Results tagged ‘ Camden Yards ’

C&S’s Opening Day: Let’s Play Two (4/9/2011)

Tim and I celebrated our own personal MLB Opening Day on April 9, 2011 at Camden Yards in Baltimore.  Due to a rain out the night before, we were treated to a single-admission doubleheader.  The match-up:  Rangers vs. Orioles.

We met up with national news reporter and MLBlogs Top 50 blogger, Avi Miller, on the sidewalk in front of Camden Yards. (Read Avi’s game update).  As the three of us walked toward the gates, Tim spotted Brooks Robinson’s “5″ statue and had to get a picture with his “favorite number”:


1 - First picture Tim's favorite number.JPGFYI, Tim always wants to sit in seat number 5.

We met up with a bunch of Camden Yards regulars and waited for the gates to open.  There was one problem, no one, including the gate workers, knew when the gates would be opening.  We thought it would be 2:30 – two hours before game time – but at 2:30, we were told the gates would not open until 3:00.  And the word was there would be no batting practice.

When we entered the stadium at 3:00, we were happy to discover that the Rangers were, in fact, taking BP.  We headed down to the first row in RF foul territory with the intent of walking around to left field.  Before we could even begin the walk, a Rangers righty hit a looping foul ball down the RF line.  It hit the warning track and bounced right over our heads.  As I turned around, the baseball smacked off of a seat in the second row and flew straight into my glove.  There we go, baseball no. 1 of 2011:


2 - first baseball of 2011.JPGWe circled around toward the LF foul pole and stopped along the brick wall in foul territory.  Moments later, Rangers strength and conditioning coach Jose Vasquez, fielded a batted ball, spotted Tim on my shoulders (fyi, he’s way too big to be on my shoulders these days!), shouted to me “take the boy down! (fyi, players/coaches are always scared of hitting Tim with a baseball when he’s on my shoulders), and tossed the baseball to us:


3 - first toss up of 2011.JPGThanks, Jose!
  (Fyi, that is Jose in the blue sweatshirt just to the left of Tim’s head in that last picture).

One of our goals for this game was to get a picture of Tim wearing his Mariners hat with a Ranger for the 2011 mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt (we are going to do our best to defend our title!).  I made a list of three ex-Mariners who now play for the Rangers:  Mark Lowe, Arthur Rhodes, and Adrian Beltre.  Lo-and-behold, it wasn’t long before Tim got an autograph from and picture with Mark Lowe:


3a - Mark Lowe division rival and former Mariner.JPGThanks, Mark!
  We enjoyed having you in Seattle, and wish you good luck in Texas (provided that, after you get a hold, the closer comes along after you and blows all of the Rangers saves).

So, the day was going great already.  It was time for a snack break.  “Mommy” had packed a big bag of snacks.  Tim chomped down granola bar number one before we left the LF foul line:


4 - first snack of 2011.JPGSoon, a group of Rangers ran in toward home plate to take their turn in the cage.  For some reason, we were fooled.  It seemed like BP was concluding.  So we headed over toward the Rangers dugout.  But it was soon plainly evident that BP was still in full swing.  So we headed out to left field…where Tim did some gymnastics…


5 - BP gymnast.JPG…and then had another snack…


6 - second snack of 2011.JPG…, this time it was peanut butter crackers.

After Tim finished his crackers, we worked our way into the first row in section 86, the closest section to centerfield.  Mark Lowe and Authur Rhodes were shagging balls together – nice to see former- Mariners sticking together!  When Lowe shagged a ball about 75 feet from us, I called out to him.  He turned around and saw Tim and me in the first row and hit us with a perfect strike.

Thanks, again, Mark!

A few minutes later, BP wrapped up (for real this time).  I took our first panorama of the season from an essentially empty section 86:


7 - camden yards section 86 and avi panorama.jpgFYI, that’s Avi tossing his glove in the air in that panorama.

If you click on that last panorama to enlarge it, you’ll see three baseballs in the grass by the batters eye.  Tim and I decided to get some dinner and eat sitting in section 90 next to the batters eye to see what would happen with those baseballs.

We found a nacho stand in the concourse by the kids play area.  So we grabbed some nachos and


8 - first nachos of 2011.JPG…enjoyed them in section 90 as planned.  Our first nachos of the season did not disappoint.  And soon enough, a couple bullpen attendants came by and one of them tossed one of the baseballs up to us.

Thanks, bullpen guy!

While eating our nachos, I got a panorama of Camden Yards from the back of section 90:


9 - Camden Yards section 90 panorama.jpgAs we ate our nachos, we watched the starting pitchers warm up in CF and then in the bullpens:


10 - Orioles Rangers bullpen activity.JPGAs the national anthem ended, I got a picture of the bullpen attendant who had tossed the baseball up to us in section 90:


11  - thanks orioles bullpen guy.JPGAvi pointed out the new retired number markers hanging from the upper deck in LF:


12 - orioles retired numbers.JPG20 is Frank Robinson; 5 is Brooks Robinson; 4 is Earl Weaver; 22 is Jim Palmer; 33 is Eddie Murray; 8 is Cal Ripkin, Jr.; and 42 is Jackie Robinson.

Finally, the first game started.  It was Tim’s first single-admission doubleheader (we did, of course, do a two-city doubleheader last season) and only my second (this was my first – game 1/game 2).

I got a shot of Josh Hamilton playing catch in CF before the bottom of the first inning:


13 - Josh Hamilton playing catch.JPGAnd I figured I ought to get a shot of the Rangers relievers since we were sitting right by them:


14 - Rangers bullpen at Camden Yards.JPGTim and I were sitting in section 86 with Avi, Matt and Zevi, plus a couple of their friends, so I got this somewhat candid shot of Tim with 3-mygameballs.com members for the scavenger hunt:


15 - mygameballsdotcommers.JPGSpeaking of Matt, he was over in the Flag Court in RF during the bottom of the first and came close to snagging Nick Markakis’s homerun off of Colby Lewis.  That put the O’s up 1-0, and that was all they’d need in game one.

Another shot I needed for the scavenger hunt was a picture of Tim with a baseball we caught at the game with a Camden Yard’s sign in the background.  Here was out first attempt:


16 - baseball and distance OPACY sign.JPGA great shot of Tim, but the Camden Yards sign was way too far away.

We were excited to see the O’s new acquisition, Vlad Guererro.  Its nice to see that guy get out of the A.L. West where we won’t do as much damage against the Mariners.  In his first at bat of the day, I caught him as he hit a single off the very end of his bat:


17 - Vlad gets a hit.JPGIn the bottom of the second, Mark Reynolds hit his first homerun as an Oriole.  The ball landed about 2 sections over from us – in straight away left field.  Avi was off with the crack of the bat, but got tripped up and hit the deck en route to the ball.  And that put the O’s up 4-0.

The scoring in the first game concluded in the bottom of the third inning when Adam Jones hit a RBI single to put the O’s up 5-0.  The O’s lead was good for our Mariners, so we were happy with the way the game was going.

Around the fourth of fifth inning, Tim asked if we could get ice cream.  So we went on a little walk.  The concession stands at Camden Yards are all different this season.   It looks good.  Here’s a look at the new Orioles Shirt Shop on the 3B side of the concourse:


18 - Orioles shirt shot.JPGTim and I bought our first chocolate ice cream helmet (with rainbow sprinkles) of the season and grabbed some ice cream seats down the 3B line:


20 - first ice cream helmet of 2011.JPGThe Rangers have a lot of impressive hitters these days.  I snapped this picture of one of them, Nelson Cruz, because he looked like a punk high schooler with his untucked jersey:


19 - untucked Nelson Cruz.JPGCome on, Nellie, tuck it in!

We gave another shot at the “baseball with Camden Yards sign” picture, but we were still a bit too far away:


21 - baseball and slightly bigger OPACY sign.JPGOur handicap accessible seats behind section 58 were great for taking action shots.  Here is a shot of Elvis Andrus grounding out:


22 - Elvis Andrus grounds out.JPGThe ball is the little white blur on the far left side of the picture (vertically, right in the middle of the dirt).

Josh Hamilton singled to center on this swing:


23 - Josh Hamilton singles to CF.JPGHere’s Vlad again, getting ready to pop out:


24 - Big Daddy Vladdy.JPGIn the 8th inning, we headed behind home plate to set up for an umpire baseball attempt.  From the cross aisle behind home, we got another shot of Josh Hamilton as he hit another single…


25 - Josh Hamilton singles to LF in 9th.JPG…this time to left field.

When some patrons left the fancy seats, an usher let us take their seats behind home plate.  It’s a pretty sweet view from down there.  Here is a shot of the final batter of the game, Michael Young:


26 - Final batter Michael Young.JPGAnd here is a screen shot from the TV broadcast showing where Tim and I were sitting as the game ended – Tim is sitting on my lap in this shot:


26a - behind home plate in game 1.jpgAfter Jason Berken put Michael Young away to end the game, home plate umpire Marty Foster awarded Tim his first umpire ball of the season:


27 - Umpire baseball and OPACY sign.JPGAnd we finally got the perfect shot of Tim, his umpire baseball, and the Camden Yards sign.

Between games we hung out in the kids play area.  It was essentially unchanged from last season.  Tim did some jumping in the bouncy house…


28 - first kids play area of 2011.JPG…, which Tim loves.  He also played on the wooden fort-thingy.  Finally, before heading toward Eutaw Street, we got Tim’s picture with one of three big Oriole Bird bobbleheads:


29 - Jumbo Orioles bobblehead.JPGYes, that big thing is a bobblehead.

This was the first Saturday of MLB baseball in Baltimore.  Eutaw Street was packed.  I think a lot of people skipped the first game of the doubleheader and they were all showing up for the nightcap.

Tim played in the picnic area behind the batters eye before we headed back into the stands.  As we made our way back into the LF stands, we passed by the MASN crew who, I imagine, were busy talking about the upcoming game:


30 - MASN Orioles crew.JPGI have no clue who this lady is, but as we passed by, some dude yelled really loud, “YOU’RE HOT, WHATEVER-HER-NAME-IS!!!”  Classy, sir.  Classy.

We spent most of game two with Avi, Zevi and Andrew in section 86.  This was our view:


31 - Game 2 view.JPGA lot of players were shuffled around in both line-ups, but big Josh Hamilton was still patrolling center field for the Rangers:


32 - Josh Hamilton roams CF.JPGTim was excited for game two:


33 - Tim set for game 2.JPGIn fact, he was so excited, that he put on a display of his super-rad dance moves:


34 - dance party.JPGIn the picture above, that is Andrew sitting behind Tim in the black sweatshirt.  Tim had great fun “sitting” next to Andrew.   Tim laughed so much he got the hiccups twice during game 2.  When we got in our car after the game, he told me, “That guy who gave me the hiccups was funny!”

The Game one “fan of the game” was standing nearby in his zany outfit, so I snapped  a shot of him:


35 - game 1 fan of the game.JPGThis game was all Rangers.  ALL RANGERS.  In fact, it was 13-1 Rangers.

Actually, the Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the second on an Adam Jones solo shot.  This ISN’T the homerun swing:



36 - Adam Jones foul ball.JPGNote, the Orioles were wearing black jerseys for this game.

But the Jones homer was all the O’s could muster.  Meanwhile, the Rangers scored six in the third inning on the strength of 2RBI singles by Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton, and a 2RBI homerun by former-Mariner Adrian Beltre – his first as a Ranger.

I was happy to see former Mariner, Chris Jakubauskas warming up in the Orioles bullpen:


37 - Welcome back Chris Jakubauskas.JPGWhen he entered the game in relief, it was his first MLB action since getting drilled in the head with a pitch in the first inning of his first game in 2010.

Here is Jak in action, facing off against Josh Hamilton…


38 - Jakubauskas sends Hamilton to Ksville.JPG…and striking out the reigning A.L. batting champ.

Did I mention that Jakubaukas is officially the only MLB player Tim has ever invited to hang out in our hotel room?  He is (scroll all the way to the bottom).

Unfortunately, things did not go great for Jak in his Orioles debut.  He pitched the final three innings and gave up 5 runs (four in the 9th inning).

In the 8th inning, we headed behind home plate to make an attempt for Tim’s second umpire baseball of the day.  Amazingly, we got down to the same exact seats as at the end of the first game.

Tim asked me to take this picture of him hiding in his glove:


39 - hiding behind home plate.JPGThen I got this shot of Big Daddy Vladdy warming up for his final at bat…


40 - Vlad the Impaler.JPG…and this picture of former Mariner Mark Lowe pitching to Jake Fox:


41 - Mark Lowe to Jake Fox.JPGOnce again, a screenshot of the TV broadcast showed our final seating position of the night:


42 - behind home plate in game 2.jpgTim was in perfect position to get another umpire baseball, and the usher even lobbied homeplate umpire, Jeff Nelson, on Tim’s behalf, but the ump gave out only one baseball and it was to a kid on the other side of the umpires’ tunnel.

Not to worry, it was a great day of baseball.  Great father-son time.  A great time hanging out with the Camden Yards regulars.  And it was great to be back to live-and-in-person Major League Baseball.

Before we headed out of the park, a kind usher took this picture of two happy baseball fans:


43 - Todd and Tim complete the doubleheader.JPGHooray for Baseball!

2011 C&S Fan Stats

 

2/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)

2/0 Teams [Tim - Orioles, Rangers; Kellan - none]

1 Ice Cream Helmet(s)

5 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 1 Umpire)

1/0 Stadiums [Tim - Camden Yards; Kellan - none]

10/6 Player Photos* [Tim - Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan - Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]

3/1 Management Photos [Tim - Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan - Jack Zduriencik]

1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)

1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)

1/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim - Mariner Moose; Kellan - Mariner Moose]

*includes Spring Training

 

Guys Night Out In Baltimore (9/18/10)

The day before Tim’s 4th MLB Anniversary game, my buddy Greg accompanied me on a trip to the car dealer to get some equipment installed on my wife’s car.  Greg (and his former-lady friend) had accompanied me and Tim to a Blue Jays home game in Philadelphia back in June.  While waiting on the car, I asked Greg if he would be interested in going to Camden Yards with us the following weekend.  He was.

Some people arrive two hours before a baseball game, chase balls during BP, and explore the stadium before and during the game.  That’s me and Tim.

On the other hand, some people show up five minutes before first pitch, report to their assigned seats, and stay put thoroughout the game other than trips to the concourse for food/drinks/bathroom visits.  Heck, they may even leave early to “beat traffic.”  That’s Greg.

But on September 18, 2010, Greg proclaimed that he wanted the full Cook & Son ballgame experience.  So Tim and I called the shots at this game.  Let’s see how it turned out.

The only bad part of the night was that Baltimore was invaded by hordes of Bronx-based baseball fans.  The line to get into the stadium…

1 - too many bronx fans.JPG…was ridiculous.  Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people were there before the gates opened.

With the help of Mr. Avi Miller, we had “season tickets” allowing us to access the main stadium while the riff-raff were confined to Eutaw Street and RF-CF.  With the help of some other Camden Yards regulars, we managed to get into the stadium ahead of 98% of the hundreds of people pictured above.

Thanks, OPACY regulars!  (Its good to know people).

Five minutes after the gates opened, we were in LF and…


2 - from tillman to tim.JPG…Chris Tillman (the player above on the right*) tossed a baseball to Tim.  After we got the ball, Greg asked if he could hold it.  It was the first time he’d EVER touched an actual Major League baseball.

I wanted Greg to catch a BP homerun.  Unfortunately, the O’s stopped hitting early and the Bronx horde (much like the evil Jun Horde of Beastmaster fame) made an early entrance:

3 - the early intruders.JPGNon-season ticket holders were not supposed to be let in until 5:30.  But we think they were let in early because there were simply too many “Juns” to be contained out on Eutaw Street.

We decided to head up to the upper deck to see some sights.

When we reached the top of the winding ramps, Tim popped a squat in the concourse…

4 - strike.JPG…and had us lob him some pitches.  Look, a no-eyes catch!

 Next, we headed over to LCF and watched the action out on Eutaw Street… 

5 - upper deck view across camden.JPG….it was packed.  Then we headed into the seats where I got this shot of the bullpens and batters eye…

6 - camden bullpens.JPG…the team from the Bronx was peppering the back wall of the batters eye with homeruns.  I think there were about 8 balls hit in there.  Also, notice all of the strips of grass transplanted for use in the outfield.

In centerfield, we spotted Mariano Rivera…

7 - bronx pitchers.JPG…who I’m guessing must be the last baseball player who wears the number 42.

After spitting lots of sunflower seeds out of the upper deck, we headed around the upper deck concourse toward right field:

8 - OPACY upper deck concourse 3B side.JPGThen it was down to the field level concourse for some fun in the kids play area.  But it was ridiculously packed.  So, after Tim took some hacks, he decided to head to the Camden Club for some dinner.

On our way out of the play area, we noticed this sign showing the evolution of the Orioles’ logo:

9 - orioles evolution.JPGI like ‘em all except the angry “Cuckoo” Bird second from the right.  That one is just silly.  This sign raises the question, what did the O’s use from 1989-1996?

Eutaw Street was insanely packed:

10 - crowded eutaw street.JPGWe ended up getting the same table in the Camden Club where we sat with my mom back in July.  This time, I realized I could open the window a tiny bit.  So I stuck my arm out and took these shots looking down on crowded Eutaw Street:

11 - Birds eye of eutaw street.JPGAs we waited for our dinners to arrive, we could see C.C. Sabbathia warming up in the visitors’ bullpen:

12 - carston charles warms in bullpen.JPGTim the photographer took this shot of me and Greg hanging out at our table:

13 - a table with a view.JPGWe arrived at the Camden Club pretty late in the pre-game festivities.  When we ordered, our waitress told us that our food wouldn’t arrive before the game started.  That was fine with us.  We ended up watching the first 2-3 innings from our table in the Camden Club.  It was quite pleasant up there.

Derek Jeter led off for the visitors and Jeremy Guthrie “welcomed” him to Baltimore with a first pitch to the back/elbow…

14 - beaned.JPG…to see the video clip, click here.

Eventually, our food came, and it was delicious:

15 - stabbed burger.JPGTim and a chicken strip posed for a picture by the window:

16 - chicken fingers and OPACY views.JPGUnfortunately, after hitting the Bronx short stop, Guthrie walked the Bronx third baseman and then gave up a 2-out 2-RBI single to the Bronx catcher.  So the O’s trailed 0-2 after the first inning.

For the record, we were rooting for the O’s.  My forever first and favorite team is the Mariners.  My second favorite team is whoever is playing the team from the Bronx.

After the sun dipped behind the stadium, I was able to get a halfway decent panorama:

17 - camden 8th floor camden club panorama.jpgWe headed down to the field around the third inning.  On our way, I talked the elevator operator into letting us get out on the second floor (while she continued on with other elevator passengers) so Tim could get a good look at the Camden Yards model…

18 - OPACY model and Os front office.JPG…and Greg could get his picture in front of the glass doors to the O’s front office.  Tim loves that model.

When we got to the field level, it was time for something special…

19 - one more Os ICH.JPG…the first ice cream helmet of Greg’s life.

Even with the packed house, we were able to find some nice unoccupied handicapped accessible seats in the cross aisle behind section 16.  This was our view:

20 - Camden section 16 panorama.jpgUnfortunately, this guy’s game was on…

21 -  clown pants.JPG…and he was gunning for his twentieth win of the season.  And when he did in fact win it later this evening, it was the first time a pitcher in either league had won 20 games since 2008 and the first time Sabbathia had won 20 in a season in his career.

On a side note:  In 2008 there were several pitchers who won 20 games (Cliff Lee, Brandon Webb, Roy Halladay, and Mike “20 & Retire” Mussina), and Tim, my parents and I witnessed Brandon Webb record his 20th win of the season at Tim’s second MLB Anniversary game in Arizona.  It was also the first time Webb had ever won 20 in a season.

Things were going the visitors’ way all night. 

The O’s couldn’t get them out…

22 - disputed but correct call.JPG…and Buck “The Miracle Worker” Showalter couldn’t argue his way into any additional outs.

In addition to Sabbathia’s milestone 20th win, we’d also witness Robinson Cano hit a lesser milestone with a 2-run homerun in the 5th inning.  When A-Rod touched the plate on Cano’s homerun, it marked the first time in Cano’s career that he had reached the 100-RBI mark.

We had plenty of fun, nonetheless.

23 - happy and serious tim.JPGIn that picture above to the right, Tim looks pretty serious.  Possibly because we were on a mission to finish off our final two pictures needed to complete the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt.

Earlier in the game, we found a mulleted beer vendor and were able to check off the highest point value picture in the scavenger hunt.  Only one picture remained.  Above, Tim is wearing my glove as a hat and there is a long rope’ish looking thing coming off of my glove.  We needed to find an usher to pretend to cut the string.  And we had a tip from the aforementioned OPACY-crew regular, Avi Miller.

After watching A-Rod very satisfyingly ground out weakly to 3B…

24 - enjoy your winter.JPG…we decided to head toward LF to find Kelly, the usher Avi advised would be a good choice for our final scavenger hunt picture.

On our walk toward LF, Tim looked up and spotted the Bird sitting in the press box window…

25 - wave from the bird.JPG…without even realizing he was doing it, I managed to capture the Bird as he waved to Tim.  Tim was very excited to be the recipient of the Bird’s wave.

We decided to get an usher to take our picture in the concourse behind home plate…

26 - TJCs and Greg at OPACY.JPG…this same usher usually takes our picture every time Tim and I visit Camden Yards.  He always does a fine job.

Out in LF, we grabbed some seats in the last row.  Eventually, an usher walked by and I spotted “Kelly” on her name tag.  I flagged her down and asked if she knew Avi.  She did!  And she was more than happy to help us with the final scavenger hunt picture once the half inning concluded.  Here is the final scavenger hunt photo:

27 - acting with ms kelly.JPGA difficult part about this one is that you either (i) had to find an usher with a pair of scissors (I guess meaning he/she really intended to cut some ball retrieving devices during BP) or (ii) you had to bring scissors to the game (something that didn’t really seem possible).

Well, it turns out that the letter actually is possible.  Without planning it or even knowing I was doing it, I brought a pair of craft scissors to the game.  Security at the gate did not find them because (unknown to me), they were in by back pocket.  Apparently, I had driven 2 hours to Baltimore while sitting on these scissors, but never noticed.

During BP, I felt something in my back pocket and figured it was Tim’s sunglasses.  I grabbed the “sunglasses” and was delighted to find they were actually a pair of scissors I’d used earlier in the day to help my wife with a project around thehouse.  So, I knew we *had* to get this photo.  Interestingly, we’ve never used the glove trick, so we had to figure out how to rig it specifically for the photo.  Luckily, it all came together with some MacGyverish ingenuitity.

Shortly after we got the picture, the 9th inning was on us.  We planned to go for an umpire ball.  I made a rookie mistake, but we were able to overcome it.

The last time we were at Camden Yards, I saw the same usher who took our picture (above) seating some little kids to go for an umpire baseball.  So, when he took our picture at this game, I asked him if he could seat us down there to go for an umpire ball.  He said he would take Tim down to the umpire tunnel, but Greg and I couldn’t come because we didn’t have tickets for that section.

Well, that wouldn’t work because there is no way Tim would go off on his own with an usher and then ask for an umpire ball.   In fact, without me, he is not tall enough to see over the wall of the umpire tunnel.

The problem was that the guy now *knew* we didn’t have tickets for that area.  If I had not asked, he never would have even questioned it.  Anyway, we made our way down there at the top of the ninth.  We were on the other side of the tunnel (not in that usher’s section) about 8 rows back.  But then I got greedy.  I saw that rows 3-5 were completely empty on the other side of the tunnel.  So we headed over there.

The usher saw us and told us Tim could stay, but Greg and I could not.  I told him Tim wouldn’t stay there on his own.  But the guy wouldn’t budge.  Again, I never should have asked him in the first place.  Anyway, as the three of us exited the section, a couple was leaving the same section and they walked over and gave us their tickets (unsolicited).  We thanked them profusely and then turned around.  I walked up to the usher and showed him the tickets.  He waved us in and gave his blessing for us to sit anywhere we wanted in the section.

We ended up here…

28 - semi-ticketed seats.JPG…sitting directly behind the usher.  With no one else on that side of the tunnel, it was easy pickens for Tim to get an umpire baseball from Tony Randazzo.

Thanks, Tony!

Sadly, Chad Gaudin shut the door in the bottom of the ninth and the O’s fell to the visitors 11-3.

Before heading out, a nice fan took one more group shot of the three of us:

29 - post-game photo op.JPG

As we slowly left the stadium, Greg gave me his assessment of the Cook & Son ballpark experience:  two thumbs up.  He’d never seen so many parts of a stadium or been “on the go” throughout a game and he found it to be quite fun.

So did we.

Hopefully, Greg will be back for another game or two with us next season.

2010 Fan Stats:

26 Games


102 - Chris Tillman.JPG20 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)

22 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

60 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 9 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)


103 - umpire Tony Randazzo.JPG12 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)

Camden Yards: Infield, Outfield & All Around

Since Kellan’s birth in mid-July, our family has been crazy busy.  Tim and I only went to one game in July.  But we had big plans for August.

It all started on August 8, 2010, when Tim and I hopped in our trusty Prius and headed down to Camden Yards to see the Orioles take on the Chicago White Sox.

We had one major goal for the day:  get Tim’s picture with former Mariners ace Freddy Garcia.  I loved Freddy as a Mariner, and I thought it would be great to meet him.  And what better place than at Camden Yards?  I don’t know if there is another stadium where the players are as accessible as they are in Baltimore.

One problem, we didn’t have “season tickets” that would allow us to get into the main part of the stadium half an hour early.  And our man with the season tickets hook-up, Camden Yards regular Avi Miller, was home ill.

So, we hung out in the shady seats in RCF for the first half hour…

1 - hanging in the shade.JPG…it really didn’t matter too much though.  There was no batting practice and almost no one was on the field.  One Oriole was running in deep RF, and he gave Tim a wave a said “hi” as he ran by at one point.  A little later, a couple White Sox came out to play catch in shallow LF.  I used my camera to zoom in on them, and Freddy was not among them.

When the stadium finally opened, we headed over to the 3B line to watch the remaining White Sox play catch.  I did not recognize any of them…

2 - Erick Threets.JPG…but I noticed that one of them had “68″ written on the heal of his spikes.

Eventually, Mr. 68 headed back toward the dugout.  He tossed a baseball to a kid in a White Sox shirt and another to a kid in a Mariners hat…

3 - Thanks Erick.JPG…when we got home, I discovered that Mr. 68 has a name:  Erick Threets.

Thanks, Erick!

There was NOTHING happening on the field.

We headed over to LF for no apparent reason.  While over there, we ended up getting a special picture — with Babe Ruth — for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.  Then we got a picture of the two of us in the cross-aisle…

4 - LF corner.JPG…Tim looked kind of bored, huh?  Yep.  So it was time for the play area:

5 - play area 8-8-10.JPGWe hung out over there for a while, but then I had an idea.  There is something special that the O’s do before pretty much every game.  The O’s Bird heads out to LF and plays a little whiffleball with kids he pulls out of the crowd.  He does all sorts of funny stuff, like throwing a base when the kids are running the bases.

Its been my goal all season to get Tim involved, but it hasn’t happened.  In the car ride on the way down, I asked Tim if he’d like to try to play whiffle ball with the Bird. I had to prep him for the possiblity because he takes his base running seriously.  I feared that he would get upset if he didn’t understand that the Bird likes to do things such as throw the bases while a kid is running the bases.  It was good that I prepped him, because he didn’t understand why the Bird would do that.  I told him it was just to be funny and play a joke on the kids.  Tim liked that and he was excited to try to get in on the whiffleball.

When I remembered it, I asked Tim if he still wanted to try to play whiffleball with the Bird.  He did.  So I suggested we head back into the stadium.  Right when we made it down the LF line, I saw two O’s employees walking out with an equipment bag.  I flagged them down and asked if Tim could get in on the whiffle ball action.  The answer was “YES!”  Sweet.

When the Bird arrived, the guy I’d asked came over and pulled Tim out of the stands…

6 - whiffle1.JPG…as they walked toward the home plate along the foul line, the guy told Tim what to expect, and handed him a big orange bat…

7 - whiffle2.JPG…then the Bird unleashed a two handed double pitch.  Tim swung hard right between both balls…

8 - whiffle3.JPG…one of which (as you can see) actually went behind his head.

Essentially, each kid just takes one hit and then rounds the bases.  Tim was ready for the next pitch…

9 - whiffle4.JPG…he drilled a hard line drive right off of the Bird’s leg.  And then it was off to the races!

As Tim rounded first, the Bird ran to second base…

10 - whiffle5.JPG…I was hoping the Bird would fling the base far out into the outfield so Tim could run way out there to touch the base wherever it landed…

[TIME OUT:  I have to mention that the last picture is one of my favorites.  As Tim is rounding first, you can see Juan Pierre and Alex Rios walking in shallow CF, Carlos Quentin is at the far right walking toward the foul line, and a couple Orioles are playing catch in deep CF.  How cool is that?  The next kid actually hit the ball to "RF" and Alex Rios fielded it and gunned it back to the Bird.]

…Instead, the Bird just stood there as Tim approached to touch second.  Then, the Bird grabbed the base and used it like a matador’s red cape…

11 - whiffle6.JPG…Tim ran back and forth trying to kick the base out of the air…

12 - whiffle7.JPG…as the Bird did his best “oley!  oley!” routine.  After a couple passes, Tim actually did kick the base out of the air, which I think surprised the Bird.

Tim immediately bolted for third.  He thrives on eluding would-be taggers.  The Bird chased behind Tim trying to tag him…

13 - whiffle8.JPG…before Tim scored, the Bird tossed a ball at him, but missed.

Tim scored!  And then he kept running straight back to me.  He was only out there for a minute or two, but he had a blast and absolutely loved it.  He wants to do it again! 

After whiffleball, a former Mariners great (but not Freddy Garcia) was signing autographs down the foul line.  I had totally forgot that slick fielding former M’s short stop Omar Vizquel plays for the White Sox this season.  But, guess what?  He does.

And here he is signing the baseball that Erick Threets had given to Tim earlier in the day: 

14 - Little O Autograph.JPGNow here is something interesting (at least to me).  We’re not big autograph guys (we’re picture guys).  In fact, before reading it on other MLBlogs, I had never even heard the term “the sweet spot.”  But, over the past two seasons, Tim and I have collected about 10-15 autographs on baseballs that we’ve caught at games, and Omar is the first and only player to ever sign his name on the sweet spot.  Every single other player has signed his name on…whatever they call the non-sweet spot.

As I said, autographs are good, but we’re picture guys.  So this was the real prize:

15 - tim and Little O.JPGFor the record, that is Tim and a future Hall of Famer.  I know his offensive numbers aren’t all that special (actually, his hit total is pretty special), but I would put Omar Vizquel up against any short stop in the history of baseball.  The guy is absolutely incredible with the glove.  I seriously do not think there has been a better short stop in the game, at least during my life time.  And guess what?  Omar’s offensive numbers are as good or better than Ozzie Smith’s numbers.  So for my money, the guy is a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Bottom line:  when we weren’t able to get a picture with Freddy, this picture with Omar more than made up for the disappointment.

A few minutes later, we watched Omar show off some of his fancy glove work… 

16 - watching a glove master.JPG…along the foul line.  Omar can catch a baseball by letting it just tap the heel of his glove to deaden the throw before his bare hand swipes the ball out of the air.  Its truly amazing, and incredibly hard to do.  I’ve only been able to do it a couple times in my life.  I should have taken a video of it because Little O was doing it here and trying to teach his teammate (not Ramirez, but the guy out in CF) how to do it.  If you ever want to learn a thing or two about catching a baseball, you should seriously consider just taking a seat and watching Omar during pre-game warm ups.

By the time the game started, we’d already had a full day’s worth of fun.

It seems like we are always on the RF/1B side of the stadium at Camden Yards.  I wanted to switch it up.  We started off the game in the handicapped accessible seats in the cross-aisle behind section 62.  We were standing in the cross-aisle and I asked the usher which way was north so I could figure out which direct the sun would be moving.  I told him we wanted to avoid the sun.  He suggested we sit  in the handicapped accessible seats behind the section he was working, which were shaded at the time.

Here was the view:

18 - camden section 62 handicap seats panorama.jpg

Tim pointed out the pitchers mound for me…

19 - tim in 62.JPG…oh, there it is.  Thanks, buddy.

Then, Tim took over the controls of the camera.  Here are some samples of the shots he took:

20 - photos by tim.JPGThe pitching match up was Mark “Send ‘em Home Early” Buehrle vs. Jeremy Guthrie.

In the top of the first, Guthrie gave up a single to Alex Rios and a double to Paul Konerko, but escaped without giving up any runs.  Buehrle sat the Orioles down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first.

The first scoring of the day occurred in the bottom of the second inning.  O’s left fielder Felix Pie drove a solo homerun deep into the flag court yard in RF.

Two batters later, Cesar Izturis…

21 - Cesar Izturis 1000.JPG…collected his 1,000th career hit on a little dunker of a single to CF.  After the O’s announced the milestone on the scoreboard, Izturis received a nice round of applause from the crowd.

As the all-time greats go, 1,000 hits is nothing.  But when you think about it, to be able to collect 1,000 hits in major league baseball is pretty special.  So congratulations to Cesar.

In the bottom of the third, I was all set to try to get an action shot of Omar Vizquel adding another hit to his impressive resume (as of today he has 2,778 hits).  Unfortunately, I had to settle for this picture…

22 - omar swinging.JPG…of Omar about to hit a foul ball.  Omar did actually get a hit in this at bat and I did get a picture of the swing, but Tim walked in front of the camera.  It would be the only picture Tim blocked on the day, and it would be Omar’s only hit.  Oh, well.

A couple innings later, we found ourselves sitting in LF where this was our view:

23 - camden section panorama.jpgWe had never sat in LF at Camden Yards so it was nice to take in the view from this spot while we ate some nachos:

24 - Tim in LF at OPACY.JPGUnfortuantely, there were no homeruns to LF while we were out there.

However, we did see Omar hit again (in the top of the 5th inning) while we were in LF:

25 - more cuts by Omar.JPGHe whiffed on that pitch, but eventually hit into a fielder’s choice and then scored the second run of the game on a single by Alex Rios.  That knotted the score at 1-1.

The score did not stay tied long.  And we didn’t stay long in LF.  Tim wanted to move back into the shade.  So we went and grabbed an Orioles Ice Cream Helmet and relocated to another set of handicapped accessible seats, this time in the cross-aisle behind section 47.

Here was our view:

26 - camden section 47 panorama.jpgAnd here is Mr. Perfecto 2009, Mark Buehrle:

27 - Mark Buehrle.JPGOf course, Tim was enjoying his chocolate ice cream helmet with sprinkles:

28 - ICH time.JPGAs I said, the score did not stay tied 1-1 very long.  In the bottom of the sixth, the Orioles took a 3-1 lead on the strength of back-to-back RBI doubles by Nick Markakis and Ty Wigginton.

All of the Birdland faithful were hoping that Adam “Not Pacman” Jones could make it back-to-back-to-back RBI doubles, but, alas, he could not.  With this not mighty enough swing…

29 - Adam Jones flies out.JPG…the former Mariners top prospect flew out to Carlos Quentin in RF:

30 - to Carlos Quentin.JPGBy the way, Tim really latched onto Quentin during this game.  During pre-game warmups we were discussing the players we were watching and I pointed out Quentin.  Tim started talking about “Carlos” like they were old buddies.  Each time Quentin came to the plate, Tim would mention, “Hey, its Carlos.”  And after this catch, we discussed how Tim’s good friend “Carlos” caught that high pop fly.

Fan favorite Jeremy Guthrie was still in the game and he was “dealing”…

31 - Jeremy crazyleg Guthrie.JPG…he was also putting so much pressure on his front leg that I feared it might snap in half on each pitch.

After Little O bunted this Guthrie offering foul…

32 - Omar the bunter.JPG…Jeremy got Omar to ground out to 3B to end the 7th inning.

Leading off the bottom of the 7th inning, Cesar Izturis started in on his second thousand hits by driving a 2B to deep LCF for his 1,001st hit.  After advancing to 3B on a passed ball, Izturis scored the O’s fourth and final run of the day on a single by Brian Roberts.

Guthrie was back on the hill in the 8th inning, and he mowed down the ChiSox 1-2-3, including this harmless ground out by Paul Konerko… 

33 - Paulie Konerko grounds.JPG…for the second out of the inning:

34 - out to SB.JPGIn the top of the ninth inning, Tim and I started the process of relocating behind home plate to make an attempt at getting an umpire ball from Phil Cuzzi…

35 - Phil Cuzzi.JPG…(BTW, how do you pronouce his name?  Cooou-zee or Kah-zee?)

While scouting out seats from the cross-aisle slightly shaded toward 1B, someone (can’t remember who) hit a foul ball DIRECTLY to the handicapped accessible seat that I had been sitting in for the last several innings.  All I would have had to do was stand up and make the uncontested catch.  Bummer.

Anyway, this was our view for the bottom of the ninth inning:

36 -Alexei Ramirez.JPGGuthrie was out and O’s closer Alfredo Simon was in.  After retiring the first batter of the inning, Simon gave up a single to Alexei Ramirez…

37 - Alexei Ramirez grounds out.JPG…and then a homerun to Ramon Castro.   That made the score 4-3 Orioles.  But that was all she wrote.  Simon would get the next two batters (Brad Lillibridge and Juan Pierre) to secure the win for Guthrie and the save for himself.

Something else interesting happened during the ninth inning, the ushers on both sides of the umpire tunnel were actively assisting kids in trying to get an umpire ball.  One usher stopped by and told Tim and a girl sitting behind us “The umpire’s name is Phil, you should ask him for a baseball when he leaves the field” while another usher on the other side of the tunnel brought three little kids down to the second row and sat them right on the tunnel with instructions to ask Cuzzi for a baseball.

Cuzzi came off the field after the final out and handed one baseball to one of the kids the usher had sat on the 3B side of the umpires tunnel.  Then he approached Tim and placed a second baseball in his glove…

38 - Here comes Mr Cuzzi.JPG…which Tim promptly dropped (his hand isn’t big enough to squeeze his glove closed), so Cuzzi fielded the booted ball and replaced it into Tim’s glove again:

39 - Thanks Mr Cuzzi.JPG

Thanks, Mr. Cuzzi!

Hey, guess what?  It was time for Kids Run the Bases!

The O’s held the promotion exclusively for members of the O’s Dugout Club.  We visited the extremely helpful and nice O’s fan assistance office to inquire about how Tim could become a member so he could run the bases.  It costs $12 and comes with all sorts of goodies.  But the lady in the fan assistance office (probably rightfully thinking we were in from out of town and were not O’s fans) suggested that we could probably run without Tim becoming a member of the club.  So, we saved our $12 and did not join the club.

I was a little nervous because almost every kid in line was wearing some evidence of being a member of the club, everyone but Tim.  But it didn’t matter.  They made no effort to check to see if people were members of the club.

When we reentered the stadium to run the bases, the usher who is usually out on Eutaw Street spraying fans and giving out baseball cards was spraying people with his water bottle in the concourse.  But he wasn’t handing out any baseball cards…that is, he wasn’t until we arrived.

As Tim approached to get sprayed, I said to him, “You gotta say “‘Hit me!’”  Immediately upon saying that to Tim, the usher (whose name, I think, is Greg??), proclaimed, “He said the MAGIC WORDS!”…

40 - Hit Me with Ramon Martinez.JPG…and he handed Tim a Ramon Martinez baseball card from his baseball card pouch.  Tim was quite happy to receive the card.  Little things can really make a kid’s day.

It was time to run some bases.  As Tim waited in the line at first base (the O’s were making the effort to space out the runners, which we always appreciate), I got a shot of the visitors dugout:

41 - OPACY visitors dugout.JPGThen I focused all of my picture taking efforts on Tim.  I always feel that Kids Run The Bases is one of the hardest times to get good pictures.  But it worked out well at this game.

I got this shot of Tim stomping on second base:

42 - stomping on 2B at OPACY.JPG

Third base also cooperated with my camera:

43 - rounding 3B at OPACY.JPGAnd after almost completely missing the shot, home plate was friendly to my camera too:

44 - scoring at OPACY.JPG

Before heading up into the stands, we posed for a few pictures on the field, including this one…

45 - Cuzzi Ball at Camden Yards.JPG

…with the baseball from Phil Cuzzi.

To recap:

  1. Whiffle ball in the outfield with The Bird;
  2. An autograph from and picture with former Mariner and future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel;
  3. Kids Run The Bases; and
  4. Father-Son fun.

Wow – It was an excellent day!  Not only that, it was a truly excellent weekend of baseball fun (this was the Sunday immediately following our campout in the Reading Phillies’ outfield).

Fun, fun, fun.

Thank you, Baseball.  We missed you!

2010 Fan Stats:

19 Games

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

16 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)

40 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox)

10 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)

13 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 and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

9 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 and Scott Olsen)

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

Thanks, Ma! Thanks, Grandma! (7/22/10)

Our new son Kellan’s due date was July 18th.  The closest major league ball park to our home is about 70 miles away.  Obviously, I didn’t want to miss Kellan’s birth.  Therefore, we scheduled zero MLB games for July 2010.

But you know what?  My mom ended up coming on July 2nd to help us and to be with Tim when Kellan was born.  My dad joined us the day after Kellan was born and was also great to have around.  But my mom ended up spending the entire month of July with us and she was amazing.

Although it was impossible to thank her enough, we figured we needed to try.  And, like us, she’s a big baseball fan.  We decided we should take her to Camden Yards for her first time.

We arrived early and hung out with the Camden Yards regulars outside the CF gate…

1 - arrived in Balt.JPGWe’re usually cheap seats guys at Camden Yards.  But my mom deserved the best.  Our new friend, Avi Miller…

2 - the Avi Hookup.JPG…used his season ticket holder status to secure us some amazing seats.

With the tickets in hand and time to spare before the gates opened, we decided to walk around the stadium so my mom could check the place out.

My mom liked the party area in CF…

3 - CF group party areas and BP.JPG…and we all liked that we could see BP going on inside.

Outside the 3B side of the stadium, we stopped on a patch of grass so Tim and I could play a little catch:

4 - catching outside camden.JPGHe’s getting better and better at catching the ball.  He’s finally using two hands.

We got a few pictures of my mom and Tim in Schaefer Circle.  Here are the best parts of those pictures combined together:

5 - Tim Grandma outside camden.JPGNext, we headed out to the far end of the warehoue (RF side) to get a picture with another Camden Yards sign:

6 - Tim Gma Warehouse Sign.JPGFor the first time this season, we entered the stadium through the RF gate:

7 - camden LF gate panorama.jpgThe Warehouse ends right at the CF gate.  But on the RF side, the warehouse runs another 100-200 feet passed the RF gate.  So fans don’t have to walk all the way around the warehouse to get to the RF gate, there is a passage…

8 - warehouse shortcut.JPG…under the warehouse.

The tickets Avi helped us buy included the magic phrase – “Season Ticket Plan” — that allowed us to get into the main stadium right when the gates opened.  Without those words on our tickets, we’d have to stay out in RF for the first half hour of BP.

The early access paid off quick.  As we approached home plate, we saw probable 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Bert Blyleven signing an autograph.  We ran over and chatted him up and then got this picture:

9 - circle me bert.JPGThanks, Bert!  You’ve been circled!

Bert was pretty cool.  He asked Tim if he was a Mariners fan.  I noticed Bert’s BEAUTIFUL Twins world series ring.  I complimented him on it.  He held it up for Tim, “do you think you’ll get one of these some day?”  I mentioned that if he does, hopefully it will say “Mariners” on it.  Bert held it up for Tim again, “This is a Mariners ring, it has a big ‘M’ on it!”

Hopefully some day I will get to see an actual Mariners world series ring.

After Bert took off, we turned around and watched the field.

Despite what it looks like in the following picture, the O’s were still hitting and this was our view:

9a - camden section 38 row 3 panorama.jpgNext to the two guys in the Morneau jerseys, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer was chatting with another O’s TV guy.  When there was a break in their conversation, I asked Jim for a picture.  He gladly obliged:

10 - HOF jim palmer.JPGAfter we left Jim, a bunch of autograph guys pounced on him.  He signed for none of them.  He was there just for our picture.

Thanks, Jim!

Speaking of Jims, we also got a big “hello” and wave from slugger Jim Thome who was waiting to get into the batting cage.

As the Twins prepared to start hitting, we headed down the LF line.  We had plans, we were hoping to quickly get our hands on a nice Target Field commemorative baseball and then head to the Camden Club for a nice dinner.

We weren’t the only people in the northeastern portion of the United States hoping to snag a Target Field baseball.  Our Citi Field friends, Joe Faraguna and Alex K, were in the house, as well as some other guys from MyGameBalls.com (including new 1000 baseball man, Greg Barasch – congrats, Greg, it was nice meeting you).

My mom snapped this picture of me and Alex…

11 - Alex 3d Stadium 3d State.JPG…because Alex joined an exclusive club — he joined Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohonek as the second member of MLBlogs/MyGameBalls.com whom Tim and I have run into at three different stadiums in three different states.  By the way, we first met Alex at U.S. Cellular Field and we have run into each other twice at Citi Field.

After this big Twins reliever…

12 - Jose Mijares.JPG…Jose Mijares finished playing catch, he pointed at us (Tim was on my shoulders) from about 150 feet out in LCF.  I pointed at myself, “Us?”, I still couldn’t tell if he really meant us.  He then threw the ball directly to the guy next to us.  I could have easily caught it, but it would have looked like I was totally reaching in front of and robbing the guy (an adult without a kid).  So I let it go.

But Mijares was having none of it.  He pointed a big forceful finger at the guy — POINT, POINT! — and then he pointed his big finger up at Tim — POINT, POINT!

The meaning was clear: “that ball is for that little kid, dude, give it to him now!!!”

The guy couldn’t disobey Mijares’ finger:

13 - nice Target Field Commemorative.JPG

It was a beautiful commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Jose!

After I visited LF to grab a look at Alex’s roster (confirming the ball giver was Mijares) and watching some out of control guy absolutely mug Joe on a BP homer (LF is definitely no place for Tim quite yet), we headed toward the Camden Club.

As we passed by first base, I saw Orlando Hudson taking grounders at 2B:

14 - Yo O-Dogg.JPGI absolutely love watching Harold Reynolds interview Hudson.  He’s got a great personality.  I shouted out a big, “Yo, O-Dogg!”  And Hudson turned around and gave us a big shout and a full armed wave.

Unless you are a “member,” you cannot make reservations at the Camden Club.  You can still eat there, you just can’t reserve a spot.  Nevertheless, I was happy that we were able to grab what appeared to be the last table with a window: 

14a - cc set up.JPGTim enjoyed blowing bubbles in his ice water.  And we all enjoyed out food, a lot:

15 - Camden Club Grub.JPGTop Left – Tim had chicken tenders and fries (in the bottom right he is lining up some french fries for an unprecedented simultaneous honey mustard and ketchup double dip)

Top Right – my mom had the “Bases Loaded,” which includes crab soup, a mini-Boog’s BBQ sandwich, a mini-crab cake, and a slider.  I talked her into it because Maryland is famous for its crabs and she likes the little suckers.  She loved the meal.

Bottom Left – I had a tasty bison burger with fries.

By the time we finished eating, Denard Span had led off the game for the Twins:

16 - span from above.JPGWe reported to our ridiculously awesome seats in section 36, row 20, seats 8-10 (10 being the aisle seat).  This was our view:

16a - camden section 36 row 10 seat 1 panorama.jpgThe match-up was Carl Pavano vs. Kevin Millwood.

After Joe Mauer doubled and Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer walked, the Twins won the game in the top of the first inning on a 3-run double by Delmon Young.

Pavano would shut the O’s down in the first.  And, for the rest of the game too for that matter.  He was just as impressive as he was on Phathers’ Day in Philadelphia.

The Twins featured some unimpressive play as well.  Specifically Nick Punto’s base running blunder in the top of the second inning.  After singling to start the inning, Punto was still on first with one out when Denard Span flew out routinely to centerfielder (and former Mariner) Adam Jones.

The usual rule is to go half way on such a fly out.  But, perhaps, Punto was feeling unusual.  He decided to go all the way to 2B and then wait on the bag for Jones to catch the ball.  It was almost as if he was tagging up to run back to first.  It did not work out so well.

He was doubled off with massive ease.  Here is Nick with egg on his face after his huge blunder:

17 - punto post bad baserunning.JPGI suspect that first base coach, Jerry White, was thinking “are you kidding me, Nick” in that picture.

In the third, I tried to get a picture of Orlando Hudson connecting for a base hit…

18 - O-Dogg grounds out.JPG…instead he grounded out to 2B.

In the middle of the third, Tim wanted to go to the kids play area, which had been revamped since our last game in Baltmore.

This batting tee cage was new:

19 - Os batting tee.JPGSo was this pitching cage…

20 - speed pitch and new play set.JPG…and this wooden playset.

The old and trusty bouncy house, however, was still there and going strong:

21 - bouncing.JPGOn our way back to the seats, Tim and I grabbed some ice cream helmets (for him and my mom) and a funnel cake (for me).  I prefer ice cream.

Carl Pavano was still dealing…

22 - markakis fouls.JPG…here to Nick Markakis in the bottom of the sixth.

Despite a tray full of sweets in his lap, Tim was tuned into the game:

23 - funnel cake and ICH.JPGBetween the bottom of the sixth and top of the seventh, I took Tim to the restroom.  While we were in there, we could hear the stadium erupt.  Something big was going on, but we weren’t sure what.

When we headed back to our seats, we tracked down the Bird so Tim could give him five:

24 - fiving the bird.JPGWhen we got back to our seats, my mom explained that J.J. Hardy had led off the seventh with a single and then should have been thrown out going back to first base.  The replays quite clearly showed that Hardy was out going back to first, but that wasn’t how first base umpire Gary Darling saw it.

The eruption we’d heard from the restroom was Ty Wigginton and the crowd going crazy when Hardy was called safe.  Wigginton was tossed from the game.

After Hardy scored the 5th Twins run of the night on a single by Drew Butera, the crowd went crazy.  As the teams changed sides, someone was jawing in the O’s dugout  Home plate umpire Bill Hohn was having none of it.  He yelled at the folks in the dugout.

O’s manager Juan Samuel then stormed out of the dugout…

25 - confrontation.JPG…and was booted from the game after throwing a nasty tantrum, capped off by a toss of his cap into the infield.

Jason Kubel couldn’t help the Twins tack on any more runs…

26 - kubel.JPG…in the top of the seventh.

It was time for the seventh inning stretch.  We all stood to sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”  I looked up at the big screen, and Tim and I were front and center on the screen.  I took this shot…

27 - TJCs on big screen.JPG…but failed to zoom in.

It must have been in the 8th inning when this 15-seconds-of-fame seeking fan ran onto the field and spent a while there…

28 - trespasser.JPG…he ran back-and-forth and back-and-forth.  He jumped into the crowd and then came back.  It was the longest fan on the field run I have ever witnessed.   Eventually he stopped running after the still incredibly angry home plate umpire Bill Hohn came out to yell at the kid.  The kid was eventually apprehended.

It kept getting hotter and hotter throughout the game.

Tim had to relax on Grandma’s lap:


29 - snuggling with grandma.JPGTim and his grandma found some papers and fanned each other to beat the heat:

31 - fanning grandma.JPGIn the ninth inning, Tim and I relocated to the third row behind home plate to go for an umpire ball after the game.  I took a shot of the Twins dugout…

32 - twins dugout.JPG…featuring A.L. MVP Joe Mauer in the foreground.

We had an unbeatable view of the ninth inning match-up beteen Pavano and Miguel Tejada…

33 - pavano vs tejada.JPG…Pavano won the battle on a ground out to 3B.

Several batters later, Jake Fox grounded out to 3B for the final out of the inning.

Tim hopped up and hung his open-gloved arm over the wall into the umpire tunnel.  We were hoping that Bill Hohn would find the bottom of Tim’s glove.  But it was a crazy and tense scene behind home plate.

First, the grounds crew couldn’t get the gate opened up to the umpires’ tunnel.  So all four umps had to stand there waiting.  A couple fans had some choice words for Mr. Hohn.  He was not a happy camper and had some choice words of his own for the unruly fans.

A couple seconds later, Hohn became the angriest person to ever give Tim a baseball at a MLB game…

34 - umprie bill hohn baseball.JPGThanks, Mr. Hohn!

Before heading toward the car, we got a picture of the three of us behind home plate:

35 - TJCs and Gma Camden Yards.JPGOn the way to the car, we stopped in Eutaw Street…

36 - ball markers.JPG…to check out a few of the homerun markers, including the Griffey markers.

It was a great night at the ballpark and a fun way to say “thanks” to my mom and Tim’s grandma for helping out so much as we prepared for Kellan’s birth and then as we started adjusting to being a family of four.

Thanks, Ma!  Thanks, Grandma!

2010 Fan Stats:

18 Games

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

15 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)

38 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 6 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins)

10 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)

12 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

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.]

Hello, 2010 Mariners! (5/11/10)

Since opening day, we’d been looking forward to May 11, 2010:  our first Mariners game of the season.  Like in 2007 and 2008 , our first Mariners game of the season would take place at Camden Yards.

I wanted to maximize our time with the Mariners so we headed down to Baltimore in time for batting practice.  Unfortunately, it started raining as we neared Baltimore.  As we entered the centerfield seats, we found the tarp covering the field.  No batting pratice.

It was about 5:20 at the time.  Because we did not have “season ticket” tickets, we were stuck in CF until 5:30.  So we couldn’t go over to the third base foul line where Ichiro was running sprints in the outfield and a couple of Mariners were playing catch.

After about 2 minutes in the seats, Jesus Colome came out to centerfield to grab two baseballs that were sitting out there in the grass.  There were a bunch of O’s fans in the first 2 rows of the seats and we were hanging back in about the 10th row.  Colome saw us and yelled to get our attention.  He then proceeded to throw one of the baseballs nowhere near us.  Seriously, while looking me straight in the eye, he managed to throw the ball about 30 feet to our left and about 7 rows below us.  One of the O’s fans grabbed it as it ricocheted off some seats.  Colome yelled, “Sorry!” and patted himself on the chest as if to say, “my bad.”

Oh, well.

About 2 minutes later, something incredibly cool happened.  I’m going to save the complete story for later, but here is the abbreviated version.

Ryan Rowland-Smith came walking through the outfield on his way to the bullpen…


1a - RRS intended route.jpg…in that picture, Tim and I were standing at the “T&T” (Tim was on my shoulders) and I noticed Rowland-Smith as he was walking at the “RRS.”  The yellow line shows the route he was intending to walk to the Mariners bullpen.

Background Fact No. 1:  Last season in Toronto, we met RRS and he threw a baseball to Tim (twice) so Tim could catch it himself in his glove.

Background Fact No. 2:  Over the off-season, I wrote a letter to RRS to (among other things) thank him for being so kind to us in Toronto, and I included with the letter the picture my wife snapped of us with RRS.

Background Fact No. 3:  I follow RRS on Twitter where it had recently been implied that he buzzed his hair.  Check him out @hyphen18.

So, as he approached the OF wall, I yelled out, “Hey, Ryan, let’s see the new hair!”

He laughed and (without looking over) took off his hat to show me his buzz-cut.  Then, as he went through the door in the OF gate, he looked over at me and…

1b - RRS actual route.jpg…exclaimed, “Oh, hey, Man!” as he pointed at me.  He immediately changed courses (follow the new yellow line above) and came over to chat with us.

I was thinking, “Wow, RRS really likes seeing Mariners fans on the road!”  But as he approached, he said, “You wrote me that letter, right?”

To put it mildly, I couldn’t believe it!  I wrote him a letter months earlier about an interaction in Toronto and IMMEDIATELY upon seeing us in Baltimore (totally out of context), he recognized us and came right over to chat.

Here he is standing below us…

2 - hyphen18.JPG…and, to once again put it mildly, he came over to chat about something incredibly, amazingly, ridiculously awesome.  That’s what I’ll save for later.  For now, I will just note that we made plans to meet up later in the season about something I asked him in my letter.  Also, I must note that RRS is officially one of the most fan-friendly, coolest dudes ever to wear a major league baseball uniform…hands down.

After chatting with RRS, we waited five more minutes for the rest of the stadium to open (by which point Ichiro was gone), and then we headed over toward the Mariners dugout.  And guess who we ran into…

2 - tim and RRS 5-11-10.JPG…you got it:  Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith.  Although Tim looks sorta “ho-hum’ish” in this picture, its not because he wasn’t happy to get his picture with RRS.  It was because he was standing on top of a wet brick wall and he was scared he was going to fall off.  RRS is holding him from behind to keep him steady.

We chatted for another minute or two with RRS.  And he noticed the T-Shirt I was wearing under my jersey.  It was a special shirt that Griffey made for his Mariners teammates during spring training.  You can read about it (and how my mom got her hands on one of them during spring training) in our entry Griffey the Prankster.  I told RRS that I had my mom send to shirt to me so I could wear it to this game to see if I could manage to get my picture with Griff.  However, due to the SleepGate scandal (that had just broken the day before), RRS didn’t think Griff would be out on the field at all before the game.

A few minutes later, I saw Ichiro pop out of the M’s dugout with a bat and walk over to the O’s dugout/clubhouse entrance.  So we headed over to the O’s dugout and confirmed with an usher that the M’s would be taking BP in cages back by the O’s clubhouse.

We said hi to most of the guys as they headed over to take BP…

3 - guity and lopez.jpg…Lopez said “Hi” to us, but Guti did not.   Speaking of Franklin, check out his pant legs before and after hitting.

Adam Moore said hi to us too:

5 - adam moore to cages.jpg

Here is Figgy and a coach, Sweeney and M’s PR guy Tim Hevly (they were talking about SleepGate!)…

4 - figgy tim hevly sweeney wak griff.jpg…Don Wakamatsu said hello to us, and Ken Griffey, Jr. did too.  Unfortunately, that’s the best picture I got of Griff.  As he approached, he saw my T-shirt and he said something to me that I couldn’t understand…something odd like, “Oh, so that’s what’s going on here.”  In response, I mentioned that he’d given the shirt to my mom at spring training and asked if we could get a picture.   He responded as if it was a possibility, but said he had to go hit first.  Of course, by the time he finished batting, there were 50 people standing by the dugout.  By that point, we decided there was no chance Griff would stop on his way back to the M’s clubhouse so we left to get something to eat.

There was a little raining falling at this point, so we retreated to Section 49…

6 - camden section 49 last row panorama.jpg…and dug into a big pile on nachos:

7 - nachos and movement star.jpgAs we enjoyed our nachos, Mike Sweeney started playing catch with his first basemens glove…

8 - sweeney with 1-bag glove.jpg…but he didn’t play first (or at all) in this game.

After our nachos, we headed over to the bullpen to watch Cliff Lee warm up.  Here he is on his walk to the bullpen:

9 - cliff lee to bullpen.jpgAnd here is the view from the seats right next to the bullpen in section 86:

10 - camden section 86 by visitors bullpen panorama.jpgAfter Cliff Lee left the bullpen, the relievers huddled together like they do before every game…

11 - wet bullpen.jpg…and when they broke apart David Aardsma pointed at me and said to his colleagues, “Look at that guys shirt!”  They all got a kick out of seeing a fan wearing one of Griffey’s prank shirts.

By the way, our buddy Jason Phillips is in that blurry picture and he is the guy seated closest to Tim in the picture to the right.  It was nice seeing him again.  We exchanged a few words several times throughout the day.  Its good to have him in the M’s bullpen again this season.

We continued sitting by the bullpen during the first inning, but then it started raining again.  We took refuge under cover over by where we’d eaten our nachos.  And I got some pictures of Griffey batting in the third inning…

12 - griff in third 5-11-10.jpg…he ultimately popped out to LF.

And I got some pictures of Ichiro, also batting in the third inning…

13 - ichi in third 5-11-10.jpg…he grounded out to the pitcher.

I took tons of pictures (using my wife’s camera with a sequence feature) of Cliff Lee:

14 - cliff lee motion and josh wilson grounder.jpgOn this pitch, the batter (I think Miguel Tejada) grounded out to Josh Wilson at short stop.

We got some random defensive shots: 

15 - random fielding.jpgAfter it stopped raining, we headed out to the standing room area in RF…

16 - seed boats.jpg…where Tim asked for sunflower seeds to make “seed sail boats” in a puddle.

I had to get Tim out of the standing room area pretty quick.  It was covered with huge puddles and Tim wanted to jump in every single one.  I was envisioning his little toes freezing later in the game inside wet socks.

So, we headed out to the concourse and got an ice cream helmet and a hot chocolate.  We grabbed some ice cream seats in section 10 down the 1B foul line:

17 - ICH hot choco and avi.jpgPictured at the back of the photo is a guy named Avi who we met before the game.  In addition to going to tons of O’s games, Avi reads our blog (and writes one of his own).  Thanks, Avi!  It was great meeting you.

Here is the view from our ice cream seats in section 10:

18 - camden section 10 panorama.jpgAt this point (the fifth inning), the score was 0-0 and Cliff Lee had given up only 3 hits.

Ryan Langerhans broke the scoreless tie with a lead off homerun in the fifth.  Later in the inning, the M’s scored again when Chone Figgins drew a bases loaded walk.

Here is a shot of Griff hitting in the sixth inning:

19 - griff in sixth 5-11-10.jpgGriff eventually drew a walk and came around to score.  After six innings, the Mariners led the Orioles 5-0.

From our ice cream seats, we had a great view of Ichiro in RF.  In these pictures, Ichi is playing catch between innings with Franklin Gutierrez.

20 - ichiro warms.jpgClick on that picture to see it full-sized.   In the picture to the left, the rotation of the seems on the ball look pretty cool.

Here is Tim after finishing off his ice cream and hot chocolate:

22 - ice cream seats and happy.jpgHe absolutely loved the hot chocolate.

As we sat in section 10, I noticed the same guy catch two foul balls straight behind home plate.  I decided he should go over there.  However, when we arrived behind home plate, we noticed that the ushers were essentially taking the night off.  Although there were ushers all around, they were letting people stand in the aisle and sit anywhere they wanted.  So, after an usher took our picture…

21 - classic camden yards cool tim.jpg…we headed down behind the M’s dugout to see if we could get a third out baseball.  We never did.  But we got some great up close views of our Mariners.  Here is Ichiro about to hit a double…


23 - Ichi 2B and to third.jpg…and about to be stranded on third base in the 7th inning.

And when we got home, I noticed that we’d been on TV while we were sitting in the third row behind Franklin Gutierrez:

24 - behind guity.JPGAfter Griff’s final at bat in the 8th inning…

25 - griff in the eighth 5-11-10.jpg… the crowd gave Griff a warm ovation on his way back to the dugout (it was a fly out to CF (or maybe a deep 2B or SS)).

We’d been sitting in the third row, but between innings Tim would stand in the first row above the dugout…so I snapped this picture of him:

26 - front row.JPG…and in the 8th or 9th inning, we decided to just take the seats up there in the first row.  It was crazy how empty the seats were.

Here was the view from the first row:

27 - camden section 52 row 1 panorama.jpgAfter giving up only one run and 8 hits in 7.1 innings…

28 - cliff lee exits in 8th 5-11-10.JPG…we cheered Cliff Lee as he left the game in the bottom of the 8th inning.  This was his first win as a Mariner.

Ichiro hit another single in the 9th inning…

29 - ichiro bats in the 9th 5-11-10.JPG…but once again he was stranded on base.

 It was raining very lightly, so Tim wore my glove has a mask/umbrella…

30 - shield on.jpg…which he thought was a great fun.

I mentioned already we didn’t get a third out ball.  Oddly, however, we did get a second out ball!  Here Tim is with his first ever game used ball (well, it is possible that one of the umpire balls he’s gotten has been game used, but we *know* this one was used in the game):

31 - 26th out bottom 9th 5-11-10.JPGWith one out in the bottom of the ninth and Brandon League pitching, Matt Wieters grounded out to Ryan Langerhans at first base.  Langerhans tagged Wieters for the 26th out of the game and then threw the ball around the horn.  Somehow, the around the horn attempt failed.  I’m not sure what happened.   I think that Figgins threw the ball in the dirt to Jose Lopez and it got wet or dirty.  For whatever reason, Lopez rolled the ball into foul territory.  It ultimately came to rest right in front of us.

We were the only people in the first row behind the Mariners dugout.  We were wearing all Mariners gear.  Tim’s a cute kid.  The ball was directly in front of us.  It seemed almost like we were guaranteed to get the ball.  And we did.  An unidentified Mariner reached over the railing/netting and grabbed the ball off of the warning track, turned around and flipped it right to me.

Maybe two minute later, the Mariners won the game by a final score of 5-1.  And Ichi victoriously ran off of the soggy field after high fiving his teammates:

32 - ichi and mariners win.JPGThe grounds crew immediately started to put the tarp back on the field:

33 - camden section 52 row 1 rain tarp panorama.jpgOur friend, MLBlogger, and Baseball Collector extraordinaire, Zack Hample, was at the game.  We’d spent some time with him during pre-game and then met up again after the game.  As the Mariners bullpen headed to the dugout, Jesus Colome flipped a ball to Zack and John Wetteland bestowed a second baseball on me and Tim.

Moments later, Zack’s buddy Brandon captured this photo of me, Tim, and Zack:

34 - fist bump reunion.JPGre-make of a picture we got moments after we met Zack in person for the first time last season — at the memorable Randy Johnson 300th win rainout “game.”  After this photo, Tim and I walked to our parking garage with Zack and Brandon (on their way to their hotel).

It was a great first Mariners game of the season that included (i) a much needed Mariners win, (ii) Cliff Lee’s first win as a Mariner (and his first since the 2009 World Series), (iii) two memorable meetings with Ryan Rowland-Smith, (iv) fun interactions with several players about the Griffey prank shirt, (v) meeting up with some cool MLBloggers, and (vi) Tim’s first game-used baseball.

I already cannot wait to see the Mariners again…next month in San Diego on the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010!  See you there, Mariners! 

2010 Fan Stats:


35 - two baseballs 5-11-10.JPG5 Games

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

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

15 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)

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

4 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)

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

Ice Cream Helmets & Blue Jays in Baltimore (4-10-10)

It was not a hoaxIce Cream Helmets have finally arrived at Camden Yards:

1 - orioles ice cream helmet at camden yards.jpgAnd on April 10, 2010, so did Tim and I.

From the back of the “backpack” line, this was our first view into this modern yet classic ballpark:

2 - eutaw street backpack line.jpgTim really matured last season to the point where I feel comfortable arriving early for batting practice.  So that is just what we did.  We arrived just as the gates opened.  But, like the other non-season ticket holders (or people who bought “season” tickets on the secondary market), we were stuck in the CF bleachers and the RF flag plaza until the rest of the stadium opened at 5:30.

Here is a (good of Tim and bad of me) self-portrait as we watch out over the Orioles portion of BP.

3 - first BP of 2010.jpgWe ran around a little on Eutaw Street, but mostly hung out in the CF bleachers before the rest of the stadium opened.  But Tim, still at only 4 years (not even 4.5 yet), is still too small for me to feel very comfortable in an active BP homerun zone.

At this point, we’re more of the watch-it-from-down-the-baseline type of guys.  So the second the main part of the stadium opened, we headed toward the 3B side.   I was hoping to run into newly traded former-Mariner Brandon Morrow, who I wanted to thank for his 3 years or service and wish him good luck in Toronto.  But he had pitched the night before and we never even saw him on the field at this game.

One of my goals for this season is to try to get more pictures with players.  I’m not a big autograph guy.  But I like to get in an autograph line by a dugout and ask for a picture when we get to the front.   A Brandon Morrow picture was top priority, but it didn’t work out.

As we circled around home plate, I saw Cito Gaston signing autographs at the home plate end of the Jays’ dugout.  We headed over there.  But he stopped just as we were about 20 feet away and he started walking toward the the batting cage.

I called out, “CITO!”

And when he spun and looked at us (Tim was up on my shoulders looking cute as a button, no doubt), I pointed to a baseball laying on the ground a couple feet from the Jays’ manager and I asked something to the effect of, “Anyway, my boy can get that ball?”   And here is how it played out…

4 - cito gaston diagram.jpgAs I called out “CITO!”, we were at the beginning of the red arrow and he was approaching the “O” in “Opening” painted on the grass.  The ball was on the ground where pictured.  As he approached the ball and it was obvious he was getting the baseball for us, we were standing at the red “X.”  One problem, there was a big screen in front of us.  So we walked down to the end of the screen and I leaned out and bent my glove arm around the screen in a basket for him to set the ball into.  After picking up the ball, he walked about 3 feet toward us and then threw it.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to catch it leaning over with Tim on my shoulders and my arm bent around the screen, but it all worked out perfectly.  And just like that, we were in business for 2010.  One baseball.

Thanks, Cito!

Often times, Tim wants to go explore after we get a baseball.  He likes to leave the rest for other people.  But today, he was so excited he yelled, “Let’s try to get another baseball!”

So we headed off toward the group of Jays pitchers down the 3B line in the outfield.  I was still looking for Brandon Morrow.  As we passed 3B, Edwin Encarnacion…

5 - edwin encarnacion.jpg…was fielding grounders — not fungo grounders, BP hitter grounders.  As we passed him, he sat back on his heals and butchered a hot grounder smoked off of the bat of one of his teammates.  I shouted out, “Edwin, that ball is no good.  We’ll take it!”  He threw the ball over toward the bucket and then turned and looked at us.  He gave the “hold on a minute” finger, which is always a good sign to get from a MLB player.

A few minutes later, he fielded a ball, turned and fired it to me, and we had our second baseball of the season, and last of BP.  It was time to explore.

Thanks, Edwin!

I have taken a lot of panoramas of Camden Yards — see here — but almost all of them (or better yet, all of them), are from various spots on the right side of the diamond – CF bleachers, 1B foul, behind home plate.  Nothing in LF or the 3B line.  So that is where we headed.

 Tim led the way through the seats in the sections above cross aisle that rings the field level seats at Camden Yards…

6 - exploring sections 77 and 87.jpg…our first stop was Section 77, Row 1, Seat 1:

7 - camden sec 77 row 1 seat 1 panorama.jpgNext, Tim walked the back row all the way out to section 87, the last section before the bullpens.  Then he came down to the first row, where I took this beauty at Section 87, Row 1, Seat 16:

8 - camden sec 87 row 1 seat 16 panorama.jpgBetween the field, the bullpens, the ivy on the batters eye and the Warehouse, this is one of my favorite panoramas that I’ve taken at any ballpark.

Next, it was time for a very, very special treat.  He headed out to the concourse and walked behind third base where a stadium attendant took this picture of a very happy father and son team:

9 - birds helmets spotted.jpgYes!  Orioles ice cream helmets at Camden Yards!  In case you are new here, read this and this to see why we were so excited.  I do not have confirmation that our grassroots campaign had anything to do with getting ice cream helmets at Camden Yards, but my guess is that it did.  A lot of really cool people helped me on the mission and I think it was hard for the Orioles to ignore the people.  Power to the people!

We enjoyed the spoils of victory from our ice cream seats along the 3B line, right about where Encarnacion tossed us a baseball about 1/2 an hour before.

Here’s an excited boy with his first ice cream helmet of the season and first ever at this ballpark:
10 - ice cream helmet at camden yards.jpgTim set his on the wall and savored it as we watched more batting practice…

11 - first orioles ice cream helmet at camden yards.jpg…it was  a great way to relax before the game.

I wanted to get a special picture to commemorate this special occassion…

12 - ice cream helmet collection.jpg…so I brought one helmet from each team at whose home stadium Tim and I have had the pleasure of enjoying an ice cream helmet.  I tried to do an ice cream helmet panorama, but it didn’t come out right.  So I cut the bottom row of helmets out of the two side pictures and put them along the bottom of what was supposed to be the middle picture in the panorama.  Still, I like how it came out

Its a good collection that I look forward to adding onto this season.

All sugared up, it was time for Tim to get some pre-game exercise.  Off to the play area…

13 - bouncyhouse bouncyhitter.jpgThe wood play fort the Orioles have had for (at least) the past several seasons was gone.  So was the pitching station.  But the bouncy house was still there and it was joined by a air blowing batting Tee that Tim loved.  We went back several times throughout the game for more bouncing and more hitting.

After our first round at the play area, we headed out to RCF and bought tickets for four more Orioles games — including two Mariners games, a Red Sox game, and a White Sox game.

Then it was up several excalators into the upper deck for more exploring and panorama picture taking.  Here is the view from the cross-aisle behind section 378:

14 - camden sec 378 cross aisle behind row 5.jpgAnd several sections over — the true “corner” where seat angles turn from infield to outfield seats, here is the view from the cross-aisle behind section 374:

15 - camden sec 374 and 372 cross aisle.jpgWe headed up the corner aisle and found ourselves on top of the world as the game finally started.  Tim (and Woody from Toy Story) cheered on the players and Tim proclaimed…

16 - 374 back row fan.jpg…”I can see the whole baseball game from up here!”

The upper deck seats at Camden Yards really go provide a great view — from anywhere in the park.

We continued to explore by walking around the top row of the stadium from the LF corner to a little passed first base.  And I took some action shots along the way.

Is it just me or does it look like Vernon Wells…

17 - Vernon Wells earning his keep.jpg…is wearing pajama pants?

By the way, we were around section 350 when we took those shots of Wells.  And a little closer to home plate when I captured this ugly swing by Lyle Overbay:

18 - Overbay takes an ugly hack.jpgSpeaking of section 350, here is the view from its back row:

19 - camden sec 350 back row panorama.jpgTim, whose nose and cheeks were a little red from (along with me) waging a battle with seasonal allergies all last week, gave our stadium tour a thumbs up…

20 - 2010 thumbs up.jpg…and with that, we decided to get hot dogs and march out to the RF foul seats to sit in the sun.

On the way, former Mariner Adam Jones hit this pitch to LCF for the second out in the bottom of the first:

21 - adam jones and miguel tejada.jpg…and while we enjoyed our hot dogs, Miguel Tejada (I think that’s Tejada, correct me if you think I’m wrong) grounded out to the start the bottom of the second inning.

Here was the view from our hot dog seats in Section 310:

22 - camden sec 310 panorama.jpgWhile up there, Tim showed off the baseballs we got during BP…

23 - first baseballs of 2010.jpg1) Cito Gaston and 2) Edwin Encarnacion.  Thanks again, guys.

We sat up here until the fourth and it was 0-0 at that point.  We then went to bounce and hit a little more.  While we were gone, the Blue Jays scored the first run of the game (and the winning run) on a bases loaded Hit by Pitch.  Interestingly, the O’s intentionally walked Travis Snider to load the bases so they could then serve up a bean-ball to Jose Molina.

After bouncing and hitting, we headed to the flag courtyard where we witnessed the ugliest scene we’ve ever witnessed (close up at least) at a ball game, and definitely the ugliest ever at Camden Yards:

24 - non-Camden Yardish behavior.jpgTwo groups of drunks got into a huge brawl.  There were knuckle-sandwiches handed out left and right, people thrown to the ground, and at least one lady who jumped in to try to break it up got pushed out of the way so more knuckle-sandwiches could be administered.

This fight was by far the lowlight, but all in all, this was the absolute worst crowd I have ever seen at Camden Yards.  I attribute it to the game being the first weekend night game of the season.  The hooligans in town who probably aren’t real O’s fans came out because of the novelty of baseball being back, and they were loud, rude, obnoxious and drunk.  Again, not just these guy.  These guys just took it the extra step, which hopefully landed them in the back of a paddywagon…I don’t know because I snapped a couple pictures and then got Tim the heck outta there.

Forced out of our beloved standing room area, we landed in the seats down the 1B line.  Excellent seats where we stayed maybe two innings.

Somehow, maybe during the fight or maybe during a bathroom break, the Jays scored again and we missed it again.  And, interesting, again it involved an intentional walk to Travis Snider to load the bases for Jose Molina.  This time Molina hit an RBI single.

In the seventh, I took this shot of Adam Lind…

25 - Adam Lind in the seventh.jpg…who grounded out harmlessly.

In the bottom of the 8th or top of the 9th, we landed here, in some of the best foul ball seats around…

27 - first game last seats.jpgNothing came our way, but the picture taking was excellent.  Here, Jose Bautista pops out to catcher:

26 - Jose Bautista pops out to Wieters.jpgAnd on this pitch, I said to Tim, “Do you think he will hit a home run?” (“he” being Adam Lind).  He didn’t.  But he did drive the pitch into the gap for an RBI double:

28 - Adam Linds 9th inning RBI double.jpg…that’s one of the best action shots I’ve ever got between the hit ball captured in the air, Wieters jumping up to try to snag the ball and throw out the would be base-stealer, the runner advancing, etc., etc.

Before the bottom of the 9th, we got our classic Camden Yards behind home plate photo — taken by a nice usher whose wife just bought my same camera and loves it:

29 - TJCs classic Camden Yards pose behind plate.jpg

30a - Joe West.jpgAll there was left to do was attempt to get a nice rubbed up baseball from the umpire after the final out, a trick we learned last season from the “The Baseball Collector” himself, Zack Hample.  We got 3 umpire balls in 2009 and it is a great way to end a great day at the ballpark.

The home plate umpire was 31-year umpiring veteran, Joe West.

Camden Yards is the most relaxed ballpark in the world.  The ushers typically don’t care about anything.   But the guy in the bright orange jacket two or three pictures up wouldn’t let us go down and take one of the many, many empty seats all around the umpire tunnel.  If he’s let us go down, it was almost a guaranteed umpire ball.  But it was a no go, so we decided to head out to RF to watch the bottom of the 9th from there before making our way to our car.  But on the way out there, we decided to hit the rest room.  And then we decided to fill-up Tim’s water bottle.  We were in the outer concourse behind 1B, but none of the water fountains were working.  So we kept walking to the next fountain. 

Once we finally found a working fountain, we filled up Tim’s water bottle and headed back into the stadium to walk to RF on the inner cross aisle.  But, little did we know, we were right back behind home plate again…but on the other side of the umpires tunnel.  The usher over there was letting tons of people stand in the aisle, so we stood with them.

Down to the O’s final out, Nolan Reimold hit a towering pop-fly to short stop.  That’s exactly the kind of final out you want, something (other than a strike out) that requires the umpire to stay at home plate.  We were off with the crack of the bat. 

We had to weave in and out of a few fans making their way up the stairs.  But we reached the tunnel at the same time as Joe West.  He gave baseballs to two little kids on the other side of the tunnel.  I asked him if he had one to spare for Tim.  He nodded and started to reach toward me.  I extended my glove.  Then he thought better of himself, denied my glove, reached high and gave it directly to Tim.   An excellent move by Mr. West.  That’s what 31-years experience will do for a guy.

Thank you, Joe West!

And thank you to the nice family whose daughter captured our post game celebration, complete with “Woody” from Toy Story:

30 - Thank You Joe West.jpg
On a final sad note, my normal “gamer” green cargo shorts are going to have to be retired.  As you can see in that last picture, they tore wide open exposing the inside of my right front pocket to the world.  This leave me in quite a bind as I have to decide upon a replacement pair by next weekend.  These shorts have been my main game shorts (and bowling shorts) since 2007.  They will be missed.

2010 Fan Stats:

1 Game

2 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays)

1 Ice Cream Helmet (Orioles)

3 Baseballs (2 Blue Jays, 1 Umpire)

1 Stadium (Camden Yards)

Outstanding News from Baltimore

You may recall that Tim and I started a grassroots campaign to bring Ice Cream Helmets (a food receptacle near and dear to our hearts) to Camden Yards (a stadium near and dear to our hearts as well).

20 - Camden Yards BYOICH.jpg

Tim enjoys a Mariners Ice Cream Helmet that we brought with us to Camden Yards in ’09.

For several months, we have planned to start our 2010 campaign in Baltimore at tomorrow’s game between the Blue Jays and Orioles — just like we ended last season.

For so many reasons, we have been excited for this game.  But my excitement quadrupled this afternoon when my wife forwarded the following email (from her friend) to me at work:

Thought you and Todd would like to see the email I got from Camden Yards:
 
Dear Ms. Werner, Thank you for contacting the Orioles. The Orioles are pleased to have ice cream helmets available at Camden Yards this season, sponsored by Carvel. They can be found at Carvel stands located around the ballpark. We look forward to seeing you at the Yard! 

Sincerely,
Carey Paytas
Communications Assistant
Baltimore Orioles

 

To say that I was excited would be a huge understatement.  I checked my own personal email account on my cellphone and found this waiting for me:

Dear Mr. Cook,

Thank you for contacting the Orioles.

The Orioles are pleased to have ice cream helmets available at Camden Yards this season, sponsored by Carvel. They can be found at Carvel stands located around the ballpark. We look forward to seeing you at the Yard!

Sincerely,
Carey Paytas
Communications Assistant
Baltimore Orioles

All I could say was, “YES!  YES!  YES!  YES!  YES!…HISTORY!!!!”

A Perfect Email!

But that wasn’t it.  I had an email from a certain Texas Baseball Fan, Brian Powell (who will get the privilege of seeing my Mariners beat his Rangers this weekend — hopefully):

 

Just received this email today! Good news for you!

— On Fri, 4/9/10, Orioles Customer Service <birdmail@orioles.com> wrote:

From: Orioles Customer Service <birdmail@orioles.com>
Subject: RE: bal – Other – None – Ice Cream Helmets
To: “Brian Powell”
Date: Friday, April 9, 2010, 3:59 PM

Dear Mr. Powell,
Thank you for contacting the Orioles.
The Orioles are pleased to have ice cream helmets available at Camden Yards this season, sponsored by Carvel. They can be found at Carvel stands located around the ballpark. We look forward to seeing you at the Yard!
Sincerely,
Carey Paytas
Communications Assistant
Baltimore Orioles
 

 

 Via a blog comment, word came in from Hawaii too:

Todd (PA)

Your efforts may have paid off for #18 -

Just got this e-mail this 15 minutes ago —-
Thank you for contacting the Orioles.
The Orioles are pleased to have ice cream helmets available at Camden Yards this season, sponsored by Carvel. They can be found at Carvel stands located around the ballpark. We look forward to seeing you at the Yard!
Sincerely,
Carey Paytas
Communications Assistant
Baltimore Orioles — Todd (HI)

 

My father-in-law had good news to report too:

 WE DID IT!!!!!!!

 
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: “Orioles Customer Service” <birdmail@orioles.com>
To: Kevin
Sent: Friday, April 9, 2010 4:59:41 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: RE: Ice Cream Helmets

Dear Fan,

Thank you for contacting the Orioles.

The Orioles are pleased to have ice cream helmets available at Camden Yards this season, sponsored by Carvel. They can be found at Carvel stands located around the ballpark. We look forward to seeing you at the Yard!

Sincerely,
Carey Paytas
Communications Assistant
Baltimore Orioles

The West Coast got into the action too:
 
Todd & Tim:

I saw your blog and figured I’d forward my notification, too!  Great work–power to the people.  :-)

~Matt

PS  Hope to see you when you’re in CA in June.

Matthew Jackson


Subject: RE: bal – Other – None – Ice Cream Helmets
Date: Fri, 9 Apr 2010 16:59:54 -0400
From: birdmail@orioles.com
To:
Matt Jackson

Dear Mr. Jackson,
Thank you for contacting the Orioles.
The Orioles are pleased to have ice cream helmets available at Camden Yards this season, sponsored by Carvel. They can be found at Carvel stands located around the ballpark. We look forward to seeing you at the Yard!
Sincerely,
Carey Paytas
Communications Assistant
Baltimore Orioles

(We hope to see you too, Matt.  Thanks for your help!)
 

 

So, you know what?  The people spoke and the Orioles listened!

How cool is it that this person’s job today was to email us this message.  I imagine a staff meeting this morning at Camden Yards:  Boss says, “Now, Carey, I want you to email these Ice Cream Helmet people and let them know the good news.  We’ll have Ice Cream Helmets for them this season!”  Carey responds, “No problem, boss.  But I have to finish that other project first.  I will email them this afternoon prior to the start of the game.  Don’t worry, everyone will know the good news!”

A huge, huge “thank you” to each and every person who helped out with this cause.  My solo comments to the O’s fan assistance office (which is staffed with a bevy of kind and helpful personnel) and emails to the O’s over the past several seasons couldn’t do the trick.  It took a team effort.  It took the help of people like Brian, Todd (HI), my wife’s friend, my father-in-law, and all of the folks who emailed the O’s or commented on the ‘Project Baltimore” entry.

Unless this is a huge and cruel hoax, Tim and I will be enjoying some chocolate ice cream in shiny new O’s ice cream helmets tomorrow.  We will report back with all of the details.

Big thanks and respect to the Orioles for addressing this important issue.  We are officially pulling for the O’s to win the AL East in 2010!

I’ll leave you with something unrelated (but related).  A glimpse into what Tim and I will do tomorrow morning before heading down to Baltimore in the afternoon:

Satellite Views of our 2010 Season

Over the past several months, I have slowly been planning our 2010 season.  Like in 2009, Tim and I will visit 13 MLB stadiums (with an outside, but very unlikely, chance that we’ll hit a 14th stadium).  I have many of our games planned out and tickets secured.   Other games are tentatively planned, but still uncertain.  Whatever the order and whatever the actual games end up being, we will definitely make it to each of the following stadiums (as seen via Google Earth and Bing satellite views).

Like in 2008 and 2009, we plan to begin our 2010 season at our second favorite stadium:

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

1 - Camden Yards satellite.jpg

Next, we’ll stick in the region.  Our second game of 2010 will be at:

Nationals Park

2 - Nationals Park satellite.jpg

Next, we’ll be off to the Big Apple for a game at:

Citi Field

3 - Citi Field satellite.jpg

FYI, I couldn’t find any satellite views of Queens post-Shea.  Therefore, I cut out Shea’s infield and guestimated where Citi Field’s infield now lies.  I could be totally off, but I think the Jackie Robinson Rotunda takes up a lot of space under my red arrow.

Okay, since originally posting this, I found a different type of arial view on Bing.com.  Here you go:

 

3a - Citi Field satellite.jpgNext, we’ll be sticking closer to home for a very special game at:

Citizens Bank Park

4 - Citizens Bank Park satellite.jpgNext, we enter a period of uncertainty.  We’ll probably be back at Camden Yards and Citizen Bank Park before hitting any new stadiums.  I think the next stadium we visit will be on the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.  Our first game on the roadtrip will be at:

Oakland-Alameda County Colesium

5 - Oakland-Alameda County Colesium satellite.jpgFrom Oakland, we will drive to Los Angeles for a game at the only MLB stadium in the City or County of Los Angeles:

Dodger Stadium

6 - Dodger Stadium satellite.jpgFrom L.A., we will continue down the coast for a couple games at:

Petco Park

7 - Petco Park satellite.jpgOn the way back up, we will next visit the site of my personal MLB debut:

Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Not Los Angeles)

8 - Angel Stadium of Anaheim satellite.jpgFinally, we will wrap up the roadtrip at:

AT&T Park

9 - AT&T Park satellite.jpgAfter the Roadtrip, we will again enter a period of uncertainty.  Again, I predict more games at Citizens Bank Park and/or Camden Yards before hitting any new parks.  The next new park we will visit after the roadtrip will almost certainly be:

Progressive Field

10 - Progressive Field satellite.jpgShortly after visiting Progressive Field, we will again visit the site of Tim’s Third Baseball Anniversary game:

Yankee Stadium

11 - Yankee Stadium satellite.jpgAgain, I could not find a satellite view that shows the current Yankee Stadium.  So, I cut out the infield of now demonlished 1923 version and pasted it roughly where I estimate the infield lies in the current Yankee Stadium.

Like Citi Field, since posting this entry, I have now found a different view on Bing.com that shows Yankee Stadium (2009):

 

11a - Yankee Stadium satellite.jpgOnly two stadiums to go.  While we conceivably could visit the next stadium early in the season, most likely we won’t make it to Pittsburgh until Septembe for a couple games at:

PNC Park

12 - PNC Park satellite.jpgLast, but certainly not least, we will end our season with our Mariners at our favorite ball park in all the land:

Safeco Field

13 - Safeco Field satellite.jpg

And there you have it, the stadiums that Tim and I will visit in 2010.  I had originally wanted to spend the 4th of July weekend in Detroit to see the Mariners play at Comerica Park.  But that just isn’t going to happen…and I highly doubt we will make it to Comerica at any point this season.  Maybe next year.

One comment about these satellite views.  I did not rotate any of the stadiums.  Therefore, you can see that home plate at all of these stadiums except one point to the northeast.  The sole exception is PNC Park which points to the southeast.  I thought that was an interesting part of seeing all of these satellite views.

I can’t wait to get out to there and visit some of our favorite ballparks again, and several ballparks we have never visited before.

“Play Ball!”

United For Ice Cream Helmets: Project Baltimore

Today, we become ice cream activists.  This is a call to arms, a grassroots movement.

The Mission:  Convince the Baltimore Orioles to offer Ice Cream Helmets.

The Plan:  Get as many people as possible to email the Orioles to request Ice Cream Helmets at Camden Yards in 2010.  To do so, click here, here or here.

The Backstory:

Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a true jewel of MLB.  If you have never been there, you are missing out.  It is a must see experience.  So book your trip now.

But the good people of Camden Yards have gone without ice cream helmets long enough.  These are good and honest people, fans of the game of baseball.  But they just ate a delicious BBQ sandwich at Boog’s BBQ with a side of baked beans, and now they need dessert.  It is an extremely hot summer night with 85% humidity.  Only ice cream will do the trick.

This is where things go horribly wrong.  There are no ice cream helmets to be found.  Not one in the entire stadium.  Fans are forced to buy ice cream on a popsicle stick, or in a plastic bowl or a stryrofoam cup.

These alternatives give temporary relief inasmuch as ice cream is delivered.  But then it is gone, and the bowls and wrappers become garbage cluttering our landfills.  Plus, there is no souvenir to take home to remember your day at the ballpark.

Now, let’s look at the alternative: 

20 - Camden Yards BYOICH.jpg

We brought our own Mariners ice cream helmet to our final game of 2009.  Tim can’t get enough of it.  But look, there is more.  Look how happy the lady behind Tim is to see Tim enjoying ice cream the way it should be enjoyed at the ballpark?

Why Ice Cream Helmets, you ask?

For many reasons.  First, they are the “green” alternative.  Instead of becoming garbage, they become collectibles:

helmets and balls part 2.jpgDid you know that when we brought our Mariners ice cream helmet and had it filled at Camden Yards, they made us take a styrofoam cup, just to be thrown away.  They needed it to be gone so they could keep track of inventory.  Sorry, mother earth.

Second, not only are they collectibles on their own, they also provide an excellent canvas for the autograph of your favorite player, as shown by MLBlog’s Howie on his blog (scroll down for a picture of an autographed Mets ice cream helmet).

Third, they provide a roadmap of the ballparks you have visited:

helmets and balls.JPG

Tim and I have been to 18 stadiums (16 teams when you factor in that we have been to both Shea Stadium/Citi Field, and Old/New Yankee Stadium), and we have ice cream helmets from all but Camden Yards.

FYI, the last two pictures were taken before we visited Rogers Centre:

30 - blue jays ice cream helmet.jpgFourth, they are handy to have around.  Tim eats something (crackers, cereal, you name it) out of an ice cream helmet almost every single day.

So What Can We Do About It?  That is the big question.  In 2009, we emailed the Orioles a couple times suggesting that they add ice cream helmets to the mix.  We received this response: 

Dear Mr. Cook,

Thank you for contacting the Orioles.
 
We appreciate your suggestion, and I have forwarded your message along to Aramark, our concessionaire.
 
Sincerely,
 
Communications Assistant
Baltimore Orioles

 ————————————————

Obviously, it didn’t work.  So, we made another effort today at the Orioles’ “help” page:

Dear Orioles:

Will Camden Yards have ice cream helmets in 2010?

Please see this (at the bottom of the page):  http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/09/so-tim-likes-to-eat.html

Camden Yards is still the only stadium of 18 visited where we have been unable to get an ice cream helmet.

Let’s fix this problem in 2010!

By the way, I know a guy who got an Orioles ice cream helmet at the ballpark in Arlington in 2009!  Don’t let Texas be the only place that offers Orioles ice cream helmets!

————————————————

That brings up a good point, did you realize that in 2009, you could get an Orioles’ ice cream helmet at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  Check it out on Brian Powell’s blog.

So, the plan?  I’d like to invite as many people as possible to join with us in letting the Orioles know that the public wants ice cream helmets at Camden Yards!  You can do so by clicking here, here or here.

If you are interested in joining the cause, we have a couple suggestions.  If you’re from the Baltimore area and frequent Camden Yards, let the Orioles know you are a fan and think ice cream helmets would help enhance the already great baseball experience that Camden Yards provides.

If you are from elsewhere, let them know where you are from and let them know if your home team has ice cream helmets.  I don’t know if it is the case, but if it is I’d love to let the Orioles know they are the only team who does not offer ice cream helmets to their fans.

Based on first hand experience and the comments of our fellow MLBloggers below, we know they have ice cream helmets at the following ball parks:

  1. Safeco Field
  2. Citizens Bank Park
  3. Yankee Stadium (new and old)
  4. Citi Field (and formerly at Shea Stadium)
  5. Progressive Field
  6. PNC Park
  7. Great American Ball Park
  8. Wrigley Field
  9. H.H.H. Metrodome (no longer in operation for MLB)
  10. Miller Park (also featuring the excellent Cheese Fries Helmet)
  11. U.S. Cellular Field
  12. Rogers Centre
  13. Fenway Park
  14. Chase Field
  15. Nationals Park
  16. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (Thanks, Brian Powell)
  17. Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Thanks, Warren)
  18. Oakland-Alameda County Colesium (Thanks, Warren)
  19. Dodger Stadium (Thanks, Heartruss)
  20. Coors Field (Thanks, Ranter)

Where else?  Please help out.  Send an email to the Orioles.  I also invite you to leave a comment here identifying your home MLB park and if they offer ice cream helmets.

A couple more comments before we close, we know that Orioles ice cream helmets exist.  A google search showed us that they exist — see here.

And, we know that people are interested.  Specifically, we track our blog stats through www.statcounter.com.  Statcounter shows what people searched on google, bing, etc. to get to Cook & Son Bats’ Blog.  Just this morning, Statcounter showed that someone search google for “orioles helmet ice cream.”  In fact, not a day goes by without someone landing on our Ice Cream Helmet collection entry, and a portion of those people have been looking for Baltimore Orioles Ice Cream Helmets.

So have we.  Hopefully we find them at Camden Yards in 2010.  Please help us in this effort.

We will be attending a game at Camden Yards in early April 2010.  We will report back then (and periodically if required) regarding whether this movement has had any affect in Baltimore.

Thanks.

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