Friday, May 18, 2012, marked a big baseball milestone for me and Tim. When we entered Coors Field to watch our Mariners take on the Rockies, we were able to check the Rockies off our list of MLB teams we have seen play a home game. The Rockies were the 30thof 30. So, now we’ve seen them all.
But before we could make our personal baseball history, we needed drive from Kansas City to Denver. We woke up in Kansas City on May 17 and hopped in the car. When we pulled out of Kansas City on I-70, our GPS foreshadowed a long day. By the time my dad pointed it out to me, the GPS was telling us that we had 514 miles to drive until our next turn.
A ton of those miles represented the trek across Kansas, a state that was new to all four of us (well, my dad might have passed through on a train years ago). Aside from a looooooooooong, straight road with a 75 mile per hour speed limit, this is what Kansas looked like:
By all accounts, the best thing is all of Kansas is this little park in Wakeeney, KS that features a retired F-14 Tomcat fighter jet just sitting in the grass:
We all around Eisenhower Park (home of the jet) to stretch the legs and get some energy out of the boys after a nice lunch at the Wakeeney McDonalds. Fun times in Kansas!
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all fun and games in Kansas. Tim watched back-to-back-to-back movies on his portable DVD player while Kellan napped. The prolonged starring at a small TV screen while cows, fields, and windmills whizzed by his window resulted in Tim starting to feel a little car sick by the time we reached Colorado.
Before long, he was much more than a “little sick.” His head was spinning and it made for an ugly end of the drive.
Once we were checked into the hotel, he was feeling a bit better. He hadn’t eaten a thing in a while, so we headed out on foot…
…we walked past Coors Field where Tim posed with a fire hydrant. But the walking didn’t sit well with his car sickness. It came out of hiding and attacked him again as we neared the Blake Street Tavern:
The food was very tasty at Blake Street. I was quite happy to see that it is a University of Washington alumni bar (as well as several other universities). I also liked that they had a South Park pinball machine.
After dinner, I carried Kellan home and my dad pushed queasy Tim back to our hotel, which was just a little under a mile down the road from Coors Field. We called it a night and hoped that Tim would be feeling better the next day.
The next day we woke up and took it nice and leisurely. Rockies season ticket holder and Top Ten All-Time Ballhawk (as announced in Zack Hample’s “The Baseball”), Dan Sauvageau, advised us that the 16th Street Mall was a good place to check out for some food. So we did. And it was.
After a late lunch, Kellan rested (not quite napped) while Tim and grandpa went swimming.
And then it was game time. Well, it was close enough.
We were going to be sitting with Dan and his daughter Emily. We headed out from our hotel on foot with the plan of meeting Dan and Emily at the LF gate around 4:30.
I have been excited to get to Coors Field for a long time. I’m a loyal reader of the Don Chilcote’s Rockpile Rant on MLBlogs. In addition to taking amazing game action photos, D’s Rant makes you feel like the Coors Field regulars are like a big extended family. And, you know what, they sort of are. His blog also made me feel like I was going to know (or at least recognize) everyone out in the outfield at Coors Field. And, you know what, I sort of did.
D made us feel right at home before we even reached the ballpark. As Tim, Kellan, my dad and I walked up Park Avenue toward ballpark on Blake Street, D cruised by in his car on his way to the stadium. His trademark khaki Rockies bucket hat made it clear that it was the Rockpile Ranter himself welcoming us to Denver with a fist pump and a loud shout from his speeding car window. I gotta say, it was a cool experience to be greeted by a Coors Field regular before ever setting foot inside the ballpark.
On our walk past the home plate entrance, we stopped to get a picture with my 35th, Tim’s 33rd and Kellan’s 10th MLB stadium:
As we waited for Dan and Emily to arrive and the gates to open, Tim and I played catch, tossed baseballs off of a wall…
…, and did a little birding under a little under-pass next to the gate.
Now, the call Sean Casey “the Mayor” on MLB Network. But the MLB Network is based in Secaucus, New Jersey. Out in Denver, Dan Sauvageau is “the Mayor” – or at least he’s the unofficial Mayor of Coors Field. He knows everyone – fans and stadium employees alike. He helps other fans navigate the strict bag-checking process at the gate. He brings tootsie pops for seemingly his entire section. And he’s generally just incredibly knowledge, helpful and nice about every aspect of the Coors Field experience.
And if Dan is the Mayor, Emily is the first daughter of Coors Field. She has been to more than 425 Rockies games. Everyone knows her. And watching her navigate LF, it appears that that Coors Field is her second home. She’s one lucky little girl!
Anyway, aside from hooking us up with amazing tickets for the game, the first perk Dan got us was the ability to enter the stadium through a tunnel under the OF seats:
My pictures don’t do the experience justice at all. It was extremely cool to walk through the LF gate and, instead of heading up the stairs to the concourse, entering a door and walking the tunnels under the stadium where stadium employees were preparing for their work day.
After a short walk, we popped out of a little tunnel and found ourselves at our seats:
Is that pretty or what?
Yep, we were literally sitting right on the LF wall. The front row is a wide handicap-accessible seating area with a single row of seats running from the LF foul pole to the batters’ eye in CF. Dan’s seats (and ours) are in prime time homerun territory, straight away LF.
Here is a panorama that I took from row 1 in the LF corner (section 151) that shows the field and a bit of our fancy front row seating area:
In that last picture, there is a kid in a red hat and shirt standing to on the far left. He is in the “second” row. It is elevated a few feet above our row. The people sitting in rows 2 and above in LF cannot access the first row. It is crazy and awesome.
And we thoroughly loved it.
As you will see below, this could be most ideal seating section in all of Major League Baseball, particularly for people with little kids.
Before too long, the Mariners and the Rockpile Ranter showed up in LF:
We spent some time chatting with D at this game, but even more the next day (as we’ll see in our next game entry). D is one cool dude. A great guy to kick back with and watch some baseball.
D usually sits up in the “Rockpile” in deep CF (hence the name the “Rockpile Ranter,” but he’s friends with Dan and the rest of the guys in the front row and Dan lets him come down into the front row during BP (and games when he has extra tickets).
Now, there was one bad thing about Coors Field. Well, not really Coors Field, but our experience at Coors Field. While chatting with D, I set my camera (which had been having its share of troubles lately) on the OF wall, in the little crevasse between the yellow pad and the green railing), and it crashed to the ground when Tim bumped into the wall.
It was a silly move on my part, and I paid the price.
I didn’t notice the problem at first. But I did notice when Lucas Leutge finished playing catch along the LF line. As he walked away, I called out, “Hey, Lucas” and then flashed my glove. He turned and walked toward us. When he got close enough, I put down my own glove and pointed at Tim.
And Luetge hit Tim with a gem:
BOOM – Dodger Stadium commemorative baseball! Wow!
The ball actually bounced out of Tim’s glove and he caught it in the inside of his elbow (what’s that little area called?). Tim was quite happy with the unique catch.
And we were both thrilled to see the commemorative logo. I didn’t know when, if, how we would ever have a chance to get our hands on a Dodger Stadium baseball this season. Now we know, Mariners/Rockies at Coors Field!
Tim, Kellan and I then swung around to foul territory once the rest of the stadium opened up so we could watch high-socks-buddies, Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmson play catch along the line:
But we didn’t stay there long because we saw Ichiro…
…run out to RF.
We knew the odds would not be good, but we wanted to try to get a baseball from Tim’s favorite player at this milestone game.
But Hector Noesi was too nice. He tossed us a baseball before Ichiro had a chance to do it himself:
Oh, yeah, can you tell my camera was broken from that last picture? The black triangles on the top/left and bottom/right are pieces of the shutter than cover the lens when the camera is turned off. In the fall, the front of my camera was bent in and it wouldn’t let the lens open properly.
After getting a baseball from Noesi right in front of Ichiro, we knew we wouldn’t be getting one from Ichiro too. So, we watched him a bit, and then we headed back to LF.
Pretty much right when we reached LCF, Blake Beavan tossed us another Dodger Stadium baseball!
While just standing around watching BP, I noticed something cool. The back of Tom Wilhelmson’s right sock had a MLB logo sewn onto it:
My dad had been hanging out in LF chatting with Dan and waiting to catch a big fly. After getting the toss up from Beavan, Kellan and I headed back down to the LF corner while Tim stayed with his grandpa.
At some point, I was wearing Kellan’s little kid glove and Kellan was just walking around checking stuff out…
…and then one of the Mariners batters launched a near homerun right at us. Ten minutes after the fact, I was already fuzzy on the details. I might have picked Kellan up, but I’m not sure. I might have just stepped by him and shielded him from the baseball heading toward us. Ultimately, I thought it was going to fall short. It did, but not too short to evade my kid glove. I reached far over the wall and made a snow cone catch on the fly!
In that picture above to the right, Kellan is checking out the baseball. I took that right after catching it…but I’m still unclear on if I picked up Kellan and handed him the baseball before taking the picture (which seems un-natural and not something I would do) or if I was already holding him and just handed him the baseball.
Me making a clean catch on a batted ball is a very rare occasion for me. I was thrilled to make the catch while wearing Kellan’s glove. Immediately upon the catch, I held my glove over my head and both my dad and D gave me congratulatory nods…and it sure seems like I was holding Kellan when that happened….but who knows.
Kellan and I then headed back over to LCF, and guess what? Tim was holding a baseball that Charlie Furbush had given him, completely unsolicited.
After catching the homer, Kellan and I headed back over to LCF and chatted with my dad, my dad and Dan. I noticed that Tim was holding a baseball. Turns out that Charlie Furbush, who was standing in LCF with Casper Wells…
…walked over and handed a baseball to Tim. Meanwhile, Jason Vargas and King Felix were standing around in LF. When Vargas fielded another one of those fancy Dodger Stadium baseballs and tossed it to my dad.
Thanks, Charlie and Jason!
A few minutes later, my dad caught a Miguel Olivo homerun on the ricochet. It landed up in the seats above us and bounced down to my dad on a big hop.
When BP wrapped up, Kellan and I were standing in CF right next to the batters eye. As the Mariners started clearing the field, I noticed that there was one lone baseball left on the field. It was sitting in the grass in (very) shallow CF. Blake Beavan was in CF and he was the last Mariner to start running toward the dugout. As he started running, I called out, “Hey, Blake!” When he turned to look at us, I pointed at the baseball and flashed him my glove. He gave me a *a-okay-buddy* hand gesture and started running toward the baseball. Just then Iwakuma swooped in from RF and grabbed the baseball. He was just trying to be helpful, cleaning up the Mariners mess.
I’m not sure if Beavan said something, but then Kuma turned turned and lateralled the baseball back to Beavan who was about 15 feet away and approaching rapidly. Beavan received the ball like a quarterback in the shotgun, and then he immediately spun and launched a long arching pass in our direction. It was right on the spot. And as I squeezed my glove around the very last baseball of BP, Beavan gave an exaggerated Kirk Gibson walk off homerun arm pump to celebrate his fine pass. And I gave Beavan a “you the man” point with my index finger and shouted a big:
And that was BP.
We had some plans for post-BP/pre-game. We met up with Dan and Emily and headed…
…to the seats in the LF corner. There was a little league parade going on around the warning track. We went to see if Tim and Emily could get into an on-field kick ball game that the Rockies run after BP some days (maybe every day, I’m not sure). Unfortunately, the Rockies had already selected two of the little league teams to play kick ball.
So we split up again. Tim and my dad headed to the kids play area and Kellan and I headed out to CF to watch Kevin Millwood warm up in the Mariners pen:
I have never been a Kevin Millwood fan. Little did I know he was about to pitch a complete game shut out two hitter!
Check out the cool view from the concourse above the batters’ eye and visitors’ bullpen at Coors Field:
Next, we headed over to section 142 and watched the Mariners position players do their final warm ups for the game. A nice fan offered to take our picture:
And I took a panorama from the stairway between sections 142 and 141:
So it was game time. We reported back to our seats in the first row of section 153. And it was wonderful. You might have noticed from our game reports that we move around a lot at games. We do it because the boys don’t want to just stay put in the seats for 9 innings. But in these seats, my dad and I could stay put and watch the game while Tim and Kellan ran around and played in the nice wide “row” behind us.
Kellan started off the game by running back and forth with his stroller…
…, which resulted in Coors Field’s famous beer vendor, Captain Earthman, taking note and chatting up Kellan a bit.
The 2011 season was pretty rough for me and Tim when it came to seeing the Mariners in person. The M’s were 1-8 when we were in attendance, including 6 consecutive losses to start our season, two walk-off losses, and the Mariners’ historic 17th consecutive loss in late-July 2011.
To put it mildly, we were hoping for a better in-person Mariners season in 2012. And we really wanted a Mariners win at this milestone game. Well, the Mariners started things off great for us. With one out in the top of the first, Michael Saunders drove a triple into the OF. Ichiro couldn’t get Saunders home with this week groundout:
But Kyle Seager followed with an RBI single. And just like that Kevin Millwood had all the run support he’d need on this night.
Our seats were truly great. They were just to the foul-line side of where Carlos Gonzalez and Mike Carp were stationed out in LF:
The low point in the game had nothing to do with the game itself. Kellan was sitting on my lap eating some nachos when he decided he wanted to sit in his stroller. As I set things up for him, he stepped on the corner of our nacho tray causing most of our nachos to fall on the ground:
That’s a definite nacho foul. And very sad. Kellan was fine with it because I let him eat all of the remaining nachos. Wouldn’t you know, it was only my share of the nachos that ended up on the ground.
Millwood mowed down the Rockies in the bottom of the first, and then Mike Carp hit a homerun into the batters’ eye in the bottom of the second to make the score 2-0 Mariners.
As the Mariner did their thing, the boys did their thing in our spacious front row:
The Rockies’ scoreboard was behind us in LF and it is a nice looking scoreboard topped with a big Rockies’ logo:
In the top of the third, Ichiro recorded our first *Ichiro hit* of the season:
But he was stranded on base.
I wandered around the front row a bit and took some photos. Here is the view out in the LCF corner (section 158):
One of the perks of our front row seats is that they have special mens and womens restrooms in a tunnel under the seats in LCF. I took this panorama from section 155 while standing in the tunnel leading to the front row restrooms:
The kids were permitted to do just about anything they wanted to do during the game, except touch the OF wall during each inning (they could touch it all they wanted between innings). Tim, Emily and Kellan spent a lot of time rolling one of Tim’s cloth training baseballs back and forth to each other behind our seats:
Our usher, Barb, had to remind Tim just to roll, and not throw, the baseball. But all-in-all, the kids were free to go crazy having fun. And they had lots and lots of fun:
And then it was time for ice cream:
Dan grabbed my camera and got a nice family photo (except my dad is hiding behind Kellan) while the boys were chowing down on their ice cream:
In the top of the sixth, Ichiro hit another single. He then stole second and took third on a throwing error. He then scored the Mariners third run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Kyle Seager.
So it was 3-0 Mariner going into the bottom of the sixth. And, amazingly, Millwood still had not given up a single hit. He retired the first two batters in the bottom of the sixth inning too. But then Marco Scutaro hit a weak grounder to Kyle Seager at 3B. Seager booted the ball. I thought it was an error, but the official scorer was stumped. If it was ruled a hit, Millwood’s no hitter would be gone. The scorer just sat and thought about it for a while. And then Jordan Pacheco took the official scorer off the hook – he hit a solid, no doubter single up the middle. The no hitter was gone, no matter how the scorer would ultimately rule on the Scutaro-to-Seager play.
Pacheco decided he would take 3B on the hit, but Michael Saunders had a different idea. He gunned Pacheco down at 3B to end the inning. Millwood would go on to pitch a complete game shut out without giving up another hit. So, had Seager made that tough, but completely doable play, we would have seen a no hitter!
After the no-no was gone, I decided it was time to run around and see the ballpark a bit. I started by running up to the Rockpile. Quite fittingly, I ran into D as I ran up the steps into the Rockpile. He was holding court with some of his fellow Rockpilers. I said a quick hello and then headed up to the last row of section 402, where it looked like this:
The concourse below the Rockpile seats juts out a big around the seats on either side. I got this picture from the concourse on the RF side of the Rockpile:
And then I headed to RF. Up in section 201, it looked like this:
From the second deck, I could see my dad and the boys hanging out with Dan and Emily:
And then I headed up to section 301:
I had to go all the way over to section 314 before I could get all the way up to the top of the upper deck. It looked like this up there:
And it looked like this from the aisle behind home plate and between sections 331 and 300:
This was the scene from section 332:
Millwood was unstoppable as he pitched to Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton in the bottom of the seventh:
Over in section 346, it looked like this:
I turned to the side and these purple seats…
…told me that I was one mile above sea level.
I took one last panorama from the upper deck, in section 346…
…before heading back down to the field level.
Back in the front row, I took another panorama from section 151:
Heading into the top of the ninth, Kyle Seager took advantage of the spacious outfield. The play developed so slowly that I had time to pull my camera out of my pocket and find Carlos Gonzalez in the LCF corner retrieving the first triple of Seager’s young career:
Like Saunders before him, Seager also scored following his triple, thanks to John Jaso sacrifice fly. That made the score 4-0 Mariners.
The kids were still having a heap of fun playing around behind the seats:
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, I was pulling for Millwood to complete the shut out. The Mariners were on their toes playing some great baseball behind Millwood. Actually, Seager wasn’t even on his toes, he was levitating an inch or two off the ground:
I’m not sure if he came in for defensive reasons or what, but Casper Wells…
…played the last couple innings in LF.
Millwood secured the win when he induced Cargo into a line out to 1B on this swing:
There were four happy Mariners fans out in LF:
Check out those happy totals behind us:
Although the win was tucked safely in our back pockets, we still had work to do at this game. We still needed our Coors Field bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. Unfortunately, like Busch Stadium and Kauffman Stadium, there are not many “Coors Field” signs inside Coors Field, which is funny because there are about 80 of them outside the stadium. But I had an idea.
On our way to the stop where I thought we could get the picture, I took some pictures of some cool seats:
How do you like that, a one-person bleacher bench! On the right, I just liked the Rockies logo on the side of the chair.
So, here you go, here is our Coors Field bonus picture:
Nice assist by the garbage can, eh?
Before heading back to the hotel, we got a panorama in the aisle behind home plate between section 131 and 130:
Then we got one more group shot. We asked a lingering fan to take the picture for us. I mentioned that I would like him to get the scoreboard in the background. All I meant was that I didn’t want him to zoom in on us and not get the stadium in the background.
Well, he focused on getting the scoreboard, and not so much on getting us all in the shot. Here is his handiwork:
So there you go. A wonderful night at Coors Field. The Mariners run their record to 1-0 with us in attendance in 2012. Millwood flirts with a no hitter but settles for a 2-hit complete game shutout. And Tim and I reached the milestone of having seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game.
Great night! And there was more to come the next day.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|9/8 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|14/13 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals|
|13 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 2|
|48 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 5, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2|
|8 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 2|
|8/7 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|4 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts|
On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, we were right back at it for another Cubs-Cardinals rivalry game, the third game of the 2012 GFS Roadtrip.
The game was an odd 12:45 start. My dad and I debated what to do with regard to attending *BP* or just showing up for the game. We both suspected there would be no BP. In the end, my natural sense of “its-just-wrong-to-show-up-at-game-time” prevailed. We decided to take our chances with there not being BP.
As we approached the stadium, I pointed out a bunch of statues to Tim and mentioned that we should go check them out after the game, since there would still be plenty of day light after the game. Tim decided he couldn’t wait. He wanted to check them out ASAP.
My Dad and I agreed that he and Tim would go check out the statues while Kellan and I went to check out *BP* — or, more likely, pitchers’ pre-game warm ups.
Tim got creative and my dad took some wonderful posing-with-statues pictures at Busch Stadium’s LF entrance:
Meanwhile, Kellan and I headed into the stadium to find, in addition to several Cubs pitchers warming up down the LF line, the batting cage was set up for BP! We headed down the LF line. When the first set of pitchers finished throwing…
…super tall, Cubs pitcher Chris Volstad tossed us his warm up baseball.
Outside the stadium, Tim and my dad continued with some more serious statue poses:
Cut back to the field, there were still two sets of Cubs pitchers warming up along the LF line. There were a couple autograph seekers camped out down the foul line, but no one else seemed all that serious about catching a baseball. I figured our odds of getting another warm up ball were decent, provided that the pitchers didn’t notice that we got the ball from Volstad. To avoid that scenario, we moved about 10 rows back and walked over to the next section further away from the pitchers.
When Casey Coleman finished throwing with his Rafael Dolis…
…(he is the Cubs pitcher on the left)…I called out, “Hey, Casey!?” and I gave him a solid glove-flap when he looked at me.
BOOM – he chucked us his warm up baseball.
Back outside, Tim and Grandpa wrapped around the 3B side of the stadium and got a few more statue and other memorial pictures:
Meanwhile, Kellan and I (well, really, it was just my decision) decided to head out to RF where there was a tiny patch of shaded seats.
By the way, I ought to mention that I was fearful of the sun all day. The sun is Tim and Kellan’s kryptonite. Kellan seemed to like the relief from the sun:
This is what Busch Stadium looked like from our temporary spot out in section 127:
Before long, Tim and my dad met up with us in RF. Not soon after that, Shawn Camp…
…made a long toss to us after fielding a ball in RCF.
And he wasn’t done with us just yet.
The sun was still creeping in on us. So we retreated to the back of section 130:
Eventually, my dad and Tim headed down to the first row in the RF corner.
Kellan and I (again, really it was my decision) decided to head out to CF. Before I could even take a panorama, Tony Campana…
…tossed us a baseball.
Hey, thanks, Tony!
So, it was on to LF for us. On our way, we ran into Fredbird:
Kellan and I landed in section 172:
But it was just too sunny. We gave up pretty quick there.
Meanwhile, my dad and Tim were still in the RF corner…
…and so was Shawn Camp.
Tim remembered Camp’s name from ten minutes earlier when he’d thrown a ball to us. So when a ball was hit into an opening in the RF wall and Camp (for some odd reason) went after it, Tim waited for him to return with the ball. And then my precious, wee-little Tim called out, “Hey, Shawn, can you toss me the ball, please!?” (NOTE: I was 300 feet away and have no clue of the actual words, so I’m paraphrasing here). Camp responded in the affirmative.
And Tim gloved this baseball (and he and Grandpa went behind home plate so he could pose with it):
Thanks, again, Shawn!
And congratulations to my big boy, Tim, for getting this baseball 100% on his own!
Meanwhile, out in brutally hot and sunny LF, our main activities consisted of me taking pictures of the visitors bullpen…
…Kellan trying to run up the stairs to the concourse.
I took Kellan’s hint – he wanted out of the sun.
We walked the concourse toward CF where there is a “Welcome to Busch Stadium” sign…
…past the concession stands and tables in the deep CF concourse…
…and into the nice, completely shaded little-kids’ play area:
Kellan was the ONLY kid in there for a while. Eventually, Tim and Grandpa met us there and Tim and Kellan were the only kids in the play area, which was good for Tim. But the second another little kid showed up, the attendant told Tim he was too big for the play area.
So, while I took a panorama from the field from the play area…
…Grandpa took Tim to the speed pitch:
His best throw was 26 m.p.h., which he beat last year. But, hey, it is early in the season. He’s still getting “stretched out.”
The previous day, my dad hadn’t explored the upper deck at all. So we decided to explore up there as the game drew near.
We headed up the switch-back-ramp. On the second deck, I popped into the stairway between two suites and sections 230-229 to get this panoramic view of Busch Stadium:
We then got a picture of Tim and my dad with a “Busch Stadium” sign, which is on the back of the scoreboard:
And a partial panorama from the upper deck concourse:
Kyle Lohse’s first pitch of the game to David DeJesus???
It was a ball. His second pitch resulted in a line drive single to CF.
By default, we decided to watch the first inning unfold from the upper deck concourse in RF. As Tony Campana strode to the plate…
…Kellan practiced hanging from a railing.
Lohse’s first and only to Campana also resulted in a single to CF:
While all of this unfolded, our view from the concourse behind section 428 looked like this:
Lohse threw four pitches to the next batter, Starlin Castro. But Starlin turned that fourth pitch around for a third consecutive single to CF:
DeJesus scored on the play:
The Cubs followed Castro with a run-scoring double play (LaHair), double to CF (Alphonso Soriano), an RBI single to CF (Ian Stewart), and a fly out to RF.
Three outs and five hits to CF into the game, the Cubs led 3-0.
While the Cards muddled through the top of the first, I got a nice picture of Tim and Busch Stadium:
In their half of the first, the Cardinals scratched out three hits and plated two runs of their own. But we didn’t really see any of it because, after the top of the first, we walked around the upper deck a little bit so my dad could check it out.
My dad took this shot of Tim…
…with another St. Louis arch. This one was notable because it was the only “Pujols” I saw displayed in the ballpark. I am sure there are others somewhere, but they did a pretty good job of removing his presence around the stadium.
The fans were not quite as good. Many of them were still wearing Pujols jerseys and t-shirts, and at least a handful of those fans had used magic markers to put a big “X” through the “Pujols 5” on their backs. It’s too bad. The guy will undoubtedly go down as one of the best baseball players ever and he did incredible things for these guys while wearing a Cardinals jersey.
By my dad’s and my standards, it was a hot day, but no big deal. By Tim’s standards, it was like we were walking on the surface of the sun. Our seats were down on the field level in section 167. They were really nice tickets that I never should have bought for this day game. They were in the direct sunlight. I knew Tim would be miserable if we went down there. So we did just the opposite of what happens every day at MLB ballparks, we put our nice field level tickets away and we *snuck* up to the very last row of the upper deck down in section 440, which is down the 1B line.
This was our view:
It was actually really nice. Great view AND completely shaded.
It was made even a bit cooler by some nicely timed ice cream helmets:
Since we had eaten a nice breakfast not too long before coming to the game, I told Tim we could do a “switcheroo” and get ice cream first and lunch second. He was all for the switcheroo plan. In fact, he has suggested it at some other games since this one.
While we were eating a group of about 15 college gals came to claim their seats in the last row. So we had to move up to the second to last row.
The Cardinals scored again in the bottom of the second to knot up the score at 3-3.
Eventually, I asked Tim who he wanted to win. He was *crushed* the night before when he had picked the Cardinals and then they lost. He had a new plan today. He would wait to see the outcome of the game and THEN he would decide who he was supporting. Ah, a fool-proof method. He had to win!
While the boys chomped on their ice cream, I decided I should get some action shots. Here is one of the most interesting action shots I have ever captured:
I was completely confused about what happened on the play. So were the Cubs. They argued. The umpires deliberated:
But eventually they stuck with their initial call: Campana tried to pull back, but bunted the ball foul for strike three. He was out of there!
With two down in the top of the third, I was all set to capture another LaHair homerun. But after hitting a couple foul balls…
…he grounded out to Cardinals first basemen Matt Carpenter.
In the fifth inning with the score still tied at 3-3, we decided to grab some pizza for lunch and give our actual seats a try. They were beautiful:
But Tim just could not hack it. He was miserable. He couldn’t even last a half inning in the sun. I was fine leaving our seats mere minutes after sitting down in them because the lady directly behind me (who I will estimate was approximately 24 years old) literally dropped 2-3 f-bombs in every single sentence that came out of her mouth. I’m not easily offended…and I guess I wasn’t really offended here either, but this lady was ridiculous. In a ballpark full of kids and with two of them sitting literally 2 feet in front of you, an adult should know that they should note drop 100-200 f-bombs in a span of 10 minutes. I’m not joking with that number. Without any exaggeration, she dropped an f-bomb about every 5 words or so AND she talked constantly AND really loudly.
So, yeah, the seats were great, but I was fine getting my boys out of the pounding sun and profane atmosphere.
We needed shade, so we took refuge here…
…in the concourse just inside of Gate 4. It was a nice time and place for to call home and chat with mommy a bit.
Oh, I should mention that Matt Holliday hit a tie-breaking solo homerun in the fifth to put the Cardinals ahead 4-3.
After thwarting my efforts to capture his tenth homerun of the season a few innings earlier, Brian LaHair hit a blast in the top of the sixth that tied up the score, once again, at 4-4.
After eating and chatting with Colleen, we ended spending the rest of the game in the shady little kids’ play area in CF:
In Cardinals and Cubs swapped runs again in the seventh inning to make it 5-5.
While Kellan played, I was able to watch the action over the front wall of the play area enclosure. I was standing there in the eighth when Matt Carpenter put the Cardinals ahead 6-5 with this homerun:
If you click on that picture, you can see the homerun ball on the very top edge of the picture, directly above the catcher’s glove.
All the while, Kellan kept playing, sometimes in a manner that made him look like he is made of plastic:
After Carpenter’s homerun, Tyler Greene hit a triple and then Carlos Beltran pinch hit for the pitcher and drew an intentional walk.
That set up another cool action shot. Rafael Furcal followed with a hard hit grounder to 3B:
Greene got caught too far off the bag, there was a brief run down, and the Starlin Castro eventually tagged out Greene:
During some of the action, Grandpa took Tim to one of the big kid attractions – a cage where you could hit baseballs hanging from a metal arm. Tim had a great time taking some hard whacks at the ball and making it spin around the arm over-and-over-and-over:
And Kellan, he just kept playing in the play area:
Leading off the top of the ninth, Alphonso Soriano stepped to the plate. The announcer on the flat screen TV just above us commented that “Fonzie” can turn around a pitch pretty quick so Cardinals closer Jason Motte better pitch him carefully.
Well, he apparently did not, because “Fonzie” turned around the second pitch he saw for a deep, game-tying homerun to RF.
So it was 6-6 going into the bottom of the ninth.
For a dad who wants to watch the game, but has two kids who cannot stand the scorching hot sun and want to play around, this covered play area really was idea. I got tons of great action shots from my little spot on the play area wall.
But then some oblivious fan ruined my best one of the day:
It was a walk off double by Yadier Molina that scored Matt Holliday from second. As you can see, I captured Yadier a fraction of a second before he made contact with the game winning hit and right at the same time as this lady walked into my shot. (Queue the Debbie Downer sound effect).
Tim didn’t care about my photographic misfortune. By the end of the game, he was again set on the Cardinals winning.
Moments after the game ended and the other kids started to clear out, Tim leapt to the top of the big baseball glove toy and claimed victory as his:
ALL HAIL KING TIM!
Before leaving the stadium, I took one last Busch Stadium panorama from section 505:
And a nice lady who ended up asking us about our Roadtrip and as quite happy we had the opportunity to see a Cardinals win in St. Louis took our picture:
On our way out, I snapped this picture of a little baseball field in the bricks way out behind CF:
I’m not sure if it serves a purpose or is just nice to look at. It definitely is the latter, but it seemed like whenever we walked by it during these two games at Busch Stadium they had booths or some type events taking place on here – as opposed to having some kids playing whiffleball (which would have been better).
On our drive out of St. Louis we were heading West and would not pass through town again. So I got a last photo of the Gateway Arch…
…and then we drove off into the sunset.
The next day we would hop in the car and drive to Kansas City for our one and only game at Kauffman Stadium. More good times were definitely on tap, as we’ll see in our next entry.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|7/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|11/10 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals|
|9 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3|
|33 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1|
|3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2|
|6/5 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak|
So, we had a great first day of the Roadtrip in Minneapolis. But when we woke up May 13, 2012, it was time to start the “road” phase of the trip. This trip featured less driving days than some past trips, but the drives were generally longer. On May 13th, we drove all the way from Minneapolis to Saint Louis. It was about 550 miles total, cutting across Iowa and into Missouri.
Here are a couple photo highlights from the big drive:
Top Left: We grabbed some free breakfast at the hotel and hopped in the car to eat on the road.
Top Right: Somewhere in Iowa, we passed this statue-thingy of three fighter jets. Pretty cool.
Bottom Left: My Dad logged more miles behind the wheel than I did, but I spelled him for a good chunk of driving during the middle of the drive, at which point he did some reading.
Bottom Right: There wasn’t much to see in Iowa. This big fish in a gas station parking lot was one of the highlights.
There was a surprise waiting for us in the St. Louis area. My dad had booked the “Kozy Kaboose” for us at the St. Louis West KOA campground:
That caboose behind Tim was our hotel room! It had a queen sized bed and a couch with a pull-out bed (which looked incredibly uncomfortable, but it was actually just fine). Tim absolutely loved the caboose surprise.
Good work, Pa!
So, all we did on May 13 was drive, play at the caboose and play area right behind it, and go out to dinner at the local Applebees.
But we had a REALLY BIG day lined up for us on May 14, 2012.
I decided this would be the perfect day for us to wear the Roadtrip t-shirts I had made for us. They were plain white t-shirts with the following photo on the chest:
I made that picture from 13 different photos. It includes elements representing each of the four stadiums we would visit on the trip: Rocky Mountains (Colorado Rockies), the “twins” shaking hands over the river (Minnesota Twins), the St. Louis Gateway Arch with a humungous cardinal sitting on top (St. Louis Cardinals), and a lion (king of the jungle) wearing Sluggerrrrr the mascot’s crown (Kansas City Royals). It also features a Mariners compass logo that I drew on my computer using a real baseball, and with a Cook & Son Baseball Bats logo overlaid on the Mariners logo. Finally, it features a picture of me (from the 9/27/11 Mariners game in Seattle) holding Kellan (from the 5/12/11 Mariners game in Baltimore) standing with my Dad (from the 8/13/11 Marlins/Giants game at Sun Life Stadium), and Tim (from the 9/27/11 Mariners game). Oh, yeah, and the Rocky Mountains are rising up behind the outfield wall at Safeco Field (from the Safeco tour we took in 2009).
I made the shirts just for fun and, if I do say so myself, they were a big hit on the trip. People in St. Louis loved them and complimented us a lot throughout the day. So, if you were otherwise going to wonder what was on our shirts in the following photos, there is your explanation.
We started off in the morning by grabbing some food in the car and driving into St. Louis to visit the famous Gateway Arch. I had heard you could take an “elevator” to the top and I was very curious about how that works.
We parked in a cool little area of the city (if you are standing under the Arch and facing the city, we parked in the section just to the right of the arch)…
…and we walked over to hop a ride up the arch. The middle and right picture above show us in our tiny little “pod.” When you get inside the arch, it looks like there are 8 tiny elevator doors descending down some steps (with the high point toward the outside of the arch and the low point (elevator no. 8) toward the middle side of the arch). The door opens and you climb into a tiny pod with five seats. It is essentially like a ferris wheel car. You can feel that you are dangling from a connection at the top of the pod. Instead of going straight up, you start by going sideways toward the outside of the arch, then the 8 pods lift up like a dangling string of pearls. The pods have a glass door so you can see the inside of the arch as you ascend toward the top. And it is a crazy mess of stairways and sheet metal. When the pods reaches the top, pod 1 is then at the highest point toward the middle of the arch and pod 8 is at the lowest point toward the outside of the arch. We were in pod 7 on the way up. Hopefully that all makes sense.
Here’s a photo that hopefully gives you a sense of things:
In that picture to the left, Kellan and I are climbing the stairs at the top of the arch – going up from pod 7 to the observation deck. The picture to the right is a screen that is at the top of the stairs and shows the status of the pods on the two sides of the arch – we went up the “south tram” (which was the only tram in use while we were there).
I thought the observation deck would have a flat floor – nope. It is an arch and there is nothing flat about it, as you can see in the top left photo below:
As shown in the top right and bottom left photos above, there are a bunch of tiny windows that you can look out of for some amazing views of the city. Or, as shown in the bottom right, you can look straight down 630 feet!
The arch and the observation deck are triangular in shape. To look out the windows, you have to lean out over (or lay down on) the slanted outer wall. It is well worth it. Check out this view:
When we had our fill of the observation deck, we hopped into pod no. 8 and made our way back down to earth. We walked far enough away to get some fun pictures of the arch. Like these:
And this great one of Tim holding up the arch:
Way to sell it, Tim!
With plenty of time (hours and hours) until gates opened for the evening’s game, it was time to head to another activity. We had no other plans when we woke up, but on the drive to the arch, my wife texted me and said we should go to the “City Museum.” I asked the lady in the Arch gift shop about it and she said we would LOVE it.
She was right!
The City Museum is a huge museum of stuff for kids. It is a like a huge playground. Everything in the museum was found in the city of St. Louis and it was all built into the museum by a group of artisans who created the museum.
It was too crazy and huge to even photograph properly, so I’ll just show you this photo of Kellan climbing some stairs several stories above the ground:
All that I can say is, if you’re in St. Louis and you have kids GO TO THE CITY MUSEUM!
Oh, what the heck, let’s show you some more City Museum pictures:
We got tired and sweaty at the City Museum. Luckily, we still had time to go back to the caboose and nap a bit before the game.
Around 3:00 p.m., we drove back into the city (it was about a half hour drive for us) for the game. We are some not all that beautiful city pictures as we approached the stadium:
We parked in a lot beyond CF and then jumped in line at the CF gate (Gate 5):
Right as the gates were supposed to open, a worker arrived inside the gate and told everyone in our line that Gate 5 wouldn’t open for another hour. So we all had to find another gate. We picked Gate 4, which is in the LF corner.
That was probably better anyway, because I planned to head into foul territory anyway.
We were going to be sitting in section 168, which is right in the LF foul corner. Gate 4 lets you into the stadium just around the corner from section 168. So it was easy access to where we wanted to go.
Upon entering the stadium, Tim and my dad headed out to LF and Kellan and I went down the LF foul line, right to the corner spot. Very soon after arriving there, a ball was hit foul, kicked off of the stands well in from us and came to rest in shallow LF. There were no players even remotely near the ball.
And then something ridiculous happened. I looked on my phone to find that number 48 on the Cubs was Rafael Dolis. He was in LF pretty close to the warning track and a LONG way from that baseball. Fully expecting nothing to come from it, I called out, “Hey, Rafael!” Dolis looked at us and I turned and pointed to the ball in shallow LF and gave him a “hey, why not go grab that and toss it to us?” shrug.
That was the first ridiculous part. The second ridiculous part was that it worked.
Dolis started a long slow, incredibly slow, walk toward the baseball:
That is Dolis both coming and going on the left side of that picture. He walked all the way over to the ball and was immediately met by chorus calls from fans closer to the infield shouting for the baseball. He turned to them and pointed at us, “Its for them!” And then he tossed it to us.
Holy cow! Thanks, Rafael!
I was truly shocked he walked all that way just to hook us up with that baseball. It was very much appreciated.
With a Busch Stadium baseball in hand, Kellan and I retreated to the shady seats behind the Cubs (3B) dugout…
…while Tim and my dad stayed in sunny L (that is them in the first row at the bottom of the stairway).
Here was our view of Busch Stadium from behind the 3B dugout:
Tim and my dad headed out to CF. Nothing was hit their way and eventually an usher decided that Tim deserved a baseball.
Eventually, we decided to brave the sun again and we headed to the RF foul corner. Tim and my dad came and met up with us and we watched BP for a few more minutes. But it was pretty hot and we were thinking of just heading back to the shade behind 3B.
Just before doing so, a Cubs lefty sliced (or would it be hooked?) a foul ball down the RF line. We were on the wall in RF, which was probably 7 rows back in the seating configuration. All of the people in the first row or two (by the corner spot) were totally oblivious to their surroundings. I truly thought this ball was going to nail someone in the side of the head.
I screamed, “HEADS UP!” Everyone looked around frantically and the ball smashed down on the warning track and bounced high over about 10-15 people.
I was holding Kellan and *we* immediately broke down the row of seats. I made it just far enough to make a fully-extended backhanded catch of the one-hopper, all while Kellan clung to my body wrapped by my throwing arm.
Here is where we were when we caught it:
A female usher came down and congratulated me on catching the baseball and added, “Thank you for not dropping your son!” “Hey, no problem, “ I responded.
Almost as soon as we reached the shade behind 3B, BP was finished. We decided to walk further down the LF line until we found an usher who (loved our Roadtrip shirts and) was kind enough to take our picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt – Busch Stadium bonus picture!
That tiny little “Busch Stadium” sign was the best we could find in the ballpark for the bonus shot. It turns out it would get harder and harder to find a stadium sign inside the stadiums as this trip progressed. Interestingly, there are “Busch Stadium” logos on all of the garbage cans and in the upper deck concourse, but this was the best we could do by the field.
After getting our picture, we visited our seats. They were great!
But we didn’t stay long because there was a parade of kids going around the warning track and we wanted to get close because it was being led by…
That was as close-up we would get to him at this game.
Before the game, the four of us took a big lap around the entire field level concourse looking for a play area.
Along the way, we found cool looking hand operated (by apparently inaccurate) out-of-town scoreboards in the concourse down the 1B line:
The AL board said the Mariners were tied 3-3 with Oakland, but they were actually playing the Red Sox later that day, and they had just arrived in Boston from a series in New York. So I have no clue when these scores were last updated. That *old* Busch Stadium sign was attached to the NL out-of-town scoreboard.
We found a little kids play area (not for Tim) in CF, which was nice and shady. But it was for little kids only so we kept walking. Just behind the play area, we found this muscle car on a pitchers mound:
For some reason, Tim has been excited to point out muscle cars everywhere we go lately. So he wanted a picture pitching with the muscle car…and Kellan likes to copy everything his big brother does.
Once we finished out loop around the field level, Tim decided he was starving and he declared he wanted pizza for a second game in a row! We hadn’t even been paying attention to the food as we walked, so we started our second loop around and made it all the way to home plate before we found pizza.
We reported to our seats…
…and Tim artistically ate his pizza while Kellan slammed a tray of nachos (with my assistance):
The game was entertaining. Jake Westbrook was on the hill for the Cardinals…
…and he hung zeros on the board through the first four innings (until the Cubs put up a 4-spot in the top of the fifth inning). By the way, that is David DeJesus batting in the picture above to the right.
Tim decided he wanted the Cardinals to win. Personally, I was hoping the Cardinals would get destroyed so all of the fans would go home early and the stadium wouldn’t be as crowded. For the record, I hope that at all games except Mariners home games and Yankee road games.
For some reason, I don’t really care for Cardinals leftfielder (and big time slugger) Matt Holliday. I just don’t like how he carries himself. Maybe I’m completely wrong. But he just seems a bit smug to me.
So, I was amused when he botched an incredibly easy fly ball to LF:
Hey, the guy can mash. But his glove leaves much to be desired.
Each MLB stadium has its own policy regarding at what age (or height) a kid needs his own ticket. I am all for no buying Kellan a ticket whenever possible. Luckily, the Cardinals allow all kids THREE and under into the ballpark for free. That’s great!
But the stadium is so packed, that you actually do have to keep the little ones on your lap – like this:
…or standing in front of you – like this:
But it worked out just fine for us at this packed rivalry game, as you can see from these pictures…
…of Kellan enjoying some fruit snacks…
…while Tim punches out an all-star ballot (not actually voting) and looks around his thirty-first Major League Baseball stadium.
The Cubs sent practical joker, Ryan Dempster, to the hill…
…and he hung zeros on the board for the first five innings (until the Cardinals put up a 4-spot of their own in the sixth inning to knot it at 4-4). By the way, that is David Freese taking his cuts above to the right.
After eating, I needed to go tour the ballpark and take pictures. Tim decided to join me while Kellan (apparently against his wishes) stayed behind with Grandpa. Kellan loves spending time with his Grandpa, but his is a MAJOR daddy’s boy (and I love it!). He always wants to be with me. It’s really awesome. In fact, if I am walking down the street with him and a bunch of other people, he gets upset if anyone but me pushes his stroller. What can I say, I have the magic touch with that boy.
Anyway, unbeknownst to me (because I didn’t noticed my dad calling my cellphone), after a few minutes of being fine, Kellan had a melt down and cried uncontrollably (he’s good at that) until he and grandpa met up with me and Tim again.
Sadly, that took a while because Tim and I were having a great time touring around.
First, we headed to the second deck where we found some baseball team-themed Saint Louis Arches and Tim did his “Yesssss! I just won”…
…and “jumping for joy” poses!
He did more jumping for joy…
…and more winning poses as we found more Arches and Cardinals wall art in this odd little concourse area tucked behind the fancy clubs on the second level.
As we walked by, we saw this World Series trophy through the window of one of those fancy clubs:
I couldn’t tell what year it was from.
In both LF and RF, the concourses jut out a bit past the last section of seats on each of the upper levels. This provides a nice standing-room only opportunity for the fans. We took this panorama from the concourse extension on the second deck in LF:
And then we turned and I got these pictures of Tim and the real Arch…
…and Tim and the outfield.
Then we headed up to the third deck and got another end-of-concourse panorama:
If you know Busch Stadium from TV, this is right next to the section with the “Big Mac Land” sign.
After taking the panorama, a fan asked if we wanted a picture. Of course, we did:
And 30 seconds later, look who we found patrolling the concourse behind Big Mac Land:
Tim meekly told Ronald, “I went to McDonald’s today and ate a happy meal.” Ronald thought that was just *great*!
From the third deck in LF, you can walk down to the third deck seats or up to the four deck seats. We headed up to the very top of the upper deck in the LF corner for this panoramic view of Busch Stadium:
Then we continued on toward home plate. As you get closer to 3B, there is an escalator up to a higher concourse – once you go up the escalator, you then can walk *down* into what LF left would be the third deck, but in the infield is the second deck (hopefully that makes sense – the point is that the *second* deck in LF does not extend into the infield seating – it is replaced by suites.
Anyway, once you get up the escalator, you have officially reached the *highest* concourse in the stadium. Around 3B there is nothing above it, but once you get closer to the home plate, a *new* upper-deck rises above this *highest* concourse – this all seems very confusing. Just click on and look at the full-sized versions of some of our panoramas and it will make sense.
Anyway, at the back of the concourse around 3B, you can pose with the giant “St. Louis Cardinals” sign that is facing out of the stadium…
…and you can look down on a statue and big autographed baseball of Stan Musial on the ground outside the stadium.
Here is a panorama as we neared 3B:
Then we took this panorama closer to home plate, where the upper-upper-upper deck begins:
[Recall, all this while, Kellan is crying and pitching a major fit for grandpa while Tim and I are having a lovely time getting to know the ins-and-outs of Busch Stadium – poor Grandpa and Kellan!]
Anyway, we headed up to the very top of the *upper-est* deck in the stadium (behind home plate) for this panorama:
Is that a great looking ballpark or what? I love the arch in the background and the arch mowed into the outfield grass.
We continued walking around the stadium toward RF. This is what the concourse looks like behind the upper-deck:
As we approached the RF corner, I pulled and my phone and noticed that my dad and called and texted. His message was simple, “come help with Kellan.” My response was probably too ambiguous, “We’re coming from RF upper deck.” I meant, “Hold on! We’ll be there ASAP, but we have a long way to walk.”
We snapped one more, sun obscured, panorama from RF before heading down the elevator:
We ended up meeting in the LF concourse. Kellan was still letting loose with the water works, but he was instantly completely fine the second he saw me. The second my Dad passed him over to me, he was happy and ready for some ice cream – we met up at the ice cream stand. This was the real deal – Ben & Jerry’s. We decided on some delicious mint chocolate chunk:
Tim decided he wanted some blue cotton candy instead of ice cream. This was fine by me because it meant we could get this “blue tongued” shot for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
However, by the end of the game, I had officially declared: NO MORE COTTON CANDY!
It made Tim way too hyper…something his father suffered from as a boy, too.
We got back to the seats in time to see the Cubs score their four runs in the top of the fifth innings, which was highlighted by a homerun by former Mariner Bryan LaHair:
LaHair is having himself quite the season so far. This was his 9thhomer of the season. Prior to this season, he only had 5 homeruns in his career.
Kellan was all chilled out now that I was back with him in the seats. In fact, he was straight up lounging:
After a while, Kellan got restless. So I took both boys back up to the upper deck by 3B. The plan was to tire them out running up the switch-back ramp. And it worked. We got one more panorama up there:
Tim did some silly-sugar induced posing…
…and I got a shot of the upper deck rising above the upper-concourse. And then we headed back to our seats to finish out the game with my dad.
As we approached our seats, I took a shot of Tim showing the little triangular area at the end of the field level cross-aisle that is right behind section 168:
It is nice for standing when you don’t want to sit.
While we were watching the rest of the game, Tim was quick to spot King Felix when we flashed on the scoreboard:
Kellan was primed and ready (with Grandpa’s glove) to catch a foul ball…
…but no one, not even David Freese…
…could find us in the stands
A think night panoramas look great, so I got another shot from section 168 late in the game.
After the Cardinals tied the score at 4-4 in the sixth, the Cubs came back with a run in the eighth on a single by Alphonso Soriano and an unearned run in the ninth on a throwing error by 2012 World Series hero David Freese.
After the game, we got another group shot…
…which would have turned out better had Tim not been so sad that the Cardinals (who he picked to win at the beginning of the game) had lost. At the next game, he would devise a new strategy to avoid such post-game disappointment.
On the way out of the stadium, I took an almost-empty-stadium panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 167 (one section closer to home than section 168):
And finally, as my Dad ran all the way back to our seats to retrieve Kellan’s water sippy-cup (well, it is a little more advanced than a “sippy cup”), I took a final panorama of the night from the CF bleachers:
And that was all she wrote. Forty-five minutes sitting through a horrific post-game traffic jam and we were on our way back to the caboose excited to come back within about 12 hours for more Cardinals-Cubs baseball.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|6/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|11/10 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals|
|7 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 1|
|28 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 2, Cardinals 1|
|3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2|
|6/5 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak|
We are now home from the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip. It was truly amazing. We had an outstanding time visiting Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium and Coors Field. It is going to take a long time for me to write up all the amazing games we attended.
In the meantime, I thought I would share something short that is related to the GFS Roadtrip. On the final day of the trip, a reporter from MLB.com’s Cut4 team interviewed me on a little video camera for about 5 minutes about our roadtrip. I’m not sure if that actual video will ever surface or not — I am told it takes Cut4 a while to process videos — but the very next day, the following showed up on the main page at MLB.com:
Clicking that link would take you to the following page:
You can click that picture to make it bigger or you can read the article on mlb.com by clicking here.
Hopefully someday soon (or ever) our video will show up on there as well. But even if it never does, it is pretty cool to get a little bit of e-ink on mlb.com.
Okay. That is it for now. Next up, Game 2 of the 2012 Cook GFS Roadtrip.
The 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip is extra special for several reasons. First, it is the Fifth Anniversary of the GFS Roadtrip. Second, we have expanded the GFS roster to include Kellan. And, finally, by checking off Busch Stadium (Cardinals), Kauffman Stadium (Royals), and Coors Field (Rockies), Tim and I would finally have seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game – we had already seen all 30 teams play a road game.
I wanted the Mariners to be involved in the game when we saw our final team play a home game. During the offseason, I decided it would happen in Colorado when the Mariners visited the Rockies in May.
The Roadtrip kicked off on May 12, 2012. We started in Minnesota. It is the first city we have visited on two separate roadtrips. We went to the H.H.H. Metrodome during its final season in 2009. And now we were back to check out Target Field.
But first, we had to get to Minnesota…
…and this will officially be Kellan’s final “infant on lap” trip. He’s getting to be huge these days. But we have a nice flight nonetheless and were greeted by my dad at the gate. His flight had landed about half an hour before ours.
After a brief rest in our hotel room, we took to the streets of Minneapolis on foot – destination Target Field:
We arrived before the gates opened. The crowd at the RF (Kirby Puckett) gate was getting big already. We got some pictures with a couple statues (Kirby and Kent Hrbek)…
…and then headed around the stadium to the shaded Tony Oliva gate.
Our first inside view of Target Field was from the left field corner and the Twins were taking BP:
The Blue Jays were already stretching by the dugout. Soon, they started to walk down the foul line to play catch. Luis Perez…
…gave us a smile as he walked by so I asked if he’d pose for a picture with Tim and Kellan. He said he would after he played catch. I asked, “Ah, then, could we get your warm up ball when you’re done too!?” He said yes and then headed off to play catch.
But then he must have decided he didn’t want to forget about us, because he walked back over to us a minute later and handed Kellan our first ever baseball at Target Field.
One of our big goals of this game was to get Rajai Davis to sign Kellan’s first MLB pitch picture. We soon spotted him playing catch just behind third base. Unfortunately, he was on the field side instead of the foul line side. Anyway, Kellan and I went over there on the off chance we could hook up with Davis:
In the picture above to the left, Rajai is all the way out in CF playing long toss. While we were watching Davis play long toss, the on-field security guard to the right grabbed a ball that had been hit against that protective screen and he walked over and handed it to Kellan.
Thanks, Security Guard!
That was it for BP as far as baseballs go.
And we never got any closer to Davis. He drifted off into CF after finishing playing long toss.
Kellan and I headed back toward the corner spot where Tim and my dad were still waiting on Perez to finish playing catch and come back for a picture…
…, but it was too hot and sunny and Tim surrendered to the sun. He was going to burst into flames if he waited any longer for Perez. So, sadly, we did not get a picture with a Blue Jay.
Instead, we headed toward home plate. We noticed that they let you down into the dugout seats (inside the Moat) during BP. Here is a panorama from within the moat:
Next, we grabbed some water for the boys. And then Tim and grandpa headed off to the team store and Kellan and I headed to the shady spot in RF. On the way, he fell asleep:
Tim and grandpa met up with us and we hung out here for the rest of BP:
Once BP ended, we headed up to the upper deck in the outfield to check out the stadium. An usher was kind enough to take a nice picture of us:
That picture was taken here:
Tim can be temperamental about getting his picture taken sometime…probably because he’s been photographed about 100,000 times in six years. Anyway, I wanted to get our Target Field bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, but for some reason Tim was adamant that he didn’t want to be in it – just Kellan. So, this was “take 1” of the bonus picture:
Here is what it looks like from the front row of the section just below the CF Target Field sign:
While we were up there, we found a couple of the statues from past all-star games and Tim did funny poses with both:
As we continued to circle around to LF, Tim and I headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium. Check out how steep the steps are in the LF upper deck seats:
Here is what it looks like from the back row up there:
Behind 2B, they had a softball homerun hitting contest set up. Two fans faced off against the hardest hitting mascot ever:
The mascot blasted 6 bombs on 7 swings, including one that hit the back wall of the upper deck.
Then we found another all-star statue. I think this one might be for this season:
After that picture, Tim declared he was extremely hungry. Instead of nachos, he wanted pizza. We walked and walked and walked before we found pizza, but finally found it. And we also found the most awesome food item in the history of Major League Baseball…
The NACHO HELMET!
For the record, our nacho lady only filled ours half way, which was plenty for me and Kellan, but every other nacho helmet I saw all day was overflowing the top of the helmet. We ate our nachos in our seats in the last row (row 10) of section 141:
I really liked these seats. They were great.
Joe Mauer, P.J. Walters and (I’m guessing) the Twins pitching coach headed in from the bullpen for the game to start:
These three dudes were all set for the first pitch of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip:
And this was it:
We were desperately needing a water refill, which required me and Kellan to walk all the way behind home plate to find a water fountain. On the way, we saw Jose Baustita bat up close:
All game long, the concourses were absolutely packed:
For the first 3.5 innings, it was a scoreless pitchers’ duel between P.J. Walters and Drew Hutchinson (two guys I had never heard of before this game). To that point, this foul ball by Joe Mauer was one of the offensive highlights of the so-far uneventful game:
Eventually, Kellan needed to get moving. We headed to Target Plaza so he could stretch his travel-weary legs:
After running around for a while in Target Plaza, we headed upstairs in CF. At the deepest part of CF, this is what the concourse looks like:
While I took some pictures, Kellan worked his arm muscles and abs:
Then we took a look at the bullpens:
And deep LF:
And straight away LF:
Then it was time for another leg workout. Kellan ran up and down this ramp from the field level to the upper deck about 3-4 times:
At the top of the ramp, Kellan wanted a solo picture posing with the Twins pig:
And then it was more running. He ran a lot!
Eventually, we headed back to our seats through the field level concourse. I took a picture from the concourse behind the odd seats in deep RCF:
They are tucked under the upper deck seats.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Hutchinson loaded the bases and then walked in the first run of the game for a 1-0 Twins lead.
Before sitting down again, Kellan and I grabbed some two-toned dipping dots helmets:
Those are some sweeeeeeet helmets. I love ‘em. These are our first two-tone helmets.
You can see this in some of the panoramas, but I figured I should take a picture of the “have’s” seating on the fancy side of the moat:
On the last game of the 2011 GFS Roadtrip, Johnny Damon hit a ball off the top of the RCF wall at the Trop. They called it a homerun. I could tell with my unaided eyes that it had hit the bar on the top of the fence and bounced back onto the field without leaving the ballpark. They reviewed it. And eventually Damon was told to head back out to second base.
In the top of the sixth inning of this game, Jose Bautista became the second player in as many GFS Roadtrip games to hit a disputed shot to the wall:
With my unaided eye, I could tell it bounced in the bushes above the OF wall and it should be a homerun. I was right. After stopping for a few minutes at 2B, Jose was told to finish his trip around the bases:
The boys were growing restless and I still needed to tour around the upper deck in the infield. We decided to make it a four-man trip. First, we headed to a little hallway on the second deck on the 1B side where Tim got his picture with a model:
And then we headed all the wall down the RF line in the upper deck – where the usher told me to reposition myself to take these pictures (I must have been blocking the view of some people in a downtown building because there was nobody (and no seats) behind me):
Then we walked around the upper deck:
There were a lot of people in the concourse up there too. Unluckily, as you circle around home plate, there is an elevated walkway so you can stay out of the concourse.
Circling around home plate, I asked an usher to take our picture…
…and he warmed me that the sun would blast us in the face in the photo.
As we walked, I continued to take photos of the field…
…and of my boys and dad:
As we walked, we saw an awesome play. Someone hit a foul pop up behind 3B. The Jays short stop Yunel Escobar rushed back to make the play, but he bobbled the ball up into the air and Jays left fielder Jose Bautista swooped in to snatch it out of the air for the rare 6-7 put out:
Tim and I climbed to the highest seats in LF for this picture:
And at the bottom of that section, I snapped this cute picture of Tim, Kellan and my dad:
As we headed back to the RF corner to head down to the lower level, Joe Mauer launched a deep drive. It was the craziest I have ever heard a crowd go for a double:
We headed back to our seats, but then I realized I never went up into the RF bleachers. So Tim and I headed over there. On the way, we took this picture of the worst SRO area ever:
All you can see is the right fielder and a TV screen. On the plus side, it is completely shaded (under the RF bleachers).
The connection between the RF seats and the CF seats makes for some crazy angles at Target Field. I wish I had done a better job photographing it. But I did get this awesome picture of two lone seats at the top of a mini-flight of steps:
Then we *scaled* the RF bleachers. It was like rock climbing, I would imagine. At the top I got this panorama:
And this photo of nervous-from-the-height Tim:
Here are some fun angles that make it look like the bullpen is at the bottom of a hole:
And then it was time to slowly walk back down the steep steps:
Approaching the stairs down to Target Plaza, I got this picture of the plaza…
…and one of Tim in front of the Twins Live set.
Late in the game, Bautista was on first base and I was just sure something was about to happen. I was right, they tried to pick him off first unsuccessfully:
It was dark now and the ballpark signs looked great – check it out:
The Blue Jays had pulled ahead to a 2-1 lead, and they held on to win the game, which pleased Tim. He had declared the Blue Jays to be his team to win early in the game.
After the game, I had an usher take a family shot of us…
…and it took Tim a few minutes to realize I had duped him into posing for a Target Field bonus picture. Haha!!
On our way out of the stadium, Tim (in quite possibly his oldest looking picture ever) showed his respects for the Great Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist (#18):
So there you go. One game down on the Roadtrip. Another great night and another great stadium. In the morning, we would drive to St. Louis for a couple games between the Cardinals and Cubs at Busch Stadium. It would prove to be a super long drive, but well worth it.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|5/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|9/8 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins|
|6 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2|
|25 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1|
|3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2|
|5/4 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target 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|
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.