Results tagged ‘ Brian Sanches ’

Cooks & Martelons in DC (9/18/2011)

Coming into this season, one of my goals was to get Kellan to seven stadiums in 2011: Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium and PNC Park.  We were set to end the season at Safeco Field, and he’d already been to  games at Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, and Yankee Stadium.  As we hit mid-September he had visited all of them but PNC Park and Nationals Park.  While PNC Park was a lot cause, there was still an option for Nationals Park.

I pitched a family trip down to Colleen’s sister’s house in Virginia for the weekend of September 17-18 with an extended-family ballgame on the 18th in DC.  It all fell into place perfectly.

On the morning of September 18, 2011, Tim, Kellan and I hopped into our car and drove north to Nationals Park for BP.  The plan was for Colleen, Kimberly (my sister-in-law), Kevin (brother-in-law), Gill (nephew) and Kate (niece) would join us at game time.

It turned out to be a very special time before the game started.  Although there was no BP to speak of, I soaked up 2.5 great hours in the ballpark with my boys – the first time Tim, Kellan and I had been to a ballpark alone, just us three guys.  Despite there being no BP, we kept busy and found a lot of ways to have fun.

By far the worst part of the day was right when we walked into the ballpark and I tried to take a picture of Tim and Kellan with one of the statues by the CF entrance.  I knew I had forgotten to charge my camera battery, but I was hoping it would have enough juice to last the day.  Not quite.  It was dead and was good for a grand total of zero pictures.  Aye, aye, aye!  I had to rely on my cellphone for pre-game pictures.

We started out in the LF corner.  There were a bunch of Marlins playing catch along the LF foul line.  We made our way down into the first row:

[Note: there wer probably 6 Marlins along the foul line in the picture above and to the left, but they are all hidden behind Kellan’s noggin].  There were a couple other fans there just sitting and watching.  The ballpark was completely silent.  I only recognized one Marlin down on the field – Brian Sanches.  So when he finished warming up and ran toward the foul line to return his baseball to the bag, I broke the silence.  “Hey, Brian!” was all it took for Sanches to send his warm up baseball our way.

Thanks, Brian!

When the ball smacked into my glove, the 8-10 other fans in the section were whipped into a minor frenzy.  Despite the fact that they were all at the ballpark 2.5 hours early (which would make you assume they know what goes on during BP), it was as if they never even considered that a player might toss you his baseball if you asked him.  The section was silent no more.  And as Tim, Kellan and I headed back up to the concourse; several more baseballs were sailing into the stands to the happy fans we left behind.

After a quick stop in the red seats in deep LCF (where there was truly nothing happening), we headed to the second deck in RF.  Section 237 to be exact.  Several Nationals pitchers
were warming up down below:

We kept an eye on Stephen Strasburg.  We’d never seen him before and I wanted to check out what all the hype was about, even if just during pre-game throwing.  Next to Strasburg was his Nationals teammate Tom Gorzelanny.  When Tom finished up throwing, I called his name and I flashed him my glove when he looked up.  I could tell he was going to throw us the baseball, but it was also clear that he was concerned about Kellan…who I was holding.   There were absolutely no other fans in our section or the next one over (in foul territory).  Gorzelanny decided to throw the ball into the next section so we could just go pick it up.  But his plan back fired.  The ball hit a seat and took a big ricochet and bounced back down onto the warning track.

Gorzelanny moseyed over and retrieved the ball.  On his second attempt, he decided to throw it over us.  It landed about five rows behind us and bounded right back to me.  I caught it with my glove as I held Kellan in my right arm.  I always think it is particularly awesome getting a toss up to an upper-deck.  This was only our second ever.  Very cool.

Thanks, Tom!

Before heading off to the play area, we decided to watch Strasburg a bit more.  Tim and I sat a couple seats apart from each other so Kellan could run back and forth between us.  While we hung out, Tim took a panorama with my cellphone:

I thought I should document the three guys being at the ballpark alone, so I took this really horrible picture…

…where we completely block out the view of the ballpark.

On our way to the play area, Tim stopped us at the top of the stair way down to the field level so he could get his picture with the Mariners logo on the side of the CF parking garage:

Kellan is way too small for the play area.  So while Tim played like a mad man, Kellan and I hung out in a little screened in room under the play area. Kellan and I played a little catch…

…and, between throws, I wrote down notes about our first two baseballs of the day.

After spending some time in the play area, we decided to get a bite to eat.  We walked from the play area in the deep CF concourse area all the way around the RL foul pole, around home plate, and to a concession stand behind 3B.  We grabbed some peanuts and hot dogs and then went and sat in the corner spot down the LF line:

Four Marlins were playing catch along the foul line.  I only recognized one of the players, Anibal Sanchez, who was the closest Marlin to us.

As we nibbled our food and watched the Marlins warm up, Abe Lincoln moseyed on by us.  I told Tim to stay put, and then I ran a section over toward 3B, handed Kellan over to our 16th President, and snapped this picture (on the left)…

…after Kellan and I returned to the corner spot, Abe headed toward the LF foul pole and Tim announced he wanted his picture with Abe too.  So we ran after him once again and got the picture above on the right.  Note that Tim is still holding his hot dog.

Shortly after we returned to the corner spot once again, Anibal Sanchez and his partner finished playing catch.  Tim was sitting in the second seat and I was standing next to him holding Kellan.  Sanchez turned around and saw us.  He walked over and held the ball out to Kellan.  Kellan gave Anibal as inquisitive look and then reached out and grabbed the baseball.  Kellan then immediately cocked his arm back and threw the ball back in Sanchez’s direction.  Anibal grabbed the ball and handed it to Kellan again.  Again, Kellan cocked his arm back, which prompted Sanchez to jump into an athletic ready position, and tossed the ball back again.  After two more back-and-forths, Anibal grabbed the baseball, handed it to Kellan, and very sweetly said, “You keep it this time,” and then he turned and jogged off toward the dugout.  It was an awesome little interaction.

A few minutes later, some more Marlins started playing catch in the grass just behind 3B.  We slid around there and were soon rewarded with a toss-up from Ricky Nolasco.

Hey, thanks, Anibal and Ricky!

We decided to head back to the play area.  On the way, a kind usher took our picture:

And then Tim requested that I take a picture of this silly face:

As we passed by the statues in LCF, the Presidents were out there.  But after reflecting upon his Abe Lincoln interaction, Kellan decided that the Presidents were way too scary for his liking.  But he did let us get close enough to get this picture of Tim and Teddy:

After Tim hit some whiffleballs….

…Kellan and I played some more catch in the screened in area below the play area, and Tim played like crazy again.

It was getting really close to game time now.  Colleen called and let me know that they were getting really close to the stadium.  We planned to meet them in our seats.  But first, we watched Mike Stanton…

…warm up behind 3B and Marlins starting pitcher, Brad “Aloha, Mr.” Hand…

…warm up in the visitors’ bullpen.

As game time rolled around, we reported to our seats.  Soon enough, Colleen arrived…

…along with Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate.  (Collectively, we’ll call them the “Martelons”).

We had some great seats in section 108:

The best thing about September is that you can get really cheap tickets on stubhub for teams who are long out of the playoff races.  These seats were normally $36/ticket, but I picked them up for $10/ticket (plus all of the ridiculous online fees).

Tim and Kellan had a great time in the seats with their cousins:

The Nationals got on the board first.  In the bottom of the second, Chris Marrero hit a sacrifice fly plating Jonny Gomes for the first run of the game.

Colleen brought her very good, but bulky, camera so our picture quality improved once she arrived.  But her camera is not nearly as convenient as mine.  I didn’t end up taking any action shots until the bottom of the third inning, when I captured Jason Werth as he hit a couple foul balls and then took a called strike three (on this pitch):

A few minutes later, Colleen was standing in the stairway when Kellan decided to get really comfortable with the glass partition separating the stands from the LF foul warning track:

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Nationals extended their lead to 4-0 on an 2-RBI single by Danny Espinosa followed by an RBI ground rule double by Marrero.

In the top of the fifth, Gaby Sanchez hit a solo homerun to make the score 4-1 Nats.

After the kids watched Thomas Jefferson win his 28th Presidents’ race of the season…

…we took to our feet…

…and made our way back to the kids’ play area:

Actually, everyone else but Kellan and I went to the play area.  I had another idea.  Kellan and I zoomed over to the RF foul pole.  It was an inning break and the Nationals outfielders were playing catch.  We were at the foul pole about 2 minutes total and after Jim Lett tossed us our final baseball of the day (Thanks, Jim!), we made our way back to the play area:

The Martelons had never been to Nationals Park before.  So after we left the play area, we took a little walk around the stadium.

First, we headed up to the second deck in RF where Colleen took this cute picture with me and the kids:

What I think is so funny about that picture is the combination of Kate leaning her head on Tim’s shoulder while Tim is looking up at me and Kellan.  Funny.  Meanwhile, Kellan was trying to rip up a Steven Strasburg baseball card that was inserted into that little magazine he is holding.

When Mike Stanton stepped to the plate, I asked Colleen to take a picture of him hitting a homerun.  Stanton didn’t cooperate.  So Colleen had to settle with taking this awesome picture of Stanton hitting a single:

After we circled around toward first base, an usher took a hilariously disorganized picture of all of us:

We had no real plan.  We were just walking around looking at stuff and taking pictures.  When we passed behind home plate, I got this panorama from the concourse behind section 314:

Kimberly took the kids (minus Kellan) up into the 400 level seats for another picture:

All of this walking around (in my arms) really tuckered out Kellan.  So he took a little nap…

…that lasted for the rest of our walking tour and for a while when we were back in our seats.

When I returned to our seats with Kellan, Colleen and Kimberly took the other kids to get ice cream helmets…or so I thought.  I was shocked when Tim came back with this non-collectible ice cream receptacle:

Yikes!  Oh, well.  Tim still enjoyed his tasty ice cream.

In the top of the seventh, Brett Hayes hit a 2-Run homerun.  That made the score 4-3 Nationals.  But that was as close as the Marlins would get to the Nationals.

There was a comical moment in the top of the eighth inning.  Mike Stanton was at the plate and it looked like he was hit by a pitch.  He ran to first, but the umpires called him back.  I personally had no clue what was going on.  But Jack McKeon came out and went crazy arguing his point.  The McKeon argument was humorous on its own.  But the really hilarious part was Nationals left fielder (and former Mariner) Michael Morse:

Morse was cracking up over McKeon’s antics.  And several times he interrupted his stream of giggling to do an exaggerated “yeeeerrrrrrr outtta here!” hand motion (like he was ejecting McKeon from the game.  Morse was still laughing about McKeon’s antics after Stanton returned to home plate and struck out to end the inning.

Not much else happened in the game.  At the end of the day, the final was a 4-3 win for the Nationals

But, hold up, our day was not over quite yet.  It was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!

We hopped into the long line outside the stadium, where Tim entertained us with some harmonica:

(FYI, Tim loves to play his harmonica, but has no clue how to actually play the harmonica).

I was super excited for Kellan’s first Kids Run the Bases.  He’d never circled Major League bases before, and I couldn’t wait for it.  Colleen took this shot of me and Kellan in foul territory along the first base line:

Sadly, the Nationals have a policy against allowing parents to chaperon their kids around the bases.  That killed the dream.  Kellan is way too young to run around the bases on his own.  He would have ended up in CF with a throng of Nationals employees chasing him.  I was pretty bummed out over this turn of events, but what can you do?

While Kellan watched from the warning track, Kate…

…, Tim…

…, and Gill…

…had a lot of fun on the base paths.

Ah, it was another great day at the ballpark.  It has been an amazing season getting Tim and Kellan’s cousins out to the ballpark with us at both Camden Yards and Nationals Park.  Next year, I’ll figure out a way to get them up to Citizens Bank Park!

As we walked back to our car, Colleen asked Kimberly to take a family picture of us in front of this “The Yards” sign:

I have no clue why she wanted a picture with this “The Yards” sign, but hey, she did, so I’m including it here.

Only three more games for us in the 2011 season and, HOORAY HOORAY, they would all be at Safeco Field!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
30/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)
21/10 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals]
23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
96 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates)
13/5 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee
Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park]
18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin
Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke,
Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
10/3 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond, Abe Lincoln; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird, Abe Lincoln]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field,
Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star

Pictures with Players

With all of the photos we take at games, its both fun and helpful to make entries grouping different types of pictures.  We recently finished recategorizing all of our panoramic pictures.  So now, its time to compile all of our pictures with MLB players (in chronological order).  Here we go:

ADAM MOORE.  Tim’s first player picture was with Adam Moore…

5 - Adam Moore.jpg…at the Mariners spring training in 2008.  At the time, Adam was a prospect yet to make his regular season MLB debut.  Turns out that in 2009, we were in attendance for Adam’s MLB debut.

Matt Capps.  The first MLB player with whom Tim got his picture at a MLB park was then-Pirates reliever Matt Capps…

7 - Matt Capps.jpg…at PNC Park.  This picture was taken during the inaugural Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.

T.J. Beam.  Shortly after the Matt Capps picture, we met T.J. Beam…
9 - T.J. Beam.jpg…another Pirates pitcher.  Beam, Sean Burnett, and Tyler Yates signed that baseball I am holding in this picture (given to us by Denny Bautista).

Ryan Perry.  We got this picture with Ryan Perry at Camden Yards in May 2009:


ryan perry.jpgJack Zduriencik.  Okay, he’s not a player, but we have to include this picture with Mariners General Manager, Jack Zduriencik…

40 - jack z.JPG…taken on the sidewalk in Boston while walking back from Fenway to our hotel after an excellent Mariners win over the Red Sox.

“King” Felix Hernandez.  We got a special treat on the Fourth of July in 2009, this picture with King Felix:


7 - felix warm up ball autograph and photo.jpgThis was taken shortly after Felix finished playing catch with Erik Bedard.  When Felix started signing autographs, Bedard tossed us their warm up baseball.  Tim and I then met up with Felix for this photo and autograph.  To cap it all off, the Mariners beat the Red Sox.

Jason Phillips.  We met up with C&S Hall of Famer Jason Phillips

17 - jason phillips.jpg…for this picture at Progressive Field in August 2009.  Phillips has been extremely cool to us since we met him in ’09.  Thanks, Jason!

Ryan Rowland-Smith.  At the Rogers Centre in September 2009, Tim and I met for the first time and got this picture with C&S Hall of Famer Ryan Rowland-Smith:

14 - TJCs with RRS.jpgScott Olsen.  We set a goal of getting a picture with a player from each team we saw in 2010.  We fell short of reaching the goal, but had a lot of fun trying.  Scott Olsen was our first player picture of the season…

8 - Scott Olsen.jpg…at an April 2010 game between the Nationals and Brewers in Washington, D.C.

Jeff Suppan. At that same Brewers-Nationals game, we got this picture with the incredibly nice Jeff Suppan:

9 - Jeff Suppan.jpgFrank Catalanotto.  May 1, 2010 was a big day.  Kids Run the Bases at Citizens Bank Park and getting an important autograph and this outstanding picture with Tim’s “first batter” Frank Catalanotto:

5 - tims first batter frank catalanotto.jpgRyan Rowland-Smith.  On May 11, 2010, we ran into RRS twice during pre-game festivities in Baltimore.  During our second meeting, we got this picture:

2 - tim and RRS 5-11-10.JPGBilly Wagner.  On May 22, 2010, we met, got a baseball and two autographs from, and this picture with Billy Wagner at PNC Park:

6 - Billy Wagner.jpgTommy Hanson.  On May 23, 2010, we met and got this picture with up-and-coming Braves hurler Tommy Hanson:

4 - Tim Cook & Tommy Hanson.JPGMike Cameron.  One of our goals in 2010 (at least when we weren’t seeing the Mariners play) was to get pictures with former Mariners.  On June 5, 2010, we went to a Red Sox/Orioles game in Baltimore with the goal of getting a picture with Adrian Beltre.  I had forgotten that beloved former Mariner Mike Cameron also played for the Red Sox.  We were very excited to come home with this shot with Cammy:

5 - mike cameron.JPGJered Weaver.  June 10, 2010 was the second game of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.  We started off the day by getting a baseball tossed to us by Jered Weaver…

2 - jered weaver.JPG…and shortly thereafter he autographed the baseball and posed for this picture with Tim.

Joel Piniero.  At that same game on June 10, 2010, we managed to get a wonderful picture with former Mariners pitcher, Joel Piniero…

4 - Joel Piniero fist bump autograph.JPG…giving Tim a fist-bump for the 2010 Photo Scavenger Hunt on MyGameBalls.com.

Ryan Rowland-Smith.  We met up with Ryan Rowland-Smith…

5 - TJC and RRS.JPG…again in San Diego on June 12, 2010 while on the GFS Roadtrip.  After signing that autograph (that I gave to my dad), he chatted with us for a while and posed for this group shot:

6 - RRS and Cook and Son.JPGChad Cordero.  On June 13, 2010, we met, got an autograph from and picture with Mariners reliever, Chad Cordero:

10 - tim and chad cordero.JPG“Cowboy” Joe West.  Okay, so he’s not a player.  But, for good or for bad, he’s a MLB legend and I have to include this picture of Tim with MLB umpire “Cowboy” Joe West…

47 - Cowboy Joe West and Tim.JPG…taken on June 13, 2010 after King Felix pitched 8.2 dominating innings in an exciting Mariners win over the Padres.  The backstory is that home plate umpire Angel Hernandez gave Tim a baseball on the way off the field, which third base umpire Joe West then stole from Tim before walking into the tunnel.  West then came back chuckling at his prank and gave the baseball back to Tim.  I jumped on the light hearted opportunity to ask the Cowboy to pose for this picture with Tim.  He didn’t balk at my request.

Jamie Moyer.  On June 26, 2010, the Blue Jays came to Philadelphia for a series of “home games” at Citizens Bank Park.  The “visiting” Phillies took BP second so we had great access to the team.  It all worked to our advantage because we were able to get this series of three pictures with Mariners legend (and my personal all-time favorite pitcher) Jamie Moyer:

7 - chatting with Moyer.JPG
8 - TJCs and Jamie Moyer1.JPG
9 - TJCs and Jamie Moyer2.JPGThanks, Jamie!  Best of luck in your rehab and 2012 comeback mission.

Bert Blyleven.  July 22, 2010 was our first game back in action after Kellan’s birth.  The date will likely go down as the first time we’ve ever met two Hall of Famers (or eventual Hall of Famers) in one day.  The first was the extremely nice Dutchman, Bert Blyleven:

9 - circle me bert.JPGJim Palmer.  The second Hall of Famer of the day was former underwear model, Jim Palmer:

10 - HOF jim palmer.JPGThe second picture of Palmer earned us some more points in the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.

Omar Vizquel.  Talking about Hall of Famers or eventual Hall of Famers, Omar Vizquel should be enshrined some day.  The guy is a flat out amazing fielder.  On August 8, 2010, he gave us his “John Hancock” and posed for this picture with Tim:

15 - tim and Little O.JPGJay Buente.  On September 12, 2010 (Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary), Tim and I got our 100th baseball from Marlins pitcher Jay Buente.  Before hustling off, Mr. Buente posed for a picture with Tim:

6 - 100th baseball.JPGThanks, Jay!  In an interesting note (and something that I just realized), with this picture with Jay Buente, Tim closed out his first MLB division — he got a picture with a member of each team in the N.L. East in 2010 (Scott Olson of the Nationals, Frank Catalanotto of the Mets, Billy Wagner and Tommy Hanson of the Braves, Jamie Moyer of the Phillies, and Jay Buente (and Brian Sanches) of the Marlins).  Cool.

Brian Sanches.  Shortly after crossing paths with Jay Buente, we ran into another Marlins pitcher, Brian Sanches.  He was incredibly nice.  He signed a baseball for us and posed for this picture with Tim:

7 - brian sanches.JPGNote:  This is one of my wife’s favorite pictures ever of Tim.

David Pauley, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Garrett Olson and Chris Seddon.  At Kellan’s MLB Debut on October 1, 2010, he was lucky enough to get his picture with four Mariners David Pauley (top left), Ryan Rowland-Smith (the first player to get his picture with both Tim and Kellan), Garrett Olson (who had the bright idea of having Kellan wear the ice cream helmet in the picture), and Chris Seddon (bottom right):

17 - kellan with pauley RRS olson and sedden.JPGJack Zduriencik.  On October 3, 2010, we closed out the season at Safeco Field.  We ran into Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik in the centerfield SRO area before the game and got this wonderful picture of Jack Z. kissing Kellan:

3 - Zduriencik kisses Kellan.JPGCook & Son Trivia:  Jack Zduriencik is the only baseball executive with whom Kellan, Tim or I have even gotten our picture.  He is easily the most accessible G.M. the Mariners have ever had.  My mom has gotten her picture with Jack about 4 times.  He’s all over the place.

Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2010)

On Sunday, September 12, 2010, Tim and I headed out of the house early in the morning en route to Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary game.  I had debated in my head for months about which game we would attend.  It was between Marlins @ Nationals or Phillies @ Mets.  We’re more interested in the Phillies and Mets.  But we already saw the Phillies on Tim’s First Anniversary.  So, we hopped in the car and headed south to Washington, D.C. for a date with the Marlins, Nationals, and Tim’s “Poppy” (his materal grandfather, who I call Kevin).

In addition to all the excitement surrounding it being Tim’s MLB Anniversary game, we had the opportunity to do something special at this game.  If we could manage to get two baseballs at this game, Tim and I would hit the 100 baseball mark on the fourth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball (which was given to Tim by Blue Jays September call-up, Davis Romero).

It was a drizzly morning.  We arrived right as the gates opened (2.5 hours before game time), but there was no batting practice.  When we arrived, there was no action on the field at all.  But a Marlins pitcher was throwing in the bullpen out in LF.

I had no clue who he was.  But I noticed he had his name stitched on his glove, so I zoomed in…

2 - alex sanabia.JPG…to find out it was Alex Sanabia.

As we watched Sanabia throwing under the supervision of his pitching coach, Poppy arrived.  In addition to the three of us, there were a few other people (maybe 5 or so) watching Sanabia pitch.

When Sanabia finished up, he walked under us and I called out, “Hey, Alex, any chance you could toss up that baseball for my son (pointing at Tim).”

And just like that, Tim has baseball number 99 in his hands:

3 - 99th baseball.JPG

Thanks, Alex!

After a while, some Nationals gathered around the bullpen in RF.  We took Poppy, who was visiting Nationals Park for the first time, over to RF to look down into the Nats bullpen.  But then some Marlins came out.  Given the options, I thought it would be a lot better to get number 100 from a Marlin.  So we headed back over to LF.

We couldn’t go into the infield seats until 12:00 o’clock.  So we just hung out in the outfield and watched…

4 - scouting number 100.JPG…I had no clue who any of the Marlins were down there.   Finally, the ushers waved us toward the infield.  We were free to roam wherever we wanted to in the stadium.

We made our way to the LF foul line where we stood behind a pitcher who we’d never heard of before (despite the fact we’d actually seen him pitch two innings against the Phillies the weekend before).  I used my zoom to figure out…

5 - hello jay buente.JPG…that it was Jay Buente.

Poppy wandered off to find a hot dog for lunch while Tim and I watched the action on the field.  Finally, Buente and his partner finished up and Buente started walking toward the baseball bag.  There were literally zero other fans along the foul line with us.  As Buente passed right in front of us, I recycled my question to Alex Sanabia, “Hey, Jay, any chance my son could get that baseball?”

Buente took 1-2 more steps toward the bag and then took a sharp left turn and walked the baseball over and handed it to Tim.  I was quick to ask if he’d hang out for two seconds to get his picture with Tim…

6 - 100th baseball.JPG…and Buente was happy to do so.

100 Thank yous, Jay Buente!

Sweet!!

After Buente walked away, Tim turned toward me and held the ball high over his head and yelled with excitement, “We have 100 baseballs!”

Wow – that’s cool!

We were just about to go meet up with Poppy when Marlins pitcher Brian Sanches wandered by.  We got Sanches to autograph a spare baseball we had in our bag (FYI, when fans insist on giving baseballs to Tim (meaning, I cannot talk them into giving it to another kid), we use them for autographs.  This ball was from Cleveland.).

Then Sanches, who seemed to be an incredibly nice and genuine guy, posed for a picture with Tim:  

7 - brian sanches.JPGThanks, Brian!

Finally, we met up with Poppy.  I had a hot dog, but Tim wasn’t hungry.  After eating, it was time to walk around the stadium with Poppy.  First, we stopped in LF to get our picture with a guy in a Cowboys jersey for the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt.

Next, we headed into the upper deck to check out the Capitol Builiding and Washington Monument.  We got a photo of Poppy, Tim and the Capitol building:

9 - poppy tim capitol.JPGThen we looked down over the seats and into the field:

8 - sosa and veras.JPGThose two guys in LF in the picture to the left above are Jose Veras and Jorge Sosa.  I yelled down “JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORGGGGGEEE!!”

Sosa looked up and I flashed my glove at him.

Jorge was holding a baseball and he reared back and cocked his arm like he was going to give it a mighty toss up to me.  Then he stopped and made an exaggrated “oh, my arm is hurt” look and pointed to his arm.  Then he gave a big chuckled and went along on his way.  I’ve always thought it would be cool to catch a baseball in the upper deck and this was the closest we’ve ever come to doing it.

Oh, well, on with the stadium tour.  We walked around to the RF side and gazed upon the river (just like we’d done the weekend before with my cousin, Nathan).  Out in the distance, Poppy pointed out Fort McNair…


10 - poppy and fort mcnair.JPG…where a young Poppy just back to the States after a tour in Vietnam met a young Grammy (Tim’s maternal grandma).  The story goes that Poppy was to be reassigned to Texas to finish out the final year of his military commitment.  After a tour in southeast Asia, Poppy wasn’t too excited to spend another year away from his home in the northeast.  So he headed to the Pentagon to meet with some military big wigs and request a change of assignment to be closer to his home in New Jersey.  The officer in charge couldn’t get him to New Jersey, but he offered to change Poppy’s assignment to a job in Washington, D.C.  Poppy jumped at the opportunity, and Grammy (who worked for the officer) was in charge of typing up Poppy’s change of assignment orders.

Eventually, Poppy would begin courting Grammy.  They’d marry.  Have a daughter.  Have another daughter.  Have both daughters move away to Philadelphia where the younger daughter would meet and eventually marry a guy who had just moved to Philadelphia from Seattle.  The younger daughter and the guy from Seattle would have a kid.  They’d take the kid to his first baseball game on September 12, 2006.  Poppy would also attend the kid’s first game.  And fourth years later, Poppy, the guy from Seattle, and the kid would go to another baseball game on September 12, 2010, where Poppy would point out the building where the whole the whole story began.  And then they would all go buy some more hot dogs and nachos, and then report to their seats in CF.

Here was their view:

11 - nats park section 143 row A seats 5-7 panorama.jpgFor the second week in a row, we had front row seats in the OF.  This time, it was in section 143.

Once again, Nyjer Morgan was playing CF for the Nationals…

12 - nyjer morgan still not suspended.JPG…because he was still appealing his two suspensions.  Eventually, he’d prevail on one of his suspensions, I believe.

This is what it looked like as we watched the game:

13 - hanging with poppy.JPGAlthough it looks a little gloomy, the weather was actually ideal for us.  No rain at all and none of the brutal sun that chased us from our seats by the fourth inning the week before.

Tim ate some extremely unimpressive nachos…

14 - nachos.JPG…he still liked them despite their relative unimpressiveness to other nachos Tim had enjoyed this season.  In the picture above to the right, he is pretending that the chip is his mouth wide open.  Four year olds are easily entertained.

There was some more unusual entertainment early in the game…

15 - squirrel.JPG…a squirrel ran across the outfield.  Eventually, he’d run up and down the chain link fence in front of the Nationals bullpen.  They should have chased that squirrel down and taken him away in handcuffs for running on the field during the game.

Hey, there was a game played too.

Mike “The Beast” Stanton was in the house.  And he brought a big bat with him…

16 - Mike Stanton bomb number 1.JPG…on this swing, Stanton crushed a homerun DEEEEEP into the leftfield stands.  That put the Marlins up 1-0.  Later in the inning, Emilio Bonafacio hit an RBI single to make it 2-0.

Then things got a little interesting.  Bonafacio stole second.  Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann tried to pick Bonafacio off of second, but threw the ball high and behind second baseman Adam Kennedy.  Kennedy should have caught the ball, but it tipped off of his glove and scooted into shallow RF.

Bonafacio took off for third with blazing speed.  Meanwhile, Kennedy jogged after the loose ball like he was bored and had nothing better to do.  Bonafacio had his afterburners on.  I shouted, “HE’S GONNA SCORE!!!”  And that is just what he did.  He scored from second base on a failed pick-off move and Kennedy’s laziness in chasing the ball.  This is what Kennedy looked like as he hung his head in shame:

17 - adam kennedy post bonehead play.JPGThe Marlins led 3-0.  But the Nats were about to get in on the action.  In the bottom of the second, Ivan Rodriguez came to the plate with the bases loaded.  On this swing…

18 - pudge hit.JPG…he hit a single to left field scoring Adam Dunn and Mike Morse.

Mike Stanton was not pleased that the Nats had closed the gap to 3-2.  In the top of the third inning, Stanton flexed his muscles again on this pitch…

19 - Mike Stanton bomb number 2.JPG…another deep homerun to left field.  This one was a 2-run job staking the Marlins to a 5-2 lead in the top of the third.

Starting in the bottom of the third, the Nats would score one run an inning for the next three innings.  And the Marlins scored a single run in the fourth.  None of those runs were particularly exciting or notable, other than the fact that one of them was credited to future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez (on a weak grounder to 2B in the bottom of the fourth inning).

So that made the score 6-5 Marlins after five innings.

In the middle innings, Tim enjoyed an anniversary ice cream helmet…

20 - nats anniversary ice cream helmet.JPG…choloate with sprinkles, of course.

And, we cheered on everyone’s favorite running President, Teddy Roosevelt…

21 - presidents race.JPG…but he came in a distant fourth place in the 4-man Presidents race.

Yeah, we were having fun.  It was a great day:

22 - dudes.JPGThe outfield seats were practically empty.  I was hoping a homerun would come our way.  When Adam Dunn would bat, I camped out in the stairway with room to run in every direction…

23 - adam dunn positioning.JPG…above to the left is my view of Big Adam Dunn during his at bats.  To the right, my view of Tim and Poppy (and some guy who stood the whole game a couple seats away).

Of course, no homeruns came anywhere near us.

In the sixth inning, Tim wanted to go to the kids play area.  That’s when the drama began.  Tim was so excited he was running up and down the outfield stairs as Poppy and I followed him.  On his way up the stairs, Tim tripped and smacked both shins on the edge of a concrete stair and his forehead right on the top of the next stair up.

He went crazy with the water works.

It was legitimate water works.  He had scrapes on both knees and over his left eye.

Tim no longer wanted to go to the play area.  He wanted to go to the first aid office and get some bandaids.  So that’s what we did.  He was still huff’n and puff’n.

As we walked to the office, I snapped this picture of our new buddy, Brian Sanches…

Sanches to Pudge.jpg…pitching to Pudge Rodriguez.  Sanches would strike out Pudge, Willie Harris and Ian Desmond in the bottom of the sixth inning.  He’d also qualify for his first win of the season.

The people in the first aid office had just the thing to cure Tim’s blues.  In addition to some bandaids, they gave him a plastic cup with a metalic silver Nationals “W” on one side and a metalic silver picture of Nationals Park on the opposite side.  Between the bandaids and the cup…

blue and metalic silver nats cup.jpg…Tim started to feel a lot better.

We grabbed some seats around 1B just in time to see Adam Dunn bat again.  He hit this foul ball…

24 - Dunn fouls.JPG…and then eventually drew a walk.  No homeruns for Big Dunn on this day.

Here was our view from the seats we found in section 133:

25 - nats section 133 panorama.jpgWe were still in these seats in the top of the 8th when Hanley Ramirez struck out looking to end the inning…

26 - Hanley Ramirez disagrees.JPG…and then stood at the plate with his hand on his hip and feet crossed talking to umpire Wally Bell for what seemed like forever.

Heading into the top of the ninth, we decided to swing around to the 3B side to go for an umpire ball.  But as we walked through the concourse behind 1B and about to duck into the closed off tunnel behind the fancy clubs and restaurants behind home plate, I noticed that the guard watching the entrance to the fancy seats directly behind home plate was leaning far over a railing watching something in the seats.

We decided to walk in there like we belonged and see what would happen.  With Tim on my shoulders I breezed right by the usher and into the fancy seats.  Right as we got into the seats, someone hit a pop foul ball about 10 feet away from us.  As people were going for the ball, Tim and I took some seats undetected.  Interestingly, there was a ticket in the drink holder where we sat down so we were golden incase someone came and asked to see our ticket.

This was our view from section 124:

27 - nats section 124 panorama.jpgWith all of the commotion from the foul ball, I didn’t even realize that I had no clue where Poppy was.  I called his cellphone and discovered that another usher stopped him as he walked into the fancy seats behind us.  I guess that foul ball really helped us out.  Anyway, it was the ninth inning and Poppy told us to enjoy the fancy seats and he’d meet up with us after the game.

Thanks, Poppy!

Mike Stanton was up again in the ninth…

28 - Stanton no third homerun.JPG…but failed to hit his third homerun of the day.  He would have to settle for 3-4 day with 2HR and 3RBI.

Now, the “fancy” seats behind home plate are segregated between the “fancy” seats, the “really fancy” seats, the “ridiculously fancy” seats, and the “outrageously fancy seats.”  We were in the “really fancy seats.”

However, I realized we could still go for an umpire baseball if we could get into the “ridiculously fancy” seats (or, heaven forbid, the “outrageously fancy” seats) at the end of the game.  Actually, if we could get into the “outrageously fancy” seats, an umpire baseball would be almost guaranteed.  But we had no fanciful thoughts about making it into the “outrageously fancy” seats.

We headed over to the far side of section 119, where this was our view:

30 - nats section 119 panorama.jpgThose stairs to the left lead down into the “ridiculously fancy” seats.  An usher sits right at the bottom of the stairs, to keep people with mere “really fancy” seats out, no doubt.  I figured we could probably get down there and sweet talk her, if need be, right at the end of the game so Tim could ask for an umpire ball in the “ridiculously fancy” seats.

First, Tim did some kung fu:

29 - Kung Fu baseball fan.JPGAfter Ian Desmond grounded out to end the game, things went even better than we could planned.  We rushed down the stairs.  The usher at the bottom of the stairs stood up and walked toward the field.  As she made her way to the field, she opened a gate to the “outrageously fancy” seats.

All of a sudden we found ourselves in the IDEAL spot.  In that kung fu picture above, there is a little kid wearing a bright blue shirt in the first row at the far left side of the picture.  That is where we were standing when home plate umpire Wally Bell walked off of the field.

Essentially, when a kid stands in that spot with no other kids present as the umpire comes off the field, that kid is going to get an umpire baseball.  It is close to guaranteed.

And when Wally Bell set this baseball (baseball no. 101) in Tim’s glove…

31 - No. 101 courtesy of Wally Bell.JPG…we had officially embarked on a new journey:  the journey to baseball no. 200.

Thanks, Wally Bell!

Okay, so the game was over and it was time to go meet up with Poppy.  We had to exit the seats and make our way around the concourse toward CF.  But we were in the first row of the fanciest seats at Nationals Park.  We had to get a picture: 

32 - Lexus Club concourse behind home plate.JPGAnd, how do people in those seats leave the field of play?  They exit through the uber-fancy Lexus Club.

Sounds good to us!

It was dark in there.  These were the best pictures I could get of the bar and the area behind the bar:

33 - Nats Lexus club.JPGThat bar (above to the right) is directly inside the glass doors directly behind home plate at Nationals Park.  The picure above to the left is taken from the 1B side of the Lexus Club.  To the left and behind those big panels that spell “NATIONALS” is restaurant-style seating.

To the far 1B side of the club there is a wall of windows.  In the windows closer to the field you can watch the Nationals take BP in the underground cages…

34 - Nats batting cage and interview room.JPG…as you walk toward the back of the club (away from the field), there are more windows that peer in on the interview room.

It was pretty sweet in there.  One cool thing that I tired unsuccessfully to photograph was a hallway with pictures of a whole bunch of U.S. Presidents throwing out first pitches at MLB games.  Sadly, the lighting in there was so weird (and we needed to get back to Poppy so I rushed and) none of my pictures came out.

Anyway, we headed back out of the field, circled the concourse, met up with Poppy, and went and got in line for KIDS RUN THE BASES!

YES!

This was Poppy’s first Kids Run The Bases and only the second MLB field he’d ever walked on before (the first being Camden Yards where he once attended a wedding).

Poppy stood in for me in our traditional Kids Run The Bases right field distance marker picture:

35 - poppy and the OF wall.JPGNote:  both Tim and Poppy are standing in fair territory.  Excellent.

Running the bases, as always, was awesome:

36 - 4th anniversary bases 1st and 2nd.JPGAnd, amazingly, I actually got a decent picture of Tim at each base:

37 - 4th anniversary bases 3rd and home.JPGBefore heading out, we got a picture of Tim by the “Nationals Park” sign on the rock wall behind home plate…

38 - nationals park sign behind home plate.JPG…we’d just been in those blue seats right on the other side of the rock wall.

A nice fan took a picture of the three of us on the field to mark the occassion:

39 - Poppy and TJCs.JPGYes, coming to Nationals Park for Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary was the right call.

40 - anniversary battle scar.JPGUnquestionably.

We got our 100th baseball.

Spent some great quality time with Poppy.

Visited the Lexus Club.

Ran the Bases.

Other than maybe “not bashing your head on a concrete step,” what more can you ask for in a day at the ballpark?  Not much.

It was another great MLB anniversary.

Thanks, MLB!

2010 Fan Stats:

25 Games

20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)

21 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (3), Indians, Yankees)

58 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 8 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

12 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

15 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

10 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field) 

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