Results tagged ‘ Baltimore Orioles ’

Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip – Game 1, Orioles at Blue Jays (5/24/2013)

The Sixth Annual installment of The Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip on the evening of May 23, 2013, when my dad (Jim), Tim, Kellan and I…
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…hopped into our car and headed north to Syracuse, NY. All we did on May 23rd was to drive to our hotel.

The baseball and sight-seeing portion of the Roadtrip kicked off the following morning, on May 24, 2013. And we had a jam-packed day on the 24th.
After grabbing some free breakfast at our hotel, we hopped back into the car and headed over to Niagara Falls:

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The falls are split into two parts, the American Falls and, I guess it’s probably called, the Canadian Falls (but who knows, that’s just a guess). In those last two photos above, we’re all standing next to the top of the American Falls.

There is a chunk of land between the two parts of the falls, and there is a bridge you can walk…

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…(or drive) across to the other part of the falls. Hey, look at that sign, it calls the “Canadian Falls” “Terrapin Point Horseshoe Falls.” And check out that statistics: 675,000 gallons/second of water flow during the summer. That’s a whole lot of water.

That Terrapin Point Horseshoe Falls sign is at the top of a hill that looks down on this view:

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After first, I stayed up at the top of the hill as my dad and the boys walked down to the point. Check out the scene as they approached the edge of the falls:

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The whole thing is so big (and impressive) that it’s hard to get everything in the picture, even from a long distance away:

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 Here’s a closer view that shows both sides of the horseshoe:

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WARNING: I’m going to show a lot of pictures that have nothing to do with baseball. Here is another, of Tim at the top of the horseshoe:

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And one of all of us taken by a nice passerby:

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Back at the top of the hill, here’s another shot of my dad:

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See how my dad is holding his cellphone? We’d just received text messages from Verizon saying (this is a paraphrase) “Welcome to Canada, your phones ain’t gonna work no more!”
As we got hot chocolate…

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…and walked back toward the American Falls, we both made calls trying to figure out what was going to happen with our phones once we actually entered The Great White North. The bottom line was, unless we were going to pay bazillions of dollars, our phones weren’t going to work.

Oh, well…it was time to pull on some blue plastic ponchos…

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…and hop onto the Maid Of The Mist for a closer look at the falls:

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It was really misty out there:

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See all that *white* behind Tim, that’s mist, which was blocking my camera’s view of the falls.

Here’s my attempt at a panorama from the Maid of the Mist:

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And another, using my camera’s “sweep” function, which I usually never use:

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After the boat ride, we got a some more falls pictures…

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…before heading back to the car. And then it was off to Canada across the rainbow bridge:

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Check out my GPS in the photo above to the bottom right! No phones, no GPS. Aye, aye, aye!

Luckily, it is super easy to get to Toronto:

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The stadium didn’t open until 5:30, and we were hours early. So we headed to the top of the CN Tower, where the boys sat/stood/laid on a glass floor 116 stories above the Rogers Centre:

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Check out the view from the main observation deck:

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But we didn’t stop there. We headed up to the Sky Pod…

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…ONE-HUNDRED AND FORTY-SEVEN STORIES above the Toronto streets below!

This was officially the highest up in the air we’d ever been while NOT in an airplane. In that last photo, that is the Rogers Centre above and immediately to the right of the CN Tower. Above and to the left of the CN Tower we looked down on a train round house that is across the street from the Rogers Centre and CN Tower.

While up in the Sky Pod, the boys played a little fake baseball…

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…because, why not!?

Here’s a shot of the boys looking at the city over 1,460 feet below:

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And here is the view back up toward the CN Tower from the area right below the glass floor:

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After visiting the CN Tower, we stopped by the Blue Jays’ team store, where we founds a Jays Mickey and Jays pig:

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And my dad and Kellan got their first ever views inside the Rogers Centre:

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But it still wasn’t time for baseball quite yet. Our CN Tower tickets also came with access to a ride of some sort (that the boys were too young to ride) and a 3D movie called “Legends of Flight.” Here is Kellan wearing his 3D glasses and waiting for the movie to start:

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The movie was pretty awesome. We sat in the front row and the boys kept trying to grab all of the airplanes flying at us. It was pretty awesome.

After the movie, which was about 30 minutes, we headed over to the roundhouse to poke around a bit:

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Finally, it was getting close to game time…or at least gates opening time. We took a walk all the way around the Rogers Centre…

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…and then we hopped in line at Gate 6…

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…, which is down the RF line.

From growing up at the Kingdome, I love attending games in domed stadiums. The one bad thing, however, is that photos often come out blurry inside domes. Therefore, when we headed into the stadium and camped out down the RF line…

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…I had no clue who that blurry guy is at the end of the red arrow. And because he’s so blurry, I can’t even ask our buddy, Avi. Anyway, he was kind enough to toss a baseball to us.

Thanks, mystery Oriole!

Before that guy tossed us a baseball, I thought I was going to catch a one hopper off the bat of an Oriole, but it hopped to high for me to reach, and my dad ended up snatching it up several rows behind us. His first ever Major League baseball snagged outside of the United States! Way to go, Pa!

Things were pretty slow down the RF line, so we headed out CF, just to the left of the batters eye. And look who we saw out there:

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In case you can’t tell, aside from my dad sitting in the first row, that’s our buddy Zack Hample off in the distance in the bright orange Orioles shirt.

Zack came over and took this photo of us…

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…, which unfortunately does not have my dad in it (because it is the best group photo we got all night).

As is often the case, all of the Orioles looked exactly the same to me. Unfortunately, Avi wasn’t there (since we were in Canada and all) and I couldn’t call Avi because our phones didn’t work (since we were in Canada and all). Luckily, Zack recognized everyone and told us that Jim Johnson was standing right in front of us.

Shortly thereafter, an Oriole hit a homerun that hit the batters’ eye and bounced back down onto the field. Luckily, it bounced over a bunch of people and Jim Johnson grabbed it. I called out his name and pointed to Tim and…

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…we had to thank Mr. Hample for the assist.

Thanks, Jim (and Zack)!

The ONLY Oriole I could recognize (because he was wearing his BP jersey and not a name-hiding pull-over) was Brian Matusz. He was in the LF corner so we headed over there. When a ball got hit down into the corner, Brian handed it over to Tim:

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Thanks, Brian!

We kept on the move. Next, it was off to RCF. Something funny happened there:

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Someone hit a ball to Orioles coach Wayne Kirby right below us. When Tim asked for it, Kirby tried to fungo it up to us, but came nowhere near us. He chased the ball and then tried to toss it to someone else. He missed them too. He then fielded it again and tried to toss it to us again, but missed us by ten feet. The ball went right to the guy above in the red, which was absolutely fine.

A couple minutes later, the guy came over and gave the ball to Tim. Usually, I try not to let other fans give us baseballs. I usually tell them we’ve already got one, thanks, but they could give it to another kid. But I didn’t get a chance to stop the hand off this time.

So, anyway, when fans successfully give us baseballs, we try to give them to other kids or use them for autographs. There was a kid in the RF corner who had been there all BP trying to catch a ball and I didn’t think he had succeeded. I told Tim we should go give the fan-ball to him. Tim agreed. He handed the ball to me and we started to head over to the RF foul corner.
On our way out of the section, an usher thanked us for coming to the game and asked if Kellan had caught a ball. I was holding the fan ball so I held it up triumphantly and said, “Yep!” So Kellan and I walked by her and the usher handed a baseball to Tim. I guess she wanted both of the boys to get a baseball.

Thanks, usher gal!

The kid was in the RF corner as we started walking over there…but then BP ended, the Orioles ran off the field, and *poof* the kid disappeared. We trekked all over looking for him. He was *gone*!

Oh, well. I gave the baseball to my dad and (as you’ll see two entries from now) he gave it to a kid Tim met up with at Comerica Park.

Here was the best pre-game scene down the RF line:

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That’s Adam Jones getting all stretched out.

Here was the view from our seats in Section 115R, Row 7:

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Kellan was in a roaming mood. Heck, he’d never been to Rogers Centre, can you blame him? So we roamed…behind home plate:

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We ran into the Blue Jay in the concourse:

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When Tim, Colleen and I visited Rogers Centre in 2009, I never visited the 200 level for some reason. So that’s where we headed. Here was the view from behind section 240:

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Here’s something interesting we found in the concourse:

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I liked how they built a TV that looked like the scoreboard into a big picture of the outfield. Now, see the section between the two red arrows? Historically, that’s been a restaurant or something like that. Well, that’s gone now and it’s just a SRO hang out. We’ll see it in just a second.

Here’s a panorama from behind section 243, just to the right (while facing the field) of that glassed in restaurant):

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Just for kicks, here’s what it looks like from right behind the big “Budweiser” sign:

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And here is a panorama from the middle of the SRO homerun porch (I just made up that name…who knows what it’s really called):

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We needed to get a picture with a “Rogers Centre” sign for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. I planned for us to get one outside after the game because there isn’t a big Rogers Centre sign inside the stadium. But we ran into this sign…

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…out in LF, so I snapped a quick picture just in case. Luckily, I did because it was the only one we got.

We kept walking and got this panorama behind section 207:

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Just about now, I realized that we forgot to get a picture with Zack! Zack is a great guy and we should get a picture with him anyway, but getting a picture with him at this game would also get us two bonus points in the photo scavenger hunt because he is the Rogers Centre all-time career leader.

I figured that Zack would be behind the Orioles’ dugout going for a third out ball. And he was:

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A couple innings later, he snagged a third out ball from Manny Machado.

Before Kellan and I went on our expedition, I told Tim we would come back with ice cream. And we did, in these sweet new Blue Jays’ ice cream helmets:

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Ice cream time in Canada!

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Let’s catch up with the game, shall we? This game was a homer-fest.

In the top of the first, Nick Markakis and Manny Machado led off the game with back-to-back singles. J.J. Hardy then followed with a bomb. In the bottom of the frame, Melky Cabrera hit a lead off homerun.

3-1 Orioles after one inning.

In the top of the second, Danny Valencia doubled, Steve Pearce walked, and Yamaico Navarro singled. That brought us back to Nick Markakis, and he cleared the bases with a double of his own. Adam Jones ended the top of the second with a foul out on this swing:

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Brett Lawrie led off the bottom of the second with a laser of a homerun:

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The Jays scored another run of a Colby Rasmus double followed by an Emilio Bonafacio RBI single. Sadly, former-Mariner Munenori Kawasaki…

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…grounded out.

6-3 Orioles after two innings.

Chris “Crush” Davis led off the top of the third with another homerun:

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After a Matt Wieters walk, guess what Danny Valencia did? He hit a two run homerun.

And, similar to the second, Manny Machado fouled out to end the third:

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9-3 Orioles after three innings.

My dad wanted to see the Rogers Centre a bit so we all set out on foot. We headed to the 500-level down the LF line. Here’s what it looked like from section 540…

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…, which was closed so an usher asked me dad to vacate the section.

As we circled the upper deck, check out what we found:

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It was a vending machine full of baseball cards. Pretty cool.

We got a shot from section 524…

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…and another from section 518:

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After Muni batted again…

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…, we headed down a little hallway, corridor thingy in CF. I think the front wall (to the left) of the hallway was part of the hotel at the Rogers Centre.
Circling back to the LF corner, we took a switchback ramp down to the 200-level:

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After checking out the homer porch, we ran into Neal Stewart from BIGS seeds…

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…and Zack Hample in the CF concourse. Neal gave us more sample packs of BIGS seeds.

Thanks, Neal!

We kept walking through the 200 level concourse. Eventually, we came across a cool painting of the Rogers Centre…

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…with its roof open. See how the CN Tower is right over the wall in RF? I’d love to see a roof-open game at the Rogers Centre some day.

Next, we got this panorama, which I think must be about section 211:

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We found our way to section 215, where there is a bar called “Bar 12” (named after Roberto Alomar). We walked through it and found these seats:

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More specifically, these seats:

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In the top of the sixth inning, Adam Jones hit a solo homerun to make the score 10-3 Orioles. In the bottom of the inning, got two runs back on an RBI double by Kawasaki and an RBI single by Cabrera.

Jose “Joey Bats” Bautista followed with a harmless single…

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…but did not score.

After six innings, the score was 10-5 Orioles.

Something really odd and cool happened next. I had bought a big soft drink that came with a free refill. Kellan popped up onto my shoulders and we headed to this concession stand…

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…where the guy who filled my Diet Coke was really nice. While he was filling the soda, a guy came out from the back (I felt like he was one of the *cooks*, if there are such things at MLB stadiums) and he…

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…gave Kellan a baseball! Look at that, a free refill and a baseball in the 200 level! Kellan loved it!

Thanks, concession guy!

The usher in charge of section 215 (who had checked our tickets an allowed us to downgrade from section 115 to section 215) brought activity books and crayons for the kids:

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In the bottom of the seventh inning, Adam Lind led off with a solo homerun:

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10-6 Orioles after seven innings.

After the end of the eighth inning, the weirdest and worst part of the night began. It started harmless enough. After the last out of the eighth inning, I noticed a HUGE patch of empty seats behind the Blue Jays’ (3B) dugout. I told my dad that Kellan and I were going to head behind the 3B dugout to see if we could get a third out ball after the top of the ninth (we got right behind the home plate end of the dugout, but the third out ball was tossed to the OF side of the dugout) and then we were going to meet up with Zack behind the Orioles (1B) dugout at the end of the game.  And that is exactly where we ended the game:

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An Oriole (couldn’t tell who) tossed us a baseball after the Orioles won the game and Zack took this picture of us:

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Kellan and I looked around for my dad and Tim. They were nowhere to be found. We kept looking around. And we kept looking around. And we kept looking around.
No Tim. No Dad. No Tim and Dad.

It made no sense.

I started wondering if I had mistakenly said we would be behind the Orioles *bullpen*, not dugout.

The ushers eventually asked everyone to head out of the seating area. On the way out, I took this photo from the top of section 117:

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No Tim and Dad anywhere in that picture, right?

We walked out to the Orioles bullpen. No Tim and Dad. We exited the stadium. No Tim and Dad. We walked to our car. No Tim and Dad. (We left a note on the car telling them where to meet us).

We walked back to the stadium. Despite being promised absurd phone charges, I turn on my phone and called my Dad.  Nothing.  Straight to voicemail. We walk around the stadium some more. I called again.  Nothing.

I am very nervous by this point.  It’s been more than half an hour since the game ended. I figured my dad would have turned his phone on by now too.  Now I’m thinking my dad must have gotten hurt and they were sitting in a first aid office or hospital with Tim having no clue how to reach me.

I called again, but accidentally dialed my wife. I probably scared her because I was panicked.  I’m not a fan of losing my son and dad in a foreign country with no phone service.

We walked through the team store. Nothing. We started walking around the stadium looking for a first aid office.  Nothing.

I had no clue what to do.  We start walking back toward Gate 6 where we had entered the stadium.  All of a sudden, I spotted Tim and my Dad way off in the distance walking away from the stadium in the wrong direction (i.e., not toward our car).  We ran them down.  Success!  We were all back together again.

I have no clue what happened. My Dad and Tim said they were behind the Blue Jays’ (3B) dugout, not the Orioles’ (1B) dugout. I don’t see them in any of my pictures, or any of the other pictures I’ve seen. They said *they saw* Zack behind the Orioles’ dugout, but somehow didn’t see me and Kellan.  That doesn’t make much sense because we were standing right next to Zack behind the dugout.  My dad *had* turned on his phone and tried to call me, but couldn’t get through to me, just like I hadn’t been able to get through to him.  He had also already called first aid and had all sorts of security personnel looking for us.

Aye, aye, aye…it was a terrible way to end an otherwise great game at the end of a great day, and it wouldn’t have happened at any other MLB stadium because our phones would have worked and we would have found each other right away.  Geez, how did we all manage before cellphones!

As a result of this frustrating episode, we NEVER got a group picture of all four of us Cook boys at the Rogers Centre (booo!).  In fact, that picture Zack took (way above) of us talking to Neal in the CF concourse is the ONLY picture with all four of us in it at Rogers Centre (booooo!).

We also did not get a picture outside of the stadium with the Rogers Centre sign.

Oh, well.

We hopped in the car and headed toward London, Ontario…

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…and the boys crashed out very quickly in the back seat.

Woah! What a day!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

8 Games

13 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays
14 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2

41 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2

7 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre

14 Player Pictures – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen

5 Autographes – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Everyday Interleague Play & The Dodgers Visit Camden Yards (4/20/2013)

During the offseason, I typed out a list of the nine Major League teams that Kellan had not yet seen play a game live. On April 20, 2013, we reduced the list to eight when Tim, Kellan and I headed down to Baltimore to meet up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in our first Camden Yards game of the season.

Tim has only seen the Dodgers twice. So we really haven’t had many opportunities to see Dodger all-stars like Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, or Andre Either. I was really looking forward to seeing these guys up close during BP. But, unfortunately, I knew BP might not happen because the Orioles planned to do an on field tribute to Earl Weaver before the game. On April 19th, our BP fate was sealed. Rain washed out the Friday night game and a day-night doubleheader was scheduled for Saturday. We were going to attend the night game.

As we approached Camden Yards a bit after 4:00 p.m., fans were streaming out…

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…from the first game, which was won by the Orioles.

We met up with Avi…

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…Tim Andreson, and Romeo (whom we’ve seen a lot at games, but I had never known his name). Three huge lines had formed at three of the four gates closer to the warehouse side of Eutaw Street. For some reason, there were no fans at all lined up at the fourth gate on the field side of Eutaw. We were deep in line at the second gate when one of Avi’s friends (who I’ve seen a lot but have no clue what her name is) came and told us that an usher said the fourth gate was also opening with all of the rest. So, as you can see in the photo above, we jumped up to first in line at the fourth gate.

When the gates opened at 5:00 p.m., we were among the very first people to run inside. When we approached the gate above the bullpens where they let season ticket holders in early, the gate was locked. Almost no one was in the stadium. I called over to an usher and he explained that the stadium was closed until 5:30 because stadium workers were cleaning up after game 1. Indeed, there were some stadium workers in the upper deck down the 1B line. But the field level was essentially empty.

Oh, well. We stood here for the next half hour and watched one Orioles pitcher throw a bullpen session…

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…and, after he was finished, we just watched the grass grow.

This was the scene behind us:

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If you’re a regular at Camden Yards, you probably recognize most of the people in the forground of that photo. To the far right is “stretch lady,” the hugger wearing the hard hat with feather Mohawk is Romeo, the guy to the left of Romeo’s head is Boston Doug (I just gave him that nickname), just behind Romeo’s hugging partner in the white jacket is Tim “Homerun” Anderson (I also just gave him that nickname). The girl with the long hair front in center in that photo is Avi’s friend who told us about the fourth gate opening. I feel like I should know her name.

This was our first Orioles game since our Camden Yards friend Matt Hersl was killed in a terrible, tragic, stupid, senseless one car wreck. The driver of that car better get the book thrown at him. Matt was a big character and a staple-part of all of our Camden Yards experiences over the last several years. It was really weird that Matt wasn’t in that crowd above. Normally, in this situation, he’d be standing right at the front of the line with all of these Camden Yards regulars.

I worked up this photo…

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…, which I happened to have on my phone, and showed it to the usher standing at the gate. He gave me a business card so I could send it to the O’s as my suggestion of honoring Matt. I doubt it will happen, but it would be really fitting.

Anyway, pregame was incredibly slow and uneventful. When the gates opened at 5:30, we hustled around to the Dodgers dugout where there was absolutely no action. We sat and chatted with Tim Anderson for a long time:

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Look how excited T.A. is to hear about T.C.’s Kirkland Brand Nut & Seed bar!

After snacking a bit, the boys jumped back two rows and put on an air guitar concert:

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Eventually, a Dodgers coach who (from a far) I initially thought was Don Mattingly came out and started chatting with someone in the front row right by the end of the netting. We ran over there to get a closer look. It wasn’t Don. But our new vantage point gave us a nice view of Dodgers starter Josh Beckett:

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When a catcher headed out to the Dodgers bullpen, we figured we might as well follow along. So we watched A.J. Ellis…

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…practice blocking balls in the dirt. When he finished up, he chatted with a guy in the stands who I think must have been his high school coach. He gave the guy two baseballs, and then autographed them after chatting for a few minutes. And the coach gave Ellis a jersey and hat. The jersey said “Ellis” on the back. He held it up with a smile and posed for a picture taken by some guys above/behind the bullpen. In the photo above to the left, Ellis is talking to the guys above the bullpen…possibly old high school teammates.

While Kellan and I watched all of this play out, Tim chatted up Romeo like you wouldn’t believe:

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Of the time Tim spends awake and not at school, I think he is talking 97% of the time. The boy loves to chat and explain everything in great detail. I love Tim’s chattiness and energy.

Around 6:00 p.m., a ceremony started on field in memory of Earl Weaver. Weaver passed away over the offseason.

After a while, we headed over there to see what was going on. Rich Dempsey was speaking while he walked over there and, essentially, he spoke about how much he hated Weaver every day of his playing career, but later realized that he loved him.

Cal Ripken, Jr. and…

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…Buck Showalter gave traditional “I-hated-him-free” talks about the great Earl of Baltimore.

I felt cheated by our lack of pregame time getting to see Dodgers. None of the big names were anywhere in sight. Eventually some guys, including Matt Kemp, came out to warm up along the LF foul line. Only about five guys game out.

I got a nice picture of Jerry Harriston running by us…

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…and when the Dodgers headed in Luis Cruz tossed us his warm up ball. Actually, he had used that ball to play three-way warm-up catch with Nick Punto and Jaun Uribe.

Thanks, Luis!

With no action on the field, we headed off to the kids’ play area. After the kids’ heated up the radar gun…

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…, I promised we could come right back after watching the first few Dodgers batters in the top of the first inning. So we headed back out to the field for the National Anthem:

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And then we watched Carl Crawford lead off the game with a hit-by-pitch:

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For aesthetic appeal, those Crawford pictures are out-of-order. The picture above on the fight (where Crawford is fouling the ball down the LF line) is actually the first pitch of the game.

Nick Punto was the second batter of the game and he singled to CF, sending Crawford to 3B.

He hung out in the cross aisle behind home plate until Matt Kemp batted:

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Kemp hit a liner to SS that J.J. Hardy couldn’t handle in the air, but he picked up to force out Punto at 2B. Crawford stayed put at 3B. Then, as we walked back to the play area, Adrian Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to score Crawford from 3B and put the Dodgers on the board 1-0.

Unfortunately for Beckett, that was all of the run support he would get on the day.

Back at the play area, Tim and Kellan played a new game where you try to slingshot stuffed oriole birds into nests:

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And they took some hacks in the cage. Here Kellan swung at a ball that the machine threw behind him:

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And then they threw more pitches in the speed pitch:

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Tim usually throws around 32-33 mph. The crowd always gets a kick out of Kellan when he pitches, but he can’t throw it fast enough to register on the gun. I missed getting a picture of it, but on Kellan’s last two throws, the guy running the speed pitch pushed a button that made the speed register come up at “125 mph.” The small crowd roared and applauded Kellan for his prodigious heater.

Next, we decided to grab some food. We headed out to Eutaw Street and around to the concession stand in LF. On our walk, Chris “Crush” David crushed a solo homer to tie up the game 1-1.

I can’t really place where we were at the point of each additional scoring play, so I’ll just say now that the Orioles scored 5 more runs during the game on fifth-inning doubles by Manny Machado and Adam Jones, and a sixth-inning homerun by Machado.

On our walk, we got pictures of the boys and Earl Weaver posing with their hands in their back pockets (well, Kellan used his front pockets)…

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…, preparing to take their hacks with Eddie Murray…

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…, and pitching with Jim Palmer:

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Avi met up with us in line for food. The place was packed for this game. In fact, Avi had got us some great seats in LF and we never even sat in them because it was way too crowded down there.

We decided to eat our food (hot dogs) on top of the batters’ eye…

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…, which was also craaaazy packed:

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After I took some pictures, an Orioles worker came and told me that I can’t use my camera flash when on top of the batters’ eye. I asked why and she explained it bothers the batters. That’s an absolutely logical and fine policy…but (looking at that last photo) do you think the batters could see my flash during this game while buried behind 5-rows deep of standing room only fans?

For some reason (probably “because it’s fun”), Tim attacked Avi with food:

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In that picture above to the left, Tim is trying to force-feed “pirates” (one of our favorite snacks) to Avi. Above to the left, Avi and Tim are hot dog wrestling.

After eating, we headed down from the batters’ eye and headed toward left field in search of ice cream – the word was that the O’s had new, two-tone ice cream helmets in 2013.

On our way, we met up with the Orioles Bird:

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We decided to get ice cream in the upper deck and grab some last-row upper deck seats. I had already seen the two-tone helmets, so I knew they existed. But the upper deck only had the old, all-black helmets. So, after trekking up to the upper deck, we headed down many flights of stairs on our way back down to the field level. There, we found the two-tone helmets and he headed back up all of those stairs again.

During all of that walking, I got a group text from Alex Kopp showing off his new, fancy third out all that he’d just got from Adrian Gonzalez that this same game. I texted back that we were at the game too. Then Avi and Alex coordinated via text and we all met up at the very top of section 306:

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Check out this beauty of an ice cream helmet:

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And here is what the game looked like (zoomed in) from section 306:

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The ice cream was good. But it made the boys freeze. Check out this multi-layered, frog-hatted ice cream eater:

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Soon after Alex got that third out ball, he got a foul ball too. In the process, one of his fingers could smashed and was all bloody. So we all eventually headed to the first aid room. I wanted to get a good picture of the first aid room, but a lady was laid out on a cot. So this is the best I could do:

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We spent the rest of the game either in the cross-aisle behind home plate or in the seats behind home plate. From the cross-aisle, I got a picture of the warehouse with Earl Weaver’s number “4” lit up in lights:

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Here was our view from the cross-aisle:

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Here (on the left) is Matt Kemp’s 8th inning ground-into-double-play…

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…and A-Gon following (maybe not on that exact swing) with a harmless single to LF.

In the ninth, we took our normal Camden Yards ninth inning seats:

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Trailing 6-1 in the top of the ninth, Andre Ethier…

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…couldn’t help the Dodgers’ cause. He grounded out for the 25th Dodgers out of the night.

The crowd as a whole got a kick out of the horse fan sitting behind home plate:

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Bonus points for anyone who can spot Avi and Boston Doug in this shot:

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The game ended with a 6-1 Orioles win.  On his way out of the ballpark, home plate umpire Tim McClelland gave a baseball to both Tim and Kellan.

Thanks, Tim!

After the game, an usher took a blurry picture of us:

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And Manny Machado got shaving cream pied during his post-game interview:

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It was great to be back at Camden Yards. On our way out of the seats, we got our Camden Yards bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

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The boys both fell asleep right away once we hit the road.

Baseball!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

4 Games

7 Teams – Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers

7 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo), Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2

13 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 3, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2

4 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And Check out this merry band of baseball fans:

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

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

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

Thanks, Scott!

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

Cursi is really awesome.  Everyone should be this cool.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Avi demonstrated his homerun robbing skills:

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

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

Here is my absolute favorite action photo of the day:

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

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

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Second, home plate:

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Third, the CF bleachers:

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Fourth, the glorious Green Monster:

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

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

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An usher took a strategically posed photo of us…

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…between the “BAL” and “SEA” signs.

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

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

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

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

Of course we needed some pictures in the LF corner:

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I had to get into one myself too:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…Andrew Bailey and Pedro Ciriaco…

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…former Mariner, Mike Carp…

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

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

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…and Alredo Aceves and Clayton Mortensen:

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

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

We grabbed two free kids meals…

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

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

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…and headed over to the famous Pesky Pole:

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

Then we headed behind home plate:

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Check out this great photo:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And then we back inside and upstairs:

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

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We hung out for a while behind section 9:

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

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Where this was our view:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a sorta-panorama from up there:

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

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

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

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

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

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…that beautiful view is from section 18.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…and behind section 37’ish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out my passengers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…, but we had to pay for these ones.

We also had a second helping of hot chocolate…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Unfortunately, Kuroda ended up pitching a complete game shutout.

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

Thanks, Arias and Usher!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2013 C&S Fan Stats

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

Last Game of 2012 (9/29/12)

Our baseball season came to a close at Camden Yards on September 29, 2012, where the surging Orioles faced off against the floundering Boston Red Sox.

We had four goals for this game:  (1) have a ton of fun taking in our final game of the season, (2) catch at least one baseball to complete our first ever perfect season of getting at least one baseball at each game we attended, (3) try to get our hands on at least one more Fenway 100 commemorative baseball, and (4) have even more fun.

The past several seasons, the Orioles have had a lot of signs all over downtown Baltimore during a bulk of the season, and then in September they were nowhere to be seen.  I was excited to see whether thing would be different in September 2012 with the Orioles just a game back in the A.L. East and in wild card position.  And it was:

There were Orioles banners all over downtown Baltimore, as well as an Orioles van!

We arrived at Camden Yards with plenty of time to spare before the gates opened:

It was the final statue (Brooks Robinson) dedication night so there was a huge crowd when we arrived at the CF gate:

We met up with Alex Kopp and Avi Miller (and Avi’s sister and friend), and past time Felixing…

…and eating various special flavored oreos until the gates opened.

When the gates opened, we grabbed our Brooks Robinson statues, handed them off to Avi (who had given us free tickets in exchange for our statues), and headed over to foul territory down the LF line:

By the time the gates opened, a huge crowd was ready to head inside for the dedication of Brooks Robinson’s new statue.  Earlier in the season we were at Camden Yards for the dedication of Frank Robinson’s statue.  At that game, the line outside the ballpark was also huge, but BP was pretty much just like any other game.  But that was early in the season before the Orioles acquired tens-of-thousands of new fans.  BP at this game was packed.

We were in a prime spot to get a ball from one of the Red Sox pitchers…

…and we were hoping it would be one of those beautiful Fenway 100 commemoratives.

Eventually, an Orioles batter hit a ball down the line into the LF corner and this trainer guy…

…tossed it over to us.

Thanks, unidentified trainer guy!

That made Tim and me 27-for-27 and Kellan 25-for-25 on the season!  Our first ever perfect season, which was pretty cool.

But we still had our sights set on snagging one of those Fenway 100 baseballs.

The only Red Sox reliever who was near us and I recognized was Andrew Bailey:

He was in the last set of Red Sox down the line and, as you can see, he was on the OF side as they warmed up.  But then they did some pitching to each other.  Bailey came in to approximately 60 feet and popped-a-squat to play catcher.  After his partner finished pitching they switched spots and Bailey pitched from the warning track just in front of us.  As he pitched, I could tell that he was using a Fenway 100 baseball!

As we watched Bailey with great interest, our ears were treated to a number of speakers telling tales of the great Brooks Robinson – who was no more than 100 yards from us at the time:

By the time Bailey finished pitching, the seats around us at had filled in with fans.  But, luckily, I was the first and only person to call out, “Hey, Andrew!”  When he turned around, I pointed to Tim and asked if he could toss his ball over.

On his first throw, I didn’t think the ball was going to make it into the stands so I reached out for it and Tim and I clanked our gloves together and the ball bounced back towards Bailey.  He tossed it again and I stood back so Tim could make a high catch on it:

What a beauty:

Thanks, Andrew!

It was getting so crowded down the LF line that we decided to relocate to LCF by the bullpens.  On or walk over there, this was our view of the Brooks Robinson statue ceremony:

Here is the best view we ever got of Brooks or his statue:

Shortly after setting up shop by the bullpens, Tim declared it was snack time.  He was wearing his new white (and highly stainable) Felix Hernandez jersey that his grandparents gave him after the Ichiro trade.  Snack time brought on the first of several stain-preventing outfit changes for Tim:

In that picture above to the left, he is stuffing his white jersey into a bag so he can enjoy some “pirates” (shown in the middle picture).

Not much was happening in the OF, either from a homerun or a Red Sox toss-up perspective.  So we entertained ourselves by chatting, snacking, crowd watching, and taking pictures.

Here’s a picture of a temporary banner the Orioles hung behind home plate to thank their new fans – winning creates new fans:

Here’s a picture of the boys just clowning around in the seats:

Now check out this picture of the crowd:

It’s hard to believe that is Camden Yards!  As I said, winning creates new fans.   If you have a very keen eye (and know what he looks like), you might be able to spot a red-shirted Alex Kopp in that last picture.

After BP ended, we hung out by the bullpens until around game time.  Alex came over and we chatted with him a bit.  With the crazy BP crowd, he had not managed to catch a baseball.  But he ended up getting one from Rick Adair at the bullpen before the game started.

Just before game time, we started to make our way over to the kids’ play area.  By that point, they had cleared the statue area so they could clean up all of the seats, etc., used during the ceremony.  This was our view of the final new statue as we passed by:

Pretty much at every game we spend some time in the kids’ play area and some time watching the game.  At this game, we let the kids call the shots and it resulted in what might be a world, single-game record for amount of time spent in a kids’ play area.

We started with some air-T batting:

We did a little bouncing:

Tim took his cuts in the batting cage:

And then we landed at the pitching cage, where we would spent a huge amount of time at this game:

In Tim’s first turn in the pitching cage (three tosses per turn), Tim threw the fastest recorded pitch of his young life:  37 blazing miles per hour.  He matched it once more during the night (and I didn’t get a picture of either of them), but most of this pitches clocked in between 33-36 miles per hour.  Kellan, on the other hand, did not throw a single clockable pitch.  But he was definitely a fan favorite in the pitching cage.

After the first pass through the kids’ play area, we decided to pull the old switcheroo – dessert before dinner.  It was the bottom of the first inning with no score, and we headed to the statue area for our last ice cream helmets of the season.

It was packed out there.  Every seat was filled with a brand-new Orioles fan or a dejected Red Sox fan, and all of the good standing room spots were full.  The boys grab some non-prime seating spots along the wall where I could sort of see the action:

Adam Jones went down swinging…

…to the first inning.

We watched the scoreless top of the second inning from the same spot.  And Kellan made certain that he didn’t waste even a drop of melted ice cream:

During the bottom of the second inning, the Orioles put a little rally together and the boys and I decided to head back behind home plate and then back to the kids play area.  On our way through the cross aisle, an usher was kind enough to take our picture:

As we approached the cross-aisle behind third base, Manny Machado hit a ground ball single up the box and into CF.  Chris Davis scored the first run of the night on the play.

We made it back to home plate just in time to watch Lew Ford…

…foul out to end the inning.

So, with the score 1-0 Orioles after two inning, we were off to the kids play area again.  On our way, we stopped to get the boys’ picture with a muscle car:

(Tim loves pointing out muscle cars when we are in the car).

And then it was off to the pitching cage again:

(those lines are running from the muscle car toward the cage).

We stayed at the kids’ play area for a long, long time doing all sorts of playing.  Like this…

…and this:

And some standing around waiting to play, like this:

When we finally left the play area, the game was heading into the bottom of the fourth inning and it was still 1-0 Orioles.  We headed out to the flag court.  It was packed out there:

I should mention that right before we headed to the flag court, or maybe even while we were en route to the flag court, Chris Davis launched his 30th homerun of the season deep into the seats in RCF (much more CF than RF).  That made it 3-0 Orioles and the place was going crazy – partially because the Orioles were playing a “Gangnam Style” parody video on the big screen called “Camden Style.”

We were out in the flag court for the top of the fifth.  Unforutnately, the lead off batter walked and then Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a 2-run homerun into the seats in RCF just past the flag court.

That made the score 3-2 Birds.

The Orioles Bird was out in the flag court and, despite the Salty-Bomb, he was plenty happy about the O’s 1-run lead.  He celebrated by eating Tim’s head…

…and a few minutes later, he came back to shake Tim’s hand while we were on our way back to the play area.

On our way back to the play area, I noticed this big picture of Memorial Stadium:

I’m not sure how long its been there.  Maybe it’s always been there.  But I have never really paid attention to it.  I was never at a game at Memorial Stadium.  But it is cool to see that the Orioles paid tribute to it on the design of the home plate area at Camden Yards – the two look very similar.

After our final many rounds of pitching in the cage…

…we headed off to the club level to meet up with Avi and have some dinner:

While we were in the Club Level, Avi was none-to-pleased to see Adam Jones and Chris Davis fail to communicate properly, leading to a dropped ball by Davis and a game-tying third run for the Red Sox.  That was in the top of the sixth inning.

The score remained 3-3 until the bottom of the seventh inning, which Machado led off by belting a homerun into the LF seats.  And just like that, the O’s were back on top 4-3.

In the eighth inning, we decided to head down to the field level.  On our way through the Club Level on our way to the elevator, I snapped some pictures of the décor:

We headed here…

…for the rest of the game.  This was my standing-room view from the cross-aisle behind second 32:

I should mention that the Yankees had already lost their game against the Blue Jays.  With the Yankees loss, the O’s were just half a game back in the A.L. East.  The team and the crowd badly wanted a share of first place.

The Orioles sent in their All-Star closer Jim Johnson to get the final three outs of the game.  Meanwhile, we pondered the idea of going for a post-game umpire baseball.  We moved more directly behind home plate in the cross-aisle.

It took six pitches, but Johnson mowed down Cody Ross on strikes.  Eight pitches later, Johnson retired Mauro Gomez on a line drive to RF.  It was no routine liner though.  It was softly hit and former-Royal/Expo/National/Phillie/Met/Mariner Endy Chavez had to race in and make a nice diving catch to record the out.

When the whole crowd rose to its feet in anticipation of the final out of the game, the Red Sox sent Saltalamacchia to the plate, and I sent Tim down the stair case to get into position for an umpire ball.  Kellan and I stayed at the top of the stairs where this was our view of the Tim and the game:

This was the TV viewing audience’s view of Tim and the game just prior to the final pitch of the night:

And so was this:

That guy right next to Tim is about to tap him on the shoulder and give him the open seat right along the umpires’ tunnel.

On the third pitch of the at-bat, Saltalamacchia flew out to LF to end the game.  Tim was already in perfect position.  The crowd was going crazy and no one was leaving.  So Kellan and I had an easy time making our way down the stairs to the fourth row (two rows behind Tim).

I had told Tim already that the umpires’ name was Greg Gibson.  When the four umps converged on the warning track just behind home plate, Tim must have already called out Gibson’s name because once they opened up the umpires’ gate, Gibson ducked into the tunnel and walked right over to Tim.  They had a little conversation that probably lasted 10-20 seconds.  And then Gibson pulled a beautiful Camden Yards commemorative baseball out of his pouch and set it into Tim’s glove before giving Tim a final smile and turning back toward the exit.  Two steps later, Gibson handed another beautiful commemorative baseball to Kellan.

Double thanks, Mr. Gibson!

We quickly relocated to the first row to watch the stadium celebrate.  The highlight of the celebration was when the Orioles Bird ran over and gave all three of us high fives through the protective netting.  I thought that was pretty funny in light of the fact that we were all wearing Mariners jerseys.  But, hey, we were celebrating right along with everyone else.  It was a great atmosphere.

A few minutes later, an usher took a final, blurry photo of the three of us before we started to pack up to get out of there:

It’s been another great season with my boys, and a lot of fun having Kellan join in the fun with Tim and me.

On our way out of the ballpark, Tim posed for a picture with Brooks Robinson’s number 5 posted on the warehouse:

They had already locked up RF and CF gates into the flag court and CF bleachers:

But Eutaw Street was rocking:

On our way out, we tried to go over and get a better look at the new Brooks Robinson statue, but about 3,000 other people had the same idea and this is as close as we got:

And just like that, our in person MLB season was over…

…, goodbye, Camden Yards.

We can wait to come back for more in 2013.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

27/25 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
44 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies   9, Orioles 7, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
155 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins   7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 11, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 8,   Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6
27 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 13, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway   Park 2, 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 Park10/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (4); 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

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

A’s at O’s – Round 2 (7/28/2012)

We usually go to 5-6 games each season at Camden Yards.  It is usually the one stadium we visit the most during the course of any season.  Yet, in 2012, we somehow made it to the last weekend of July before going back for only our second game of the season at Camden Yards.  It took several plans to fall through for this to happen.  But on July 28, 2012, we finally made it back!

Just like our first Camden Yards game of 2012, this game featured a showdown between the Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles.  It also featured the possibility of reaching two personal milestones. We have had 49 Camden Yards baseballs on our resume for the last several months.  Our next baseball at Camden Yards would be our 50th!  And, if we could manage to get two baseballs, our second would be our 300 baseball since Tim’s first game!  We had hit the 100 mark on 9/12/10 at Nationals Park and the 200 mark on 9/12/11 at Camden Yards.  So if we did it, it would be the first time we’d hit a hundred mark on a date other than September 12th!

So let’s get to the action.  Tim collects pictures with fire hydrants and he’d never got one at Camden Yards.  On our way to the CF gate, we found two fire hydrants about 20 feet apart…

…just across from the ballpark.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen two fire hydrants so close together before.  It is Tim’s first 2-hydrant picture!

Before the gates opened, we met up with Avi, homerun catching machine Tim Anderson, and A’s superfan Rick Gold.  After chatting a few minutes, the gates opened and we all made out way to LF.  While the rest of the guys stayed in LF, Tim, Kellan and I swung around to the shady seats in foul territory.

I’ve never really noticed it before (and somehow didn’t get a picture of it), but the front row by the LF foul pole is perfect if you want to watch BP with a little kid.  The last seat at the end of the front row is pivoted toward home plate and rests up against the brick wall.  The result is that there are 5-6 seats in the front row that open from the aisle and then dead-end into the last seat so we were able to trap Kellan in there  He could walk back and forth between a couple seats, but Tim blocked the way to the aisle and the end seat blocked the other way.  It was, indeed, perfect.

When we arrived down the LF line, the O’s were hitting and a single Athletic was pitching to a catcher along the LF foul line.  There were almost no fans in foul territory other than 4-5 people standing behind the A’s catcher.

When the A’s pitcher wrapped up, he tossed his baseball to one of the people standing behind the catcher.  Then he grabbed another ball and threw it to another one of the people standing behind the catcher.  Then he walked over there, I assume to sign autographs.

Meanwhile, former-Mariner Chris Tillman sauntered over to grab a ball hit down the line.  Avi swooped in to advice, “That’s Chris Tillman!”  Thanks to Avi’s advice, we were able properly to ask  Tillman for…

…our life-time (Tim’s lifetime, not mine) baseball at Camden Yards!

Thanks, Chris!

Tillman tossed the ball to Tim, but threw it a bit too high.  So it went over his head and Tim had to grab it on the bounce/roll.

Kellan was all set to make a play of his own:

With one milestone in the books, we turned our sights toward our 300th lifetime (again, Tim’s lifetime, not mine) baseball.  It didn’t take too long.  An Orioles batter laced a liner down the line.  It took one hop on the bouncy warning track, I reached high over Tim’s head and gloved the ball easily:

In that last picture, can you see the fan sitting closest to us behind my glove.  He’s wearing shorts, a grey shirt and a green hat.  See him?  At one point, he wandered over and started chatting with me.  He came over seemingly to verify that we were really Mariners fans and ask why a family of Mariners fans was at an Orioles/Athletics game.

Figuring he was a lifelong A’s fan, I mentioned something about the Oakland Coliseum, and he surprised me by mentioning that he had “not been there yet.”  Turns out he wasn’t a lifelong A’s fan.  He was a lifelong Yankees fan, “but my son Evan pitches for the A’s.”

I was like, “What!?  Whose your son?”

Then he pointed over to that group fans that had been standing behind the A’s catcher.  And there was a Major Leaguer sitting in the front row chatting with his family!  Actually, if you look in most of the pictures above, you will find A’s pitcher Evan Scribner sitting in the seats.

I asked Evan’s dad if Tim could get his picture with Evan because “he’s never had his picture with a Major Leaguer in the stands!”  Mr. Scribner was all, “Oh, sure!  No problem.”  We walked over and Mr. Scribner made some introductions and then Tim cozied up with Evan for this outstanding picture:

That’s Evan’s brother sitting next to him in the red hat.  I believe they said he’s pitching in high school still…although, maybe they said college.  But the best part of it in my opinion (well, aside from the simple fact that it is a picture with a Major Leaguer sitting where the fans are supposed to sit) is the big smile beaming from Evan’s grandma’s face.  She looks so thrilled to see some random kid wanting to get his picture with her grandson.  Pretty awesome, in my book.

I mentioned to Evan that I was sorry to intrude but we really wanted a picture with a player sitting in the stands.  He explained that the on-field usher yelled at him for sitting on the short brick wall and told him he had to sit in the stands if he wanted to sit down.  That’s pretty hilarious.  Evan possibly met up with the strictest usher at Camden Yards, where people are generally allowed to sitting anywhere they want to sit.

Whenever we’re at Camden Yards during BP, Tim eventually notices that Avi is in the outfield and decides that he wants to go out there too.  I like to stay in foul territory as much as possible where it is less likely that one of the boys will get beaned by a BP hit.  But we decided to move just a section or two around the foul pole into fair territory to hang out with Avi.

Turns out it was a good decision.  Someone hit a baseball down the line that rolled to a stop below us.  Avi let us know that the guy coming to retrieve the baseball was Zach Britton, and Avi’s advice turned into this:

Britton flipped the ball up to Tim and he made a great snow cone catch.  The picture on the right is Tim’s actual reaction as he is turning around to show me that he snow coned it.  The picture above to the left shows Britton walking back to his group of BP mates as Tim reenacts his catch.

The way Tim caught the baseball, Avi and I could both see the Camden Yards commemorative logo hanging out of the top of Tim’s glove.  It was a really clean and nice commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Zach!

Then we quickly had an excuse to head back to foul territory:  Yoenis Cespedes was signing autographs along the foul line.

We scurried over there with a baseball and pen in Tim’s hands ready for a signature, but it wasn’t in the cards.  Tim was trailing right behind Yoenis as he made his way toward home plate.  It’s a bad place to be and it resulted in no Cespedes signature.  But, I did get a cool Cespedes-based picture:

After Cespedes stopped signing he grabbed his glove (while I was still in the process of taking close-ups of it) and ran out to LF to work on his fielding.  We headed back to our little dead-end front row…

…and watched Cespedes make a circus catch behind his back:

Cespedes had stopped signing autographers essentially at the same time that the teams switched spots on the field.  Now the A’s were taking BP.  All the A’s were running around doing there BP-thing, except for Evan Scribner.  Scribner literally spent the entire O’s and entire A’s BP chatting with his family.  Except there was one difference, during O’s BP the O’s relievers were shagging the balls hit down into the LF corner.  During A’s BP, the A’s didn’t put anyone in LF.  So Scribner jumped out of the crowd and ran over and shagged every single baseball that was hit down the LF line, and he tossed EVERY SINGLE BASEBALL into the crowd.  It was pretty amazing.

Here is one of those baseballs…

…and Scribner signing it about 5 minutes after tossing it to Tim.

Sribner tossed this baseball to Tim from probably 30-40 feet away and Tim made a great lunging catch on it.  A few minutes later, Scribner ran into the LF corner to retrieve a baseball that hit the foul pole and came to a rest just below it on the LF grass.   After he tossed that baseball into the OF seats, he walked back to his family.  On his way by, I asked him if he would sign the baseball that he tossed to Tim.  He agreed and then a hilarious little conversation occurred wherein Tim enthusiastically told Scribner that he had caught the baseball he was getting signed, and Scribner replied, “I know!  I saw it!” and I added in, “He threw it to you, Tim!”  And Tim was like, “oh.”  Maybe you had to be there, but it was pretty funny.

Thanks, Evan!

Soon, we decided to move back 15-20 rows and away from the field so Tim we could take some pictures of the ballpark (and the local birds):

While we were hanging out there, a guy named Mike stopped by and said he recognized us from our blog.  It’s always cool to meet someone how has enjoyed reading about our baseball adventures.

I asked Tim to try to take a nice picture of me and Kellan and this was the (very frustrating to Tim) result:

He was all set to click his shutter when someone launched a deep homerun over us.  I reacted by flinching and following the flight of the ball, and Kellan did whatever that is he is doing there.  The whole thing was very dissatisfying to Tim, the aspiring photographer.

When BP wrapped up, we did some wandering.  We wandered over to the picnic area behind the bullpens and checked out the new statues:

Then we watched some warm-up action in the bullpens:

And Orioles coach Bill Conrad came over and tossed a ball to me for Kellan:

Kellan was on my shoulders at the time.  After I caught it, I put him on the ground and handed him the ball.  He walked over to bullpen fence while Conrad did the same.  As you can see above, Kellan was holding the baseball in his left hand.  Conrad asked if he’s left handed.  When I said, “no.”  Conrad told me that I ought to teach him to be left handed.

Next, we decided to head to the play area.  But on our way, we took a detour up to the new bar area above the batters’ eye.  We’d never checked it out up there yet.  It is pretty cool:

As you can see in the bottom right picture above, there are two rows of stool seating at the front of the batters’ eye bar.  I took this panorama from the SRO area directly behind the second row:

After we headed down the stairs from the batters’ eye bar, we ducked into the CF seats to watch the first pitch:

And then we walked through the revamped flag court on our way to the play area:

I wanted to get a good action shot from the flag court, but the best I could do was this pitch out to Seth Smith while Jemile Weeks did not try to swipe 2B:

And, finally, much to Tim’s relief, we made it to the kids’ play area.  First up, a picture with the very cool looking Orioles pig:

Tim took a few hacks in one of the cages:

Kellan inspected one of the big Oriole bobbleheads while Tim argued with the bird like he was an umpire:

And then it was time to do some bouncing…

…and playing on the way-too-tall-and-dangerous play fort before heading off to get some ice cream.

A nice usher let us sit in some great handicap accessible seats right behind home plate while the boys ate their ice cream:

This was the view as Bartolo Colon set down the Orioles in order in the bottom of the second inning:

After the boys polished off their ice cream, we headed out to LF for a while.  This was our view as we looked at the field:

And this was our view when we looked away from the field:

Of course, those fellas are Baltimore’s own Avi Miller and Tim Anderson.  Tim told me on the drive down to Baltimore that he was going to take a self-portrait of himself and Avi.  Mission accomplished.

The A’s started the scoring for the night in the top of the fourth inning on a 2-run blast by Yoenis Cespedes…

…who was stationed just to our right during the bottom half of the innings we spent out in LF.

By Tim’s request, we pulled the “old switcheroo” – desert first followed by a late dinner.  Ice cream was a success.  Now it was time for dinner.  We decided on pizza.  Avi gave us directions to the closest pizza stand.  Once we grabbed our slices, we headed to the back row of the upper deck to eat:

This was our view from up there:

I got a great picture of Cespedes hitting a ball and breaking his bat:

At the time, the score was 3-0 A’s.  The very next batter was Chris Carter, and he blasted a homerun to LF.  We could clearly see Avi and Tim Anderson from up top, and I could tell that Tim gave chase to the homerun and ended up lunging over some seats to make an attempt at it.  I couldn’t tell if he had gotten the ball or not.  He didn’t.

Carter’s homerun made the score 5-0 A’s.

Before leaving the upper deck, I took some funny self-portraits of the three of us:

While we were up in the upper deck (and the A’s led 3-0), Chris Carter blasted a homerun to LF.  We could clearly see Avi and Tim Anderson from up top, and I could tell that Tim gave chase to the homerun and ended up lunging over some seats to make an attempt at it.  I couldn’t tell if he had gotten the ball or not.  He didn’t.

Carter’s homerun made the score 5-0 A’s.

We decided to head back to the play area before it closed down in the 7th inning.  I noticed something cool on the way down the stairs in the RF foul corner:

When we got back to the play area, the boys did a little bit more bouncing in the moon bounce and got a picture with another Orioles bobblehead:

Then we headed back behind home plate and ran into the Oriole Bird:

I tried to get Kellan to pose with the Bird too, but he was too scared of the big smiley Bird.

We were going to hang out in the cross aisle behind home plate for a while.  But an usher didn’t want us standing there, so she made us sit down in the fancy seats behind home plate.

Okay, I guess so, if you say we must!

The boys had lots of fun clowning around in the seats:

We repositioned again in the 9th inning.  And look who was pitching for the A’s:

It was Evan Scribner.

He pitched well, except for giving up a homerun to Nick Markakis:

The A’s ended up winning the game 6-1.

At the end of the game, we got in perfect position for an umpire baseball attempt.  But the ump turn the other way and gave out all of his baseballs to kids on the other side of the tunnel before heading out of the field area.

We decided to head over to the Orioles dugout and one of the Orioles relievers ended up tossing an commemorative baseball to us.  Don’t know who it was, but

Thanks, Oriole-guy!

Once all of the action on the field was finished, an usher took a picture of me and the boys before we headed out of the ballpark:

It’s always great to spend an afternoon and evening at Camden Yards.  Luckily, we’d be back soon.  The very next week our Mariners would be stopped through Camden Yards for three games, and we planned to attend one of them.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

16/14 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
24 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 3, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
87 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 11, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
14 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 6, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium,  Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park5/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird;   Kellan – Fredbird
4/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
6 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner

 

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

Orioles Win One For Frank Robinson (4/28/2012)

During the week leading up to Saturday, April 28, 2012, we were looking forward to our first game of the season at Camden Yards.  But the weather outlook was sketchy.  Rain seemed to be in the forecast.  And I was going back-and-forth regarding whether Kellan should join me and Tim for this game.  I wanted him to join us, but I feared having to corral him in the rain.  But on Friday, I made the decision:  Kellan would definitely join us.

So let’s do it.

It was our first night game of the season.  After having a nice relaxing day lounging around the house, we hopped in the car where Tim and Kellan kept themselves entertained during the drive south:

When we walked up to the stadium at 4:30 in the afternoon, a huge crowd was already waiting at the gates…

…, which apparently upset Kellan (he wasn’t too interested in getting his picture at the time).

Luckily, when it comes to Camden Yards, we know *people* and those people are permanently first in line…

…and so were we.  In that last picture, along with Tim, Avi Miller and Matt Hersl, that is 1,100+ baseball ballhawk and east coast Oakland A’s fan, Rick Gold.  Rick and I have known each other for a while through myGameBalls.com and twitter, but this was the first time we had ever met in person.  Despite rooting for the wrong A.L. West team, Rick is a pretty cool guy.

Kellan grabbed a spot on the backpack-checking table and had a great time hanging out with the guys:

The crowd was so big because the Orioles were set to unveil a new Frank Robinson statue at a ceremony at 5:15 p.m.  The ceremonyfeatured Robinson, Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer and others.  As we waited at the gate, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron and his wife zoomed by (inside the gate) on a golf cart.  A few minutes later, Eddie Murray walked by…

…and I took two of the worst possible pictures of him – that last one is the *better* of my two Eddie Murray pictures!  The statue unveiling was part of the Orioles’ celebration of the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards.  (Think, when Camden Yards opened, Fenway Park was a mere 80-year-old spring chicken of a ballpark).

I knew Hank Aaron was going to be at this game, and I really wanted to see him in person.  But I didn’t want to sit through the crowded ceremony.  So we headed into the ballpark for BP once the gates opened.  As usual, we headed for the third base line:

Kellan absolutely loves wearing his glove and trying to catch baseballs around the house.  His hand is so tiny that he cannot close the glove so he relies on the ball just landing in there and not bouncing out.  Early in BP, he made his first ever attempt on a toss-up from a MLB player, Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz (who was wearing a “Brady Anderson” embroidered glove):

That is easily my favorite picture of the season so far.  In our first three games, my camera has been annoying me like nobody’s business.  It is ruining a ton of my pictures and really seems to have it out for me.  But my camera apparently felt the gravity of the situation and it worked perfectly in the crunch and captured that last picture.

Thanks, Camera!

And thank you, too, Brian Matusz!

By the way, the ball bounced off of the side of Kellan’s glove and fell to his feet.  But it was a great moment anyway.

Kellan grabbed his new baseball and held it tight:

Hey, remember that ceremony I mentioned?  During BP, it was taking place in the picnic area behind the bullpens:

We decided to head over there for a little peak.  But it was so crowded we could hardly see the panel of Hall of Famers – and my only picture attempt came out totally unrecognizable because I had to take the photo through trees, flowers, people, etc., etc.

We decided to head off to the restroom.  Normally, cameras are off limits in the restrooms, but I couldn’t help taking this next one because Kellan looked so cute and funny lying on the flip-down baby changing table with is big baseball glove:

He was like, “Hey, let’s get this done so we can get back out there!”

And get back out there we did.

We headed back to the third base line.  Unfortunately, he had taken Kellan’s umbrella stroller into the stadium, which was a terrible idea.  Tim was in charge of rolling it around (empty) and finding places to stash it during BP.  He seemed to like taking charge of this task and he was vehemently opposed to just leaving it out in deep LF while we went back to the third base line.

Anyway…when we returned to the field, the A’s pitchers were playing catch down the line. When he finished playing catch, we thought Jim Miller was going to throw a baseball to Tim.  We were both excited for the third chance in three weeks for Tim to catch a toss-up from a player.  But then Miller decided to walk it over and hand-deposit it into Tim’s glove:

Thanks, Mr. Miller!

Although there was no one in our vicinity blocking the rows of seats, Tim decided to climb back up to our spot in the tenth row (which I figured was out of foul ball range – I didn’t want any baseballs beaning my boys):

It was a long slow climb and during the process Tim dropped his baseball.  It rolled all the way back down to the first row.  I had to run back down and scooped it up for Tim.

Although we weren’t *at* the Frank Robinson ceremony, it was pretty cool being inside the ballpark during the unveiling.  They had lots of nice videos playing on the scoreboards…

…and all of the speakers were broadcast over the PA system.  It was really cool being in the same building and hearing Hank Aaron speaking about his friend Frank Robinson, and then hearing Frank Robinson talk about himself and his teammates.

Tim decided he wanted to scoot out to LF by the bullpens so we could see Avi.  We walked out there, didn’t find Avi, and, almost immediately, it started raining and BP was cancelled.  Out came the tarp:

And off we headed to the Club Level to eat some snacks and avoid the rain:

We were up there a loooooooooooooooooooooooong time.  I’m not sure what time the rain started coming down, but it felt like we were up in the Club Level for about ten hours.  When I finally looked at the clock on my phone, I saw that it was still another whole hour until the game was set to start!  Yikes.  Rain outs during BP make for a whole lotta down time.

After the boys ate a ton of snacks, we walked all over the Club Level and I took a bunch of photos of the various lounge areas.  The Club Level at Camden Yards is not all that fancy, but it’s a good place to duck into and kill some time when it is raining.  Here is what it looks like…

…and…

…and…

…and this is in a glass case just behind the main entrance to the Club Level:

We eventually ran into Avi and a couple of his friends in one of the little lounge areas.  I sat down and chatted with them while Tim danced and tried to entertain everyone…

…and Kellan ran a million laps around two people sitting in chairs watching TV (one of them is above Kellan in that picture).  Eventually, this resulted in a giant catastrophe – Tim decided to show Avi’s friends how fast he is, so he ran two laps around the chairs in the opposite direction of Kellan and the two collided chest-to-chest on the second lap.  I could see it about to happen in slow motion as the scene unfolded, but I was helpless to stop it.  Tim completely flattened Kellan, who fell back and smacked his head on the floor.  It was a bad scene with lots and lots of crying.

Luckily, after five minutes sobbing uncontrollably on my shoulder, Kellan pulled through and was back to giggling and running around again.

When they did a second ceremony on the field, I snuck outside and snapped a few pictures:

In the upper left, that is Earl Weaver walking the “orange carpet.”  In the bottom right, of course, that is Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.

Hidden under the orange sheet (bottom left), the Orioles presented Frank Robinson with a 2-foot tall replica of his new statue.  Half an hour later, two guys walked by us in the Club Level carrying that little statue (which looked really heavy) to a suite (which I assumed was the owner’s suite) where all of the Hall of Famers watched the game.

All of a sudden, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer walked by and posed for a picture with (grumpy looking) Tim:

Although he has such a wonderful smile, Tim is prone to do these “grumpy” faces in pictures because he thinks it makes him look cool.  He’s a big fan of being cool!  Always has been. Growing up is an interesting process, eh?  He keeps it fun, even if his *cool* / *grumpy* face stands in for his big smile in some pictures.

Anyway, after the photo with grumpy-faced Tim, Jim Palmer handed a “Luis Ayala” embroidered glove to Tim and was like “here, try this on.”  Then Palmer handed Tim a baseball and was like, “here, hold this baseball…but you can’t have it because I have to give it to Frank Robinson.”  I’m pretty sure the glove and baseball were used by Frank Robinson when he threw out the first pitch.

As the game started, it was time for some dinner.  Kellan and I shared nachos…

…and Tim opted for some chicken fingers and fries.

After eating, the three of us headed out to the newly redesigned flag court:

The previous tall, two foot wide padded wall at the front of the flag court is now replaced with a short wrought iron fence.  Just like when Tim was 2-3 years old, Kellan LOVED the flag court and he ran around like crazy all over the flag court and Eutaw Street.

Chasing Kellan in the flag court was too much work for both me and Tim, so we decided to take the long way around the ballpark on our way out to left field.  On our way by RF, I noticed that the Orioles had a “20” painted on the grass in RF:

Of course, Frank Robinson played RF and the Orioles have retired his number 20.

While we were out in the flag court, it was the top of the second inning and the Orioles put up a 5-spot on the strength of six singles (by Adam Jones, Wilson Betemit, Chris Davis, Ronny Paulino, Robert Andino, and Nolan Reimold) and a sacrifice fly by J.J. Hardy.

That made the score 5-0 Orioles.

We never headed up there to check it out, but on our walk around the stadium, I took this photo of the new party deck above the batters’ eye:

And as we neared home plate, the A’s prized offseason acquisition, Yoenis Cespedes, had his turn at the plate:

He came up empty on that hack, and then hit a foul pop out to first base.

When we reached LF, we headed out to see the new Frank Robinson statue in the picnic area (which appears to be open to the public now, or at least it was for this game):

Then we grabbed some empty seats in section 86:

Although it was still drizzling a bit, the boys shared a swirl ice cream helmet:

And then they watched the very light rain fall on us:

Tim grabbed his glove and tried to catch specific drops as he tracked them on their way down to earth.

While we were out in LF, Adam Jones led off the top of the third inning with a single and then scored the Orioles sixth run of the night on a double by Wilson Betemit.  That made it 6-0 Orioles.  Things were looking good for the Orioles on a night dedicated to celebrating Frank Robinson.

Around the fifth inning, we relocated to the cross-aisle behind home plate.  This was our view for a big chunk of the rest of the game:

Tim and I watched for foul balls (and a couple came somewhat close to us) while Kellan relaxed in my arms, never quite falling asleep.

During the seventh inning stretch, the Orioles Bird (as he is prone to do) sat on the ledge of the TV booth behind home plate.  Kellan totally loved it and he repeated “BIRD!” about 800 times.  While the Bird was up there, Kellan’s “BIRDs” were declaratory (i.e., “there is a bird!”).  Then, after the Bird left the ledge, Kellan’s “BIRDs” turned inquisitive in nature (i.e., “where are you, bird?”).  It was pretty cute.

In the seventh inning, Chris Davis blasted a monster homerun to RF:

The homerun cleared the flag court and crashed down on Eutaw Street.  After the game, I heard one of the TV announcers mention that it was the 25th Orioles homerun to land on Eutaw Street…or maybe Davis was the 25th Oriole to hit a homerun out to Eutaw Street, I’m not quite sure.

I missed some scoring, the Davis blast made the score 10-1 Orioles.

We decided to head back up to the Club Level where we had left Kellan’s stroller at the front desk.  We really went up there because Tim wanted to see Avi.  We met up with Avi and watched Bryce Harper’s first at bat of his MLB career…an incredibly weak groundout to the pitcher.

And then we all (including Avi) headed back down to the Cross Aisle behind home plate.  As we approached our spot, someone hit a foul ball to the guy sitting next to the person directly behind/above the spot where we had been standing for several innings.  Had we been there, I might have had a play on it, but it would have required me to make a jumping catch above my head while holding Kellan, which would have been very difficult.  We still could have got it if the ball had bounced down into the Cross Aisle, but the guy took the ball directly to his gut, and it fell harmlessly to his feet for an easy pick up.  He was from Oakland (or at least he was decked out in A’s gear) so it was no doubt a cool moment for the guy.

Anyway, we went back to our same spot.  Over the course of a bunch of innings standing in the Cross Aisle, none of the ushers ever told us to get out of there.  In fact, one of them eventually came and said, “Hey, why don’t you just sit down right here?”  He was concerned that someone else running for a foul ball might fun us over.

So we obliged him:

And each half inning until the game ended, we crept up a little closer to the field:

I took some random action shots…

…but the scoring was done for the night.

We kept moving forward because I wanted to go for an umpire ball.   As we got closer and closer, about 10,000 kids, teens and adults all flocked to the tunnel with the same idea.  I guess everyone wants one of those nice commemorative Camden Yards 20th Anniversary baseballs.

We made it to the very bottom spot and we were the first people there when home plate umpire Eric Cooper left the field of play.  But he completely ignored everyone and gave out zero of those fancy commemorative baseballs.

We had one more idea – get over to the Orioles dugout (which was packed with fans) to see if anyone might toss up a commemorative baseball over there.

No such luck.

But that doesn’t mean there was *no luck* — indeed, there was a lot of luck left hanging in the night air.

As Orioles bullpen catcher Ronnie Deck approached the dugout, I called out, “Hey, Ronnie!” and gave him the obligatory *hit me* glove flap.  He had an equipment bag (which no doubt had a commemorative baseball nestled inside) hanging from his shoulder, but Ronnie just held out his open glove to show us *no baseball*, but then he looked down into his glove and gave himself a little *hmmm, okay* shrug.  He reached into his baseball glove, grabbed his batting gloves and tossed them to us.

The fans in front of us were nice enough not to intercept the gloves, which were clearly intended for us but would have been easy for another couple fans to catch before they reached us, and I caught them in my baseball glove.

Tim was SUPER-EXCITED about these batting gloves.

An usher took a picture of the three of us with our post-game prize:

Avi witnessed the toss-up from Ronnie Deck and  came over to chat with us.  Before we headed out, I took two pictures of Tim and Avi.  Avi decided to smile in the first picture, and Tim decided to smile in the second picture, so let’s take a look at both:

Before we left the stadium, we got one last picture of Tim and his new gloves (no chance he is sharing them with his little bro!):

Note the cool “20” with a spot light on the side of the warehouse behind Tim.  Cool.

When we got to the car, Tim told me not to tell mommy about the gloves.  They were a secret.  When we got off the phone, he asked if he could show her something when he got home.  Something secret.  He slept then entire ride home (as did Kellan).  But at 1:00 a.m., Tim let mommy in on his little secret before hopping into his bed.

So, there you go, a great night of baseball at Camden Yards.  Now we have an off-week and then it’s time for the Fifth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.  It is going to be an AWESOME trip this season with stops in Minnesota, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver.  Our Mariners/Rockies games in Denver will mark a major milestone for me and Tim:  we will finally have seen all thirty MLB teams play a home game (of course, with the opening of Marlins Park this season, we now have to go back to Miami before we can say we have been to every current MLB stadium – that will happen in September!).

This season’s GFS Roadtrip will also be extra special because it will feature a new and improved lineup:  Jim, Todd, Tim and Kellan!  That’s double the “Sons” and double the fun!

Stay tuned.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

3/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
6/4 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1
14 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 4, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 2, Orioles 1, Athletics 1
1 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park
3/2 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards
1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A

2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck

Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2011)

On September 12, 2011, Tim had a rough afternoon.  He fell on the playground at school, banged up his knee, and had to go see the school nurse:

No fun.

But don’t you worry, things were about to turn around for young Tim.  Today was his Fifth MLB Anniversary and we were about to have an awesome evening of baseball at Camden Yards.

You might have noticed that Tim had a little turtle that he has been bringing to games the last couple months.  His name is “Shelly” (yeah, he’s a boy!).  Tim got Shelly at the Baltimore Aquarium the day after Kellan’s first birthday and he loves that little turtle like crazy.

On our drive to the ballpark, Tim devised a plan revolving around Shelly:

First, he wanted Shelly to get his first baseball at the game.  Second, he wanted to get a player to sign the ball for Shelly.  I told Tim we’d do our best to achieve these goals.

The first goal would not take long.  I bought cheap (super cheap) but good (really good) tickets on stubhub, but they were not “season” tickets, and we were running late and arrived after the ballpark opened and Avi Miller was already inside the ballpark.
So we were stuck in CF-RF for about 10 minutes upon entering the ballpark.

We wandered down into section 90 to see what was happening.  A few moments later, former-Mariner Chris Jakubauskas…

…saw me put on my Mariners jersey.  Jak ended up calling to one of his Orioles teammates who had a baseball.  The teammate tossed the ball to Jak and then Jak waved and then tossed the baseball to us.

Thanks, Jak!

Tim promptly declared that this baseball was for Shelly:

The last couple minutes before the rest of the ballpark opened to non-season ticket holders ticked by ever so slowly.  But finally we were permitted to make our way into RF foul territory and around home plate.  We were going to head down the foul line toward the LF foul pole.  By this time, the Rays were hitting and the Orioles had all exited the field.  As we past third base and the infield dirt, the batter hit a soft grounder that rolled to a rest in the grass behind short stop.  Rays pitcher J.P. Howell ran over from shallow CF, grabbed the ball, waved to us and made a long throw our way.

Thanks, J.P.!

Mere seconds after gloving the ball, a familiar voice came from behind us, “That’s J.P. Howell.”  It was our friend and future
Orioles Fan Hall of Famer Avi Miller.

Avi knew it was Tim’s fifth MLB anniversary.  Although he was wearing a Rays hat…

…, Avi announced that he had brought a Mariners hat in honor of Tim’s anniversary.  Very kind, Mr. Miller.

The three of us walked down the line toward the foul pole and a Rays batter hit a grounder down the line and directly to the on-field usher (Tom) who was standing directly in front of us.  Tom grabbed the ball and turned and gave it to Tim.  Big thanks, sir!

Avi headed back out into left field and Tim and I stayed put.  It was an unusually small BP crowd.  But after hanging out in foul territory for a bit, Tim wanted to head out into LF as well.

As Tim and I circled around the foul pole, a batter hit a baseball to the wall just below us.  There were really no fans anywhere around us.  When Juan Cruz walked over to retrieve the baseball, I said, “Hey, Juan.  Any chance we could get that baseball?”
Cruz looked right at us with a odd (but otherwise indescribable) expression, and then turned and walked away without saying a word.

So, we headed out to section 186.  Not too much was going on.  We chatted a bit with Matt Hersl.  We chatted a bit with Avi.  At one point, Avi asked if we knew a player’s name…

…it was Juan Cruz.  I told him that I was pretty sure it was Juan Cruz, but he’d given us a really weird look earlier so maybe I was wrong.  Hmm…maybe I’d call him the wrong name?

Nah…I looked in our little book where I record all sorts of stuff.  Yep, Juan Cruz had tossed us a baseball earlier in the season…and my list confirmed that his name was, indeed, Juan Cruz.

Eventually, someone hit a laser line drive homerun directly over our head.  I jumped for it and it probably sailed less than a foot over my glove.

Like two seconds, I heard someone yell (at us) from the field.  It was Juan Cruz!  I was utterly confused.  He was probably 2-3 sections over toward the LF foul pole.  He held up a baseball and pointed at us.  I wasn’t sure if he was looking pointing at us or someone else.  Tim was standing directly in front of me.  In fact, I had my hands on his shoulders as I looked at Cruz with a confused look on my face.  (A little backstory, I am incredibly terrible at deciphering what people with accents are saying, and Cruz is from the Dominican Republic, but for some reason it sounded like he was yelling with a thick southern accent).  He yelled
something that was completely indecipherable to me:

Cruz - “BLAH, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”

Todd – (confused) What!?

Cruz – “BLEE, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”

Todd – (even more confused and not even sure if he was yelling at me or someone else!) “What!?”

Cruz – “BLEE, CAH, BLAHHHH!”

Todd – (really embarrassed by this point) “What!?!?!?!?!”

Cruz – (pointing at Tim directly in front of me) “BEEEEE CAREFULLLLLL!!!!”

Ah, ha.  Finally, it all made sense — he didn’t want to hit Tim with his throw!

Todd – “Oh, okay!”

And then he threw me a strike.

Thanks (and sorry), Juan!

After the baseball from Cruz (already our fourth of the day), the main highlight of the rest of BP was that James Shields made a ridiculously awesome catch, leaping high over the wall in LCF to pick off a would-be BP homerun.

Wait, there was another highlight during BP.  Tim got his picture sitting in one of Camden Yards’ two orange seats (the one where Cal Ripken, Jr.’s 278th homerun landed), and then Shelly got his picture in the Ripken orange seat too:

Wait, again, there was still one more highlight of BP.  At one point, Tim and I were chatting with one of the Orioles regular leftfield ushers (Miss Kelly).  After attending a bunch of O’s games over the last couple years and hanging out with Avi and some of the
other LF regulars, Kelly clearly recognized us.  But I was pleasantly surprised when she actually knew Tim’s name!  “Wow,” I thought to myself, “If an usher knows us by name, I guess we are officially *quasi-Camden-Yards-regulars!”  I like it!

After the Rays cleared the field, the extremely small crowd of BP-goers cleared out of LF except for us, Avi and one or two other guys.  There were tons of BP homers strewn about the ground in the Orioles’ and Rays’ bullpens.

After a while the pitchers, catchers, and coaches headed out to the bullpens.  Former-Mariners pitching coach and current Orioles pitching coach was kind enough to toss us a baseball from the Orioles bullpen.

Thanks, Rick!

Adair also noticed our Mariners shirts and stopped to chat a bit. He asked Tim who his favorite player is (Ichiro) and his favorite pitcher (Tim faltered, but then agreed when I suggested Felix Hernandez).  I told Adair the story of my mom getting one of the Rick Adair prank t-shirts that Ken Griffey, Jr. had made during spring training in 2010.  He got a kick out of that.

After Adair left, another Orioles coach (or a guy who at least seemed to be a coach) came over and started talking to some fans and signing some autographs.  We decided to put Tim’s pre-game autograph plan into action.  It worked perfectly, and now we are proud to say that Tim’s little turtle Shelly is the proud owner of a baseball from Rick Adair bearing a personalized autograph from Orioles Hall of Famer Scott McGregor:

Nice!  Thanks, Scott!

It was getting close to play area time.  But we hung out for a few more minutes.  Eventually, Rays coach Jim Hickey entered the visitors’ bullpen:

There were still probably three BP homers laying in the grass.  Avi asked Hickey for one and he responded, “You’re too old!”  He then turned and weakly tossed a ball in our direction.  But it didn’t clear the fence and it bounced down into the stairway that leads from the back of the bullpen down to the bullpen bathrooms.  His second toss was on the money.

Thanks, Jim!

Interesting side note, someone else later tossed the other ball (the one that Hickey failed to get over the fence) to Avi.

That was it for our field-area pre-game festivities.  We’re typically pretty good at getting 1 or 2 baseballs during BP.  But due to the incredibly small BP crowd, we amazingly came away with six baseballs!  It was pretty crazy.

Aside from a game in 2010 when we got 10 baseballs (including 7 easter eggs), we had never gotten  more than 7 at a single game.
Interestingly, we had come into this game sitting on 191 baseball since Tim’s first game.  Coming into the game, I did not even consider the possibility that we would have a chance to approach the 200-plateau at this game.  But with six baseballs in our backpack, I began to wonder.  I jokingly told Avi that *all we needed* was to get 3 baseballs during the game to hit 200.
There was still no way I thought it could happen, but in the back of my mind, I thought it would be pretty cool to do it because Tim had gotten his first baseball on September 12, 2006 and his 100th exactly one year earlier on September 12, 2010.  How cool would it be to hit 200 on September 12, 2011?  Pretty cool, was my thought.

But enough with the wild speculations, we had a play area to get to.

Tim started out by posing for (another) picture with one of the big bird bobbleheads (this time with his trusty companion, Shelly):

And then he played like a mad man:

As play areas go, Camden Yards is always a fun one.  Lots of things to do and not too crowded to have fun.

As game time approached, we grabbed a hot pile of nachos…

…and our awesome $5.00 tickets from stubhub:

Actually, that view is from row four of section 10, and our seats were actually about 10-15 feet to the left in row 4 of section 12.  Anyway, the seats were awesome, and there was a constant possibility that the ballgirl would catch a foul grounder and give it to Tim.

I mean, check this out:

The ballgirl was sitting just on the other side of the guy in the blue shirt and blue hat.  She did get a grounder early and gave it to
the son of the guy in orange directly in front of Tim in that last picture.  But we didn’t stick around in these seats (we need our freedom to move around!) long enough to see if she’d eventually give Tim a foul ball.

Here’s an interesting picture:

I took it because the Orioles’ first base coach’s last name is “Kirby,” and that is also the name of our awesome black lab (interesting fact:  my wife and I met at a dog park thanks to Kirby!).  The picture is also interesting because it shows home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.  Cuzzi has given us a post-game baseball once before.  Hmm…I wondered if he might do it again.  We’ll have to wait and see.

The Rays got on the board first in this game.  In the top of the third inning, the Rays scored three runs on a 2-RBI double by Ben Zobrist and an RBI single by Sean Rodriguez.

Despite the awesome seats and very real possibility of getting a foul ball from the ballgirl, Tim wanted to roam.  And so, we roamed.  First, we tracked down the highly accessible Orioles Bird:

Then it was time to grab a 5th Anniversary ice cream helmet.  We decided to head out to LF:

Here is a panoramic view of Camden Yards from our very, temporary seats in section 80:

When Evan Longoria stepped to the plate, I sent Avi a less than prophetic text declaring that I was about to catch Evan Longoria’s homerun (note:  Avi, in fact, caught Evan’s first homer of the 2011 season).  In reply, Avi mentioned that he was sitting a couple sections to our left; over by the bullpens.  So, after Longoria failed to hit a homerun to me, we relocated to section 86, where Avi delivered on his promise to wear a Mariners cap in honor of Tim’s 5th MLB anniversary:

Over the next several innings, we sat in a lot of different seats in section 86, but here is just one of our short-time views of the ballpark from section 86:

We spent a lot of time during the game hanging out by the Rays bullpen.

Right below us during a big portion of the game, was Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi:

That hyper-crazy look on Tim’s face was induced by a three-pronged attack on his senses – chocolate ice cream, chocolate sprinkles, and chocolate sauce!  Only on his MLB anniversary!

I had no clue what Cursi’s name was, but Avi did and he passed on the info to me and Tim.  Had it stuck in my brain a little better, it
might have paid off in a big way.  In the bottom of the sixth inning (with the O’s trailing 4-1), Orioles catcher Matt Weiters hit a homerun that was hearing almost right to us.  But it was a tiny bit to our left (toward centerfield) and not quite far enough to reach us.  The homerun landed in the Orioles bullpen, bounced over the wall into the Rays bullpen, and right to Scott Cursi.  We were literally the closest people to Cursi at the time.  I wanted to ask him to toss the homerun ball up to us, but “Scott” just couldn’t get off of my tongue.  Before I could recall his name, he rolled the ball back toward the bullpen bench.  It rolled past the bullpen and to a police officer stationed at the other side of the bullpen.  The cop set the ball down against the back wall of the bullpen for a few seconds.  Eventually, one of the players gave him the “it’s okay” sign, and he tossed the homerun ball to a fan above the bullpen.  Shucks!

At one point, Tim went down a couple rows and visited with…

…Avi, Flava Dave (glove on head) and Tim Anderson (Markakis jersey).  In the picture above, Tim is taking great joy in pointing out the Dora the Explorer backpack in the Rays bullpen.

So, late in the game we were still sitting on 197 lifetime baseballs.  I continued to tell Avi in jest that “all we need is three more balls
before the end of the game” to reach 200!  But it wasn’t looking it was going to happen – and why would it?  I doubt we have ever got three baseballs after the start of a game before – certainly, we have never gotten three baseballs after the seventh inning stretch.

But this was Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary!  Magic was in the air!

In the seventh inning, Scott Cursi gave a baseball to a Rays-fan Dad who was celebrating his daughter’s first birthday game (hey, if it was also her first game, she has a great MLB anniversary!).  After he tossed up that  baseball, I called down, “Hey, Scott, it is not my boy’s birthday, but it’s a really special day for him.  Any chance he can get a baseball too?”  Cursi responded in the affirmative.  Then he walked over to his equipment bag (bullpen catchers always have a bunch of loose balls in their
equipment bags!), pulled out and examined two different baseballs, and then tossed one of them to us.

Thanks, Scott!

I was super-excited.  Could 200 actually happen on Tim’s MLB anniversary?  We relocated down by Avi and the guys next to the Orioles bullpen.  Avi had seen us get the ball from Cursi.  “Just two more!”, I reported!

In the eighth inning, our buddy Chris Jakubauskas started warming up for the Orioles…

…he was pitching to Orioles bullpen catcher (and Avi’s chum) Ronnie Deck.  Avi was optimistic that Deck would assist us in reaching the 200-plateau on Tim’s MLB anniversary.  When Jak threw his final pitch, he walked off  of the mound without waiting for a return throw from Deck.  Ronnie jumped to his feet, and I yelled out, “Hey, Ronnie, can we get the baseball, please!?”
Ronnie took 2-3 almost exaggerated running steps toward the bullpen bench, and then stopped on a dime, spun, and tossed us the baseball over the fence.

199!

Holy cow, I thought, this might actually happen!

We knew what had to happen.  “We’re heading to the umpire’s tunnel, I announced to Avi, Flava Dave, and Mr. Anderson!

Luckily, this was one of the least attended games of the season.  The crowd was particularly sparse with the O’s trailing 5-2 going into the ninth inning.  The ushers were checking tickets and we were able to take the ideal seats beside the umpire tunnel:

As the ninth inning progressed, Tim and I chatted with the guy who sits beside the tunnel and punches the buttons that displays the pitch information (speed and kind of pitch).  I tried my best, but I failed to correctly decipher a single pitch.

As the game drew to a close, I kept waiting for kids to storm the tunnel area, but it wasn’t happening.  Finally, Mark Reynolds struck out to end the game…

…and Phil Cuzzi walked back to the net behind home plate.  After the field crew quickly opened the entrance to the tunnel, Cuzzi stayed put.  He was waiting for his three colleagues to join him before he exited the field.

The mustachioed usher on the other side of the tunnel had brought a little girl down to make an attempt for an umpire ball.  But the little girl and Tim were the only kids in sight while Cuzzi waited for the other umpires.  I looked around expecting a flock of kids to run to the tunnel.  It never happened.

As Cuzzi ducked under the net and entered the tunnel walkway, it was just the little girl and Tim who were waiting for him.  I could not believe it.  Our 200th baseball seemed like a guarantee at this point.

First, Cuzzi placed a baseball into the little girl’s hands.  Next, he turned around and spotted Tim.  He reached out and placed a beautiful, rubbed up gem of a baseball into Tim’s (actually Kellan’s) baseball glove.

YES!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Cuzzi!!!

On the fifth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball, and the first anniversary of our 100th baseball, Tim held up his glove with a smile and displayed our 200th baseball:

I truly could not believe it.  Aside from the 7-easter egg fluke game in Cleveland, we had never got nine baseballs at a game.  It was like the baseball gods were smiling down on Tim trying to make his 5th MLB anniversary as special as possible.

Mission accomplished, baseball gods!

As the fans filed out of the stadium and the relievers made their way to the dugouts, Tim got a post-game photo with Flava Dave:

And then we spotted a couple Rays players lingering along the foul line wall.  He headed over there and Tim autographs from
and Tim’s picture with rightfielder Brandon Guyer…

…and third basemen Russ Canzler:

Before heading for the gates, we got a final Father-Son Camden Yards picture by the dugout:

When I looked back at the field on our way up to the cross-aisle, I noticed something funny – Brandon Guyer had jumped the wall and was standing with the fans (who I suspected were his friends and family) in the seats:

On the way out, we stopped on Eutaw Street so Tim and Shelly could say good-bye for the offseason to Ken Griffey Jr.’s deep RCF homerun maker:

And (okay, that other picture wasn’t the *final* father-son picture), I took a parting shot of Tim and I on our way out of the gates:

It is always sad when we know we will not visit Camden Yards until the next season.

Tim said his respects to Babe Ruth…

…and then we called it a night.

It had been an amazing…

…Fifth MLB Anniversary for Tim.

September 12th is quickly becoming one of my very favorite holidays!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
29/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)
19/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]
23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
91 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 6 Marlins,
1 Pirates)
13/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]
18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen,
Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star

MyGameBalls.com Ballhawkfest 2011 (7/23/11)

Tim and I were in for a long day on Saturday, July 23, 2011.  We are members of myGameBalls.com, and by the decree of founder Alan Schuster, this game was dubbed “Ballhawkfest 2011.”  While the battle between the Angels and Orioles was the primary focus of Ballhawkfest, there was a lot more going on than just the MLB game.

Tim and I left home at about 9:00 a.m. and we arrived at Carroll Park Field #2 for a friendly softball game at 11:00 a.m.  Well, that was the original plan.  But the 100+ degree weather scared off some of the would-be participants and we did not have enough for a full game.  In fact, we only had 10 softball players.  But that did not stop us from having a great time.

First, we divided up into two teams.  My team included me, Alan Schuster, Mateo Fischer, Mike Rowles and the late arriving Ben “Wild Thing” Weil.  Our opposition included Zack Hample, “Flava” Dave Stevenson, Oliver Rowles (Mike’s son), Alex “Gold Glove” Kopp, and Garrett Meyer.

In the dugout, we had Jona (of Team Hample fame), Tim (who kept busy keeping score and hitting whiffle balls), and James (a documentarian who is filming a piece about Zack).

I have no clue how we decided the rules of the game, but it turned out to be a lot of fun and a very interesting format.  We played seven innings of super-modified homerun derby.  At the outset, Zack pitched to both teams.  Once Ben arrived in the third inning, each team pitched to itself.  Each inning, each batter got two outs – one hitting a softball and one hitting a baseball.  All fielders played in the outfield.  Any ball that landed in the outfield grass without being caught on the fly scored one run.  Any baseball hit over the outfield fence scored five runs.  Any swing that did not result in a run was an out.

It was hard to get pictures because we kept running in and out from the field to the dugout.  But here is the best of what we got.  First, Alan Schuster sized up a sweet Hample baseball pitch:

Interesting side note, for the baseball portion of the derby, we used Alan Schuster’s entire MLB-snagged baseball collection.

Zack was a quality pitcher for our first two innings:

I was happy to take him yard twice.

The final score was high because homeruns counted for five runs each, but really it was difficult to score runs because everyone played stellar defense.  Would you expect any less from this group?  My unofficial Gold Glove award goes to Alex Kopp…

…pictured here in the red shorts.  He patrolled left field like a pro.  He was running all over the place and made a ton of great catches.  He personally robbed me of several runs.

In the dugout, Jona was busy taking tons of pictures (by the end of the day (including the MLB game) she took over 900 photos)…

…and Tim used a spray bottle of cold water to keep cool as he played.

It was harder to score with the softballs because they did not travel as far as the baseballs.  Here is Mateo putting a good stroke on one of Ben’s neon yellow softballs:

Special thanks to Jona for taking a couple shots of me at the bat.  Here I am turning on an inside pitch from Benny Bang Bang and driving a homerun that stayed fair by about five feet:

This picture looks better than the last, but it resulted in only a one-run hit, not a homerun:

The game was tight until the bottom of the fifth inning when we went off for 14 runs.  The final score was…

…44-29 good guys.  Zack and I tied for the most homeruns with 4 each.  Alan Schuster also had one bomb.  Speaking of Alan, the game ended on a great play.  Zack was the final batter in the top of the seventh.  He hit a ball that was clearly going to land over the fence.  But Alan calmly drifted back to the fence, leaned his entire upper body over the fence, and, with full extension, flat out robbed Zack of a homerun.

After the game, we set up our cameras on a flipped over garbage can and got some group photos.  First at home plate:

From left to right:  (Front) Jona, Flava Dave, Tim, me.  (Back) Ben Weil, Zack Hample, Oliver Rowles, Alan Schuster, Garrett Meyer, Alex Kopp, Mateo Fischer, and Mike Rowles.

I do not have a photo that goes with it, but I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Oliver made an amazing running grab on one of my swings.  I hit a deep ball to RCF that I was sure was going to score one run.  But Oliver ran…who knows, maybe 75 feet to his left and made the catch at a full gallop.  Excellent catch, Oliver!

Back to the pictures, we turned around and got another group shot standing at the mound:

I should note that Ben threw on some official Cleveland Indians “Major League” give-away glasses to complete the “Wild Thing” Ricky Vaughn look.  Nicely done, Ben!

Next, we all hopped in our cars and scooted across town to Di Pasquaele’s Italian Marketplace.  Matt Hersl, who skipped out on softball/baseball, picked the restaurant and it was a good one.  Tasty, tasty.

Tim requested a picture with the “chef”…

…and he posed with Alan and the Andruw Jones bobblehead that he won in the drawing Alan organized.  That bobblehead now rests on a bookshelf in Tim’s room.

Here is the best picture of our table at lunch:

That’s an official eating action shot!

Lunch wrapped up around 3:30 and people started to break up and head their own ways.  The plan was to meet up again outside the CF gate on Eutaw Street.  The gates would
not open until 5:05 p.m., and I was absolutely dreading the idea of standing in the sun at the gates for an hour or more in the 100+ degree heat.

So we found a very favorable alternative.  After parking in a garage on Eutaw Street, we headed to the Hilton on Pratt Street and found some empty couches in the lobby.  Soon, Mateo wandered by and the three of us ended up chatting for almost an hour while gate opening times drew nearer.

Actually, it was primarily me and Mateo doing the chatting.  Tim was spending most of his time monkeying around and spraying himself with his spray bottle:

We did not have tickets for the game yet.  As we relaxed in the Hilton lobby, I exchanged a bunch of texts with our Baltimore ticket agent, Avi Miller.  Avi arrived at the CF gate just about ten minutes before gate opening.  When we got the text that he’d arrived at the ballpark, Tim, Mateo and I left the air conditioned Hilton lobby and headed to the blisteringly hot gate at the CF side of Eutaw Street.

Before the gates opened, we said our hellos to the myGameBalls.com guys whom we’d dined with just an hour or so ago.  We posed for a bunch of group shots (but not with my camera…so see here and here) and then every headed toward LF as the gates opened.

Everyone, I should say, except us.  We headed to the shady third base line where (among all of the Angels stretching in front of the dugout) we found former-Mariner Russell Branyan (no. 39):

It is always good to see a former-Mariner, even if he’s playing for one of our A.L. West rivals like the Angels.  Actually, there is another former-Mariner (although one who was never an everyday player for the Mariners) in that picture, Adam Jones.

After a few minutes, we drifted down the line a bit toward the outfield.  Right along the foul line, Osaka Japan’s Koji Uehara (wearing tight running pants under his shorts in the 100+ degree weather) was chatting with Toyko Japan’s Hisanori Takahashi:

Maybe they were discussing the “cultural fault lines” between their respective hometowns.  Or maybe they were discussing the fact that Takahashi (April 2, 1975) is exactly one day older than Uehara (April 3, 1975).  Whatever they were discussing, it did not prevent Koji from fielding a batted ball and walking over and handing it to Tim.

As Koji approached, I said “Hey, Koji, could we get a picture with you?”  He said, “Yes.”  And then he handed the baseball to Tim, turned around and walked away.  Hmm…I don’t think he understood my request…I probably should have asked him in Japanese.  Nevertheless…

Domo arigato, Koji-san!

A few minutes later, Russell Branyan finished playing catch with his partner and he flipped the baseball to Tim.  Tim just watched the ball sail by his face and land in the empty seat next to him.  But no one else was around, so we picked up the ball and no error was charged on the play.

As he tossed the baseball, I asked Russell if he could pose for a picture with Tim.  Sure he could:

After the photo but before heading back out onto the field, Russell reached out his humongous hand and gave Tim and I each a mighty hand shake.  They don’t call him Russell the Muscle for nothing.  That dude is huge.

All of the myGameBalls.com ballhawks were going crazy out in LF chasing homeruns.  Around this time, Avi came and visited us in foul territory so he could inform us that our prank of Zack Hample had been successful – for the complete story click here.

While Avi was over chatting with us, someone sliced a foul ball about 10 rows behind us.  It hit the seats and ricocheted right to Avi.

A few minutes later, Takahashi’s interpreter and trainer Yoichi Terada (at least that is my assumption of who this guy is)…

…walked by and handed Tim a baseball.  Terada had been playing catch with someone…maybe Takahashi…along with all of the other Angels pitchers playing catch along the LF foul line.  When he finished, he picked up two baseballs (including the baseball he gave to Tim) that were sitting on the ground along the line.  The two baseballs were *extras* that were brought out there in case someone lost their warm up ball.  Those baseballs were never used, and the one that Terada handed to Tim looked like it was brand-spanking new.

Eventually, Tim asked to go check out the bullpens.  We did, but no one was in either.  So when we spotted Jona sitting in the shade in the first row above the cross aisle, we joined her for a little bit of sun relief.  This is what it looked like:

And that is where we were standing when Dan Haren…

…unloaded a mega-toss-up over section 84 and directly into my glove for our fourth and final baseball of the day.

After BP ended, most of the myGameBalls.com’ers gathered toward the bottom of section 86.  Most of the guys were there in hopes of snagging one of the 8 or so homeruns that had been hit into the Orioles bullpen.  But we were just there to chat with the others, chew on some of the free ice the Orioles were providing in the concourse, and to spray Tim’s spray bottle all over the place.

Our “Ballhawkfest” shirts had our names and the number of baseballs we had snagged in our lives (through the all-star break) on the back.  Just for kicks, I got this picture of Tim and Zack showing off their numbers and they watched the empty field:

Not too shabby, Tim is (or was!) only 5,052 baseballs behind Zack.

Eventually, the Angels starting pitcher (and former-Mariner) Joel Piniero made his way out to CF to warm up:

When Piniero moved to the bullpen, Tim and I headed up to the top of section 86 to watch Joel:

Well, I watched Joel.  Tim spent most of his time squirting himself in the face:

With the game just about to start, a bunch of us met up in the LF corner for a group photo with the baseballs we had snagged during BP:

Lets see…going clockwise: Zack had 5 at the time (including a special FeMeBe baseball from Jeremy Guthrie), Alex Kopp had 4, Garrett Meyer had 4, Flava Dave (who you can
hardly see except for his arms) had 4, Jeremy Evans (who was a late arrival) had 1, Alan Schuster had 3 (his first 3 of the season), Oliver Rowles had 5, Tim and I had 4, Avi had 3, and Jona and Ben each had empty hands.  FYI, those are not necessarily final totals.

Right before that group photo, the Orioles PA announcer informed us that the game time temperature was 102 degrees.  We were hungry and hot.  So Tim, Ben, Avi and his
girlfriend Beverly, and I headed to the air conditioned club level.  Avi and Beverly headed to section 258 to watch the game in person.  But Tim and I grabbed a table in front of a big flat screen and ate dinner:

After a few minutes, Ben joined us.  We had been out in the hot sun so long that we were in no rush to head outside and watch the game in person…the air conditioning and flat screen were a-okay for us.  We stayed in there until the fourth inning!  After eating, Tim entertained us with some extreme high pants…

…and some fake DJ’ing on one of the nearby easy chairs:

While we were eating dinner, Ben and I discussed (among other things) the definition of a “ballhawk” and whether we qualified under that definition.  Personally, I don’t think of me and Tim as “ballhawks” because we don’t go to games with the purpose of getting baseballs.  We go to games because we love baseball and want to experience all that a Major League game has to offer.  It just so happens that trying to get a baseball during BP is one of those experiences…and an important part of the game experience since I was a little boy.  But, when you compare us to the other participants in ballhawkfest, our *strategies* and *skills* are quite limited.  Essentially, Tim and Kellan are cute kids (players like cute kids…most people do actually) and we know where to stand during BP.  But, if that makes us *ballhawks* I suppose we can live with the title.  Although,
maybe a better title would be baseballhawks or ballparkhawks…or, simply, baseball fans.

Anyway, it was an interesting conversation, and it was a lot of fun chatting with Ben.  We actually met Ben at U.S. Cellular Field back in 2009, and we had a lot of fun with him on that day too.

Before joining Avi and Beverly in the seats, Tim and I walked the club level to check out what it had to offer.  Most of my pictures came out blurry (I guess because of the lighting) so I will just share this one of Tim and the Orioles Hall of Fame:

Here is what Camden Yards looks like from section 258 in the club level:

N.T.S.  (You know it, not too shabby).

By the time we arrived in the seats, the Angels had already scored all of their runs for this game.  In fact, all of the Angels runs came in the first inning on a 2-run homerun by Vernon Wells.

The Orioles got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning courtesy of a solo shot by Adam Jones.  Then, in the bottom of the fifth, the Orioles took a 3-2 lead on an RBI single by Nick Markakis and a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.  And that was all of the scoring in this game.  While I was happy to see the Mariners division rival fall, it was sad that Piniero got tagged for the loss.

We sat in section 258 from the fourth through the seventh.  Tim spent most of that time unloading 3 squirt bottles full of water on Avi:

Avi laid down a rule that Tim could live with:  No spraying Beverly, but Tim could spray Avi as much as he wanted.  And Tim wanted to spray Avi a lot.  In the eyes, in the ears, on his shirt, on his shorts, back of the head, shoulders, elbows, a direct shot to the mouth, Avi was an excellent Target, and Tim was a happy triggerman.

Between sprays, Tim did a little spinning happy dance:

Before the Angels removed him in the bottom of the sixth, I got this shot of Joel Piniero on the mound:

As I said, gotta love former-Mariners.  Particularly, a former-Mariner who performed well and was a fan favorites while in Seattle.  And that describes Piniero.

Our bright yellow “Ballhawkfest” t-shirts served their purpose perfectly; it was easy to spot the guys all around the stadium.  Like here – we spotted Garrett Meyer sitting about half-way up the field level seats behind third base:

In the seventh, Tim and I decided to head down to the field level behind home plate.  On our way out of the club level, I had a little bit better luck taking photos.  This is the seating area where we ate dinner (at the empty table in the middle of the photo):

Oversized autographed baseballs art:

From left to right, that is Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Boog Powell (with the notation “MVP ‘70”), and Cal Ripken, Jr.

A busy bar:

Orioles World Series trophies and four gold glove awards:

And six Orioles Cy Young Awards:

When I was taking the picture of Tim and the World Series trophies, Avi was standing behind me chatting with Adam Jones’ mom (and several other people).  When Jonesys’ mom walked by Tim she said something like, “Oh, honey, you should squirt me!”  Tim was still holding his squirter, but he did not squirt her.

We ended up sitting with Jona (who deserves special thanks for being so cool and chatting so much with Tim throughout the day) for the last couple innings.  She had been sitting in the last row on the ailse in section 32.  Before joining Jona in the back row, Tim tested out a double seat setup:

The Angels were trying to come back, but Koji Uehara and Kevin Gregg were too much for them.  Neither Bobby Abreau…

…nor Vernon Wells…

…could help the Angels.  Both grounded out against Gregg in the ninth.

Toward the end of the game, Tim enjoyed a twist ice cream helmet to cap off a great day…

…and after the game he used his water squirter to clean the ice cream residue from his dirty face.

After the game, the remaining Ballhawkfest participants met up again behind the third base dugout.  We got our picture with Alan Schuster:

Then Garrett (who was visiting from Kansas City) requested a picture with Tim:

Of course, with two cameras going, Tim was looking at one camera while Garrett looked at the other.  Doesn’t it always happen that way?

Here is one of the coolest pictures of the day:

And one more featuring everyone’s sweaty faces:

Once again that is (right to left): Jeremy Evans, Mateo Fischer, Zack Hample, Jona (she’s only got one name like Ichiro), Alex Kopp, Tim (posing with one of Garrett’s baseballs
because ours were packed away in my backpack), Garrett Meyer, Oliver Rowles, Alan Schuster, and Benny “Bang Bang” Weil.

A great group of guys (and girl).  Ballhawkfest 2011 was loads of fun and a smashing success.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
 
18/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/5 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets and Indians]
13 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
54 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.
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