Results tagged ‘ Avi Miller ’

One More In Cincinnati (7/6/2013)

We woke up at the Millennium Hotel in Cincinnati on the morning of July 6, 2013, ready for some more great Mariners baseball action.  Unfortunately, we woke up to a rain soaked city.  For a few hours in the morning, I could not imagine the game getting played.  I was thinking rain out all the way.

We passed the morning hours by being incredibly lazy in the hotel room:

By the way, Kellan is flexing his muscles to show off the tattoo that he got at the dinosaur place the day before.

Eventually, we decided we needed to run to the parking garage to grab an umbrella.  No luck.  So the boys, Avi and I trekked around rainy downtown Cincinnati looking for umbrellas.  On our walk, we passed by a shiny metal…thingy…that made us look like we were in a house of mirrors:

And then it was off to Skyline Chili for some traditional Cincinnati food:

It was scheduled to be a 4:10 start.  We had nothing else to do.  So after lunch, we headed over to the ballpark:

It stopped raining on our walk.  Still, we were doubtful there would be BP.   When we walked into the lobby to the Reds Hall of Fame, we were informed that the early BP tour was cancelled because the teams would not be taking BP.  So this was our third Mariners game of the season and third time not getting to see the Mariners take BP.  So sad.

We decided to tour the very awesome Reds Hall of Fame.  Here are some random shots that explain very little about the first room you enter at the Reds Hall of Fame:

Note the big Ken Griffey, Jr. autograph on the wall.  Very nice.

Ringing this entire room there are autographed baseball cards from what appears to be almost everyone who has ever played for the Reds.  When you first walk in the door, there are autographed cards from the very beginning of the organization, and it just moves through the years as you walk around the room.  Relatively near the end, we found Griff (far right below)…

…there is also a computer on the wall on which you can look up past Reds (middle aboe is the info page for Griff).

Down the hall, Avi found a board for visitors to leave their own autographs.  Avi had the bright idea for us to sign in blue sharpie, which stood out in the sea of mostly black ink:

I signed for Kellan since, you know, he was 2 at the time and can’t sign his own name.   By the way, I’ve historically worn number 18 so I signed an “18” next to my name like I’m a Big Leaguer.  Tim signed his “55,” the number he has worn every season of his Little League career to date.  Kellan wanted a number of his own and he pulled “6” out of thin air.  Avi had no number to add to his signature, which was quite sad.  Sorry, Avi.

Down at the end of the hall, I took this picture out of the window:

It looks cool out there.  We have to check out that area next time we’re in Cincinnati.

Before heading upstairs, we headed into the baseball stadium designed auditorium…

…and watched a cool little video about the history of the Reds.

The stairs and the entire area upstairs was crazy because there were some former Reds signing autographs up there, and a long line of Reds fans started on the stairs and ran all the way to the other end of the building where the payers were signing.

We had to wait for a break in the line to get this picture of the boys…

…with a whole bunch of Joe Morgan’s rings.

Upstairs there are some interactive attractions for the kids, including this pitching set up:

Behind home plate you can look through the umpire’s face mask and call balls and strikes.  On the other side, there is a sensor on the wall that calls actual balls and strikes based on your pitches from the mound.

In another room, there is a little play area for the kids:

There was a crazy kid in there who was hyping Tim and Kellan up, until he hurt himself by falling through a hole in the ceiling/floor – he fell from the upper level of theplay area back down to the lower level.

In other news, check out Avi’s cool baseball glove chair.

Here are some other random areas in the upstairs portion of the Reds Hall of Fame:

Avi and Tim celebrated with a  bunch of Big Red Machine statues:

Above to the left, that is Tim and Ken Griffey, Sr. (formerly known simply as Ken Griffey during his days with the Reds).

At the far end of the upstairs, we finally found the former Reds who were signing autographs (I still have no clue who they were)…

…and we walked (quickly) through the Hall of Fame gallery.

We walked quickly through the gallery because I noticed out the window that THE GATES WERE OPEN!

I had no clue what was going on.  We knew when the gates were supposed to open, and it wasn’t supposed to be for another 10-15 minutes…or so we though.  So we scurried out of the Hall of Fame and into the ballpark.

When we reached the field…

…there were absolutely no players anywhere to be found.  The frustrating thing is that there were a bunch of spike marks all over the warning track.  The Mariners had already been out there throwing and we missed seeing them.  So, so, so very sad.

We sat around and did absolutely nothing for a long, long time.  Actually, not nothing.  Avi and Tim talked over how to score a baseball game:

And Kellan took a half hour nap on my shoulders:

Avi eventually went off to explore the ballpark a bit.  Tim, Kellan and I headed out to the Mariners bullpen in RF…

…when reclamation project Jeremy Bonderman prepared for his final game as a Mariner (maybe his final game of his career):

See Danny Farquhar (No. 40) in the bullpen in that last picture?  He came over and ended up talking to a guy next to us for a while.  He signed a few baseballs and tossed them up to the guy.  After they finished chatting and Farquhar returned to the bullpen, the guy mentioned that he was Farquhar’s little league coach.  I thought that was pretty cool.

It was also pretty cool when Jason Phillips came over and tossed us a couple baseballs after Bonderman finished warming up for the game:

Thanks, Jason!

Jason is always a cool dude.  It’s always great to see him.

Something else cool happened when we were over by the bullpen.  Alice Cooper threw out the ceremonial first pitch:

Check out Alice’s awesome choice of jersey number!  18!  Excellent.

We hung out by the bullpen until just a few minutes before game time.  From there, we headed around the batters’ eye on our way to our seats in the LF upper deck.  Check out these tall guys we passed on our way:

This game started almost exactly like the day before (unfortunately, it didn’t end like the previous day’s game).

The boys and I went to get some nachos before heading to our seats.  We walked around the back side of the nacho stand to watch the first pitch:

Actually, we watched Brad Miller’s entire lead-off at bat.  He grounded out.

Then we bought our nachos – check ‘em out!

Like the day before, when we returned to our seats after watching the first batter of the game, the Mariners were leading 2-0.  Endy Chavez had followed Miller with a single, and then Kyle Seager hit a 2-run bomb.  Excellent.

Here was our view from the back of section 405:

We had a great time clowning around in the back row:

And, of course, eating some ice cream:

Yes, we ate all of our food at this game out of helmets:

Here’s something you don’t see everyday from the bleachers of an MLB stadium…

…a coal barge passing by RF.

Here’s something else you don’t see everyday at an MLB stadium (unless you are me)…

…an ice cream-drip-stained Mariners hat.  I’ve committed to wearing this hat to every MLG game we attend until I have worn it at all 30 MLB ballparks.  It has been to 29 of the current ballparks, all but Chase Field.  The plan is to get to Chase Field again next season and then retire this trusty old hat.

The actual game action is too sad to track in detail here.  This Dustin Ackley double…

…was a highlight.  But there were many lowlights.  The Mariners got creamed.

But we managed to have lots of fun anyway up high in the LF bleachers:

Check out this huge load of stuff I was carrying:

That’s a pretty standard amount of stuff for us.  During April games, my backpack is even bigger because I stuff it with jackets and other warm clothes too.

Tim took a ton of pictures during this game.  Here are four of them:

Top Left:  Endy Chavez taking a pitch.

Top Right: Kendrys Morales taking a big hack.

Bottom Left:  Jeremy Bonderman delivering a pitch while Kyle Seager gets ready at the hot corner.

Bottom Right:  Mike Zunino hitting a line drive…that was caught for an out.

After each of the Mariners 14 strike outs (11 at the hands of Reds starter Mat Latos), these things shot fire:

Kellan and I went and explored this restaurant down the LF line:

I believe it is called the “Machine Room.”  It is pretty cool looking for a sports bar, but I’m not sure why you would want to go to a sports bar WHILE YOU ARE AT a Major League game.

Toward the end of the game, we took a walk.  On the way out of our section, Kellan wouldn’t get down from my shoulders, so here is a picture of only Tim at the front of section 406:

Avi went off looking at stuff.  The boys and I headed over to the dinosaur area, but it was closed.   So we went to this standing room area…

…, which is behind home plate just slightly off to the 1B side.  As you can see from the big 9-screen-in-one-screen above the concourse in that last picture, Danny Farquhar came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth inning for the Mariners, and he gave up four runs.  It was ugly.

The silver lining was that the Reds fans felt comfortable with a 13-4 lead heading toward the ninth inning and they took off in droves.  We noticed a ton of open seats on the 3B side so we headed over there.

This was our view in the top of the ninth:

When the game ended, home plate umpire Alan Porter walked right below us into the umpires’ tunnel.  He paid no attention to us or any of the other fans.

We headed down to the other side of the dugout.  As the Mariners relievers headed toward the dugout, I snapped this picture:

As you can see, Tom Wilhelmsen is in the process of swinging his arm back to underhand a baseball to Tim.  I didn’t notice this at all when I was taking the picture.  I snapped the picture and then lowered my camera to find a ball flying right at us.  Tim snatched it up with no problem.

Thanks, Tom!

We got a final group shot before heading back to the hotel and our car:

Then we drove until around midnight…

…and stopped at a hotel in Triadelphia, West Virginia, where they had this cool pancake machine at the free breakfast the next morning:

Before driving the rest of the way home the following morning, we stopped at Cabela’s to look at some live fish and stuff animals:

We had the most fun with the big bad bears:

It was another great weekend of baseball and another excellent road trip with Avi.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

16 Games                                                   
17 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins,   Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers
30 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4
76 Baseballs – Mariners 11, Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 1, Umpires 7, Reds 9,   Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6
10 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC   Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park
32 Player+ Photos – Oliver   Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith
10 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo,   Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez

Avi and the Cooks Meet The Mariners in Cincinnati (7/5/2013)

For months, we had been looking forward to the Fourth of July holiday weekend.  Our Mariners were scheduled to take on the Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.  The original plan was that my folks would come out for the series and my wife would join us too.  But through a series of plan squashing issues, neither my folks nor Colleen could end up making the trip.  My folks were out weeks in advance, but Colleen was going to join us right up until July 3rd.  We picked out our hotels and bought our game tickets with her input…but then something more important came up that she had to attend to and had to drop out.

On very short notice, we were happy to have Avi Miller…

…join our traveling roadtrip caravan.

The plan was to see the M’s in Cincinnati on July 5-6.  We headed to Pittsburgh around 11:00 a.m. on the Fourth.  There was a big “Regatta” party-thingy going on in Pittsburgh.  We started out by playing some catch in the park:

We cooled off in this big fountain:

We watched a pretty cool BMX show:

For the record, that guy jumping above is traveling from left to right…and Avi wasn’t impressed until the very end when the last two bikers did back flips.

Next, we met up with famous Pittsburgh couple, Matt Peaslee and Erin Wozniak, and watched a boat race on the river.  This guy captaining the No. 10 boat easily won the race:

Next, it was off to Moe’s for dinner:

And then we finished off the night with some fireworks:

The next morning, July 5, 2013, we were off to Cincinnati.  Neither Kellan nor Avi had ever been to Great American Ball Park (or Cincinnati in general).  While both of them loved the ballpark, Avi contained his enthusiasm while Kellan couldn’t even stand still for a quick picture:

Oh, by the way, this game marked Kellan’s 50th MLB game and Great American Ball Park his 16th MLB stadium.

The Reds have an extra early BP “tour.”  You pay some extra cash at the Reds Hall of Fame (which is an awesome Hall of Fame that you should definitely check out), and you get in to BP super-duper early.  You also get a pass into the Reds HOF and a cool Ted Kluzinsky statue.

After buying our tickets, the boys posed for some pictures with Reds Mickey Mouse…

…and Reds Statute of Liberty.

Just outside the Reds HOF, we found this excellent statue of Johnny Bench:

(Note:  Tim is using a brochure as a catcher’s mitt in that picture).

Around 4:21’ish, our BP tour guide took us inside the stadium…

…and told us what would happen once we went out to the field.  Essentially, for the first half hour we would be confined to right field.  Then the first base line would open up for us (and I think all Reds season tickets holders.  At that point, we could stay in RF or we could head down to the Reds dugout in search of autographs.  Eventually, the gates would open to the general public and we would be able to go anywhere.

When we headed out to RF, Joe Saunders was throwing a bullpen session:

We watched Saunders while Avi went off to watch BP.  After Saunders wrapped up his throwing session, Saunders flipped his warm up ball up to Tim between the narrow gap between the seats and the net over the top of the bullpen.

Thanks, Joe!

For the rest of Reds BP, we hung out here:

You can’t tell in that picture, but we were in a little partial row pressed up against the batters’ eye.  Spots like that are always ideal for us because the natural barrier on one side helps keep Kellan from trying to wander away.

Reds BP was interesting.  As far as I could tell, they hit a grand total of two homeruns.  I might have missed some…but who knows.  I truly only saw two homeruns the entire time.  Meanwhile, all of the Reds were wearing BP pullovers and I had no clue who most of them were…

…but then I saw a familiar face, Mariners bullpen catcher Jason Phillips.  I hadn’t seen him in the bullpen when Saunders was throwing.  He must have been hiding in the corner.  We exchanged our customary tip of the caps as he walked across the field with Saunders.

Eventually, I recognized two Reds in the outfield.  First, I noticed Shin-Soo Choo shagging balls in CF.  When Choo made a catch on a sinking liner in CF, I called out an extended “CHOOOOOOOO!”  He turned around and fired the ball to me.  About thirty second later, he shagged another ball and it tossed it to Tim.

Double thanks, Shin-Soo!

The boys posed with their Choo-Balls and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

Nearby in RCF, MyGameBalls.com 2013 top ten snagger Rocco Sinisi was toiling away and doing his thing.  Rocco is the MyGameBalls.com career leader for Great American Ball Park and a photo with him was good for scavenger hunt bonus points.  Although we’d been chatting a bit off and on during BP, we decided to get a photo with Rocco early in BP just in case we forgot to or didn’t get a chance to do so later.  So here is our first attempt at the Rocco/GABP bonus photo:

Over the past several years, I haven’t really followed but have admired Aroldis Chapman from afar.  He seems like a good guy and, heck, he throws balls at crazy fast speeds.

Amongst the sea of unrecognizable Reds in the outfield, I eventually noticed that Chapman was hanging out in straightaway right field.  When I spotted Chapman way over there in RF, I shouted out a loud, “AROOOOOOLDIS!”   This prompted Aroldis to look over and exchange waves with us.

See where Aroldis was:

He was way over there.  Carter Capps was “way over there” too – way over across the field from this throwing partner out on the LF.  Capps was firing seeds across the field.  It was impressive.

A little while later, someone hit a grounder through the infield and into somewhat shallow RF.  Aroldis sauntered over and grabbed the ball.  I called out his name again (you know, we were buddies after that exchange of waves) and he threw the ball all the way from RF to my glove waiting in CF.

Thanks, Aroldis!

Hey, remember those two BP homeruns I mentioned?  Jay Bruce…

…hit one of them right to me and I made the catch on the fly.  Thanks to Rocco for identifying Bruce for me later in the day based on that last photo.

See that bat laying on the ground in the photo above to the right?  When Reds BP ended, we headed  around the RF foul pole and toward home plate.  On the way, I took a photo (that photo) of a bat (that bat) sitting on the ground in the Mariners’ bullpen.  I took the photo for the sole purpose of zooming in on the picture to see whose name was on the bat.  So click on that photo and check it out:  it was Jay Bruce’s bat.  That’s odd.

As we approached the infield, the Reds grounds crew removed the cage and screens from the field.  What was this all about?  It was very confusing.  It was also a bit of a bummer because this was only our second Mariners game of the season and the Mariners didn’t take BP before our first game either.

Anyway, we decided to grab some food for the boys and head over to the third base side…

…where the Mariners’ position players were stretching.  As  I took some photos, Tim munched down a hot dog and Kellan worked away on a big soft pretzel:

Funny side note:  Kellan ate part of that pretzel while sitting on my shoulders.  When he finished, I had to pick big grains of salt out of my hair for the rest of the afternoon.

The lack of BP was actually kind of cool because the Mariners did a modified version of the old fashioned “taking infield and outfield.”

While we were watching our M’s, a Reds employee with a camera came over and asked if he could take our picture.  “Sure,” I responded.  After he snapped the pic, I asked why he wanted the picture.  “It’s for the Mariners,” he responded.  Later in the day, we found out that the Mariners tweeted the picture to over 130,000 people.  Here’s the M’s tweet, and here’s another look at it:

After playing catch with Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez signed a bunch of autographs:

Tim got him to sign the Jay Bruce homerun ball.

Thanks, King Felix!

I asked Felix why the M’s weren’t taking BP.  He said they had got into Cincinnati around 2:30 in the morning after playing a road game in Texas the previous night and decided not to take BP.

Following the M’s warm ups, we got a better photo with Rocco:

And then we wandered around a bit and got some pictures with the Reds piggy bank…

…and a big bobblehead burger guy.

Before the game, the Reds honored Homer Bailey…

…for throwing a no-hitter against the Giants three days earlier.

Here was our view for most of this game, about three rows from the top of section 402:

In the couple of games Tim and I had previously attended at Great American, we’d sat in RF and lower LF.  We once visited the upper deck in LF, but never watched game from up there.  I’ll tell you though, I loved it.  For an “upper deck,” it’s not very high up there and the view is great.  Plus, we had a nice view of Kentucky across the river and a great breeze.  As an added bonus, at the back of the upper deck, there are covered seats to either shade you from the sun or keep you dry in the rain.  The LF upper deck at Great American Ball Park definitely gets my seal of approval.

The pitching match-up was Aaron Harang vs. Mike Leake.  I wasn’t a big fan of the match-up.  But sometimes a struggling pitcher can pull out a better-than-normal performance when facing his old team.  That’s what I hoped for from Harang.

We dropped our stuff at our seats and watched the first pitch from Leake to Brad Miller:

And then Kellan and I headed down the stairs on our way to get some ice cream for the boys.   As we walked down the upper deck stairs, Miller laced the ball down the RF line and coasted in for an easy triple.  A great start for the M’s!

As Kellan and I ducked into a men’s restroom, Nick Franklin stepped to the plate and blasted a 2-run homer.  Kellan and I had no clue this had happened.  But when we got back to the ice cream place we saw the score – 2-0 Mariners!

When we got back to the seats…

…, Avi informed us about the Franklin homerun.

Harang pitched a scoreless bottom of the first.  Then, Michael “The Condor” Saunders hit a leadoff bomb in the top of the second:

Here’s one of the reasons I like Brandon Phillips:

Check out that big smile clearly visible from the top of the upper deck in LCF!  That’s how I like to see guys playing the game, like my favorite player, Ken Griffey, Jr.

In case you were wondering, here was the Mariners outfield for the day:

Michael Saunders in RF, Dustin Ackley in CF and Rauuuuuul Ibanez in LF.

Here’s a funny picture with no backstory, just a bunch of funny guys:

And a couple loving brothers:

Tim and Kellan either spend their time trying to annoy one another or hugging and telling each other how much they love the other.  Generally, they act like wonderful loving brothers while at baseball games and reserve their annoying each other for play time at home.

Much to my delight, Harang was, indeed, putting a strong performance together against his old squad:

Multiple times before the game and once during the game, I took the boys here…

…for a little kid fun.  That table looks like it is covered in sand, but it is really a mixture of different colored bits of rubber chopped up into little grains.  There were digging tools and dinosaur skeletons that the kids could dig up.  The two big dinosaurs standing behind the boys in the picture above to the left felt real’ish and they moved around every couple minutes.  The one on the right also laid eggs.  The boys couldn’t get enough of this little dinosaur display.

Before the game started we were hanging out in dinosaur area and another guy wearing Mariners gear asked me if he’d seen us at Pittsburgh.  We chatted about it and, indeed, he had seen us in Pittsburgh.  His name is Greg.  He’s a NW Mariners fan transplanted to Detroit.  We’ve kept in touch a bit since running into each other several times this weekend.  Good guy, and good Mariners fan.

Last time we were in Cincinnati we failed to get a good picture of the batters’ eye boat.  So, we got this one:

Back up in section 402, the ballpark looked even better as the sun went down:

Avi agreed, this place is beautiful:

Tim and Kellan both took a bunch of pictures during this game and weekend.  Here’s Kellan’s funniest picture:

I should mention that the Mariners took a 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Michael Saunders hit a sacrifice fly to LF scoring Kyle Seager.

In the top of the fifth inning, Brad Miller made some Great American Ball Park history when he hit his second triple of the game.  In over 800 games, it was the first time that a player had hit two triples in a game at GABP.  Pretty cool.

In the bottom of the fifth, Shin-Soo Choo hit an RBI-double to put the Reds on the board.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Reds capped the scoring for the day when Joseph Votto blasted a leadoff homerun to CF.  That made the score 4-2 Mariners.

Late in the game, we got split up from Avi for a while.  When we connected on the phone, he said he was in a SRO area near home plate with Rocco.  We decided we should go over there.  Thinking (correctly) that we might not make it back to section 402, we got a picture of Tim at the bottom of 402 on our way out (Kellan didn’t want to get off my shoulders to get in the picture):

This was our view in the SRO area:

When we arrived at the SRO area, Avi was nowhere to be found.  Ends up, we’d left section 402 to meet up with him and he left the SRO area to meet up with him in section 402.

Eventually, we did all meet up at the SRO area.  They make you stand at the top of the stairs.  Eventually, we move down the stairs at stood at the corner of the cross aisle.  The ushers didn’t really do anything about it so we stayed there a bit.

Heading into the bottom of the eight, the Mariner brought in Charlie Furbush who blew away Zack Cozart, Joey…

…Votto, and Brandon Phillips, 1-2-3.

When Rocco came by, he headed down the cross aisle toward the outfield.  We all followed him and ended up here for the ninth inning:

Check out that guy’s Johnny Bench jersey.  That’s sweet.

Ollie Perez nailed down a great Mariners Win!

We ended up in near-perfect position for a umpire ball, but didn’t get one.  But when we moved to the other end of the M’s dugout, Jaime Navarro tossed this one to Tim:

Avi, the boys and I pulled up some from row seats…

…for the post-game firework show:

The very first fireworks show of Tim’s life was at Great American Ball Park and it was awesome.  However, since then, we’ve seen a fireworks show at Progressive Field, and absolutely nothing stacks up to the Indians’ fireworks shows.  They are incredible  But this was a nice show for the boys.  They love all fireworks shows.

After fireworks, we got one more picture with Rocco…

…, one more group shot of us four roadtrippers…

…, some mire image shots with these awesome mosaics…

…, and one with this cool thingy inset on the floor of the concourse behind home plate:

And then we headed off to the team store so Avi could buy a bunch of bobbleheads.  In the team store, Tim posed with a huge World Series trophy:

Finally, we walked back to  our hotel a few blocks away…

…where Kellan hid under a pillow, both boys acted silly for a while, and then we all called it a night.

Go Mariners!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

15 Games                                                     
17 Teams – Mariners, Royals,   Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins,   Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers
28 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies   (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2,   Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 2
72 Baseballs – Mariners 8,   Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 1, Umpires 7, Reds 8,   Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3,   Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6
10 Stadiums – Citizens   Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC   Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park
32 Player+ Photos – Oliver   Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson,   Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks,   Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson,   Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel,   Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge”   Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy   Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith
10 Autograph – Hisashi   Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo,   Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez

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

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

1-heading-north-with-avi

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

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

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

2-doubleheader-tix-fenway-bronx

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

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

3-fenway-exterior-posing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And Check out this merry band of baseball fans:

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

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

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

Thanks, Scott!

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

Cursi is really awesome.  Everyone should be this cool.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avi demonstrated his homerun robbing skills:

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

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

Here is my absolute favorite action photo of the day:

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

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

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Second, home plate:

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Third, the CF bleachers:

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Fourth, the glorious Green Monster:

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

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

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An usher took a strategically posed photo of us…

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…between the “BAL” and “SEA” signs.

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

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

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

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

Of course we needed some pictures in the LF corner:

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I had to get into one myself too:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…Andrew Bailey and Pedro Ciriaco…

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…former Mariner, Mike Carp…

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

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

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…and Alredo Aceves and Clayton Mortensen:

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

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

We grabbed two free kids meals…

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

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

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…and headed over to the famous Pesky Pole:

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

Then we headed behind home plate:

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Check out this great photo:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And then we back inside and upstairs:

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

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We hung out for a while behind section 9:

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

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Where this was our view:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a sorta-panorama from up there:

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

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

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

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

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

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…that beautiful view is from section 18.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…and behind section 37’ish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out my passengers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…, but we had to pay for these ones.

We also had a second helping of hot chocolate…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Unfortunately, Kuroda ended up pitching a complete game shutout.

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

Thanks, Arias and Usher!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2013 C&S Fan Stats

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

Tim’s Sixth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2012)

September 12th is one of the best and most joyous holidays on the calendar.  The holiday dates back to 2006 and marks a wonderful occasion – Tim’s in-person introduction to Major League Baseball and our Seattle Mariners.  This is the story of Tim’s Sixth MLB Anniversary!

A little background is in order before we jump into the day’s events.

On September 12, 2006, we celebrated Tim’s first MLB game.  It was a wonderful Mariners victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

On September 12, 2007, by total dumb luck, we ended up at Citizens Bank Park to witness the Colorado Rockies absolutely wallop the Philadelphia Phillies 10-0.  When I realized during the game that it was the first anniversary of Tim’s MLB debut, I decided right then and there that I would make every effort within my control to take Tim to a Major League Baseball game on September 12th every single year.

And every single year since 2006, September 12th has been an awesome day for us.

On September 12, 2008, we visited Arizona with my folks and saw Brandon Webb win his 20th game of the season over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

On September 12, 2009, we were thrilled to see the Orioles beat the Yankees in New York.

On September 12, 2010, we were in Washington, D.C. to watch the Marlins beat the home team Washington Nationals with Tim’s Poppy.

On September 12, 2011, we headed down to Baltimore and had a great time watching the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles.

I originally had a couple additional goals for Tim’s MLB Anniversary that have fallen by the wayside over the last couple seasons.  First, I wanted to see two different teams play every season on September 12 (i.e., no repeat teams) until we could see the Mariners play again on Tim’s MLB Anniversary.  Along the same lines, I wanted to visit a different stadium every year on Tim’s MLB Anniversary, at least until we could make it back to Safeco Field for another anniversary game.

Last season, our no-repeat-teams goal fell apart when we saw our second MLB Anniversary game featuring the Baltimore Orioles.  This year, our no-repeat-stadiums goal was thrown on the scrap heap, too.

Planning was very difficult this year.  September 12 was a Wednesday.  I originally wanted to head up to Toronto to see the Mariners in a rematch of Tim’s MLB Debut game.  But that wasn’t going to work for a mid-week game.

Our second plan was to head to Queens to see the Mets take on the visiting Nationals.  That game would have preserved our no-repeat-stadiums goal and it was our plan for a long time.  But in July or August, I got news that I had a very important business appointment scheduled for the early afternoon on September 12th in Philadelphia.  With traffic, we live about 1.5 hours from Philadelphia.  Tim would be in school until 3:10.  Going to NY was out of the question.

Next, I thought about the Phillies…but their game was scheduled to start at 4 p.m.  That was a no go, as well.

So, I looked back to Baltimore, site of Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary, and found that the Orioles would be playing the Rays on September 12, 2012 at 7:05 p.m.  It was an exact rematch of last season’s MLB Anniversary game.  It would obliterate all of our secondary stadium/teams goals.  But with a little help from Colleen, I figured we should be able to make it to the game, and that was the only goal that really mattered.  BP would be out of the question.  But at least we should be able to make it for the game.  So that was the plan.

Here is what had to happen to make it happen:

Colleen and Kellan picked Tim up from school at 3:10 and immediately hopped on the road down to Philadelphia.  I was detained until around 4:30.  When I freed up, I called Colleen to find they were still stuck in traffic.  I hopped in my car and drove across Center City Philadelphia.  Colleen and the boys reached Philadelphia while I was still stuck in traffic.  I met up with Colleen and the boys at 30th Street Station in West Philadelphia.

The boys then hopped into my car and we hit I-95 South toward Baltimore.  My GPS told me we were going to arrive at Camden Yards around 6:30.  But traffic crawled coming out of Philadelphia.  We broke out of the traffic around the Delaware state line.  By that time, my GPS said we would arrive at the stadium around 7:10 – five minutes after game time.

Traffic was non-existent in Delaware and Maryland and we picked up a few minutes.  After the boys spent around 4 hours in the car, we arrived at the Camden Yards parking lot right next to the Ravens stadium.

Avi Miller purchased our tickets while we were still in the car and very kindly came and met us at the gate to save us some time getting into the ballpark.

Thanks, Avi!

The game actually started while we were still parking our car and B.J. Upton hit a leadoff homerun to put the Rays up 1-0 while we were walking toward the stadium.

So we missed a few batters, whatever, we were at the ballpark for some MLB Anniversary baseball action!

So, each of the last two seasons, we had exactly one game per season at which we didn’t get a baseball.  I don’t really worry about having a *streak* of getting a ball at each game – in fact, I have no clue what our current *streak* is – but I’ve had a goal of trying to complete a full-season getting at least one baseball at each game we attend.  After this game, we would only have two more games this season.  With no BP or other pre-game festivities, this would be our greatest challenge of the season.

During the home half of the first, we hung out behind home plate just in case an Oriole wanted to hit us a real game foul ball (something my boys have never caught and I haven’t caught since, probably, 1995).  We hung out in the ideal spot:

We had no luck, but the Orioles did.  On the strength of singles by Nate McLouth, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Wilson Betemit, the Orioles scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

By the way, this was a huge game for the Orioles.  They were one game back in the east behind the first place Yankees who were facing the struggling Red Sox in Boston.

After the end of the first, we decided to head down the 1B line cross-aisle to say hi to Avi, and then go grab some pizza.  While we were chatting with Avi, Carlos Pena led off the top of the second inning and smacked a foul ball directly to where Tim is standing in that last picture!  Aye…we would have had a great shot of catching it had we stayed put.

Oh, well.

It was pizza time.  The outfield was totally packed.  Instead of going in search of some pizza seats, the boys dined at Jim Palmer’s feet:

While we were hanging out with Jim, I noticed there were a couple other news statues out there – like Cal Ripkin, Jr.:

We decided that our best shot at getting a baseball at this game was to hang out in the new SRO area behind the visitors’ bullpen:

Here was our view for large chunks of this game:

Essentially, we split time during this game between the bullpen SRO area and the kids’ play area.  It was time to hit the kids’ play area.  Before heading over there, Tim wanted to check out the new statues.  First he played catcher for Eddie Murray:

And here is a look at the whole Ripkin statue:

And then we headed down Eutaw Street…

…toward the play area.  We cut through the cross-aisle behind the RCF seats…

…and then the flag court so we could watch a few seconds of the game on the way to the bouncy house:

The new bouncy house this season is great, except for one pesky thing.  It is bigger and better for the kids.  But the old bouncy house had a big loosely-knit net wall on one side that was great for taking pictures of the kids bouncing inside.  The new one has a tight-knit net on all sides and it is impossible to get a good action shot of the boys bouncing inside.

The boys always enjoy getting a picture with the big Oriole bird bobbleheads…

…and the pig:

After playing in the play area, we planned to get ice cream helmets.  There is an ice cream stand in the concourse down the 3B line.  I figured we would get some helmets there and then head back to the bullpen area to eat ‘em.  But as we passed behind home plate, we ran into our friend and Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl.  When I mentioned that we were on our way to grab some ice cream, he reached into his backpack and pulled out two little cups of carvel ice cream and handed them over.  That was pretty odd…, but, hey, thanks, Matt!

We headed out to LF and grabbed some ice cream seats in the cross aisle:

And then we headed back to the kids’ play area again:

I’ve gotten ahead of myself here.  I should mention that the Rays scored a second run in the bottom of the third.  For most of this game, the score was tied 2-2.

Late in the game, we headed back to the bullpen SRO.  Tim spotted a HUGE bug on the front wall of the visitors’ bullpen:

Alex Cobb had started the game for the Rays and pitched 4.2 innings.  After Cobb, the Rays cycled in a new pitcher pretty much each inning.  Jake McGee in the fifth-sixth, Wade Davis in the seventh, and Joel Peralta in the eighth.

Rays bullpen catcher, and all-around nice guy, Scott Cursi was warming up pitchers all night below us:

Well, that’s not completely accurate.  Cursi didn’t’ catch each of the pitchers.  Some of them he just watched and consulted with another Rays catcher.  Anyway, the game was still tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth.  The Orioles brought in closer Jim Johnson.  Meanwhile, Cursi was warming up Kyle Farnsworth in the Rays’ bullpen.

Johnson had a rough inning.  After retiring the first batter, he gave up a single to Jeff Keppinger.  Joe Madden sent Rich Thompson in to pinch-run for Keppinger.  After Ben Zobrist flew out to CF, Thompson stole second.

Around this time, I realized that once we made it to the bottom of the ninth, the Orioles could win it on one swing with a walk off homerun.  So I decided we would head to home plate once the game moved to the bottom of the ninth to see if we could get into position to go for an umpire baseball.

With two outs, Evan Longoria then hit a soft grounder down the 3B line that was ruled an infield hit.  As Thompson broke hard for third, Manny Machado charged the ball hard, scooped it up in his bare hand and made a hard fake throw toward first.  Thompson bit on Machado’s fake throw and rounded third hard.  Machado instantly spun and threw behind Thompson to Orioles short stop J.J. Hardy.  One throw later, Matt Wieters tagged out Thompson as he headed back toward 3B.

And that ended the top of the ninth inning.

I was all set to head toward home plate as Scott Cursi took the final warm up pitch from Kyle Farnsworth.  Farnsworth headed toward the CF gate to enter the game and Cursi headed toward the bullpen bench.  Before we left to walk toward home, I called out Cursi’s name.  He looked up and tossed us Farnsworth’s warm up baseball.  We shouted “THANKS!” and then started to turn toward home plate, but Cursi yelled for to us to stop.  We looked back, and he pulled another baseball (an absolutely pristine Camden Yards 20th Anniversary commemorative baseball) out of his back pocket and tossed it to us too.

Thanks, Scott!

I must say that Scott Cursi has been amazingly cool to us this season.  We saw the Rays play in five games and he tossed us SEVEN baseballs and spent a little time chatting with us in Seattle.

Thanks again, Scott!

Moments after Cursi tossed us those baseballs, we ended up sliding into a row of seats right behind home plate:

After making the key fake throw to help bring the top of the ninth to a close, Machado led off the bottom of the ninth and smacked a single into LF.  He then took second on a sacrifice bunt by Robert Andino.

Usually, September crowds at Camden Yards are tiny and lifeless.  This year was different.  The Yankees had already lost to the Red Sox by this time so they were only half a game ahead of the Orioles.  In other words, if Machado could touch home plate the Orioles would pull into a first-place tie with the Yankees.

The crowd was standing at attention, ready to erupt at a moment’s notice:

Right about this time, Avi (somewhere in the stadium) sent out the following tweet:

And, I was sort of a fortune teller.  No, Adam Jones didn’t come to the plate in the ninth and the Rays hadn’t taken the lead, but Nate McLouth hit a single to RF for a walk-off win.

The place was going crazy:  Orioles win!  Orioles win!  Orioles win!

As all of the craziness was going down, Tim, Kellan and I hustled down the stairs toward the umpires’ tunnel where (like Thompson an inning earlier) we got totally faked out by a bit of misdirection.

The home plate umpire is the only umpire who carries baseballs during a game (obviously).  At this game, Marvin Hudson was the home plate umpire.  When the first umpire ducked into the umpires’ tunnel, he handed out two baseballs on the other side of the tunnel.  As he passed us, we called out, “Mr. Hudson!” and the umpire just walked right by us.  We called his name one more time and then I realized something looked odd.  He didn’t have baseball pouches on his hips or a face mask like a home plate umpire always carries off the field.  Then, the umpire turned around and, looking at us, pointed behind him.  We turned around and looked back toward and the field and the other three umpires.  Right then, Marvin Hudson reached out and handed a beautiful rubbed up commemorative baseball to Tim:

Thanks, Marvin!

I still have no clue who the first umpire was or why he had two baseballs.  I’ve never seen a non-home plate umpire hand out baseballs after a game.  Very odd.

Anyway, the whole stadium was partying for their now *first place* Orioles and Nate McLouth was, predictably, the recipient of a congratulatory pie to the face:

We got a celebratory MLB Anniversary picture before heading toward the gates:

On our way to the gate, Tim got his picture with this guy:

We have no clue what that guy is all about, but we see him all over the place in Baltimore and he’s a cool looking dude.  So, naturally, Tim wanted a picture with him.

Now, I’d still never paid Avi for our tickets.  So we ended up meeting up with him outside of the LF gate.  After I handed over a tiny bit of money (because O’s tickets are incredibly cheap…and I hope that remains the case next season), we played a whole bunch of catch with Avi:

We had a blast playing catch with Avi after the game.  It was the perfect end to another great MLB Anniversary game.

As we finally started to head toward our car, I told Tim got give me a big “six” with his fingers for one final Sixth MLB Anniversary picture and he delivered possibly the most awkward looking “six” possible:

This one was difficult from a planning and execution standpoint, but September 12th always delivers great times.  I can’t wait to see where September 12th takes us next season for Tim’s Seventh MLB Anniversary!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

24/22 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
40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, 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
136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 1
22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, 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 Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); 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

2012 Cook GFS Game 4 – Orioles vs. Royals (5/16/12)

On Wednesday, May 16, 2012, we woke up for the last time in our St. Louis area Caboose and hit the road for Kansas City.  The drive to KC was pretty easy, just a few hours. Nothing like our 550+ mile trek from Minneapolis to St. Louis.

However, we had put the wrong address in our GPS, which resulted in us driving right by our hotel (literally right by it, it was right off Exhibit 18 on I-70), right by Kauffman Stadium…

…and all the way into one of the least desirable sections of Kansas City.  After figuring out our mistake and backtracking 20 minutes, we found our hotel and just rested in our room for several hours.  But our hotel time, I reconnected by phone with Royals season-ticket holder and myGameBalls.com member Garrett Meyer.  We’d met Garrett last season at Ballhawkfest.  Garrett knew we’d be at this game.  After catching up a bit, Garrett and I discussed gate times and the Royals “early-bird” tour.

After discussing it with my dad, we opted to meet up with Garrett and do the early bird tour, which gets you into the Royals…

…Hall of Fame (where we saw some cool stuff like this…

…) and then it gets you into BP way before the rest of the public.

Besides getting in early, the normal BP people have to stay in the outfield for a while once they are let into the stadium.  Meanwhile, the early bird tour people stay on the infield, behind the dugouts.  We set up shop behind the Orioles’ visitors’ dugout on the 3B line:

It was beautiful.  Our view looked like this:

At the beginning, Garrett was on the Royals side (where the Royals pitchers were warming up).  A bunch of fans wearing Orioles gear were on our side and they all seemed to be either autograph collectors or folks who just wanted some extra time to see the Orioles.  No one seemed to have any interest in getting a baseball tossed to them.  Also, if foul balls are hit into the stands down the foul lines, the usher will let you run down and grab it.  It was a crying shame that ZERO baseballs were hit into the foul seats (which is amazing).

Anyway, while the Royals were taking BP, several infields took grounders at SS and 3B.  The first group of infields included Alcides Escobar…

…and the second group included former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt.  Both the tossed stray BP balls to us on their way off the field.

Thanks, Alcides and Yuni!

A few Orioles were hanging around in the bullpen below us.  Since people were asking for autographs, I asked Tim if he wanted to get one of our new baseballs signed.  He did.  Dana Eveland was happy to oblige Tim’s request:

During much of BP, Tim played with ants that were crawling out of a little hole in the cement…

…and Kellan just walked up and down the rows like walking was going out of style.

At some point, Garrett came over to the 3B dugout.  I hadn’t even seen him yet when I noticed an Orioles coach standing by the Orioles BP ball bin start tossing balls out in the crowd.  He must have thrown 6-7 baseballs in a row.

Moments later, Garrett walked over to me and Kellan and said, “That Orioles coach is tossing a Camden Yards Commemorative to anyone who asks for one!

Kellan and I high tailed it down there.  He was no longer throwing baseballs, but was still standing at the ball bin.  I called out to him and when he looked up I was happy to see the face of former-Mariner Jim Presley looking back at me.

I asked for a OPACY commemorative ball, he dug around in the bin until he found one (I saw it too), and then he tossed *a baseball* to us:

(Photo taken after the game started)

I was thrilled!  I shouted out a big:

Thanks, Jim!

And then Garrett whispered to me, “it is not commemorative!”  He could see in my glove as I thanked Presley and saw the MLB logo on the ball he’d thrown.  I was utterly confused because I *saw* Presley grab a commemorative baseball and throw it to me.  Or at least I thought I did.

Garrett and I exchanged puzzled looks.  And then I got bold.  I called out to Jim again and asked (paragraphing), “Hey, Jim.  I don’t mean to be annoying, but is there any way I could trade this baseball for one of the Camden Yards baseballs?”  He looked up at me with a confused look and asked, “That one wasn’t one!?”

Nope.

I tossed it back to him.  He put it back in the bin and he tossed me a pearl of a Camden Yards commemorative baseball.

Thanks again, Jim!

Presley then walked away from the bin.  My dad and Tim had not heard or seen what was going on.  When Garrett, Kellan and I went back down toward the OF end of the dugout, I told my dad that he and Tim should give it a shot if Presley wandered back over to the bucket.

Well, wouldn’t you know, he did…

…and they did, and he hooked them up to!

Sweet!

Quadruple thanks, Jim Presley!

It was our first Camden Yards baseballs and my dad’s first baseball of the trip.  So it was a very special interaction with a first class former Mariner.

Moments after Tim and my dad returned with their Camden Yards baseballs, an Orioles fan was getting an autograph from Brian Roberts at the camera well at the end of the dugout.

Tim and I swooped in and capitalized big time:

In one fell swoop, we accomplished three things: (i) Tim got Roberts to sign his new Camden Yards baseball, (ii) he got his picture with Roberts (first ever picture  with an Oriole!), and (iii) Roberts held the baseball and gave a thumbs-up in the picture so it qualified for five points in the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

Thanks, Brian!

Tim was in a thumbs-up mood.  So he got a thumbs-up picture with Garrett too:

While the Orioles pitchers warmed up down the LF line (where we could only go if a foul was hit into the stands), three set of Orioles position players played catch right in front of us at the dugout.  When the final group was finished, Chris Davis tossed us his warm up baseball before walking back into the dugout.

Earlier in BP, my dad and I had a little bit of discussion with former-Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair.  Tim and I have had several nice discussions with Adair at Camden Yards since he joined the Orioles’ coaching staff.

Well, after all of the Orioles pitchers had warmed up down the LF line, I saw Rick down the line chatting with an O’s pitcher and tossing a baseball back-and-forth from hand-to-hand.  He was probably 150 feet down the line.  When he finished chatting with the player, I called out, “Hey, Rick!” and I flashed him some leather.  I was hoping he would make a big long toss throw to me.

Instead, he walked toward us.  He was on his way to the dugout.  It was clear he was going to give us the baseball, but he wasn’t into the long toss idea.  As he got closer, he was into Tim’s catching range, so I pointed to Tim.

Adair made a good toss, but Tim botched the catch.  It fell to his feet and he picked it up.  He’s actually botched the toss from Jim Presley too.  So he wasn’t having a gold glove day so far.  But he got the ball on his own, so it was all good.

Big thanks to Rick Adair!

Eventually, a friendly female usher who was chatting with us behind the dugout told us that the entire stadium was open so we could move around wherever we wanted to go.  My dad went to the team store to buy some baseballs (he buys a team or stadium baseball at each stadium he visits), Garrett went out into the outfield where we saw several Orioles air mail baseballs over his head, and Tim, Kellan and I headed down the LF line, but stayed in foul territory.  We took up a spot on the wall and watched BP:

Orioles pitcher Luis Ayala was running around LF wearing a huge, oversized glove.  From myGameBalls.com and other mlblogs, I know there are several guys around the country who use a “big glove” like this.  So I scanned the crowd, and soon we met Minnesota’s own Big Glove Bob:

I love that picture of Tim and BGB.  Bob has the face of a man stuck in the middle of Tim unfolding a long and overly detailed story.  I believe this particular story was about how Shawn Camp tossed Tim two baseballs the day before in St. Louis.  That was a story with which Tim regaled anyone who would listen while at Kauffman Stadium – notably, Garrett about five times or so.

Kauffman Stadium was great, but the setup of the seats down the LF line was frustrating me while we were down the line.  At some stadiums the seats in the corner are situated diagonally so the end seat in each row butts up against the fence.  In that type of row, I can block Kellan into a defined space.  But  none of the seats down the line at Kauffman Stadium butt up against the fence.  In fact, there is a huge amount of space in front of the seats.  So it was very difficult to keep Kellan near us without chasing him back and forth.

I decided we should go out to LCF so I could block in Kellan at the end of the bottom row next to the batters’ eye.  We ended up going out there for a very brief time, but the sun was right on us and it was too hot.

While we were there, Ronnie Deck and someone named “Flaherty”…

…were shagging fly balls in CF and LCF.

I placed my third or fourth call of the day to my “Orioles guy,” Avi Miller.  The call went like this:

Todd – “Hey, Avi, what is Flaherty’s first name”?

Avi – “Ryan.”

Todd – “Oh…wait, I gotta go.”

I called him back about 30 seconds later.  That call went like this:

Todd – “Ryan Flaherty just tossed us a Camden Yards commemorative.  Thanks for the assist!”

Avi – “Any time, sir.”

If you’re visiting Camden Yards or seeing the Orioles on the road, Avi is a good guy to know.   Well, he’s a good guy to know in general, I guess.

Thanks, Ryan and Avi!

That was it for BP.  Thanks for the early bird tour, we snagged 7 baseballs with almost no effort.  Not too shabby.

As we made our way toward foul territory, we stopped briefly at the bullpen.  One of the Orioles coaches was crossing the warning track grabbing stray balls.  Totally out of view, he tossed one right over me.  I didn’t see it in time to get my glove up and it sailed right into the fountain.

Doh!

While we were out in LCF, me and the boys met up with my dad and Garrett.  After BP, Garrett offered to take us to the only “Kauffman Stadium” sign in the ballpark, which is above the Royals dugout on the 1B side, so we could get a Kauffman Stadium bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.  Because of the Diamond Club, you cannot get from the 3B side to the 1B side on the field level without going up into the concourse.  While we were passing through the concourse, Tim and Garrett posed for a picture with the Royals pig:

There were a bunch of kids in the first row above the dugout and it was far from an ideal situation to get a picture featuring the Kauffman Stadium sign.  This was as good as we could do with Garrett’s assistance:

I took a second picture of Tim from the first row just in case the last picture came out horribly:

Then, we split off from Garrett and the boys, my dad and I headed up to the upper deck to try again from up there:

That one isn’t ideal either, but it was better.  Tim was pretending to be scared his heights while up there.  That’s why he isn’t smiling in the photo.

While up there, I also got this panorama from the front of section 420:

And then we walked the concourse a bit.  All the way down the LF line, we could see a classic spiral ramp and the KC Chiefs stadium next door:

We all headed down to the field level for the beginning of the game.  We got some great tickets on stubhub for way under face value.  This was our excellent view from section 112:

And this was the view of the first pitch of the game:

Fairly quickly after the game started, Tim wanted to go see the kids play area that I’d mentioned was behind the scoreboard in CF.  I didn’t know what all was back there, but I was up for checking it out.  On our way, we met Sluggerrr:

As passed behind the Royals Hall of Fame, we noticed that the crown on top of the scoreboard had little spikes on it.  We figured we ought to take a picture of it:

We also figured we should take some panoramas from the top of section 202 in LF:

And from down at the bottom of section 202, just above the LF fountains:

As we made our way to the play area, we ran into the Kauffmans…

…who were apparently very enthusiastic with their waving.

On the back of the scoreboard, the Royals have a big “KC” logo instead of a “Kauffman Stadium” sign:

There was one big problem with the play area:  it had too much fun stuff.  Literally, it was just too much.  Tim was really excited about it.  But I quickly realized we could end up spending the entire game there.  And I wasn’t too excited to spend our only game at Kauffman Stadium behind the scoreboard where I couldn’t see the game.

Here are two of the things we didn’t do:

On the left, that is a miniature golf course.  See how the ground is all wet in front of the mini-golf?  Well, we didn’t notice as we made the approach.  And then a huge blast of water flew straight up my pants.  I walked over a fountain set into the walkway exactly when it went off.  My shorts were completely drenched.

It was funny, but I could have lived without the comic relief.

Tim was really excited to play, but I had to limit him to the play fort thingy.  Mini-golf just takes too long!

The play area would be great if this wasn’t our first game at Kauffman Stadium.  It would be ideal for the down time between the end of batting practice and the beginning of the game.

The other non-ideal thing was that the play fort was a bit too advanced for Kellan.  So Tim played for a bit while Kellan and I just roamed around.  And I got this panorama from behind the scoreboard:

And soon enough, it was time to head back into the infield and grab some dinner:

We go the nachos and grandpa got the BBQ sandwich.  In retrospect, I wish I would have tried a BBQ sandwich too, but I missed out.

Actually, I basically just missed out on dinner because this was going to be our only game in KC and I needed to run around and see the stadium.  So the boys ate dinner with Grandpa and I took off.

I started by heading the LF corner and I got this panorama from behind section 104 – just on the CF side of the Royals bullpen:

Then I checked out the fountains…

…and the trough behind the CF wall, where a few people have jumped down to grab homerun balls.  I could see several baseballs down there.

I got this panorama from the walkway behind section 101:

Then I walked through the area behind the batters eye and below the scoreboard, and I popped out on the other side in the party porch:

I walked across the party porch and got another panorama from RF:

Behind the Orioles bullpen in RF, there is a bar thingy that I didn’t go inside…

…and I’m not sure if it is open to the public.

There are more fountains and less seating in RF than in LF.  There are also more statues in RF than in LF:

Here is one of my favorite panoramas that I got at Kauffman Stadium, from above/behind the fountains in RF (the thing on the far upper right is the bottom corner of the scoreboard):

I circled around that bar thingy and got this panorama from section 248:

Then I headed up to the 300 level (which I would naturally call the “second” level).  It seemed to be a suite and club type level, but it seemed that they let anyone walk through it.

I had a funny interaction in the suite level concourse.  I ran into a super-drunk Orioles fan who was also walking around the stadium taking pictures.  He saw me walking with my camera and thought it was hilarious.  We chatted a bit, and he had previously also lived in Pennsylvania.  He ended up taking a picture of the two of us.  I gave him a hugely over-exaggerated thumbs-up in the picture.  I imaged that the next day he probably scrolled through his pictures and scratched his head thinking, “Wow – I drank too much.  Who in the world is this guy!?”

Anyway, I got panoramas from section 321:

And another from the stairway between sections 315-316:

I noticed that this would have been the ideal spot to get our picture with the Kauffman Stadium sign:

Maybe next time!

By the way, although I never tried to walk into the Diamond Club, it seemed as if anyone could sit in any seat at Kauffman Stadium without an usher ever asking to see your ticket.

Next, I headed up to the upper deck and got a couple shots before my dad texted that Kellan was asking for me.  First, I got this panorama from section 419:

And this one from section 417:

After twirling my way down the spiral ramp, I noticed that there was a cool “Royals” sign on the exterior of the stadium:

When I got back to the seats, it was reaching twilight.  The scene in the outfield looked pretty cool with a pink water show going on in the RF fountains:

By the way, I should mention the game was 0-0 through four-and-a-half innings.  In the bottom of the fifth, the Royals finally found the plate, twice, on the strength of a Humberto Quintero single to CF.  That made it 2-0 Royals.

Soon, it was time for ice cream.  Tim, Kellan and I went in search of some ice cream helmets.  We finally found them behind 3B.  I was surprised to find that the Royals only offered vanilla soft serve.  I thought that was odd.  And it was outside of Tim’s chocolate wheelhouse.  But the Royals made up for it with a strong showing on the toppings front.  Tim got crushed Oreos and Tim got chocolate chip cookie dough topping.  And the toppings looked and tasted GREAT!

Here’s a pretty sight:

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to share in much more than a single bite.  I used the ice cream time to finish my tour of the stadium.

I started by running up to the .390 Bar & Grille on the second deck.  It was a nice looking restaurant with a big sign “NOW OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.”  Unfortunately, all but one of my pictures in their came out completely blurry. But the one that came out clear was the most important.  Here is clear was the most important.  Here is our view if you choose to dine at the .390 Bar & Grille:

Wait, I got one more good picture from the restaurant:

That’s my dad holding Kellan as he scarfs down some ice cream.  We had the first four seats in the row and Tim is off-camera eating his ice cream in seat number 4.

I left the restaurant and got this panorama from section 401:

I already had a panorama from the front of section 420, so I went for another from the back row:

As I circled behind the first base dugout, a Royal (I think it was Francouer, but I’m not certain) smoked a foul ball right to OUR seats.  I zoomed in to see if I could see if my dad got it…

…, which would have been really hard while holding Kellan.

He didn’t get it.  Actually, if you look right between the ballboy next to the “Firestone” sign and my dad and Kellan, you can see a guy (two rows in front of my dad) in a blue shirt and light colored shorts.  He is leaning forward with his hands over his head.  In his left hand, you can see him holding the foul ball.  That is darn close!

I kept moving and got this shot from the stairs between sections 425 and 427…

…this one from between sections 435 and 437…

…, and this one from the very last seat at the end of section 439:

My tour was essentially complete, but I got a couple more pictures as I made my way back to our seats.  I got this shot from section 230:

And this one admiring the big World Series trophy that is part of a sign for the Royals team store:

By this time, it was official, I was hardly spending any time at all in our seats.  And, frankly, it wasn’t going to spend much more time there.  It was very late in the game by this time.  Like the 7thor 8th inning.

Kellan had been in the seats most of the game and he was ready to move around.  Mere minutes after returning to the seats, Kellan and I headed to the cross-aisle.  We ended up stopping in a huge tunnel behind section 118 (right behind 3B):

Kellan had a great time running around in this cross-aisle.  It was pretty clear that the Royals ushers didn’t care what fans did in this huge open area.  Kellan was sprinting back and forth across the big piece of cross-aisle/tunnel real estate, and all we got were “oh, that’s adorable” looks from the ushers.

After a while, Kellan decided it was time to continue his hanging from railings strength training:

The game was still tight.  In the top of the 8th, the Orioles finally got on the board on an RBI double by Nick Markakis.  That made it 2-1 Royals heading into the bottom of the 8th.

But the Royals got the run back pretty quickly.  After two quick outs, Billy Butler hit a single.  He was then replaced by pinch runner Mitch Maier.  Moments later, Maier motored around the bases and beat the tag…

…on a double by Alex Gordon.

That made it 3-1 going into the top of the ninth.

With three quick outs and the Royals could tuck the win into their back pocket.

We decided to get a closer look.  Garrett had texted and mentioned he was in the fourth row in section 118.  I noticed that the usher were not checking anyone’s tickets.  So as the teams made the offense-defense switch before the top of the ninth, Kellan headed down the stairs and met up with Garrett.

This was our view:

View nice.

Garrett was sitting with fellow myGameBalls.com member Leiming Tang.  Like the seats, Leiming was very nice too.

But you know what wasn’t nice?  The Royals’ decision to bring in Jonathan Broxton to close out the game.  Living in the Phillies’ television market, I know a thing or two about Broxton.  Well, really I only know one thing, I HAVE NEVER SEEN HIM CLOSE A GAME SUCCESSFULLY.  Okay, that might be an exaggeration, there is a chance that I have seen him do it.  But I seriously do not remember that ever happening.

Guess what?  It didn’t happen at this game.

You know, I said bringing in Broxton “wasn’t nice.”  I take that back.  I had wanted to see two games in Kansas City, but the length of the drive to Denver wouldn’t permit it.  And, frankly, I had missed a lot of this game because I was touring around the ballpark.

So I think the Royals were actually doing the nicest thing they could for me.  They extended the game, and almost let me see two games in one.

So, I guess you can tell by now, Broxton blew the save.  He blue it BIG TIME.

He coughed up the first run on a homerun by Wilson Betemit:

That made it 3-2 Royals.

He then gave up singles to Chris Davis, Xavier Avery, and J.J. Hardy.  Hardy’s single was of the RBI variety.

Tie ballgame, 3-3.  Extra innings on their way, and so was a huge dose of hitting futility (or pitching dominance).

In the top of the 10, we were happy to see 5’7” Royals pitcher Tim Collins.  Like Tim Cook, Tim Collins also sports number 55:

He sat the Orioles does in order.

After the 9th ended, Tim and my dad came down and met up with us in section 118.

Tim entertained Garrett with story after story after story.  Every fifth story, it seemed, was about how Shawn Camp tossed Tim two baseballs the day before in St. Louis.

Garrett was great.  He handled Tim’s shower of stories like a champ:

A friend of mine from New Orleans had told me a day or two before this game that a local guy named Johnny Giavutella had just been called up to the Major Leagues by the Royals.  Well, Giavutella pinch hit in the 10th inning:

He came up empty in the 10th inning, but eventually went 1-3 on the night.

We had lots of time to chat and take random photos, like these shots by my dad:

In the 13 inning, Nick Johnson hit a double for the Orioles.  For some reason, the ball was thrown out of play after the hit, and it was eventually tossed into the stands.  Johnson’s double­-ball now resides at my parents’ house!

Sluggerrr came and visited our section to keep the game entertaining (just in case the duel of the relievers wasn’t entertainment enough for some of the fans):

Heading into the 14 inning, Kellan was ready for more baseball!

In the top of the 15th inning, Adam Jones took matters into his own hands:

He hit a solo bomb to LF (way out of there) to break the 3-3 tie.

Kellan continued to clown around with Grandpa during the top of the 15th inning:

And then Tim, Kellan, and I moved into the first row with Leiming during the bottom of the 15th inning:

Actually, Tim had already been down there with Leiming and Garrett – and he had been having a blast hanging with the guys.  They were both awesome and really made Tim feel like one of the guys.

It just so happened that we were directly above the umpire’s tunnel.  Our friend (well, we don’t know him, but he’s been friendly to us in the past) Angel Hernandez was behind the plate.  We were in absolutely ideal post to get an umpire baseball.  Leiming, Tim, Kellan, and I all had our gloves ready when the final out was recorded.  (By the way, Garrett had moved to see if he could get the final out baseball – he was unsuccessful).

As we prepared for the final out, I told Tim he needed to be sure he squeezed that ball tightly if Hernandez tossed him a baseball because it would fall back down into the umpires’ tunnel if he missed it.

After the final out was recorded, Angel Hernandez walked right to us.  We all called out to him.  He then looked at me and Kellan and said, “Let’s let the little guys get one first!” and he flipped a ball to me.  He then flipped a second ball to Tim, and Tim caught it!  Success!

Finally, he tossed a third baseball to Leiming before ducking into the tunnel.

Thanks, Angel!

With these two baseballs, Angel Hernandez has now tossed us a baseball on each of the last three Cook GFS Roadtrips.

A few minutes later, we got a late night photo of four happy Cooks:

What a night!  Tim and I tied the longest game of Tim’s life, and Kellan set his new longest game record as well.

As we drove back to the hotel, I looked back, snapped this photo…

…and wished The K a good night.  It was a great one.

The next day would be a travel day.  A long one, we would be driving all the way to Denver.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

8/7 Games (Tim/Kellan)
12/11 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals
11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2
42 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 5, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2
6 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3
7/6 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Brian Roberts; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
4 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts

I-95 Doubleheader: Baltimore-to-Philadelphia (5/7/2011)

On September 6, 2010, Tim and I managed a first:  a multi-city doubleheader with a day game at Nationals Park and a night game at Citizens Bank Park.  It was great fun.  Our only regret was that we were able to get one baseball during BP in D.C., but we did not get a baseball at the night cap.

So turning to the 2011, I wanted to do a couple more multi-city doubleheaders.  I originally had three of them on our schedule, but my wife (not wanting Tim to get too exhausted) asked me to scale it back to just one.  So I picked May 7, 2011:  Rays vs. Orioles at 1:05 p.m. followed by Braves vs. Phillies at 7:05 p.m.

We woke up just knowing it was going to be a great day.

We were in the car by 8:30 a.m. and, after drawing a bunch of pictures, Tim ended up napping most of the drive down to Baltimore:

In addition to going to the games, we had an extra task to accomplish in Baltimore.  I had made a bat for a guy named Mike Jasser who reads our blog.  Mike and I had arranged to meet up before the game so we could deliver the bat.

In the parking garage before meeting Mike, I had Tim pose for a picture with Mike’s bat:

Although we had exchanged emails from time-to-time over the past year, I had never met Mike before.  Turns out he’s a cool guy.  We ended up hanging out together (along with several of the Camden Yards regulars) during most of the game and it was a lot of fun.

When we entered the ballpark at 11:00 a.m., the field was set up for BP, but there was practically nothing happening on the field.  A couple Orioles pitchers were warming up down the 1B line so Tim and I grabbed some seats in the first row to watch them.

And Tim busted open a pack of peanut butter crackers.  Tim could easily eat nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and crackers and live a happy life.

There were only 4 Orioles playing catch and another Orioles pitcher (Josh Rupe) was running in the outfield.  When Rupe finished running, he walked over to us, reached out and set a baseball in Tim’s hand.

Thanks, Josh!

Before he could walk away, I declared that I needed to ask Rupe a funny question.  He agreed to listen.

Todd:  We’re in a photo scavenger hunt and I was wondering if you could take a picture of yourself with my camera?

Rupe:  A picture of myself?

Todd:  Yeah.

Rupe:  With your camera?

Todd:  Yeah…

Todd:  In fair territory.

Rupe:  In fair territory?  Sure!

Rupe backed up into fair territory, looked around like he was thinking about something, and then explained, “I’ll face this way so you can see the foul pole and tell that I’m in fair territory!”

Here is Rupe’s handiwork:

As Rupe handed the camera back to me, he said, “If anyone else asks me to do this, I’ll say ‘no’ so you win the scavenger hunt!”

Thanks, again, Josh!

Still, not much was going on.  The day’s starting pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie, was stretching on the warning track in the RF foul corner:

We headed over there to chat with Guthrie.

Todd: “Hey, Jeremy!  I can’t believe that Zack didn’t write about you in his book!”

Guthrie:  “Its disgraceful!  Man, I gave him a baseball on the last day of Yankee Stadium.  And I play catch with him all the time!”

Todd:  “That’s inexcusable!”

A few minutes later, someone hit a ball in the corner right by Guthrie.

Todd:  “Hey, Jeremy.  If you toss that baseball up here to us, I promise I’ll write about you in my book…not that I actually have any plans to write a book or anything.”

Guthrie chuckles, but didn’t toss us the baseball.  Hey, it was worth a shot.

After a bit, Tim and I headed over to LF to say hi to Matt, Avi, Zevi and Mike.  They were all doing their best to catch BP homeruns.  But I’m not a big fan of hanging out too long in homerun territory with Tim during BP – too many hard hit baseballs flying around.  So we headed around the LF foul pole into foul territory where a couple Rays pitchers were playing catch.

As we passed behind the foul pole, Vlad Guerrero launched a homerun about 20 rows over our heads.  Here is a graphical reenactment:

The baseball took a huge bounce down about 10-15 rows.  Then it took a second smaller bounce that found its way into the pocket of my glove.  Hey, a Vlad Guerrero homer is a pretty darn cool baseball to get.  We’ll take it.

Thanks, Vlad (even if you didn’t specifically intend to hit that ball to us)!

Finally, we found our way into foul territory and watch two Rays who we did not recognize play catch.  They warmed up their arms, then played long toss, then one of them pitched to the other, then they switched places and the other guy pitched.  When they finished up¸ the second “catcher,” who ended up being…

…Juan Cruz, tossed us their warm up baseball.

Thanks, Juan!

Three baseballs in hand and the sunny beating down on us, we decided to hit up the kids’ play area.  First, Tim did some pitching:

He actually went to this pitching station a couple times.  His second time on “the mound” he pumped three consecutive strikes into the little strike zone box on the wall.  So he left the cage and gave me a big thumbs up.

Next, he posed with the big yellow bobblehead:

Followed by some bouncing in the bouncy house and some running, climbing and sliding on the fort-thingy:

Finally, he did a little hitting off of the air tee:

The Orioles really have a first class kids’ play area now-a-days.  Good job, O’s!

When we headed back out to the field, the grounds crew was finally ripping down the BP cage and nets.  We walked around the inner-walkway toward LF and found some seats in the shade.  Vlad Guerrero came out to stretch so I figured I should get a picture of him since we caught his BP homer:

Right when the game started, Tim wanted to go back to the kids’ play area.  So we retraced our steps on the inner-walkway.  On the walk, I got this shot of Evan Longoria…

…taking a big hack, which I believe produced a foul ball.

When we reached the play area, Tim got a picture with another big bobblehead…

…and took some hacks in the big kids’ batting cage:

…Tim is a good hitter, but the bats they use in these cages (like the one at Citi Field) are often times too heavy for him to swing.  But he did okay swinging the lightest bat the Orioles provided.

After the kids play area, we met up with Mike Jasser in the RF flag court.  Tim LOVES the flag court.  Here he is hugging a flag pole:

Then he asked where the Mariners flag pole was (in the A.L. West last place position…for now) and, after making a game out of running to the wrong flag over and over, he finally found his way to the Mariners flag and posed for this picture:

While Tim was hugging and bouncing off of flag poles, I saw the Orioles Bird walking by in Eutaw Street.  We ran out and got this picture:

After the picture with the Bird, we were standing around chatting in the flag court when Evan Longoria launched a homerun into the left field seats.  We could see that either Matt or Avi caught the ball.  It looked to me like Matt caught it.

I asked Mike if he wanted to go over and meet Avi, Zevi and Matt.  He did so the three of us started walking to LF around the picnic area in CF.  On the way, I texted Avi and asked if Matt caught the homerun.  As we circled around the picnic area, Avi texted back that HE had caught the ball.  Big congrats to Avi!

Before heading into the seats, we went and bought some nachos.  As we were walking through the concourse, Mike said the funniest line of the day:  “Man, I feel like I’m walking around in one of the blogs that I read.”  And, hey, I guess he was doing just that.

When we got into the seats, I snapped this picture of Avi and his homerun baseball, flanked by Matt (and his glove) and Zevi:

Around this time, B.J. Upton hit a ground rule double into the seats in RCF.  The fan who caught it launched it back onto the field, which prompted several fans sitting about 10 rows behind us to start mentioning loudly that whoever caught the Upton ball was a “real fan” because they tossed it back.  Avi ignored these silly statements and instead took some shots of Tim playing with his mustard dog:

We had a very relaxing time out there in LF.  Most of the scoring in the game was behind us.  So we just relaxed and chatted:

This was the Fox Saturday game and Avi noticed that Fox had put up a green screen behind home plate…

…so Fox could show their own advertisements during the game.

We were sitting right behind breakout star outfielder of the season, Sam Fuld:

During this game, he had a nice diving catch and picked off a homerun that Mike would have been all over had Fuld not made the catch.

Of course, Tim enjoyed a chocolate ice cream helmet while we lounged in LF.  While we were off buying the ice cream, I got this panoramic view of the new and improved Camden Yards concourse:

After finishing his ice cream, Tim asked if we could go get a picture with the Orioles ballgirl down the 3B line.  On our way, we got this panoramic view of Camden Yards from (I think) section 62:

The ballgirl was happy to pose for a picture with Tim:

But Tim was let down when the ballgirl didn’t have an autographed ballgirl card for him (like the Phillies ballgirls).

Before we headed back to LF, a fan asked if we wanted him to take our picture.  Sure, we did:

Right at the end of the game, Avi, Zevi and Matt headed over to the Rays dugout and Mike decided to hit the road a little early.  Before parting ways, we got a picture with Mike…

…in which Tim is posing like he’s too cool for school.

The Rays were winning by a score of 8-1 and it was already past 4:00.  I was hoping to be on the road by 4:00 so we could hopefully catch a little bit of BP in Philadelphia.  We wanted to stay for the entire game, but to make our exit process more efficient, we decided to watch the bottom of the ninth from the tunnel in straight away CF.

Here is what it looked like as we hoped (unsuccessfully) that Vlad Guerrero would make the final out of the game:

After the Orioles scored one last run, Felix Pie made the final out (for an 8-2 Rays win), and Tim and I high tailed it for our car.  Tim played with his little baseball action figures for a bit…

…but then fell asleep for a majority of our drive up I-95, through Wilmington, Delaware, and into Philadelphia.

We made great time until we reached the outskirts of Philadelphia.  Ultimately, we missed batting practice.  If we were going to get a baseball at two stadiums in one day, it would have to be during or after the game.  A tall task for Citizens Bank Park.

Luckily, we had amazing seats.  Here was our view of Citizens Bank Park from Section 131, row 3, seats 17-18:

FYI, seat 18 is on the aisle of the section 132 staircase.

Aside from getting food twice, we stayed in our seats this entire game.  It was a great spot for taking pictures of the action at home plate.  Here are some shots of Jason Heyward…

…and Chipper Jones…

…neither of whom got a hit in their first inning at bats.

Braves pitcher Julio Teheran made his MLB debut at this game.  The first batter he faced in his Major League career was Jimmy Rollins…

…who laced a single down the RF line.

Ryan Howard came looking to drive J-Roll in:

The Braves put on an interest shift:

Instead of shifting the SS to the other side of 2B, they brought chipper Jones all the way from 3B to the 2B position.   But the Braves didn’t need the shift because Howard grounded out to 1B.

Although Howard couldn’t push a run across in the first, the Phils took a 1-0 lead in the second when Pete Orr hit an RBI ground out.

It was time for some dinner.  Tim and I had a thorough discussion our day’s meal plan.  Should we go hot dogs for lunch in Baltimore with nachos for dinner in Philadelphia?  Nachos in Baltimore and hot dogs in Philadelphia?  We for nachos in Baltimore.  So…dinner…what would it be….

…NACHOS!

And after being ridiculed by Avi in Baltimore for wasting some excess cheese, we were sure to finish all of our dinner nacho cheese  with the help of some crackers we brought with us from home.

In the fourth inning, Ryan Howard beat the shift be going way, way over it.  He blasted a homerun over section 101 and into the Phillies bullpen.  Here he is about to score the second Phillies run of the night:

 

Although it may not look like it in this picture…

…the place was rocking, and so was the Liberty Bell.  The bell tolls back-and-forth and lights up all red, white and blue when a Phillie hits a homerun.

So the fifth inning rolled around and it was looking like our attempt to get a baseball at two stadiums in the same day were fading.  Our best opportunity would be to go for an umpire baseball, which is really difficult at Citizens Bank Park.

But with a runner on first and no outs in the top of the fifth inning, Alex Gonzalez strode to the plate.  On the first pitch from Kyle Kendrick, Gonzalez hit a soft foul grounder right to the Braves 3B coach Brian Snitker:

Snitker gave us a baseball last season at PNC Park and that was the only reason that I knew his first name.  It came in handy.  I bounced to my feet, jumped down into the first row, and right as Snitker fielded the foul ball I called out, “Hey, Brian!!!” and I flashed him my glove.

A soft underhand toss later…

…and Tim’s first foul ball of his life (albeit via toss up)…

…made Citizens Bank Park the second stadium at which we’d caught a ball on May 7, 2011.  Mission accomplished.  I was incredibly excited.  As shown in the last picture, Tim was equally excited by the fact that he had just found a quarter on the ground (I didn’t tell him that it was actually our quarter that simply fell out of my pocket) that was facing heads up (backstory:  Colleen told Tim its good luck if you find a penny laying heads up on the ground, and Tim has decided that the rule applies to any and all coins).

We celebrated with a gargantuan Phillies ice cream helmet.  Our special ice cream helmet lady made it so big that when I scooped the top portion and put it in our Orioles helmet from earlier in the day, we both had full ice cream helmets:

Note:  when given the choice, Tim chose to eat his share of the ice cream from the Orioles helmet at this Phillies game.

In the top of the seventh inning, the Phillies brought in reliever Michael Stutes:

 

A couple years ago when my company softball team was playing a game against the “AA” Reading Phillies front office softball team, Stutes and Mike Zagursky heckled my team mercilessly.   This was the first time I’d seen Stutes pitch in the majors.  Now, I can say that I’ve been heckled by two (future) Major Leaguers.

Stutes gave up a hit, but got out of the inning without giving up any runs.  At this point, the score was 3-0 (Victorino had an RBI triple in the fifth to score the third Phillies run) and that ended up being the final score.

In the eighth, I got another picture each of Jason Heyward…

…and Chipper Jones:

Both popped out.  Tim thought the name “Chipper” was hilarious and, following his first at bat, he joked about it for much of this game.

This was a really fun game.  Among other things, Tim and I chatted a lot with two Braves friends from California who sat right behind us.

I asked the guy if Braves fans had gotten over Brooks Conrad’s 2010 post-season errors.  In a tone implying he did not care what other Braves fans thought about it, he answered with a matter of fact:  “I’m not.”

Our seat neighbors were thrilled for Tim when we got the Gonzalez foul ball.  The lady kept saying she wanted to “rent” Tim so they could get a ball too.  But in the end, they didn’t need to rent Tim.  When Ben Francisco grounded out to end the bottom of the eighth, none other than replacement first basemen Brooks Conrad fired the third out ball to the happy Braves fan.  I think it was the first baseball he’d ever got at a game, and he and his girlfriend were quite happy about it.

I turned to the guy, “He must have heard you say that you weren’t over his errors!”

In the ninth inning, the Braves fans were nice enough to take this shot of me and Tim:

[Note: the possessed-looking little girl sitting in front of us and oddly looking back at the camera in this picture stared at Tim for like half of the game.  It was bizarre.  The Braves fans’ theory was that she was jealous of Tim’s stuffed Mustard Hot Dog toy that he was holding for much of the game.]

So, the Phillies own.  We were totally content with the Gonzalez foul ball so we didn’t even make an effort to get an umpire baseball.  However, we did end up getting one more baseball after the game.  We were just standing above the dugout when Brooks Conrad poked his head out of the dugout.  All of the other players were gone.  When I say Conrad, I said, “Hey, Brooksy” like we were buddies.  Brooks nodded, pulled  a baseball out of his pocket, tossed it to me, and then pointed to Tim on my shoulders like “hey, that’s for your boy up there.”

Thanks, Brooks!

Before heading out, I took this picture of us with Tim holding his Gonzalez foul ball and his coveted Mustard Hot Dog:

Another fan saw our self-portrait and offered to take our picture for us.  Here was his effort:

On our slow walk up the stairs, an usher gave Tim a little Phillies Phanatic figurine.  At the top of the stairs, Tim had us stop so I could take some pictures of his Phanatic and each of the four baseball players he brought with us to the game:

It was time to head out.  On our walk to the car, Tim got his picture with a statute of “Mr. Baseball” Connie Mack:

 

And, another picture by our car with the stadium in the background

Two games, two stadiums and over 13 hours after leaving home that morning, we were on our way home once again.  Tim actually started awake chatting with me in the car for about half an hour.   But eventually, he crashed:

It was yet again another awesome day.  You gotta love baseball!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
 
7/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
8/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, and Braves; Kellan – none]
4 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies)
20 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves)
3/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – none]
10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]
*includes Spring Training

The Orioles Visit Red Sox Park at Nation Yards (6-5-10)

June is going to be a busy month for me and Tim.  Ten games at seven stadiums.  And it all kicked off on June 5, 2010 at Camden Yards.  The Orioles would be visiting the home team Red Sox, or so it would seem.

At our last game at Camden Yards, we met MLBlogger Avi Miller (who has a new website and is pictured under the yellow arrow)…

1 - camden numbers and babe.jpg…and we met up with him (and a couple other Camden Yards regulars) at the CF gate.  Before we found Avi, Tim got his picture with Cal Ripkin, Jr.’s No. 8, Babe Ruth, and Brooks Robinson’s No. 5.  If you look back at this entry from last season, you’ll see that the O’s replaced/upgraded the number statues from last season — so maybe some good came of those hooligans stealing the Ripkin’s 8 last season.

We chatted with Avi and the guys before the gates opened and then Avi got us into the main section of the stadium with the other season ticket holders while the rest of the people had to stay in CF and RF for the first half hour.

Thanks, Avi!

Aside from just having a great time and making good memories, my main goal of the day was to get Tim’s picture with a Red Sox player.  I was hoping for Adrian Beltre.  So while everyone else ran to LF, we made our way around to the 3B dugout.  On the way, this guy…

2 - O's baseball giver.JPG…flipped a stray baseball up to us.

Thanks, that guy!

The entire Red Sox team was stretching by the 3B dugout:

3 - red sox stretching at camen yards.jpgThere are plenty of Red Sox that I don’t know, but without checking the roster I can make out Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilus, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Bill Hall.

After the O’s cleared off the field, the Red Sox scattered all over the place.  Beltre and Youk played catch right next to Cameron and Hall:

4 - beltre cammy catch.JPGI had forgotten that Cameron was on the BoSox.  Talk about a good guy, people in Seattle can’t get enough of Mike Cameron.  I didn’t envy him coming into Seattle as Griffey’s replacement in 2000, but the guy pulled it off with flying colors.  Over his 4 or so years in SeaTown, he was generally loved by all and it was sad to see him go.

When he saw us in our M’s gear, it wasn’t hard to flag him down and get this picture:

5 - mike cameron.JPGHe asked if we were from Seattle (I think I said “yes” despite the fact I lived in PA the entire time he played for the Mariners) and I thank him for all that he did for the team.  He was very nice.  We parted ways with a hand shake.

My next goal was to see if we could flag down Daisuke Matsuzaka with a courteous “Sumimasen” like we did with Takashi Saito a couple weeks before in Pittsburgh… 

7 - daisuke and okajima.JPG…interestingly, Daisuke was totally unphased and didn’t even bat an eye at our “Sumimasen, Daisuke-san”; however, Hideki Okajima kept looking over at us with a smile after we spoke to Daisuke.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure who he was at the time (I figured it out by zooming in on his glove and taking a picture of his name stitched on the side).  Once I figured it out, Okajima was soon gone.

By the way, click on that last picture and check out Daisuke’s crazy camo-patterned glove.

Although Daisuke didn’t respond to us when we addressed him in Japanese, he soon came over and started signing autographs (lots and lots of autographs)…

8 - daisuke matsuzaka autograph ball.jpg…including this one for Tim.

After getting Daisuke’s autograph there were about 20,000 (all Red Sox fans) in the stadium already for BP, so we decided to do something we’ve never done before:  we toured the Camden Club at the top of the Warehouse.

We never knew you could get up there until Zack Hample told us about it at our last game at Camden Yards…he’d never known about it himself until Matt Hersl (who we met at the gate with Avi) told him about it that same day.  Here is the view from the 8th floor bathroom (note the reflection of my jersey in the window): 

9 - camden camden club bathroom panorama.jpgHere, Tim checks out the view from the lobby on the seventh floor:

10 - camden club 7th floor lobby window.JPGThe Camden Club is a bar and restaurant that seems to be primarily on the 8th floor but also is on part of the 7th floor.

Here is the view from the lobby on the 7th floor:

11 - camden camden club 7th floor lobby panorama.jpgHere is some art hanging in the 7th floor lobby…

12 - camden club art.jpg…that picture on the right is painted on old Orioles baseball cards.

The view from the 8th floor lobby:

13 - camden camden club 8th floor lobby panorama.jpgHere are some random pictures from inside the club:

14  - camden club stuff.jpgTop left:  2131 sign and picture of Ripkin after breaking Lou Gehrig’s streak.  I’m wondering if these are the actual numbers that were unveiled on the Warehouse wall that famous night?

Top right:  the pattern on the floor throughout the Camden Club.

Bottom left:  a cartoon drawing of the plans for Camden Yards (I think).

Bottom right:  picture of olden times Baltimore players (hanging on 8th floor) and doors with BCB logo (on 7th floor).

Here is the view from the far end of the Camden Club, right next to the kitchen (8th floor):
15 - camden camden club 8th floor RF corner panorama.jpgWhen we passed on the elevator and someone got out, Tim just had to go check this out on the second floor (and the elevator operator kindly let us do it):

16 - second floor of warehouse.JPGNext, it was time to earn some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

17 - mygameballsdotcom headband.jpgI said, “Tim, look cool.”  And this is what he came up with.

Next, it was time for some pregame bouncy house jumping followed by some hitting on the air tee…

18 - camden grand salami time.jpg…Tim hit a laser line drive straight through the “Grand Slam” hole at the middle top that got a couple of the parents waiting in line with their kids all fired up.  Tim got a kick out of being cheered by strangers.  He ran over and gave me a big jumping high five.

He was burning up (it was ridiculously hot and humid) so it was time to find some shade and eat some nachos:

19 - nacho time 6-5-10.JPGRight before the game started, we headed to the 1B line to see if Tim could get his picture with a Oriole…

20 - orioles rejection.JPG…in the bottom left you can see Tim getting rejected by Corey Patterson.  He came over to sign a couple autographs.  Tim was all set up on the wall.  All Corey had to do was lean in after signing another kid’s autograph.  But he said, “Sorry, I can only sign a few autographs” and ran off.  Bummer.  Our “Tim with an Oriole” quest remains unfulfilled.

It was game time.

We headed out to the RF flag court.  Tim was on my shoulders munching on peanuts and littering my head and shoulders with peanut debris.  A couple fans came over to tell me I was covered in shells, just in case I hadn’t noticed the monsoon of shells raining down from above.

I couldn’t get a good action shot of Pedroia or Youkilus in the first…

21 - bosox in top of first.JPG…but I did get Youk pulling into second for his first double of the night.

The BoSox (and the O’s) would go scoreless in the first, as well as the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.  I was a stellar pitchers dual between Jon Lester and Jeremy Guthrie for most of the game.

If you’ve read this blog before, you might have noticed the occassional comment from “Teemo” and my exchanges with him where I will sign as “Todd (PA)” and he will sign as “Todd (HI).”  Todd lives in Hawaii with his wife, Grace, daughter, Jessica, and son, Timothy (or Teemo).

You got that?  Todd (HI) has a son Tim (HI).

Anyway, I knew the Hawaiian Todd and Tim would be at this game — they were in the middle of a monster baseball roadtrip built around a wedding — but I had no clue what they looked like…so it was up to them to find us.

And they did.  Here we are in the RF flag court:

22 - Tims and Todds.JPGFather Todds and Son Tims.

Let me tell you, if you get a chance to hang with these dudes for a couple innings, definitely do it.  They’re pretty awesome.

They actually brought Tim a little gift bag with a U.H. Rainbows T-Shirt, U.H. Rainbows baseball (pictured at bottom), and some yummy Hawaiian goodies (I snuck a bite or two when Tim (PA) was looking the other way!).

We hung out with Todd (HI) and Tim (HI) from the bottom of the first until about the fifth inning…when we were all out of water and risked dehydration if we didn’t go for a refill.

Before our water ran out, Todd (HI) and I had a great chat while Tim (PA) and Tim (HI) played baseball like crazy…

23 - teemo tim catch.JPG…first they played catch with a ball that Tim and I like to bring to games and then (after and usher told us the O’s had been sued when someone played catch and got hit with a ball…so we had to stop) they played imaginary baseball (see bottom right with Tim (HI) pitching to Tim (PA)).

They had an absolute blast.

But as I said, we ran out of water and had to go for a re-fill.  So we split up (they went and got some food and briefly visited their seats) and planned to meet up again later in the game.

We grabbed Tim an ice cream helmet…

24 - robins ich and lester.JPG…and grabbed some ice cream seats in the RF upper deck seats.  They really are excellent seats up there.  I always enjoy going up there.

Meanwhile, it was still a pitchers dual.  In the top of the seventh YOUUUUUUUUUUK stepped to the plate and shortly thereafter stepped on the plate and returned to the dugout after his go-ahead homerun:


25 - YoukBomb.JPGGuthrie escaped the inning without anymore damage.

Shortly after snapping this post-ICH picture…


26 - ice cream face 6-5-10.JPG…we headed back down to the RF flag court.

Check out this SRO crowd…

27 - packed flag court 6-5-10.JPG…it was at least four people deep across the flag court!  Crazy business!

The O’s loaded the bases in the bottom of the 7th, but Corey Patterson couldn’t come through with the big hit — possibly karma for denying Tim’s picture request?  I guess we’ll never know.

Soon, we met up with Todd (HI) and Tim (HI) again, and they were joined by younger sister Jessica.  The Tims and Jessica had a blast and must have each burned at least 1,000 calories running all over the flag court.  They played a lot of imaginary baseball, and I was quite happy with all of the pro-Griffey comments that Tim’s T-shirt drew from the mostly-Boston based crowd.

In the ninth, we headed into the infield to see if the kids could get baseballs from the umpire (Victor Carapazza).  During the top of the ninth, the Todds stood in the cross aisle (they just don’t care what you do in Baltimore, its great) and the kids sat in the back row cheering like mad…

28 - energetic indecisive cheering section.JPG…they were the most indecisive cheerers ever.  “GO RED SOX!  WIN RED SOX!  LOSE RED SOX!  GO ORIOLES!  GO ROBINS! (that’s what Tim (PA) calls the O’s)  LOSE ROBINS!  LOSE RED SOX!  LOSE ROBINS!  GO ROBINS!”

The Red Sox had added a run and led 2-0 after 8 innings.

Pedroia came to bat in the ninth and whiffed on this pitch…

29 - pedroia lunging whiff.JPG…but then he connect for a foul ball that was heading right to me!!!!  It was a looping pop up.  I ran a couple feet to our right (toward RF).  It was coming down fast and was going to land right at the back of the cross aisle.  But 20 feet right above me, it clanked off of a advertisement that hang off of the second deck and bounced into the field level seats.

Ah!!!  So close, but so far away.

Pedroia would eventually strike out.  But YOOOOOOOOUUUUUUK would not.  He hit another double (on this swing):

30 - DoubleYouk.JPGThe damage was done.  With Youk’s double, the Red Sox had scored 6 runs in the top of the ninth to take a commanding 8-0 lead.

All that was left was three outs for the O’s.  For those outs, our view looked like this:

31 - camden umpires tunnel panorama.jpgThey must have been good seats because all the guys sitting in front of us were scouts:

32 - scouts.JPGThe guy in the yellow shirt worked for the Marlins.  I asked him what clubs the other two guys worked for and he responded, “other teams.”  Ah, other teams.  Just as I had suspected.

This was our view of the dugouts:

33 - bosox o's dugouts.JPGAnd this is what the kids (and part of Todd (HI)’s face) looked like:

34 - kids behind home.JPGYes, the were still having a blast.

And why not when your view of a MLB ball game looks like this?

35 - cant beat it view.JPGThe O’s mounted a mini-come back…

36 - Os mini-come back.JPG….but they needed 8 runs and all they could muster were 2.  The final score:  8-2 for the Red Sox.

Once the final out was recorded, the kids snugged up to the umpire tunnel in time to watch Carapazza go sailing by us without so much as a look.  But then, after passing us, Carapazza turned around and pointed at Tim and called out, “For the little guy.”  Then, he chucked a baseball at us with gusto.  I had to back hand it with my bare glove hand so it wouldn’t smack Tim (PA) in the face.

Jessica and Tim (HI)?  Denied by Carapazza.

No fun.

They had missed BP because they had a long drive in from Pittsburgh.

So, Tim (PA) decided to give his umpire ball to his new buddy Tim (HI) and the two Tims showed off their prizes for the camera:

37 - Teemo Tim Baseballs.JPGWe had an excellent time meeting and hanging out with our new Hawaiian friends.  Once we met up with Todd (HI)’s wife, Grace, we got a picture of the six of us:

38 - C&S and dixons.JPGApparently, Tim (PA) thought his head was out of the shot, so we contorted to get closer to the group.

On our way out of the stadium, I had to take our new friends to see a historical landmark…

39 - pointing at griffs warehouse ball.jpg…the marker for Ken Griffey, Jr’s mega-blast from July 12, 1993 — still the only ball to ever hit the Warehouse in the air.

Chalk this one up as another excellent night at the ballpark.

A big thank you to Todd (HI) and family for helping us record more excellent memories.  We can’t wait to cross paths again.  And a big, huge thank you for the wonderful and thoughtful Hawaiian goody bag.

2010 Fan Stats:

8 Games

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

8 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, & Nationals)

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

5 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC
40 - daisuke and hawaii balls.JPGPark)

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

6 Autographs (Daisuke Matsuzaka, 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)

 

[We are currently on The Third Annual Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.  We'll be hitting 7 games in 7 days in 5 stadiums.  I will be slooooow to post entries because we will be on the go constantly.]

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