After our April 28th game at Camden Yards, our next game was supposed to be the first of the Fifth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip on May 12th. The weekend of Cinco de Mayo, we were supposed to head south to Colleen’s sister’s house for our nephew’s first communion. The plan was for me to leave work early on Friday, May 4 so we could drive south. But plans changed. I had to work later than expected. As it stood, we would have arrived at our destination late. So Colleen decided to go to her sister’s house alone while I stayed home and tended to the boys.
So…hmm…home all weekend with my boys…hmm…what should we do?
Actually, it took me less time to figure out the plan than it took you to read that last sentence: we would go see the Mets and Diamondbacks at Citi Field!
I bought some tickets on Stub Hub and we headed out for Queens, NY at around 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 5, 2012. On our drive, our plans changed again. Instead of our usual practice of parking on the upper east side and then riding the subway to the park, while Kellan mostly slept and Tim played *fun with meat* with a beef stick…
…we ended up driving all the way to Citi Field. It cost…I think…$16.50 to drive across those two bridges on our way, but the freeway dropped us off right behind the scoreboard in CF of Citi Field.
After driving around the stadium the wrong way and then circling back, we parked in the general parking lot and BOOM…
…we had made it to Citi Field!
FYI, I do not normal dress Kellan in the morning. So I did not realize at the time that I had put him in a teeny-tiny Ichiro shirt. But, hey, it made him look like a big muscly stud.
We had about 45 minutes until the gates open for non-season ticket holders. Our plan was to take a ride on the 7-train for kicks. But we ended up having a lot of fun at the stadium and never hopped the train.
We started out with some pictures at the Shea Stadium homerun apple:
Tim has been working on catching pop flies lately so it was cool to get a picture of him catching one in front of the Big Apple. It was fun, but not everyone appreciated our good time. You can’t tell from that last picture, but the flower beds in which the homerun apple sits is elevated a couple feet off of the ground. The path that runs across the front of the apple runs to the edge of the elevated flower beds so people can hop up and get a picture. At the end of the path running to the left (on the “Home” side of the apple), a very large and odd lady was sitting on the edge of the flower beds. She was apparently upset that Kellan wandered into the flowers (I got him out of them within about five seconds) and that Tim was playing with a (dangerous) ball *near* other people. She didn’t really confront me, but she started muttering loudly so I could hear her displeasure. I didn’t think we were doing anything wrong, but I took her hint, and we left.
There were hardly any cars in the parking lot right in front of the Jackie Robinson rotunda so I decided we should go play catch in the parking lot. But on our walk over there, I noticed something awesome: a nice strip of grass along the edge of the parking lot.
So we took our gloves and baseballs over there…
…and had a heap of fun playing around.
Kellan mainly just ran around jumping and laughing. Tim and I played catch. And for extra kicks, we played catch for a while over a forked tree:
Tim and I were hooping and hollering when Tim finally caught a pop fly through the tree, which was really difficult because the ball would get lost in the branches as it went through the tree. It was a lot of fun. But then the unthinkable happened!
Tim tossed the ball over the tree to me…
…and it never came down!
Tim somehow threw the ball just perfectly that it landed in the little nook in the tree and stayed there. I pulled another ball (not a real baseball) out of my backpack and tried to knock the first ball out of the tree. I hit the first ball several times, but it never fell down. And, eventually, neither did the second ball!
We lost TWO BASEBALLS in that tree!
Tim was not happy. It caused him a lot of pain walking away from that tree without being able to bring his baseballs. Those were baseballs we play with a lot in the backyard. So it is sad to have lost them.
As we walked away from the tree, I said to Tim, “Hey, you should think of this as a good thing. I mean, how many people can say their baseball is stuck in the tree outside Citi Field?” “Probably about a thousand,” was Tim’s response. But I think he overshot it just a bit. I’m pretty sure our baseballs are the only baseballs stuck in that tree!
With no baseballs left, we decided to hop in line for the last 15 minutes before the gates opened:
Tim and Kellan played around that tree a bunch, and then Kellan ran up to the front of the line so I followed him while Tim held our place in line. Kellan and I ended up having 5-6 races down the strip of concrete strip, much to the delight of the people in the line. Several fans ahead of us in line gave Kellan compliments on his Ichiro t-shirt.
Once inside the stadium, we had to stop and get a picture with this pig before heading off to BP:
While putting this blog entry together, Tim had me make his shirt into a Mets t-shirt.
We decided to switch things up at this game. Every time we’ve been to Citi Field in the past, we’ve headed to LF for BP. But the Mets are using 50th Anniversary commemorative baseballs this season and they warm up down the RF line. So that’s where we headed. Tim had bounced back from the balls-lost-in-the-tree fiasco and was excited for a fun day at the ballpark:
When we reached the field, the Mets pitchers were finished throwing and a bunch of them were running from the foul line to CF and then…
…walking back to the foul line. That is Bobby Parnell on the far right end. He kept smiling and waving at Tim and Kellan each time the pitchers returned to the foul line. He seemed like a really nice and friendly dude.
Once the pitchers finished running, they all dispersed but one stayed right in the RF corner. It was our buddy from several weeks prior, Tim Byrdak.
The first time someone hit a ball down the RF line to Byrdak, I called out, “Hey, Tim!”
Byrdak turned and tossed Tim a big underhand lob:
That ball actually fell a tiny bit short, tipped off the very end of Tim’s glove and rolled back toward Byrdak. He tossed it again from about half way out on the green tarp and Tim caught it. Just then, another ball was hit down the line to Byrdak.
Kellan was standing on the ground next to me and Tim. Byrdak looked at Kellan and asked, “Do you want one too?” Then he turned back to Tim and said he would have to catch Kellan’s ball too.
As all of this happened, Byrdak kept getting closer and closer and we were chatting a little bit. You know, a funny thing happened a couple weeks back after our first game of the season when Byrdak tossed a ball to Tim. I wrote it up on our blog and, the very next day, I got an email from Tim Byrdak’s agent (Mike Mosa who represents “Only Baseball Players”) mentioning that he read the blog and thought it was great. He offered to send us some autographed Tim Byrdak cards, and they arrived in the mail about a week later. I told Byrdak how all of this had happened. He thought that was pretty cool.
I asked Byrdak if he would sign a ball for Tim. Tim made sure it was the ball Byrdak had tossed up for him, not the ball for Kellan. In retrospect, I should have asked him to sign both balls because he ended up giving Tim just about the coolest autograph of all time:
Once he was finished signing the ball, he tossed it back up to Tim and then he tossed the pen, which bounced out of Tim’s glove. Afterwards, Tim gushed about how he “caught three baseballs and almost caught a pen” from Tim Byrdak. It was pretty funny.
Super, huge, ridiculous thank yous to Tim Byrdak!
The day was off to a fabulous start. And it was just gonna keep being awesome.
We hadn’t planned to try to see Byrdak at this game, we just got extremely lucky. But we did have one major plan. The Mets were going to be playing the Arizona Diamondbacks and beloved former-Mariner Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist. Tim has loved Willie for awhile now, although he didn’t realize until recently that he is no longer a Mariner, and hasn’t been for a long time.
Anyway, my dad gave Tim a Willie Bloomquist card last year that he has always had in a single card holder. Tim decided he wanted to try to get Bloomquist to sign the card at this game. If it worked, it would be the first time Tim had ever gotten a card signed by a player.
After parting ways with Tim Byrdak, we walked around CF and all the way over toward the 3B dugout, or as close as we could get to it without our tickets. A bunch of Diamondbacks were out playing catch, but Bloomquist was nowhere in sight.
We were stationed in the second row right behind a handicapped seating area that was not accessible to fans unless you had tickets in that area. The handicapped seating area was right on the field level. Right in front of us on the other side of the handicapped seating area, Lyle Overbay and John McDonald were playing three-way catch with Paul Goldschmidt. When finished, Goldschmidt walked over to Overbay. McDonald had already walked off. And when Overbay left, Goldschmidt…
…tossed us their warm up baseball and then headed toward the dugout.
Very soon after this, we spotted Willie Bloomquist in the 3B dugout. I was intentionally wearing my Bloomquist Mariners t-shirt. I called out a loud and low “WWWWWWIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLIE!” When Bloomquist looked our way, I turned around and gave him a double-thumb “check out my shirt” point toward the back of my shirt. He signaled his approval with a big fist pump.
A few minutes later, Bloomquist walked out toward 3B to warm up. I called out to him again. When he looked over, I asked him if he would sign Tim’s card after he finished his warm ups. He immediately turned and proceeded to walk directly toward us.
As he approached, the usher in charge of keeping the riff-raff out of the handicapped seating area turned to me and asked, “Is this Willie coming over to see you?” When I responded in the affirmative, she said, “Okay, you guys can all come down here” and she unchained the special area for me, Tim and Kellan.
On his way over, Willie stopped and picked up a baseball. He then signed the baseball and Tim’s card for Tim. We chatted a little. He asked if we were from Seattle and I explained I had lived there for 20+ years and we’re huge Mariners fans. He asked where I lived in the Seattle area. I complimented him on his number switch from “16” as a Mariner to “18” as a Diamondback. I wear “18” myself in softball and did in my former life as a baseball player. He confessed, “I never liked 16!”
And then we all posed for a picture taken by the usher:
Check out how Willie is actually in the seating area with us, not out of on the field.
It was all incredibly awesome!
Then, after chatting with us, signing for us, giving Tim a baseball, and posing for a picture, Willie headed back out to warm up in LF. As he left, a thunderous chorus of “WILLIE! WILLIE! WILLIE!” rained down from about 20 people who had gathered around to watch us chat with Willie. But Willie was gone. He came to see us and only us. How cool is that!?
Thank you, Willie Ballgame!
Now Tim likes Willie even more than before! And he was officially rooting for the D-backs to win this game.
Immediately after Willie left, we all headed up to the concourse. I was so excited that I left my back pack down in the second row and we had a comeback for it several minutes later when we finally realized it was missing.
Next, it was time to sit down and check out one of Tim’s new prizes: the Tom Seaver bobblehead that they gave to the first 20 or 30 thousand fans. Tim loves bobbleheads and he was very excited about this one:
Tim decided we should sit in the last row of section 136 (although, it might have been 137). This was our view:
Kellan drank some water and ate some snacks, and then spit some snacks into our water (foul!), while Tim surveyed his bobblehead.
After Tim had his fill of looking at his bobblehead and they both had their fill (for the time being) of snacks, the three of us headed down to the first row above the new LF party deck so I could check it out. This is what it looks like:
I assume we’ll never set foot down there.
We hung out there for a while and watched BP. Brad Ziegler was right in front of us:
At one point, Kellan and Ziegler looked eyes and Kellan gave him a big “Hi, Mister Baseball Player” wave. Ziegler cracked a big smile and waved back at Kellan enthusiastically. When that happened, I was 95% certain that the next ball Ziegler fielded would end up in Kellan’s hands…and it did. Someone hit a ball to his right. Ziegler went over and fielded it, and then walked towards us and tossed it to me. Kellan grabbed it and held it tight like it was his new favorite toy. And Tim and I yelled out a big,
“Thank you!” to Mr. Ziegler.
And then, like Kaiser Soze, *poof* we disappeared.
We were off to the very steep and awkward RF bleachers. This was our view:
We hung out there for a while and watched former Reading Phillies pitcher and former heckler at one of my beer league softball games, Mike Zagursky, shag balls with a couple teammates.
While in RF, we checked out the new fence lines at Citi Field. Here is the crazy new set up in RCF:
When BP wrapped up, we headed out to the kids play area in CF. They have some batting cages, a whiffle ball field, and some video game stations. Tim switched things up from past games at Citi Field, instead of heading to the whiffle ball field, he tried out the video game station. It was one of those new baseball games they’re always advertising…maybe the one with the Justin Verlander commercials. Kellan tried to get into the action with Tim. But Kellan also did some running around in circles, which eventually resulted in him falling face first on the pavement. And that sent us to the first aid station for a skinned-knee clean up and bandage:
After the first aid room, we headed to the upper-deck, grabbed some food and headed to our seats in section 420:
We had a great view of the action while the boys chowed down on dogs and fries:
The Diamondbacks (with Tim cheering them on loudly) sent Patrick Corbin to the mound…
…and he sat the Mets (including David Wright) down in order in the first.
The Mets sent their ace, Johan Santana, to the mound:
And while he would eventually earn the win, he lost the battle against Ryan Roberts in the top of the second inning:
That made the score 1-0 Diamondbacks. Tim was happy!
We were having a nice time watching the game and eating out tasty food. After he finished eating, Tim decided he was jealous of his little brother for getting to sit on dad’s lap. So he jump on my right leg. I had to get a picture as I played the role of easy chair for both boys at once:
Hey, you can’t beat a day at the ballpark with two son’s snuggling up on you lap.
Over Easter weekend, Tim and I, my brother-in-law Kevin and nephew Gill watched the movie “The Big Year.” If you haven’t seen it, go check out The Big Year. It’s a very nice (and extremely positive) tale of a group of bird watchers who are in a contest to see who can spot the most birds during the calendar year.
We’ve always been into watching birds in our back yard, but we were never “birders” until we watched The Big Year. Now, we are officially sub-amateur birders. Every once in a while Tim spots a bird and tells me, “remember, we’re birders!” and instructs me to take a picture. So, that’s a long backstory for very little payoff – in the second or third inning, Tim spotted…
…a pigeon! This little guy was watching the game from the top of the stadium behind home plate.
After watching The Big Year, my father-in-law and brother-in-law told me we should do a “Big Year” in MLB ballparks. Okay, here we go. We’re now at 1 species!
Around the third inning, we decided to go for a walk. We ended up walking down toward the LF foul corner, and then we decided to walk down the switch-back walk way, all the way down to ground level.
As we started on our way down, I took this shot of the parking lot:
It was our first time parking here, so I figured I should capture it. We were parking in the single row of cars between the two red arrows (in fact, I can see our car!). As the big “X” shows, Shea Stadium used to sit right out there. The Mets practically built Citi Field right on top of Shea Stadium.
I still very much prefer Shea over Citi Field.
Tim loves switch-back ramps! After getting his picture with the Citi Field sign on the outside of the stadium…
…Tim ran and bounced down the ramp like an out of control airplane.
We stopped off on the second level…I think it has some silly name like Excelsior Level…and stopped into the Acela Club. I bought our tickets on stub hub for two reasons: (1) they were the cheapest tickets I found online and (2) they said they came with access to the Acela Club, the Ceasar Club and the Promenade Club. Unfortunately, if the tickets normal do have that type of access, any tickets that are run through stub hub come out lacking the special designations that normally allow you access to these clubs. Anyway, we stopped in and I showed our tickets to the lady and asked if we had access. She said our tickets didn’t say we had access, but she said they never turn people down who want to come in and see the Acela Club. So we strolled through.
Here is the bar area:
My pictures of the dining area on the same level as the bar turned out all blurry. But here is the view of the field looking down over several levels of dining tables:
This is a sit down restaurant. Looks pretty cool, but not of interest to us, excepts as a new spot to walk through and check out what it looks like.
We continued on our way down the switch-back ramp. I love spots like this where you get a little glimpse of the field:
You know what happens when Tim does something (anything)? Kellan wants to do it too. As we continued on our walk down, down, down, Kellan tried to do his own running airplane:
At the bottom of the ramp (we went ALL THE WAY down, below field level), we rode an elevator back up to the field level. And then we walked over to the SRO area behind the seats and got a glimpse of the action:
It was still 1-0 Diamondbacks as the Mets batted.
We decided to head back out to the play area. On the way, I got a shot of the new party deck from the opposite angle of our earlier picture:
Those big circles behind the party deck used to be on the old outfield wall. The Mets apparently need all the help they can get to hit homeruns.
Despite the bloody knee, Kellan was not discouraged. He ran around like crazy, with no spills this time…
…and Tim played more video game baseball. In that picture, he is celebrating a homerun.
After leaving the video game area, we grabbed some ice cream helmets (check out the Mets awesome commemorative ice cream hemlets!), and headed to the picnic tables behind the bullpens.
This bullpen picnic area provides a terrible view of the game. But it cool to check out from time-to-time because you can watch the relievers warm up…
…and from time to time someone will toss you a baseball.
And guess what? This was one of those times. Kellan was chattin’ up two bullpen attendant guys and they loved him. I had no clue it was happening, but one of them headed into the Mets bullpen and came back with something special for Kellan:
Yowzers! That’s one beautiful baseball. I’m not sure how our day could be any better – playing catch outside the stadium, Byrdak, Bloomquist, fun times goofing around the stadium, and now a Mets 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball! This was officially my favorite of the handful of games we have attended at Citi Field.
I should mention that the Mets scored four runs while we were hanging out behind the bullpen. It was the bottom of the fourth inning. Mike Nickeas hit a 2-RBI single off of Corbin. And then Josh Collmenter, who we watched warm up in the bullpen, came in and gave up a 2-RBI single to Andres Torres.
That made the score 4-1 Mets.
The Diamondbacks would get two back on a 2-RBI double by Paul Goldschmidt in the top of the fifth. That made it 4-3 Mets. Unfortunately for Tim and the Dbacks, that was all the scoring for the day. Johan Santana earned the win for the Mets.
Next, we headed to the Mets Hall of Fame. We’d been there before (well, Kellan hadn’t). But they had something in there that was pretty cool, and I’m pretty sure it was new — a display of 50 years of Mets team programs:
We actually went to the Mets Hall of Fame because I wanted to get a picture of the boys with the Jackie Robinson “42.” Of course, Tim didn’t feel like do a normal pose. So he flopped all around the 42 and Kellan tried his best to emulate his big brother. This was my favorite of the handful of pictures I got:
Lounging with 42!
My boys are goofy.
Anyway, we decided to head up to the Pepsi Porch.
In the top of the seventh, Santana got Justin Upton (who we were hoping would hit a big fly) to ground out weakly:
We just hung out in a handicapped seating area behind the seats. The boys alternated between watching the action…
…and just dancing around like the silly boys they are.
It was getting late in the game, and I had designs on trying to a post-game Citi Field umpires ball, which is very difficult because they check tickets at all times, even with 2-outs and 2 strikes on the last batter in the bottom of the ninth.
On our way to the umpires tunnel area, we walked around the upper deck and go this silly picture behind section 420 (where we sat for all of 2-3 innings):
We watched the last inning and a half from the SRO area behind the section above the umpires’ tunnel. It was a one run game and it got interest in the top of the ninth. When Lyle Overbay reached first with one out, the Diamondbacks brought in Willie Bloomquist to pinch run…
…and he quickly swiped second.
Way to go, Willie!
But that was all see wrote. The Dbacks couldn’t tie it up and they lost 4-3.
The second the game ended, we high tailed it down the stairs against the current of people flooding the exits. But we managed to get through and reach the umpires’ tunnel before Jerry Layne entered the tunnel. Layne ended up giving out three baseballs directly into little kids’ gloves, and then he just randomly tossed 3-4 more. And luckily, we snagged one of them.
Although it was unintentional, thanks, Jerry!
Then we headed over to the dugout, and Diamondbacks bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock tossed us a baseball on his way in from the bullpen.
After the game, we got a picture by the end of the visitors’ dugout:
This game was official getting ridiculous! We had 8 baseballs including two commemoratives, plus interactions and autographs with Byrdak and Bloomquist. It was crazy.
And it wasn’t quite done yet.
On our way out of the seat area, we walked behind the dugout and this guy…
…gave Kellan another baseball!
Aye, aye, aye…this was our second biggest baseball total ever (tying Tim’s fourth MLB anniversary last September):
It was nice having the car right outside the stadium. But I think this will be our last time driving to Citi Field. It is more fun to ride the 7-train out from Manhattan. Plus, it took forever to get out of the city on the roads from Queens. The game ended around 7:30 and we got home around 11:20.
But a long and slow drive can’t change our mood: this was a great day. Tons of fun!
Hooray for baseball!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|4/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|7/4 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks|
|4 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2|
|23 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4|
|3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2|
|4/3 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak|
During the week leading up to Saturday, April 28, 2012, we were looking forward to our first game of the season at Camden Yards. But the weather outlook was sketchy. Rain seemed to be in the forecast. And I was going back-and-forth regarding whether Kellan should join me and Tim for this game. I wanted him to join us, but I feared having to corral him in the rain. But on Friday, I made the decision: Kellan would definitely join us.
So let’s do it.
It was our first night game of the season. After having a nice relaxing day lounging around the house, we hopped in the car where Tim and Kellan kept themselves entertained during the drive south:
When we walked up to the stadium at 4:30 in the afternoon, a huge crowd was already waiting at the gates…
…, which apparently upset Kellan (he wasn’t too interested in getting his picture at the time).
Luckily, when it comes to Camden Yards, we know *people* and those people are permanently first in line…
…and so were we. In that last picture, along with Tim, Avi Miller and Matt Hersl, that is 1,100+ baseball ballhawk and east coast Oakland A’s fan, Rick Gold. Rick and I have known each other for a while through myGameBalls.com and twitter, but this was the first time we had ever met in person. Despite rooting for the wrong A.L. West team, Rick is a pretty cool guy.
Kellan grabbed a spot on the backpack-checking table and had a great time hanging out with the guys:
The crowd was so big because the Orioles were set to unveil a new Frank Robinson statue at a ceremony at 5:15 p.m. The ceremonyfeatured Robinson, Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer and others. As we waited at the gate, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron and his wife zoomed by (inside the gate) on a golf cart. A few minutes later, Eddie Murray walked by…
…and I took two of the worst possible pictures of him – that last one is the *better* of my two Eddie Murray pictures! The statue unveiling was part of the Orioles’ celebration of the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards. (Think, when Camden Yards opened, Fenway Park was a mere 80-year-old spring chicken of a ballpark).
I knew Hank Aaron was going to be at this game, and I really wanted to see him in person. But I didn’t want to sit through the crowded ceremony. So we headed into the ballpark for BP once the gates opened. As usual, we headed for the third base line:
Kellan absolutely loves wearing his glove and trying to catch baseballs around the house. His hand is so tiny that he cannot close the glove so he relies on the ball just landing in there and not bouncing out. Early in BP, he made his first ever attempt on a toss-up from a MLB player, Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz (who was wearing a “Brady Anderson” embroidered glove):
That is easily my favorite picture of the season so far. In our first three games, my camera has been annoying me like nobody’s business. It is ruining a ton of my pictures and really seems to have it out for me. But my camera apparently felt the gravity of the situation and it worked perfectly in the crunch and captured that last picture.
And thank you, too, Brian Matusz!
By the way, the ball bounced off of the side of Kellan’s glove and fell to his feet. But it was a great moment anyway.
Kellan grabbed his new baseball and held it tight:
Hey, remember that ceremony I mentioned? During BP, it was taking place in the picnic area behind the bullpens:
We decided to head over there for a little peak. But it was so crowded we could hardly see the panel of Hall of Famers – and my only picture attempt came out totally unrecognizable because I had to take the photo through trees, flowers, people, etc., etc.
We decided to head off to the restroom. Normally, cameras are off limits in the restrooms, but I couldn’t help taking this next one because Kellan looked so cute and funny lying on the flip-down baby changing table with is big baseball glove:
He was like, “Hey, let’s get this done so we can get back out there!”
And get back out there we did.
We headed back to the third base line. Unfortunately, he had taken Kellan’s umbrella stroller into the stadium, which was a terrible idea. Tim was in charge of rolling it around (empty) and finding places to stash it during BP. He seemed to like taking charge of this task and he was vehemently opposed to just leaving it out in deep LF while we went back to the third base line.
Anyway…when we returned to the field, the A’s pitchers were playing catch down the line. When he finished playing catch, we thought Jim Miller was going to throw a baseball to Tim. We were both excited for the third chance in three weeks for Tim to catch a toss-up from a player. But then Miller decided to walk it over and hand-deposit it into Tim’s glove:
Thanks, Mr. Miller!
Although there was no one in our vicinity blocking the rows of seats, Tim decided to climb back up to our spot in the tenth row (which I figured was out of foul ball range – I didn’t want any baseballs beaning my boys):
It was a long slow climb and during the process Tim dropped his baseball. It rolled all the way back down to the first row. I had to run back down and scooped it up for Tim.
Although we weren’t *at* the Frank Robinson ceremony, it was pretty cool being inside the ballpark during the unveiling. They had lots of nice videos playing on the scoreboards…
…and all of the speakers were broadcast over the PA system. It was really cool being in the same building and hearing Hank Aaron speaking about his friend Frank Robinson, and then hearing Frank Robinson talk about himself and his teammates.
Tim decided he wanted to scoot out to LF by the bullpens so we could see Avi. We walked out there, didn’t find Avi, and, almost immediately, it started raining and BP was cancelled. Out came the tarp:
And off we headed to the Club Level to eat some snacks and avoid the rain:
We were up there a loooooooooooooooooooooooong time. I’m not sure what time the rain started coming down, but it felt like we were up in the Club Level for about ten hours. When I finally looked at the clock on my phone, I saw that it was still another whole hour until the game was set to start! Yikes. Rain outs during BP make for a whole lotta down time.
After the boys ate a ton of snacks, we walked all over the Club Level and I took a bunch of photos of the various lounge areas. The Club Level at Camden Yards is not all that fancy, but it’s a good place to duck into and kill some time when it is raining. Here is what it looks like…
…and this is in a glass case just behind the main entrance to the Club Level:
We eventually ran into Avi and a couple of his friends in one of the little lounge areas. I sat down and chatted with them while Tim danced and tried to entertain everyone…
…and Kellan ran a million laps around two people sitting in chairs watching TV (one of them is above Kellan in that picture). Eventually, this resulted in a giant catastrophe – Tim decided to show Avi’s friends how fast he is, so he ran two laps around the chairs in the opposite direction of Kellan and the two collided chest-to-chest on the second lap. I could see it about to happen in slow motion as the scene unfolded, but I was helpless to stop it. Tim completely flattened Kellan, who fell back and smacked his head on the floor. It was a bad scene with lots and lots of crying.
Luckily, after five minutes sobbing uncontrollably on my shoulder, Kellan pulled through and was back to giggling and running around again.
When they did a second ceremony on the field, I snuck outside and snapped a few pictures:
In the upper left, that is Earl Weaver walking the “orange carpet.” In the bottom right, of course, that is Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.
Hidden under the orange sheet (bottom left), the Orioles presented Frank Robinson with a 2-foot tall replica of his new statue. Half an hour later, two guys walked by us in the Club Level carrying that little statue (which looked really heavy) to a suite (which I assumed was the owner’s suite) where all of the Hall of Famers watched the game.
All of a sudden, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer walked by and posed for a picture with (grumpy looking) Tim:
Although he has such a wonderful smile, Tim is prone to do these “grumpy” faces in pictures because he thinks it makes him look cool. He’s a big fan of being cool! Always has been. Growing up is an interesting process, eh? He keeps it fun, even if his *cool* / *grumpy* face stands in for his big smile in some pictures.
Anyway, after the photo with grumpy-faced Tim, Jim Palmer handed a “Luis Ayala” embroidered glove to Tim and was like “here, try this on.” Then Palmer handed Tim a baseball and was like, “here, hold this baseball…but you can’t have it because I have to give it to Frank Robinson.” I’m pretty sure the glove and baseball were used by Frank Robinson when he threw out the first pitch.
As the game started, it was time for some dinner. Kellan and I shared nachos…
…and Tim opted for some chicken fingers and fries.
After eating, the three of us headed out to the newly redesigned flag court:
The previous tall, two foot wide padded wall at the front of the flag court is now replaced with a short wrought iron fence. Just like when Tim was 2-3 years old, Kellan LOVED the flag court and he ran around like crazy all over the flag court and Eutaw Street.
Chasing Kellan in the flag court was too much work for both me and Tim, so we decided to take the long way around the ballpark on our way out to left field. On our way by RF, I noticed that the Orioles had a “20” painted on the grass in RF:
Of course, Frank Robinson played RF and the Orioles have retired his number 20.
While we were out in the flag court, it was the top of the second inning and the Orioles put up a 5-spot on the strength of six singles (by Adam Jones, Wilson Betemit, Chris Davis, Ronny Paulino, Robert Andino, and Nolan Reimold) and a sacrifice fly by J.J. Hardy.
That made the score 5-0 Orioles.
We never headed up there to check it out, but on our walk around the stadium, I took this photo of the new party deck above the batters’ eye:
And as we neared home plate, the A’s prized offseason acquisition, Yoenis Cespedes, had his turn at the plate:
He came up empty on that hack, and then hit a foul pop out to first base.
When we reached LF, we headed out to see the new Frank Robinson statue in the picnic area (which appears to be open to the public now, or at least it was for this game):
Then we grabbed some empty seats in section 86:
Although it was still drizzling a bit, the boys shared a swirl ice cream helmet:
And then they watched the very light rain fall on us:
Tim grabbed his glove and tried to catch specific drops as he tracked them on their way down to earth.
While we were out in LF, Adam Jones led off the top of the third inning with a single and then scored the Orioles sixth run of the night on a double by Wilson Betemit. That made it 6-0 Orioles. Things were looking good for the Orioles on a night dedicated to celebrating Frank Robinson.
Around the fifth inning, we relocated to the cross-aisle behind home plate. This was our view for a big chunk of the rest of the game:
Tim and I watched for foul balls (and a couple came somewhat close to us) while Kellan relaxed in my arms, never quite falling asleep.
During the seventh inning stretch, the Orioles Bird (as he is prone to do) sat on the ledge of the TV booth behind home plate. Kellan totally loved it and he repeated “BIRD!” about 800 times. While the Bird was up there, Kellan’s “BIRDs” were declaratory (i.e., “there is a bird!”). Then, after the Bird left the ledge, Kellan’s “BIRDs” turned inquisitive in nature (i.e., “where are you, bird?”). It was pretty cute.
In the seventh inning, Chris Davis blasted a monster homerun to RF:
The homerun cleared the flag court and crashed down on Eutaw Street. After the game, I heard one of the TV announcers mention that it was the 25th Orioles homerun to land on Eutaw Street…or maybe Davis was the 25th Oriole to hit a homerun out to Eutaw Street, I’m not quite sure.
I missed some scoring, the Davis blast made the score 10-1 Orioles.
We decided to head back up to the Club Level where we had left Kellan’s stroller at the front desk. We really went up there because Tim wanted to see Avi. We met up with Avi and watched Bryce Harper’s first at bat of his MLB career…an incredibly weak groundout to the pitcher.
And then we all (including Avi) headed back down to the Cross Aisle behind home plate. As we approached our spot, someone hit a foul ball to the guy sitting next to the person directly behind/above the spot where we had been standing for several innings. Had we been there, I might have had a play on it, but it would have required me to make a jumping catch above my head while holding Kellan, which would have been very difficult. We still could have got it if the ball had bounced down into the Cross Aisle, but the guy took the ball directly to his gut, and it fell harmlessly to his feet for an easy pick up. He was from Oakland (or at least he was decked out in A’s gear) so it was no doubt a cool moment for the guy.
Anyway, we went back to our same spot. Over the course of a bunch of innings standing in the Cross Aisle, none of the ushers ever told us to get out of there. In fact, one of them eventually came and said, “Hey, why don’t you just sit down right here?” He was concerned that someone else running for a foul ball might fun us over.
So we obliged him:
And each half inning until the game ended, we crept up a little closer to the field:
I took some random action shots…
…but the scoring was done for the night.
We kept moving forward because I wanted to go for an umpire ball. As we got closer and closer, about 10,000 kids, teens and adults all flocked to the tunnel with the same idea. I guess everyone wants one of those nice commemorative Camden Yards 20th Anniversary baseballs.
We made it to the very bottom spot and we were the first people there when home plate umpire Eric Cooper left the field of play. But he completely ignored everyone and gave out zero of those fancy commemorative baseballs.
We had one more idea – get over to the Orioles dugout (which was packed with fans) to see if anyone might toss up a commemorative baseball over there.
No such luck.
But that doesn’t mean there was *no luck* — indeed, there was a lot of luck left hanging in the night air.
As Orioles bullpen catcher Ronnie Deck approached the dugout, I called out, “Hey, Ronnie!” and gave him the obligatory *hit me* glove flap. He had an equipment bag (which no doubt had a commemorative baseball nestled inside) hanging from his shoulder, but Ronnie just held out his open glove to show us *no baseball*, but then he looked down into his glove and gave himself a little *hmmm, okay* shrug. He reached into his baseball glove, grabbed his batting gloves and tossed them to us.
The fans in front of us were nice enough not to intercept the gloves, which were clearly intended for us but would have been easy for another couple fans to catch before they reached us, and I caught them in my baseball glove.
Tim was SUPER-EXCITED about these batting gloves.
An usher took a picture of the three of us with our post-game prize:
Avi witnessed the toss-up from Ronnie Deck and came over to chat with us. Before we headed out, I took two pictures of Tim and Avi. Avi decided to smile in the first picture, and Tim decided to smile in the second picture, so let’s take a look at both:
Before we left the stadium, we got one last picture of Tim and his new gloves (no chance he is sharing them with his little bro!):
Note the cool “20” with a spot light on the side of the warehouse behind Tim. Cool.
When we got to the car, Tim told me not to tell mommy about the gloves. They were a secret. When we got off the phone, he asked if he could show her something when he got home. Something secret. He slept then entire ride home (as did Kellan). But at 1:00 a.m., Tim let mommy in on his little secret before hopping into his bed.
So, there you go, a great night of baseball at Camden Yards. Now we have an off-week and then it’s time for the Fifth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip. It is going to be an AWESOME trip this season with stops in Minnesota, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver. Our Mariners/Rockies games in Denver will mark a major milestone for me and Tim: we will finally have seen all thirty MLB teams play a home game (of course, with the opening of Marlins Park this season, we now have to go back to Miami before we can say we have been to every current MLB stadium – that will happen in September!).
This season’s GFS Roadtrip will also be extra special because it will feature a new and improved lineup: Jim, Todd, Tim and Kellan! That’s double the “Sons” and double the fun!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|3/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|6/4 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles|
|2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1|
|14 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 4, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 2, Orioles 1, Athletics 1|
|1 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park|
|3/2 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards|
|1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A|
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
Saturday, April 21, 2012, was a personally historic day for us. Our little 2-man father-son team has officially grown by one.
Up until this day, Kellan had been to 10 games, but I had only brought Kellan along with us if Colleen was also joining us. But, at a few months shy of his second birthday, I have officially deemed Kellan to be old enough join me and Tim at the ballpark without additional assistance. So Colleen got the day off and treated herself to a fun solo Saturday (shopping, eating out, haircut, etc.).
Meanwhile, the Cook Boys jumped in the car at 8:00 a.m. and headed south to the nation’s capital.
On the drive down south, Tim and I discussed the Marlins new logo, of which I am not a fan. Tim launched into a hilarious explanation of how the new Marlins logo is a Marlin jumping in the water at night with the various colors reflecting off of the water, etc., etc. Then he wrapped up with, “so, now you understand why you should like the new Marlins logo, right?”
Maybe you had to be there. But it was pretty hilarious how he explained his thoughts on the Marlins logo.
Watch out, there were some little Cook boys at the ballpark who were gloved and ready for some action!
Let’s hit the stands!
Now, a ton of Saturday games across MLB are scheduled as day games this season (for the record, I’m not a fan of it), and this was one of them. I was pretty sure that would mean no BP before this game. And when we entered the ballpark at approximately 10:30 a.m., the field was empty with no signs of BP to come.
We hit the restroom and then milled around a bit in LF. Eventually, Mark Buehrle (did I mention we would be seeing the Miami Marlins vs. the Washington Nationals?) walked out to LF along with Marlins bullpen catcher Jeff Urgelles and bullpen coach Reid Cornelius. Buehrle and Urgelles played catch for a while in LF…
…and then all three headed into the bullpen so Buehrle could throw from the mound. We were right behind the bullpen. Cornelius and Buehrle headed over to the mound and Urgelles set up shop at home plate, just below us. As Buehrle and Cornelius were in the middle of a discussion, Urgelles was just standing around waiting. I could see several baseballs inside his open equipment bag right behind him. I figured, “What the heck?”
Todd – “Hey, Jeff!”
Urgelles – (looking up with a sort of surprised and happy look on his face) “Yeah!?”
Todd – “Anyway you could toss one of those baseballs up to my boy?”
Urgelles – (Enthusiastically) “Yeah, no problem.”
(Urgelles goes over and grabs a baseball from his bag and looks back up at us.)
Urgelles – (to Tim) “But, you have to catch it! And you only gets one chance!”
Todd & Tim – “Okay”
He tossed the baseball up in such a way that it would fall back into the bullpen if Tim missed it:
Heck no! Tim gloved that sucker! And guess what –
It was a Marlins Park commemorative baseball!
Check out Kellan in that last picture, “Gimme that baseball!” (Actually, he just said, “Ball! Ball! Ball!”
We all went crazy! And we rained down the “Thank Yous!” on Urgelles, who seemed very happy for Tim. We chatted briefly, joking about Kellan wanting to throw the ball back down to Urgelles – which I have no doubt he would have done had I let him – and discussing our Mariners gear – Urgelles seemed to agree it was cool to show our team loyalty and at least we weren’t wearing Nationals or another N.L. team’s gear (no threat from the A.L.).
Urgelles’s smile told the story: the dude is definitely a cool guy. Very nice. Very happy to have made Tim’s day by challenging him and then watching him succeed. We talked about meeting up later during BP to get a picture with Urgelles, but it just didn’t work out. But I’m definitely going to try to reconnect with him later this year to try to get a picture of him and Tim together.
Oh, yeah, at some point Tim yelled down to Urgelles, “I like your new logo!” ha, ha…funny guy.
With our fancy new Marlins Park baseball in hand, we bounced up the stairs…
…and headed off to the play area.
There were ZERO other kids out there. Normally, you get three hacks at the whiffle ball air tee. Tim took about 15-20 hacks…
…before turning over the bat to his little brother. After 2-3 swings, Kellan turned around and tried to hit balls into the open concourse area. Luckily, no one was around.
You need proof? Here is proof that no one was around:
In the top left, that’s the lady running the kids’ play area climbing up the slide while holding Kellan like a sack of potatoes (not a good plan). Kellan flew down the slide and loved it. Then Tim and the lady running the play area did some crazy slides, including (as shown) head first belly sliding and backwards sliding.
This lady loved playing with Tim and Kellan and, if it was up to her, we would have just stayed there all day. We came back several times over the course of the day and she did more crazy sliding with Tim (despite there then being about 200 crazy kids running all around).
Unfortunately, Kellan is too young for most of the play area. You have to be 3-8 years old to go up in the play area *thingy*. So Kellan and I hung out in the little *net* room under the *thingy*.
Anyway, we headed back to the field after a sufficient amount of playing.
When we got back to LF, they were just finishing setting up the cage and screens for BP. That was a nice surprise. We headed down into section 106:
We chatted a little bit with a Phillies fan who decided to go “neutral” and wear an Oakland A’s hat. He offered to take our picture:
We hung out in LF until they opened the rest of the stadium at 11:30. Then we headed into foul territory and hung out behind a big protective net (don’t need my boys getting tagged by a batted ball).
Urgelles was over there for a bit, but we missed our chance to get a picture. As I said, we’ll keep trying.
It was getting pretty warm in the sun. So we decided to walk all the way around home plate and out to RF, which was nice and shady. I guess it would have been a shorter walk to head up to the concourse and circle the outfield. But had we done that, Ozzie Guillen would not have had the chance to go grab this baseball…
…and then toss it to us.
Sure, Ozzie is a controversial figure, but I like him.
Muchas gracias, Ozzie!
We hung out in RF foul territory for a bit. I took the opportunity to take off Kellan’s long sleeve undershirt. And then Steve Cishek tossed us a baseball:
RF was nice, but Kellan kept trying to climb down to the lower rows between the railing and the end-seat – despite Tim playing blocker.
I decided it would be easier for us out in RF homerun territory. You see, there is this funny little corner spot that would act as a natural *Kellan blocker*. We grabbed some seats by the corner spot…
…and the boys broke out our bag of snacks (or as Kellan says, “Nack! Nack! Nack!”).
If you scanned the ground after we left this spot, you’d have to seriously question if more snacks were consumed or more were dropped on the ground. Kellan was dropping “nacks” like it was going out of style.
We hung out for a while in this spot — nothing all that special to say about this picture, I just thought it was funny:
Shortly after this picture, Kellan dropped this big bottle of water…
…down into the Nationalbullpen – probably 20 feet below. Luckily, as’ bullpen attendant ran over and tossed it back up to us.
While chatting with a guy who works for Boeing in the Seattle area, Tim was excited to get a toss-up from a fellow number 55, all-star Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson:
We decided that we’d had our fill of BP and it was time to do some walking. We walked a TON during this game. In all, we circled the entire stadium 3+ times.
For some reason, we walked toward home plate (passing a group of Mariners fans!) and we kept walking and walking. I think we were on our way to get nachos in the LF corner. I thought the boys looked terribly cute walking through the concourse together:
We decided we needed to get some more play-time in before nachos. So we headed back to the kids’ play area. Tim went up top and did some more crazy sliding. Kellan and I went in the little net room and threw our cloth baseball off of the walls:
Then, we finally grabbed some nachos. Actually, first, we walked all the way around the ballpark AGAIN. I figured there would be nachos in the concourse down the RF line…but no. So we kept walking and walking (actually, I carried Kellan much of the time), and made it all the way back to the nacho place in LF.
Then we walked – with me holding Kellan and a whole bunch of nachos — to our seats in RF foul territory. Guess what? It was bring your dog to the ballpark day. As we passed by, I notied that the Nats had set up some grass in the CF concourse…
…so the dogs to relieve themselves during the game. Very thoughtful of you, Nats.
We reached our seats moments after the first pitch, and it was on! Yeah, the game was on too, but I mean “it” (nacho time!) was on:
It is official: The Cook Family Loves Nachos.
And rightly so. They are the world’s perfect food. And the Nationals offer some great chili cheese nachos down the LF line.
Anyway, the game was “on” too. This was our view from Section 137:
Our actual seats were in Row EE, between the “Bohvechkin” guy with his arm in the air (above) and the guy standing and shouting in the other red shirt. But we were hanging back a few rows so we could stay in the very refreshing shade.
This sort of famous young pitcher was on the hill for the Nationals:
Stephen Strasburg, have you heard of him? On that pitch above, he induced a ground out by Emilio Bonafacio.
Hanley Ramirez struck out (but not on this pitch)…
…to end the first inning. It was the first of six K’s Strasburg recorded on the day.
Sometimes a baseball game makes more sense when you watch it on TV instead of in person because there are no commentators in the ballpark. In the top of the second inning, Logan Morrison led off with a single to CF. And then *something* happened, but I have no clue *what* had happened. It looked like this:
First, it appeared that the ball got fouled off of the home plate umpire, or it just hit him on the live pitch. I’m not sure. Whatever happened, the umpire was somewhat hurt and needed attention from the training staff.
On the play, Logan Morrison took second. As you can see in the top left picture, the first base coach is standing on first, but Morrison is gone. The trainer talked to the umpire for a while. Strasburg threw some pitches to keep warm while this was happening.
Finally, the umpire was ready to go again. And then he called Morrison back to first. In the bottom left picture, you can see him standing on the bag (the middle head of the three pictured). That caused Ozzie Guillen and another Marlins coach to come out and argue with the umpires for a long time. In the end, LoMo was back of first.
On TV, I’m sure it all made complete sense what was going on. But in the ballpark, I had no clue…neither did Tim or Kellan, especially Kellan.
Speaking of Kellan, he copies just about everything he seeing me or Tim do. You might have noticed that I wear my glove on my head a lot during games. Well, at one point, Kellan put his glove on his head. So Tim followed suit and we got a picture (during which Kellan’s glove started to fall off his head) of the three glove-heads:
This was Kellan’s eleventh MLB game overall, and his second Marlins/Nationals game. Last season, we saw the *Florida* Marlins in DC and Kellan had a cool little exchange with Anibal Sanchez. At this game, Anibal was facing off against Strasburg:
And he was looking sharp, too.
Anibal retired the first four batters. The fifth batter was Jayson Werth…and Anibal retired him too:
Tim kept asking if we could go blow bubbles, which prompted Kellan to chime in “Bubbles! Bubbles! Bubbles!” I had no clue what Tim was talking about. But Tim led us right to the spot…
…and he blew a bunch of bubbles at an Autism Awareness booth in the LCF concourse behind the Red Porch. And then it was time to grab some ice cre…wait, Tim switched things up, it was time for Dipping Dots! So we walked almost all the way around the stadium looking for the dipping dots. During the walk, Tim climbed up into the Gecko’s arms (above) and acted like he was being captured.
Tim went for banana split dipping dots…
…while I picked mint chocolate chip for me and Kellan to share.
We grabbed some ice cream seats in the handicapped seating down the first base line and watched Strasburg deal it…
…while Kellan and Tim chowed down on their dots to reviews of *two thumbs up*:
Tim figured out the dots fit perfectly into the drink holder and he could eat his dots with his feet up on the railing. Ah…the good life.
I kept trying to get a good action shot of Strasburg, and I was finally satisfied with this one:
In the top of the sixth inning, Jose Reyes came to the plate with one out. All of a sudden, I decided I should get a shot of Reyes, but he knocked a base hit down the RF line right as I pulled my camera out of my cargo pocket. But I got him rounding first and then sliding in safe at second:
Reyes was FLYING! That guy has some wheels.
Two batters later, Hanley Ramirez stepped to the plate again. And on this pitch, he chucked his bat 4-5 rows deep into the stands and nailed the guy in the blue shirt in the elbow:
As the boys kept munching their dots, I decided to get a shot of Reyes scoring from second – all I needed was Logan Morrison to get a 2-out hit. But as Reyes started to turn on his afterburners, Morrison grounded the ball up the middle (you can see the ball directly behind Reyes’ left heal)…
…for an inning ending 6-3 ground out.
The score was still 0-0. Both pitchers were looking really strong. We decided to make one final trip to the kids’ play area:
While we were in there, Ian Desmond hit a solo homerun to put the Nationals up 1-0.
Kellan met up with another little guy who must have been right around 1-year-old. He was walking, but he was teeny tiny. Kellan walked up and hugged him (“oh, look at the cute baby”) and Kellan looked like Andre The Giant hugging this little guy. He then started crawling around after the little guy:
Before we left the play area, Jayson Werth hit another solo homerun for the Nationals. That made it 2-0 Nationals.
We left the play area and headed up to the second deck in CF. There is a standing room party-type area in CF – when you look at the seating map on the Nationals website, it doesn’t even show this area. So there is no “section” number. But here is the view from that area:
And here is a look at the busy SRO area with the packed Red Porch in the background:
Ozzie Guillen made a major gaffe when he put the line-up together – he gave Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton the day off. It was unfortunate for the Marlins because Stanton hits a monster bomb or two almost every time we ever see the Marlins.
Well, Giancarlo pinch hit for Anibal Sanchez. On the first pitch, Giancarlo seemed to get a hit:
But Ian Desmond made a diving stop on the ball and was able to just barely throw out Chris Coghlan at second base. Had Coghlan not been on base, Stanton probably would have been safe at first.
Anyway, we walked around the back of the Red Porch, which looked like this…
…and then we headed over to the upper deck in LF foul territory.
Since it was our first game of just the three guys, I wanted a good picture of the three of us and I didn’t think our first group shot was very good. Unfortunately, the pictures didn’t get much better in the upper deck.
Well, this one from section 306 turned out pretty good:
And this picture turned out okay…
…but for some reason, the usher who took it managed not to get any of the field in the background.
After that guy failed to get the field behind us, I took a test self-portrait, and Kellan gave me a no games, super-serious look:
He smiles and laughs constantly when he is not being photographed, but for 85% of all pictures and videos he goes ultra-serious.
Another usher did a much better job framing the shot, but Tim wasn’t looking in the picture:
Oh, well. We’ll get a better group shot next time…or the time after that, or after that, or after that.
The ninth inning crept right up on us. The Nationals were still winning 2-0, and Strasburg (who pitched six innings) was in line for the win. We headed down to the field level with the idea of trying to get in place for an umpire ball attempt.
We grabbed some seats about 20 rows back, just above the home plate end of the dugout.
Brad Lidge came in to close it down for the Nationals.
Oops…sorry, Strasburg, but Lidge walked Hanley Ramirez to start the inning and then Logan Morrison crushed a homerun into the second deck above the Nationals bullpen:
No win for Strasburg and, eventually, we were heading into extra innings!
Kellan fell asleep hugging me tight:
And then someone hit a foul ball that literally landed within five feet of us! It landed right across the aisle and one row below us. But I couldn’t even make an attempt on it because the little guy was sawing some serious logs. The ball came right to another dad and his son. Both had gloves ready on their hands. The ball smacked into the palm of the dad’s glove and then bounced out, skipped off the steps and bounced into the gut of an older guy running up the stairs.
Chances are that will be our one chance to catch a game foul this year. Oh, well. It was great having the little guy take a nap on my chest while Tim and I watched the game.
Actually, Tim wasn’t just watching the game, he was documenting it. After he took the picture of me and Kellan, he asked if he could take some pictures. I agreed and he started snapping away. As I watched him, it seemed like he was zoomed WAY in on everything and wasn’t getting anything he wanted to get.
But as our family watched a slide show of our game pictures later that night (which we do as a family on our TV after each game), I discovered that Tim took amazingly awesome pictures! I was shocked and so very proud of my little baseball photographer in training.
Check out Tim’s handiwork.
Donnie Murphy (pinch running for Greg Dobbs) leading off first base in the top of the ninth inning:
Joey Espada, who tossed us a baseball at Sun Life Stadium last season, coaching third base:
The Marlins relievers (Heath Bell and Edward Mujica) and Nationals reliever (Tom Gorzelanny, accompanied by Jim Lett) warming up in the bullpens:
Both teams’ bat boys in action:
Omar Infante getting ready for the next pitch as Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos fires the baseball back to Brad Lidge:
Ozzie Guillen encouraging Infante to get hit (while accompanied by Greg Dobbs and Marlins batting coach Eduardo Perez):
Here’s my favorite of Tim’s photos: a dejected Chris Coghlan walking off the field after Infante failed to deliver the go-ahead RBI hit:
Great job, Timsky!
Tim snapped Donnie Murphy warming up his arm before the bottom of the ninth inning:
And Marlins relief pitcher Edward Mujica:
Oh…time out, I took this one of Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez…
…who appear to peacefully co-exist on the left side of the Marlins in field.
In the top of the tenth, Tim asked to get the camera back because he had not got a shot he wanted: a Marlin running. He did a great job getting this picture of Hanley Ramirez running out a deep fly out to RF (I actually thought it had a chance to fly out of the park):
After catching the baseball from Jeff Urgelles, Tim really wanted the Marlins to win. He was a bit upset when the Nationals regrouped in the bottom of the tenth and won the game 3-2 on a sacrifice fly to CF by Ian Desmond. By this point, Kellan was awake again. On the crack of the bat, I could tell it was a game winner, so Tim and I (Kellan in my arms) hustled down the stairs to the third or fourth row. We slid into the row and were in the perfect spot when home plate umpire Greg Gibson walked by and handed us our final baseball of the day.
We tried to track down Jeff Urgelles on his walk in from the bullpen, but the crowd behind the dugout was tough to squeeze through and we got to 3B right as Urgelles passed by and entered the dugout. We’ll track him down later this season!
So, we called it a day and walked to the car. Tim entertained himself in the car by taking more pictures…
…while Kellan ate some “nacks” and relaxed.
It was a big day for the little guy. He was fast asleep about half an hour before we got home…
…and Tim capped off the drive watching some “Octonauts” on youtube on my cellphone.
Hey, it was a good day. Let’s do it again next weekend…
Okay, yeah, you got a deal. Let’s do it! We’ll see you soon, Camden Yards!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|2/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|4/2 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Nationals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals|
|1 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1|
|12 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 4, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 2|
|1 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park|
|2/1 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park; Kellan – Nationals Park|
|1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A|
It’s time for a different type of game entry: Tim’s first organized baseball (t-ball) action!
This year, Tim is participating in the t-ball program of the brand spanking new, Liberty Youth Baseball (LYB) Little League. Last weekend, Liberty celebrated its Opening Day on Saturday and Tim had his first “game” action on Sunday. It was an absolute blast! Let’s take a look.
It all started at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday with a photo session for the t-ball league. Liberty has approximately 350 kids in its first season. The older kids make up 30+ teams, but the sixty 5-6 year old t-ballers are all just one big group. They’re learning baseball as a group and will split into make-shift “pick up” teams on game days. It seems like a good plan so far. But it made it interesting for the “team photo” — it was the whole t-ball league. They started by lining up in height order:
Looking back at the photos, it looks like Tim was the 8th tallest kid. That’s him above sporting “55″ on his back.
Here is the group:
If you click on that picture and find Tim (4th row, 4th from the left), you’ll notice he is making a hilarious face. That boy is too funny.
If one thing can be said about Tim’s personality (well, many things can actually be said about it), it is that Tim is not a follower. Every t-baller (and I imagine every kid in the league) did this standard pose for their individual pictures:
But Tim wasn’t satisfied. He also wanted a “glove” picture. So, as far as I can tell, he was the only kid to get a second picture in his own unique pose:
So look for that basebal card when you’re opening your packs of Topps cards this season.
After pictures, there were games and general clowning around for a while:
And then we all lined up in the parking lot for a little Opening Day Parade. Tim was excited:
We marched through the local streets (can you spot Tim?)…
…around a couple blocks, and then back into the field area through center field:
The Reading Phillies mascot, Screwball, was present and was slapping a whole lotta “fives” in the outfield. Of course, Tim went in for a hug instead of a high five:
The t-ballers were last in line during the parade and when we marched into the infield the rest of the teams were already lined up in dramatic, semi-circular fashion. We joined the group — can you spot us (hint: I am visible, but Tim is not in the following picture)?
They had a nice ceremony on the field, including the presentation of our official Liberty Youth Baseball banner:
Tim has seen a lot of Major League pregames — 116 to be exact as of the time of this Opening Day Ceremony — so he knows what to do during the national anthem and other moments of silence:
After the ceremony, Tim pitched a little “bullpen” to me (with a big rubber bouncy ball that he won at one of the Opening Day carnival games)…
…and Kellan worked on his footwork on the pitching rubber.
Tim’s good buddy, Austin, is also in the t-ball league and they showed off their new digits:
I was proud of Tim for blazing his own trail. I was 99% certain he would pick number 51 for his jersey because Ichiro is his favorite player. But he wanted to do his own thing (maybe he was realizing “51″ will be retired by the time he reaches the Mariners!). Five is Tim’s favorite number. He’s always asking to sit in seat number “5″ at games. He also likes Tim Lincecum…although, all he knows about Lincecum is (1) his name is Tim, (2) he is from Seattle, and (3) we saw him during BP on his birthday in SF. Anyway, Tim is number 55 and I picked up my own “55″ Liberty t-shirt jersey to show my support for my new favorite baseball player.
Tim and I took off after the Opening Ceremony and headed to the Mets at Phillies game (note that we both wore our Liberty shirts at various times during that game). Two more Liberty notes regarding that Phillies/Mets game: (1) we saw another Liberty baseball player at the LF gate before BP and (2) Phillies starting pitcher Vance Worley sponsors one of the teams in the Liberty league.
Anyway, we were right back at it the next day. Sundays are game days and this was Tim’s first.
The kids all stretched and did some drills (disguised as a game of “simon says”) and then we broke into 6 teams. First, each team practiced some hitting and fielding. Each kid cycled through the tee while the rest of his team practiced doing the “alligator chomp” to catch the resulting grounders. A bunch of us dad’s help out with coaching duties. I was pulling double duty, coaching (keep in that atheletic position kids! alligator chomp!) and Tim’s personal baseball documentarian. Tim was the second to last hitter on his team. On his first swing…
…he blasted a line drive over the other 7 kids and into the bushes down the RF line. He then blasted a bunch of grounders that all found holes in the “defense.” I caught most of them behind the line of fielders, and a couple of them resulted in a big chase:
After the final batter took his hacks, we faced off against another team for two extended innings in Tim’s first “game.” The rules were drastically modified. This was all about getting the kids playing the game and figuring out what they’re supposed to be doing. The rules: all nine batters hit each inning. If you got a runner out at first (or another base), who cares. They just stayed on base so they could get some experience running bases. Everyone just took one base per at bat, except the last batter each inning who just got to run until the cows came home…or until they got the ball to homeplate to stop him from scoring.
Guess who was the first last batter? You guessed it: Tim.
His number worked to his advantage because we had them bat in numerical order and his “55″ ranked him as the highest number:
So, the cards were stacked in his favor…the plan was to just keep running, but Tim hit a *legit* t-ball grand slam — his hard grounder zipped past all of the fielders and into deep RCF. I took a video of his at bat. Here are some screen shots….
…and the follow through:
Tim has practiced running a homerun about 80,000 times in our backyard. I had to yell, “Don’t pass him! Don’t pass him!” as Tim motored toward home on the heals of his teammate:
In true Tim fashion, with the ball just being relayed to second base, Tim slid into home, touching the plate about a quarter of a second after his teammate.
I don’t know much about t-ball. I certainly didn’t realize where all the balls would be hit. But it ended up that Tim picked the prime positions. In the bottom of the first inning, he played pitcher and fielded probably 4-5 of the 9 batted balls:
I must admit, it was incredibly exciting when Tim and the first basemen combined to successfully throw at least one runner out at first — a lot has to go right for that to happen in your first inning of organized t-ball!
In his second at bat, Tim put a nice swing on the ball…
…and made it safely to first.
Tim steadfastly denies this (although he has no alternate explanation), but it sure looks like he was calling himself “save” a step before hitting first base…
…with the right fielders still en route to retrieve the baseball. Just for kicks, Tim kept sliding into every base, completely unnecessarily:
By the way, Kellan was “coaching” with me in the outfield during the second inning…
…and at just shy of 2-years-old, he was roughly the same height as one of Tim’s teammates. Kellan’s a big boy!
In the second inning, Tim played second base and, again, ended up fielding 4-5 of the other teams’ 9 batted balls:
In our back yard, Tim has always loves hitting, hitting and more hitting. He hardly wants to play catch. But, man oh man, was he having a great time playing defense at his game – which I really loved to see. Between plays when he would catch (or smother and pick up) a grounder, he would do an exaggerated celebratory dance.
As the second baseman, Tim actually showed good baseball instincts. We were telling everyone to simply throw the ball to first, but he kept wanting to throw to second base (which is hard because the short stop didn’t realize what was going on and was never covering the bag — and no one except Tim was expecting him to do so.
The defensive highlight of the day was a bouncing ball hit toward second base. Tim ran to his right and cut off the ball. It bounced almost head level and Tim snared it out of the air, and ran down the runner heading to second base. Actually, the two of them ran right by the base…
…and Tim tagged him coming and going. It was a pretty cool play to watch.
After the game, Tim asked, “Who won?” He wasn’t very satisfied with the answer that we didn’t keep score. But, as they say, it was the “having fun” part that counted, and Tim definitely had a lot of fun, and so did I.
And that is the story of Tim’s first Opening Day and t-ball game.
That is a Ken Griffey, Jr. whiffle bat that looks just like Griff’s real bat. If you were to visit our house, chances are that Kellan would unintentionally swing that sucker into your shins. That boy swings bats and walks around with his glove on his hand constantly. Yep, he’s my boy too.
It has been a long and busy off-season. On Saturday, April 14, 2012, Tim and I kicked off our 2012 baseball season with a game between the Mets and Phillies in Philadelphia. I had been looking forward to this game like crazy.
I had originally planned to take both boys to Baltimore on Saturday, April 7th, but I didn’t realize it was Easter weekend and we had a house full of family. So we had to wait a whole week to get our first taste of major league baseball for the season.
I’ve been extremely busy at work this off-season. And our house has been crazy. Having two boys is awesome. But it is way harder than having one boy. Tim and Kellan get along great most of the time. But they also create non-stop action, tons of brotherly competition, a healthy dose of yelling and chaos, and they require a lot of discipline…or at least a lot of correcting. Don’t do this, that, or the other thing. Stop doing this, that, or whatever.
Baseball season provides something that the rest of the year generally does not. Something I really needed. Extended periods of father-son time in an environment that Tim and I just really enjoy. No chaos. Tim and I have gotten so good at attending games. We’re an amazing team. Hardly any discipline is needed. It is just fun and relaxing days connecting with my boy and sharing our mutual love of baseball. So let’s get to it.
The morning started with opening day of Tim’s first year of little league (which is the newest chapter of Tim’s life, extremely exciting, and will be up next on this blog). After opening ceremonies, we hopped in the car, grabbed a happy meal from McD’s…
…and headed toward Philadelphia. I was loving baseball season within the first fifteen minutes of our drive. It was a completely unchanged experience despite the six month break. Tim and I had great conversations the whole ride down, except of course for during the 15 minutes that we spent battling each other to see who could sing the best Gotye “Someone I Used To Know” (Tim’s favorite song). Tim won! As my wife will tell you, I’m a horrible singer. By the way, Tim’s best comment during our drive was his description of what college is: “college is where there are lots of boys and lots of girls and you find out who you are going to marry.”
We pulled into the stadium – paid our $15 to park. Pulled on Tim’s new Ichiro jersey…
…and sized up our destination: Citizens Bank Park!
Bring on the baseball.
We grabbed a spot second in line. We started up a nice conversation with the guy behind us, another guy excited to be back at the ballpark for another year. And within a few minutes, a young man approached and asked, “Are you Todd?”
It was a 12-year-old boy named Harrison who was at the ballpark with his father, Seth. Another father-son having a great day with the sport they love. Harrison reads our blog and leaves comments from time-to-time under the name “Philadelphia45.” It was great to get to know Harrison and Seth a little bit.
Tim loves hanging with older kids, and Harrison was no exception. Here they are hanging out at the gate – timed exactly when Tim blinked (oops):
When the gates opened, we went our separate ways, but we’d meet up again with Harrison and Seth. Tim and I headed to left field. We were among the very first people into the seats. And within a few minutes, a Phillies batter lined a foul ball into the roped off seats down the 3B line. An usher grabbed it and spotted Tim from a long way off. He siliently (so Tim didn’t realize it) called us over to the “chain” and handed Tim his very first baseball of 2012:
Thank you, Sir!
We have somewhat of a routine for the BP at Citizens Bank Park. First, we set up shop right down the line, in the very small piece of foul territory that is open at the beginning of BP. Here was our view:
There was a Mets player…I think he was a player, although he was wearing shorts and no jersey…hanging out below us. And I notice something very odd…
…he had a glove with “Todd Helton” embroidered on the thumb. I asked him why he had a Todd Helton glove and he responded, “Because he gave it to me.” “Oh, that’s really cool,” I responded.
Soon (as pictured above), Johan Santana showed up and started running from the foul line to CF. At one point, he was approaching the foul line when a Phillies batter hit a long grounder right to him. I called out, “Hey, Johan!” When he looked up, I pointed at Tim and he started to motion like he was going to throw it to Tim. But Tim was holding his glove in his throwing hand for some reason. So, Johan pointed…or maybe he nodded…at Tim and then threw the baseball to me. I handed it over to Tim and we both called out a loud and excited:
Thank you, Johan!!!
Wow, Johan Santana. That’s a great toss-up. Very exciting for our first toss-up of the season. But in retrospect, our next toss-up would be about ten times more exciting.
We hung out in the same spot until they opened the rest of the stadium. We watched Cliff Lee do some running…
…and we chatted with Harrison and Seth who had joined us shortly after the toss-up from Santana. They had also caught two baseballs already – one from Michael Stutes who I really want to connect with some day on a toss-up because he once heckled my softball team while he played for the Reading Phillies.
Normally, when the rest of the stadium opens, Tim and I head out to the “pizza wedge” in RCF. But the Mets have a commemorative baseball this season that I was really hoping we could get from one of the Mets pitchers warming up down the line. So we relocated (along with Harrison and Seth) to the corner spot down the LF line:
We ended up standing right behind Tim Byrdak. I was excited. I have wanted Tim to get a baseball from another “Tim” ever since we got one from umpire Todd Tichnor. Maybe this would be the day!?
When Mets coach Ricky Bones (I love that name!) walked by, Harrison asked for a picture. Bones told Harrison to hold on and when he returned about 10 minutes later, Tim was a co-beneficiary of Harrison’s request:
Thanks, Mr. Bones!
And then things got REALLY exciting! Tim Byrdak and his partner finished up playing catch. A Mets batter had hit a grounder that rolled to a stop about five feet from Byrdak’s feet. As he grabbed the ball to throw it in, while pointing at Tim, I shouted out, “Hey, Tim, how about throwing a ball to another Tim!?”
It worked. Byrdak turned around and tossed the ball at Tim. Tim has made amazing progress with his catching skills over the last two months, but I was nervous and anxious and excited all at the same time as the ball sailed toward Tim. What would happen?
Without hesitating, Tim reached out and made a nice one handed grab with his glove. A clean catch with zero assistance from his dad:
When the ball stuck in Tim’s glove I was ecstatic. I literally jumped in the air and shouted, “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!” I was so happy and proud of my no-longer-so-little guy. All offseason, we’ve been talking about how he’s going to catch a baseball (or baseballs!) on his own this season, and we’ve been talking about trying to get a baseball from a Major League “Tim” for years, and it all came together in one moment and sheer awesomeness.
It was truly perfect and completely made my day.
Some of our hugest “thank yous” ever to Mr. Timothy Christopher Byrdak!
We’ve been fortunate enough to get a nice collection of baseballs at MLB games, but this one definitely ranks right up there at the tippy top of the list as one of the best.
On the natural high of the toss-up from Mr. Byrdak, Tim and I decided to report to the pizza wedge.
Here’s a tip. When relocating to another section of the ballpark, walk through the seats, not through the concourse. That’s what we did and…
…Mike Pelfrey rewarded us with a baseball in deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep center field.
Before hitting up the pizza wedge, we visited the Phillies hall of fame area so Tim could grab the different metal baseballs that have finger grips for different types of pitches, and then spit some seeds down…
…into the bushes in the batters’ eye. And then Tim called Richie Ashburn “saaafe!” in our first MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt picture of the season.
The pizza wedge was dominated by a family a four with two 13-14 year old’ish girls who got some love from the players (as did “mom”), before Mets coach (and former player for numerous MLB teams) Tom Goodwin hooked Tim up with our first pizza wedge ball of the season:
Note: the balls from Pelfey and Goodwin followed the more traditional, point at Tim and throw to Dad method…although, Tim made an attempt at the Pelfrey ball, but it was too high and sailed over his glove and into mine.
There was still more BP, but we were done. Tim wanted to play some games. The speed pitch, for some reason, wasn’t open. But we played the trivia game and the running in place game…
…in the deep LCF concourse. This season, instead of handing out slips of paper that say you played one of these games, you collect stamps in the little booklet that Tim is holding in the above picture. I’m not sure what you get when you fill it up with stamps. We’ll see later in the season.
After some game time, we headed up the steps toward the upper deck. We got this picture of Tim on the second deck with a view of the bullpens and Ashburn Alley behind/below him:
And then we headed to the back row of section 302 for what we determined must be the farthest seat from home plate:
Yep, make that two pictures checked off the 2012 Photo Scavenger Hunt list!
While up there, of course, I got a panorama from section 302:
And then we headed back down to the second deck for our first father-son picture of the season:
Thank you to a nice usher who snapped the photo. As my Little Grandma would say, “Jiminy, Tim is gotten huge!” Remember when he used to look like this? It is fun looking back at game photos and seeing him grow up before my eyes.
Actually, he’s done some much growing that I was concerned he would be too tall for the kids’ play area. But fear not…
…plenty of growing still to do before he is shut out of the play area.
Tim was excited after posing for that picture, he told me “I can even come back and play when I am seven!”
The game started while we were at the play area. Soon, we grabbed some nachos…
…and our seats in section 104:
The Mets were already winning 1-0 on a David Wright homerun to LF.
We spent a lot of the game (we’re mobile so not all of the game) sitting behind this dude…
…named “Duda,” Lucas Duda, and this other dude named….
…Hunter “Ugliest Mechanics In Baseball But Monster Power” Pence.
After nachos, it was time for Tim’s first ice cream helmet of the season. We took the scenic route to our favorite ice cream lady at Citizens Bank Park…
…that’s the view from Section 242¸by the way.
Most of the teams in Tim’s little league are sponsored by local businesses, but one is sponsored by today’s Phillies starter, Vance Worley (who used to play for the Reading Phillies):
Big thanks to Vance for supporting our league, but this, unfortunately, was not his day.
On this pitch, Vance got Jason Bay to ground into a double play…
…but a run scored making it 2-0 Mets. Duda was up next and he clubbed a 2-run homer to make it 4-0 Mets.
How about a random shot of British Columbian-born, Gonzaga University-alum Jason Bay:
Guess what? Tim still likes ice cream hemlets…
…and our lady still makes a huge helmet.
The Phillies have not started strong this season. And I noticed something…the fans do not seem to believe in them as much as in the last couple years, at least at this point with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both on the DL. Check out the patch of empty seats with the Phils losing 4-0 in the top of the sixth inning:
I never saw that last season at Citizens Bank Park.
Tim wanted to visit the team store. On our walk around the stadium, we noticed this nice mosaic art piece in the concourse:
While Tim and I were talking about the little Phanatic in the mosaic, the real Phanatic’s mom showed up on the scene. I pulled our my camera and it refused to fire when the Phanatic’s mom patted Tim on the head. Instead, the flash delayed the shutter and it didn’t take a picture until the Phanatic’s mom stuck her hand in my face with an exaggerated “Hi, Dad” wave:
So I got a rare close up of the Phanatic’s mom’s hand!
Shortly thereafter, Tim became the owner of a new stuffed Phanatic:
We stopped by the play area on our way back to RF, but it was just closing down. Sad news. So we headed back to the now hardly half-full RF seats. Between innings, an usher took this shot of me and Tim:
By the way, Tim’s eyes were starting to look puffy because he was battling serious hay fever, which has been a daily battle for the last couple weeks.
The Phillies really did nothing offensively in this game. Well, next to nothing. They did get a single on this pitch to Juan Pierre:
If you look closely, you can see the baseball heading toward RF in that picture.
It is almost impossible to get an umpire baseball in Philadelphia (it would be easier if you had seats in the Diamond Club), but it was our first game of the season so, heck, we were up for the challenge.
We relocated to the concourse behind section 130. For a while, we stood behind the camera man…
…where we saw Ruben Tejada drive in pinch runner Mike Baxter…
…off of Michael Stutes:
And then we watched David Wright…
…and Ike Davis…
…make outs for the Mets.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Tim and I slid into nearly ideal seats for making the umpire ball attempt:
The umpire Alfonso Marquez (shown in the background) would enter a tunnel at the home plate end of the dugout, just to the right of the guy in the light blue Phillies t-shirt in that last picture.
We had a great view of Jimmy Rollins, as he grounded out:
And a great view of Hunter Pence, while he struck out:
There were tons of empty seats in RF as Jon Rauch pitched to the day’s final batter John Mayberry:
Mayberry ended the game in the ideal umpire attempt manner – a high pop up that allowed us to get into position while the umpire had to stay at home plate.
We slid all the way into the second a row and stood at the little railing separating the really nice seats (dugout) from the ridiculously nice seats (Diamond Club). Tim and I both called out “Alfonso” when he stopped on the grass just short of the warning track to wait for his colleagues. He heard us call his name and fired an absolutely beautifully rubbed up baseball to us:
And then he left.
We lingered for a bit and then headed toward the LF corner on our way to the exit. Tim was tossing the umpire ball into his glove over and over while we walked. I noticed that there were two ballgirls down the LF line and I asked Tim if he wanted to get a picture. He said yes, and then yelled and started running.
I thought he was running to the ballgirls, but he had missed his glove and fired his new umpire ball under some seats and it disappeared. We couldn’t find it anywhere, but fortunately, a nice fan pointed it out and we retrieved it from a tray of peanuts (or some type of food).
Fifteen seconds later and we would have missed getting this double ballgirl picture, which was taken mere feet from the spot where Tim caught the baseball from Byrdak about 4-and-a-half hours earlier:
A pose with his umpire ball and Citizens Bank Park sign…
…and with the Harry Kalas statute…
…and then we were “outta there!”
It was an incredibly awesome first day being back at the ballpark. I can’t wait to fold Kellan into the mix for our first 3-guys game next weekend.
I know why Ernie Banks always wanted to *play two* — hip, hip Hooray for Baseball!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|1/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|2/0 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets; Kellan – N/A|
|1 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1|
|6 Baseballs – Mets 4, Phillies 1, Umpires 1|
|1/0 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – N/A|
|1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A|
Since we live about 75 miles from the closest MLB stadium, every game we go to is sort of like a mini-roadtrip. We like roadtrips!
With our first game still a couple weeks away, Tim and I took our first mini-roadtrip of the season this weekend. We had tickets to the Phillies’ April 4th “On-Deck Series” game. It is a pre-season exhibition game played at Citizens Bank Park. We attended an On Deck Series game once before — in 2008 (at the end of that entry). But this year it is on a Tuesday night and we can’t make it. On stubhub, the tickets were selling for next to nothing. So it was either exchange the tickets or waste them. I called the Phillies and they said I could exchange the tickets for a later date, but there were two catches (1) it had to be done in person at Citizens Bank Park and (2) it had to happen at least 48 hours before the game (which meant we had to do it on Saturday). I asked my wife if there were anything kid-friendly family events we could do on Saturday in Philadelphia, but she didn’t know of anything.
So Tim and I decided to make an afternoon of it. No big plans. Just drive to Philadelphia and exchange the tickets. But we found ways to have some fun along the way and the 5+hour trip ended up being a great time.
I lived in Center City Philadelphia for three years while I was in school. Instead of driving to Citizens Bank Park, we decided to drive to my old stomping ground. We parked next to one of my old pizza places, Lazaro’s Pizza on South Street by the Graduate Hospital, and got some lunch:
You gotta love Lazaro’s! We hit the pavement with our pizza in a box. We headed down South Street toward Board.
If you’ve never been to Philadelphia, you might not know that it is the number one spot in the country (who knows, maybe the world) for murals. They have thousands of really amazing murals all around town. Instead of old broken down buildings covered in graffiti, they have cover their broken down buildings with amazing pieces of art. Here is one building I used to walk by every day on my way to the subway — the Royal Theatre:
We passed the Royal and walked a couple more blocks to Broad Street where we hopped on the Broad Street subway line:
Tim loves trains and subways. Broad Street runs north-south throught he middle of Center City. I used to ride the Broad Street line north every day to my alma matre Temple University…
…and at the very last stop to the South, which is now called AT&T Station and was formerly the just called the Pattison Avenue stop, is all of Philadelphia’s major sports facilities: Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field, and the Wells Fargo Center (formerly the CoreStates Center, First Union Center, and Wachovia Center).
Tim loved the ride down. He sat in the very front seat and chowed down on his big and thin Lazaro’s pizza:
It is hard to tell from the pictures, but his seat had a window that looks out the front of the train:
Yep, he loved it.
When we exited the subway and walked up the stairs, we found ourselves just down the street from Citizens Bank Park:
There were lots of cars around because the Flyers were playing an afternoon game — at least that is what it seemed like. We walked through the Phillies main parking lot and stopped to get Tim’s picture with Connie Mack:
That statue has a bunch of information on it about the Philadelphia A’s.
Then Tim played catcher for Mike Schmidt:
And while I exchanged our “On Deck Series” tickets for some regular season tickets against the Rockies — hopefully, Jamie Moyer will pitch and get the win! — Tim inspected the Robin Roberts statue:
We decided to walk all the way around the stadium. In CF, we could see that Richie Ashburn was in mid-season form and looks excited to run right into the regular season:
Tim loves fire hydrants (for some reason), so he was excited to get a picture with this Citizens Bank Park fire hydrant:
In LF, the Phillies opening day line-up cards were telling a confusing story. I’m not sure if this is the remnants of the last game from 2011 or a partial listing of opening day 2012…
…, but i certainly can’t imagine that Joe Blanton will be the opening day pitcher this season.
Tim did his best “Lefty” pose with the Steve Carlton statue outside of the LF gate:
And we generally passed time by playing catch on our walk around the stadium:
Before heading out, Tim posed with some football statues…
…I have no clue who any of these football people are:
Then we grabbed the same front seat on the Broad Street line north…
Fun times. Next time, we’ll be sure to see a game too.
Last season, MLBlogs switched from the entirely free mlb.com to the potentially expensive wordpress.com. The switch probably didn’t affect the bulk of mlbloggers. But for those of us who take thousands of pictures at the ballpark, it was definitely not a good development. When the switch took effect, I already had about four times the storage allowed for a free wordpress account. I didn’t want to lose any of my blog content. So I started PDF’ing all of my entries and uploading all of our panoramas to our personal site.
Well, I kept uploading and uploading and uploading…and it turned into something that I think is pretty cool: The Cook & Son Baseball Museum. Check it out, and enjoy:
The offseason has been pretty quiet over here at Cook & Son Bats’ Blog. But I have received a few comments lately about “my book.” It is not your ordinary book, and I haven’t really discussed it much (if at all) on the blog. So now seems as good a time as any to explain a little bit about “The Baseball Log”:
Pictured above, that is Tim’s (the original) Baseball Log in the middle and Kellan’s and my Baseball Logs on either side.
Tim was born in early 2006. In October 2005, I was eagerly awaiting his birth when my wife’s grandmother passed away. We had to drive down to Virginia for her services. My wife stayed with her family for a few more days, but I had to head back to Pennsylvania for work. Whenever I am on a long drive alone I do a lot of thinking. On my drive home, I did a lot of thinking about all the fun times I expected to have with Tim going to baseball games in the future. And I thought a lot about all of the great times I shared with family and friends at the Kingdome watching the Mariners while I was growing up.
Growing up in the suburbs of Seattle, I attended between 10-30 Mariners games a year while I was growing up. I have a lot of very specific memories of those games: Ken Griffey, Jr. breaking his arm making a miraclous catch in deep RCF, Game 1 of the 1995 ALCS, catching my only two live game foul balls, seeing Bo Jackson hit two homeruns in a game, Griffey’s 8-game homerun streak, Randy Johnson’s 19 strikeout performance featuring a monster bomb by Mark McGwire, Mike Greenwell singlehandedly beating the Mariners with a 9-RBI performance, a fan running out to CF to ask for Kirby Puckett’s autographs during a game, Nolan Ryan giving up a leadoff hit to Harold Reynolds and then pitching a complete game 1-hitter, and temporarily giving up on the M’s and starting to leave a game against the Yankees in late 1995 but running back into the field level seats in time to watch Griffey blast a monster game-winning homerun.
But for each of those specific memories, there are 10 games or more of which I have absolutely no memory.
As I drove, an unanswerable question came to mind: “What is the Mariners record in the games I have attended?”
I have no clue and no way of figuring out the answer.
I needed to make sure my son didn’t suffer the same fate. I wanted to make amazing baseball memories with him…and actually remember ALL OF THEM! And in that moment while dwelling on that unanswerable question, I invented the answer: The Baseball Log!
I’m good at tinkering and making stuff. But I’d never made a book. It took a lot of thought and planning. I determined what I wanted to be included in The Baseball Log, and then I figured out how to make it. I started with fancy resume paper, a thin slice of wood, a side of leather (that I had used to make a baseball glove), some glue, a needle and thread, a leather stamping set, and a computer and printer. I put it all togther…
…and I made Tim’s one-of-a-kind Baseball Log:
For more than a year, Tim owned the only Baseball Log. But I started thinking that other people out there might like a Baseball Log of their own. So I did some research about online self-publishing companies. I decided on “eBookstand Publishing.” I did some revising and reformatting. And, boom: the “commercial” version of The Baseball Log was born. I dedicated the book to the biggest baseball inspirations of my life at the time:
FYI, if I had decided to add one more item to that list, it would have been “Spike Owen.” My original favorite player of all-time. Curse you Red Sox for stealing my guy!
Anyway, here are the basics of The Baseball Log. The overwhelming majority of the book is simply page after page after page after page of empty boxes for the owner to fill in their own baseball memories. Here is a look at the first page of Tim’s Baseball Log:
As you can see, it has spaces for the date, line score info, site of the game, companions with whom you attended the game, and game notes.
I forget the specific number, but I think the commercial version of The Baseball Log has room to record approximately 1,000 games. Here is a look at a random page of my Baseball Log, which includes Griffey’s 601st homerun, Felix Hernandez’s grand slam off of Johan Santana, and the first game of the First Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip:
NOTE: The 3-4 games listed on that page are the last two games that I have attended without Tim accompanying me.
Of course, the Baseball Log has a couple pages for the owner to record his or her favorite team’s (hopefully, the Mariners) record in games he or she attends:
The top book in that picture is Tim’s Baseball Log, the middle one is mine (you can see I have attended two more Mariners games than Tim since he was born…and the Mariners won both of them), and the bottom book is Kellan’s (poor guy has only seen 1 Mariners win so far!)
I made one upgrade that I really like in the commercial version of the Baseball Log. Tim’s book has pages for recording when Tim has seen each team play a game. I reformatted those original pages into the “Touch ‘em All Checklist” where the owner of the book can record the date of the first home and away game for each team he has seen. Below, you can see that I (and Tim) have seen every MLB team play a road game, and every team except the Royals, Cardinals and Rockies play a home game…
…we will complete this list in May 2012!
There are pages to record Hall of Famers who you have seen play in person…
…once some of the players Tim has seen play retire and are inducted into the Hall of Fame, he will be able to reference the relevant games by page number in the “Memorable Games” column.
I had one more idea that has never panned out…but I still love it. My hope was that fan assistance office or front office receptionists at the various MLB stadiums would have “received” stamps that they use to stamp incoming mail. If so, my plan was to get our Baseball Log’s stamped like passports…
…to date, I have yet to find any MLB stadium that had a stamp for our books. I have discussed this with a guy in the Phillies front office and he loved the stadium passport idea. Still, nothing has come of it. But wouldn’t that be great to be able to get a stamp at each stadium you visit listing the name of the team/stadium with the date included? I’d love that.
The Baseball Log also has spaces to record your favorite players by year, and a bunch of blank pages at the back for autographs (although we have never attempted to have anyone sign our Baseball Logs).
I’ll share one last picture with you. When I self-published the book, I decided to make it a sturdy hard backed book — just like Tim’s Baseball Log — so it could (hopefully) endure a lifetime of use. Because it is a hardback, I got to design a dust jacket. As shown in the top picture, I used a baseball — one I snagged at the Kingdome — and I did some editing to remove the normal writing on the baseball and replaced it with “BASEBALL LOG.” Here is a picture of the actual baseball that is pictured on the front cover:
I just realized tonight when I took this picture that I took the cover photo of the baseball on July 16, 2007 — exactly three years to the date before Kellan was born. Awesome! Makes me feel that Kellan had a little influence on the book years before he was born.
So, there you go: The Baseball Log.
It is not for everyone. In fact, it is not for most people. Even most dedicated fans. But for the right person, it can be really awesome.
If you happen to be one of the very few people out there who have purchased your very own Baseball Log, I hope you are really enjoying it.
If you don’t have a Baseball Log but would like one. You can check it out here: http://www.ebookstand.com/book_cart.php?id=2133&order=cart — or here: http://www.amazon.com/Baseball-Log-Todd-J-Cook/dp/1589094719/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327373869&sr=8-1
Did a little doodling on a map of the U.S. today. Check it out:
This map shows all of the stadiums that Tim and I have visited since his first ballgame back on September 12, 2006. We live outside of Philadelphia, PA (to the west) and its a great spot for a baseball fan who isn’t scared to hop in the car and drive a few hours. The red lines on this map show drives that Tim and I have made to baseball stadiums. Obviously, several of the red loops do not start in Pennsylvania. Those are roadtrips we have taken (usually with my dad on the annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip) after flying to a starting point (i.e., Chicago, Oakland, Houston, and St. Petersburg).
In order, (not counting my countless games at the Kingdome and numerous games at Veterans Stadium before Tim’s birth) Tim and I have visited the Stadiums in blue in the following order (order of first trip to a particular stadium):
- Safeco Field (’06-’11)
- Citizens Bank Park (’07-’11)
- Camden Yards (’07-’11)
- Yankee Stadium (1923) (’07)
- PNC Park (’07, ’08, ’10, ’11)
- Great American Ball Park (’08, ’11)
- Progressive Field (’08-’10)
- Shea Stadium (’08)
- Chase Field (’08)
- Citi Field (’09-’11)
- Nationals Park (’09-’11)
- Yankee Stadium (2009) (’09-’11)
- Fenway Park (’09)
- Wrigley Field (’09)
- H.H.H. Metrodome (’09)
- Miller Park (’09)
- U.S. Cellular Field (’09)
- Rogers Centre (’09)
- Oakland Coliseum (’10)
- Dodger Stadium (’10)
- Petco Park (’10)
- Angel Stadium of Anaheim (’10)
- AT&T Park (’10)
- Minute Maid Park (’11)
- Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (’11)
- Comerica Park (’11)
- Sun Life Stadium (’11)
- Turner Field (’11)
- Tropicana Field (’11)
Meanwhile, Kellan is on his way through the MLB circuit too. So far, he has been to ten games at six MLB stadiums:
- Safeco Field (’10-’11)
- Camden Yards (’11)
- Citi Field (’11)
- Yankee Stadium (2009) (’11)
- Citizens Bank Park (’11)
- Nationals Park (’11)
Back to the map, the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip is outlined in green on the map. This will be Kellan’s first year on the roadtrip. We’ll meet my dad in Minnesota for a game at Target Field (Tim’s 30th stadium), then on to St. Louis for two games at Busch Stadium (Tim’s 31st), to Kansas City for one game at Kauffman Stadium (Tim’s 32nd, which will close out the American League for us), then we’ll cap it off in Denver for two games at Coors Field (Tim’s 33rd). Coors Field will be huge for us because it will mark the completion of our (first) trip around the MLB circuit — Tim and I we will have seen each team play at least one home game. Hooray. (Of course, we’ll still have to get back to Miami to check out the new Marlins Ballpark).
So there you go. More fun times ahead for us at a bunch of great MLB ballparks.