Results tagged ‘ Atlanta Braves ’

Gill and Kate’s Citizens Bank Park Debut and Some Crazy BP (9/22/2012)

On September 22, 2012, the boys and I went to our fourth and final game of the season at Citizens Bank Park.  And it was a special one because we weren’t alone.  We were joined by Colleen and a bunch of sorta-Phillies-fans, Uncle Kevin, Aunt Kimberly, Gill and Kate.

Kevin was raised in Manayunk and (to the extent he cares about baseball) identifies as a Phillies fan.  I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get these guys out to a Phillies game the past couple seasons.  So we put this game on our calendar at the very beginning of the season.

Colleen decided to skip BP and meet up with her sister and family at their hotel in Center City Philadelphia.  There was an interesting parade going on…

…when we dropped Colleen off along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

I should mention that this was one of those odd 4:05 starts.

We reached the LF gate at Citizens Bank Park in plenty of time to play some catch…

…before the gates opened.  After the literally opened the gates, but before the ballpark was “opened” to the fans, something bizarre happened…

…an usher appeared from the direction of LF or 3B, walked out to the gate and handed a baseball to Kellan.  And then he immediately turned and kept walking toward CF.  That is him at the end of the red arrow walking away from us in the middle picture above.

As I mentioned, it was a bizarre start to the day.  I threw in the green “1” in the picture above because (with VERY little effort on our part) things were about to get historically ridiculous for us.

Things started off normal enough.  We headed to the LF corner when the gates opened.  Tim was by my side and Kellan was relaxing on my shoulders when Steven Lerud spotted Kellan.  Kellan was wearing his glove.  When Lerud fielded a ball on the edge of the warning track, he turned around and asked if Kellan could catch it.  “No,” I explained, “but I can catch it for him.”  And that’s just what happened:

Thanks, Steven!

Things were quite in LF.  Eventually, we headed out to LCF where nothing much happened.  But then the rest of the stadium opened up, and we headed over to the pizza wedge.

Pretty much right when we arrived at the pizza wedge, Rod Nichols (September coaching call-up from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs) tossed us a baseball:

Nichols is the guy hiding behind the other guy next to the green “3.”   In that picture with the “3,” Tim is catching a baseball that Antonio Bestardo tossed up to him from the warning track.  A great catch by Tim!

Thanks, Rod and Antonio!

There were very few people out in RF, and even fewer after the Phillies cleared the field but Braves had yet to take the field.

Soon enough, Eddie Perez and Alan Butts sauntered out to the bullpen.  I told Tim their first names and he welcomed them to the outfield.  Eddie, who seems to be a really nice guy, waved at both of the boys from the outfield.  Then, as Perez and Butts made their way up the stairs toward the Braves bullpen (the upper bullpen), Perez veered off to his right into the Phillies bullpen:

Perez saw two baseballs sitting on the ground by the Phillies bullpen bench.  He grabbed them both and tossed them both to us!

Thanks and thanks, Eddie!

So, there you go.  The Braves hadn’t even come out for BP yet, and we already had caught six baseballs.  We decided to hit the restroom, get some water, and relax in the shade a bit until the Braves took the field.

While we were hanging out in the shady concourse behind section 102, we made a decision that our next two baseballs (assuming if got two more) would be for Gill and Kate.  In the world of MyGameBalls.com, we don’t “count” baseballs that we give away and I had already literally recorded the six baseballs we’d already caught in the little notebook we carry with us at games.  So we were really hoping we could get at least two more baseballs so we could have one each for Gill and Kate.

And right as BP started, something awesome, and then awkward, and then awesome (again) happened.  Tim Hudson (shown here later in BP)…

…ran across LF toward the bullpen entrance.  We were right in the tip of the pizza wedge.  Until Tim Byrdak tossed Tim a baseball (and then two more) earlier in the season, Tim and I had been on a five year mission to get Tim a baseball from a Major League “Tim.”  And, right at the tippy-top of our most wanted list sat the ultimate Major League Tims:  Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson.  Bot had eluded us.  But on this day, as Tim Hudson approached with a baseball in his glove, I called out, “Hey, Tim!  How about tossing a baseball to another Tim!” as I pointed down to Tim.  As  the green “7” above suggests, it worked!

We were super-excited to get a baseball (a beautiful one that appears to be “game rubbed”) from one of the best Tims in the business.

Thanks, Tim!

But then my thoughts immediately turned back to the decision we had made just a few minutes earlier – the next two baseballs would be for Gill and Kate.  Oh, no!

There was no way we could give up this Tim Hudson baseball.

So, I announced to Tim and Kellan, “Okay, our next two baseballs will be for Gill and Kate!

But then Paul Maholm wandered by and tossed a baseball to Tim…

…, and Tim made a great catch. When I announced, “Okay, there’s one for Gill and Kate.”  Tim replied, “No!  Not this one!”  He was too proud of his catch, and the really liked the nice grass stain on the baseball.

“Okay, our NEXT two baseaballs will be for Gill and Kate!”

But how many more opportunities would we even have!?

Well, luckily, we had at least two more:

Not too long after Tim caught the ball from Paul Maholm, Kris Medlin tossed a baseball to me.  And then Maholm fielded another baseball on the warning track right below us.  Tim called out to him, “Paul, can I have another baseball for my cousin?”  And Maholm obliged.

Thanks, Paul and Kris…from us and Gill and Kate!

So, those two balls don’t appear in our official count on MyGameBalls.com or the Cook & Son Baseball Museum (http://www.cookandsonbats.com/museum/”), but let’s put the “official” count aside and focus on what was in our backpack at the time…at the time, they represented numbers 9 and 10 on the day.

And the day wasn’t over yet.  In fact, it was still early in the Braves portion of BP!

Soon, a Braves lefty hit a homerun that landed in the first row of section 103 and then bounced up into the second row…

…where I scooped it up for our only hit ball of the day.

Okay.  Things were officially ridiculous at this point.  So, with half an hour left in BP, we decided to call it quits.  We  headed back to the water fountain for a refill, got some funny pictures of the boys standing inside steel beams…

…, took a cellphone picture (that one above) and sent it to Colleen to show Gill and Kate, watched some crazy German heritage day dancing (with whips!) in the concourse…

…, and then headed to the “Games of Baseball” for some fun:

So at this point, we had about an hour until the game was scheduled to start.  We decided to use that time to carry out a “Games of Baseball” mission.  When you play each game (of which there are only two this season – a trivia game and a race around the bases), you get stamps in a little booklet that can be traded in for prizes.  The top prize is a baseball string backpack that takes 30 stamps – an entire booklet.  We wanted it bad.

So we spent the next hour going back-and-forth amongst the BBQ smoke…

…from game-to-game-to-game-to-game…and so on.

At around 3:30, half hour until game time, we took a break to watch Roy Halladay warm up a bit:

I took that picture of the two coaches (above to the right) because that is Rod Nichols sitting on the bench.  He had tossed a ball earlier and I had no clue who he was.  I took this picture so I would have something to compare against whatever pictures I might later find of him on google while trying to figure out who the heck he is.

As Roy Halladay stretched in the outfield, our old buddy Jesus Tiamo made his way out to the bullpen and guess what?

He tossed Tim a baseball.

Thanks, Jesus!  You were truly awesome to us this season!

While that baseball goes down officially as our tenth baseball of the day, it was literally our twelfth, which was one more than our personal record at the time.

And then it was right back to the “Games of Baseball”:

It took  right up until game time, but we completed that whole stamp booklet and claimed the top prize!

Along the way, Gill, Kate, Kimberly, Kevin and Colleen arrived.  After I handed over the Medlin and Maholm baseballs to Gill and Kate, they got in on the gaming action too:

And then it was game time.  We reported to our seats, blue tongues and all:

(I should mention that lollipops are also awarded to “Games of Baseball” participants).

Although our seats at this game were in the upper deck, they were pretty awesome:

We were in the first row of section 427.  I liked it a lot; a very nice view of the game.  (By the way, that picture is out of order, it’s from later in the game).

We were late arriving to our seats because it took a long time for us to get all of the “Games of Baseball” stamps that we needed.  The game started while we were trudging through the concourse toward section 427.

Roy Halladay started for the Phillies and was not sharp.  He walked the leadoff batter Michael Bourn to start the game.  Luckily for the Phils, Bourn was caught stealing before Martin Prado hit a single to CF.  Prado was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Jason Heyward.  Right as we sat down in our seats, I pulled out my camera and just missed capturing Chipper Jones hitting a first-pitch single to RF.  This would be the last time we would ever see Chipper play and I really wished I would have got that picture.

Anyway, with Chipper on 1B and Heyward on 2B, Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate and jacked a 3-run bomb to RF:

That made it 3-0 Braves and, it turns out, it was a game-winning homer for Freeman.

I really wanted to get some good Chipper Jones pictures.  Here was my best effort for a defensive picture:

In the bottom of the first, Jimmy Rollins hit a grounder right down the line.  Chipper made a nice diving catch, but the ball was just foul.

The Phils would go scoreless in bottom of the first.

The Braves were right back at it in the top of the second.   Again, it started with Halladay issuing a walk to the first batter of the inning, this time Brian McCann.  After back-to-back strike outs, Hallady then gave up a single to Bourn and walked Prado.  That brought the J-Hey Kid to the plate.

And Heyward to this loaded up…

…and took a mighty hack sending the baseball down the RF line into the corner where it was fielded by Domonic Brown…

…, but all three baserunners (McCann, Bourn, and Prado) scored on the play.  Heyward ended up at second.  Hey wouldn’t stay there long.

Six earned runs and 5 outs into the game, Roy Halladay’s day was finished:

Jeremy Horst relieved Halladay…

…and, two pitches later, he gave up an RBI double to Chipper Jones (scoring Heyward).

After two innings, the score was 7-0 Braves.

We had lots of nice cousin time while piled in our seats:

We also did some birding.  Check out this red-tailed hawk that was perched on the light stand on the 1B side of the stadium:

(Special thanks to my uncle, Ed, for helping us identify that bird.  Ed raises falcons and knows a thing or two about birds).

Kellan snuck into this picture of Tim and Kate showing off their missing teeth gaps:

This season, Darin Ruf set a new single-season homerun record (38) for the Reading Phillies.  Ruf was called up to the big squad in September, made his MLB debut on 9/14, and pinch hit for Jeremy Horst in the bottom of the third inning of this game:

(Congrats on the great jersey number, Ruf!)

At the time, Ruf was batting .000 for his MLB career with zero RBI.  Well, we didn’t get to see Ruf’s first MLB hit.  But he did manage to lift a high fly ball to deep CF that was good enough for a sacrifice fly (scoring Kevin Frandsen who had hit a triple) and Ruf’s first MLB RBI.

By the way, in 12 games Ruf would eventually collect 11 hits and 3 HRs by the end of the season.

After three innings, the score stood at 7-1 Braves.  And it was time for us to trudge down the stairs …

…head toward home plate in the upper deck concourse…

…circle around home plate…

…, and pose with a pig…

…on our way to the kids’ play area:

Colleen and Kimberly caught up on their sisterly chit chat while watching the kids play:

I don’t think we have ever seen the play area so packed.  It was pandemonium in there!  And I was proud to see Tim stepping up his big brother game and helping his little bro navigate the crazy labyrinth of kids:

Oh, yeah, Ryan Howard hit a homerun while the kids were playing.  That made the score 7-2 in favor of the Braves.

We couldn’t hang out too long in the play area because it was just way too crazy.

Standard Operating Procedure said next it was time to race…

…up the ramps to the upper deck.  We stopped to get a red-faced cousin photo in front of the big Citizens Bank Park sign on the back of the upper deck seats:

Before heading back toward our seats, I pulled out my camera, zoomed out across eastern south Philadelphia, and snapped a picture of a cool sight – the S.S. United States:

If you click that link above, you can find out all sorts of cool facts about the S.S. United States.  The ship has been docked in south Philadelphia along the Delaware River for years.  Back when I lived in Philadelphia, I always thought it was a little eerie when I would ride my bike up Columbus Boulevard past the ship.

We made it back to our seats in time to watch Chipper Jones strike out to end the top of the sixth:

Kellan got quite excited when the Phillie Phanatic made an appearance on top of the Phils’ dugout:

In the top of the eighth inning, Michael Bourn lead off with a double and then scored on a Jason Heyward single.  Next, we watched our final Chipper Jones…

…at bat that we will ever witness.  It looked like this:

It ended with fielder’s choice to SS.  And here is one of the final pictures I will ever take of Chipper Jones, after he took the field in the bottom of the eighth:

In the bottom of the eighth, Kellan was a little squirmy.  He needed to take a walk.  On our way back to the seats, we spied on Gill, Tim and Kate from below:

With the Braves leading 8-2, Kevin, Kimberly and the kids decided to take off a bit early to beat the crowd.  Before they headed out, I took some random pictures of Kate and Tim…

…and then we all danced liked crazy to our all-time favorite Korean pop song, Psy’s Gangnam Style:

Right before they headed out, we had Kimberly snap a great family picture of us – one of the best of the season:

I’m not sure why he was so excited in this picture…

…, maybe it was because I told him that we were going to head down to section 130 for the ninth inning:

After an unprecedentedly crazy BP, we figured we would make an attempt at getting a post-game umpire baseball.  Kellan gave home plate umpire Jerry Meals a target while the Phillies were still taking their hacks.

When John Mayberry grounded out to end the game, we sprang into action and this was the result:

Here’s what happened.  We were sitting in the fourth or fifth row in section 130.  There were only two people sitting in section 129 (the closest section you can get to the umpire’s tunnel without being in the diamond club).  As Mayberry grounded out, Kellan and I slipped past those two people in the second row and then hopped into the last seat in the first row.  I thought Tim was following me, but when we got to the first row, he was nowhere in sight.  I figured he must have stayed with Colleen.  As Meals approached the umpire’s tunnel, I called out his first name:  “Jerry!”  He looked up and locked eyes with me, pulled out a beautiful rubbed up baseball and tossed it right to me.

Just then, out of nowhere, Tim popped up from below.  He had run straight down the stairs to the dugouts and then squeeze by everyone in the front row until he made it over to us.  He promptly threw up his glove in a “I’ll take one, too, Jerry” motion.  And Jerry obliged (although he bounced his throw on the dugout and it ended up landing under the seats in a plate of food).

Double thanks, Jerry Meals!

By the way, the 13 and 14 in the last picture count the Paul Maholm and Kris Medlin baseballs that we gave to Gill and Kate.  If you check out our entry for this game on MyGameBalls.com, it shows 12 (not 14).  Anyway, it was a crazy, crazy day at the ballpark.

After the umps cleared the field, it was the victorious Braves’ turn to head into the dugout following their on-field celebration.  Pretty much the entire team (except for the relievers) cleared the field by way of the stairs almost right below where we were standing.  As Chipper Jones headed reached the top of the stairs, he balled up his batting gloves and tossed them into the first row.  They were tossed probably 5-7 feet to our left.  I was holding Kellan so I didn’t even make a move for them.  But the guy right next to Tim dove out to his left and intercepted the gloves before they made it to the people standing in the gloves’ direct path.  It was a pretty cool pair of souviners for that guy to take home.

Right after Chipper tossed the gloves, a fan maybe five rows back in the diamond club yelled, “Hey, Chipper” and Chipper half looked up and waved with his glove.  It was clearly nothing more than a “oh, hey, there fans” gesture by Chipper, but the guy took it (completely unreasonably) as a “Hey, throw me that ball and I’ll autograph it for you” gesture.  He immediately chucked a baseball at Chipper.  It barely missed Chipper as he ducked out of the way.  It was sour ending to Chipper’s night, I could see him mouth some non-appreciative words to himself as he ducked into the tunnel below us.  All-in-all, it was a pretty hilarious scene.  The guy’s baseball (which was already autographed by several players) hit some other player(s) and then ricocheted onto the field.  I thought the guards down there would toss it into the dugout never to be seen again.  But they gave it back to the guy while giving him an earful of non-appreciative sentiments.

We took two more pictures on our way out of the ballpark:

Right as we reached the car, the skies opened up and it absolutely poured rain down on us:

Meanwhile, Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate had just exited the subway in Center City and were getting absolutely soaked on the walk to their hotel.

From a historically crazy BP, to all of the “Games of Baseball,” to all the family fun, it was a great day at the ballpark.  Sadly, we would only have one more day at the ballpark in 2012, and it would be the next weekend in Baltimore.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

26/24 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
42 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 9, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
151 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 9, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6
24 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 11, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway   Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park9/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners  Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (3); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Family Vacation Baseball Sideshow in DC (7/22/12)

In mid-July, we took a family vacation to the Outer Bank in North Carolina.  Lo-and-behold, as we drove home on July 22, 2012, Nationals Park was right on our way and the Nats were playing a day game against the Braves.  The original plan was for the whole family to go to the game, but then Colleen decided to go shopping (for hours-and-hours-and-hours) instead of coming to the game with us.

So, under mildly threatening skies, Colleen dropped me and the boys off at Nationals Park right as the gates opened.  As we walked to the CF gates, Tim added a Nationals Park picture to his fire hydrant photos collection…

…and then posed for a photo with a Marine who (I think) was participating in a toys for tots collection effort.  That photo scored us some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

We headed into the ballpark and down into the LF seats above the visitors bullpen and discovered that the field was not set up for BP…

…and some birds were relaxing in the seats waiting for the game.

A couple Nats were playing catch in RF.  See that red arrow in the picture above?  We decided to head up there because it was completely empty up in the 200-level (compared to maybe 20-30 people hanging out in the field level in RF).

When we arrived, I took this picture of the boys…

…and Kellan made that hilarious face.

Tim looked around and was all like…

…, “Where’s Mateo?”

As you may recall, our last game was also at Nationals Park and we met up with MyGameBalls.com member and MLBlogger, Mateo Fischer, at that game.  So Tim just figured we’d always see Mateo at Nationals games from now on.  But Mateo was nowhere to be found.

But Tom Grozelanny (who was wearing Lance Nix’s old glove) was there:

I had no clue that this guy was Gorzelanny at the time (actually, Mateo identified him for me after the game).  When Gorzelanny and his partner walked out to RF to play catch, we waved at them from our seats in the second row and Gorzelanny gave us a big wave of his own.

When Gorzelanny finished playing catch, he got the ball back from his partner and attempted to throw it to us.  But he completely missed the upper deck.  He then went back to the bag of baseballs and grabbed a second ball.  On his second attempt, he intentionally tossed the ball five rows over our heads.  Since no one else was nearby, we had no problem finding the ball as it trickled back down toward the front row.

Interestingly, Tim, Kellan and I got a ball in exactly the same, two-attempts, second attempt launched over our heads method last September in just about this exact same location.  And guess who the two attempt making player was that time?  The one and the same, Tom Gorzelanny!

Thanks, Tom!

After getting the ball from Gorzelanny, he headed over to LF.  Tommy Hanson was playing long toss at the time…

…and we headed over to the first row by the LF foul pole.  In that picture above, an usher yell  is about to yell at Tim from the field for leaning over the railing to touch the foul pole.  Booo!

The Braves were on an odd schedule on this day.  The pitchers never came out as a big group to warm up along the LF line.  Instead, one pitcher would come out at a time and play catch in LF, about half way between 3B and the outfield wall.  Until 12:05, we couldn’t get into the infield so there was no action anywhere near us.

When they finally opened the rest of the stadium, he headed in and watched Johnny Venters warm up with Alan Butts:

As you can see, they had a bunch of baseballs sitting in the outfield for the pitchers to use to warm up, and several of them were Dodger Stadium commemorative baseballs!

But the weird, one-guy at a time method worked against all fans hoping to get a toss up.  We only watched two sets up pitchers warm up before we left the 3B line.  But every single Braves pitcher dropped his warm up baseball back in the pile *for the next guy* before heading back into the dugout.  I looked back about 10 minutes before the game started and that same group of baseballs was still sitting there.  Not of one of them was missing.

Anyway, while we wanted to get one of those Dodger baseballs, we decided to leave the field level after Chad Durbin and his partner finished playing catch (they had followed Venters).  We headed off in search of pizza.  Amazing, we walked all the way around the stadium and somehow missed the pizza place, which was right at the beginning of our walk.  So we ended up getting our standard (and delicious) Nationals Park nachos:

We ate the nachos in the shady seats by the RF foul pole.  In that picture of Tim, he is questioning why he would put the cap back on his bottle of water after drinking some water.  He just couldn’t fathom why a cap should be reapplied to the top of a water bottle once opened. Sometimes (well, often times), Tim likes to inject fictitious drama into otherwise mundane of situations.

After eating, it was getting close to game time.  But we headed back toward CF to check out the kids play area.  Unfortunately, there was a line at the play area.  We’d have to wait to get in.  So we decided to come back later.  Instead, he headed over to the MASN booth and got some funny pictures:

The MASN booth was also handing out free posters, which doubled nicely as bats.  We took the bats to a little shady nook behind the Red Porch and the boys took a whole bunch of practice hacks with their posters:

We had great seats for the game in section 135, row P (seats 1-2):

And, ever better, they were free!

Even with the great seats, we didn’t stay put too long.  Tim had dippin’ dots (in a cup, no helmet option!) and Kellan had a twist soft serve ice cream helmet.

While they ate their ice cold refreshments, I watched the Nats push four runs across the plate in the bottom of the first inning:

The biggest blow of the first inning was a 2-run homerun by Ryan Zimmerman.  The first also featured singles by Steve Lombardozzi, Mike Morse, and Roger Bernadina, and a double by Danny Espinosa.

Last Nats game we attended, rookie phenom Bryce Harper played CF.  At this game, he shifted over to RF:

You may notice something cool if you enlarge that last picture.  In that picture, you can tell that Harper jams two fingers into her glove’s pinky hole and doesn’t use the index finger hole.  He’s certainly not unique in that, but it is a cool little nuance of the game that I’ve never captured on “film” before.

In the bottom of the first I tried to get a picture of Chipper Jones getting a hit.  He got the hit.  But a fan below us stood up and blocked my view right when Chipper made contact.  So I had to settled for this much less historic and satisfying picture of Brian McCann not getting a hit:

And then it was time to check the situation at the kids’ play area.  This time, it was all clear.  Tim got right in and went to the playing.  Kellan is only two and isn’t allowed (by the Nationals) to go up into the play area yet.  So he had to settle for throwing one of our cloth baseballs…

…off the walls of the net room below the big slide.

After our round of playing ended, we headed back to that little shady nook where the boys ended up playing catch against the wall for a bit:

Tim was doing some great catching.  His catching has improved about 450% over the past six months.  I credit it to going through his first season of T-ball where he finally got to see how much fun it is to play defense.  Before T-ball, all Tim ever wanted to do was hit and hit and hit and hit, and hit some more.  Now he loves to play catch.  I love it.

As we headed back toward the RF foul pole, we were met by an alarming scene.  I couldn’t get my camera out in time to get a head on look, but…

…as we approached the escalator and stairs up to the second deck, a big group of about 20 cops, stadium security, and medics were walking down the stairs and the medics were carrying a fan strapped to a board.  I have no clue what happened.  But it was pretty crazy to see.

We ended up walking all the way around to the team store behind home plate.  But we had to leave the team store quickly because I Ryan Zimmerman came up to bat.  It was the bottom of the fourth inning.  And, oh by the way, Zimmerman had hit his second homerun of the day an inning earlier to give the Nationals a 6-0 lead.  I didn’t want to miss it Zimmerman blasted his third homerun of the day.

He didn’t:

Nope.  He lined out to Jason Heyward to end the fourth inning.

I just ran over to the standing room area in the concourse behind the 3B field level seats to watch Zimmerman.  When Zimmerman lined out, we turned around to head back to the team store and guess what we noticed?  The pizza place we had walked right by without noticing it earlier in the day.

So we grabbed a couple slices of pepperoni and headed back to our new favorite “nook” at Nationals Park to eat our pizza in the shade.  But turns out the Presidents had just raced and they were posing for pictures in our precious nook!  So we wandered a bit further toward RF and enjoyed our pizza at one of the picnic tables in the concourse:

After eating our pizza, we headed over to the RF foul pole.  Kellan has only been to a few Nationals games, but at every one so far Jim Lett has tossed us a warm up baseball between innings at the RF Nationals’ bullpen.  We’d stopped by the bullpen earlier in the game with no luck.  I figured we would give it another shot.

We hung out a bit in the SRO area just behind the field level seats.  Shortly after arriving, Bryce Harper hit a weak grounder up the middle for his only hit of the day…

…and Zimmerman again failed to hit his third homerun of the game.

We ended up hanging out by the foul pole for about 2.5 innings.  The first inning, Jim Lett tossed both warm up balls into the seats in foul territory.

We had a great view of both Bryce Harper…

…and Jason Heyward from our standing room spot behind the Nationals bullpen.

We were only going to make one more attempt before heading back to the play area.  The second time we headed down, Jim Lett passed along his warm-up position to one of the Nats relievers.  He threw one warm up ball into foul territory and kept the other.

But it wasn’t a fruitless attempt.  While the reliever was warming up Harper, I noticed that a stray baseball was sitting on the ground right below me and the boys.  I also noticed Nelson Robledo hanging out down in the bullpen.  I called out, “Hey, Nelson.”  When he turned around, I pointed at the baseball and gave him a “could you toss it up to us, please” look.  He pointed at the reliever (who I really think was Drew Storen) and gave me a “he’ll toss you one of the warm up balls” look.

When Storen (we’ll call him Storen, I really think it was) pocketed the second warm up ball, I called out to Nelson again and pointed at that stray ball again with a “how about now” look.  And he gave me a “hmm…yeah, I got you, man, but not until next inning” look.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Oh, I forgot to mention, shortly before this inter-action with Robledo, Kellan fell fast asleep in my arms.  It was well past his normal nap time.

We hung out for one more inning in the SRO area.  Tim did some birding with the camera on my phone.  We both tried to get a picture of Harper catching this fly ball…

…and only Tim succeeded.

I got Harper grounding weakly again:

He reached first one a throwing error.

Before the start of the next inning, which must have been the eighth inning, Nelson looked for us and then…

…tossed us a baseball from the back of the bullpen.  Kellan was still asleep at the time.  I’m not sure why, but the second I squeeze that baseball in my glove, Kellan’s eyes popped open and he was wide awake.

I shouted out a, “Thanks, Nelson!” (hmm…maybe that is what woke him up…), and Kellan immediately reached out and grabbed the baseball out of my glove while calling out, “Baseball!”

I think it was a nice way for him to wake up from his nap.

We headed back again to our nook to play catch a little more:

A line was already forming in the CF-LF concourse for post-game Kids Run The Bases.

By the way, the Nationals were pounding the Braves 9-2.

Rather than wasting time standing in that line while the game was still on.  No, instead of getting in line, after playing a little catch, we headed here:

We wanted to make a post-game umpire ball attempt and we found some great seats just about 10-11 rows behind the Braves dugout.

We watched Craig Stammen polish off the Braves and…

…then watched home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez unload all of his baseballs to kids in the diamond club seats behind home plate.

No problem there.  Tommy Hanson gave Tim some post game love in the form of this uniquely mis-stamped baseball:

Thanks, Tommy!

Finally, it was time to hop into the still long kids run the bases line:

As we walked toward the field through the Nationals bullpen, we got a behind the scenes look at the view Robledo had when he tossed us that baseball and hour earlier:

Tim and Kellan locked hands and then headed down the warning track…

…towards Kellan’s first kids run the bases experience.

When we reached the track behind first base, the boys were off to the races:

I thought Tim was going to run with Kellan, but the thrill of Major League base paths got to Tim and he turned on his afterburners.  By the time Kellan was 10-15 feet out onto the field…

…Tim was already to second base (behind Teddy and all of those Nats employees).

When Tim was cruising past the short stop hole…

…, Kellan slammed on the breaks and stopped half way between first and second.

I followed Tim with my camera and caught him giving Abe Lincoln a high speed high five as he approached home plate:

I then looked back to the right side of the infield and Kellan was still standing in the same spot.  One of the gals working the infield for the Nats scooped up Kellan and ran him around the bases:

It was pretty funny.  She set him down a bit before home plate and tried to coax him into running the rest of the way.  But he was having none of it.  I think he was enjoying the ride.  So she scooped him up again and they crossed home plate together.

When she set him down at home plate, he ran off toward the warning track at full speed with a big huge smile across his face.  So, despite getting a little overwhelming getting out on that big field all alone, he seemed to enjoy his first kids-get-carried-around-the-bases experience.

Before heading out, I took several odd pictures of the boys, and this was the best one:

As we left the field, there were some Nats employees handing out freeze pops.  The boys loved them:

Moments after leaving the stadium, Colleen scooped us up in our car and we finished our trip home from vacation.  Tim nailed it while we were walking in the concourse and he told me, “This is a great way to end a vacation!”

2012 C&S Fan Stats

15/13 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
22 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
81 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park4/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington; Kellan – Fredbird
3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

Kellan Visits CBP (9/5/2011)

Citizens Bank Park is the closest MLB stadium to our house.  But it is also sold out every single game.  Its crowded.  It’s expensive.  It’s not nearly as easy as, say, going to a game in Baltimore or DC.  That’s why it has taken me so long to get Kellan to a Phillies game.  But on September 5, 2011, Labor Day, it finally happened.

Actually, that has been the plan all season.  I bought tickets for this game months ago…before they were sold out, so I got them from the Phillies, instead of paying double in the “secondary market.”

All week, Colleen warned that the weather would be terrible.  But I’m a big believer in ignoring weather reports and assuming things will work out for the best.  When we arrived at the ballpark…

…the weather was perfect.  Warm, but not too hot.  Couldy, but try.  Perfect.

Once the gates opened, we headed to our standard beginning-of-BP-in-Philadelphia spot – the LF corner in foul territory:

At the beginning of BP, only LF and Ashburn Alley are open to fans.  In that last picture, you can see a yellow, plastic chain behind us, blocking us from entering the infield seats.  Section 140 extends from foul to fair territory.  It is the only foul territory open at the beginning of BP, and it is separated (because it is elevated) from the rest of LF.  So it’s the perfect spot for us to hang out.

When we got to this spot, Tommy Hunter was playing catch on the warning track with Braves bullpen catcher Alan Butts.  Hunter was out in LF and Butts was standing right below us with a guy in a khaki shorts and a polo standing with him.  My thought is that the guy in shorts was spotting Butts – i.e., making sure a batted ball didn’t hit Butts.

A month ago, I had no clue who Butts was.  But, as luck would have it, we were just in Atlanta on the GFS Roadtrip, so I knew his first name was Alan.  As one of his throws sailed toward Hanson, I called out, “Hey, Alan!?”  He looked up and said hi.  I asked if we could get the baseball when he and Hanson finished playing catch, and he said “sure thing.”

As we waited for Tommy and Alan to finish playing catch, Alan’s khaki’d spotter walked up the foul line to grab a baseball that had rolled to a stop on the edge of the warning
track:

As he came back to Butts, he wasn’t paying any attention to the batter.  Just then, a Phillies righty launched a ball down the foul line.  Usually, I am all over calling out “HEEEEAAAAADS!” when someone is an jeopardy of getting hit, but I was focused in on the ball.  I didn’t think it would reach me, but I thought we had a good chance at a ground rule double.  We’ll never know if it would have been a ground rule double or not, because it bounced hard off of the warning track and absolutely nailed Alan Butts’s spotter in the back of the head.  He went down hard and was down for a couple minutes.  It was ugly, and I felt bad that I hadn’t realized the situation and warned the guy.

I don’t think Colleen even noticed the situation; she was busy taking pictures of our cute little boys.  Like this one of Kellan (whose hair was going crazy):

Shortly after the spotter got nailed (or maybe just before…I’m not 100% sure of the timing), a BP homer (actually, it must have been just foul) was driller right over us on a
line.  None of the 10 or so fans sitting behind us was paying any attention to BP, I screamed “HEEEEEEEEAAAAADDDSSS UP!!!!!!!”

No one noticed, and it clanked off of one of the seats, bounced into foul territory and started rolling down the steps toward us.  But there was a guy behind us in the seats and I could tell he’d get the ball before it got to us.  Just then, I saw another ball dive into the seats in section 139 (in the LF foul corner).  It ended up coming to a stop right next to
the fence along the field.  I was the only person who saw it.  I pointed it out to an usher and asked if we could go grab it – it was on the other side of the yellow chain, but probably only 10 feet from us.

Instead of letting us go get it, the usher went to retrieve it himself.  Just then, Tim tapped on my back and shoved a baseball in my face:  “Look what that guy gave to me!”  It was the ball that had been hit over us.  The fan behind us grabbed it and gave it to Tim.  Tim handed it to me right as the usher was turning around with the other baseball
in his grasp.

I panicked for a second.  The usher probably wouldn’t give us the baseball if he knew we just got the other baseball (and we didn’t want the other baseball from the fan).  So I
hid the fan ball in my glove and accepted the other ball from the usher.  I’m pretty sure that ball was hit by one of the Phillies, but with all of the confusion with the other ball being hit over us, I’m not certain.  I guess it could have been Tommy Hanson over throw into the crowd, but that doesn’t seem very likely.  For one thing, it wouldn’t make
sense that an overthrow would roll back to the fence along the foul line.

Anyway, I got the ball from the usher and then I turned around and thanked the fan for giving Tim the other baseball.  But then I handed it back to him and asked him to give it to another kid.  He ended up giving it to an older lady that was standing with him…maybe his mom.  And he seemed happy to have it.

Luckily, Alan Butts didn’t see any of this.  When he and Hanson finished playing catch, Tommy started to run off with the baseball.  Alan called to him to toss it back.  When he got it, he tossed it up to us as promised:

Thanks, Alan!

I’m not an NL guy.  But I like Tommy Hanson.  So it is cool to get one of his warm up baseballs.

My wife doesn’t get to Citizens Bank Park much, so I asked her if she wanted to head out to Ashburn Alley to see what there was to see.  She agreed.  But on our way out of section 140, we ran into Harry Kalas!

Out in CF, we checked out the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye.  Then we did the speed pitch and Tim set a new personal best:  32 miles per hour!

We then went around the BBQ area and played the other games:

We were waiting for the rest of the stadium to open so we could head over to the pizza wedge.  We had a lot of time to kill because RF wouldn’t open until 5:35, and it was only 5:00 p.m.  So we decided to dine on dollar hot dogs while sitting among a throng of fans beneath the Richie Ashburn statue:

Tim and I finished our hot dogs while Kellan was still munching on his.  I asked Colleen if it would be okay for me and Tim to run down into the seats in LCF while Kellan finished his food.  She approved.   Tim and I ran across Ashburn Alley and as we took our first step into the seats I saw a homerun ball flying at the seats about ten feet below us and about 10 feet in from the aisle.  We kept running down the stairs as the ball deflected off the seats and bounced right in front of me.  I made the catch right in stride.  And then a guy down below yelled, “You’re right on time!!!”  It was pretty cool.

Moments later, I took a picture of Tim holding the ball…

…and Tim Hudson standing in LCF down below the section.  When I made the catch on that ball, I was standing in the aisle up by the lady in the white shirt and pink hat.
The ball essentially bounced over, around or through all of the fans sitting right there.  We’d come down there because I knew Tim Hudson was there and we wanted to see if we could get a toss-up from him.  But the whole entire section saw me catch that ball, so I felt a little funny about the idea of getting it and then going down and asking Hudson for a ball.  So we just headed back to Colleen and Kellan.

Soon enough, the rest of the stadium opened and we headed toward the pizza wedge.  We didn’t get the corner spot at the tip of the wedge because another father/son beat us there.  Tim and I hung out in the front row and Colleen and Kellan sat directly behind us:

While we were in the pizza wedge, Dan Uggla put on an extreme homerun hitting clinic.  First, he hit a homerun completely over the batters’ eye and into the Phillies Hall of Fame.  I’ve never see that happen before.  Next, he hit a bomb just to the leftfield side of the batters’ eye that landed on Ashburn Alley.  That was just plain ridiculous.

Eventually, a Braves batter hit a homerun that landed in the last row of the pizza wedge (2 rows above and slightly to the right of Colleen as pictured in the last photo).  It bounced down toward us, bounced into the back of Colleen’s seat (between her back and the seat back as she was ducking), and then bounced through the seat next to her (seat number 7 pictured above) where I grabbed it off of the ground.

That was good enough for us.  We skipped out on the rest of BP and headed over to McFadden’s…

…for dinner.

Colleen had never been to the McFadden’s at Citizens Bank Park before.  The bar area was insanely loud and probably would have given Kellan a monster headache.  But around the corner, they have a big dining room that was very mellow and essentially quiet.

We had a nice dinner before heading back out to the field:

The game was already starting when we headed out to the field, but we didn’t go to our seats.  Instead, Tim had requested a visit to the Kids Play Area:

Both boys had a lot of fun in the play area.  While it took a lot of coaxing, Kellan finally did go down the little kids’ slide.  The pitching match-up was Derek Lowe vs. Cliff Lee.  While we were in the play area, Michael Bourn made Lowe the loser when he smacked a grounder down the 3B line for a 2-RBI single.  That was all Cliff Lee would need, but not all he would get, on this night.

We had seats in the upper deck.  So when we left the play area, we walked up the winding ramp.  We stopped on the 200 level for a picture…

…and then we continued racing up the ramp.  Tim always makes me race him up the ramps.  And when he gets tired, he announces that the race is over.  When we reached the bottom of the last leg of the ramp, I got a picture of the boys with the Citizens Bank Park sign behind them:

And then we went and found our seats.  I bought tickets to this game through the Phillies website at the beginning of the season.  I knew they were in the upper deck, but had
no clue where.  Turns out, they were in the very back row of section 424.  It was actually a very nice view of the game:

From up top in section 424, we had a great view of the spots where “His Name Is” Dan Uggla hit his monster BP bombs…

…and we had walked right into the ricocheted BP homer.

And of the pizza wedge where the homer had sailed over us and then bounced back to us:

We don’t sit in the upper deck much, but we were having a great time and the tippy-top of Citizens Bank Park:

See how there is a chain linked fence directly behind our seats?  This is what was on the other side of the fence…

…a massive drop off!

We also had a great view of home plate, as shown here when Ryan Howard drilled a single right back up the box in the bottom of the third inning:

Whenever she joins us at a game, Colleen takes lots of pictures of her three boys – most of which feature Tim making some kooky faces:

At one point in the game, we got some unexpected comic relief.  The Phillies were listing off birthdays and anniversaries on the big screen and then they showed a lady standing in the crowd.  She immediately saw herself on the screen and started doing some fairly provocative and hilarious dancing for the cameras.  Meanwhile, he boyfriend was
kneeling next to her holding a box with a diamond engagement ring.  She was completely oblivious and into her dancing.  He must have said something because she stopped dancing and turned and looked at him.  But she looked at his face, and somehow completely missed that he was holding out the engagement ring.  He essentially lifted it up into her face so she couldn’t miss it…

…and then began the water works.  She started crying like a little baby.  Then she started hugging and kissing him.  So, I think it is safe to conclude that she said, “Yes.”

Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was pitching a masterful game:

And, at least on one play, he received some stellar defensive help by Ryan Howard:

He ran with his back to home plate all the way to the wall and made a very impressive sliding-sliding-away-from-the-field catch.

Derek Lowe wasn’t having as much luck as Lee:

He gave up the third and fourth runs of the night in the bottom of the fourth inning on an 2-RBI single by Shane Victorino.

After Chase Utley hit a triple with one out in the bottom of the fifth…

…Lowe eventually gave up three more runs.  First, Hunter Pence hit a double to score Utley.  Then, Carlos Ruiz hit a score Howard and Pence.  That made the score 7-0 Phillies.
And that was all she wrote for Derek Lowe.

Here is a nice picture I took of Tim, just for the heck of it:

When it was ice cream time, I was holding Kellan.  So Mommy was on ice cream duty.   Colleen sometimes wonders why I get so many ice cream helmets.  She got her answers after she bought Tim this delicious, but incredibly messy, ice cream cone:

Ice cream helmets make a great souvenir AND they catch all of the melting ice cream.  Cones are a delicious ice cream receptacle, but all of the melting ice cream runs down your hands and only your clothes.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Scott Linebrink replaced Derek Lowe and promptly gave up a solo homerun to Ryan Howard…

…; the first and only batter he would face.  That made the score 8-0 Phillies.

The Phillies tacked on a ninth and final run in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI single by Placido Polanco.

We tried to beat the traffic, so we started making our way toward the exit as the game wrapped up.  As we were walking through the upper deck concourse on our way to the ramp, Tim kept asking, “Why are we leaving?  The game is still going!  Why are we leaving!?”  That’s my boy.  I love that attitude.  Bud, unfortunately, we needed to get home
sooner-rather-than later because Tim had just started kindergarten and he needed to rest up for school the next day.  So we sacrificed the last three outs of Cliff Lee’s 9-0 complete game shut out win.

On the way toward the ramp, we got a parting shot of the boys with the scoreboard:

And that’s the story of Kellan’s first Phillies game.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
27/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers,
Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]
21 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3)).
76 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
12/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]
15/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamie Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star

GFS 2011 Game 4 – Giants at Braves (8/17/11)

On August 16th, we woke up and headed north to Dahlonega, Georgia to spend some time with my Dad’s aunt Eris.   I haven’t seen Eris since my wedding in 2003 and, of course, Tim had never met her before.

Over the previous couple days, my Dad had mentioned numerous times to Tim that we would go panning for gold when we visited Eris.  Dahlonega is home to the Consolidated Gold Mines.  I didn’t know what to expect, it was totally awesome.

We started out panning for go:

We each found tiny bits of gold in our pans of sand.  But a tiny bit of gold is all it took — Tim officially got gold fever!  GOLD!!!

Panning was fun.  But the real deal was the gold mine tour.  If you are ever anywhere near Dahlonega, stop in at the Consolidated Gold Mines and “Sleepy John” will take you one an
amazing tour deep below the surface of the earth.

We went down, down, down…

…into huge rock-walled caverns.

This was like old-timey movies.  Little train tracks through dark and muddy tunnels:

Sleepy John was a fountain of gold mine knowledge.  This mine has tons of cool stories.  It was sealed off and filled with water for approximately 80 years.  It has old-fashion drills poking out of the walls where the metal drills fused permanently inside the rock walls.  There is a turn-of-the-century motorized driller that was in place under water all of those long 80 years and still works – when they fire it up at 20% power it rattles the ears like crazy.

But the drills were nothing.  The real noise came from the dynamite blasts exploding in all of those holes the miners were drilling.  In the picture below to the right…

…Tim and I are hiding in a side tunnel off of the main tunnel where the miners would hide to avoid the shock waves from the dynamite explosions.

After the gold mine tour, we relaxed, went for a swim, and then had dinner out with Eris and my Dad’s cousin Karen and her husband Mike.  The next morning (August 17, 2011),
we had breakfast, went for another swim, did some laundry, said our good-byes to Eris, and drove back down to Atlanta.

In the afternoon, we were back at Turner Field for another battle between the Giants and  Braves.  On our way to the gates, we stopped to get Tim’s pitcher with Phil Niekro…

…and Warren Spahn.

Upon the ballpark, we headed to the section 143 in RCF right next to the Braves bullpen.  The Braves were just beginning to hit, some position players and pitchers were playing catch down the RF line.  We were in the first row right next to the bullpen when I noticed the pounding the bullpen roof has taken over the years:

This roof covers the entrance way to the bullpen.  The bullpen bench is elevated behind this roof, and the actual bullpen is behind the bench.  A few minutes later, a Braves lefty launched a homerun into the Braves bullpen.  It hit hard off of the fence directly behind the bench, and then it bounced back toward the field, and landed on that roof.  It must have had tons of top spin because it hit the roof and spun back toward the bench.  It was bouncing on a diagonal toward us.  I reached over the railing as far as I could, but it was just a couple inches out of my reach.

The ball bounced into the bullpen bench area where I bullpen attendant guy grabbed it, denied another guy’s request for the ball and pointed out Tim:  “Gotta give it to the kid!”

Here is Tim showing off the baseball (with a mouth full of water):

Thanks, bullpen guy!

The seats in RF aren’t open for the first half hour.  But we wanted to get over there because Tim Hudson was over there.  We have a goal of getting a ball from a “Tim.”

I looked at my cellphone and saw it was about 5 minutes until the rest of the stadium would open.  We headed into the concourse so we could be the first ones to run into RF.  But the guy watching the gate that blocks the RF concourse couldn’t let  us go until his supervisor radioed and gave him the “all clear.”  Turns out the supervisor forgot about RF and we ended up waiting about 10 minutes before they let us (and about 20 other people) into the rest of the stadium.

We headed over to the RF side of the bullpen toward the back of the section.  Bullpen coach Eddie Perez and bullpen catcher Alan Butts were walking around in the bullpen.  Perez walked over to the RCF side of the bullpen and pointed out a ittle girl standing up above with her family.  After he got her attention, he tossed her an unsolicited baseball.  He then walked around a bit more – I have no clue what he was doing walking back and forth in there, maybe he couldn’t make  up his mind what he was going to do next.  I pulled out the booklet they gave us upon entering the stadium and confirmed that his first name was Eddie.  Then when he walked by below us, I asked him if he could toss a baseball to Tim.  I knew he didn’t have one on him…but he just seemed like he might hook us up given the unsolicited toss up to the little girl.

Eddie held up his empty hands and said, “Sorry, don’t have one.  Wait, later!”  He then walked down into the bench and stairway area at the front of the bullpen. I figured that was that.  But five seconds later, Perez yelled to get our attention and then held this baseball…

…above his head.

Then he headed out to the field and hung out with Roger McDowell:

Thanks, Eddie!

I was pretty sure that Tim Hudson and all of the guys standing out there had seen Tim get the baseball from the bullpen attendant and/or from Perez so I didn’t think we had any
chance at getting a toss-up from Hudson.  So we decided to head around toward foul territory.

As we approached the RF foul pole, I got this panoramic view of Turner Field from the first row of section 135:

We planned to walk all the way around to LF foul territory in the front row of the infield seats.

I took this panorama from section 117…

…which is one section past the 1B bullpen.

Then they stopped us and made us head up to the cross-aisle when we reached the dugout.  Apparently, you can only go down in the seats between the dugouts if you have a ticket down there.  Several stadiums have that rule, and I think it is silly.

Anyway, the usher who made us head up to the cross-aisle was from Washington (and I was wearing my University of Washington shirt – in a final attempt to entice Tim Lincecum to
toss Tim a baseball).  The usher was a big fan of my shirt.  In fact, he was a U-Dub alum.  So we chatted for a few minutes before continuing on our way toward LF.  He was a very nice guy, as are all of the people who work at Turner Field.

As we were circling around toward the 3B side, the Giants were just starting to stir by their dugout.  Shortly, Tim Lincecum popped out of the dugout and started to play catch in shallow left field.  We found a nice front row spot right behind him:

When he finished playing catch, he partner tossed the baseball back to the bucket and we decided to head out toward CF.  Then something funny happened, as I exited the first row, I looked back to watch Tim follow me and I spotted something…

…(that is a little rawing of my eye) sitting under the seats right we had been standing.  It was a baseball!  It was tucked under the seat up against the
concrete step that raises the second row above the first.  How odd. But we’ll take it!

On our walk through the LF concourse on our way to CF, Tim posed with the Braves Statue of Liberty and a big Braves baseball:

Centerfield was rather uneventful.  Tim Lincecum, unlike the rest of his teammates, actually had fun again.  He saw my Huskies t-shirt and gave us a wave.  But that was it.  He tossed a few baseballs into the crowd, including a two somewhat near us, but they were random tosses with no specifically intended recipient on the other end.

Actually, CF wasn’t completely uneventful.  Tim and I set a personal record when we both separately failed to snag the same baseball.  Some unknown Giants batter hit a ball to the
warning track that bounced up directly to me.  It went out of view for a split second as it bounced and then hopped low over the fence.  It was right to me.  I mean RIGHT to me.  But it handcuffed me, clanked off of the heel of my glove and fell down into the gap.  I felt completely ridiculous for botching the catch.

Two minutes later, a Braves employee walked through the gap, grabbed the ball and called up to Tim.  Tim was wearing his glove, but made absolutely no effort to catch it.  Inexplicably,
he just watched the ball sail right by his face.  It bounced next to Tim and a 20-something guy grabbed it.  The usher yelled at him to give it to Tim, but he didn’t hear him.  That was cool though.  The guy was super excited to get the baseball and he was already showing it off to his girlfriend.  It was all for the best.  While I would have liked to catch the ball off the bat, I didn’t really want to get a ball tossed to us right in front of Lincecum.

A few minutes later, a 40-something guy scrambled for a homerun ball and then came over and gave it to Tim.  It was very nice of him.  But we don’t count balls from fans.  I knew someone else would appreciate the ball more than us.  So, when we visited the CN kids play area…

…I kept my eyes open.

While Tim was playing, a little kid who was probably 2-3 walked by with his mom and dad.  He was wearing a cool little glove.  I asked his dad if he’d been able to get his son a baseball during BP.  And when he said no, I unloaded the fan ball on him.  Of course, I explained that it was a BP homer by one of the Giants (which, indeed, it was).  The kid was
super-excited to have it, and I was happy to unload it.  It was win-win!

I have no clue what you call this thing:

But Tim loved it.  It was a room with black lights and all of these doors projected on the walls.  The different doors would open randomly and the kids would chase the characters
that would pop out of the doors.

Tim spent most of the time running around the cartoony-inside play area attractions, but he took a few minutes to wait through a relatively long line and take a quality hack on
the whiffleball diamond:

Before the game started, I headed up to the bar/patio above the seats in RCF and got this  panorama:

We then got some nachos…

…and reported to our seats in section 151, where this was our view:

Our seats were right on the aisle along the RCF side of the batters’ eye.   One of the closest players to our seats was 2010 post-season surprise standout Cody Ross:

Due to a combination of distance from home plate and lighting, I really didn’t get anything good in the way of action shots.  Both teams scored one run in the first inning.  The Giants
scored on a double by Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval.  And then future Hall of Famer, Larry “Chipper” Jones delivered…

…and RBI walk.

The Giants took the lead in the a 5-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning on a pair of singles by Orlando Cabrera and Eli Whiteside and a pair of sac-flies by Matt Cain and Cody Ross.  The score would remain 5-1 until the ninth inning.

It was time for ice cream.  Tim and I wandered around looking for ice cream helmets.  On our way out of the CF seating area, we got Tim’s picture in front of the play area…

…and above the Braves bullpen:

We made an interesting discovery in the concourse behind the RF foul seats:  if Tim got dippin’ dots instead of ice cream, he could get an extra cool blue and red Braves ice cream helmet.  He’d never had dippin’ dots before (well, maybe once at a fair or something, but never at a game) but he was game for trying them.  They had a nice selection of flavors.  Tim picked chocolate mint…

…and he loved them.

As we walked down the aisle with toward our seats with Tim’s dippin’ dot helmet, we saw something very bizarre.  A guy was sitting on the backside of the outfield wall in the batters’ eye area while a girl laid in the grass…

…a few minutes later, she started doing her make-up.  Soon enough, another girl joined them.  I have no clue what the guy’s role was, but during the next inning break, the girls ran out onto the warning track with checkered flags…

…and acted as the finish line for a race of some big tools.  My guess is that the guy was there to open and shut the door through the outfield wall.

Anyway, Tim was rooting hard for the power drill to win, but the hammer took the checkered flag.

The girls and the tools then walked through the batters’ eye grass (and sand where the grass had been removed to be transplanted to the field) and through a secret door below our
section of seats…

…, but before ducking into the tunnel the hammer did a big lunging dive and his hammer custom flew off his body and landed on the ground.  The guy then grabbed the custom and left.  It was an interesting little behind the scenes that you only get if you sit right on the batters’ eye wall.

Here’s a random picture that I’m including just for the heck of it:

I don’t know when my Dad took it during the game, or why Tim is making that “I’m an extreme cool guy” face.  The real reason I am including this picture is to point out my bracelet.
Reviewing all of our game pictures, I have worn that “cause” bracelet since approximately May 2008, and to almost 100 MLB baseball games.

It’s a “Free the West Memphis Three” bracelet.  It’s a terrible, terrible story all around.  It if you don’t know about it, check out the WM3 website and watch the incredibly disturbing (on many, many levels) documentary “Paradise Lost.”

Anyway, while I would eventually wear the bracelet for the rest of the Roadtrip and until we returned home, this was actually the last baseball game we would attend before the WM3
were, in fact, freed.  The news came out the next day, and they were actually released from prison after 18 years on August 19th before our first game at Tropicana Field.  So my wrist is now bare and looking for a new cause to support.

Back to the game.

The Braves have a guy who runs a lot of trivia games and other entertainment segments on the big screen between innings.  Late in around the sixth or seventh inning of this game, the Braves posed the following question to a contestant named Holly:

All signs are that Holly Brown said “yes”!

In the seventh inning, this beer vendor wandered by and stood in front of us for a few seconds peddling his wares:

I don’t remember his exact words, but he seemed so southern and gentlemanly as he made his “last call” announcement that he could have been straight out of a movie – hmm…if the made movies about southern gentleman beer vendors that is.

Since I wasn’t getting any good action shots, I figured I better at least get a picture of Chipper playing third:

Late in the game, my Dad took Tim for a walk.  They then returned requesting a penny.  Tim likes to put pennies through those penny-smashing-souvenir machines.  My Dad had one penny on him, but they accidentally pressed the wrong design on it!  They did the Braves logo penny, but Tim wanted the Turner Field penny.  Luckily, I had some loose change and, as a result, Tim ended up with two souvenir Braves pennies:

When they were out on their penny run, my Dad got a dippin’ dots helmet of his own.  After he finished his helmet, Tim and my Dad posed for some mini-helmet pictures:

And then Tim decided he needed some pictures of his water bottle wearing a helmet too:

Between innings, we asked the guy behind us to take a picture of the three of us.  We’d asked someone to take out picture after our first Braves game on the trip, but he ended up taking a picture of my Dad’s foot!  So we needed a good picture of the three of us at Turner Field.

The guy was too intimidated by technology to use my digital camera, so he passed the buck to his teenage son.  And the son delivered a nice shot:

The Braves were trying hard to mount a rally and get back into the game.  Whenever the Braves need a rally, they break out the Tomahawk Chop.  And you can’t do the Tomahawk Chop without some drum beating.  So where does the drum beating soundtrack come from?  Canned drum beating, you ask?  Nah.  The Braves wouldn’t do that.  Instead, they have the biggest drum I have ever seen out in LCF:

In the ninth inning, Tim and I decided to head over to the Braves bullpen.   As the Giants came to bat still leading 5-1, this was our view from the back of section 143:

And this was our view of Jason Heyward:

Just below us to our left, the Braves relievers were passing time on the bench…

…while Eddie Perez chatted up someone in the stands.

When he wasn’t chatting with fans, Perez was sitting on the far right side of the bench and was filling out pitching charts and other paperwork (it can be seen sitting on the green
platform thing in front of the bench in that last picture).

We decided to relocate closer to the field so we could get a better view of the non-action in the bullpen.  Tim got his picture with the relievers hanging out behind him:

When we were down there, we saw that Perez had a big, fancy line-up card like the one we’d gotten in Texas earlier in the season.  We were all set to ask him for it after the game, but we discovered that he’d pre-arranged to give to a lady over on the other side of the bullpen.

As for the ninth inning, it was very exciting.  The Giants scored two runs on sacrifice flies by Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff in the top of the inning to make it a 7-1 game, a blow out in the making.  But the Braves came out fighting in the bottom of the ninth and they made it interesting.  They scored four runs all with two outs.  Freddy Freeman led off with a single.  He then took second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout.  Freeman scored the Braves second run of the game on a two-out single by Jason Heyward.  Michael Bourn then hit a weak pop up to short stop that should have ended the game.  Instead, Orlando Cabrera recorded his second error of the game and Julio Lugo scored the Braves third run.  Martin Pradio then followed with a 2-unearned run (zero RBI) double scoring Heyward and Bourn.

It was looking like it was going to be another amazing comeback like our last game.  Tim and I were pulling for it to happen.  But then Brian McCann struck out to end the
game.

Final score, Giants 7 over Braves 5:

On our way out of the ballpark, we grabbed a stack of (unfolded) Braves pocket schedules, Tim got his picture with Hammerin’ Hank Aaron’s retired 44 outside the CF gate…

…, and I took a shot of the bright Turner Field sign that is on the outside of the stadium on the opposite side of the LF upper deck seats:

I would have preferred another comeback Braves win.  But all-in-all, it was a great night at a great ballpark.

The next day, we had a long drive back down to Tampa, followed by a nice dinner out at Tijuana Flats, and a relaxing swim in the hotel pool before heading to the airport to pick-up
a Roadtrip guest who would be joining us for three Mariners games at Tropicana Field.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
23/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
18 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2)).
62 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 5 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
11/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
8/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
2/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
* includes Spring Training** divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

GFS 2011 Game 3 – Giants at Braves (8/15/11)

After our last game in Miami, we drove through driving rain, thunder and lightning storms to a hotel in Jacksonville, Florida.  On Monday morning, August 15, 2011, we had a much more peaceful drive into Georgia…

…and to our hotel in Atlanta.

After lunch and a little bit of relaxing, we headed to Turner Field for our first of two games between the Giants and Braves.  With this game, Tim and I closed out the N.L. East – we have now been to games at Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium and Turner Field.  Following the A.L. West earlier in the season, the N.L. East is the second of the sixth MLB divisions that Tim and I have closed out.

We were a few minutes  late to the stadium because we misjudged traffic a bit so we hustled to get into the ballpark.  We did, however, take time to get Tim’s picture with two statues of all-time great and living legend, Henry “Hank” Aaron…

…and non-Brave but Georgia Peach, Ty Cobb:

Upon entering the ballpark, my Dad went off to look at hats in the team store and Tim and I reported to section 150 in CF:

Two funny things happened right when we arrived in CF.  First, the normally chained off TV camera area in the batters’ eye area was open (but Tim refused to walk out on it for a picture)…

…the Braves were using a pitching machine for the first round of BP.  I’ve never seen that before on a big league field.

Only the outfield is open for the fans during the first half hour of batting practice.  There was no shade and Tim wasn’t a big fan of it out in CF.  So right when the rest of the stadium opened, we hit the concourse, got this picture with Braves Mickey…

…and relocated to a shady spot down the LF foul line:

As we watched the Braves take BP, I spotted my Dad all the way across the field by the RF foul pole:

In that picture, he had just caught a baseball from Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca and he is looking up Tosca’s name in a little line-up card booklet that the ushers gave us when we entered the ballpark.

Meanwhile, we were having no luck in LF.  A Brave named “Vizcaino”…

…was shagging baseballs in LF but we had no clue about his first name.  Then I remembered that little booklet that as resting in my back pocket.  I had not even looked at it and I got the notion that I should check it out in case it could provide any assistance.  I pulled it out and found  the line-ups of both teams (with pictures of all of the Braves) and discovered that Vizcaino’s first name is “Adroys.”

Literally on the next baseball hit to him, Tim and I both called out, “Adroys!”  He looked over and tossed us the baseball.

Thanks, Adroys!

As we hung out in foul territory, Tim went crazy with the spray bottle (this picture was taken before he unloaded the spray bottle all over himself):

We watched Tim Lincecum warm up down the LF line…

…and a bunch of Giants BP from this same spot.  But the Giants are not a very fan friendly bunch – or at least they haven’t been during this Roadtrip.  So we were having no luck down the LF line.  Toward the end of BP, I noticed that Tim Lincecum was actually having some fun during BP out in CF.  So we headed over there.  Lincecum was the first Giant we witnessed actually interacting with fans and tossing baseballs into the crowd.  It would have been great to be on the receiving
end of one of those baseballs, but it didn’t happen.

So BP ended with one baseball in our backpack and one baseball in my Dad’s backpack.

Before heading off to check out Turner Field, Tim jumped into a funny little nook in the LCF and did his best statue pose:

Tim was super-excited to check out the kids’ play area that we passed by on our way into the stadium.  But on our way, we ran into the Braves mascot, Homer:

Homer was hanging out in a little courtyard’ish area directly behind the scoreboard.  You can see that area behind Tim and Homer in that last picture.  And on the right side of this double picture…

…you can see what the back of the scoreboard looks like.  The back-of-the-scoreboard scoreboard is a clutch move.  The only other place I’ve seen it done is at
Citi Field.  Well done, Braves (and Mets).  To the left if that last picture, Tim is standing in front of the Cartoon Network (CN) play area.  I am assuming that this means that Ted Turner owns CN.  Anyway, it was very different any other play area we have seen at a MLB ballpark, but the CN play area was a ton of fun for Tim.

He particularly liked this little station where he could throw balls at moving skeletons (that he happened to always refer to as Pirates):

Among other things (that we’ll save for our next entry), the CN play area also features a tree/boat to climb in and slide down (left)…

…weird electrical thingys (middle), and two whiffle ball fields.

After a while, I had to rip Tim out of the play area or we might have missed the entire game.  It was time to explore.  We headed from the play area to section 151:

And then we continued on the section 139 in the RF side of the Braves bullpen:

Behind the concourse in the RF corner, there is a switch back ramp all the way up to the upper deck.  Tim loves long switch back ramps.  So we had a long way up to the top of the stadium.  On our way up, we noticed that the players parking lot was below the ramp:

And it appeared that several guys were washing some of the players’ cars.

The ramp dumped us out in the concourse behind section 431:

We were at the RF foul pole, but the upper deck seats continue part way into RF so before heading toward home plate, we moseyed out to the last upper deck section in RF, section 437:

Looking down from section 437, we had an excellent view of Tim Hudson warming up in the Braves bullpen:

While doubling back toward the foul pole in the concourse, we noticed something very interesting – an Evacuation Route sign:

These signs are all over the place at Turner Field.  Anyway, back to our walking tour.  We swung around home plate and out to left field stopping along the way to take panoramic views of Turner Field from section 421…

…and section 405:

We stopped behind the plate to get this picture of Tim and Turner Field:

And then Tim scooted out of frame and we got this panorama from section 402:

Heading down the 3B line, we got this panorama from section 416:

And then we tried (but pretty much failed at) something new – a myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt bonus picture looking down at the “Turner Field” sign painted on the top of the 3B dugout:

Well, it sort of worked, but the sign was too blurry for my liking.

Continuing on our walk out to LF, we ran across some Coca-Cola cannons:

My Dad and I had been discussing whether they would have Coke or Pepsi at Turner Field.  It seems like most stadiums have Pepsi products.  When given the choice, we’re a Coke family.  I figured the Braves would have Coke products because Coke is based in Atlanta, and I have previously had Coke vs. Pepsi discussions with some Georgians and they would not even consider holding a Pepsi product let along drinking one.  Anyway, the Coke cannons tipped us off to our answer:  Turner Field is Coca-Cola territory.

From the concourse area by the Coke cannons, we had a great view of the Braves retired numbers hanging from the upper deck area in LF:

Let’s see, 6 is for Bobby Cox, 47 is for Tom Glavine, 31 is for Greg Maddux, 3 is for Dale Murphy, 35 is for Phil Niekro, 44 is for Hammerin’ Hank Aaron, 41 is for Eddie Mathews, 21 is for Warren Spahn, and 42 is for Jackie Robinson.

We continued on our way, and took this panorama from the concourse area above section 324:

Looking down from above section 324 (or thereabouts), we had a nice view of the interesting set up at the front of the visitors bullpen:

The relievers sit on top of the bullpen roof!

Finally, we made it all the way out to the end of the concourse in LF and we got this panorama from above section 336:

The 400-level extends all the way out to where I took that last picture, but there are no seats.  Instead, there is a random fake dugout, home plate, first base line, first base, and pitcher’s mound that kids can sit in, run on and fake-pitch from.  Here is a four part picture of Tim having some fake-field fun up there:

Behind all of this stuff, there is a nice lookout over downtown Atlanta, and some oversized Coke bottle chairs from which you can take in the view:

It was getting close to game time, so we started heading toward our seats.  But before leaving the upper deck, we headed up to the tippy-top of section 422 for one more upper deck panorama:

I was confused about the location of our seats.  They were in the “200 level,” which I thought might be the club level just up the field level seats.  But as we walked the main field level concourse (I say “main” because there is a lower tunnel concourse that is also a “field level” concourse), I noticed there were signs for sections in the 200s.  Here is a panorama from the concourse behind section 208:

It turns out that what we would traditionally call the “field level” is split into two parts – below the cross aisle and above the cross aisle.  The 100 level seats are below the cross aisle, the 200 level seats are above the cross aisle and the 300 level is that club level that I was thinking might be where we were sitting for this game.

We were still making our way to our seats when the game started.  We arrived at our seats in section 207 just in time to see Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval foul a ball off of his ankle and hit the deck writhing in pain:

Of course, we were late to our seats because we had stopped to get nachos on our way through the concourse:

Tasty nachos in Atlanta.  And the food service people (in fact every employee at Turner Field) are incredibly nice.  Everyone greets you with “Welcome to Braves
Country!”  And I mean EVERYONE!  You run into an usher in the ninth inning and you’re going to be welcomed to Braves Country.  But in additional to all of the “welcoming,” everyone was just incredibly nice and very much concerned about making sure you are having a good experience at Turner Field.  High marks for
everyone at Turner Field!

Despite a hit and an error, Tim Hudson escaped the first inning unscathed.  We were officially hoping to witness our second “Tim” pitching victory of the Roadtrip at this game.

Between the top and bottom of the first, we got this panorama from our seats in section 207:

In the bottom of the first, Brian McCann helped out the get-Tim-a-victory cause by hitting a solo homerun.  I missed the swing, but got a nice “trotting” shot of McCann:

This was the first game after Dan Uggla broke his (I think) 33-game hitting streak.  Uggla was looking to start a new streak when he followed McCann’s homer, but instead he struck out in an ugly, and I mean UGLY, fashion:

Half a second after I took that picture, Uggla was sitting on the dirt facing the umpire.  That pitch twisted him up like nobody’s business.

Leading 1-0 in the top of the second, Tim Hudson…

…gave up a leadoff single to the well-traveled Orlando Cabrera.

Between Cabrera and Eli Whiteside, I got this picture of the Braves very impressive group of Division, League and World Series Championship pennants:

NTS!

On this pitch…

Timmy H. (as I hope he was referred to in pre-school) coaxed Whiteside to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.

For the second day in a row, I had good luck with getting some action shots.  Here, Jason Heyward hits a towering pop up…

…and Brandon Belt waits under the baseball (circled in red) ready to make the catch).  My action shots aside, the highlight of the second inning was that the Braves extended their lead to 2-0 when Jose Constanza hit a single to LF scoring Freddie Freeman.

We were in the last row of section 207 (almost right below a big TV camera).  After he went to get some dinner of his own, I got this shot of my Dad…

…waiting in the concourse while the current hitter finished his at bat so he could head down the stairs (all one or two steps that it takes to get to the back row) and
rejoin us.

I have no clue who hit this ball, but here is Constanza camped under a pop fly…

…ready to make a put out.  Easily, my best action shot of the game.  Pop flies are hard to capture, because you never know when they will happen.

The Giants (much to my dismay) mounted a comeback in the top of the fourth.  It all started on a bizarre play.  Leadoff batter Aubrey Huff hit a line drive
right at Braves center fielder Michael Bourn.  The flight of the ball fooled Bourn and he jumped at the last second.  The ball ricocheted off of Bourn’s glove and then off of his face before falling to the ground.  Miraculously, Bourn was able to keep Huff at first.  But the error eventually lead to two unearned runs on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Cabrera and Whiteside.

In the middle innings, Grandpa volunteered to take Tim back to the play area for a bit.  All that playing built up Tim’s ice cream appetite so we invested in a pair of ice cream helmets:

The Giants took at 3-2 lead with a leadoff homerun by Nate Schierholtz in the top of the sixth.  And they extended it to a 4-2 lead with a leadoff homer by Mike Fontenot in the top of the eighth.

Tim and I decided to head down to the cross-aisle and take another shot at the Turner Field bonus picture:

That one worked better.  While we were at it, we got a picture of Tim and the field from the cross aisle:

And then, back in our seats, we got a picture of Tim, his trusty side-kick and stuffed turtle, Shelly, and the field:

In the ninth, we decided to head back down to the cross aisle in an attempt to make a go for a post-game umpire baseball.  On our walk over to the 3B side, we got panoramas from the cross aisle behind section 101…

…and section 108:

The Giants were still winning 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth.  It was impossible to get into section 108 to try to get into position at the umpires’ tunnel.  So we continued to hang out in the cross aisle.

Brian Wilson and his extremely played out and over-exposed beard came in to shut the door on the Braves.  But the fans weren’t going to let it happen
without a fight.  They went into full Tomahawk Chop mode:

The place was loud as could be.

Constanza led off with a single.  The Tomahawk Chopping grew louder.

Eric Hinske followed with a walk.  Louder still.

Julio Lugo came in to run for Hinski.

Constanza and Lugo advanced to 3B and 2B on a bunt by Michael Bourn.

The crowd when crazy some more when Martin Prado singled to LF scoring Constanza – Giants 4-3 with the tying run on 3B.

I was all set for Brian McCann…

…to win the game with an extra base hit.  But instead Wilson walked McCann.

Dan Uggla couldn’t get it done.  He struck out swinging…but he did manage to stay on his feet this time.

Finally, it was rookie Freddy Freeman’s turn at bat.  Down by one, two outs, two on, and with a full count: it was “go” time!

I was holding Tim so we could bolt down the stairs toward the umpire’s tunnel upon the final swing of the game.  The stadium was going absolutely crazy.  Screaming, hooping, hollering, and Tomahawk Chopping galore.  And at the climactic moment, Tim laid down his head on my shoulder and
the lights were completely out as Freeman connected on a slow grounder up the middle (as photographed by my Dad)…

…Lugo and Martin Prado hurried around 3B scoring the tying and winning runs.  Braves win! (But sadly not a Tim Hudson win).

I could tell Freeman’s hit was gonna do the trick.  It was a perfect slow developing play.  By the time the winning run was crossing the plate, we were five rows from the umpire tunnel.  We would have been right there ready to ask “Cowboy” Joe West for a post-game umpire baseball.  But every row was still totally packed.  It was absolutely impossible to get within even ten feet of the tunnel.  And Cowboy Joe sailed by without distributing a single baseball.

So, no umpire baseball for us.  But we did get a great view of the post-game celebration.  And we go this panorama from the front of section 108:

A few minutes later, Giants reporter Pedro Gomez walked by and started to pack up his stuff:

Before meeting up with my Dad to walk to the car, I got someone to take this hilarious picture of us (and Tim managed to half open his eyes):

All-in-all, it was a great day at a great ballpark.

The next day, we would have a day off from baseball, an awesome tour of an amazing old mine in Dahlonega, GA, and a very nice visit with my Dad’s aunt.

And then we’d be right back here at Turner Field on August 17th.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
22/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
17 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (1)).
59 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 3 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
11/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin
Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
8/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
2/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
* includes Spring Training** divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Sun-Baked PNC Park (5/23/2010)

It was a day game following a rain-delayed, extra late night game, and we were in the starting line-up.  Actually, you couldn’t keep us away from the Braves vs. Pirates game on Sunday, May 23, 2010.  This game was the whole reason for the weekend trip — our first ever Kids Run The Bases day at:

1 - PNC Parks Front Door.JPGThere was more rain in the forecast, but the rain was a no show.  Maybe it was exhausted from the long night at PNC Park the night before.  Sunday was a beautiful sunny day.

And it wasn’t just Kids “Run The Bases” day, it was an all-around “Kids Day.”  We arrived at the stadium about two hours before game time, and it was in full kids festival mode…

2 - PNC kids day pirates smiley cookie.jpg…but we didn’t hang around outside too long because we could see that the Braves were taking BP.  We headed into the ball park after Tim got a big, free Pirate smiley face cookie.

The BP situation was a little confusing.  Well, just the beginning of it.  We entered the park through the River walk enterance in LCF.   On weekends, the River walk opens 2.5 hours before the game and season ticket holders can enter the entire stadium at that time.  But non-season ticket holders (like us) have to wait in the River walk for the first half hour.  We know this because that is what happened on Saturday.

But on Sunday, we entered the River walk and no one stopped us at the CF/bullpen enterance into the main stadium.  So I figured it must have been less than 2 hours until game time and the entire stadium was open to everyone.  But as we circled the inner concourse, we could see people at all of the other entrances still locked outside the stadium.  We were in there with what appeared to be a bunch of the BP regulars, but no one was following us.  It was almost empty in there.

This would prove to work to our advantage.

The give-away for the day was a pair of wind-up pierogies.  Still in the box, I stuffed them into our backpack right after the guy gave them to Tim.  We were going to head over to the RF foul line to watch BP.  But as we passed behind the Pirates dugout, Tim asked for the pierogies.  So we stopped at the dugout so I could fish them out of our backpack.

After I gave Tim the pierogies, which he absolutely loved, I noticed that there was a baseball sitting in foul territory in front of the dugout.  It looked like this:

3 - Melky Snitker.JPGThere was absolutely no one else in the seats within 100 feet of the dugout.  When Melky Cabrera walked around the batting cage to our side, I called out, “Hey, Melky.”  He looked up and I pointed at the ball and then at Tim.  Two seconds later, Melky tossed the ball our way.

Thanks, Melky!

I turned my back to the field and gave the ball to Tim.  He showed me the pierogies.  We generally weren’t paying any attention to the field until I heard a loud “Hey!” from behind me.  Out of the blue, Braves third base coach Brian Snitker (who was in the process of hitting fungos to infielders) tossed us a second baseball.

Thanks, Coach! 

After the unexpected second baseball, we decided to head over to RF.  As we passed the Braves dugout, Tommy Hanson popped out and started signing autographs.  Tim grabbed the Snitker baseball and a pen and walked up to Hanson and said, “Will you autograph my baseball?”  I always think its cute when he asks for an autograph because it seems like most people just hold out a ball/card/ticket and a pen and the player grabs it and signs the item without any words being exchanged.  But Tim always speaks up and gets the player to verbally commit to the autograph while he’s still signing for other people.

Better than the autograph, Hanson also posed for a picture with Tim:
4 - Tim Cook & Tommy Hanson.JPGAfter parting ways with Hanson, we headed a little further down the RF line.  I watched BP while Tim played non-stop with his pierogies.  He was having a blast with those things.

I decided to take a panorama through the little chain link fence on the foul territory warning track:

4a - PNC 1B foul3.jpgTim kept playing and playing and playing with those pierogies.  He put them in all sorts of make believe situations, many involving the threat of falling off of the wall or a step or a chair while Tim or I had to save them from falling to the ground below.  Are are some random scenes:

5 - PNC RF line 5-23-2010.jpgSee the bottom right picture?  Someone hit a ball right down the line.  There was an open gate to the field.  I could tell the ball was going to hit the wall and then hit that gate and probably bounce into the handicapped seating area.  By the way, the rest of the stadium was apparently still not open.  There was literally no one else around us.  I could have walked the fifty or so feet down to the gate and still got the baseball.  But I didn’t.  I ran down there, reached over the wall and scooped the ball off of the warning track right after it clanked off of the gate.

Here are the three baseballs we got at this game:

60-tommyhanson-62.JPGBefore BP ended, we headed around to the LF line to watch the Pirates pitchers warm up…

6 - pirates throwing chipper waiting.jpg…and I got a shot of Larry “Chipper” Jones on the way.

After both teams finished warming up and returned to their clubhouses, Tim and I decided to grab some nachos and check out our seats.

On our way to our seats, we watched the Pirates’ cool scoreboard game intro video:

(Click 720 HD for the best quality)

I missed the beginning of the video so I am not sure, but my best guess is that the first statue (the one that steals second base) is Honus Wagner.  The second statue is Roberto Clemente.  And the third is apparently Bill Mazeroski.  The Pirates always have cool intro videos at the ballpark.

After the intro video, we made our way to our seats with a big pile of nachos.  Thanks to reading about a ticket sale on the Pitt Peas blog (Thanks, Matt!), these seats cost us $7/ticket for this game:

8 - PNC section 105 row V seat 10 panorama.jpgThose seats are Section 105, Row V, Seats 9-10.

As always, the nachos were excellent, but Tim had a hard time putting down his pierogies while eating and eventually he had cheesy pierogies that needed a major napkin scrub down…

9 - nachos and ice cream helmet.jpg…immediately upon finishing our nachos, Tim was ready for some ice cream.  We swung around to the 3B concourse to grab some ice cream helmets.

On our way back over to section 105, the game started.  As we passed behind the 3B dugout, I got this shot of Nate McLouth…

7a - mclouth foul bomb in 1st.jpg…he launched a monster foul bomb that just snuck over the last row of the RF bleachers.

We don’t like to be cramped in our seats and Section 105 was packed.  But Section 101 in the RF corner was almost empty, so we grabbed some ice cream seats there:

10 - PNC section 101 panorama.jpgAn usher was walking around kicking everyone out who didn’t have Section 101 tickets.  When he approached us he asked if we had Section 101 tickets.  I said, “Section 105, but we’re hiding out here in the shade so he can eat his ice cream.”   The usher said we could stay there because  Section 101 was a downgrade from our real tickets.  He then turned to Tim and said, “You can sit here, but you have to promise me that you’ll keep your dad under control.”  I gave him a courtesy laugh, but Tim was too lost in ice-cream-helmet-deliciousness to really respond.

Here was our view of the plate (zoomed in) from Section 101…

10 - milledge drilled in 2nd.jpg…in the second inning, Lastings Milledge got drilled by a fastball and it took him a few minutes to recooperate before he made his way down to 1B.

Once again, I was pulling for former Mariner Ronny Cedeno to have a big day…


11 - cedeno watching ball.jpg…he would ground out in this second inning at bat and go 1-4 on the day.

On Saturday, Tim was excited each time he saw the Pirate parrot.  He would point him out and say either “There is the Phanatic!” or “There is a big green chicken!”

By Sunday, he’d figured out it was a parrot.  And when Tim spotted the parrot coming up the stairs between Sections 103 and 105 early in the game, he yelled out, “Let’s get our picture with the parrot!” and he was off to the races.

We tracked down the parrot and got this shot:

12 - Tim and the Parrot.JPGTim and I are usually on the go a lot during games.  But Tim was very happy in our shady spot in Section 101.  We stayed there without leaving the section until the 9th inning.  This gave us plenty of time to get more action shots.  Like this one of Andrew McCutchen — who was just a bit early on this pitch in the 4th.

13 - mccutchwhiffen on this pitch in the 4th.jpgI got lots of good and funny shots of Tim who was having a blast playing with his pierogies or just generally being a kid…

14 - head banded dude.jpg…I love the head band shots.  We saw the head band at Target in the morning before the game and Tim just had to have it.  He didn’t wear it much, but it was hilarious when he did.

We wanted to see ejection-legend Bobby Cox get tossed from a game this weekend.  But he stayed calm.  The best we could do was to get these shots of Cox pulling starting pitcher Kris Medlen from the game in the 6th:

15 - cox pulled medlin in 6th.JPGWe had possibly the best view in the stadium of the photo finish in the pierogie race:

16 - pierogie home stretch.jpgThe results are in:  Section 101 at PNC Park is an excellent place to watch a game:

17 - watching some baseball.jpgAs for the game itself, it was an excellent one.  It was a pitchers’ dual between Kris Medlen and Zach Duke.

The Braves took the early lead in the second when Melky Cabrera scored an unearned run on a David Ross single.

The Pirates tied it up 1-1 in the sixth when McCutchen hit a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly.  Moments later, the Pirates took the lead when Garrett Jones scored on a single by Ryan Doumit.

Speaking of Doumit, I’ve never known much about him other than his name.  But after this game, I won’t soon forget him because, among other things discussed below, he impressed me by coming to bat accompanied by the sweet sounds of Danzig’s “Mother”:

(Click 720 HD for the best quality)

Excellent call, Mr. Doumit.

Back to the game, the Braves knotted the score at 2-2 with a lead-off HR by Eric Hinske in the 8th inning.

Later in the inning, Future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones pinch-hit for Omar Infante and bounced out to 1B (you can see the ball at the right of the of picture):

18 - hipper jones grounds out to first in 8th.jpgHey, how about a random cute picture of Tim and a pierogie?  Sure, here you go:


19 - Tim and pierogie.JPGIn the ninth inning, we headed over to the concourse behind Section 113…

20 - PNC section 113 panorama.jpg…to see if we could figure out where the umpires would leave the field so we could go for a post-game umpire baseball.  We couldn’t figure it out.

But we did get this awesome picture of Andrew McCutchen hitting a single to CF in the bottom of the ninth…

21 - mccutchen singles in 9th.jpg…if you click to enlarge that picture you can see that the handle of his bat broke when he hit that ball.  After I took that picture, a guy next to me in the concourse tapped my shoulder and asked me what kind of camera I was using.  He saw the picture on the preview screen and was impressed.  By the way, it is a Canon PowerShot SX200is.

When the Braves came to bat in the tenth, we headed out to RF in case someone would hit a homerun there.  On the way, I got this shot of the field from Section 125…

22 - PNC section 125 concourse panorama.jpg…and these shots of pinch hitter Jason Heyward — he walked:

23 - heyward in 10th.jpgHere was the nice sunny view from Section 137 in LF:

24 - PNC section 137 standing room panorama.jpgWe didn’t stay long in LF because we’d spent a lot of time there on Saturday.  We decided to check out the RF bleachers.  We walked around to Section 144, headed up the stairs into the seats, and grabbed two seats just above the tunnel.

Here  was the view:

25 - PNC section 144 panorama.jpgWe made the wrong call.  We should have gone one more section over toward the RF foul pole.  Because about 5 minutes after sitting down, Ryan Doumit stepped to the plate.  I said to Tim, “This guy likes Danzig so he might hit a home run.”  He did.  It was a screaming bullet of a line-drive and it landed exactly where we would have been had we decided to grab the same seats, but one more section over toward the RF pole.  The guy who got the ball was sitting probably 20 seats over from us and one row behind us.

With the walk off HR, it was TIME TO RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER!!!

26 - raise the jolly roger.jpgTime to go home?  Heck, no.  It was Kids Run The Bases time!

We got in line on the River walk and Tim hung out on my shoulders and watched the boats on the river:

27 - River walk river-watching.jpgWe snaked our way across the River walk, out to the street behind the 1B line, and through a tunnel that dumped us out at the field right below Section 101.  By the way, inside the tunnel we saw that there is valet parking under the River walk.  I’m guessing that is for VIPs.

Someone was nice enough to take our standard RF foul line picture…

28 - RF warning track.JPG…Unfortunately, the distance sign is at the very top of the wall so we couldn’t get it in the picture with us.

Another standard picture, approaching the infield on the 1B warning track…

29 - approaching PNC infield.JPG…the foul territory is very narrow down the RF line so we got to actually walk in fair territory part of the way.

Then the Pirates switched things up on us!  Before this game, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field, Citi Field, Rogers Centre, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park and Miller Park and at every one of those stadiums, the kids started their trip around the bases at first base.

But at PNC Park, they had the kids start from home plate…

30 - PNC Kids Run The Bases.jpg….note that in the top right picture Tim cut first base in order to pass about bunch of kids.  Hopefully the umpire wasn’t looking!

Another great thing about PNC Park is that they didn’t have people rushing us off of the field the second Tim touched home plate.  So we had plenty of time to get some more pictures.  I love this one featuring Tim and the “P” behind home plate…

31 - Tim and the Pitts P.JPG…and this panorama from behind home plate…

32 - PNC home plate field panorama.jpg

…and a father-son picture behind home plate:

34 - TJCs on PNC 3B warning track.JPG

Now check this out, I snapped a picture of the Pirates’ dugout…

33 - pirates dugout scouting report.jpg…and I saw a piece of paper sitting on the ledge behind the bench (yellow arrow to the left).  I took a zoomed in picture of the paper.  Above to the right, you see it is a picture of Omar Infante hitting a double off of Zach Duke.  At the bottom it says “DUKE vs. O. INFANTE  Inn. 6  Out 0  Runners none  Count 3-2  Fly Ball Double.”  I checked the game log, and this isn’t advanced scouting.  This is “in game” scouting.  Infante hit this double off of Duke in the sixth inning of THIS GAME!  That’s pretty cool.

How about another picture as we made our way down the 3B line?  Why not:

35 - Tim on PNC 3B warning track.JPGWhat a beautiful day and a beautiful setting.  Can you blame me for taking so many pictures of this great scene?

As we made our way to the far exit at the LF “corner spot, Tim inspected the dirt on the warning track:

36 - Tim PNC dirt inspector.jpgOn our way out of the seating bowl, we snapped this panorama from the cross aisle behind Section 129:

37 - PNC section 129 cross aisle panorama.jpgAnd this one from the concourse behind Section 132:

38 - PNC section 132 concourse panorama.jpgThen we said good-bye to PNC Park.  It was a great weekend at the ballpark.

But the fun didn’t end quite yet.  We still had four hours in the car ahead of us.  Here are just a couple of the sights from our drive home:

39 - heading home.jpgThe mural at the top left is about 2 blocks from PNC Park, across the street from the Andy Warhol Museum.  I thought it was cool that the mural had the windmills in it because there are a bunch of them in Western PA — as shown in the top right picture.

In the bottom left picture, that is a giant piece of art in Pittsburgh.  I think it was just across the river in downtown.  In case you can’t tell, the Robot man is made out of Pittsburgh’s yellow bridges.  Very cool.

In the bottom right corner, Tim is using his “binoculars” to see the sights.  He took a 20 minute nap in the car, but then was awake the rest of the drive home.  Highlights of the drive included Tim telling me about 50 knock-knock jokes in a row, most concluding with a chicken doing something or other.  Also, after discussing what championship the band Queen had won, we sang “We Are The Champions” about 4 times in a row at the top of our lungs.   Good times on the road.

When we arrived home (about 2.5 hours after Tim’s bed time) Tim was still wide awake.  He proceeded to tell mommy all of the great things we’d done and seen over the weekend.

The weekend was a complete success.  Thanks, Pittsburgh.

2010 Fan Stats:

7 Games

9 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)

7 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, & Nationals)

19 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves)

5 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)

6 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)

5 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson and Scott Olsen)

4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park) 

The Braves and the Metropolitans (4/24/10)

On Saturday morning, April 24, 2010, we found ourselves on the 7-train weaving our way through the roof tops of Queens, New York…

1 - watching queens.JPG…we were on our way to Citi Field…

2 - citi field 2010.jpg…and a game between the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets.

Our travels took longer than we expected, so we missed all of the Mets BP and arrived probably half way through the Braves BP.  We headed down the 3B line toward the LF corner and grabbed a spot to watch the action.

3 - citi field apple and BP.jpgIn our third game at Citi Field, I finally remembered to take a photo of the home run apple while it was “up.”  This apple is much bigger than the old Shea Stadium apple and instead of being in a top hat it is just in a random raised opening in center field.  Its not a bad home run apple, but I favor the old Shea apple, which seemed to have more of a *kitsch* factor.

During BP, we ran into MLBloggers Joe and Alex, whom we had spent time with last October during a rain-soaked game at Citi Field.  Tim just loves hanging out with these guys.  The day after this game, he couldn’t stop telling his mom about his buddies (e.g., “Did you know Joe has two dogs?”  “Alex shared his peanuts with me!”).  Anyway, the four of us headed over to the Braves dugout toward the end of BP and one of the guys took this picture of us on the way through LF…

4 - TJCs at Citi LF.JPGHere was our view from behind the 3B dugout:

5 - citi section 121 sunny day panorama.jpgLook how happy Tim was hanging out with the guys:

6 - Tim Alex and Joe.JPGAnd we ran into Mr. Met before the game…

7 - Tim and Mr Met.JPG…we’d seen Mr. Met in the OF last season but never got Tim’s picture with him.  So it was cool to get another chance.

During BP, I noticed how the seats at the top of the LF upper deck appear to be tucked away under the out of town scoreboard…

8 - seats under scoreboard.JPG…they reminded me of some seats we visited at Rogers Centre last season.  I decided we’d have to check out those seats during the game.

Here’s a shot of Tim and Alex in deep discussion about the intricacies of peanut cracking…

9 - peanuts with alex.JPG…see the little bit of dust on the corner of the dugout, those are Tim’s peanut shells.  He was trying to crack them on the cement because his fingers weren’t strong enough to crack them on his own.

Shortly before the game, several Braves came out of the dugout to stretch, run and play catch behind third base.  Here is hot shot rookie Jason Heyward…

10 - heyward national anthem.JPG…Alex came away with that baseball in Heyward’s glove.

As the game started, we split away from Joe and Alex and headed toward the kids play area in center field.  The Mets have batting cages and a whiffle ball field in CF, but not a playset like at many stadiums.  Tim was excited to do some hitting.  But on the way out to the whiffle ball field, he asked, “Why isn’t Alex coming to watch me hit?”  It was pretty funny.  I think he remembered that last season, Alex did just that.

The first thing we noticed was that they moved the batting cages from behind the RF wall of the whiffle ball field to behind whiffle ball infield.  Before hitting, Tim worked his way across the outfield shagging balls hit by other kids:

11 - citi fielding 2010.JPGThen it was Tim’s turn at bat.  Here is a video…

Next, it was time to hit the soft toss batting cage…

12 - citi cage 2010.JPG…that bat is still way too heavy for Tim, but he had fun hitting in the cage nonetheless.

 After some hitting, we found our way up to the last row of the upper deck in deep left center field…

13 - citi section 538 last row panorama.jpg…where we watched a couple innings from behind the scoreboard while we ate some chicken nachos…

14 - citi field chicken nachos.JPG…and Tim started collecting food on his t-shirt.  A lot more would follow those stray cheese drips.  By the end of the day it was an impressive “collection.”

I was excited to see what this Jason Heyward guy was all about.  I ended up photographing all of his at-bats at this game, all from different spots in the stadium.  However, he hit the third pitch of this at-bat up the middle for a single…

15 - jason heyward single up middle.jpg….before I could clean the cheese from my fingers and get out my camera.  So, one Jason Heyward at-bat and one hit.  Not too shabby.

While Tim kept piling in the nachos (like his parents, he loves nachos!), I got this picture of David Wright…

16 - david wright grounds out in second.JPG…grounding out.  And this picture of Larry “Chipper” Jones hitting a foul ball:

17 - chipper jones foul ball in third.JPGAfter the nachos, we were on the move.  We circled the whole stadium looking for an ice cream helmet.  We must have missed them because we couldn’t find them for a long time.

I took this picture of the big open concourse area above the Jackie Robinson rotunda…

18 - citi above rotunda 2010 panorama.jpg…I took this picture because that “Big Apple Brews” in the middle of the concourse wasn’t there last season.  Its a new addition this season, one of several at Citi Field.

We finally found ice cream in CF.  It was packed and we didn’t want to find a place in the sun, we went down under “Shea Bridge” and Tim at his ice cream behind the bullpens.

19 - ice cream by the bullpens.jpgBy the way, last season, the Shea Stadium Home Run apple was stationed right where this table now sits under Shea Bridge.  You can *sorta* see the field from behind the bullpens.  But there are a couple flat screen TVs on the wall right above the bullpens so we could watch the game while Tim ate his ice cream.  We also watched the Braves relief pitchers do some stretching.

Right when we arrived behind the bullpens, Heyward came to the plate…

20 - jason heyward fouls back pitch in fourth.jpg…so we ran up the stairs and snapped this picture from Shea Bridge of Heyward fouling a pitch straight back (its right on the catcher’s right knee).  He eventually struck out in this at-bat.

After ice cream, we explored a bit more.  We found ourselves in the concourse behind 1B when Heyward came to the plate in the sixth inning.  He eventually walked…

21 - jason heyward walks in sixth.jpg….by the way, according to baseball-reference.com, Jason Heyward is 6′ 5″ and Braves first base coach Glenn Hubbard is 5′ 9″.

After watching Heyward walk, we decided to check out another new feature at Citi FIeld, the Mets Hall of Fame in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.

Tim posed with the 1969 and 1986 World Series trophies…

22 - mets hall of fame 2.jpg….it was cool to see the 1986 trophy because it was the first World Series that I really followed as a kid.  However, I was rooting for the Red Sox who had traded during the 1986 season for two Mariners, Dave Henderson and my at-the-time favorite player, Spike Owen.

Tim also stared down legendary Mets manager, Case Stengel…

23 - mets hall of fame 1.jpg…that’s a great little statute.

Before heading back up to the field level, we snapped this picture of Tim…

24 - tim trailblazer humanitarian american.jpg…standing in Jackie Robinson’s foot steps.

Finally, we went to the 3B side concourse where we watched the rest of the game from the SRO area behind the seats in (approximately) section 124:

25 - tim lounges in citi field SRO area.jpgThe game was a pitchers dual.  In the bottom of the sixth, the Braves were winning 1-0 until Jason Bay hit this RBI double off the wall in left center field…

26 - Jason Bay RBI double in 6th.jpg…scoring Jose Reyes and tying up the game at 1-1.

In the seventh inning, Walla Walla Washington’s own (and former Mariner) Eric O’Flaherty entered the game for the Braves….

27 - Walla Walls Eric OFlaherty in 7th.jpg….he only faced one batter and probably threw over to first as many times as he threw to the plate.  Eventually, he retired his only batter of the day, Alex Cora.

In the eighth inning, with the Mets leading by a score of 3-1 (the ultimate final score), Jason Heyward almost grounded into a double play (see the ball bouncing in the dirt to the far left)…

28 - jason heyward grounds into FC in 8th.jpg…but he beat the throw to first.

In the 8th inning, neither Jose Reyes nor David Wright could add any insurance runs for the Mets:

29 - jose reyes and david wright in 8th.jpg

30 - umpire bruce dreckman.jpgWe didn’t manage to catch a ball during BP.  So we were hoping we would get a chance for an umpire ball after the final out of the game.  The home plate umpire was Bruce Dreckman.

The only problem is that the Mets ushers religiously check the tickets of all patrons entering the field level seats during the entire game.  When it got to the top of the ninth inning (with the home team winning) and they were still checking tickets, I figured it just wasn’t in the cards for this game, which was fine because we’d had a great day at the ballpark already.

But then something funny happened, with one out in the top of the ninth, Alex came walking up the stairs to the concourse.  He was looking for us and he was armed with a field level ticket for a section right by the umpires tunnel.  He flashed his ticket for the usher and we were all admitted to the seats with one out to go in the game.  We met up with Joe just a short distance from the umpires tunnel.  We had just enough time to say hi to Joe when Martin Prado (in for Chipper Jones who got hurt somehow during the game) grounded out to end the game.

Even before the ground ball reached Jose Reyes, we were standing next to the umpires tunnel.  Tim called out to “Bruce!!!” as he exited the field.  Dreckman reached out and set a nice rubbed up gamer into Tim’s left “Go, Deigo, Go!” glove-clad hand (as shown above, Tim likes to wear these gloves at games because he thinks they are like batting gloves).  However, with the thick and slick glove on his hand, his left hand wasn’t big enough to palm the ball and he dropped it back into the tunnel.  Luckily, another umpire (I think Paul Emmel) saw the whole thing unfold and he picked it up and handed it back to Tim.

Thanks, Mr. Dreckman and (probably) Mr. Emmel!  And thanks, Alex, for the assist!

Tim was exited to collect his third umpire ball in as many games this season and he celebrated by balancing it on his head while sitting on the 3B dugout:

31 - umpire ball from bruce dreckman.jpg(Check out his serious face as he balances the ball on his head).

We hung out with Joe and Alex for a few more minutes behind the dugout before getting in line for Kids Run the Bases.  Tim was excited to chat up his guys a little more.

While by the dugout, something funny happened.  A teenage guy was behind the dugout with a baseball and he asked for an autograph from every Braves player and coach who walked into the dugout.  He was getting no takers.  So, eventually, he asked a Mets stadium attendant standing at the top step of the Braves dugout for her autograph.  Finally, he had a taker.  Then, he jokingly asked every police officer, security guard or random attendant to sign his ball.  I didn’t see him get any more takers.  Eventually, he asked Joe to sign his ball.  Then, he asked Tim.  So, here you go, Tim’s first ever autograph signed for a fan at an MLB game…

32 - tim autographs baseball.jpgJoe helped him hold the ball steady and he wrote a shaky but legible “T-I-M” on the ball.  Then for good measure (at the request of the ball’s owner), he did a little scribble next to his “signture.”  Tim got a kick out of the experience.

And just like that it was time for Kids Run the Bases.  The line was massively long and it took a long time to get back into the stadium.  But as we entered though the bullpen area, we were afforded a special behind the scenes glimpse of the bullpen area:

33 - moes club and mets bullpen.jpgTo the left, that is the Moe’s Club right behind the RF wall.  There is a restaurant (at least it looked like one) behind this seating area.  To the right, that is the little room where the relief pitchers sit in the Mets bullpen.

I got a couple pictures before (right) and after (left) Tim ran the bases…

34 - citi warning track 2010.jpg…but I didn’t get any running the bases pictures because I was too busy running the bases behind Tim filming this high speed video clip of Tim:

I also enjoy it when I am allowed to “chaperone” Tim around the bases — something I have now been allowed to do at Citi Field, Rogers Centre, Miller Park and Progressive Field.

After running the Citi Field bases, we headed out to the parking lot and Tim ran the Shea Stadium bases:

35 - running shea stadium bases.jpgAlthough we attended a game in 2008 when Shea and Citi were right next to each other, I was still amazed at how close the Shea Stadium base placques were to Citi Field.

Finally, we got a picture with the Shea Stadium home run apple…

36 - shea homerun apple.jpg…and called it a day.  We hopped the 7-train back to Manhattan, picked up some pepperoni pizza and garlic knots, and drove home.   After leaving the house at 8:00 a.m. in the morning, we arrived home at about 9:00 p.m….thirteen hours well spent on another father-son baseball adventure.

2010 Fan Stats:

3 Games

6 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)

3 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Mets, & Nationals)

11 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires)

3 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citi Field)

2 Player Photos (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

2 Autographs (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

2 Kids Run The Bases (Nationals Park, Citi Field)

 

Braves vs. Phils (5/8/09)

Well, I’m behind in my blogging due to a computer virus that took out my computer.  But I’m back now.  In the meantime, Tim and I the Braves and Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

 

Thumbnail image for citz from pattison.jpg

Now that we’ve seen the Braves, we have completed the N.L. East, our second completed division.  Here was the scene as we walked from the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot:

tailgating.jpg

Cole Hamels was pitching and was still winless on the season:

hamels.jpg

After watching a couple innings from the SRO area behind home plate, we headed over to the play ground where Tim had an absolute blast:

play area.jpg

Next, we headed out to the left field corner where we got Tim an ice cream helmet.  We’d never watched a game from that area.  We liked it a lot.  Very cool.  Here’s the view:

citz LF corner SRO panoramic.jpg

And, as usual, Tim loved his chocolate ice cream helmet with sprinkles:

ice cream helmet devoured.jpg

Yeah, he got passionate about that ice cream.

Next, we decided to head up to the upper deck:

citz upper deck.jpg

And we got this panoramic view from the back row of the upper deck:

citz home back row.jpg

Later on, we headed back down to the field level where we watched the last couple innings standing next to one of the TV cameras.  We got some shots of R-Ho:

R-ho.jpg

“R-Ho,” why hasn’t that caught on?  Come on?

Of course, we cheered on Raul Ibanez too:

raul batting.jpg

So guess what?  The Phillies won:

phils win.jpg

The scoreboard showed Hamels’ “W” and it was his first since the World Series:

hamels 1st win.jpg

I got some dude to take a not-very-good picture of Tim and I in front of the Phils’ dugout:

dugout shoulders.jpg

And I snapped a few extra picts for this dugout panoramic:

citz phils dugout.jpg

9 Games
4 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, and Citi Field)
10 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres)
7 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies (2) and Mets)
4 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers)
2 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2) and The Bird (O’s))

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers