Here are a couple bonus pictures. First, Tim with one of the FeMeBe baseballs:
Here is a group shot from the myGameBalls.com “Ballhawkfest 2011″ featuring the FeMeBe baseball:
Finally, Avi and I did not tell Zack about the prank or the article. We wanted him to find out about it through normal channels…just however the news would reach him. I’m still not sure how the news got to him, but a few hours after the article was posted this message from Zack showed up on Twitter:
That’s all for now. Go Mariners!
At the ripe old age of *little five*, Tim has finally closed out the A.L. West stadiums. When we entered Rangers Ballpark in Arlington over Memorial Day weekend, it was our fourth and final A.L. West Stadium to check off of our list. Safeco Field (2006-10), Oakland Coliseum (2010), Angel Stadium of Anaheim (2010), and Rangers Ballpark of Arlington (2011).
It is the first MLB division that we have closed out. By the end of the season, two more (N.L. East and A.L. East) will join the A.L. West on the closed-out list.
This is the story of how we finally closed out the A.L. West.
On the morning of May 28, 2011, Tim and I woke up at my buddy Jason’s house (Thanks, Jason , Erin and Ainsley! Welcome to the world, Isla, thanks for loaning us your brand new room!), Tim played around a bit with Jason’s daughter Ainsley, and then we hit the road north to Arlington, Texas.
The drive is long (4.5 hours), flat and straight. Here were the highlights:
Top Left – A big Sam Houston statue…Really big;
Top Right – Day and night speed limits;
Bottom Left – Tim did lots of napping after a long and fun-filled day in Houston; and
Bottom Right – It was flat and hot out there…our dashboard thermometer said it got up to about 96 degrees during our drive
We stayed at a hotel about one mile from Rangers Ballpark, which just happens to be right across the street from Six Flags. About half an hour before the gates opened for season ticket holders, Tim and I hopped into the car, drove less than a mile, paid $10 to park, and walked about a quarter mile to the home plate entrance at Rangers Ballpark.
We did not have season tickets, but we had plans to meet MLBlogs and myGameBalls.com friend Brian Powell, who is a season ticket holder. Brian got us in early and the fun began.
As I mentioned, upon entering Rangers Ballpark, Tim and I reached a milestone. We finished off visiting each A.L. West stadium (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angels Stadium, and Rangers Ballpark). It felt good to finally close out a division.
Now, I did a fairly shabby job of covering theaction during batting practice. Itotally failed to photograph the empty bleachers during BP. So here is a picture from later in the game
that sort of shows the set-up of things:
That really shabby looking panoramic view is looking out at Rangers Ballpark from the back of section 52. The outfield is split into three sections. Brian led us into the seating
around in the left field corner in section 54. We walked across the elevated LF sections and said “hello” to myGameBalls.com member and Brian’s buddy, Dirk Elliott. Then we kept on our way toward CF.
We finally stopped in section 52. It was me, Tim, Brian, and one other guy in the whole section. That guy’s wife and son showed up from time-to-time, but mostly it was just the four of us in the three left centerfield sections (section 52-54).
Here’s the best photo I managed to take that shows the set-up:
In that picture, Tim and Brian are hanging out in section 53 and in the background (with the red arrow) is Dirk in section 4.
Two seconds after taking off my back pack, Josh Hamilton blasted a BP homer about 7 rows over our heads. I ran up a couple rows and picked it up for our first baseball ever at Rangers Ballpark. It was very cool to get a baseball from Hamilton.
A few minutes later, Brian and Tim were further down toward section 52 (where I took that last picture), when another Ranger blasted a homerun into section 53. I ran for it, but I ricocheted off of the seats in the second or third row and back onto the field. Neftali Feliz saw me run for the ball, gloved it off of the ricochet and immediately tossed it back up to me.
The other guy in the section was focused on running onto Greene’s Hill to try to catch BP homeruns. I wanted to give it a shot too. So Tim and I hung out by the edge of the grass for a while in section 52. While we were standing around waiting for a homerun to be hit into the grassy batters eye, Tim pipes up –
Tim: “There’s a baseball!”
Tim: “There’s a baseball in that thing!”
Todd: “What? Where?”
Check this out:
I asked the other guy in the section if it was cool for me to run down into the camera well to grab the baseball. It was. Moments later, we had this ball in hand.
Tim has told numerous people the story about finding this ball. And at the end of the story, he always concludes (as if it is a punchline to a great joke), “Then daddy showed him the baseball, and Brian laughed!”
By the way, this baseball was unlike any other ball we acquired in Texas. It had a Rawlings-printed “Practice” stamp below the MLB logo, but it did not say “Training Ball” like the Nationals baseballs. It makes me curious to know how long the ball had been in this little box. But, we’ll never know.
After a while, Dirk came over to join us in LCF. We had read about Dirk’s fishing pole ball retriever device on myGameBalls.com and he knew that Tim was really hoping to get a chance to try it out. Dirk asked Tim if he wanted to give it a shot, and Tim responded enthusiastically in the affirmative.
There were no baseballs in the gap, so Dirk just tossed one of his own baseballs down there. And then he took Tim under his wing to teach him about baseball fishing:
It was the first time either Tim or I had ever used a ball retrieving device, and Tim loved it. He was even more excited two minutes later when Brian and Dirk pulled a surprise gift for Tim out of one of their back packs; they had made him his very own Mariners baseball fishing pole:
We were blown away! Tim absolutely loves his Mariners fishing pole.
Thanks, Brian and Dirk! You guys are awesome!
It was crazy hot at Rangers Ballpark. So we relocated over to the Rangers bullpen area in right centerfield. Tim used the shady spot above the bullpen to practice casting with his baseball pole:
I noticed former-Mariners Mark Low and Arthur Rhodes…
…standing in RF in front of the Rangers bullpen. It is great to see former-Mariners sticking together. I was wearing a Mariners t-shirt, but not my jersey because it was so hot. But standing behind two former-M’s, I figured I better put on the jersey. Mere minutes later, Arthur gave us a wave and then he hooked us up with our fourth baseball of the day.
Soon, a BP homerun found its way into the Rangers bullpen. It was way out there. The pole is really meant for baseballs below you in a gap, but we figured that I should try casting for it.
Brian got some pictures from behind me as I cast Tim’s contraption out into the Rangers bullpen from the first row in center field:
I needed to knock the ball close, but it was a no go. I was getting nowhere with it.
We relocated to the seats behind the bullpen where Tim has been practicing casting his pole. As I failed over-and-over again, I got an ear full from an (apparent) Rangers regular. An older lady who sat in the first row at the CF corner of the bullpen both Saturday and Sunday. She was mocking the Mariners patch on Tim’s baseball pole.
Here we are chatting with her and an usher who came down to watch us:
I was having absolutely no luck knocking the ball closer to the back of the bullpen. At one point, I told the usher, “I think I’ll try to hook that chair (in the bullpen), knock it over, and use it to pull the ball closer to me.”
A great idea, I thought.
I hooked the chair pretty easily:
But the chair was WAY to heavy and it wouldn’t budge.
“Yer gonna break your line!,” hollered the older Rangers fan.
I turned to her with a smile, “I’m not really a fisherman.”
“You don’t say!?,” she replied with a sarcastic Texas accent.
At this point, the usher intervened. There was no way I was going to unhook the chair without snapping my line and losing the ball retriever on the end of Tim’s pole. So the usher hopped down into the bullpen and grabbed the baseball (he can be seen in that last picture walking toward the baseball).
He walked over to hand the ball up to Tim. I asked if he could just put the ball on the ground below us so we could fish it out. “I think you’ve tried enough,” he responded as he handed the baseball up to Tim.
So, our first retriever effort was a failure. But Tim has the baseball to go along with the story:
Okay. BP was finished. It was time to walk around a little bit. But just a little bit, because it was so incredibly hot.
We headed over to section 44 to get a panorama of Rangers Ballpark from the extra wide stairway:
There are a bunch of kids’ games behind the batters eye, and Brian had given us a bunch of tokens to play some of the games. (Side note, it is pretty weak that the Rangers sell tokens so kids can play games after paying to go to the game). Anyway, Tim really wanted to play the games, but the lines were huge.
So it was time to check out the upper deck. We headed to section 303. There was a great view of the Rangers bullpen from up there:
It was so high and steep that Tim was scared to be up there. But he put his fears aside for this picture:
Finally, I got this panoramic view of Rangers Ballpark from section 303:
Whenever we hit a new stadium, we’re all about seeing the whole thing. Normally, we would have walked all the way around the upper deck at this point. But it was crazy hot (I might have mentioned that already) and Tim was not digging being up so high. So we called it quits on the tour. Yep, we were way off of our new-stadium-game.
So we headed back down to the field level.
On the way down, I got this picture of the concourse from high above:
There was still a huge line for all of the kids’ games. So we just passed through and got Tim’s picture with Nolan Ryan:
We must have looked like we were going to melt because an usher came up and told us that we could head into the Rangers Hall of Fame if we needed some air conditioning.
Great idea. Here is a little peak into the Rangers Hall of Fame:
I love Tim’s look of disapproval in the top left picture. Yeah, we’re Mariners fans, Rangers. We’re just in here for the air conditioning!
Nah, despite wanting the Rangers to lose every game they play, it was nice to see their Hall of Fame.
The game was about to start so we headed to the concession stand for some nachos. On the way to grab the nachos, we spotted this Rangers fan sporting a mean part of antlers:
Nachos in hand, we reported to our seats. Well, actually, our seats were in the sun, so we sat section 50, row 9, seats 1-2. We actually sat in these same exact seats both Saturday and Sunday. They’re awesome: (i) nice and shady, (ii) great view, and (iii) easy access to the Rangers bullpen and the concourse.
Tim grabbed my glove to pose for a photo with our view of the ballpark:
After former-Mariner Adrian Beltre put the Rangers up 2-0 with a double in the bottom of the first inning, Tim and I headed to the kids’ play area. It was time for Tim to take some hacks at Rangers Park:
After cycling through the outfield shagging balls, Tim got his turn at bat. He got about 5 or 6 pitches and he hit them all. Like this one:
And this one:
Finally, on his last pitch, Tim hit a homerun directly to me. It was my first clean catch of a homerun ball all season!
While Tim was waiting in line to hit in Rangers Park, Mitch Moreland, Mike Napoli and Endy Chavez hit back-to-back-to-back homeruns. We couldn’t see the homers at all. We just saw the fireworks and saw “homerun” flashing across the LCD boards along the 3B line.
Next up, it was time to hit in this little batting tee thingy:
This time while we were in line, Adrian Beltre hit an unseen homerun. We were missing a lot of action. The Rangers were leading 6-0.
But the worst part about standing in line for this batting tee thingy was that (as Tim reports it), that boy in the red shirt said, “you can do it little kid! Hey, I’m not *little* kid!”
So we missed a whole bunch of homeruns.
When we were back in our seats, the action looked more like this:
That’s an awkward Adrian Beltre foul ball.
With our long trip to the kids play area, this game was flying by. At some point, Tim asked where Brian was. He wanted to go see him. After exchanging a few text messages with Brian, we were on our way up to section 232 to meet up with Brian, his daughter Sarah, and his mom and aunt.
On our way up a long and tall escalator in the 1B side concourse, I got this cool picture that shows the various levels of the inner-stadium:
At the top of that picture is the suite level, next is a thin slice of the playing field, then it’s the back of the field level seats with a little elevated concourse area (or maybe it’s a party area) behind the seats, and (finally) at the bottom is the actual field level concourse.
Brian’s seats for the game were pretty sweet. And we grabbed couple seats right next to his. It looked like this:
Between innings, Tim and I got a picture with Brian (who is sporting his Happy Youngster t-shirt):
The Rangers also had a running of the mascots race – like the presidents in D.C., the sausages in Milwaukee or the Pierogies in Pittsburgh:
Nolan Ryan won this race.
While we were up there, it was also a prime opportunity to get Tim’s picture with the “Rangers Ballpark in Arlington” sign behind home plate:
Brian’s seats were perfect for taking pictures of batters. Like this one of Josh Hamilton:
When Hamilton hit a double, Elvis Andrus…
…scored eighth Rangers run of the night. Hamilton and Nelson Cruz scored the 9th and 10th Rangers runs of the night…on the fifth Rangers homerun of the night:
That was it for Brian and his crew. They had to leave a little early. So we too left section 232. We headed back toward CF via the scenic route.
First, we got this panoramic view of Rangers Ballpark from section 242:
Next, we headed to the all-you-can-eat second deck in RF, where a stadium attendant took this shot of us from the concourse in deep RCF:
Then I got this panoramic view from the front of sections 251/252:
This is what it looks like up in the all-you-can-eat seats:
Finally, we headed back down to the field level and the CF bleachers. On our way, we stopped to grab Tim a chocolate ice cream helmet. We’d definitely been *watching* the game, but for some reason I didn’t realize what inning it was. When we closed on the deal and took possession of Tim’s first Rangers ice cream helmet, there was one out in the top of the ninth…and the home team was winning big!
Uh, oh. Tim was going to have to eat this huge mint chocolate chip ice cream helmet fast.
We decided to sit in the first row behind the Rangers bullpen to finish off the game. Just as we settled in, Tim realized there was something fishy with is ice cream utensil:
What the spork!? Yep, it was Tim’s very first spork of his life. 25 stadiums and 1 spork.
I quickly realized that no one was warming up in the bullpen, but there was a stray baseball laying on the ground by the bullpen home plates.
I started to take a panorama from the first row of section 48 and…
…the game ended. Rangers win. Darn.
The Rangers relievers high-tailed it out of there. I mean they were gone in a flash. And when it was all said and done, I realized they had left the stray baseball sitting on the ground by the
bullpen home plates.
I picked up Tim and we headed over to the first row of section 52.
Now, I had never used the “glove trick” before, never even attempted it, but I had rigged a glove up for it and brought it on this trip because I knew Rangers Ballpark was glove-trick-friendly and we needed a picture using a ball retrieving device for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. We’d already got the picture of Tim fishing for a baseball with Dirk, but now we had a prime opportunity to try out the glove trick.
It took me a minute or two to swing the glove out and knock the ball closer to me. It was probably 8-10 feet out. One my second or third attempt, I successfully got the ball up to chest level. I went to grab it from the glove, and accidentally knocked it out. But instead of falling into the bullpen, it fell into the 10 (or so) foot deep gap.
So, I repositioned myself and tried again. With a small crowd watching me, the pressure was on. I quickly got the baseball half way up from the ground before I jerked my string and the ball fell to the ground again.
At this point, an usher came down to the first row. I pleaded to him, “I’ve never done this before. Can I just try to get this baseball?” “I’m gonna watch you do it,” he responded. Cool!
On my next attempt, I nailed it. As I slowly raised the glove from the ground, the usher counseled me, “easy now, easy now!” And easy did it. I got the ball to chest level and *carefully* reached out and secured it with my hand.
The small crowd let out a little roar. And I held the ball aloft in victory! Our first ever glove trick!
Tim posed with the baseball and his still almost-full ice cream hemlet:
In that picture, the guy in the white shirt and red hat is the usher who watched us get the baseball. The little kid in the red also watched with amazement as we retrieved our sixth and final ball of the day.
Ah, Rangers Ballpark of Arlington, you are a good one. In fact, as I rank the A.L. West Stadiums, you are second:
1. Safeco Field
2. Rangers Ballpark of Arlington
3. Angels Stadium of Anaheim
4. Oakland Coliseum (a distant last place)
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|10/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|12/2 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros and Royals; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles]|
|5 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies, Rangers)|
|33 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick)|
|5/1 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington; Kellan – Camden Yards]|
|11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|3 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|
* [Note: The number 24 has a special signficance to me. It is Ken Griffey, Jr.'s number. And it has been retired on this blog -- I dare you to try to find a player wearing the number 24 on this blog. This is the story of Tim's 24th MLB stadium.]
I’ve wanted to get to Texas for some time now. More specifically, we just had to get to Minute Maid Park and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. And that’s just where we were heading for Memorial Day weekend this year.
We started off in Houston. My buddy, Jason, from high school lives in Houston and used his connections to get us ridiculously awesome tickets in the Diamond Club at Minute Maid Park. Jason and his daughter were going to join me and Tim for the game, but Jason had to leave unexpectedly. So Tim and I were on our own. Luckily, we know what to do when
we find ourselves in a new stadium.
After hitting up the awesome Children’s Museum of Houston, we found ourselves outside of Minute Maid Park…
…about half an hour before gates opened. We walked around the stadium to get a lay of the land. And, boy, was Texas hot…I don’t advise walking anywhere, for any distance, in the heat of Texas.
Behind left field, we found a cool little park where Tim took some fake hacks and ran some bases…
…but, beware, there is no third base in this park. Third base would be in the middle of the street. This wasn’t a satisfying explanation for Tim; he’s not accustomed to stopping at second base.
A little background before we head into the game. I knew that Willie Bloomquist played for the Diamondback and I have a Willie Bloomquist Mariners t-shirt jersey. So I decided to wear it just in case Willie might take notice.
When the ballpark opened, we headed into the Diamond Club, through the restaurant, down the tunnel, through the seats, down to the first row, and right out onto the warning track behind home plate:
For some reason, a doorway onto the field was open and a bunch of people were out there, so we just walked out there. We weren’t actually supposed to be out there unless we had special passes (which we didn’t) so a few seconds later, we were back in the seating area. But when we were out on the warning track, we noticed that Willie Bloomquist (under the yellow arrow above) was standing around getting ready to play catch.
I called out, “Hey, Willie” and when he looked over at us, I showed him the “Bloomquist” / “16” on my back. He gave me a big thumbs-up.
We looked around and quickly realized that the Diamond Club was the most pointless place in the world to be in during batting practice. So we headed back through the
Diamond Club and out toward left field.
Nothing was doing down the LF line.
So we headed back to the dugout to watch Willie Bloomquist hit.
After he finished hitting, he and his group of
hitters hung out on the dugout steps and signed autographs for a while. While Willie was signing, someone overthrew a
baseball to Matt Williams (who was hitting fungo to the right side of the
infield) and the baseball came to rest just behind Willie. I called out, “Hey, Willie!” and he looked at
me like “what do you want me to sign?” I
asked, “Hey, could we get that baseball right behind you?” He laughed, looked away and kept signing
autographs. About a minute later, he
walked out of the dugout, grabbed the baseball, autographed it and tossed it up
to me and Tim.
Willie! You da man!
With our shiny new Willie Bloomquist baseball in
hand, Tim and I posed for a picture before heading off to see the stadium:
Ah, I love checking out a new stadium. And this was a beautiful one. My only regret (well, semi-regret) was that
the roof was closed. It’s a great
looking stadium when it is opened. But,
it was closed due to the stifling heat…and I have to admit I was happy to have
the air conditioning running on full blast.
Before heading on our way, we paused another second
to get our first panorama of Minute Maid Park…from section 116:
One screwy thing about having the roof closed was
that it made the lighting really crazy.
It looked fine to human eyes, but the sun streaming in through the
windows in LF really overpowered my camera on some shots…like the last one.
We walked toward CF via the 1B line and RF. We got this panorama of Minute Maid Park as
we passed through section 120:
When we reached the RF corner, I finally noticed the
train in LF. When I pointed it out to
Tim (he loves trains), we stopped to get his picture with the train in the
Here are panoramic views of Minute Maid Park from
…and finally section 156:
The reason we were heading toward CF was so Tim
could check out the hill a/k/a “Tal’s Hill”).
Section 156 is the closest seating section to hill, but the Astros’
bullpen completely blocks your view of the hill.
The area right behind the CF wall (and the Hill) is
a restaurant and bar. I didn’t know what
the story was with the restaurant. There
was a hostess out front so I asked her if Tim and I could go down into the
restaurant seating area so we could check out the Hill. She initially thought I meant that I wanted
to take a picture of Tim standing out on the hill. “No, no, no…we just want to go down into the
seating area so we can take some pictures of the hill.” No problem.
So, here we go – Tim and Tal’s Hill:
FYI, that flag pole is in play. The hostess wasn’t paying attention to
us. So we just hung out down there for
a few minutes. Tim grabbed some railing
and took a big gander at Minute Maid Park:
I was hoping one of the batters would launch a ball
out toward the hill. Eventually, someone
did. And the only player who was wearing
a jersey with his name on the back, Zach Duke, ran over to grab it.
And that’s all it took; Mr. Duke hooked us up with
our second Minute Maid Park baseball.
Next, we continued on our way around the
stadium. The concourse down the LF side
of the stadium is just a narrow walkway…
..along the right side of the walkway was the glass
outside wall of the stadium, and to the left was a bunch of Astros history:
In an arch in deep LCF, there is an overhang where
fans can stand high above the warning track.
For some reason, there is a huge gas pump inside the arch:
From the overhang, I took our Minute Maid Park bonus
picture for the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt:
And I got this shot of Tim with the field behind him:
And finally, a panoramic view of Minute Maid Park
from the overhang:
The overhang is way above the field level. And our man, Willie Bloomquist, was down
below shagging fly balls.
A little further down the LF walkway, we wandered
into the “Crawford boxes” and got this panoramic view of the ballpark:
It was time to go up top. We took an escalator to the upper deck. From the upper deck concourse, fans can
access the 300 level (below) and the 400 level (above). Here is a picture of Tim from the walkway
just behind the 300 level:
And then we got this panoramic view from the cross
aisle behind section 307:
While we were walking toward home plate, I got this
shot of the big screen at Minute Maid Park:
That is one HUGE screen – it is three sections
wide! And its picture is crystal clear.
Finally, we got this panoramic view from behind
…before heading downstairs and into the “Diamond
Here is a hot of the main entrance Diamond Club:
Here is a look at the buffet area and bar:
All food and non-alcoholic drinks were free for us
in the Diamond Club! And those people
served us about 10 little bottles of water.
My favorite part of the food area – the Nacho Bar:
In the photo two above, a big beam is shown right in
the middle of the bar. Well, here is a
shot of the other side of the beam – more bar area and several big screen TVs!
We grabbed some honey biscuits (delicious), a huge
soft pretzel (crazy delicious), and a huge pile of beefy-and-cheesy nachos (oh,
yeah!), a couple bottles of water (I think we drank about 12 bottles of water
during this game), a big glass of lemonade (I drank about 5 during the game!),
and headed out to our seats in the Diamond Club. Neither Tim nor I had ever sat in such big
and cushy seats for a game:
This panorama shows our ridiculously awesome view of
Minute Maid Park from Diamond Club section A, row 6, seats 1-2:
I was hoping that former President Bush (41, not 43)
would be in the house so we could ask him to autograph a baseball. But the usher assigned to our section (shown
in red pants and khaki pants in the last picture) explained that George and
Barbara had just left for Maine for the summer.
Too bad. A presidential autograph
would have been awesome.
Anyway, we headed to the first row right behind home
plate to get Tim’s picture:
Tim’s still got a bit of honey biscuits in his mouth
in that last picture. There was too
much to eat for him to stop eating long enough to take that picture.
When the game started, I decided the main picture
goal was to capture Justin Upton hitting one of his monster bombs. Unfortunately, Astros pitching and Upton’s
bat wouldn’t cooperate with my camera.
But here is one of my efforts from the first inning:
Sweet view, eh?
Yeah, we could get used to that.
Anyway, Upton was hit by a pitch in the top of the
first inning. Other than the HBP, the
D-Backs had nothing going in the first.
But the Astros would get off to a fast start. Lead-off man, Michael Bourn, led off the
bottom of the first with a single.
Bourn then scored with one out on a double…
…by Hunter Pence.
Pence then scored on a single by Carlos “El Caballo” Lee.
Another fun part of our Diamond Club experience was
that we were sitting about 20 feet from three MLB Authenticators:
They are the three guys sitting behind the little
yellow ramp (two bald guys in blue shirts and a bigger guy in dark grey). On the first pitch of the bottom of the first
inning, Michael Bourn broke his bat.
After grabbing the broken bat, the bat boy ran it over to wall by the
yellow ramp and one of these guys jumped up and grabbed it. The bigger guy with the dark grey shirt then
filled in a bunch of information on a form on his clipboard. This went on all game with balls fouled
straight back off of the screen and broken bats (I think there was only one
other broken bat).
A fourth MLB (or more likely Astros) employee would
come out of the tunnel (the Diamond Club tunnel) every once-in-a-while and
would take the newly authenticated items from the Authenticators. When he was standing around with the Bourn
bat between innings, we got this picture:
[Note: the Astros guy has a wicked Rollie Fingers
Between innings at one point early in the game, the
ball that made the final out of the inning ended up on the ground on the 1B
side of home plate. We home plate umpire
Ted Barrett moseyed over and grabbed it, Tim and I ran down to that little yellow
ramp and yelled, “Hey, Ted!” He was about
15 feet away, but completely ignored us.
He tossed the ball to the ball boy instead. After Barrett tossed the ball into the
dugout, the authenticator sitting closest to the dugout got out attention and
declared, “if you hold tight, we’ll make sure you get one later in the
game.” Sounded good to us.
During the game, we noticed there was an engineer
standing in the train out in deep LCF:
Although they look more like pumpkins, I think the
train’s coal car is full of oversized (Minute Maid) oranges.
In the top of the fourth inning, I took another
panorama from out seats to show our view in “game” conditions:
The most action we got on any of our Justin Upton
homerun attempts was catching this foul in mid-air before it slammed into the
net in front of our section:
In the middle innings, and with the Astros leading
6-2, Tim said he wanted to go explore the stadium a little. So we headed toward the kids play area. On the way, we grabbed some ice cream products
(chipwich for Tim and Snickers ice cream bar for me) from a freezer full of
free goodies in the Diamond Club hallway and then we got this panoramic view
from the concourse just behind section 122:
The Kids Play Area at Minute Maid Park was amazing:
We have seen a lot of Kids Play Areas at MLB
stadiums (this was Tim’s 24thstadium) and I think this one probably
ranks first on the list. It was
huge. And Tim had a blast. The Astros also were thoughtful enough to
put a large flat screen TV in the kids area (you hear that, Nationals) so
parents could still watch the game.
After Tim burned off about 500 calories running
around like a maniac in the play area, we headed to the second deck in RF (just
below the big screen). From the handicap
accessible seating area behind section 255, this was the view of Minute Maid
Next, we headed back toward the Diamond Club and got
this panorama from the big cross aisle behind Section 119:
Next, we headed back into the Diamond Club and got
some more waters. Just for kicks, we got
another picture of Tim behind home plate.
This time, Tim couldn’t find the time to put down (or swallow) his water before this
When we got back from exploring, we found that the
Diamondbacks had taken the lead 7-6!
How’d that happen? Well,
baseball-reference.com explains that part of it happened via a pinch hit and
run scored by Willie Bloomquist. Nice
Let’s check out a couple random features of Minute
Left: The out of
town scoreboard is a full 9-inning hand operated scoreboard. That must make for a lot of work for the
operators throughout the course of the game.
Right: I was
perplexed for a while because I couldn’t find the visitors’ bullpen. The Astros bullpen is in deep RCF (as
pictured above). But where were the
Diamondbacks’ relievers? The answer: behind these bizarre garage-like doors. Odd.
Late in the game, a Diamondback broke his bat and
their batboy took the bat back to their dugout on the 3B side. I thought that was odd because he’d picked it
up pretty close to the MLB Authenticators’ seats. I wondered if they only authenticated bats
from the home team or something. But
between innings, the middle authenticator walked out a half step onto the
warning track and called the bat boy over with the broken bat:
By the way, it was late in the game now and we still
had not gotten a ball from the MLB Authenticators. When the bat boy brought them a foul ball in
the 8th inning, the guy who had told us he’d get us a ball pointed us out to
the middle guy (the guy pictured above), but that guy gave the ball to a little
girl who can relocated to the front row when those seats were vacated.
Former-Mariner J.J. Putz came in and closed out the
game for the Diamondbacks in the bottom of the ninth:
Good job in this game, former-Mariners! The Diamondbacks won by the final score of
Immediately after the game, Tim and I were standing
around down by the on deck circle, just watching the post-game action. The ball boy ran out of the Astros dugout and
brought two more baseballs to the MLB Authenticators. The middle guy (pictured above) waved me down
and tossed one to us. Here is Tim with
his baseball from the MLB Authenticators:
A minute or two later, we went over and thanked him
for the baseball and asked if it had been a foul ball in the game. Yep, it was a foul ball in the ninth
inning…although the bat boy did not tell him who hit it – possibly because they
knew it was going to Tim. I should have
asked him to authenticate it first!
Soon, the Minute Maid Park roof started opening in
preparation for post-game fireworks:
Before they turned off the lights for fireworks, an
usher took this picture of us (with Tim celebrating a great day at Minute Maid
Park and me looking seriously because the guy didn’t seem to understand how to
use my camera):
The fireworks weren’t on par with the shows the
Indians put on at Progressive Field, but it was a good show and Tim really
A cool touch was that the Astros let about 15-20
players’ kids down onto the field for fireworks. They all lined up laying on their bellies in
foul territory down the 1B line. Their
mothers sat about 10 feet behind the group of kids, and during the fireworks
show 2-3 Astros came out to watch the fireworks with their families. After the fireworks, the players’ kids all
ran the bases.
It was time to head out. Before we could head to the car, Tim needed
to stop to get his picture with this cool…
…blue and green fire hydrant that he’d noticed
before the game. It is just outside of
the third base gate in case you want to get your picture with this amazing fire
So, the first day of our trip was awesome. Tim woke up at 6:00 a.m. eastern time, and
was wide awake until after 11:00 p.m. central time…after a drive to the
airpoint, 4 hour flight, 2.5 hours at the kids museum, and a great evening at
the ballpark. Tim is a trooper.
C&S Fan Stats
|9/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|11/2 Teams [Tim – Mariners,
Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves,
Diamondbacks and Astros; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles]
|4 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2),
|27 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 3
Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1
Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator)
|4/1 Stadiums [Tim – Camden
Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park; Kellan – Camden
|11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix
Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael
Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders;
Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt
Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard
Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
|3 Autograph(s) (Michael
Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe)
|1 Bat* (Milton
|3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim –
Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s