND the tarp was on the field!  I assured Zack that there would be batting practice.  But we was very doubtful, and nervous.

Eventually, we got a whole bunch of photos taken of us:

Benny, who is newly engaged (but wasn’t as of the date of this game), got a taste of what its like to have a kid at a ball game, with Tim up on his shoulders…spitting seeds left and right.

After I cleared out, we recreated the photos from the original Ballhawkfest with the shirts arranged in total-lifetime-baseballs order:

With Rick Gold replacing Garrett Meyers, Zack recreated the “top 2″ high five from 2011.  It’s pretty cool to look back at the photo from 2011 and compare it to this photo.  Check out Tim, Benny and Alex in 2011 — they were all within 10 baseballs of each others.  Now, in 2013, they came into ballhawfest with 2 baseballs separating Tim and Benny, and Alex not far behind.  By the end of the season, Alex would rocket to the lead.

Before heading into the ballpark, Zack organized a photo to send to BIGS to say “thank you” for the seeds:

At this point, Kellan was crashed out HARD on my shoulders:

He slept up there fore more than half an hour and it really refreshed him for the afternoon.

When the gates opened, we made our way to the LF corner.  This was the scene on the field:

It was pretty hilarious.  There were three groups of Braves throwing and about 50 people (our group plus others)  standing there watching intently.  Three balls were thrown into the stands.  The first to Chris Hernandez.  The second to someone not associated with MyGameBalls.com.  And the third to Zack, who was about 10-15 rows back and got a player to throw a long bomb over everyone else’s heads on his way toward the dugout.

When Craig Kimbrel saw Zack get the ball, he yelled, “NOOOOOOOOO!”  He’s not fan of Zack getting more baseballs…or at least he acts like he’s not.  I’m not sure if it’s real or just an act to be funny.

When all of this was going on, Mike Minor walked slowly out to CF where a ball was sitting in the grass.  He walked over to it and then just stood there for a long time like he was in a trance.  It was bizarre.  Eventually, Minor made his way into the bullpen.  When we started to head over toward the pizza wedge, a bunch of the guys were watching Minor continue to stand around in a trance:

When RF finally opened, there was nothing at all happening on the field.  We headed down to the pizza wedge and just hung out until…

…what’s this…???  They set up the field for BP and the Phillies started stretching in RF!

So, I was right after all.  Or half right, at least.  There was half BP at this game.  Only the Phillies hit.

I noticed that our buddy Jesus Tiamo was warming up at the mound…

…as the Phillies warmed up in RF.

It was still a very slow process before things got under way.  People were milling about passing time.  Eventually, Chris Hernandez came over and said hi:

We’d never met Chris before, but had seen his blog and seen him on Zack’s blog.  He’s a good guy (aside from tweeting way too much hockey stuff during the baseball offseason) and we got to known him a lot better about 1.5 months after Ballhawkfest.

The Phillies pitchers played catch along the RF line.  When they started playing long toss, I asked Luis Garcia…

…if he’d toss us his ball after he finished playing catch.  He said he would.  But then someone hit a ball to the warning track and Luis ran over, grabbed it and tossed it to Tim.  That works too!  (By the way, in the photo above to the left, a Phillies pitcher is tossing a ball to Rick Sporcic after taking it out of his *glove trick*).

Thanks, Luis!

Here’s an interesting drill that we witnessed in the bullpen:

The bright Ballhawkfest shirts makes it easy and fun to watch the others across the ballpark.  Check out this photo featuring Zack, Mateo and Alan:

Zack did not get that ball.  But Harrison got this one:

And we got another one from Rod Nichols and then another from this guy with the catchers mitt…

…whose name just happens to be Ichiro!

Thanks, Rod and (Not-Ichi) Ichiro!

For much of BP, it was the Cooks and the Tishlers locking down the pizza wedge…

…pretty typical stuff for a Saturday home game at Citizens Bank Park!

Check out this unique catch Tim made on a ball tossed by Zach Miner:

I guess that’s why you use two hands!

Thanks, Zach!

After BP, we all met up at the Richie Ashburn statue in Ashburn Alley.  On our way, Tim got the chance to pose with Rick’s big glove:

That’s a big glove, alright!

Everyone had a ball by that point except Alan (who is displaying his empty fist) and Quinn (who is holding one of Mateo’s balls, but would eventually snag a few of his own at this game).

We ended up getting one more ball on the day from someone pictured in this photo:

Yep, out guy, Jesus Tiamo tossed a ball to Tim.

Thanks, Jesus!

It was Phillies Hall of Fame weekend.  One of my least favorite Phillies of all time had been inducted into the club’s hall of fame the day before.  And there were a bunch of famous former Phillies at this game for the pre-game festivities, including a pair of National Baseball Hall of Famers in this photo:

It’s easy to see Michael Jack Schmidt waving to the crow in that photo, a little less clear to see that Steve “Lefty” Carlton is reaching out to shake “Taylor’s” hand (Sorry, I’m a Mariners fan, I have no clue who Taylor is).

As the game started, the boys played some Games of Baseball:

The Phillies scored a run in the first inning while we were at the games to take a 1-0 lead.

And then we met up with Alan and headed to one of our favorite spots — the back row of section 428:

We devoured a cookie sundae helmet while we were up there.  And, check out what we could see from up there:

Upper Left:  Zack is on the phone in LF chatting with someone-or-other after catching John Maberry’s 2-run homerun in the bottom of the second.  That put the Phillies up 3-0 and got Zack in trouble for sitting in the wrong seat (in the right section).

Upper Right:  Zack was forced to sit in his actual seat in the middle of the (almost empty) row.

Lower Left:  Mateo’s future was so bright he had to wear shades as he watched the game from section 103.

Lower Right:  Alex and Mark Kopp, both shades less, watched the game from section 105.

After a few innings up in 428, Alan headed toward the OF to hear the story of Zack’s homerun catch (I think) and we headed to the kids play area (to play):

While the kids played vigorously in the kids play area, I monitored the game and the world on my phone.  On the old Twitter machine, I discovered that the Tishlers were going to or had met up with Mateo in section 103.  So when we finished up at the play area, we decided to head over there.  Lemme tell you, 1-oh-3 was the place to be!

As you can see, I grabbed the aisle seat in section 11 along with Kellan, Tim and Alan.  Mateo and Quinn were in row 12.  And the Tishlers had the last three seats in row 13.  It was perfect.

Well, it WAS perfect, until this guy came back to his and his wife’s (Tim and Alan’s) seats:

His wife was just fine, but this guy was quietly, but very obviously, not happy to find people in his seats.  Alan, Kellan and I moved across the aisle to some other open seats and Tim popped back a row and took the seat between Mateo and Quinn.  Tim loves hanging with older guys.  And he was in older guys paradise sandwiched between Quinn, Mateo and Harrison.

I always enjoy taking some outfielders pictures while we’re in the outfield, so here are some:

That picture to the right is pretty cool because its features a pair of brothers, B.J. and Justin Upton, manning the outfield together.  How cool would that be!?  I couldn’t imagine how awesome it would be if Tim and Kellan both played in the big leagues and played in the same outfield together.  I’d probably have to start traveling with the team so I could see every single game!

One of the great parts of being a dad to a little kid is getting to hold the little buggers when they fall asleep.  Sleeping little kids are great.  And watching the process of them falling asleep is great too.  It was so relaxing and low key out in RF during this game.  I had a blast watching Kellan slowly fall asleep on my lap for his second nap of the day:

Check out my awesome view of the game:

While Kellan napped, Tim went crazy with his camera (that dude loves taking pictures!):

You know how some stadiums do the bongo drum cam?  Well, this was Tim’s (failed) effort to get on it:

He was really playing the bongos on Alex and Mateo’s heads.  I gotta hand it to them, Alex and Mateo are always great with Tim.  He is an excitable (fun-loving) little guy, and they always roll with the punches (or the head bongos) like pros.  That’s why Tim loves going to games with these guys and Avi and Harrison so much.  He’s making great childhood memories at the ballpark with his old man and brother, and a set of supercool friends that we’ve met through MLBlogs and MyGameBalls.com.  Thanks, guys.

So, Tim devoured (or at least sucked and spit) an entire bag of BIGS Salt & Vinegar seeds.  So he as pretty pumped when Alan handed him another free bag o’ BIGS — bacon BIGS!

Eventually, most of the MyGameBalls.com crew made it over to RF.  When Zack stopped by, we capitalized by getting a bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

Zack is the all-time MyGameBalls.com leader at Citizens Bank Park (and that’s the homerun ball that he caught).

When I stood up between innings with sleeping Kellan, Jen and Benny decided to copy us:

Hilarious stuff, guys!

Here’s some more hilarious stuff:

The slow process of awaking up at a ballgame.

I’ll tell you, I was paying attention to the game.  But most of all, we were just relaxing and having fun hanging out as a group.  It was just about ideal conditions for a game with friends.  (More ideal would be with the Mariners playing and winning the game by 16-or-so runs).

Here’s a behind he scenes photo of Mateo taking a picture of the young love birds:

Oh, yous guys!

So, after the Phils took an early 3-0 lead, the Braves came roaring back and took a 4-3 lead.  The Phils tied it up at 4-4 in the seventh, and then the pitching an defense took over.

The Braves finally broke through for another run in the top of the 12th inning on an RBI ground out by the .196 hitting “His Name Is” Dan Uggla.  That meant Craig Kimbrel came into the ball game in the bottom of the ninth:

And that was all she wrote for the Phillies.

Ball Game:  5-4 Braves win over the Phillies.

After the game, we were going to all meet behind the Braves dugout for a group photo.  But plans changed when we learned that Zack got booted out of he game!  He went back over to LF (where his actual ticketed seat was located) and they kicked him out on sight because a beer vendor (or some sort of vendor) told the ushers that Zack and used some foul language in describing them after their post-homerun interaction.  It all seemed quite silly and unnecessary.

Anyway, as a result, we all (or those of us who could stay for the end of this 4-plus hour game) met up outside the ballpark for a final group photo:

It was a great day all around.  Great guys, great game, great lunch, great homerun derby.  Great, great, great.  Looking forward to next year already.  (By the way, Citizens Bank Park is the 13th stadium that Chris has visited in his quest to see ‘em all).

2013 C&S Fan Stats

19 Games​

19 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers,
Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers, White
Sox, Braves

32 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 4, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees
2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4

91 Baseballs – Mariners 11, Royals 4, Phillies 19, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 3,
Umpires 7, Reds 9, Nationals 3, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers
1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6, White Sox 3

10 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards,
Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American
Ball Park

32 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps,
Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara,
Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen,
Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie
Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge”
Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy
Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith

10 Autographs – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan,
Jesus Tiamo, Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez

500 Baseballs

Back in 2009 when Tim and I started going to BP for all of our games (for some silly reason, I thought it was too young for a whole game plus BP before 2009) and we started getting a few more baseballs, I came up with the idea that we should create a full wall of baseballs.  I figured we would probably need about 500 baseballs to build the wall…so that has been a number we have been aiming at for a long time.  As we have gotten closer to 500, I have determined that 500 isn’t enough for the wall I am envisioning.  Anyway…

Last weekend in Washington D.C., Tom Goodwin tossed our 500th baseball to Tim:

To celebrate reaching the 500 baseball milestone, I put together this little video:

Fun game:  how many autographs can you identify?

Ex-Mariners Factor Big In Great Day for Mariners Fans at Camden Yards (6/15/2013)

On June 15, 2013, we headed back to Baltimore for our second Camden Yards game of the season.  This one featured an A.L. East showdown between the Orioles and the Red Sox.

The boys had a silly face making contest on the drive south…

1-funny-face-contest

…, and they both came up with the crazy looks.  We come up with lots of games to make our baseball game drives part of the fun.

When we arrived at the CF gates, our friends Alex Kopp, Tim Anderson (and his girlfriend who Tim Cook asked if she was Tim A.’s wife), and Doug Hakey.   Avi was still en route with our tickets.

The boys passed the time playing catch with Alex:

2-catch-with-alex

This was a 4 o’clock game (which seems to be a big trend in MLB this season).  When the gates opened at 2:00 p.m. we headed to left field with the season ticket holders and scooted around the pole into foul territory.

Orioles BP was taking place, but it was decidedly odd:

3-random-employees-in-outfied

Instead of Orioles players shagging balls in the outfield, most of the outfield was filled with Orioles employees who appeared to be groundskeepers.

Probably within 2-3 minutes of reaching foul territory, an O’s batter launched a ball right down the line over our heads.  I’m not sure if it was fair or foul, but it ended up clanking around in the seats just above the foul pole.  With no one around, I scampered over there and grabbed it.  Yay!

We had a special BP plan for this game.  We wanted to get a picture with former-Mariner Mike Carp.  Carp was best friends with former-Mariner Greg Halman, who was killed by his brother several years ago.  Wanna see how cool a guy and great a best friend Carp is?  Then check out this article.

Halman was Dutch.  He died during the offseason (actually, on Ken Griffey, Jr.’s birthday).  The next spring, Carp designed some shirts in honor of his friend can gave them to all of the members of the team (click here for the story). The fans wanted the shirts too.  Eventually, they were redesigned a bit sold at the Mariners’ team store and I think the proceeds went to some sort of charity.  Here is what the shirts look like:

greatdane

We had crossed paths with Halman a few times while he played for the Mariners and he was super nice.  In our interactions he was very quiet and gentle and really seemed to love kids.  We became instant fans.  And when Carp’s shirts were made available to the public, I had to have one.  I meant to wear it when we visited Fenway Park in April, but I forgot to bring it.  So I wore it to this game with the hope that Carp would notice it and come say hi to us.  He did.

When the Red Sox came and out and started stretching…

4-red-sox-warming

…we spotted Carp from afar and started walking over toward the dugout.  In that last picture, if you start from the Orioles batter taking a hack in the cage, Carp is two guys over to the right.

As we walked toward the dugout area (but were still probably 150 feet from home plate), Carp saw my shirt and gave us a big wave.

We walked to the section just past the dugout (OF end of the dugout) and watched the Red Sox warm up.  While we watched, two Red Sox coaches played catch on the warning track.  The coach right in front of us was Arnie Beleyer.  When he finished playing catch, Beleyer flipped the ball to Tim.

Thanks, coach!

After the Red Sox finished stretching, Carp came over to chat with us.  We got this picture together:

5-mike-carp-and-us

He signed the ball that Beleyer had flipped to Tim and he signed my shirt:

halman-shirt-carp-auto

We chatted a little about Halman.  The first thing Carp said when he walked up “thank you for the support.”  Not sure if he meant supporting Halman or whatever the charity the proceeds went to, but Mike is certainly welcome.  We’re glad to do our part!

During our brief chat, I told Carp to hit a homerun today.  He smiled and chuckled, but didn’t promise anything.  I also told Carp that the Red Sox need to call up Ryan Rowland-Smith.  He’s pitching way too good this season to be stuck in AAA.

With BP in full swing, the boys decided it was time for ice cream.  We grabbed some helmets and grabbed our standard front row spot down the LF foul line:

6-bp-ice-cream

Jonny Gomes was the only Red Sox player hanging out in left field.  He was pretty playful…

7-playful-gomes

…with the folks in homerun territory.  In that picture, he’s pump faking the fans.  He also tossed balls straight up in front of them so they couldn’t catch it.  After faking out the fans, he tossed several balls into the crowd in LF.  Eventually, he tossed one to us in foul territory, too.

Thanks, Jonny!

Around 3:00, we decided to head out toward the bullpens in LCF.   We hung out by Cal Ripkin, Jr.’s orange seat.  There was a little patch of open seats to our right…

8-nava-perfect-random-toss

…and, at one point, Daniel Nava ran hard toward CF and snatched up a batted ball on at a full sprint.  Without breaking stride, he Kareem Abdul-Jabaar skyhooked it into the crowd.  It sailed right over everyone in the front row and, reaching out into that open patch of seats, it was an easy catch for me.

Thanks, Daniel!

We decided to head toward home plate.  It was pretty crowded around the dugout.  We stood about 8-10 rows back from the field.  Tim doused one side of his face with water while leaving the other side completely dry…

9-wet-dry-face-papi-carp

…and we watched Mike Carp and David “Big Papi” Ortiz take their hacks.

This was the last group of hitters.  The grounds crew started pulling up the tarp behind home plate while the group was still hitting.  There were about five baseballs on the tarp and the a guy on the grounds crew set them all in a little group after removing the tarp.  When BP ended, Big Papi grabbed all of those balls and tossed them to people right above the dugout.

As he tossed the five several balls, I called out “Paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaapiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!”  Big Papi looked up and spotted us and tossed the last baseball to us over a big crowd of people.  It was very exciting!

Muchas Gracias, Papi!

With BP over, we headed back to LCF where we met up with Alex Kopp.  There are always a bunch of balls spread out in the bullpens after BP and Orioles pitching coach, Rick Adair, usually tosses them into the crowd when he gets to the bullpen.  Alex warned us, however, that Adair has really gotten to a point where he only tosses baseballs to fans wearing Orioles gear.

Adair and Taylor Teagarden arrived at the bullpen.  While getting ready to do some catching drills, Teagarden tossed a ball to Alex.  A minute or two later, Tim politely asked if Rick would toss a baseball to him.  Rick responded, “You’re wearing the wrong jersey!”  I quickly responded to Rick, who used to be the Mariners pitching coach, “It used to be the right jersey!”  That seemed to do the trick.  Rick flipped a baseball up to Tim.

Thanks, Rick!  Don’t ever lose the Mariners love!  Once a Mariner, always a Mariner! (Except A-Rod…he’s exclusively a Yankee).

Speaking of former-Mariners, I was totally psyched to find out that top-5 all-time winningest Mariners pitcher and beloved former-Mariner, Freddy Garcia…

10-adair-still-okay-with-mariners-fans

…was taking the bump for the Orioles.  I decided immediately that I was rooting for the Orioles to win this game…although, of course, I still wanted Carp to hit a homerun (preferably against a relief pitcher, not against Freddy).

We watched Freddy warm up:

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As the game was about to start, we decided to head to the kids’ play area.  We were in the cross aisle in deep LF foul territory when Freddy delivered the first pitch of the game:

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And we were between 3B and home plate when he induced Dustin Pedroia to fly out…

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…for the third out of the inning.  Good work, Freddy!

We passed a cool looking Orioles muscle car on the way to the play area:

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The boys did lots of pitching…

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…and hitting in the play area.  They also did some bouncing and climbing/sliding:

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While the boys were playing, the first five Orioles reached base in the bottom of the first.  The Orioles scored two runs in the inning, the first on a Manny Machado double and the second on a infield single by Adam Jones.

Good, good, good…Freddy had a lead!

We decided to get some food and eat it in our actual seats, which were in a shady section of the upper deck.  On our way to get food, we ran into Mr. Boh (he’s the logo of National Bohemian beer, which is based in Baltimore):

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We grabbed some hot dogs and reported to our seats, where this was our view of the game:

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Freddy was looking good:

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I loved our seats.  We had a great view of the game, we were in the shade, and we were in the last row…

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…, which meant that Kellan could sit on my shoulders and not block anyone’s view behind us.

Guess what happened with Mike Carp came to the plate in top of the fourth inning?  My former-Mariner loyalties came head to head.  In the grand scheme of things, Freddy is much higher on my list than Carp.  I’ve loved Freddy for years.  But I had told Carp to hit a homerun in this game.  What was he supposed to do?  Let us down?  Nah, that’s not how Carp operates.

So, yeah, he hit that homerun I requested:

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Unfortunately, Pedroia was on first so the game was all knotted at 2-2.  Even more unfortunately, two more Red Sox collected hits in the inning so the Red Sox pulled ahead 3-2 after four innings.

And then they tacked on another run in the top of the fifth, making the score 4-2 Red Sox.

As Kellan was winding down for a nap, Tim was full of excitement:

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When we decided to leave the upper deck, another fan took our picture and Kellan was lights out up on my shoulders:

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He looked so cute and peaceful sleeping on my shoulders…

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as we walked down the switch-back ramps in RF foul territory:

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Kellan woke up on our way down.  As you can probably tell from that last picture, the kids play area is right at the bottom of the ramps.  So the boys played some more games.  And I finally captured Tim topping out at 37 m.p.h.:

37 is the fastest he’s ever pitched.  He’s hit 37 a bunch of times, but I’ve never been able to get a photo of it.  So, there you go.  37!

Alex and Tim Anderson were hanging out by the flag court so we headed over there to say hi.  On our walk, I got a photo of the best flag at Camden Yards:

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As we approached Alex and Tim, Alex was celebrating Nate McClouth reaching base on a Dustin Pedroia error:

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Check out this cool picture of three all-star baseball fans:

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Alex and Tim Anderson were playing for homers (and they’ve both had a bunch of luck already this season) and we didn’t want to get in their way too much.  So we headed back to the play area and played some more.

Neither of them caught Jonny Gomes’s sixth inning homerun that made the score 5-2 Red Sox.

Here’s a funny set of pictures.  Kellan is always standing around with this hands behind his back.  It always makes him look very polite.  Check it out:

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This picture of Kellan reminds me of “Batting Stance Guy”:

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And check out his less than ideal pitching mechanics as the day progressed:

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A little more bouncing and we called it a day for the play area.

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Toward the end of the game, we started thinking about going for an umpire ball.  But it still seemed like there was a good crowd on hand behind the plate.

We watched the top of the ninth from the cross-aisle down the 1B line:

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Heading into the bottom of the ninth, we moved closer to home plate.  We were one section over from the umpire’s tunnel when Matt Wieters hit a 1-out, 2-run homerun:

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Neither Alex nor Tim Anderson caught that one either.

J.J. Hardy followed up Wieters with a single.  Alexi Casilla was brought in to pinch run for Wieters.  He didn’t do a very good job of it.

We were still one section over from the stairway leading to the umpire’s tunnel when Ryan Flaherty came to the plate.  On the fourth pitch of the at bat, Flaherty hit a fly ball to RF.  It was a no doubt out.  However, for some reason, Casilla took off hard, rounded second and turned toward third.  With the fly ball still in the air, I yelled out to Tim to follow me because it was going to be a game ended double play.  And it was.  Shane Victorino made the easy catch and an easy throw to 1B to double off Casilla and end the game.  Red Sox win 5-4.

As all that was unfolding on the field, Tim and I ran a section over to our left (fyi, Kellan was on my shoulders) and down the stairs all the way to the bottom.  Because there was only one out in the inning on contact, most people had not realized that the game was going to end within a few seconds.

We had no trouble getting into perfect position for an umpire ball.  On his way out, home plate umpire Jeff Nelson gave us a nice, rubbed up game ball.

Thanks, Jeff!

We then headed over to the Orioles’ dugout before heading out to our car.  We saw something funny while at the dugout, check it out:

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The funny thing is that someone wrote “Baltimore Orioles” on the bat weight.  If they ever leave that behind at one of the parks where my softball team plays, I’ll be sure to mail it back to Camden Yards.

It was another great day of baseball for the three of us.  The only bad part of the day was that Tim somehow lost his only Mariners cap.  If forced to guess, I’d say it probably fell out of my bag while we were eating lunch in the upper deck.   Very sad.  But don’t worry, he didn’t go without a Mariners hat for long.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

13 Games
17 Teams – Mariners, Royals,   Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins,   Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers
22 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies   (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2,   Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2
55 Baseballs – Mariners 6,   Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 4, Reds 4,   Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3,   Yankees 2, Brewers 2
9 Stadiums – Citizens   Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC   Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field
30 Player+ Photos – Oliver   Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson,   Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel   Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom   Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel,   Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge”   Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins
5 Autograph – Hisashi   Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Sneak Peak: Cincinnati

My life is suited to writing a maximum of one game entry blog per week.  When we go on a roadtrip with several games in a row, it creates a big backlog.  I’m currently four games behind, including Red Sox at Orioles, Red Sox at Tigers (with bonus PawSox at Mud Hens content), and Mariners at Reds (two games).

So, start getting excited now because in about a month you’re gonna see some awesome stuff from Cincinnati, like this new two tone ice cream helmet:

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And this beautiful view of the aptly named Great American Ball Park:

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And this guy, Rocco Sinisi, who was a great host to us during BP:

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And this guy, Avi Miller, our guest roadtripper for the weekend:

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It’ll be fun.  So stay tuned.

Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip – Game 3, Twins at Tigers (5/26/2013)

On May 26, 2013, we woke up in Windsor, Ontario. We had one more baseball game scheduled for the 2013 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip, and it was waiting across the river from us, back at Comerica Park.

The game was scheduled for a 1:08 p.m. start time. We decided to do breakfast back in the good ol’ U.S. of A. so we hopped in the car, motored through the Tunnel to U.S.A. and crossed the border for the final time on our trip:

1-welcome-to-michigan-usa

We had no clue what we would do for breakfast. We thought maybe we would pass a nice looking restaurant on our way to the stadium. I wasn’t sure how the morning would go if we didn’t get to eat anything until the ballpark opened around 11:30. But we were there before we knew it and didn’t find any breakfast. Oh, well…we’d figure something out…

We parked in the stadium lot directly across the street from the batters’ eye. Tim caught some pop flies…

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…before we set out to see the ballpark.

Because we were running late the day before, we hadn’t gotten a chance for my dad to see the outside of the ballpark. We headed to the LF corner and circled around toward the 3B side. Here are some sights along the way:

3-scenes-around-comerica-park

From top right and moving in the shape of a “W”: (1) Tim and my dad are standing just outside of the LF gate with Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions) behind them; (2) walking down the street from LF toward the home plate end of the ballpark, we walked by the ferris wheel; (3) circling around the corner just passed the ferris wheel, Tim and my dad in front of a fancy tiger door; (4) a little further down the side walk, Tim and Kellan posed with a fancy tile Tiger “D”; and (5) just passed the players’ entrance, Tim posed with a plaque for Ty Cobb the “Greatest Tiger of All, A Genius in Spikes.”

As we kept walking, we circled the next corner and found ourselves outside the coolest ballpark gate in all of Major League Baseball:

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This gate is so big and bold and awesome that it is pretty much impossible to get all of the awesomeness into one picture, so here are some more:

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Hey, guess what!? See those windows below the two tigers in the photo above to the right? Well, inside those windows is a diner…

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…where we were able to feast on pancakes and bacon! Hooray! Isn’t it great when things work out?

After breakfast, we headed to the coolest gate in all of baseball and set our stuff down first in line. And then we played catch a whole bunch. Eventually, I started throwing pop flies to Tim and this was the result:

In case that doesn’t make sense, I was throwing pop flies over the Comerica Park sign to Tim our by the big tiger. It was actually quite difficult to throw the ball straight up and over that sign and still make it land out where Tim was standing.

Once the crowd got too big for us to continue playing catch, we hung out by the gate. Tim passed time by climbing on these support bars…

7-fun-at-comerica-gates

…while Kellan sat with my dad and looked at pictures on his cellphone.

Upon entering the stadium, the boys both collected their give-away Tigers baseball cards sets, and then we headed down to the field. We were the first people entering the 1B foul territory seats. As we walked down the aisle, there were 4-5 Twins coaches sitting on the wall. I was sure they would walk away as they saw *the fans* approaching, but they stayed put. Tim, Kellan and I walked up behind them and I asked them collectively, “Any Twins coaches interested in getting a picture with some Mariners fans!?”
The closest coach to us was Rick Anderson:

8-rick-anderson-from-mariner-high-school

And he was, indeed, interested in meeting and getting a picture with some Mariners fans. We chatted for a minute or two. He grew up in Everett, Washington, just north of where I grew up and my folks live, and he went to Mariner High School and used to play sports against Edmonds High School and Woodway High School back in the day. My freshman year, Edmonds and Woodway combined to create the world famous Edmonds-Woodway High School!!!

Rick was a nice dude. And, as we parted ways, he handed us one of the two baseballs he was holding.

Thanks, Rick!

After we chatted with Rick, the other coaches started to disperse. One of the Twins’ bullpen catchers started to head toward the dugout. On his way, he tossed two baseballs into the crowd, one to us and one to my dad.

Thanks, unknown bullpen catcher guy!

The field was not set up for BP, which was no surprise. There were no Twins out playing catch. But several sets of Tigers were playing catch on the 3B side. So we headed over there.

Because Prince Fielder had spent all those years in Milwaukee, we brought Tim’s cheese head with us. Prince wasn’t out on the field, but Tim decided to put on the cheesehead when we headed to Tigers side.

As this picture shows…

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…, a some Tigers were playing catch in LF and there was a random stray ball sitting in shallow LF.

As a Tigers coach, Mike Rojas, walked in from the bullpen toward the dugout holding his fungo bat, I called out to him and pointed at the ball in LF. He walked over to it, shouted “CHEESEHEAD!” and gave Tim perfect bounce pass.

Tim caught the ball and admired its *different* logo:

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Turns out it was a AAA International League baseball…

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…, the second minor league baseball we have snagged at a Major League ballpark.

Sundays at Comerica Park are kids days. That means kids run the bases after the game, and kids ride the rides for free. It was time for some rides. We headed over to the ferris wheel:

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We got there just in time. There was a short line, and two minutes later is what 3-4 times as long.

Here are some random view from the ferris wheel:

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Pretty cool how the “Tigers” sign pops over the upper deck from the top of the ferris wheel?

All of us Cook boys had fun on there:

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When we got off of the ferris wheel, we took a quick stroll through the “Beer Hall”…

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…just to see what it looked like in there.  At the entrance way of the ferris wheel area there is a fountain with a big baseball on top of it. And Kellan loved it:

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Like the day before, we headed over to Twins bullpen to watch the pitchers warm up. While standing around of there, they kept showing this cool graphic on the big screen:

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Today’s Twins battery was Mike Pelfrey…

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…and Ryan Doumit.

Hey, check out the cool hat the police officer guarding the bullpen was wearing:

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And check out Ryan Doumit’s fancy finger nail stickers:

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(I think those are stickers).

By the way, I should mention that Pelfrey was going up against Max Scherzer and his perfect 6-0 record. So he had a tall task before him.

While we were over at the bullpen, Kellan fell asleep on my shoulders…

22-sleepy-kellan

…and he was sleeping hard.

The game was about to start. Tim wanted to get some ice cream so he and my dad headed over to the Big Cat food court. Kellan and I headed to the cross-aisle so I could lean against the back wall while Kellan slept on my shoulders.

Kellan slept hard through the top of the first and the first out of the bottom of the first. But then the stadium exploded when Torii Hunter hit a solo homerun…

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…and Tim was rudely awakened.

Since Kellan was awake, we decided to go join Tim and my dad for the ice cream:

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And then it was time for Kellan’s first ride on the tiger-go-round:

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(Somehow, Kellan and Tim were nowhere near each other on the tiger-go-round and I was with Kellan, so I didn’t get any decent pictures of Tim on the tiger-go-round).

Our seats at this game were at the back of the bleachers in deep RCF, and we ended up sitting in those seats for a grant total of zero seconds. After ice cream, I asked my dad if he wanted to check out the SRO area in the cross-aisle where Kellan and I had spent a lot of time the day before, and he was interested. So this is where we spent a bunch of time during this game:

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Hey, check out the drink holder that guy had to tote around the ballpark? Talk about awkward to carry!

Here’s what our view of home plate looked like:

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By the way, the Tigers crowd booed Mauer like crazy every time he came to bat at both of our games in Detroit.

Tim is possibly the most skilled friend maker in the entire world. He is never shies away from talking to other kids of any age. So he had a great time chatting up this little guy standing next to us:

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He kid’s mom was thrilled that we came and stood next to them. Apparently, the boy wasn’t doing well standing there with his parents, but he started having a great time when Tim started chatting with him. They talked about their respective little league teams and, you know, other kid stuff.

Remember that ball the fan gave to Tim two games (and days) ago in Toronto? Remember we gave it to my dad? Well, my dad ended up giving it to this kid. And he was excited to have it.

We were standing in the cross aisle just above the perfect spot for trying to get a third out ball from the Twins. With two outs in the bottom of one inning, I mentioned to Tim that he should get in position to run down to the bottom when the inning ended to try to get a third out ball. He misunderstood what I was saying and just cruised down the steps. He settled in here:

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And he was essentially all alone in absolutely the best possible spot when Justin Morneau ended the inning at first base. But, sadly, Morneau walked right at Tim and then tossed the ball to a bunch of adults a little a few rows back and a couple seats over from Tim:

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Oh, well.

Tim only made that one attempt, and then we went off to explore the upper deck a bit. For some reason, my dad, Tim and Kellan walked the upper deck holding hands like this:

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We popped into the seating area just in time to watch Torii Hunter at bat:

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And then it was time for lunch. We headed back to the Big Cat court. Hot dogs were on the menu. Tim and Kellan feasted on standard hot dogs…

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…and I had an extremely tasty Chicago Dog.

After lunch, we headed back to the SRO in the cross-aisle:

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I took that panorama during the seventh inning streak, which means I have missed some scoring. By this point, the score as 6-1 Tigers, which ended up being the final score. The scoring high light came in the bottom of the sixth inning when pinch-hitter Avisail hit a bases loaded, 2-out, 3 run triple.
Here’s something I really like about Comerica Park’s new scoreboard:

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The “Tigers” sign at the top of the scoreboard is an HD (well, I’m just guessing that it’s HD) screen so they can play video clips on the word “TIGERS.” That tiger above to the right isn’t new, I thought threw it in as an extra bonus.

I’m throwing this in as a bonus too:

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“Cowboy” Joe West! He’s not the most beloved figure in baseball, but (1) I find him entertaining, (2) he’s never done anything (that I can recall) to hurt the Mariners unfairly, and (3) he’s been really nice to us. So I like him.

While hanging out in the cross-aisle, I took the opportunity to take an extreme close-up of Tim:

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We ended the game behind the plate…

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…but did not come away with an umpire ball.

The game ended in a somewhat frustrating fashion. Kellan, who is a super nice, lovable and usually easy going boy, is still in his “terrible twos.” Sometimes he can pitch a big old fit for no reason. And that’s just what he did at the end of the game. That’s no telling what started it, but he screamed and cried for a while, starting right before the game ended and it continued while we got in line for kids’ run the bases.

By the way, here is where we got in line…

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…and he had to walk all the way around the inside of the stadium to the LF, and then exit the stadium, so we could enter a tunnel under the RF bleachers before finally entering the field in the RF corner¸ very near where we started standing in line here.

While Kellan continued to cry and whine and carry on, Tim made friends with another local kid:

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They chatted all the way around the stadium.

The thing that finally calmed Kellan down was when I spoke to Colleen on the phone and she told me to tell him that she wanted him to run *really fast* around the bases. When he heard that, he settled down and was like “okay, I gotta get ready to run really fast for mommy!”

After entering the field down the RF line, I got a picture of the boys by this Comerica Park sign:

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And then I started filming with my camera. I planned to film Kellan running around the bases, but, incredibly, (not realizing I already had the video running) I turned *off* the video right when Kellan hit first base and I turned it back *on* right after he touched home plate.

Aye, aye, aye…

Luckily, my dad got a couple pictures as we neared home plate…

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…and I took one of the boys from behind on my cellphone as Kellan and Tim were approaching the plate.

After running the bases, we got a group picture…

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…and couple more photos:

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We had a long drive ahead of us. We would be driving back into Pennsylvania, but not all the way to our house. But we didn’t let that stop us from taking a quick side trip on the way out of town:

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When we were in Canada, I told Tim we would go to a Tim Horton’s, but we totally forgot to do so. Luckily, I remembered this just before we passed what ended up being the last Tim Horton’s I saw on our trip. Check out what we got:

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Timbits!

Tim was in Tim heaven!

And then we drove until around 11pm…

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…when we got to our hotel in DuBois, PA (a very nice, new Fairfield Inn) the boys both woke up and were wide awake again. As Tim looked at his new Tigers baseball cards (a very nice set), Kellan took a late night bath.

When it hit midnight, it was officially my dad’s birthday! We were still all wide awake, so I decided we should give my dad a birthday gift that we’d had packed away in our luggage all weekend:

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When he opened it, the gift appeared simply to be a commemorative 2013 All-Star Game ball, but he soon realized that there was a baseball ticket tucked into the display case with the ball.

The ticket was for the subway series (Mets vs. Yankees) at Citi Field, and game time was less than twenty hours away…so we had to head to bed!

Bonus birthday roadtrip baseball to come! (Oh, did I mention that, after crossing the Jays and Tigers off the list on this trip, the only teams my dad had never seen play a home game were the Mets and Rangers?)

2013 C&S Fan Stats

10 Games

15 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers

18 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4

45 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1

8 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park

16 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson

5 Autographs – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

New Blue Jays Ice Cream Helmets

We just returned from the Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip. We attended games at the Rogers Centre in Toronto (5/24/13), Comerica Park in Detroit (5/25-26/13), and Citi Field in New York (5/27/13). It will be a while before I have any of the blog entries up so I thought I’d share a little two photo teaser.

In 2009, we attended our first game ever at Rogers Centre and the ice cream helmets were decent, but nothing to write home about:

In 2013, the Blue Jays re-designed their uniforms with a retro Jays feel. Along with their fancy new duds came some great-looking new ice cream helmets:

Now there’s a helmet you can write home about. Heck, you can bring this helmet home to meet your parents!

Good job, Jays.

 

You can check out our entire MLB ice cream helmet collection at the Cook & Son Baseball Museum.

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…

1-game-on-for-2013

…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:

2-fun-at-the-gate-baseball-statues

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…

3-let-us-in-4-6-13

…, 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:

4-LF-phils-royals

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:

5-first-pizza-wedge-of-2013

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…

6-cole-lee-and-some-dude

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

I got two awesome pictures of Kellan just chilling:

7-kellan-relaxing-phils-royals

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

8-bullpen-watering-and-shadowplay

…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…

9-bro-long-toss

…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:

10-come-on-in-kid

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:

12-daddy-and-kellan-phils-royals

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.

13-bad-fire-in-phila

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:

16-upper-deck-pizza-wedge

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:

17-birds-eye-view-games-of-baseball

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:

18-running-game-phils-royals

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:

20-tim-lounging-SRO

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

21-first-pitch-phils-royals

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

Then we headed to the kids’ play area:

22-kids-playarea-phils-royals

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:

23-schmidter-moved

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:

24-new-big-phils-ich

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…

30-hot-dogs-in-cf-phils-royals

…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…

31-warming-up-in-team-store-phils-royals

…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:

32-SRO-phils-royals

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:

33-frenchy-chats-up-ump

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:

34-nice-view-of-royals

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…

35-royals-blow-it-phils-walkoff

…, 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:

36-citz-bank-park-bonus-pic

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!

37-heading-home-phils-royals

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:

38-fan-ball-helmet

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

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