Results tagged ‘ Boston Red Sox ’

AAA & MLB: Red Sox at Tigers Organization (6/23/2013)

The weekend of July 22-July 23, 2013, we had a big weekend planned with some old friends and the Tigers and Red Sox organizations.  My friend Heather and her kids live in Toledo, Ohio.  We used to work together.  She’d never yet met Kellan and I’d had yet to meet her son, Jasper.  We’d been talking about getting together for a Mud Hens game.  We decided to do it on July 22 because (1) Ryan Rowland-Smith and his Pawtucket Red Sox teammates would be visiting Toledo and (2) it was scout night at the ballpark and we could camp in the outfield after the game.  Leading up to the weekend, Heather ended up scoring four tickets to the Red Sox at Comerica Park for July 23.  So it was an official Red Sox-Tigers AAA-MLB weekend for the Cook boys.

The fun started on Friday, July 21st, with a four hour drive across Pennsylvania to a very nice hotel at the Pittsburgh airport.  Although it was after midnight when we reached the hotel, the boys were excited and ready to wrestle when we reached our room:

Have you ever seen the movie “Elizabethtown”?  If not, you should.  It’s really good.  A simple story with no special effects or crazy plot twists, but some great characters.  Two of the great characters are “Chuck & Cindy” a couple who (along with their huge wedding party) take over the hotel where the main character in the movie is staying while visiting Elizabethtown.  The hotel is always bustling with Chuck & Cindy (“Loving Life!”) mania throughout the movie.

That’s how our hotel was when we arrived just past midnight.  The lobby was loud and crowded.  And when we jumped in the elevator, the “Chuck & Cindy” of the night was waiting inside the elevator to take a right up to their wedding night suite.  The elevator wreaked of alcohol.  And “Chuck” was psyched to see Tim’s Ken Griffey, Jr. backpack.  Griffey was always one of “Chuck’s” very favorite players.  A special player.  We exchanged our well-wishes when we parted way.  Loving Life!

The following morning, Chuck & Cindy mania was still evident at the hotel.  We started out our morning with a little swim:

Around 8:05 a.m., an obvious wedding guest sauntered into the pool area for a refreshing morning swim.  Of course, he still (or already) had a cold bottle of beer in hand.  As we swam, he walked over to a lounge chair and promptly dropped and shattered his beer bottle on the hard tile floor.  When we left around 8:30, he was still cleaning up the mess.  Loving Life!

After swimming, we packed up and hit the road for Toledo.

Around 1:30, hours and hours before game time, we arrived at Fifth Third Field along “Gene Cook Way”:

Interestingly enough, my grandpa’s name was “Jean” Cook.  For some reason, my great-grandfolks spelled his name the traditional female spelling instead of “Gene”  Still, it was good to see “Gene Cook Way” up there on the street sign.

The park wasn’t set to open for hours.  We just stopped by to take a walk around the stadium.  The highlight of our walk-about was seeing these two kid-based statues in the outfield:

We stopped by the team store and got some Mud Hens memorabilia.  And then it was off to Packo’s…

…a restaurant right next to the ballpark that is famous for being mentioned repeatedly by Corporal Klinger in M*A*S*H.  Lemme tell you.  Packo’s was TASTY!  The boys both loved the chili.  If you stop by Toledo, definitely check it out.

While at Packo’s I exchanged a few DMs on Twitter with Ryan Rowland-Smith and told him I would be sporting my “Hyphen” shirt to show my support.  I was excited to see the Big Aussie in person.  The last time I saw him in person was in October 2010 in his last game with the Mariners.

After luck, we drove to the suburbs and stocked up on provisions at Target.  With tons of time to kill still, I punched in “parks” in my GPS and we were soon off to a nearby park to burn off some energy:

The park was great because it had tons of tree coverage so it was really shady.  While at the park, I connected with Heather and we decided to head over to her place to cool off a little bit before heading to the game.

Heather’s kids, Elena and Jasper, had been to some Mud Hens games, but they’d never met a player, got a ball or an autograph before.  I was hoping that they could meet RRS at this game.  And, it could have worked out, but didn’t.

We drove to the game separately from Heather’s house and we arrived first.  We headed into the stadium and I quickly spotted RRS out in RCF:

We headed out to RCF and he ended up coming back to the warning track and chatting with me and the boys for the rest of BP.  While we were chatting, he ended up tossing Tim a baseball and signing a few autographs for us.

Thanks, Ryan!

The unfortunate thing; however, is that Heather and her kids just went and sat in our seats.  So they didn’t meet RRS during BP.  At the end of BP, I told RRS that I was hoping Elena and Jasper could meet him.  He said he’d come out and say hi to us during the game – we were going to be sitting in the front row by the Paw Sox bullpen (oddly, no one sits in the bullpen, it is just for warming up).

After BP, we toured around the ballpark a bit and got some pictures…

…and bought some food.

As game time approached, the grounds crew pulled the tarp out onto the field.

During the rain delay, we hung out by the Mud Hens’ dugout and the kids waved and gave high fives to players and “Muddy” the Mud Hens’ main mascot:

Eventually, it was time for some ice cream:

And then it was time for a scouts parade on the warning track:

Check out our seats:

Pretty nice.

During pre-game throwing and stretching, I got Paw Sox right fielder Justin Henry to toss a baseball to Tim.  Tim passed the ball off to Elena.

And then right when the game started, the skies opened up and down came the rain.  And it rained and rained and rained and rained and rained.

We sat there in it for a long time.  Eventually, we took over in the concourse.  Heather and her kids, who are not big baseball fans like us, eventually called it quits around 9:30.  They’d absorbed enough rain and had to call it a night.  We walked them over to the exit down the LF line, and then we continued walking around the ballpark.  Here is what it looks like in LF:

Great standing room area for trying to catch a game homer.

Kellan ended up falling asleep on my shoulders for a bit, so he wasn’t available when Tim got his picture between Muddy and Muddonna:

The mascots were signing baseball cards.  We got two sets of signed cards so Kellan could have some too.

By this point, the crowd was tiny and it was all pulled back from the field with most people under cover.  We decided to head over to the Paw Sox dugout with the idea of trying to catch a third out ball.

When we walked down to the side of the dugout, we found RRS standing in the camera well looking around in the seats down the line.  He was looking for us and was going to come say hi to Elena and Jasper.

With Elena and Jasper gone, he decided to hang out in the camera well and chat with us for about 2.5 innings:

We chatted about all sorts of stuff.  It was great to catch up with Ryan.

While we were chatting with Ryan, the Paw Sox first baseman, indeed, threw a third out ball to us.  However, Kellan was on my shoulders and it was thrown above my head at a weird angle and it clanked off of my glove and right to the people in front of us.  It was a bummer, but what can you do.

Right after that, Ryan walked away and then came back holding a baseball.  He chatted with us a while more while holding the ball.  Eventually, Tim piped up and asked, “Hey, what are you doing with that baseball?”  Ryan responded, “It’s for you” and he handed it over.  It doesn’t look very funny written, but it was really funny how Tim phrased the question and the inflection in his voice.

Thanks, Ryan!

But, hands down, the funniest quote of our discussion with RRS was from Kellan, and it continued a tradition of my boys saying random, odd things about their birthdays to Ryan.  (Back in 2010 while we were chatting with Ryan in San Diego, Tim suddenly announced to Ryan, “I was born in the winter!”)

The back story here is that a couple days before this trip Colleen and mentioned to Kellan that he was going to be the next person in our family to have his birthday.  Anyway, while we were sitting in the seats chatting with RRS, Kellan all of us sudden called out, “Ryan! Ryan! Ryan!” When he got Ryan’s attention, Kellan announced, “Ryan, my birthday is next noon!”

Not quite accurate, but it was pretty hilarious.

By the way, during this whole conversation with RRS, it was raining constantly.  So he chose to hang out in the camera well in the rain and chat with us instead of sitting under cover in the dugout.  It was pretty cool.

Oh, yeah, that reminds me that we also talked about rain outs.  He couldn’t believe that the game had not been called due to rain.  He described how rainout decisions are made.  It was pretty interesting.  And I was sure the game would be called when the Mud Hens scored two runs to take the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning.  But, thankfully, it was not.

Eventually, RRS had to get back to his teammates.  It was great catching up with him.

We took a little walk in the concourse.  Guess who we found in the concourse right behind home plate?  This guy:

It was Alfredo Aceves.  For some odd reason, he was acting like he was watching pitches and hitting baseballs with a fake bat.

We ended up sitting right behind the Paw Sox dugout for the end of the game…

…, which the Paw Sox came back to win in ten innings.

Unfortunately, due to the rain, post-game fireworks AND the camp out on the field were cancelled.  Fortunately for us, Heather and contemplated the possibility that our camp out would be rained out before she took off and she offered to house us for the night if it was cancelled.  We were grateful to have nice warm beds for the night.

We had an usher take our photo before heading out of the ballpark and back to Heather’s house:

In the morning, he headed north to Detroit.  The game was scheduled for 1:00 p.m. so we wanted to get there as soon as possible, and I wanted to grab some breakfast at the little diner at the ballpark too.

On our way into Detroit, we stopped to take a look at the site of the old Tiger Stadium:

I’m kicking myself now because I didn’t realize the field is still out there and that we could have tossed a ball around and hit some baseballs out on the Tiger Stadium field.  Oh, well, I guess we have to go back to Detroit again!

We had a tasty pancake and bacon breakfast…

…at Leo’s Coney Island Downtown.

After breakfast, we headed out to get in line for the ballpark to open about 10-15 minutes later.

We got what would have been a great picture with the big tiger…

…had Kellan not been doing that crazy squinty face.

Check out the huge line in front of us:

As I excepted, there was no BP before this day game.  For Tim and me, this was our fourth game at Comerica Park and third game with no BP.  There were no players on the field, but we could see a Red Sox pitcher throwing in the bullpen.  So we headed out there and watched Jon Lester…

…throw a bullpen session.  He was really working.  He had two coaches talking mechanics with him and he was dripping with sweat.

After Lester finished up, all of the Red Sox personnel in the bullpen headed back to the clubhouse.  There was nothing happening on the field and the sun was beating down on us already.  So we headed over to the 1B line.  We hung out in the shade for a long time and the boys played with their water squirters:

When the pitches came out to warm up about half hour before the game, we headed back over to the bullpens to watch:

I was thinking that we were in for a great pitchers’ dual with Buchholz for the Red Sox against Verlander for the Tigers.  I already that Verlander was going to pitch.  Because Detroit is about 9 hours from our house, I was really hoping that Verlander would throw a near perfect game and the game would fly by in less than 3 hours.  Adding Buchholz to the mix, I thought, had the possibility of helping the game go quickly.  But Buchholz was just getting in some throwing.  He was not the starter for the Red Sox, that job went to Felix Doubront.

Before Doubront started throwing in the bullpen, bullpen catcher Dana LeVangie did some work with Red Sox starting catcher Ryan Lavarnway…

…and then he gave one of the three baseballs he was using to Tim.

Thanks, Dana!

With game time fast approaching, we decided to get some ice cream over by the tiger-go-round.  On our way out of the LF seats, we got pictures of all of the statues in the LF concourse, including Ty Cobb…

…, Willie Horton…

…, Hank Greenberg…

…, Charlie Gehringer…

…, Hal Newhouser…

…, and Al Kaline:

Right as the game was starting, the boys were cooling off in the shade eating ice cream:

And then they went crazy on the tiger-go-round:

From the tiger-go-round, the boys wanted to go straight to the ferris wheel.  I decided we should take a detour through the field level cross aisle.  At the time, the bottom of the first had just ended.  The Tigers had a 2-0 lead after two walks, an RBI ground rule double by Miguel Cabrera, and an RBI ground out by Prince Fielder.

Verlander was on the hill…

…and was pitching to Mike Napoli while we walked by on our way to the ferris wheel.  As we passed behind home plate, Napoli lifted a soft liner into shallow LCF for the first Red Sox hit of the day.

As we rode the ferris wheel, Verlander was busy giving back the lead his offense had staked him to in the top of the inning.  Single (Napoli), flyout, walk, RBI single (Lavarnway), HBP (Iglesias), Sac Fly (Ellsbury), and ground out, and it was a 2-2 game after an inning and a half.

It was like no one wanted the lead.  In the bottom of the second, Doubront gave up three hits and then let a run score on a passed ball.

3-2 Tigers after two innings.

Our tickets came with access to the “Tiger Den,” which is a bar/lounge type place near the ferris wheel.  We figured we should check it out and stopped by for lunch:

It was neat to get to see it, but it is definitely nothing to write home about.  On the way out of the Tiger Den after lunch, I took a shot that shows the entrance of the Tiger Den from the inside:

After lunch, we reported to our assigned seats for several innings.  Here was our view of Comerica Park from Section 134, Row 14:

Kellan has been all about taking pictures lately.  He confiscated my camera and took a ton of picts, including these gems:

Each inning, Tim made a valiant effort to get a third out ball…

…, but (despite) absolutely ideal positioning, it was not in the cards at this game.

The heat wasn’t too bad so we were able to enjoy our great view…

…for a while.

I should mention that a few more runs were scored.  In the top of the third, the Red Sox tied it up at 3-3 on a Mike Napoli groundout.  In the top of the fourth, the Red Sox took a 1-run lead on an RBI ground out by Shane Victorino.

Kellan was just chillaxing and watching the game:

I caught a moment during the seventh inning stretch that I thought was pretty funny:

Check out how Paws is grabbing his tail and he stands at attention during the singing of “God Bless America.”

In the bottom of the seventh, the boys were checking out this baseball fountain…

…while the Red Sox were busy giving up their 1-run lead on a bases loaded hit-by-pitch.

We had had enough sun, so we headed over to the shady cross aisle:

In the top of the eighth inning, Daniel Nava pinch hit for Shane Victorino.  In the bottom of the eighth, with the score still tied 4-4, Nava took over in RF for the Red Sox. The first batter in the bottom of the eighth, Avisail Garcia hit a deep fly ball to the warning track in RF.  Nava went back on it and, to me at least, clearly caught the ball.  But the ball shot out of his glove and went behind him and to the fence on the play.  I thought it was clearly an out and “on the transfer” drop.  But 2B umpire Mike DiMuro called it a “no catch” and Garcia sailed safely into second base.  Here’s the video clip so you can be the judge.

Nava ran all the way into the infield to protest.  At the same time, Red Sox manager John Farrell ran out from the dugout to do the same:

The play stood.  Farrell was tossed.  And the Red Sox were in a bit of a jam.

The Red Sox didn’t do themselves any favors when they followed the Garcia at bat with E-1 on a sacrifice bunt.  After a sacrifice fly and a single, the Tigers pulled to a 7-4 lead after eight innings.

Heading into the bottom of the ninth, we relocated here:

In the top of the ninth, Joaquin Benoit gave up a 2-out RBI double to Jonny Gomes.  That brought Stephen Drew to the plate as the potential tying run.  But Benoit got Drew to line out to RF to end the game.

Tigers win 7-5.

On his way to the locker room, home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez gave a beautiful rubbed up baseball to Tim and then another to Kellan.

Double thanks, Alfonso!

Another fan was kind enough to take a picture of the three of us with the boys’ umpire baseballs:

And then we made our way over to the Red Sox dugout.  As the last folks made their way in from the bullpen, Red Sox bullpen catcher, Brian Abraham, tossed Tim a pearly white baseball.

Thanks, Brian!

Remember how I wanted this to be a quick game so we could get on the road?  Well, it was 3:47 minutes log!  Add in some time for post-game festivities (umpire balls and Abraham ball) and this parting shot of Tim outside the ballpark…

…and we did not get on the road until 5:20 p.m. (more than an hour after my goal departure time)!

We picked up some timbits…

…and other goods or the road and got on our way.  It was a long, long drive.  But the boys had an absolute blast.  We do a lot of driving during the season, but I think this was probably their best drive ever.  Tim and Kellan were constantly laughing, goofing off and getting along together from 5:20 until they both fell asleep many hours later.

Around 9:30 p.m., the moon popped up over the horizon.  It was huge and bright orange.  It was very odd and memorable.  We took some really crummy pictures that do not do it justice at all:

Later, I found out that June 23, 2013 was a “supermoon” and the closest the moon would be to the earth in all of 2013, and it wouldn’t be this close again until August of 2014 (check it out here).  That was pretty cool to see on our drive.

The boys conked out hard in the car and I just kept driving and driving and driving.  I talked to Colleen and my Dad for a long time during the drive.  Eventually, I decided to call it a night around 2:00.  We were just an hour from home, but enough was enough.  We got a hotel room for the “night.”

Even at 2:02 a.m., Kellan  was still acting goofy…

…, here, pretending to sleep.  Fortunately, they goofed around a bit but were easy to get back to bed.  We slept a few hours, woke up early and got home around 8 a.m.

Wooooooooooooh!   What a weekend of baseball with my boys!

Fun times!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

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

* Normally, we don’t include minor league stuff in our “fan stats.”  But, heck, this is Cook & Son Hall of Famer, Ryan Rowland-Smith.  And by the end of the season, RRS is gonna be back in the Bigs!  (Or at least he should be!)

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:

8-fenway-monster-sec4

And Check out this merry band of baseball fans:

9-fenway-monster-guys

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”:

10-cursi-flip-to-tim

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:

11-fenway-bonus-balls-2013

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

12-ted-williams-red-seat

…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:

13a-beer-and-nuts

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

13b-the-bullpens-sign

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:

16-receiving-end-of-matt-moore

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”:

21b-tim-kellan-fenway-warning-track

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

Celebrating The Fentennial (5/26/12)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Alfredo and Franklin!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, (probably) Coach!

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

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

Thanks, Matt!

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

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

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

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

SHADE IN THE OUTFIELD!

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

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

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

…the nice and shady wall.

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

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

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

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

And the picture below on the left:

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

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

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

Thanks, Alex!

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, guy!

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

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

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

And finally we made our way to the lego Fenway:

Pretty cool!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, pizza was a hit:

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

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

Maybe it was his wicked mullet…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and back toward 1B.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beautiful!

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

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

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

Tim is throwing a curveball in that shot!

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

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

And David Price looked like this…

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

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

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

And here is Mike Aviles flying out to CF…

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

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

Tim did some staged cheering…

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

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

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

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

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

…and generally monkeyed around.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BOOM!  SUCCESS!  Ed Rapuano made our day!

Thanks, Mr. Rapuano!

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

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

Thanks, again, and again, Ed Rapuano!

YES!

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

Thanks, guy!

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

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

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

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

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

People at Fenway Park truly are great.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure,” I responded.

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

And, double thanks, grounds crew guy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

2012 C&S Fan Stats

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Avi!

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

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

Thanks, that guy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The view from the 8th floor lobby:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was game time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They had an absolute blast.

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

We grabbed Tim an ice cream helmet…

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

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


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

Shortly after snapping this post-ICH picture…


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

Check out this SRO crowd…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ah!!!  So close, but so far away.

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

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

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

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

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

This was our view of the dugouts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jessica and Tim (HI)?  Denied by Carapazza.

No fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2010 Fan Stats:

8 Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Fenway Park – Part 3 of 3 (A Moment to Remember – 7/5/09)

1 - more copley ball.JPGFor the second day in a row, we woke up and had breakfast and played some baseball in Copley Square.  On this day, however, we just played catch and did some base running (on four drains in front of the Church in the square).

Soon, it was time to head to Fenway Park for our final game of the weekend roadtrip.  We were hoping for a Mariners sweep.  But it wasn’t in the cards.

I’m going to break with my usual protocol and skip to the fourth inning.  I’ll go back and cover the game from the beginning, but I don’t want to bury the most important part of this unfortunate Mariners loss in the middle of the entry.

You might have noticed by now that I am a big Mariners fan. And, by definition, that means I am a huge Ken Griffey, Jr. fan.  Ken Griffey, Jr. means everything to Mariners fans (at least to real Mariners fans).  I was 13 when Griff broke into the Mariners back in 1989.

The Mariners were a fairly unimportant team until 1989. Well, they were important to me and about 10,000 other people in the state of Washington.  But they were sort of a minor league Major League team to everyone else.  They had zero winning seasons in their history.  There were constant rumors and threats that the team would move — most notably to Tampa, Florida.  The Kingdome — as beautiful and perfect as it was — was largely empty.  (By the way, that wasn’t sarcasm, the Kingdome was, indeed, beautiful and perfect).


2- me and griff 1991.jpgAnd then, in April 1989, things changed.  KEN GRIFFEY, JR. ARRIVED!  All of a sudden, one of the most celebrated young ball players in baseball was a Seattle Mariner.  People started to pay some attention to our club.  People started showing up at the Kingdome.

In 1991, we had a WINNING SEASON!

In 1995, we WON THE WEST!  We made the PLAYOFFS!!  We were two games from the World Series.

The Mariners were no longer going to move away!  Instead, they built Safeco Field.  It was a golden era in Mariners baseball.

Long story short:  Ken Griffey, Jr. changed baseball in Seattle, he saved baseball in Seattle, he IS baseball in Seattle.

Therefore, when my son was born in 2006 and we started going to baseball games together, I had a goal:  Take Tim to see Griffey.

We have had incredibly bad luck in this respect.  Prior to this weekend, we had gone to see him play more than 10 times, and Griff played in only three of those games.  In those games, he has had gone hitless (but with a bunch of walks).

So we turn to this game.  Shortly before game time, they announced the starting line-up.  I was more saddened to learn that Mike Sweeney would be DH’ing and Griffey would have the day off.

I started thinking worst case scenario.  This is very possibly our final Mariners game of the season.  They don’t come back to the Northeast this season.  In 30 years, would Tim have to tell his son, “Yeah, your grandpa took me to see the great Ken Griffey, Jr. when I was a boy.  But I never saw him get a hit.”  I hated the thought.  But there was nothing I could do about it.  The Mariners were facing a lefty, Jon Lester, and Mike Sweeney had to get his work in to stay sharp.

Then in the fourth inning (with no disrepect to Sweeney), something wonderful happened:

3 - sweeney back spasms.JPG

I was totally unprepared.  (That notice was actually posted in the 5th or 6th inning).

Tim was sitting on my shoulders.  We were at a food stand behind the grandstand behind the seats by the 1B dugout.  I had just ordered a sausage with onions and peppers (for me), a hot dog (for Tim), a diet coke, and a bag of peanuts.  There was no counter at the cash registered so I had to hold everything in one hand while finding my money and paying the cashier with the other hand (while still balancing Tim on my shoulders with no hands).

In the midst of all of this, I hear the following over the stadium P.A. system:

“Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, JUNIOR!”

Instantly, my thought was, “The Red Sox don’t have a Junior!  AHHHHH!!!”

I jammed my wallet and change into my pocket, gathered up everything as best as I could and ran toward the field as fast as I could.

This picture shows our starting point and our route to the field:

4 - oh my griffs up.JPG

When we ran into the back of the grandstand, I believe we were in Section 13 or 14.

I yelled up to Tim, “I THINK GRIFF IS UP!”

Right as we got in view of the field, we saw Lester start his wind up and deliver a pitch to Griffey.  What happened next was possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen at a major league stadium:  Griff drilled the pitch off of the Green Monster!

According to my DVR, it looked something like this:

5 - Griff Hits the Monster.JPG

I think that to everyone else in the stadium, it was just a random lead off hit in the top of the fourth inning.  But to me, it was possibly the greatest baseball moment ever.  For the first time in over ten years, I witnessed Ken Griffey, Jr. — my boyhood hero and favorite baseball player of all-time — get a hit for my Seattle Mariners and I witnessed it with my son sitting on my shoulders sharing the moment with me.  And the fact that he hit the ball off the Green Monster, the most famous outfield wall in baseball, made it even more exciting.

This simple hit is easily the highlight of my season so far, and I plan to think and talk about it with Tim for years and years to come.  I hope Tim and I get another chance to see Griffey play — this season and next.  But, if that is not possible, this hit will keep me satisfied.

(By way of background and to clarify, *I* have seen Griffey get tons of hits, hit numerous homeruns, multiple grand slams, makes dozens of circus catches (including the one when he broke his arm in half) — but I’d never shared any of those moments with Tim.  That’s what made this hit so special).

By the time I could get to a spot where I could put our food down and get to my camera, Franklin Gutierrez had advanced Griff to second with a single.  Here is Griff leading off of second:

 

6 - griffs on second.JPGGriff would have two more plate appearances on the day, both walks.  He went 1-1 on the day.  Amazingly, I got zero pictures of Griff at the plate during this game.

Okay, now lets back track to the beginning of the game.

We entered the stadium again through the CF gate on Lansdowne Street.  It was a 1:35 start, but the teams still took BP.  We arrived as the first group of Mariners were hitting, including Griffey and Ichiro.

We started out in the CF bleachers.  Griffey was blasting bombs into the RF bleachers.  I wanted to go over there, but there is no way I am going to try to catch a HR ball with Tim on my shoulders.  Shortly after we arrived, Griff hit a ground rule double to straight away CF that bounced up into the stands and directly into my Dad’s glove.

My Dad has had great luck with Griffey this year.  In addition to this BP ground rule double, on the first day of spring training, my Dad got Griff’s second BP homerun in his second tour of duty with the Mariners.

I decided to go up onto the Green Monster and see if Tim and I could get into the seating area.  There is a staircase in the CF concourse that takes you up to the Green Monster.  You can walk out to the edge of the seating area, but they won’t let you out into the seats without a Monster ticket.   So Tim and I just stood around up there for a few minutes taking in the view before heading back down to the field level seats.

I had a thought in the back of my head that it would be neat to get a ball thrown up to us on the Green Monster.  Tim and I stood in the closest spot to the seats that you can get to without a Monster ticket:

8 - phillips from monster.JPG We stood in the spot under the red arrow where the guy in the red shirt is standing.  I noticed Jason Vargas and Jason Phillips standing together below in LCF.   (In the picture to the right, that is Jason Phillips after the two Jasons split up).

After a few minutes, someone hit a ball to Vargas.  I yelled down from the Mondster, “Hey, Vargas!!!!”  He heard me!  He looked up!  He turned around and he fired the ball to me. Unfortunately, it was too low and it clanked off a light and some bricks just below us — out of reach.

Jason Phillips stood and watched Vargas’s failed attempt.  And just then, someone hit him a ball.  “Hey, Jason!”  Phillips looked back up at me.  He turned around and he fired the ball to me.  A perfect strike.  It would have hit me directly in the chest.  It was a very impressive throw, and much appreciated.

“Thanks, Jason!”

Here is a picture that illustrates the flight of the ball:

At the time Phillips threw the ball, he was even a little bit — maybe 10-15 feet — closer toward LF.  He didn’t lob the ball up to me.  He fired it on a line, just like the arrow in this picture.  As I said, a very impressive throw.

Tim and I then went down to the CF bleachers and met up with my mom who was standing right where my Dad caught Griff’s ground rule double about 10 minutes earlier.

Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard were standing below us.  Felix runs all over the place trying to make high light reel catches during BP.  At one point, he caught one near us.  He looked up and made I contact with me (and Tim).  There was a lady from Seattle shouting at him standing directly next to me to my left.  Felix fired the ball up to us.  He threw it to our right side so the shouting lady wouldn’t interfere.  I could have caught it without moving at all — I just had to reach across my body and back hand it.  However, as I started to go for the backhand, I realize there was a 8′ish year old boy wearning a Red Sox jersey and a glove standing next to me.  If I didn’t catch the ball, he’d get it.  I decided to let me have it since we already had the ball from Jason Phillips and we got Felix’s warm up ball the day before.

Soon thereafter, someone hit a ball into the OF corner by the end of the Red Sox bullpen.  Here was the scene:

9 - bedard ball.JPG

We were standing in the red circle.  Erik Bedard was standing at the red “X”.  There was a rope running along the warning track.  (I think it was to keep people involved in the pre-game ceremonies off of the grass).  The rope went down the warning track and around a big door in the outfield wall.  The ball went in the corner behind the rope as shown above.

Bedard turned around and walked over and grabbed the ball.  A whole bunch of people including a bunch of 10′ish year old kids, were standing by the bullpen directly above the ball.  I figured Bedard would grab it and flip it up to them.  While those people all yelled at Bedard for the ball, Erik picked it up and looked at them.  He then walked as slowly as humanly possible back over to the yellow “X” in the picture above.  Then he looked up and made eye contact with me (and Tim), and fired the ball to us.  I had the feeling that Bedard had watched Felix throw us the ball when I let the kid catch it and he was trying to finish what Felix had started.  The yelling lady was still next to me.  Like Felix, Bedard threw the ball to my right so she wouldn’t get it.

 Next, it was time to walk around.  We checked out the RF corner and the Pesky Pole:

9a - pesky pole.JPG

As RF corners go, this is one of the most interesting in baseball.  Not very “corner-ish.”  More like a RF curve.

We walked up through the old wooden grandstand seats:

 
10 - grandstand seats 1B line.JPG

We headed out to Yawkey Way and watched Tom Caron from NESN interview comedian Mike O’Malley:

11 - nesn tom caron and mike omalley.JPG

Sean Casey was walking around the NESN set.  I walked over to get a picture of him (or possibly with him), but he vanished into thin air.

It was getting close to game time, so we walked back into the stadium and went through the busy concourse behind home plate:

12 - concourse home to third.JPG

When we were down here, we got Tim a chocolate ice cream helmet and headed toward our seats in the grandstand behind home plate:

16 - overflowing ice cream helmet.JPG

The seats were great.  Here was our view:

13 - fenway 22-15-18 panramic.jpg

The red arrow points to where Tim and I were standing when Griffey hit his single off of the Green Monster.

We watched te pre-game festivities such as the reading of the Fenway Park Code of Conduct…

14 - fenway code of conduct.JPG

…the carrying of the pink backpack to the Mariners bullpen by Christ Jakubauskas…

15 - Jak-n-backpack.JPG

…the third ceremonial first pitch by Marky Mark Wahlberg (and his re-do third ceremonial first pitch due to his first third ceremonial first pitch sailing high over the catcher to the backstop):

17 - Marky Mark Pitches the Funky Stuff.JPG

Finally, it was game time.  As always, future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki led off for the Mariners:

18 - lester-to-ichi with floating ball and pedroia.JPG

I like this picture for two reasons — (i) the ball is captured right above the plate (but low, it was called a ball) and (ii) Dustin Pedroia is, for some reason, floating in the air at second base (click on the picture to see it larger, Pedroia is totally off of the ground).

I got some more Red Sox pictures:

19 - youk-n-papi.JPG

I wanted to get a shot of Big Papi clapping his hands before stepping into the box but I missed it.  He hit the next pitch into the RF bleachers, the second Red Sox home run in the first inning.

By the time Griff was up for a second time, we were touring around in the grandstand out beyond the Pesky Pole.  He walked.  Here he is leading off first base:

20 - griffs on first.JPG

We went out to the concourse in the RF corner and took this picture showing the Red Sox World Series and other banners:

25 - fenway banners panaramic.jpg

FYI, see the guy wearing the red shirt above the blue 1967 banner in the middle of the picture?  He is standing in the walkway behind the grandstand seats where Tim and I spent a lot of time over the course of the weekend.

The red arrow in that last picture is pointing to this:

 
26 - the Green Monster.JPG

I’m guessing this guy is called the “Green Monster.”  We saw the real one of this guy running around on the field before each game, but we never saw him in the crowd.  This was the best we could do with respect to getting a mascot picture.

See the red arrow in that last picture?  It is pointing to a staircase that leads to the “Players Club.”  I’m not sure what the Players Club is all about.  It looked like it was for special events or people with special tickets.  But we headed in to check it out and no one seemed to mind.  Here is what it looked like:

21 - players club.jpg

…more players club…

22 - players club.jpg

…and we found something cool in the Players Club:

23 - 2004 2007 WS trophies.JPG

(From Left:  2004 World Series Trophy, Todd & Tim, 2007 World Series Trophy)

We walked out of the players club just in time to see this…

24 - Ellsbury homer.JPG

Through the break in the grandstand and bleachers, that is Jacoby Ellsbury hitting a home run to bring the score to 4-3 Mariners.

We met up with my folks and watched the game on a TV while we ate some food at the tables in the RF corner.  From our table, you could see the Players Club above the food stands:

27 - players club outside.JPG

While we sat here, the Mariners brought in Miguel Batista.  It was not Miguel’s day.  He gave up a bunch of runs and the Mariners eventually lost the game 8-4.

 Tim and I watched the last inning from our familiar RF corner by the Mariners bullpen.  We were hoping Griff would get one more at bat, but it wasn’t in the cards.  We settled for one more picture with the field before heading out:

28 - one last look.JPG

This game, we switched things up and exited the stadium from the RF exit so I could get a picture of this:

29 - ted williams.JPG
When my Dad was a kid, there was no baseball team in the state of Washington.  Ted Williams was his baseball hero.  This is what the plaque below Ted says:

9

Ted Williams

Boston Red Sox

The greatest hitter who ever lived, an American patriot, and a pioneer in the development of the Jimmy Fund.   Ted Williams will forever be one of the great heroes in the history of baseball, Boston and America.  He amassed 521 home runs despite sacrificing five years in his prime to serve his country during World War II and the Korean War.  He was a relentless champion of children, such as this child to whom he is offering his cap, in their battle against cancer, and helped make the Jimmy Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute the world renowned center of research and care that it is today.

The memory of Ted Williams will forever be a point of pride for the Boston Red Sox, the people of Boston, New England, and the United States of America.

We took one more picture outside:

30 - goodbye fenway.JPG
“Good bye, Fenway!”

With that, we started our walk back to the hotel…
 

31 - hit the road.JPG
…so we could start our drive back home.

For so many reasons, it was such an awesome weekend shared with Tim and my folks.

32 - weekend recap.JPG
 

Season Fan Stats:


fenway ticket.jpg18 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
13 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
14 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
17 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire) 
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
 
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry) 
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

Fourth of July at Fenway – Mariners Win!

So, we woke up to a lazy Saturday morning in Boston…

1 - july 4th.JPG…it was Independence Day, better head over to Fenway.

Wait, first, we better hit some baseballs in Copley Square:

2 - copley ball.JPGI’m not sure why, but some tourist actually took pictures of Tim hitting in Copley Square.

Soon, it was time to hit the road for our already familiar walk down Boylston Street to Ipswich Street and over to Lansdowne — ah, Fenway Park:

3 - walking to fenway.jpg

 Tim and I entered the park through Gate C on Lansdowne and headed up the CF stairs to the Green Monster.  I was sad to learn that they were already checking tickets, so we couldn’t get all the way out onto the Monster, but I took pictures for this panaramic:

4 - fenway CF green monster panaramic.jpg

My folks entered from Gate A on Yawkey Way and went into the field seats behind the Mariners dugout where someone snapped this shot:

4a - folks in fenway.JPG

Tim and I came over and met up with my folks and we spotted our buddy from the streets of Boston, Mariners GM Jack Zdureincik:

5 - Jack Z in dugout.JPG

While we were standing here, there was almost nothing going on on the field.  Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard were playing catch down the LF line by the Green Monster.  But the field was otherwise empty.  Maybe some grounds crew people were watering the infield.  Tim and I were just sitting in the front row drinking some cold water to cool off.

A couple minutes after taking that picture of Jack Z. above, Tim, my mom and I moved down the 3B line a bit and stood where the red arrow is pointing in the picture of Jack.  Immediately, upon our arrive (literally within a few seconds), Erik Bedard and Jason Phillips walked by:

6 - bedard and phillips.JPG

Bedard spotted Tim and I and chucked his and Felix’s warm up ball to us — Sweet!

“Thanks, Erik!”

Jason Phillips looks over at us and give us a big smile and a point, “You again!”  We returned the favor with a smile and a point.  If you haven’t read the last two entries, Phillips, Tim and I had shared a couple exchanges the previous day and two days earlier in New York.

In case you aren’t familiar with Mr. Phillips and want to look him up on Baseball-Reference.com, you’ll notice there are two Jason Phillips in major league history.  This one is Jason Lloyd Phillips.  He is now the Mariners bullpen catcher.  But he previously played for the Mets, Dodgers, and Blue Jays.  His best season was 2003 when he hit .298 with 120 hits, 11 HRs and 56 RBI for the Mets.  Hopefully he’ll get another shot to make a big league club.  If not, I’m happy to have him in the Mariners bullpen and organization.

Back to the game at hand.  We noticed that Mariners ALL-STAR pitcher Felix Hernandez was signing autographs down the 3B line.  I’m not a big autograph guy, but I figured what the heck, let’s give it a shot.  I didn’t have a pen, but I thought it would be cool to have Felix sign the ball he’d just used to play catch with Bedard.

Much more than autographs, I prefer getting our picture with players.  So when Felix grabbed his warm up ball back from me I asked him if we could get our picture with him.  Felix signed the ball with a borrowed sharpie and responded, “Sure.”

I took the first one myself and then looked at it and it wasn’t very good.  Felix just stood and watched me waiting for me to give him the “okay” on the picture.  Very cool.  A nice Bostonian said, “Let me take it.”  So I handed her my camera and Felix posed for another picture with us — much better:

“Thanks, Felix.”

“Thanks, lady.”

Here we go:

7 - felix warm up ball autograph and photo.jpg

When I gave King Felix the ball, I was wondering if he thought it was odd that I’d ask him to sign such a dirty ball.  He didn’t give me the ball, so he didn’t know it was his warm up ball.

My dad buys a team ball at each stadium he visits.  He got Felix to sign a Red Sox / Fenway Park Fourth of July Ball.

Here we are in the 3B side concourse showing off the Bedard-Hernandez ball:

8 - championship wall and felix ball.JPG

Although you can’t see it, that wall has signs for all of the Red Sox World Series Championships.  FYI, you can see in this picture that I brought my new Rawlings Trap-Eze infielders glove.  I saw it at the Rawlings outlet and loved the white lacing.  I have no actual need for an infielders glove (I play LF for a beer league softball team), but I had to get it.  I love it.

Next, we checked out Yawkey Way:

9 - Yawkey Way.JPGThis is the main street along the 3B side of the park.  FYI, Fenway Park’s address is 4 Yawkey Way.  This street and all of the people shown in the picture are actually *inside* the stadium.

That band was playing on Yawkey Way and they were rockin’ it hard.  I really enjoyed them.  To their right, you can see “Big League Brian” — the dude on stilts.  He has a soft baseball that he throws back and forth with fans in the crowd.  Tim wanted to go down to see him and the band, but when we finally made our way down there the band was packing up and BLB was nowhere to be found.

Next, my folks headed to our seats in the CF bleachers — section 37, row 21.  Tim didn’t want to go out into the sun.  So we hung out in the shady standing room area at the back of the grandstand behind third base.

And we took some pictuers.

Here is the Mariners bullpen crew walking to the bullpen — Chris Jakubauskas is sporting the pink backpack (Q:  Is my A-Rod ball in there???  We’ll have to wait and see…):

10 - bullpen to bullpen.JPG

Griff and his colleagues stood for the National Anthem:

11 - National Anthem.JPG

Ichi and Griff in the on-deck circle:

12 - Ichi and Griff.JPG

Ichiro led off the game.  Its no secret, but I’ll go on the record — this guy is decent, extremely decent:

13 - Ichiro.JPG

He was followed shortly by The Kid:

14- Griff Hitting.JPG

In the bottom picture, you can see the ball going foul.  He hit it directly above me and Tim.

By the way, I must note that the people at Fenway (pretty much everyone, fans, attendants, cops, everyone…) are so cool.  Many of the standing room areas under the grandstand have painted lines on the ground that are clearly marked “STANDING ROOM.”  In those areas, they have attendants that will come ask you to stand in the lines if you are milling about outside of the lines.

As Griffey was at bat, I was standing right behind the seats and 15 feets or so outside of the designated “STANDING ROOM.”  Tim was on my shoulders and I was focused on taking shots of Griff.  A bunch of other fans were standing all around me, also outside of the designated “STANDING ROOM.”  I could hear an attendant approaching and telling people they needed to stand in the marketd areas.  Then amazingly, he went to every single person in my area EXCEPT ME.  He tapped each person on the shoulder and politely explained that they needed to stand in the painted “STANDING ROOM” areas.  But he just let me stand in the middle of the aisle and take pictures of Junior.  How cool is that?  He understood that it was important to me to get some shots of my guy, and he just let me stay there and do my thing.

“Thanks, dude!”

 After Griff’s at bat, Tim was ready for a chocolate ice cream helmet, and we were lucky enough to walk by a standing room counter space right as a guy left it — so I watched the game from here (leaning around the pole) as Tim ate his ice cream:

14a - ice cream standing room.jpg

FYI, if you want oreos, M&M’s or other toppings on your ice cream helmet at Fenway, I believe you have to go to the ice cream place behind the RF bleachers.  They had no toppings at the ice cream stand at the back of the grandstand.

Here is a shot of the grandstand seating down the 1B line:

15 - Grandstand.JPGIn

In my post for the July 3rd game, I mentioned that Tim and enjoyed standing in the walkway behind the grandstand seats down the 1B line.  The red arrow in the last picture shows where we stood for several innings during this game.  Here is what it looks like up close:

16 - walkway.JPG

Tim is sitting on the step in this picture.  He is checking out some beads that a Red Sox fan gave him on our walk to this spot.  The guy was all dressed and painted up in red, white and blue for the Fourth of July.  He saw Tim on my shoulders and gave him a set of red and blue beads.  For the rest of the weekend, Tim had me wear one set while he wore the other.

Here is our view of the field from where Tim was sitting (FYI, the view is much better from the standing position — I really liked it in this spot):

17 - view from section 5 walkway.JPG

Tim loved it in the aisle way.  He was all smiles, that is until he grabbed his glove and started playing catcher:

18 - fun in the walkway.JPG

Note, Tim is not wearing his shoes.  He felt right at home at Fenway.  He was in his socks probably 50% of the time while we were at Fenway during the weekend.

From the aisle, we watched the Mariners bullpen stand in a line:

19 - Mariners bullpen lineup.JPG

(From left:  Coach John Wetteland, Mark Lowe, Sean Kelley, David Aardsma (bald), Roy Corcoran (hat behind Aardsma), Sean White (looking down), Chris Jakubauskas, Not-Sure-Probably-Jason-Phillips, Not-Sure-Probably-Miguel-Batista — through the crack, pink backpack).

I’m not sure why the Mariners bullpen does this, but (as you’ll see) they do it a lot.  They are standing in a line facing away from the scoreboard and toward the doorway from the bullpen to the field.  I meant to try to ask someone in the bullpen what it was all about, but I forgot.  My mom’s theory is that they are seeing off a bullpen-mate who is entering the game.  I’m not sure.  I don’t think a reliever came in at this point.  Anyone have any ideas?

Finally, we had avoided the sun long enough, we decided to join my parents in our seats in CF.  Here was our view:

20 - fenway section 37 row 21 panaramic.jpg

[NOTE:  While uploading that picture, Franklin Gutierrez hit a 3-run bomb against the Rangers to put the Mariners up 3-1 in the bottom of the 8th.  Can we finally beat the Rangers?  Yes!  Go Mariners!]

Before sitting down, Tim showed my folks his shoulder-top power stroke:

21 - swinging in 37.JPG

My mom and the Fenway faithful taught Tim how to do his first “wave”:

22 - first wave.JPG

The Mariners changed pitchers and the outfielders converged to do some stretching:

23 - to stretch or not stretch.JPG

Soon, I decided to go down behind the Mariners bullpen, just in case Griffey, Ichi or Branyan decided to hit a HR there.  Tim stayed with my folks for a bit, but then he requested to come down to me — by this point, the boy was bare footed (so I made him stay on my shoulders):

24 - behind bullpen.JPG

Can you spot us in that picture?  We’re standing next to a police officer at the back upper corner of the bullpen.  Notice anything else in that picture?  Yep, the guys were back at it again:

28 - bullpen lineup.JPG

I know there is some meaning to this, but what is it?

We watched Miguel Batista play catch with Ichiro between innings:

26 - miguel batista.JPG

All of a sudden, Tim tells me, “Take a picture of those guys!”

Todd:  “Who?”

Tim:  “Those guys” (pointing, but I couldn’t see it because he was behind my head)

Todd:  “Who?  I can’t see where you’re pointing.”

Tim:  “THOSE GUYS!”

Todd:  “Buddy, I can’t see where you’re pointing.  Who do you want me to take a picture of?”

Unknown Voice:  “He’s pointing at me.”

Todd:  “Oh, okay.”

Here are “those guys”:

25 - cop usher and shiny glasses.JPG

“Those guys” didn’t care at all that Tim and I stood right here in the middle of the aisle for the last three innings of the game.  Very cool.  Thanks, those guys.

The police office asked Tim, “Hey, little guy, are you a Red Sox fan?”

I told him that we were Red Sox fans to the extent that we can’t stand the Yankees (sorry, Yankees fans).  The officer responded, “That’s fine by me.  We can accept that.”  He was a nice guy.

Soon we saw this guy stretching out and warming up:

27 - Aardsma.JPG

David Aardsma = Mariners Win.

The Happy Totals to prove it:

32 - more happy totals.JPG

If you couldn’t tell, our seats were under the “great” in the “make something great” sign.

How awesome, three games into our weekend road trip, the Mariners are 3-0.

The bullpen guys marched back to the dugout to greet the rest of their teammates — Jakubauskas totes the pink backpack…hmmm…and my A-Rod ball?):

30 - bullpen to dugout.JPG

Then I watched a couple guys fix the Mariners bullpen mound.  This closet is at the CF end of the Red Sox bullpen:

29 - bullpen fixer.JPG

The bullpen fixer guys, like everyone else, were really nice too.  One of them congratulated Tim on his team winning the game.

Before leaving Fenway, we got a family picture:

31 - cooks at fenway.JPG

Tim shows off his Felix Hernandez ball.

It was the Fourth of July, so that night, we headed to the park along the river and watched some fireworks:

33 - fireworks.JPG

After fireworks, we returned to our hotel and who did we run into by the elevators?  Mariners reliever and keeper of the pink backpack, Chris Jakubauskas.  As he walked by, I called out, “Hey, Chris!?”  He spun around, “Hey, man.”

He walked over and chatted with me and my folks for a couple minutes – probably about 3 minutes or so.  Here is paraphrased excerpt of part of our conversation:

Todd:  “So you got an A-Rod ball in your pink backpack?”

Chris:  “Huh, what?  Oh, yeah.  Where’d that come from?”

Todd:  “Its mine.”

Chris:  “I was going through the backpack because I have to make sure we have certain things in there and I pull out this A-Rod ball.  I’m like, ‘What the h— is this A-Rod ball?’  I took it around to everyone, ‘Did you put this A-Rod ball in there?’ No one knew about it.”

Todd:  “I gave it to Jason Phillips the other night in New York”

Chris:  “I’m gonna have to ask Phillips about that one.”

Todd:  “I’ve had it sitting around for a couple years and couldn’t stand it, so I thought it would be happier in the pink backpack.”

Tim (to Chris):  Do you want to come see my room?”

Chris:  “What, little guy?”

Tim:  “Do you want to come see my room?”

I told Tim that Chris has his own room and was on his way somewhere so he couldn’t come see our room.  Before parting ways, I asked Chris if he’d watched the fireworks from his room in the hotel.  He explained that David Aardsma (a former Red Sox player) got them out onto the Green Monster to watch the fireworks.  Hmmm…its nice to be a major league ball player and to have connections!

It was very cool chatting with Jakubauskas.  He was extremely nice and was glad to chat with some Mariners fans in the elevator bank.  Many props to Jak.  He’s got some fans in the Cook household.

After chatting with Jak, we called it a night and looked forward to our final game of the weekend the next day…

Season Fan Stats:

17 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
13 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
13 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), Red Sox (2) and Yankees)
15 Baseballs (10 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire) 
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
 
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry) 
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))

Meeting Fenway (7/3/09)

The morning after watching the Mariners beat the Yankees in the Bronx, we woke up and ever so slowly drove to Boston.  It was time for Tim to meet Fenway Park…

2 - gate c.JPG…and for the Mariners to battle the Boston Red Sox — the final team Tim needed to see to close out the A.L. East.  As we walked down Lansdowne Street toward Gate C, the air was full of BBQ smoke and humidity:

1 - Lansdowne.JPGAs we entered the gate behind the CF bleachers, we were met with a maze of support beams, concession stands, and signs:

3 - fenway cf concourse panaramic.jpg

(Remember, you can click on any of these pictures to see a bigger view).

We entered the bleachers and found ourselves behind the Mariners bullpen:

4 - behind bullpen.JPGHere was our view:

5 - fenway RF bullpen panaramic.jpgBatting practice was finished by the time we arrived.  The catchers were stretching by the bullpens and the starting pitchers — Felix Hernandez (8-3) and Tim Wakefield (10-3) were about to arrive at the bullpens to warm up.

Hey, who is that standing in RF in front of the Mariners bullpen?  Why its bullpen catchers extraordinaire Jason Phillips, “Hey, Jason!”

6 - thanks again mr. phillips.JPG“Thanks, Jason!”

That is ball number 4 from Jason Phillips on the season, number 3 from Jason Phillips on the weekend, and Fenway is the third stadium with a ball from Jason Phillips this season.

You’re the man, Mr. Phillips!

My parents were excited to be back to Fenway for the first time since 2003, and for their first time ever to see the Mariners at Fenway.

 
6a - parents at fenway.JPGWe watched King Felix warm up:

7 - the king.JPGWhen Felix was sufficiently warmed up he handed off his warmup ball to Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair, and Adair passed it on to this gentleman:

8 - the kings warm up ball.JPGMy pa’s first ball ever at Fenway.

I decided to go down to the first row in section 1:

10 - talking to phillips.JPG

In this picture, I had just gotten Jason Phillips’s attention.  He walked over to the fence to chat with me.  If you saw my entry from the night before, you may recall that I’d thrown an A-Rod Mariners photo ball to Phillips the night before at Yankee Stadium.  I asked Phillips what he had done with my A-Rod ball.

Phillips: “I put it in the pink backpack!”

Todd:  “Sweet!  Thanks, man!”

We exchanged a celebratory high-five.  He explained, however, that he couldn’t guarantee what would happen to it because he isn’t in charge of the pink backpack.  So it might not last in there.  That’s a-okay with me.  I’m just happy it got in there at all.  Either way, it is an honor if (i) the Mariners bullpen travels around with my A-Rod ball in the pink backpack or (ii) discards the A-Rod ball in a manner they deem appropriate.

Fenway is full of interesting views, and here are two of them I captured after chatting with Phillips:

9 - 380 sign.JPGIf you enlarge that picture, you can see my dad waving to me through the fencing. 

Next, it was time to tour around Fenway and get to know the park:

12 - TJCs on the move.JPGI wanted to capture this beautiful piece of history from every angle.  And here is the first from our walking tour:

13 - fenway 1B field panaramic.jpgAnd here is another:

14 - fenway Home-1B field panaramic.jpgCheck out these tiny aisles — that’s what is called *old school*:

15 - tiny aisles.JPGWe checked out the Mariners dugout — its always nice to see our boys up close:

17 - watching tinsley.JPGYou see first base coach Lee Tinsley standing next to Brandon Morrow in that picture to the left?  A few seconds before this picture, he walked in front of where we were standing.  I said, “Hi, Lee” and I flashed him my glove as if he had a ball — clearly, he did not.  He nodded at us and walked into the tunnel to the M’s clubhouse.  A few seconds later, he came back and stood right where he is standing in this picture.  Tim and I were just standing around and taking in the scene and taking some pictures of the Mariners running in the outfield.  Tinsley stood there for about 2 minutes and then, all of a sudden, he turned around and threw us a ball.  He must have grabbed it when he went into the tunnel inside the dugout.

“Thanks, Lee!”

Here is what our view looked like at the dugout:

16 - fenway 3B dugout panaramic.jpg

Next, we went out to the LF seats to watch the Mariners position players run and stretch.  When we got there, it was time for the National Anthem:

19 - singing anthem.JPG

I was excited — Griffey was playing!

While in this spot in the first row, Tim and I found ourselves sitting by a young boy named Tyler.  I’d say he was about 8-9 years old.  Tyler’s uncle has seats in the second row.  He’s a nice guy, and a good Red Sox fan so I listened to him when he said Tim and I should just stay in the first row seats until some one came for them.  If you say so, Tyler!

Here was our view as the M’s got ready for the game to start:

20 - ready to play ball.JPG

Here is a picture of us taken by one of Tyler’s seat-mates:

18 - seats by tyler.JPG

We sat in these seats for the first half of an inning — until Griff batted — and we chatted with Tyler the whole time, and a little with his family.  We talked about two lopsided trades between the Mariners and Red Sox back in the 1990s — Jamie Moyer for Daren Bragg (advantage Mariners) and Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe for Heathcliff Slocumb (advantage Red Sox).  At the end of the day, I think we’re the biggest winners — because Moyer became our all-time winningest pitcher in franchise history.

Anyway, back to the game, here was Tim’s view:

21- tim's view.JPG

And here are some non-Mariners worth taking pictures of:

23 - the knuckleballist.JPG

Here is some classic Ichiro leading off the game:

24 - classic ichi.JPG

We got a great close-up look at my all-time favorite player — Mr. Ken Griffey, Jr.:

25 - griffs first fenway at bat.jpg

After Griffey’s at bat, we headed on for more of our walking tour of Fenway Park.  Here is the concourse behind the seats in the LF corner:

26 - 3B corner consourse.JPG

Out in the concourse, we spotted a sign pointing to the staircase to the Green Monster seats.  The gal checking tickets at the top of the Monster said I couldn’t get out there for a picture, but I could come back after the game.  A lady who had tickets out there said she’d take a picture for me.  Then she suggested that Tim and I should be in it.  So she guilted the ticket checker into letting us go out about 10 feet onto the Monster for this picture:

27 - left monster.JPG

Next, we walked the perimeter of the field level in the aisle that runs all the way from the Green Monster to the RF corner passed the Pesky Pole.  Here is a panaramic view from behind home plate on the 3B side:

28 - fenway Home-3B back field panaramic.jpg

…and another from the 1B side:

29 - fenway 1B foul field back panaramic.jpg

Just to the right of this picture, there is a very cool looking ramp that leads to the rest of walkway around the 1B side of the grandstand and into RF:

30 - cross aisle to back.JPG

It is truly amazing how small this park is compared to today’s standards.  There is a concourse below the infield grandstand, but this little walkway is it as far as navigating behind the field level seats.  On the other side of the aisle opposite the back of the seats there is just a 4 foot wall that overlooks the street outside of the park.

Along the wall is a step where people sit or stand to watch the game.  It makes the aisle pretty small.  But Tim and I loved it and, as you’ll see in our next entry, we spent a lot of time in this walkway over the course of the weekend.

On with the tour, the RF corner behind the Pesky Pole:

31 - fenway 1B foul corner panaramic.jpg

The grandstand seats are separated from the bleacher seats by an aisle that runs from the concourse out to the bullpen.  Here is an interesting picture where you can see the back row of the grandstand (Section 1), the side row of the last section of the bleachers (Section 43), the break between the grandstand and bleachers, the concourse under the bleachers and a portion of the field:

33 - interesting view.JPG

With that picture, our ball park tour was finished for the day.  It was time to grab some pizza and meet up with my folks to watch the rest of the game from the very back row of Section 42 of the bleachers:

34 - pizza time.JPG

We actually really enjoyed sitting in the back row.  There is literally nothing behind you but a 1-2 foot thick concrete wall.  We were able to stand up as much as we want without interfering with anyone’s view, and we sat next to a very nice group of recent grads from U.C.-Davis who were on a post-graduation tour of the United States in an R.V.  Here was our view:

32 - fenway RF Bleachers panaramic.jpg

After pizza, we stood in the world’s longest ice cream line and picked up a $5.00 Red Sox ice cream helmet with crushed oreos topping:

35 - ice cream time.JPG

After eating his ice cream, Tim spent some quality time in the bleachers with his grandparents:

35a - playing with grandfolks.JPG

Tim and I spent some time during the late innings standing in the exit ailses behind the Mariners bullpen where we had a good view of Jason Phillips, Chris Jakubauskas and the bullpen warrior helmets.  I also noticed a little break in the side wall of the bullpen and took the bottom right picture through it:

36 - phillips and jak.JPG

I’m not sure who it was, but someone blew Felix Hernandez’s win.  The game went into extra innings.  Jakubauskas ended up coming in and pitching two strong innings for the win.  Mark Lowe got the save despite a continuous stream of heckling while he warmed up and a career first homerun by George Kottaras in the bottom of the 11th that landed within 10 feet of me and Tim.

As Mariners announcer Rick Rizzs would say, here are the Happy Totals:

38 - happy totals.JPG

One note, when Ronny Cedeno came to the plate earlier in the game, the stadium announcer said, “Now batting, Randy…I mean, Ronny Cedeno.”  Cedeno answered with a bomb to CF.  As this picture shows, it was Randy’s…I mean, Ronny’s 4th bomb of the season.

After the game, I wanted to get a picture with the red seat in the RF bleachers.  But first, we had to wait for the stands to clear out.  While waiting, someone from the Red Sox bullpen walked over and handed us a ball.

“Thanks, unknown Red Sox bullpen dude.”

Here is the picture with the red seat:

39 - ted williams seat.JPG

According to Lauren, whose job is to be paid to watch all Red Sox home games while standing in the tunnel into the RF bleachers in Section 42, the red seat marks the spot where Ted Williams hit the longest homerun ever to land *inside* Fenway Park (i.e., maybe some longer home run has landed out on Lansdowne Street).  She said it was 502 feet.

With that picture in hand, we hit the streets for a leisurely walk back to our hotel.  Along our way, we ran into a familar face:

40 - jack z.JPGIn case you don’t recognize him, that is Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik (zur-en-chick).  Jack doesn’t shy away from the public.  He too was walking back to the team’s hotel from Fenway along with thousands of others.  It just so happened that my mom had booked us at the same hotel as the team, so we were walking to the same place.  Jack came up to my folks and asked, “You folks from Seattle?”  My mom yelled, “Jack!!!”  And she complimented the fine job he is doing with the team.

Jack and his colleague — whose named I never heard, but he is apparently in charge of scouting for the Mariners — walked with us for a couple blocks.   Tim was on my shoulders so he was at a perfect height to talk to Jack.  They had the following conversation:

Jack:  “Do you play baseball?”

Tim:  “Yes!”

Jack:  “What do you play?”

Tim:  “Baseball!”

Jack said something to the effect that he’d come scout Tim some day.  I like that plan.

With that, we called it a day.

Season Fan Stats:

16 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
13 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
12 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), Red Sox and Yankees)
14 Baseballs (9 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire) 
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
 
2 Autographs (Ryan Perry, Jason Phillips)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
 
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))

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