Results tagged ‘ Alfredo Aceves ’

Build-Your-Own Doubleheader: Fenway Park-to-Yankee Stadium (4/14/2013)

So here’s the deal:  April 14, 2013 was awesome.  April 14, 2013 was really, REALLY awesome.  And it all started on April 13th.  Our buddy from Baltimore, Avi Miller, arrived at our house in Pennsylvania around 1:00 p.m.  We packed up the car and then Tim, Kellan, Avi and I hit the road en route for Rhode Island:

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We passed over the   George Washington Bridge in NYC, and eventually made it to Warwick, RI around 8:00 p.m.  I gotta say that the low light of the drive was when the entire side of the boys’ bag of chex mix ripped off and the entire bag of snacks dumped onto the floor of my car.  After checking into our hotel, we all headed to Bertucci’s for dinner, where Avi promptly spilled a big iced-water all over the place.

The following morning, Kellan woke up bright and early at 6:00 a.m.  We hit the pool for a bit and then we hit the road north toward Boston.

We parked in the lot on the corner of Ispwich and Landsdowne and hit the street:

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As the picture in the center above shows, we had a big day on tap:  at 1:35 p.m. we would see the Rays face off against the Red Sox here at Fenway.  Then at 8:05 p.m., we planned to be down in New York to see the Orioles battle the Yankees.

We started off our Fenway experience with a walk around the exterior of the ballpark.  It was 10:00 a.m. and we had an hour to kill before the early gates would open for members of Red Sox Nation (that includes us).  We got some photos of Tim and Kellan posing with some signs and logos on Yawkey Way:

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Around the corner on Van Ness, we got a shot of Tim and Avi with a big Fenway Park sign behind them:

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Down at the other end of Van Ness, Tim and Kellan posed with a statue of Ted Williams and a little boy:

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As you can see, two sailors and a girl were hanging out in front of the statue of Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Dom Dimaggio.  I thought they’d probably clear out if I offered to take a picture for them.  But no dice.  After I took their picture with the statue, they just kept standing there.  So I just snapped a picture of the statues with them in front of it.

Around the corner (I guess that would be back on Ipswich), the Rays were all piling out of the team bus and heading into the ballpark.  The only guy I recognized in civilian wear was Fernando Rodney:

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We headed back down Landsdowne so Avi could check out the Bleacher Bar:

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As shown above to the right, I noticed something really interesting:  there is a head level window above the urinals in the little boys’ room so the gents can keep an eye on the bar and CF from the john.

Around 10:30, we jumped in line with the Red Sox Nation folks.  We ended up standing next to  a guy who is hands down the biggest Matt Albers fan in all of New Englands.   While the boys snacked on all sorts of goodies, Avi chatted up the Albers fan.

At 11:05, we headed into the ballpark and ran up to the top of the Green Monster.  This was Avi’s first game at Fenway Park!  Tim, Kellan and I have been to Fenway before, but none of us had ever been out in the seating area up on the Monster.  It was pretty cool.  Check out the view from Monster Section 4:

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And Check out this merry band of baseball fans:

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There wasn’t going to be any BP at this game, but I still wanted to try to get at least one baseball.  I had a master plan to get it done:  find amazingly nice Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi.  When we were up top on the Monster, I spotted Scott and another Rays coach walking out of the Rays dugout and heading toward the visitors bullpen in RF.  So Tim, Kellan and I quickly headed off to the bullpen.  We made it there by the time Cursi arrived.

As Scott entered the bullpen, I said hi and struck up a little conversation.  I explained to him that the boys and I were doing both Fenway and Yankee Stadium TODAY and we were hoping that we could get a souvenir baseball at both games.  I asked if there was any way Cursi could help us out.  “Sure,” Cursi responded, “I can help you out with that”:

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In fact, Cursi said he’d give us one dirty baseball and one clean baseball.  The dirty baseball that he tossed to me and Kellan was actually a beautiful game-rubbed up ball.  He then looked at Tim and asked if he had his glove.  Unfortunately, it was still packed in my backpack.  I tried to hand Tim my glove, but Tim told Cursi that he didn’t need one.  And he was right.  As show above, Cursi flipped the second ball up to Tim and he made a nice bare-handed catch.

Thanks, Scott!

Cursi then asked us more about our day.  “Are you flying?  Taking a train?”  “Driving,” I responded.  Then he told us about 10 times in a row to “be careful, guys!”  I thought that was pretty funny because last year at Safeco Field Cursi warned us a bunch to be careful about foul balls hit during BP.

Cursi is really awesome.  Everyone should be this cool.

While Avi chatted some more with Cursi, Tim, Kellan and I headed up to our seats in section 38, row 19.  When we were up there, we took our Fenway Park bonus baseball picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

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Then we headed over to the Ted Williams red seat homerun marker…

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…and Avi met us up there to get a picture of his own with the red seat.

Nothing was going on yet, so we headed into the concourse under the bleachers.  Avi was loving Fenway Park.  It’s really unlike any other ballpark, even Wrigley.  I got a cool shot of Avi and Tim under a bunch of support beams with painted concession signs:

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Then we headed back into the bleachers and Tim and Avi got another posed photo:

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And then we noticed something awesome.  Remember the no BP thing?  Well, the reason for no BP was because it was photo day at Fenway Park.  And the “something awesome” we noticed was that they had just opened the big garage door in CF and were letting the small crowd of fans down onto the warning track.  We darted out to CF, and then head over to the bullpens.

Avi demonstrated his homerun robbing skills:

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On the other side of the bullpen wall, Cursi was getting ready to catch Matt Moore.   Tim and I each took a photo of Cursi  behind the bullpen plates:

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My picture is to the left:  he is posing for a close up.  Tim’s picture is to the right:  Cursi had just caught a throw from Moore.

Here is my absolute favorite action photo of the day:

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If you cannot tell, that is Matt Moore throwing a ball right at us (well, a little to our left) as we peaked over the bullpen wall from the warning track.  If you look closely, you can see the ball in the air.  How awesome is that, huh?

I was holding both boys to look over the bullpen wall.  Then I did a big spin around and Avi photo’d us looking in four different directions (with four cool backgrounds).  First, the visitors bullpen:

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Second, home plate:

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Third, the CF bleachers:

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Fourth, the glorious Green Monster:

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We headed out to CF where I got a great panorama featuring Avi:

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All four of us were absolutely loving being out on the field at Fenway.  We approached the “Monstah”:

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An usher took a strategically posed photo of us…

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…between the “BAL” and “SEA” signs.

Avi needed a closer look at his O’s “BAL” sign:

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And I needed a close up of the boys in front of the Outs and “H” indicator lights.

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Tim had the great idea of taking photos looking straight up the Monster:

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In the photo above to the right, check out the awesome dent in the green “HIT” light.  I love it!  I wonder who peppered balls off of that light to contribute to that dent.

Of course we needed some pictures in the LF corner:

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I had to get into one myself too:

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Down the LF line, we used one of the baseballs from Cursi to get an action photo of Kellan:

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And then came the mascots.  Wally the Green Monster obviously likes Mariners fans more than Orioles fans:

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How funny is it that the Celtics have a real-guy as a mascot:

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You can’t tell in that last photo, but the Bruins mascot had hijacked Tim’s Mariners cap.  See how Tim is taking a self-photo of himself and the Patriot?  He did that a bunch of times.  I was pretty bummed because Tim deleted all of his self-photos before I could see them.  He said none of them were any good, but I bet they would have been great.  Oh, well.

We could go anywhere on the warning track except in front of the Red Sox dugout.   The hilarious part was that the Rays had to walk through the crowd of people to get from the dugout to the field and back.  We had some great up-close access to the Rays dugout:

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And then the Red Sox started circling the field.  Kellan didn’t want to get off of my shoulders so almost all of the pictures are only of Tim.  Tim got his picture with 11 different Red Sox including Daniel Nava and Alex Wilson…

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…Andrew Bailey and Pedro Ciriaco…

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…former Mariner, Mike Carp…

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…former Oriole Koji Uehara (who liked Avi’s Joneys jersey) and Will Middlebrooks…

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…Joel Hanrahan (who gave Avi some grief about his O’s attire) and Jonny Gomes…

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…and Alredo Aceves and Clayton Mortensen:

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Mortensen also commented about Avi’s O’s jersey, but then he told Tim that he couldn’t knock a Mariners jersey because he is from the Northwest.

We forgot to bring a water bottle and Tim was getting thirsty so we left Avi on the field and headed into the concourse to grab some water.  When we bought our water, the cash register lady told us to be sure to get some free food for Tim and Kellan and the nearby concession stand – kids eat free in April at Fenway!

We grabbed two free kids meals…

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…and headed to the seats so the boys could chow down.  I’m happy to report that neither of the little guys spilled ketchup or mustard on their white M’s shirts!  Success!!!

And then it was back down to the field for us.  We circled the outfield in reverse…

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…and headed over to the famous Pesky Pole:

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And then they started to usher the fans off of the field.  We met up with Avi again in LF and the four of us dragged our feet as much as we could and ended up being the very last fans to leave the playing field!

Then we headed behind home plate:

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Check out this great photo:

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I think that photo really puts into perspective how tiny Fenway Park is.  Mentally compare that photo to any other ballpark…the others will look a whole lot bigger.

We took Avi out to the LF foul concourse to see the big lego Fenway…

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…and we checked out a big picture of Teddy “Ballgame.”

And then it was out onto Yawkey Way with us (Yawkey Way is both outside and *inside* the stadium.  We ran into Big League Brian…

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…and listed to some great music by a local band.

Tim and Kellan both tried their hand at the speed pitch:

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And then we back inside and upstairs:

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It was Wally the Green Monster’s birthday and he had a little party on the field with his buddies:

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We hung out for a while behind section 9:

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While doing so, an usher repeated told us that there were extra seats so we should sit down.   I told her we didn’t have seats anywhere near there and we were just roaming around taking pictures…but she insisted.  Ultimately, we relented and begrudgingly grabbed some $90 seats:

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Where this was our view:

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We didn’t even stay there until first pitch.  Speaking of first pitch, here is it:

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It was Clay Buchholz vs. Desmond Jennings.  Buchholz was on fire during this game.  Neither Jennings nor Evan Longoria…

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…got hits in the first.  Neither did anyone else in a Rays uniform for a long time.

We headed out to our seats via the in CF via the cross aisle behind the grandstand.

Oh, yeah, that reminds me of a funny story.  On our way down the elevator (actually, this might have been later in the game), I asked the elevator operator, “We want to go to the level that is at the top-back of the grandstand, what’s that level called?”  She had no clue what I meant and took us all the way down to level 1 (the lower concourse).  I peaked out of the elevator and said, “No, one up from here.”  She hit “2’ and when the elevator door opened again, she announce, “Grandstand level.”

Oh, I guess that’s what the level at the top-back of the grandstand is called, the grandstand level.

Anyway, walking across the back of the grandstand, Kellan (wearing his knit frog hat) did his best Green Monster impression…

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…and then we got some ice cream helmets (on Avi…thanks, Avi!).

After the ice cream, Kellan was a little grumpy, he was starting to get a bit tired (nap time).  I took him to the restroom.  While we were out there, the Red Sox scored four runs (Kellan and I missed all of them!).  During the scoring frenzy, Tim took a great action photo (unfortunately, his camera doesn’t have a very big zoom):

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That is Pedroia getting thrown out at home while the Rays pitcher, Alex Cobb, lays on his back flaying his legs.

Instead of heading back up to the seats, Tim and Avi came down and met up with me and Kellan.  And then we all headed back to LF to look at the lego Fenway again.  While we were looking at the lego Fenway, a lady (who was with her daughter) asked us if we got our “welcome kit” from guest services (which was right behind us).  Avi went over and asked for a welcome kit and they gave him 4 of them, one for each of us.  They are just little plastic baggies with a couple things in them. The highlight by far is that they each had a packet of real Fenway Park dirt!

Next, we headed up to the foul corner of the Monster.  You can get up there onto the Monster in foul territory without tickets, but you need Monster tickets to get into fair territory.

Here’s a sorta-panorama from up there:

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And here is Dustin Pedroia a split second before grounding out:

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Here’s a picture with no story, I just liked the angle:

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While up on the Monster, we got pictures of the parking garage across the street behind the Monster…

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…and down a hallway leading to the suites on the second level (or maybe the third level…not the “grandstand” level).

I’d never known how to get up top down the LF line.  From the foul corner of the monster, we saw another set of stairs leading upward so we followed it.  And check this out…

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…that beautiful view is from section 18.

Kellan got all huffy-puffy while I was taking that panorama.

He wanted down off my shoulders.  And when I put him down, he bolted down and around the corner behind section 18.  I ran after him, and there is where he was running:

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He had apparently noticed Mickey on our way up to section 18 and he needed some Mickey Mouse!

Here’s a little patio area behind section 18 (and some other sections)…

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…, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me because you can’t see the field from this patio, whatsoever.

We circled back toward RF.  On our way, here is a view from the aisle way between sections 12 (left) and 10 (right):

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Avi and the boys were having fun checking the place out:

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Here’s another view from between section 10 (left) and 8 (right):

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Then (after running back-and-forth a bit because I forgot my backpack in section 10) we made our way back to section 9 where we chatted with the same lady who had forced us to sit in the expensive seats before the game.  She explained how we could get out to the upper deck porch out in RF.

Here is a party porch area where you need special tickets to get into it:

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And here is what it looks like in the SRO area down there behind section 27’ish…

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…and behind section 37’ish:

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A lady took our picture.  I’m not sure why Avi didn’t jump into the picture…

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…maybe because that random other guy jumped in into Avi’s spot??

Then we headed down to the bar area all the way out in the RF corner…

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…until we decided to settle in again in the SRO area in section 37.

It was the seventh inning by this point and the score was still 4-0 Red Sox.  Our plan was to leave at 4:00 (regardless of whether the game was over) so we could get on the road to New York.  It was fast approaching 4:00.

And then Avi realized something important: Clay Buchholz was pitching a no hitter!

We decided we couldn’t leave during a no hitter.  Avi started to actively root for a Rays hit…I was fine hanging out longer if it meant we got to see a no-hitter.

We decided to head out to the tunnel way out in CF so we would be close to our car.  If the Rays got a hit, we would bolt.  We made this decision with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th.  The Rays pulled Cobb and put in Jamie Wright who, without throwing a single pitch, picked Shane Victorino off first base to end the inning.

Kelly Johnson came up first in the top of the 8th inning and promptly broke up the no hitter.  We were still heading out to CF and we promptly changed our focus toward the exit in the RF corner.  Before we reached the exit, Sam Fuld hit into a double play.  And then we slipped out of the stadium and hightailed it over to the parking garage where we had to wait for one of the valet guys to get my car off of the top of one of these elevator machines:

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And then we were on the road for New York.  The traffic was terrible getting to the freeway, it probably took us 10-15 minutes, during which time the Red Sox scored one more run.

Final score of game 1:  5-0 Red Sox over the Rays.

Once we got to the freeway (aside from one quick wrong turn), the trip down to New York was all smooth sailing.

Check out my passengers:

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Avi actually only slept for about 10 minutes.  Two funny things happened during the drive.  Both Tim and Kellan slept the entire way from Boston to New York.  About midway in the drive, Tim woke up briefly, looked around and said, “Is it another day now?”

While Avi was asleep, he said to me, “That’s not a real state!”

The Orioles vs. Yankees game started at 8:05.  We pulled into the parking garage just a few minutes before game time.  Avi ran ahead and made it into the field for first pitch.  I had to change Kellan’s diaper (he’s only 2, you know), but we still made it into the field in time to watch the first pitch to the second batter of the game.

Here is the most ridiculous part of our entire day:  although I was carrying all sorts of stuff, the Yankees usher made me put everything down and get out my tickets to prove to him that Tim, Kellan and I were entitled to enter section 239…

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…hands down the worst section of seating in all of MLB (probably the worst section in all of professional sports).

Here’s what our view looked like from our seats in the third row of section 239:

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Notice that even in the third row, you cannot see any of RF.

Want to see a little trick that the Yankees’ architect played on the fans sitting in section 239?  Check this out:

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Pretty neat huh?  It looks like you can see right through the glass of the Mohegan Sun sports bar and you can see all of RF.  But that’s not the case.  That is actually a reflection of LF (you can see Vernon Wells out in LF and again in the reflection in the window).  They really did an amazing job lining up that glass.  Check out how the reflection of the upper deck exactly matches up with the real upper deck all the way across the stadium and the field level exactly matches up with the field left on the 1B side.

Shortly after arriving, it was time for a second round of hot dogs for the day…

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…, but we had to pay for these ones.

We also had a second helping of hot chocolate…

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…, which I didn’t mention but we also got at Fenway.  In the background, Avi is giving his assessment of Yankee Stadium.  We also got a second helping of ice cream:

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When I got the boys their ice cream and hot chocolate, I got myself a pretezel:

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It was hands down the worst pretzel that I’ve ever had.  I told Avi that I thought it was left over from last season.  He got a kick out of the comment, but it wasn’t far off.

The match-up for this game was Hiroki Kuroda for the Yankees against Wei-Yin Chen for the Orioles:

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In the fifth inning (with the game still scoreless), we decided to take a walk and explore around a bit.  We were in the SRO area behind section 104…

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…ended up scoring 3 runs, including a second deck homerun by Brett Gardner.  That homer made the score 3-0 Yankees.

We headed over to the “Great Hall,” which I prefer to call Bronx Central Stadium because it looks more like a train station than a ballpark:

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After the people at Fenway being so incredibly nice, Avi was not feeling the customer service policies at Yankee Stadium, particularly the constant instructions for me to take Kellan off of my shoulders.

Avi also was not very happy about this highly obstructed SRO view in the 200 level:

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When we got back to our seats (actually, we went one section over into section 238), Tim and Avi had a little fun with Avi’s iPhone camera:

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The front row cleared out so the boys were able to stand right above planters at the front of the section:

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Unfortunately, Kuroda ended up pitching a complete game shutout.

After the game, Orioles bullpen coach Rudy Arias tried to toss a baseball to Tim, but it feel short.  An usher saw it all happened and made sure the ball was thrown back to Tim.

Thanks, Arias and Usher!

Both boys posed with the ball and the Yankee Stadium sign for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

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Before leaving our section, we got a group shot in the bleachers:

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And then we headed over to section 102 (or so) to meet up with Zack Hample.  And this picture with Zack (who has snagged more baseballs at Yankee Stadium than anyone else on MyGameBalls.com) earned us a couple more bonus points in the scavenger hunt:

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Each time we see Zack, he gets a picture fist bumping Tim.  But after our long day, Kellan wasn’t interested in fist bumping and Tim was took excited to stand still:

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We ended up giving Zack a ride home from the game:

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It was pretty amazing that he fit in there because there is almost no room whatsoever between Tim’s and Kellan’s car seats.

Before we left Zack’s place in Manhattan, Zack took a parting shot photo of me and Avi:

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And then it was more driving.  We got back to our place after 2:00 a.m.  Avi had class in a few hours.  I invited him to stay the night, but he hopped into his car and headed home.

Long, long day.  But more importantly, an awesome day:

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2013 C&S Fan Stats

3 Games
6 Teams – Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees
5 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 1, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2
10 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 3, Rays 2, Orioles 1
3 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium
11 Player Pictures – Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen

Celebrating The Fentennial (5/26/12)

On April 26, 1901, a new American League franchise known as the Boston Americans played its first game at the good old Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds.  In 1908, the team changed its name to the Red Sox, and kept showing up at Huntington Ave. to play some ball.

On April 20, 1912, the Red Sox moved into some new digs over on Lansdowne Street, just over by the Back Bay Fens.  The owner called it Fenway Park.

The Red Sox celebrated Fenway’s opening day by beating the visiting New York Highlanders 7-6.  At the time, Babe Ruth was a 17-year-old high school student in Baltimore, and it would be a little more than two years before he would make his Major League debut at Fenway Park on July 11, 1914.  On a personal note, it would be seven years before the birth of my first-born grandparent, Leonard Flathers, in April 1919.

Fast forward 100 years to 2012, Babe Ruth is one of the most iconic baseball figures of all time and has been dead for 64 years, my grandpa is still going strong at age 93, and the Red Sox are still playing ball at a beautiful little treasure called Fenway Park.

I’m dubbing Fenway’s 100thAnniversary the “Fentennial” – and I declared long ago that there was no way that my boys and I would miss out on joining in the Fentennial Celebration.

So, on May 26, 2012 – the 100 year anniversary of a Red Sox off-day in the middle of a 21 game homestand – Tim, Kellan, Colleen and I rolled into Boston for the baseball portion of a fun little Memorial Day weekend.

It would be just me and the boys at the game.  Colleen had shopping and a movie on her agenda, but was primarily looking forward to a Sunday in Mystic, CT and at the beach.  We arrived in downtown Boston around 3:00 p.m.  The gates wouldn’t open for normal BP for several hours.  But I wanted to get in a little earlier than “normal.”  I knew there was a way to do it, but I didn’t know quite how it worked.

While Colleen took Tim to play in the fountain at Copley Square, Kellan and I headed to Fenway Park…

…to ask how we could join the “Red Sox Nation” and get into BP early.  The lady in the box office and a guy at Gate C both told us just to come back to Gate C at about 4:45 and there would be a lady with a clip board who would sign us up, and then we could scoot on into BP half an hour before the regular folks.  So that was the plan.

Before heading back toward the Prudential Center area, Kellan got his first look inside Fenway Park through a big screen at the Bleacher Bar in CF:

Then we walked back down Ipswich and Boylston Streets where we met up with Colleen and a fountain-drenched Tim.  We ate a delicious late lunch at McGreevy’s Irish Pub (http://www.mcgreevysboston.com/)…

…and then the boys and I headed back down Boylston (stopping along the way to get a picture with some Boston firemen) and Ipswich and arrived at Fenway Park…

…around 4:30.  I signed up for Red Sox Nation (at a cost of $15, which also got me some cool Fenway Park 100 Years keepsakes), and then Tim acted a fool standing against the outside wall of Fenway Park until our group of RSN members started to file into the park around 4:45.

Other than just enjoying ourselves and taking in the Fentennial Celebration, my goal of the day was to try to get one of the beautiful “Fenway 100 Years” commemorative baseballs.  That’s why I wanted to get into early BP, so the Red Sox would still be on the field and hopefully would be using the special baseballs.

The Red Sox pitch the early BP experience as an opportunity to go up onto the Green Monster, which I really wanted to do.  But I could tell the Monster was already getting crowded (we were toward the end of the RSN line) and I didn’t think Kellan would be able to see anything from up there.  As we approached the stairs to the Green Monster, I asked the usher-guy if we could just go into RF.  He said “sure thing.”  So that’s what we did.

There were only about 20 fans in the CF/RF bleachers.  We stashed Kellan’s stoller behind the Red Sox bullpen, and then found ourselves a spot along the visitors’ bullpen:

In a matter of about 2 minutes, Alfredo Aceves (who was playing 2-person pepper with another Red Sox player across the RF grass) tossed us his extra baseball…

…and then Franklin Morales tossed us a baseball he shagged off the bat of one of his teammates.  Neither of the baseballs were “Fenway 100” balls, but they were both much appreciated by the three of us.

Thanks, Alfredo and Franklin!

Now there was one thing standing in the way of our quest to get a Fenway 100 baseball.  The sun.  It was blazing down on us and there was no shade to be found in RF.  We were in trouble.  Tim wanted some shade and wanted it bad.

I looked around and there wasn’t anyone official looking who might stop us from heading into the shade at the back of the grandstand in the RF foul corner.  So we headed over there.

So we found some shade.  But we might as well have been in our hotel room.  We were a long way from the field and there was zero chance one of those Fenway 100 baseballs would come find us up there.

And then I noticed something:  the whole 3B/LF side of the ballpark was shaded.  There was no one over there and I was pretty sure we weren’t supposed to be able to go there, but there were no ushers around to tell us otherwise.

So we started walking toward home plate through the aisle at the back of the grandstand:

Look at all of that glorious shade over there, and all of that lack of people!

Well, no one stopped us.  So we headed down to the Red Sox dugout:

There were a bunch of fans on the warning track behind home plate and a few people in the stands around the dugout.  But it seemed like everyone sitting in the stands (which was very few people) were wearing Red Sox / Fenway Park employee polo shirts.  It seemed that these people were just hanging out watching some Sox BP until their shifts started.

We continued toward the LF foul corner and ended up here:

Eventually, an usher slowly made his way over to us.  He approached and asked –

Usher – “Do you have some sort of ID or something?  Are you supposed to be here?”

Todd – “We’re part of Red Sox Nation here for early BP.”

Usher (looking around at absence of any other fans) – “Are you supposed to be over here?”

Todd – “I don’t know.  It’s our first time doing this early BP…but we were over in RF and the sun was killing my boys so we walked over here to hide away in the shade.”

Usher (looking around with a “hmmmph” expression) – “Okay.  Have fun.”

Did I mention that people at Fenway Park are, almost as an absolute rule, awesome!?  They are.  I’ve been to a number of games at Fenway dating back to 2000.  Both with my boys (in 2009 and 2012) and with my wife before we had boy (2000, 2003, and 2005’ish), the people at Fenway have always been amazingly cool to us.  We’ve seen the Mariners beat up the Red Sox a bit while I was all decked out in Mariners gear and everyone has always been completely cool to me.  This usher fit the mold – another cool Bostonian at Fenway Park.

Not much was happening when we first got down the line.  There was one guy (who seemed like a coach) shagging balls in LF.  Tim and I were looking at the beautiful Green Monster just a short distance to our left when Tim pointed at the Monster and said, “I bet if Big D was still playing he’d hit it way over the green monster!”  That gave me a chuckle.

“Big D,” of course, is a star Red Sox hitter in a book Tim and I read a few months ago called “The Fenway Foul-Up,” which is the first installment of David A. Kelly’s “Ballpark Mysteries” series.  Interestingly, shortly after this game, I had a chance email exchange with David and he recently sent us autographed copies of the first four Ballpark Mysteries books:

The fifth Ballpark Mystery book (set at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City) just came out and we’re looking forward to reading it soon.  The first four books have all been fun to read with Tim.  So if you have kids and like reading about baseball, head over to Amazon.com and check them out.

Anyway, back to the game.  A couple years ago, I made an incredibly ugly and uncomfortable baseball glove.  For some reason, Kellan had grabbed it off of my shelf and was walking around with it a couple days before this game so I decided to bring it with us.  And when that Red Sox coach in LF fielded a baseball, I used my “Learned Glove” (my fake baseball glove company name) to catch our third baseball of the day:

It was also not a “Fenway 100” baseball.  But, again, it was much appreciated.

Thanks, (probably) Coach!

Eventually, I asked this guy if he had seen any of the Fenway 100 baseballs, and I mentioned we were hoping to get one.  After that, I saw him check the logos on most of the balls he fielded, but none of them were commemorative.  When the Red Sox cleared the field and the gates opened to the rest of the fans, it seemed very certain that we would not get a Fenway baseball.

The Rays pitchers ended up warming up right below us.  And it was pretty awesome when Matt Moore tossed us his (and Alex Cobb’s) warm up baseball:

Thanks, Matt!

It was starting to get crowded down the LF line, and we were completely out of water.  We decided to go fill up Kellan’s list water bottle in the concourse.  With a full load of water, we headed over to the visitors’ dugout to see what we could see:

We saw Ken Rosenthal reporting for Fox Sports (this was the Saturday game of the day for Fox).  Even better than seeing Rosenthal, we saw this cool plaque on the back of the dugout:

Click that to make it bigger and you can read the history of the Fenway Park visitors’ dugout and club house.

While it was cool to see the historical info on the plaque, the dugout wasn’t the place for us to be.  I spotted our next destination from across the ballpark:

SHADE IN THE OUTFIELD!

We walked the awesomely cramped and cave-like Fenway Park concourse…

…on our way to the back row against the wall in section 35:

I’m not exaggerating.  He hung out against the wall…

…the nice and shady wall.

I didn’t think we would get a Fenway baseball from the Rays and we already had four baseballs on the day, so we really made no effort to get another.  But the Rays would have none of that!  A Rays righty-batter hit a homerun that landed about 2-3 rows in front of us…

…bounced off the wall (I’m not sure if I can call it the “Monster” out there above the bleahers, but its definitely at least “Monster-Adjacent” or, like, the Monster’s twin brother) and then it bounced over me into a folded up chair.  No one else had a real chance at it.  It was an easy grab for our fifth baseball of the day – also not a Fenway baseball.

Hey, do you see that guy in the light blue sleeves in the left part of that last two-part picture above?  That is Alex Cobb.  Before this homerun, he had fielded a baseball and I saw that he tucked it into his glove, which he was holding in his arms (not wearing on his hand).

Anyway, while Kellan and I just relaxed and watched the world go by, Tim took about 20-30 pictures with my camera, including this one:

And the picture below on the left:

My guess is that those big metal discs are used to tie down the batters’ eye tarp, which was removed for this game.

Tim took this picture too (I think) of Alex Cobb and his two buddies:

Around this time, Cobb turned around and looked at the bleachers.  He gave absolutely no indication that he had any plans.  He was just looking at the bleachers.  But I knew he still had that baseball in his glove.  Without standing up or making a sound, I simply raised my glove in a “here’s your target” motion.  And Cobb pulled out the baseball and (essentially, I had to get out of my seat to catch it) hit the target.

Thanks, Alex!

Wow – it was our SIXTH baseball of the day, and also not commemorative.   We seemed like we had exceeded our quota.  How could we get any more to get one of those commemoratives?  It’s not like we get an unlimited number of baseballs, you know?

Anyway, BP wrapped up.  We decided to head all the way back over to the LF foul corner so the boys could give a thorough inspection of a really big and cool lego Fenway Park on display in the concourse.  On our way, an usher took these to pictures of us (as an attempt at a MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt Fenway Park bonus picture):

I like both pictures, but the Fenway sign is a bit too far away and small.  We would have to try again.

Kellan’s little umbrella stroller was still hanging from the railing behind the Red Sox bullpen.  When we went to grab it, a guy who appeared to be the Red Sox bullpen catcher was walking around in the bullpen:

He walked toward the bullpen bench and out of sight below us, and then he flipped a baseball over the bullpen that seemed to come flying out of nowhere.  It came right to me and I caught it with my bare left hand as I held Kellan in my right arm.

Thanks, guy!

Wow – SEVEN baseballs, and no Fenway 100 Years commemoratives.  It seemed like it just wasn’t meant to be for us to get one.

We meandered slowly on our way over to that lego Fenway Park.  We headed up the stairs in the RF foul concourse and got Tim’s picture with a “Go Red Sox” sign painted on the wall:

We walked the aisle behind the grandstand seats again, and then headed down toward the bullpen like we had done early in BP.  This time, we stopped and had a fan take our Fenway Park bonus picture:

And finally we made our way to the lego Fenway:

Pretty cool!

Next, it was back to the water fountain where Tim filled his hat up with water about 5 times and doused his head with cold water, and I poured some water on Kellan’s head to cool him down too.

I’ve never been in the “upper deck” at Fenway, ever.  It’s pretty crazy and very unlike me.  But it’s just so small and it has always seemed like you needed tickets up there to get there, so I have never even really made an effort to get up there.  So we decided to go check it out.

But our attempt was cut short when we saw Big League Brian from the grandstand and had to go say hello:

Big League Brian hangs out on Yawkey Way “outside” Fenway Park.  I put the “outside” in parentheses because it is literally outside of the stadium, but it is “inside” the gates and is considered to be “inside” the ballpark.  You can go freely in-and-out to Yawkey Way throughout the game.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, our Big League Brian side trip to Yawkey Way made it so we never made it up to the upper deck.  Instead, we headed back to RCF for the start of the game.

I like to snap a picture of the first pitch of a game.  As you can see below (top left), the match up was Josh Beckett vs. Carlos Pena…

…but just as the first pitch was delivered and I squeezed down on my picture button (top right), a fan walked in front of me.  And then another fan, and another fan, and another fan.  It was not until the fourth pitch of the game (bottom left) that I got a clear view of home plate, and that pitch sent Pena back to the dugout (bottom right) as Beckett’s first strike out victim of the night.

We pulled the old switcheroo at the game.  We’d eaten a late lunch at McGreevy’s so we started our ballpark eating activities with an early dessert…

…, which came in commemorative Fenway 100 Years ice cream hemlets!

From a fan perspective, the beginning of this game was pretty ridiculous.  We were about 3-4 rows from the back wall of the stadium, and almost as far as you could get from home plate, but no one seemed to be in her or her assigned seat in our section (well, we were in ours).

A group of six brides maids and a soon-to-be bride showed up to claim their seven seats in the row behind us.  But the entire row was full.  A guy sitting in the middle of their seats announced that his seat was in the middle of our row, but someone was in his seats.  Everyone looked everywhere.  No one knew what to do.

Eventually, one of the brides maids got the Fenway seat police involved:

The guy in the red shirt delivered the message, “Hey, work it out guys.  Yeah, you’re in the wrong row.  Move.”  And the brides maids finally sat down and stopped blocking our view.

Speaking of our view, here is what Fenway Park looks like from section 39, row 47, seat 1:

We had seats 1-2 in our row.  Kellan was a non-paying, seatless customer.  Miraculously, in a packed house, seats 3-5 in our row were empty pretty much all night.

But early on Kellan wasn’t interest in seats 3-5.  He wanted to hang out on the steps and chat up the girl in red just across the aisle from us:

He was working a pretty solid game of *I’m a cute little kid* and she was watching him much more than she was paying attention to the game or her man-friend.  As you can see (above to right), he also spent some quality *hanging on daddy’s leg* time.

Before too long, it was time for the second half of the old switheroo – pizza for dinner.  On our way to find it, we cozied up with a fake Wally statue…

…and we added a 2007 World Series Champs smashed penny to Tim’s smashed penny collection.:

When I asked Tim which of the four smashed pennies he wanted, his response was swift and certain: “Hall of Fame.”

Tim often thinks that pictures of trophies (like the WS trophy featured on this smashed penny) are a sign of the Hall of Fame.  I’ve never corrected him because it’s cute.

We also hit up the RF team store, which featured a heavenly blast of air conditioning toward the back center of the store.  It was incredibly hot (possibly hotter for me since I was lugging Kellan around a fair amount) and our several stops in the team store throughout the night offered a much needed bit of heat relief.

Anyway, pizza was a hit:

By the time the boys (and I) finished their pizza, half of our row seated to have cleared out giving Kellan lots of room to play…

…and access to three new female fans to sweet talk.  He was a big hit with the ladies inhabiting the Fenway Park bleachers.

Maybe it was his wicked mullet…

…that endeared him to the fans, or maybe a combination of the mullet and a cute little personality.

One of the fans out there offered to take a photo of us:

In the photo, Tim decided to lift his knee to his waist and hang from my arms.  The picture turned out great.  Easily our best of the day.  It will be a great reminder of our participation in the Fentennial Celebration!

By the way, as far as taking pictures of groups of people goes at Fenway, I think you really have to wait until it is dark out.  Every time I have visited Fenway, the sun just floods the ballpark from above the grandstand behind home plate.  The air gets visibly thick and heavy, and it really works a number on pictures.  For example, in our first and second Fenway Park bonus shot above you can hardly see the Fenway Park sign because of the sun.

Not too long after finishing our pizza, we decided to do some more exploring.  We would never return to our seats again during the game.

We walked the concourse from RF to behind 3B.  Here is a picture of how cave’ish it is around 1B:

Along the wall, they have pictures of the historical Red Sox logos.  Tim had to pose with the batting *red sock* (above middle) and had fun acting like he was lifting the 1909-11 “Boston” and the 1912-30 “Red Sox” (above right).  That last picture is one of my favorite of the day.  Tim’s got a great sense of humor.

We headed up the stairs on the 3B side up to the aisle behind the field level grandstand seats.  We then walked right behind home plate…

…and back toward 1B.

By the way, as far as I know, the score was still 0-0 at this point.  Actually, although we watched a lot of the game, we missed almost all of the scoring.

To summarize, the Red Sox scored a single run in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Will Middlebrooks that scored David “Big Papi” Ortiz.  But the Rays came back with two runs in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Ben Zobrist and a single by Luke Scott.

Both starting pitchers (Beckett and David Price) were “dealing,” as they say.

They boys were in *explore* mode and I was in *follow the boys* mode.   Right where the back of the grandstand opens up (to a hotdog stand, etc.) on the 1B side, Tim and Kellan found a ramp that I’d never noticed before.  And they started climbing:

When we got to the very top (a place I’d never been before at Fenway) there was an usher standing by some doors.  I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to be up there or not.  I started to tell the boys to head back down, but then I figured, “what the heck, let’s keep going.”  The boys turned left and walked down a walkway (above in the bottom right) behind, well behind whatever we were behind.

We had turned a corner to the right so I could tell we were now walking toward LF.  And then we popped out behind section 2 of the pavilion:

Beautiful!

I’d been to Fenway Park probably a dozen times and everything we saw over the next several innings was completely new to me.  I love it.

There is a bunch of standing room behind the pavilion seats.  And it is a GREAT view of Fenway Park and the ballgame.

Midway down the walkway, another fan offered to take this crazy picture of me and the boys:

Tim is throwing a curveball in that shot!

Here is the view from the SRO behind section 6 of the pavilion seats:

This was the first time I had ever looked down on the Green Monster seats.  It looked like this:

And David Price looked like this…

…and he pitched to some dude on the Red Sox.

This must have been the bottom of the seventh inning, because I remember that the Red Sox were losing.  That means that batter is Kelly Shoppach.  He fouled that ball down the RF line before hitting a double to CF.

We could walk down to section 10 before this upper section turned into suites and we could go no further.  Here is the view from section 10 (right next to the first suite):

And here is Mike Aviles flying out to CF…

…and Dustin “Lasers” Pedroia taking a pitch before hitting a single to LF.

After Pedroia’s at bat, we backtracked toward the ramp and then went the other way, toward RF.  We popped out here, behind section 1 of the pavilion:

Tim did some staged cheering…

…and we had a great view of Big Papi’s inning ending at bat.

We watched the top of the eighth inning from the SRO area behind section 8, where it looked like this:

Kellan was chilling out on my shoulders the whole half-inning and a group of 20-something fans thought it was absolutely great to see a father and two sons in Mariners gear having a great time watching the Rays and Red Sox at Fenway Park.  They were giving out high fives to Kellan and then offered to take this picture:

After a rousing sing-along of “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of 8th inning, we headed back down to the field level.  To scout out the lay of the land and plan for a post-game umpire baseball attempt.  We watched the top of the ninth inning from the SRO area behind 1B.  Well, I half watched it and half scouted out the umpire tunnel situation (visually on the field and electronically by searching Zack Hample’s blog on google).  Basically, all I could tell was that it was at the 3B dugout.  But I wasn’t sure which end of it – both ends seemed to have a tunnel, at least from where I was standing.

As I scouted out the umpire tunnel, Tim and Kellan hid inside Fenway’s steal framework…

…and generally monkeyed around.

As the top of the ninth ended (with the Rays still winning 2-1), we made our way to the concourse under the field level seats.  We walked all the way around to the last tunnel on the 3B side (which is between home plate and 3B).

The goal was to get have home plate umpire Ed Rapuano toss us a beautiful, game rubbed-up “Fenway 100 Years” baseball that had spent time in his baseball pouch on the field during a regulation Fentenntial season game.  The whole set up was confusing and did not instill any confidence that we could succeed in our task.

First off, the tunnel into the field level seats is a ramp.  Unless you are at the top, you can’t really see much of anything inside the stadium.

Second, I couldn’t tell how far down the 3B dugout was from us, or which aisle we should go down assuming we could even get to the dugout area after the game.  I was envisioning a Red Sox loss and having to swim upstream through a river of exiting Red Sox fans.

Third, there were three ushers at the top of the ramp.  They probably would have let us walk right by and find an empty seat, but I didn’t want to risk them stopping us.

So we just stopped at the top of the ramp along with the ushers.  Kellan was still on my shoulders, at the ready with his glove on his hand (not that he can actually catch anything with it).  Tim was at my side, also ready and also with glove on hand.

Francisco Rodney came in to nail down the win for David Price and the Rays.  Eight pitches later, he walked the leadoff batter and potential tying run, Daniel Nava.

Nick Punto pinch hit for Kelly Shoppach and successfully bunted Nava over to 2B.  He was in scoring position with one out and the double play was out of the mix.  I didn’t want the game to get tied up and head into extra innings.  Frankly, I was looking for a game-ending double play.  But now that wasn’t going to happen.

Up came Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  On the 0-1 pitch, Salty blasted a ball to RF.  I turned to Tim, “WALK OFF!  Come on, let’s go!”

It was amazingly perfect.  A home team loss can kill an umpire baseball opportunity.  A walk off homerun, however?  Pure umpire ball magic!

There was not a single person in the cross aisle as we scurried over to the dugout.  Nor was there a single person in the aisle as we cut down the steps of section 63 toward the home plate end of the dugout.

Saltalamacchia was still rounding the bases.  The crowd was going WILD!  It was pure Fentennial pandemonium.  And all the while, Ed Rapuano was camped at home plate waiting for Salty to score the winning run for the Sox.

Meanwhile, the other three umpires all gathered right in front of us.  BINGO!  We’d picked the right end of the dugout!

As Rapuano strode to the umpire tunnel after calling Salty “safe” on the homerun, we seemed destined to finally get a Fenway 100 Years baseball of our own.

But Rapuano completely ignored the crowd as I shouted out, “Mr. Hickock!”

OMG!  Where did that come from?  I had my Umpire Ed’s mixed up.

Just at Rapuano started to disappear as he descended the stairs into the tunnel, I finally spit out the right name, “MR. RAPUANO!!!!”

His head half disappeared, and then it quickly rose again.  His face was still half under the cover of the dugout roof when he flipped us the most beautiful baseball we have seen all year:

BOOM!  SUCCESS!  Ed Rapuano made our day!

Thanks, Mr. Rapuano!

After another fan took our picture (above to left), the boys celebrated with high fives and dancing:

The historical significance of a centennial celebration – the first US sporting stadium to ever celebrate a centennial – made this easily the most exciting commemorative baseball that we have ever got at a game.

Thanks, again, and again, Ed Rapuano!

YES!

As we continued to celebrate and just drink in the moment (the first and so-far-only Red Sox Fentennial walk off win!) something funny happened.  The Rays relieves and bullpen staff filed into the dugout, and outta nowhere one of the catchers (not sure if it was a player or the bullpen catcher) tossed us another baseball!

Thanks, guy!

That baseball miraculously tied the most baseballs we have ever got at a MLB game (excluding one game in Cleveland where we found SEVEN easter eggs).

Wow – for a game not involving a win by our beloved Mariners, could this night get any better?  Seriously, could it!?

After the celebrated died down a bit and people started filing out of the ballpark, I realized that we had to go all the way back to our seats at the top of the RCF bleachers – a LONG way away from the 3B dugout – because we had left Kellan’s stroller at our seats.

It was a festive atmosphere as we made our way through the concourse-cave against the current of fans:

In fact, it was so festive that that lady in the grey tank-top waved at us while I took a finally photograph of the cavecourse.

People at Fenway Park truly are great.

When we made it back to RF there were a couple people in straight away RF taking picture with the red Ted Williams homerun seat.  But that was it.  When Tim went up to get Kellan’s stroller (he is in the following picture can you spot him?)…

…there wasn’t another soul up there with him.

As Tim retrieved Kellan’s stroller I witnessed something funny.  An usher went over to the Red Sox bullpen where some grounds crew guys were working on the mound.  The grounds crew guy gave the usher a baseball and then the usher stuffed it in his pocket and left.

Hey, the home team bullpen is a great place to find a commemorative baseball and (by this point) we were literally the only people left in the bleachers.  So when Tim returned with Kellan’s stroller, we walked by the bullpen on our way out.

I saw a grounds crew guy and asked, “Got any spares down there?”  He looked over to the other grounds crew guy (the one who had given the usher a baseball) and asked him the same question.

That grounds crew guy popped his head over the bullpen roof and looked at us.  Without hesitation, he held up two fingers and asked, “You need two right?”

“Sure,” I responded.

We walked town to the CF end of the bullpen to meet him by the fence.  He handed one baseball up to Kellan and another (along with a fist bump) to Tim.  And then he explained, “You know, I don’t want them fighting over one ball at home!”  Good plan!

And, double thanks, grounds crew guy!

Again, neither were commemorative, but both were very much apperiated.

As Shaggy would say on Scooby-doo, “Zoinks!”  We were walking out of Fenway Park with ELEVEN baseballs, a new personal record (and according to MyGameBalls.com we tied Zack Hample for the most baseballs ever in a single game at Fenway Park – history made at the Fentennial!)

As the boys slept soundly in their hotel beds, I took this picture of our spoils from our one day joining in the Fentennial Celebration:

I wish we could come back again this year, but it doesn’t look like it.

But, hey, Fenway Park’s 100th Anniversary, you ask?  Yeah, we were there!  And we had more fun than anyone else in the ballpark!

Next up, Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary in 2014!  Sign us up now!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

11/10 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/15 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays
16 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2
62 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2, Red Sox   6, Rays 4
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1
9/8 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch   Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky  Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

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