Results tagged ‘ Felix Hernandez ’
On August 15, 2010, Tim and I woke up in our hotel in Cleveland ready to see the Mariners take another game from the Indians and for Tim to run the bases at Progressive Field.
But first we had to walk around downtown Cleveland a tiny bit to see what the city had to offer. Just down the street from our hotel was a big park where Tim and I rocked out on some huge guitars…
Sitting on the edge of Lake Erie and just down the hill from the park, we found this scene:
Okay, that’s enough Cleveland for us, it was time to head to Progressive Field.
We arrived shortly before Gate C opened. We were about 50 people back in the single line. After a few minutes, a stadium attendant came up to us and told us to walk up front to start a new line. So, all of a sudden, we were first in line:
“Team store ready? “Check!”
“Suite ready” “Check!”
“Right field ramp ready?” “Check!”
Finally, all of the checks checked out and we hussled into the stadium to watch our Mariners take some BP.
All of those boxes at the gate? They were filled with mustard hot dogs…
Tim wasn’t liking the sun beating down in RF, so we headed into the infield to hang out in the shade.
I was just hanging out watching BP and Tim was taking pictures of stuff all over the field. He loves to take pictures.
At some point, one of our fine Mariners drilled a line drive off of the L-screen and it landed in foul territory…
When BP wrapped up, Tim was sitting on my shoulders and we were shooting a video clip as all of our Mariners passed below us into the dugout. And that is when I got this clip of Alonzo Powell tossing us our third and final baseball of the game:
With BP concluded and half-an-hour or more until game time, we headed up to the second deck in RF so Tim could play in the kids’ play area…
Before the game started, we headed back down to the field level behind the M’s dugout. During the national anthem, I got some pictures of our coaching staff including two Major League newcomers, veteran minor league coaches Daren Brown and Roger Hansen…
…along side a couple Mariners coaches who had both thrown us a baseball within the last 24 hours, Alonzo Powell and Lee Tinsley. By the way, Hansen is the same guy featured in a large scale Ken Griffey, Jr. prank during spring training. Griff and Hansen go way back. I think this is Hansen’s first stint in the majors and I hope that Griff gets out to the ballpark (any ballpark) to show his friend some major league support this season.
So, it was game time, and Tim and I found ourselves in the standing room area just behind the last row of seats on the 1B side of home plate. Yesterday, Ichiro led off the game with a quick single. Today, he never swung the bat…
It was lunch time. Amazingly, Tim did not want nachos. Instead, all he wanted was a ridiculously huge cup of french fries…
…that we ate at a table in the 1B side concourse. While Tim sat and attacked the fries, I nibbled on my fair share of fries while standing next to the table watching Felix Hernandez dominate the Indians.
With the score knotted at zero, Adam Moore grounded out in the second inning:
The Mariners were doing nothing offensively.
No worries. Felix Hernandez was still dominating:
It was time for some ice cream. We found this place in the 1B side inner concourse (the concourse on the 1B side splits into a two parts – the inside part is open to the field and the outside part is enclosed between concession stands, bathrooms, etc.).
They had ice cream helmets here and some excellent choices of real ice cream flavors…
I got some “Mariner” Moose Tracks and Tim got Superman. The lady was even kind enough to scoop only blue, yellow and green for Tim (and no extreme hyperness inducing red dye no. 40 ice cream). Thanks, lady!
Tim enjoyed his Superman ice cream helmet from the handicapped accessible seating right by where we’d previously been standing in the SRO area…
Felix, well, he was still dominating:
Finally, in the top of the 5th Casey Kotchman broke through with the Mariners first hit of the game, a leadoff double to deep CF. At this point, our ice cream was gone and Tim was wrapped up in playing with his new mustard hot dog…
While Tim was busy with the mustard hot dog, the Mariners were busy trying to scratch out a run or two for King Felix. And, despite their best efforts, it wasn’t going too well for the M’s.
With runners on first and second, Michael Saunders attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt…
After Chris Woodward walked to load the bases with one out, Ichiro absolutely crushed a line drive…
…that Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta snared for the second out. It had extra bases and 2 RBIs written all over it! Chone Figgins then laid down another failed bunt for the third out of the inning.
Still, no runs for the Mariners.
Luckily, Felix was still dominating the Indians:
If the M’s could just scrape out one run, we would have been feeling really good about our chances at seeing a second straight Mariners win.
Tim needed to visit the play area again. And he tossed some foamy baseballs into this pitching thingy:
I noticed that the walkway went out over Gate C (in fact, this walkway is what we tried to take cover under during the rainstorm the day before) and then turned left and headed toward Heritage Park. So, we followed it. This was the view from the walkway in almost straight-away CF:
While down there, we spied on the Indians reliever…
It was getting into the bottom of the seventh at this point. We headed to the bleachers in LF. Felix still had no run support, but he was still looking unhittable.
The first batter in the bottom of the seventh flew out to Franklin Gutierrez.
The second batter grounded out to short stop.
And then things took a disasterous turn. King Felix induced former Mariner Luis Valbuena to ground to 2B. But instead of recording the third out of the inning, Chone Figgins booted the ball.
It was nightmare time. Felix should have been out of the inning. The Mariners should have been batting in the top of the 8th. Instead, the Indians proceeded to score SEVEN UNEARNED RUNS. Six unearned runs were *charged* to Felix, including a grand slam by Travis Hafner. Then Sean White came in and gave up the final unearned run of the inning — a homerun by Jayson Nix.
Stick a fork in the Mariners. After a dominating 6.2 inning performance by King Felix, the Mariners were done.
Felix’s line on the day:
6.2 innings, 6 Hits, 6 Runs, 0 Earned Runs, 4 BB, 7K
We headed into the infield for the end of the game. We found some seats under cover where I got some close-up shots of some Mariners throw-away at bats…including, Russell Branyan…
…watching a low pitch en route to a four pitch walk in the top of the 8th.
And Jose Lopez fouling off a pitch…
Tim loves a kids show called “Team Umizoomi,” which has taught him to have “pattern power.” Tim grabbed my camera and showed off his pattern power with alternating shots of his mustard hot dog and the infield…
In the eighth, the Indians tacked on two more runs on a homerun by Michael Brantley, who by all indications appears to be the son of former Mariner Mickey Brantley…who happens to be the first person to ever give me a baseball…way back in my youth at the Kingdome.
Like yesterday, we found ourselves sitting in the front row behind home plate in the ninth inning. It was interesting to watch the home plate cameraman switch camera positions each time a different handed batter came to the plate…
The game ended with little fan fare.
Once again, a million kids of all age materialized at the umpires’ exit and the home plate umpire ignored everyone.
We headed over to the Mariners dugout to cheer on our non-victorious guys and to pose for a picture:
Finally, it was time to line up for Kids Run the Bases! Exactly 1 year and 363 days ago, Tim, my Dad, and I lined up in this very ballpark for our first ever Kids Run the Bases experience. We had to go almost to the top of the stadium to find the end of the line…
I was interested to see something while in line. When we ran the bases on August 17, 2008, we passed by a sign in the bowels of Progressive Field that notified us that it has been “19″ days since the Indians last “Lost Time Accident.” I was interested to see how many days they were at now. My math powers (just like Team Umizoomi) told me that the most days it could possibly be up to was 747 (August 17, 2008 to August 15, 2010 + 19 days = (365 x 2) – 2 + 19 = 747).
The suspense mounted as we wound our way down and down and down into the belly of Progressive Field. Finally, we reached the bottom. We turned the final corner and walked into a machine storage / random work stuff area and found the sign:
Let’s hear it for on-the-job safety!
Finally, we were on the RF foul warning track. We got some nice person to take our picture by the 325 sign…
…just like the one my dad took 728 days earlier. Tim has grown a bit in the past two years.
Then, I had a terrible idea: I would video Tim’s run around the bases. I’ve done this a couple times to moderate success. This time, my filming was a complete failure (well, of the running the bases portion at least, the lead up to the bases is okay). Here is the evidence:
One cool thing that is hard to tell from this video is that there were several Indians stationed on the field giving kids high fives — one by 1B (not sure who) and one at home plate (manager Manny Acta).
After running, we strolled by the 3B dugout and I got pictures of the fancy dugout seating between the two dugouts and behind home plate (to the left below)…
After running the bases and before we could meet up behind the plate, Tim scratched his finger on the metal fence in front of the dugout seating area. It was a teeny, tiny little scratch, but you would have thought his whole arm was ripped off. Here he is *gutting out* one last picture from the field…
Before leaving the field, I got this panorama from foul territory down the 3B line:
Despite the bizzare 7-unearned run inning and the loss following a dominating performance by King Felix, we had a great time at this game and on our entire weekend trip to Cleveland.
2010 Fan Stats:
18 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox and Indians; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
17 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals, Indians)
53 Baseballs (12 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, 7 Easter Eggs)
11 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)
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)
7 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)
On August 14, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and hit the road to meet up with our Mariners in…
…the “Mistake on the Lake” — Cleveland, Ohio!
As of this morning, we had seen the Indians play 5 times and they were 5-0 (3 wins over the Mariners, and 1 win a piece over the Twins and the Angels). We were hoping to witness our first Indians loss today (hint, hint: see the title of this entry).
Cleveland is about a 6 hour drive for us so we made a weekend of it. We stayed at the Doubletree. Here was the view from our room on the 12th floor…
Our hotel was a mile from Progressive Field and Tim was happy to ride on my shoulders for the whole walk to the ballpark. As we approached the CF gate (Gate C), we passed through a little park area with rock monuments for the Indians and the LeBron-less Cavaliers…
We pulled up to Gate C half an hour before it opened. In fact, not even the ticket windows at Gate C were open yet. So we got a picture…
We still had plenty of time before the gates opened, so before buying our tickets we headed over to the home plate entrance…
And then we headed back to the main ticket office and bought tickets for this and the next game. Across the street in the little courtyard-type-area between The Jake and Quickens Arena, the Indians were all set up for Kids Fun Day:
So we headed over toward the LF gate and looked inside the stadium…
About ten seconds after peaking into the stadium, the rain started coming down. It was light rain, but we decided to head back over to Gate C where we could stand undercover and out of the rain. By the time we got there, it was absolutely pouring rain and the “cover” did not help because it was blowing in and soaking everyone.
It was massive, massive rain.
They ended up opening the gates a few minutes early because they felt sorry for us poor folks getting drenched in the rain. We headed into the concourse in RF to take cover.
Tim and I were standing in the concourse in deep RCF just watching the rain when I got a bright idea. No one was in the RF stands. No one at all. I decided to run down to the front row to check for something that I had only ever read about on other MLBlogs, but never myself witnessed in real life – easter eggs.
Well, after three separate trips down into the seats, I was ridiculously soaked but we had these guys tucked into our backpack:
Seven (7!) easter eggs, including a smudged Target Field baseball. Four of the baseballs were under random seats between the first to third rows in RF to RCF. The other three were found inside folded chairs a good 10-20 rows up in CF. The balls were SOAKED. However, they have dried nicely and are quite normal now.
Soon, the rain stopped and the grounds crew started working like mad to ready the field for the game, particularly the Lake Erie-esque centerfield…
At the Jake, the fans are confined to RF/RCF until 6:00 p.m. for a 7:05 game. So we couldn’t go into the infield to watch the M’s warm up. The guys were having fun as they did their work. As you can see to the right above, Chris Seddon has both arms over his head. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but the song that was playing kept saying to put your hands up…or something like that. Each time, Seddon and several others would hold their arms up until some other trigger in the song permitted them to lower their arms. Some of them would continue playing catch with their arms held straight above their heads. There were some pretty hilarious straight armed throws.
As the M’s started filing into the bullpen, this guy tossed us a baseball…
Well, soon enough, this number 50 starting pitching in the bullpen.
“Hmmm…,” I thought again, “I guess Adam must have changed his number.” I texted my lovely wife, and moments later she responded, informing me that Tim and I owed a big “thank you” to Mr. Jamey Wright.
(And it turns out that Adam has changed to number 10, possibly in honor of former Mariners catcher Dave Valle. Who knows?)
Anyway, all of a sudden, we had 8 baseballs in our backpack. We’re not big numbers guys when it comes to getting baseballs — our goal is just to get one at a game — but I gotta admit that I was intrigued by the prospect of hitting double digits (even if aided by 7 easter eggs).
Soon, everyone was gone except Felix Hernandez and Jason Phillips…
I should mention that I had a brief but nice chat with Jason. I congratulated him on his recent marriage (the wedding ceremony was held at Safeco Field after a Mariners game).
While we were chatting, Tim yelled down to Jason, “My Daddy found four baseballs under the seats!” I thought that was pretty hilarious. But I later told Tim its better not to announce something like that to a player on the field.
The next picture tells two stories:
First, before everyone headed back to the dugout, John Wetteland (who is pictured in the middle) took a big crow hop and fired a ball against the RF wall right in front of the Mariners bullpen from about 100 feet out. Tim and I were standing in the corner spot at the front of the bullpen (where we had stood while chatting with Phillips). A few minutes after Wetteland fired the baseball against the wall, Felix Hernandez walked over, grabbed the ball and tossed it to us.
We’ve never got a baseball from Felix (although we have got one very dirty baseball from Erik Bedard after he and Felix used the baseball to warm up before a game in Boston), and I was really excited to get one from a guy who could someday become the most winningest pitcher in Mariners history.
Second, as illustrated by the other red arrow, Felix uncorked a wild throw to Jason Phillips that ended up about 20 rows up into the stands. They didn’t have another ball and the crowd hadn’t been let into the rest of the stadium yet, so Jason just hopped into the stands and walked up the stairs until he found the baseball.
Finally, the tarp came off of the field…
It was close to 6 o’clock when Tim crashed…
Finally, the rest of the stadium opened up…
At this point, with the baseball from King Felix, we were sitting on 9 baseballs. We visited the home plate area to scout out the umpire exit. We figured they would exit through the door right in the middle of that last picture and then walk down the stairs just to the left. We were hoping the home plate umpire might help welcome us to double digits for the first (and most likely last) time.
Soon, the guys were back on the field getting ready for the game. And as the Mariners relievers made their backwards facing walk out to the bullpen, we spotted the pink backpack for the first time this season…
The 2010 Mariners bullpen…
…doesn’t look much like the 2009 Mariners bullpen. But they seem to have a lot of fun just like the guys did in 2009.
When the game started, we found ourselves sitting at the back of section 144. That is where we were when Ichiro connected for his 149th hit of the season leading off the game in the top of the first inning:
We went and grabbed some nachos for dinner and came back.
This was our view as we enjoyed our dinner and the beginning of the game:
We were still absolutely soaking wet. Particularly our feet. I took off Tim’s shoes and rung out his socks. His poor little toes looked like he’d been swimming for the last 3 hours. We had to do the unspeakable. We headed to a kids’ oriented team store in the concourse in the RF corner and bought Tim some new socks…Indians socks. I got him short socks so the Indians logos would be hidden under his shoes. All you could see was the navy and red stripes around the top of the socks.
In the third inning, the M’s were still winning 1-0 when Ichiro came to bat again. Tim decided to get his picture “with” his favorite player…
By the way, Ichiro grounded out.
Tim decided to do a lot of thumbs upping and thumbs downing…
One of the Mariners best stories of the year, Jason Vargas, was on the mound for the M’s…
Tim kept mentioning some flags on top of a building way out in the distance. We couldn’t tell what the bottom flag was, so I tested out my zoom…
In the top of the fourth inning, the Mariners took a 2-0 lead when Mitch Talbot walked Ichiro with the bases loaded.
Unfortunately, the Indians came back to tie it 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning on a double by Jayson Nix and a single by Andy Marte.
I felt bad for Marte. I know nothing about the guy. Literally, nothing. But they sure seemed to dislike him in Cleveland. There was all sorts of negativity being spewed at him from the stands, which is too bad. I’m not a big fan of fans trashing their own players. Maybe you trash a player at home among like-minded friends or family. But if you are a fan of a team, what good does it do to loudly yell derogatory comments at the player while he is trying to help your team win? It doesn’t make any sense.
With the score knotted at 2-2 moving at the end of fourth, we decided to *quickly* run to the ice cream stand for some ice cream helmets. Somehow we didn’t notice the fancy ice cream stand with helmets almost directly behind where we were sitting. Instead, we headed to the concourse behind home plate where we have gotten ice cream helmets in years past.
Here is a view of the concourse as we headed toward home plate:
This *quick* ice cream helmet run was a total debacle. They no longer had ice cream helmets behind home plate, so Tim had to get a waffle cone, which he loved but created a huge mess. And it took forever to get the waffle cone. While we were in line, the Mariners went crazy and all we could do was watch it on big flat screen TVs.
Russell Branyan hit a solo bomb to lead off the fifth innning.
Jose Lopez followed with a single, and then Gutierrez and Kotchman both grounded into E5′s courtesy of…uh, oh…fan unfavorite, Andy Marte. That did not help his cause.
It also didn’t help Marte’s cause that Josh Bard followed his two errors with a grand slam to run the score to 7-2, still with no outs.
Finally, we made it back into the stadium, just in time to see the Indians record 3 outs to end the inning.
We relocated to the standing room area in LF. Tim was able to sit on the cement base of the railing as I stood above him watching the game…
Actually, we did see one Mariners hit in the fifth inning before the Indians finally recorded the third out. And it was Ichiro’s 150th hit of the season:
While in the OF, I decided to take some shots of our outfielders right as Vargas was delivering a pitch. Interestingly, Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders were up on their toes ready to get a jump on any swing…
In the top of the sixth, the Mariners tacked on two more runs on a 2-run homerun by Casey Kotchman:
Not even Slider with his flame throwing electric guitar…
Well, maybe Slider helped a little bit. Jayson Nix hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 9-3. But that homerun would cap the scoring for both teams.
In the late innings, we moved a little further out into LF. We hung out during the seventh and eighth innings in the handicapped accessible seating area at the front of the LF bleachers.
This was our view:
In the top of the ninth, we found ourselves behind home plate, but at the very top of the field level seats, above the cross aisle.
Here was our view:
By the start of the bottom of the ninth inning, we found ourselves in the first row directly behind home plate:
It also gave us a nice view of the Mariners dugout:
Before we proceed, lets make sure we focus on the important stuff:
It would turn out that seemingly 1,000 people converged on the umpire exit after the final out. So the odds were low of us getting an umpire baseball. But it turned out that the odds were irrelevant becaues home plate umpire Mike Reilly sailed by everyone and didn’t unload give out a single baseball.
Oh, well. It seemed our chances are getting that 10th baseball were all but expired. Which was just fine with us. We decided to head over by the Mariners dugout to be close to the post-game celebration as our victorious Mariners cleared off of the field.
And guess what? Mariners third base coach (and former Mariners outfielder) Lee Tinsley spotted us (Tim was on my shoulders) and tossed us our previously unimagineable TENTH baseball of the day:
Our day was still far from concluded. For the second year in a row, we were treated to the Indians annual post-game “Rock’n'Blast” fireworks show. It is a big fireworks show set to music. I’m not sure if this is standard or not, but all of the music in the show was by bands inducted into the Rock’n'Roll Hall of Fame, which is in Cleveland.
As they prepared the field, Slider shot tons of shirts and other stuff into the stands. Deep into the stands. Tim was all excited to try to catch one…
Soon, it was time for one of the coolest (maybe *the* coolest) fireworks show we’ve ever seen.
Here is a little taste of it that shows (i) awesome fireworks and (ii) Tim’s unbridaled excitement:
After the fireworks, Tim hopped back up onto my shoulders and I walked us the mile back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.
It was awesome to see our first Indians loss ever, and even better to see our third Mariners win of the season.
2010 Fan Stats:
18 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox and Indians; 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)
50 Baseballs (9 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, 7 Easter Eggs)
11 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)
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)
On June 13, 2010, two factors [incredibly awesome seats + extremely relaxed stadium staff during Kids Run The Bases] combined to result in one of the longest, more picture laden game reports that we have ever produced. Here it goes.
We woke up at the KOA in Chula Vista and hit the local Denny’s for breakfast. Then we came back, got ready for the Mariners game at Petco Park and used the spare time we had before the game to play in the KOA’s play area:
It was an afternoon game, so it was still morning when we got to the park. I know an extremely cool guy named Al who lived most of his life in our area in PA, but now lives in San Diego. Back in November 2009, he mentioned that he has the ability to get incredibly awesome seats at Padres games and offered to get them for us for this game. I was unsure if it would actually happen so I bought cheap outfield tickets before the season started to be sure we had tickets.
Al was planning to join us for at least part of the game so we arranged to meet him at the stadium. But we arrived about 45 minutes before him. So we used the cheap outfield tickets to head inside for BP. After Tim collected his Padres batting helmet giveaway, we headed in and found there was no BP today. Even worse was the fact that Tim couldn’t play in the Beach because it was closed. There was a “breakfast in the park” event on the warning track and I guess they didn’t want loud kids right next to the people who were literally eating breakfast at tables on the warning track.
Only two Mariners were on the field when we arrived.
Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith was doing his running and stretching routine in LF…
Soon, Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman came out to play some catch. While they were playing, I noticed that my Dad had wondered off. I wasn’t sure where he had gone. When Figgins and Kotchman finished playing catch…
…Kotchman walked back to the dugout. As I watched him approach the dugout, I saw that my Dad was the only person standing directly above the dugout — and he was wearing a Mariners shirt. Kotchman rewarded him with the his and Figgins’ warm up baseball.
Tim and I headed over to the dugout to hang out with my Dad. The stadium was empty and it was a cool “morning in the park” type atomosphere. People were quietly getting ready for a day of baseball. At one point, a guy started mowing the infield:
The Padres helmets came with number stickers. I put “18″ on the back of Tim’s helmet. When we were standing behind the dugout with my Dad, Tim asked me to put a “5″ on the bill of his helmet. Then he told me to put a “1″ in front of the “5.” I did…
…and then Tim said, “5-1 just like Ichiro!” He was a little bummed out when I told him that we’d really done “15″ — Milton Bradley — not Ichiro’s “51.” A second later, Al called us and we left the stadium and met him out front. Because we’d be entering the stadium again on new tickets, I told Tim he would get another helmet and we could put Ichiro’s “51″ on it.
We headed out the exit in LF and then we circled…
My Dad, Tim, Al and I headed to our seats, which were in the 18th row directly behind home plate. They were amazing seats. A bunch of Mariners pitchers were playing catch down the 3B line, so Tim and I headed over there while my Dad and Al hung out chatting in our seats.
We stayed in the same place and watched a couple different sets of M’s pitchers play catch. First, Jason Vargas (foreground below) and Luke French (background below) played right in front of us. At one point, French threw a low and inside (for a righty) pitch that Vargas couldn’t handle…
…it trickled right by Vargas and into my glove. I immediately scooped it up and tossed it back to Vargas — he needed the ball and I couldn’t stand in the way of my team’s pitchers getting their work in. When I tossed the ball back to Vargas, I asked if we could get the ball back when they were finished. He said, “Maybe.” Unfortunately, the maybe turned into a “no” because Vargas and French got into a deep discussion about grips on the ball (see inset picture) and they kept handing the ball back and forth as they walked back to the dugout.
Next, David Aardsma and Brandon League started stretching right in front of us. The D.A. gave Tim a smile and a little wave…
…which Tim thought was pretty cool. After playing some warm up catch, League started pitching to Aardsma with the D.A. crouched on the foul line. Early on, a pitch trickled by the D.A. and I scooped it up. As I tossed it back to Aardsma, I asked if we could get it back after they finished playing catch. He gave me a more definitive answer than Vargas, “Yeah.”
As we waited for League and Aardsma to wrap up, former All-Star Chad Cordero walked by and was happy to sign an autograph and pose for a picture with Tim:
Tim was working on another All-Star ballot while we watched the pitchers warming up. League was still pitching to Aardsma. Eventually, Tim asked me if I would pick him up. For the first time, I took off my glove (set it on the wall) and bent down to pick up Tim.
The hard tossing Brandon League uncorked a wild and blazing fast ball past Aardsma. From the corner of my eye, I saw it skip off the outer edge of the warning track. As I lifted Tim up, the ball violently hit the very top of the padded wall…at literally the top inch of the wall. People shreaked as they thought the ball was going to smash me and Tim. Had the wall been an inch shorter, it would have slammed into my side. And it would have really hurt, I could tell. An usher came to ask us if we were alright. Luckily, the wall was just high enough and the ball bounced back onto the grass on the 3B side of Aardsma.
Soon, League and Aardsma switched positions and League was crouched on the foul line catching the D.A.
The day before, Ryan Rowland-Smith had told us that he has daily discussions with Cliff Lee about pitching. Today, we watched first hand as…
Eventually, Aardsma snuck a pitch by League and, for the third time, I scooped the ball up off of the warning track and threw the ball back. This time, I asked League if we could get the ball when they were finished. Instead of making us wait to find out the answer, he walked over and grabbed his wild pitch ball that had almost taken me out, and he tossed the baseball to me.
Soon thereafter, Lee and RRS headed over to RF so RRS could do some work off of the mound in the M’s bullpen. We decided to head over there as well. Actually, we didn’t know they’d gone over there. We just saw action in the M’s bullpen and figured we should see what was happening.
When we got over there, Lee was chatting up a Padre in the OF grass right next to the bullpen and RRS was pitching to Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips:
Between pitches, Phillips saw us and said hi. After RRS finished his work, Jason came over to the fence and chatted with us a bit. It was nice to chat with him. As we were splitting up, I asked if I could get his picture with RRS and he asked if we wanted a baseball. So, after he hooked us up with a ball — our ninth overall from Phillips and our 7th stadium getting a ball from him — he went to grab Ryan. But Ryan was busy talking to Rick Adair. When RRS was finished, he said hi to us and I asked if I could get his picture with Phillips. So, he grabbed Jason and they posed for the picture above.
Ryan knows that Jason is a Cook & Son Hall of Famer because he saw it on our blog, so he understood why I wanted their picture together. But I have no clue if Jason knows about the C&S Hall of Fame. I guess I should ask him later this season.
After the picture, Tim and I started heading back to our seats and Tim tapped me on the leg and quietly asked, “Can I ask Jason Phillips something?” (FYI, Tim pretty regularly asks me extremely quietly if he can ask people questions). We headed back over to the bullpen and I got Jason’s attention and said, “The little guy has something he wants to tell you.” Tim yelled out, “My favorite baseball players are the MARINERS!” That gave Jason a big smile.
Then we headed to our seats. Check this out:
Here was the view:
So you want to hear something crazy? We literally just left the bullpen where we were talking to Jason Phillips and we arrived at our seats where we discovered we were sitting right next to Jason’s family. Prodded by a very nice and talkative federal employee, we all started chatting. I ended going over and sitting right in front of Mr. Phillips for a bit and discussing our many run-ins with his son. He told us an interesting piece of trivia that I did not know: Jason Phillips hit the 5,000th homerun in Mets franchise history off of Randy Wolf of the Phillies. (FYI, Ken Griffey, Jr. achieved the same accomplishment for the Mariners in 2009).
The reason the whole discussion started in our section is because Jason’s dad was wearing some huge rings and the federal employee asked him what they were. Here is a look at one of the rings:
Jason’s dad is on a softball team that has won the world championship twice in the last couple years. And these were some huge and legit looking rings. Two seconds after this picture, Tim asked Jason’s dad if he could have this ring.
By the way, this wasn’t the only championship ring in our immediate vicinity. This ring was sitting on a finger two rows behind us on the opposite side of the stairs…
You might have noticed in the panorama a couple pictures above that there were military people standing at each position on the field. Sundays at Petco Park are military appreciation days. There were a bunch of military people on the field before the game…
This meant that the Padres were also wearing their camoflague jerseys…
…which I am showing off in this picture because I think the contrast in the first kid’s face and Heath Bell’s face is hilarious. That kid gunned the ceremonial first pitch to the backstop…and the throw would have been behind a left handed batter.
Soon, the game was underway. Ichiro led off with a walk…
This view of home plate was so great, I could hardly stop myself from taking pictures of every at bat.
I cannot thank Al enough for hooking us up with these seats. It was a joy to watch King Felix dominate the Padres from this amazing view:
The only downside about these seats was that they were right out in the open beneath the hot sun. No shade at all. Tim is a big fan of shade, and not so much of the sun. But we cooled the boy off with an ice cream helmet…
…early in the game. By the way, that is Jason Phillips dad three down from Tim wearing the royal blue hat and about to pop some seeds in his mouth. He was decked out in Blue Jays gear to support his other son, Kyle Phillips. And that is Al sitting right next to Tim.
The last time I saw King Felix hit in interleague play, he hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana. Today, he was all about sacrifice bunting…
Leading off the bottom of the third, Scott Hairston got the first Padres hit of the day off of King Felix, and then something crazy and horrible followed.
Tony Gwynn, Jr. hit this pitch on a low line to CF (see how Gutierrez is already reading the ball to be a little off toward LF)…
…and at the last minute, Gutierrez swooped in to try to snar it. But it fell a tiny bit short and rolled all the way to the wall. Gwynn was off to the races and he did not stop until he had a stand up “quadruple.”
I don’t think that I have ever witnessed a professional “inside the park homerun” before, Tim definitely had not. After witnessing this one, I think they should be called “quadruples” because they are a whole lot more like triples than they are homeruns. They’re fundamentally different than homeruns. Pretty exicting. I just wish the Mariners could have had a “do over” because Gutierrez catches everything and given a second chance, I know he would have caught this one too.
All of sudden, we were losing 2-0 despite the fact that Felix Hernandez was generally dominating the Padres. We needed some offense, and Milton Bradley was happy to provide it…
Soon, Tim needed some relief from the sun. So we took a walk in the shady concourse that turned into a tour of the remaining part of Petco Park that I didn’t see the day before. We headed up to the upper deck in RF…
By the way, check out the kids sitting digging in the sand with their backs turned to the field. Not a bright idea. Hopefully no kid ever gets (or has already gotten) tagged by a homerun into the Beach.
On our way back over to foul territory, a nice fan took our picture (with Ichiro batting in the background):
…I describe it as “weird” because from most places in the stadium these flags range from very hard to see to impossible to see. In fact, I never noticed them until walking by them…for the second time.
Even from above, Felix looked dominant:
Tim did his best attempt at standing at attention when this kind Marine officer (at least I’m guessing he is an officer, he appeared to be in charge of the rest of them) agreed to pose for a picture with Tim:
As we made our way down the walkway ramps to the field level, I took this shot showing the interesting architecture of Petco Park:
…and exploded a bunch of peanut shells. See that funny straw hat on the lady sitting in front of Tim in the top right picture? That old lady was unintentionally hilarious. She was a Padres fan and her husband was a Mariners fan who used to live in Seattle. At random times throughout the day, she would aggressively mutter “hit it over the fence! hit it over the fence!” at her Padres batters and she would sound disgusted if the Mariners did anything good.
Luckily, the Mariners gave her a few more opportunities to sound disgusted.
Going into the top of the 8th inning, the score was still 2-2. The Padres starter, Clayton Richard, had gone 7 innings giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs, but they lifted him for Luke Gregerson in the 8th.
Gregerson started off by giving up an infield single to Chone Figgins. Two batters later, Jose Lopez smacked this ball…
Although nothing more came of it, it was fun to see Milton Bradley talk home plate umpire Angel Hernandez into a hit by pitch later in the inning…
In the top of the 9th, the Mariners were still leading 3-2 when Joe Thatcher took the hill for the Padres. Thatcher promptly surrendered a single to Mariners catcher Rob Johnson. It was Rob’s third hit of the day and I later learned that it was only the second 3-hit day of his career. Interestingly, we were also present for his only other 3-hit game last season.
Felix Herandez came to the plate next and sacrificed his favorite catcher over to second base.
That brought Ichiro to the plate. Ichiro and the Mariners were looking for a little insurance for their slim 1-run lead. Ichiro started by bunting the first pitch foul…
Tim and I like to try to get a ball from the umpire after a game. But in the first four games of the roadtrip we hadn’t even tried. Since we were already sitting so close to the umpires’ tunnel at this game, we figured we might as well give it a shot.
The umpires’ tunnel at Petco Park is at the home plate side of the visitors’ dugout. In the bottom of the ninth, with Felix back on the mound gunning for a complete game, we headed over to try to stand in the cross aisle right behind the tunnel. An usher saw us and suggested that we sit in some of the open seats nearby. He pointed out some seats that he had in mind.
I asked him if it would be okay to go a little closer to the umpires’ tunnel. He said, “Oh, you want to try to get a ball after the game? Sure!” And he let us take these seats right above the tunnel:
In that picture, Felix Hernandez is about to walk down into the dugout. He got the first batter in the bottom of the ninth, but then surrendered a single to Adrian Gonzalez. When Scott Hairston hit an infield grounder, everyone in the stadium thought it was a game ending double play. But Hairston beat it out and Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu decided to pull Felix and put in David Aardsma.
Felix was upset about not getting to finish the game. But on his fourth pitch, the D.A. induced a pop fly by Nick Hundley and the scoreboard showed the happy totals:
After the almost double play, the usher came by to give us some advice on getting a ball from the umpire. He was very nice. But with the pop fly out, we had plenty of time to get into the corner spot right at the back of the dugout and side of the umpire tunnel.
Angel Hernandez walked off and walked right over to Tim and handed him this baseball…
…5 seconds later, 3B umpire “Cowboy” Joe West walked by and grabbed the baseball back from Tim and started walking into the tunnel with the baseball. He then turned back around and brought the ball back to Tim. He was very amused by his little prank. And we used the opportunity to give Joe West some high fives and then get this awesome picture (above left) of Tim and West.
I had wanted real bad to get a picture of Tim with an umpire for the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt. It seemed to me like it was the hardest picture in the competition to get. The umpires generally don’t linger on the field after games. They take off quick. So the fact that West decided to play a fast one on Tim and take his baseball back was the perfect opportunity.
Thank you, Joe West! And thank you, Angel Hernandez, too!
Our day at the ballpark wasn’t finished just yet. It was Kids Run The Bases time!
The line started deep in the Park in the Park…
We entered the field through a ramp next to the bleachers and beach:
The line took a while to finally get into the field. But finally we made it! And it was awesome. Some stadiums have strict policies and strict ushers enforcing them during Kids Run The Bases. Our first sign of the relaxed attitude was that an usher agreed to take this picture of us kneeling in front of the “400″ foot sign:
We stopped right by the usher who took that picture so I could get a shot of Tim with the field behind him…
We always try to get our picture by the RF foul pole and OF fence distance marker. This turned out being one of my favorite pictures ever…
…first I told Tim to stand next to the “322″ like he was playing outfield. Then I told him to jump against the wall like he was trying to catch a baseball. I absolutely love that jumping picture. Check that out, he’s hanging in the air!
The relaxed usher attitude carried over to the bullpen. Tim played a little catcher…
…by the way, we seemed to be the only people running around taking fun pictures on our walk to home plate. Sure, some people were taking pictures with the field behind them. But I didn’t see anyone else snapping pictures by the wall or in the bullpen. They missed out on some great photo opportunities!
Here is another random shot with the field behind Tim…
The Padres did a great job with the actual run too. They spaced the kids out really well. When we walked up, I must have looked like I wanted to follow Tim (which I did) because the 1B usher said to me, “Go for it!” So I followed Tim with my camera ablazing…
My dad stayed in the seats behind the 3B dugout where he got this video on his camera:
After the run, the ushers were still pretty relaxed. I got our standard “with the dugout” picture…
By the way, see those two windows behind the LF fence? Those go into the Padres team store. There is a door from the team store into a little triangle standing area just behind the fence where fans can watch the game from field level through the chain link OF fence.
After that last picture, we headed out to our car…
We stayed at the Chula Vista KOA again. After the game, we took a little dip in the pool…
…and then went to dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant in a little strip mall. It wasn’t an impressive place from the outside, but the food was delicious and the people were extremely nice. So, if you’re in Chula Vista, be sure to check out Casa Del Taco.
2010 Fan Stats:
14 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres and Nationals)
32 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 1 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres)
8 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park)
11 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
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, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)
The snow has almost completely melted away in our little part of Pennsylvania, and today was a remarkably warm and “springish” day. So, Tim requested that we go to the park to play some baseball. Usually, we just play in the back yard. But Tim wanted a real field with a dirt infield.
When we arrived at my favorite local softball field, we found the infield was unplayable:
No problem. We used the outfield fence as a backstop and had a lot of fun hitting, running, throwing and chasing brightly colored practice baseballs all over the outfield.
Meanwhile, almost all the way across the country, our Mariners were rained out. No problem, I’m sure that beautiful Arizona sun will be shining again tomorrow, the infields will be playable, and King Felix will be holding Court over his Kingdom:
Hope springs eternal in the month of April. And entereing April 2008, I was hopeful that the Mariners were about to embark on a successful campaign in the AL West. And I was happy to be there at the beginning of it all. For the first weekend of the 2008 season, the Mariners were in Baltimore and that is where we met up with them on April 6, 2008.
As we approached the field for the first time of the season…
Soon after we arrived, the Camden Yards grounds crew removed the tarp from the field…
With no batting practice taking place, we took the opportunity to get a family picture by the LF foul pole:
Then we headed over to our seats in centerfield:
And even better, Felix Hernandez was dealing like crazy on the mound. In his second start of the season, he pitched 8 scoreless innings, gave up only 5 hits, struck out 6 and maintained his flawless 0.00 ERA.
To go along with King Felix’s mastery, Raul Ibanez put together a 3-4 day at the plate including his first homerun of the season to help lead the Mariners offense.
Everything was looking great, and Tim (and I) was having a blast…
…yep, I caught me a knucklehead.
As the innings ticked by and the Mariners marched toward an apparent win, the kids were excited to see the Orioles Bird visit the outfield seats:
But then things turned dark.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Mariners had a 2-0 lead. King Felix had dominated from his 1st pitch to his 97th pitch. But for some reason, soon-to-be-fired Mariners manager, John McLaren pulled Felix and went to the bullpen.
It took Eric O’Flaherty only three batters to get the first two outs, and give up the first Orioles run of the day. O’Flaherty’s fourth-and-final batter-faced, Luke Scott, hit a single. That was all she wrote for O’Flaherty.
With two outs, a runner on first, and a 1-run lead, Mark Lowe entered the game. Another bad decision by McLaren. Lowe’s first batter hit a single sending pinch-runner Adam Jones to third. Lowe then threw a wild pitch and Adam Jones came in to tie the game at 2-2…
We started praying for extra-innings. But one batter later, Luis Hernandez hit another single bringing in the losing run.
Aye, aye, aye…a great day with friends at the ballpark ended in misery…it was a gut-wrenching Mariners loss. Unfortunately, it would be a sign of things to come for the 2008 Mariners.
On September 3, 2007, we headed up to NYC to take in a Mariners game in the Bronx. We went with my friend Marc from college. Marc is also from Seattle, but in 2007 he was working in the investment world in NYC. This was the first time I’d seen him since college. And, it was Tim’s first trip to NYC and to “The House That Ruth Built” (and Griffey destroyed).
We came up to NYC for the weekend, and we stayed with another friend from college, Davlynn, who also lived in NYC in 2007. The day before the game, Davlynn took us to the American Museum of Natural History…
…where Tim REALLY enjoyed seeing lots of dinorsaur bones. Trust me. He looks utterly bored in this picture, but he really loved the museum. So, if you find yourself at 79th & Central Park West in Manhatten, check it out.
We also took Tim to Central Park to play a little baseball on a field that we miraculously found to be empty…
Soon, it was time to meet up with Marc and his wife, Angie, and take the 4-train up to the Bronx.
Now, I’m a good baseball fan. So I’m dutifully teaching Tim a healthy disrespect for the pinstriped-team from the Bronx. Upon entering the ballpark, he already had the heebeegeebees from the cramped confines of the ballpark and the overwhelming aroma of corporate greed that would soon bring wall street crashing to the ground:
I assured Tim that there was nothing to worry about. The Mariners would surely destroy the home team. The Mariners would be throwing their young ace, King Felix Hernandez, while the home squad would be trotting out an old goat, a pre-Mitchell Report Roger Clemens. I was ready for a historic Clemens loss, and I would not be dissappointed.
So, as the game began, Tim was cautiously optimistic and ready to see his Mariners put on a show to remember:
“Yes,” I explained, “so mind your P’s and Q’s.”
By the way, not everyone was a fan of the opposition, that is Marc shown behind Tim’s outreached arm. He’s a good Mariners fan.
Now, I wouldn’t lead Tim astray, it WAS a great and historic game. In fact, despite the fact it didn’t feature former-and-future Mariners great Ken Griffey, Jr., this is one of the best games I’ve ever witnessed.
The game started like so many Mariners games do: Ichiro hit a line drive single to right field. So things were already off to a good start. Ichiro extended his hit streak to five games in the five games Tim had attended to date. But that was all the M’s managed in the top of the first.
The bottom of the first was the only bad part of the game. King Felix had some first inning jitters and fell behind by 1 run.
But don’t worry, the M’s came back in the top of the second. Raul Ibanez started off the inning with a single to LCF. Ben Broussard walked. And then Clemens fired a wild pitch to the backstop sending Ibanez to 3B. Finally, Jose Lopez got an infield hit to score Rauuuuuuuuul! And just like that the Mariners had tied it up 1-1.
Tim was happy about this turn of events:
By the way, check out the old water-soaked wood on the bottom of the upper deck (behind/above us). You don’t see that in a modern stadium! Well, really, I think you don’t see that anywhere — not in Boston or on the north side of Chicago, which were much older than this 1970′s re-model job.
The top of the second was just the Mariners warm-up act. They were about to lower the boom on their hosts.
Ichiro led off the top of the third inning with a homerun blast to LCF. Not only did the hit give the Mariners the lead (for good), but it was Ichiro’s 200th hit of the season for the SEVENTH season in a row! Hooray for Ichiro!!! And hooray for us for being there to witness this piece of history.
Meanwhile, King Felix kept mowing down opposing batters.
In the top of the fourth, the Mariners scored three more runs on a single by Adrian Beltre, hit-by-pitch for Jose Lopez, a double by Yuniesky Betancourt, and another single by Ichiro.
By this point, Tim and I were having a great time watching our Mariners dominate:
At some piont in the 4th inning, Roger Clemens hurt his leg falling off the mound awkwardly. In an unprecedented move, Joe Torre brought former Orioles great Mike Mussina into the game in relief. A quick review of Moose’s bio will reveal that this was the ONLY relief appearance of his probably-Hall of Fame career — 537 games, 536 games started.
Here’s the second piece of history involved in the game, this must be one of the most combined career wins that one team has ever had on the mound in one game. I’ve tried to get someone from ESPN.com to research and determine if there has ever been more combined wins by a team in one game, but I haven’t been able to get the answer. After Mussina gave up two more runs, he was replaced by Chris Britton, who ultimately gave way to Kyle “New York’s Finest” Farnsworth. (By the way, I once saw a shirt for sale outside this ballpark that said, “Anybody But Farnsworth.” That gave me a chuckle.)
Anyway, as of September 3, 2007, Roger Clemens had 354 wins (and he would NEVER win again), Mike Mussina had 247 wins, Britton had zero career wins (he is still stuck on zero), and Farnsworth had 27 career wins. All totaled, the Mariners faced off against SIX HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT (628) career wins. What do you think, is that a record? I’ve certainly never heard of a team throwing more career wins in one game.
But all of those career wins were no match for King Felix Hernandez and his (then) 27 career wins. Tim was all like…
The scoreboard showed the happy totals:
After the game, we tired to get a nice family picture, but Tim wasn’t into posing at the time (possibly because we’d just sat in ridiculously hot weather for 3+ hours). But combining the two pictures, you can get a semi-panaramic view of the field:
Thanks to the Mitchell Report and the amazing falling from grace of Mike Piazza’s favorite opposing pitcher, this game proved to be the final loss of Roger Clemens’s former-future-Hall of Fame career. But more importantly:
Tim and I have had all of our baseballs from 2009 laying around unorganized and our ice cream helmets in a similarly disheveled state. So, I decided to get organized.
The four most important baseballs of the season are in Tim’s room on his dresser with his 30-MLB team milestone trophy, his Mariners Mr. Potatohead, and his miniature Ken Griffey, Jr. glove:
Those baseballs include:
- Willie Bloomquist/Royals ball (U.S. Cellular Field) – from Tim’s 30th MLB team milestone game (8/17/09).
- Felix Hernandez/Erik Bedard (Fenway Park) warm up ball signed by Felix Hernandez (7/4/09).
- Jason Phillips autographed ball (Yankee Stadium) – trade for A-Rod photoball for M’s pink backpack (7/2/09).
- Ryan Rowland-Smith’s autographed warm-up ball (Rogers Centre) — Tim’s first ball he caught himself (9/26/09).
NOTE: Honorable Mention Most Important Baseballs Awards go to the HHH Metrodome ball that we caught at the Metrodome (8/15/09) and the ball Jason Phillips threw to us on top of the Green Monster at Fenway (7/5/09).
The rest of our 2009 baseballs are now all in baseball cubes displayed on a bookshelf on which they fit perfectly:
As you can see, on the bottom shelf we have our ice cream helmet collection. Most piles are all the same team (e.g., the big Mariners and Phillies piles). But a couple teams are hidden beneath other teams (e.g., the Pirates and the other New York team). Eventually, I’ll need to figure out a better way to display our helmets.
FYI, the balls on the helmet shelf are mostly from my youth. I lost track of how many balls I caught growing up in the Kingdome. Eventually, I ended up playing home run derby with most of them (something me and my friends played constantly during the summers) and lost them in the woods beyond the outfield fence at Madrona Elementary School (which is a great place to play home run derby). Anyway, the end balls in the back row are from last season, the other nine are my only remaining Kingdome balls. You can see on one of them I wrote “Julio Franco” in red in really poor, youthful handwriting. It was back when he played for the Rangers, probably from 1989 or 1990. The ball to the right of the Franco ball was from Kirby Puckett.
While I’m at it, I might as well share one more picture:
These are balls from 2006-08. On the top shelf:
1. Tim’s first ball ever – from Davis Romero (Blue Jays) at his first game ever, and first game (obviously) at Safeco Field (9/12/06).
3. Tim’s third ball ever - from Brandon Morrow at his third game ever, second Mariners game, and first game at Camden Yards (8/9/07)
4. Tim’s fourth ball ever – from Glenallen Hill at Tim’s 1st MLB Anniversary, our only ball ever at Citizens Bank Park (9/12/07)
FYI, we gave Tim’s second baseball to my cousin’s daughter who shared her first game ever with Tim (as we will see in a forthcoming entry – ETA next week).
The rest of the baseballs are spring training balls from 2008. The top left ball is autographed by Adam Moore and the top right ball is autographed by Jose Vidro – both during spring training 2008.
Interstingly, this post now shows every baseball Tim and I have ever caught together except one, which we got during our first baseball roadtrip in 2008 and got autographed by some Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers. What the heck, lets show it too:
This ball is autographed by T.J. Beam, Tyler Yates, and Sean Burnett of the 2008 Pirates.
So, there you go, our entire Major League baseball collection and Major League ice cream helmet collections in one blog entry.
Simply put, 2009 was outstanding. Tim and I had more fun than than should be allowed. We saw a lot of amazing baseball (33 games) including:
- Tim’s first time seeing Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a homerun (and as a Mariner!)
- Ichiro getting lots of hits en route to a record breaking 9th season with 200+ hits
- Felix Hernandez dominating the AL
- Jamie Moyer being Jamie Moyer
- A walk-off homerun by Raul Ibanez
- A walk-off single by Ichiro in the bottom of the 14th inning
- Two games with walk-off singles by Jose Lopez
- baseball in 13 stadiums including, most notably in my book, our first game at the Metrodome (also, Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field, Miller Park, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Rogers Centre and Progressive Field)
- Seeing a the Cubs score 10 runs in one inning
- Tim finishing off seeing all 30 MLB teams play live.
- A winning season by the Mariners! (85-77)
We also made great memories interacting with some ball players including:
- Tim asking Mariners reliever Chris Jakabauskas in the lobby of our hotel if he wants to come “see our room.”
- Meeting Mariners G.M. Jack Z. on the streets of Boston.
- Getting a picture with Felix Hernandez.
- Getting a picture with Ryan Rowland-Smith and having him throw a baseball to Tim:
- Giving Jason Phillips an A-Rod baseball to put in the Mariners bullpen’s pink backpack and then confirming the next day (in the hotel lobby) with Jakabaukas that the ball was indeed in the backpack.
- Getting 8 baseballs from Jason Phillips, including a pre-autographed ball, and baseballs at 6 stadiums.
The season — my first on MLBlogs — has provided so many great moments that I’ve recorded in game entries. Some of my favorite entires have included:
- Meeting the Metrodome — we took an awesome self-guided walking tour around this fun and unique (now-former) baseball park.
- Ice Cream Helmets, Anyone? – featuring our collection of ice cream helmets.
- Fenway Park Part 3 of 3 (A Moment To Remember) – featuring the first time Tim ever saw Griffey get a hit (a line drive off of the Green Monster).
- Griffey & Sensation: Two Kids Combine to Make Sweet Music - a story of my time having a partial season ticket plan in high school sitting next to Griffey’s friend and local rap legend Kid Sensation, and the songs inspired by their friendship.
Finally, we took tons of great pictures to document our adventures this season.
Here are some of my favorites (at least one from each game):
We started the season off on a chilly day in Baltimore — the world was our oyster, we had our whole season before us:
In week 2, we cheered on as former Mariner Raul Ibanez hit this pitch for a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning:
In week 3, Tim raced down the foul territory warning track on his way to his first Kids Run the Bases of the season following our first game ever at Citi Field.
In week 4, Tim couldn’t adjust to the West Coast time change and was a little out-of-sorts when Jarrod Washburn threw us our first ball of the season from the Mariners dugout during the 9th inning of an exciting Mariners win:
On May 4, 2009, Tim and I got our picture with Red a/k/a “Beltre Guy” — who is fast becoming a Safeco Field Legend due to his passionate following of Adrian Beltre. Will Red be back in 2010? We will see:
In mid-May, we went to Philadelphia to see the Dodgers, but the best part of the night was seeing my favorite pitcher, Jamie Moyer. With Colleen’s new camera and a little computer magic, I was able to create one of my favorite pictures of the season:
On June 3, 2009, Tim and I returned to Nationals Park hoping to witness Randy Johnson’s 300th career win. Instead, we watched hours of rain turn the field into a lake (we also met Zack Hample for the first time and spent several hours chatting with him while watching the rain fall):
Tim and I had tons of fun watching the guys in the M’s bullpen this season. In this July 2, 2009 picture, Chris Jakabauskas is shown sitting in the bullpen at new Yankee Stadium with one of three big metal warrior helmets the Mariners bullpen displayed during games until Bug Selig put the kybosh on the M’s fun:
We started out watching the July 3, 2009 game from these seats with a young Red Sox fan named Tyler who told us to stay sitting there until people with tickets showed up. The fans in Boston were awesome all weekend:
During our third and final game at Fenway, Tim and I stumbled across the 2004 and 2007 world series trophies — although I wasn’t able to get a picture of it, this game was extra special because Tim saw Griff get a hit (a single off of the Green Monster) for the first time ever):
On August 5, 2009, Tim and I headed out to a sold-out FirstEnergy Stadium to watch future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez pitch for our local Reading Phillies:
A week or so later, Tim and I meet up with my dad in Chicago for The Great (Second Annual) Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Road Trip of 2009 where we witnessed the Cubs hang a 10-spot on the Pirates in the second inning:
On the third day of the baseball road trip, we visited the House that Happy Built — and we got this picture with Nick “The Happy Youngster” who we had first met on June 10th in Baltimore):
The next day, we finished off the baseball road trip and Tim finished off seeing all 30 MLB teams when we saw the Kansas City Royals play for the first time (and we got a ball from Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist):
After the game, I presented Tim with a trophy memorializing his 30-team accomplishmen (thanks to Curious George, Tim loves trophies) — after the game, the nice folks did a cool little article about Tim’s milestone:
Jason Phillips, shown here with me and Tim in Cleveland in late-August, was by far the coolest guy we ran into this season. Jason gave us 8 baseballs this season including at least 1 baseball at each stadium at which we saw the Mariners play this season (Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Progressive Field, Safeco Field, and Rogers Centre) — plus, we took time out to chat (and be photographed) with us several times throughout the season:
The ball from Rowland-Smith was the first ball Tim has ever caught thrown by a major leaguer — which is featured in another mygameballs.com article:
We closed out the season on the final Sunday back at Camden Yards — where it all began just six months earlier. This time, Tim enjoyed the only ice cream helmet (a Mariners helmet) served at Camden Yards in 2009:
Although my wife can, I officially “can’t wait” for the 2010 baseball season to begin. I’m already planning it out and we have some exciting baseball trips in the future.
I’ve certainly enjoyed sharing our stories from the ballpark this season. The reason I created this blog was the record our baseball adventures so Tim could look back on them later in life. This season has been thoroughly documented and I’m quite happy with the results. Now, entering the off-season, I’m thinking about the games we went to before this season. I have them all recorded in Tim’s Baseball Log. But I’m thinking that I might find time during the off-season to put them in story form here on my blog. Therefore, if you’re interested in hearing about and seeing some pictures from the games Tim went to between 2006-2008 (about 22 games total), check back from time-to-time during the offseason. Otherwise, see you in 2010.
Only once before have I broken the normal protocol and started an entry at the middle of a game, rather than at the beginning. It was for our third game at Fenway back in July, and the purpose was to explain Ken Griffey Jr.’s fourth inning single off of the Green Monster. At the time, it was the first and only hit Tim had ever seen Griffey collect. It was a truly special moment. You can read all about it here.
Once again, I am happy to brake with tradition. Once again, I will start my story with zero outs in the top of the fourth inning. Once again, the story will involve my favorite player of all time, Mr. Ken Griffey, Jr.
Before the season started, I sat down at my computer, pulled up a bunch of MLB schedules and drafted the official “Todd & Tim Cook 2009 Baseball Agenda.” I then emailed the Agenda to a select group of “Important People” (family, friends, etc.) and invited people to join us on our ride through the 2009 season. Along with the agenda, I included the following note detailing the goals I had in mind when drafting the agenda:
Below, please find the official Todd & Tim Cook 2009 Baseball Agenda*. The basic goals of the Agenda include:
1) See Griff hit a Homerun as a Mariner (most important goal);
2) Complete Tim’s “Seen all MLB Teams” Goal (left to see: A’s, Rangers, Royals, Tigers, Red Sox, Rays, Dodgers, Padres, Astros, and Braves);
3) Continue new Baseball Roadtrip tradition;
4) Visit 10+ stadiums, including HHH Metrodome (final season), Nationals Park (2d season), Yankee Stadium (first season) and Citi Field (first season);
5) Continue 9/12 Baseball Anniversary tradition;
6) Get Gill to his first MLB and Mariners Game;
7) Get Poppy out to the ball field at least twice; and
8) Have fun and make memories.
At the beginning of the day, with 26 games under our collective belt on the season, Tim and I had covered most of the goals: “All 30 Teams” – check; Baseball Roadtrip – check; 10+ stadiums (including HHH Metrodome, Nationals Park, New Yankee Stadium and Citi Field) - check; Continue 9/12 Baseball Anniversary tradition – check (we’ll be at Yankee Stadium on 9/12/09 for the third anniversary of Tim’s first game); and Have Fun and Make Memories – check.
Due to a chain of events including a miscommunication, a late invite to the Outer Banks and a Citizens Bank Park sell out, goals 6-7 had to be re-scheduled a couple times and, ultimately, suspended until next season.
But goal number one was left incomplete. In what might have otherwise gone down as a perfect season of baseball fandom, the most important task was left undone. The mere possibility of it was the entire reason for this trip. To see my boyhood (and, heck, my adulthood) baseball hero blast a homerun and share the moment with my son was all I wanted out of this season.
Enter, Fausto Carmona and the top of the fourth inning. Tim and I were out on the bridge that connects The Jake to a parking lot behind the LF bleachers. He’d been a little grumpy because he hadn’t had a nap, plus I think he was a little bit hungry. Colleen went down to Heritage Park and was in line to buy some pizza. I was holding Tim in my arms and this was our view:
Carmona started Griff off Ball 1, Ball 2. Then he reached back and hurled a 93-mph 4-seem fast ball that caught wwwwwwaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy too much of the plate…
…and this happened (picts courtesy of MLB.com screen shots)…
Right off the bat, it looked like a home run. However, Grady Sizemore was going back on it like he thought he might have a play on it. Worse yet, the roof of the batter’s eye bar was in my way. I could tell it would land out of view on the other side of the roof. So, I ran toward RF down the bridge until the roof was no longer in play. I saw Sizemore run out of room and the ball bounced sideways off something in the CF seats, took one big hop and was gloved by a lucky fan. Here was the estimated flight path of the ball (as estimated unscientifically by me):
Due to the odd angle looking down from the bridge, I couldn’t tell for sure if it was a home run until the second it bounced in the seats. But the second it bounced, I jumped in the air with Tim still in arms and gave a little shout: ”YESSSSS!!!”
I immediately began fidgeting with my pocket to try to get my camera out, but I had a wardrobe malfunction and couldn’t get it out of my pocket until right before Griff crossed the plate. This is the only shot I got of our magical moment in Cleveland:
When we arrived home late that night, I watched the video highlight of Griffey’s home run on MLB.com, and I was excited to see that (although you cannot make us out) you can see me and Tim (the blue (my jersey) and white (the front of my hat) blob) moving across the bridge during the highlight of Griff’s bomb. Here is a screen shot that shows Griff’s HR ball in the air and Tim and me on the bridge:
And there you have it: our number one goal of the season completed! Never did I imagine 20 years ago, as an eighth grader going to games with my folks and marvelling at Griffey hitting homeruns in the Kingdome, that some day I would be in Cleveland, Ohio and witness the Greatest Mariner of All-Time hit a home run for the M’s while spending an afternoon at the ball park with my son. It was truly incredible.
And, as my mom said to my dad while watching the game on TV some 2,500+ miles away, “that home run just made Todd’s whole trip.” It did. In fact, it made my whole season.
Now…I hope to get a chance to do it again!!
Okay, now that we have the most important part of the game covered, why don’t we go back and start from the beginning. It was kids’ day at the park. Outside the LF entrance, they had all sorts of games and events for kids. Like these little peddle cars that Tim drove around a little coned track:
After Tim drove this car, Colleen and Tim played around some more while I went into the Jake and watched the last few minutes of Mariners BP. I hadn’t gotten much in terms of stadium pictures the day before, so I needed to tour around a bit.
I headed to home plate where I got this panaramic view:
I headed down to the front row and tried to walk down the 1B line in that big red front aisle, but I got booted out. Apparently, that aisle is only for really special people. Since it was such an important aisle, I took a picture of it…
Two seconds later, Colleen called me and I headed back over to LF and met up with her and Tim.
We had excellent seats in the second deck just above the Mariners bullpen. So we headed over there to check things out.
Colleen sat in our seats while Tim and I hung out in the front row where this was our view…
After playing catch in the OF, Felix went into the bullpen and pitched off of the mound to M’s back-up catcher Rob Johnson. (I’ll still call Kenji Johjima our starter). It was pretty funny watching Felix warm up. We actually couldn’t see Felix because the mounds are under the second deck. So we could just see the ball fly into view and into Johnson’s glove.
All of a sudden Tim started yelling down to Johnson: “Hey, sneakers! Hey, sneakers! Can you throw me a ball sneakers! Hey, sneakers! Hey, sneakers! Hey, sneakers!”
I asked Tim why he was calling Johnson sneakers and explained his name was Rob Johnson. Tim responded, “That’s sneakers. Sneakers is my friend.”
I asked him why he called him sneakers. “He’s wearing sneakers.” Of course!
A few minutes later, the Mariners relievers marched out to take their spot in the bullpen:
Above to the right is the aftermath of a hilarious scene that I missed photographing. (I was wearing a new pair of shorts and I could never seem to get my camera out of the cargo pockets in time!). Mariners closer David Aardsma is standing at the bottom. Two seconds before this shot, he just finished going down that line of relievers having each of them smell the inside of his hat. Each reliever buried his face in Aardsma’s cap and then they would chat about how it smelled. It was pretty hilarious — much more hilarious than this picture of the aftermath of smellfest.
Soon, the game started. Just then, Tim spotted the kids’ funland that was situated directly behind our section (section 316). Here is a photo:
As MLB stadium play areas go, this one is pretty weak. If you have young kids, you’ll notice that everything in here is something you probably have in your playroom or back yard, or maybe your friends’ have it in their playroom or back yard. Nothing special here. Step 2, the manufacturer of all this stuff, is headquartered just outside of Cleveland. I guess that is why they have an all-Step 2 play area. Whether it was comparatively weak or not, Tim still loved it in there. He never wanted to leave he was having so much fun. Therefore, Colleen hung out with him and I watched the Mariners bat from the standing room counter behind our section. It looked like this:
Here are a couple more picts showing the empty upper deck concourse in RF and an incredibly steep look down to the RF foul pole:
This is interesting. Exactly like the bullpens at Nationals Part, the bullpen in the RF corner (to the right) is field turf, but the bullpen in CF (to the left) is real grass. Odd, huh? In D.C., I thought it was because there was an entrance from the employee-only (worker) level concourse where they could bring tractors, etc., through the bullpen to the field. I figured they put in turf so the heavy equipment passing through the bullpen wouldn’t get damaged. But I didn’t notice a similar tractor entrance in Cleveland. I’m not sure why one bullpen is grass and the other is turf.
Here is a view into the Mariners dugout — where Griffey (pre-home run) can be seen chatting up some of his teammates):
I headed up to the upper corner in LF where I got this view:
So, remember I mentioned Colleen was in line for pizza when Griff hit his home run? Well, she wasn’t able to get any. She is a vegatarian and when she got to the front of the line, they had just given away the last slice of cheese pizza. All that was left was pepperoni. So she came back and met up with us again.
After a little bit, we went back and I stood in the incredibly short but frustratingly slow pizza line. While in line, I took this picture of King Felix:
There were literally only 2 people in front of me in line for pizza. But before I made my way to the front of the line, Felix retired the side, the teams switched positions, and Griff came to bat. I was forced to abandon my spot in line to go watch Griff’s at bat, and take this picture:
After Tim got some pizza in him (yes, I eventually did make it through the pizza line), Tim forgot about the play area and we relocated to the LF bleachers so he wouldn’t see the playarea again.
Here is Tim out in the bleachers:
It was Kids Run The Bases day, but we had a six hour drive following the game, and Tim really needed a nap in the car so we headed out.
Despite two terrible losses, it was great to see our Mariners once again this season, and it was OUTSTANDING to see Griff hit his 624th home run of his career.
Season Fan Stats:
27 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun (Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)
12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
22 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
25 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry)
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) – Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)
For the second day in a row, we woke up and had breakfast and played some baseball in Copley Square. On this day, however, we just played catch and did some base running (on four drains in front of the Church in the square).
Soon, it was time to head to Fenway Park for our final game of the weekend roadtrip. We were hoping for a Mariners sweep. But it wasn’t in the cards.
I’m going to break with my usual protocol and skip to the fourth inning. I’ll go back and cover the game from the beginning, but I don’t want to bury the most important part of this unfortunate Mariners loss in the middle of the entry.
You might have noticed by now that I am a big Mariners fan. And, by definition, that means I am a huge Ken Griffey, Jr. fan. Ken Griffey, Jr. means everything to Mariners fans (at least to real Mariners fans). I was 13 when Griff broke into the Mariners back in 1989.
The Mariners were a fairly unimportant team until 1989. Well, they were important to me and about 10,000 other people in the state of Washington. But they were sort of a minor league Major League team to everyone else. They had zero winning seasons in their history. There were constant rumors and threats that the team would move — most notably to Tampa, Florida. The Kingdome — as beautiful and perfect as it was — was largely empty. (By the way, that wasn’t sarcasm, the Kingdome was, indeed, beautiful and perfect).
And then, in April 1989, things changed. KEN GRIFFEY, JR. ARRIVED! All of a sudden, one of the most celebrated young ball players in baseball was a Seattle Mariner. People started to pay some attention to our club. People started showing up at the Kingdome.
In 1991, we had a WINNING SEASON!
In 1995, we WON THE WEST! We made the PLAYOFFS!! We were two games from the World Series.
The Mariners were no longer going to move away! Instead, they built Safeco Field. It was a golden era in Mariners baseball.
Long story short: Ken Griffey, Jr. changed baseball in Seattle, he saved baseball in Seattle, he IS baseball in Seattle.
Therefore, when my son was born in 2006 and we started going to baseball games together, I had a goal: Take Tim to see Griffey.
We have had incredibly bad luck in this respect. Prior to this weekend, we had gone to see him play more than 10 times, and Griff played in only three of those games. In those games, he has had gone hitless (but with a bunch of walks).
So we turn to this game. Shortly before game time, they announced the starting line-up. I was more saddened to learn that Mike Sweeney would be DH’ing and Griffey would have the day off.
I started thinking worst case scenario. This is very possibly our final Mariners game of the season. They don’t come back to the Northeast this season. In 30 years, would Tim have to tell his son, “Yeah, your grandpa took me to see the great Ken Griffey, Jr. when I was a boy. But I never saw him get a hit.” I hated the thought. But there was nothing I could do about it. The Mariners were facing a lefty, Jon Lester, and Mike Sweeney had to get his work in to stay sharp.
Then in the fourth inning (with no disrepect to Sweeney), something wonderful happened:
I was totally unprepared. (That notice was actually posted in the 5th or 6th inning).
Tim was sitting on my shoulders. We were at a food stand behind the grandstand behind the seats by the 1B dugout. I had just ordered a sausage with onions and peppers (for me), a hot dog (for Tim), a diet coke, and a bag of peanuts. There was no counter at the cash registered so I had to hold everything in one hand while finding my money and paying the cashier with the other hand (while still balancing Tim on my shoulders with no hands).
In the midst of all of this, I hear the following over the stadium P.A. system:
“Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, JUNIOR!”
Instantly, my thought was, “The Red Sox don’t have a Junior! AHHHHH!!!”
I jammed my wallet and change into my pocket, gathered up everything as best as I could and ran toward the field as fast as I could.
This picture shows our starting point and our route to the field:
When we ran into the back of the grandstand, I believe we were in Section 13 or 14.
I yelled up to Tim, “I THINK GRIFF IS UP!”
Right as we got in view of the field, we saw Lester start his wind up and deliver a pitch to Griffey. What happened next was possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen at a major league stadium: Griff drilled the pitch off of the Green Monster!
According to my DVR, it looked something like this:
I think that to everyone else in the stadium, it was just a random lead off hit in the top of the fourth inning. But to me, it was possibly the greatest baseball moment ever. For the first time in over ten years, I witnessed Ken Griffey, Jr. — my boyhood hero and favorite baseball player of all-time — get a hit for my Seattle Mariners and I witnessed it with my son sitting on my shoulders sharing the moment with me. And the fact that he hit the ball off the Green Monster, the most famous outfield wall in baseball, made it even more exciting.
This simple hit is easily the highlight of my season so far, and I plan to think and talk about it with Tim for years and years to come. I hope Tim and I get another chance to see Griffey play — this season and next. But, if that is not possible, this hit will keep me satisfied.
(By way of background and to clarify, *I* have seen Griffey get tons of hits, hit numerous homeruns, multiple grand slams, makes dozens of circus catches (including the one when he broke his arm in half) — but I’d never shared any of those moments with Tim. That’s what made this hit so special).
By the time I could get to a spot where I could put our food down and get to my camera, Franklin Gutierrez had advanced Griff to second with a single. Here is Griff leading off of second:
Okay, now lets back track to the beginning of the game.
We entered the stadium again through the CF gate on Lansdowne Street. It was a 1:35 start, but the teams still took BP. We arrived as the first group of Mariners were hitting, including Griffey and Ichiro.
We started out in the CF bleachers. Griffey was blasting bombs into the RF bleachers. I wanted to go over there, but there is no way I am going to try to catch a HR ball with Tim on my shoulders. Shortly after we arrived, Griff hit a ground rule double to straight away CF that bounced up into the stands and directly into my Dad’s glove.
My Dad has had great luck with Griffey this year. In addition to this BP ground rule double, on the first day of spring training, my Dad got Griff’s second BP homerun in his second tour of duty with the Mariners.
I decided to go up onto the Green Monster and see if Tim and I could get into the seating area. There is a staircase in the CF concourse that takes you up to the Green Monster. You can walk out to the edge of the seating area, but they won’t let you out into the seats without a Monster ticket. So Tim and I just stood around up there for a few minutes taking in the view before heading back down to the field level seats.
I had a thought in the back of my head that it would be neat to get a ball thrown up to us on the Green Monster. Tim and I stood in the closest spot to the seats that you can get to without a Monster ticket:
We stood in the spot under the red arrow where the guy in the red shirt is standing. I noticed Jason Vargas and Jason Phillips standing together below in LCF. (In the picture to the right, that is Jason Phillips after the two Jasons split up).
After a few minutes, someone hit a ball to Vargas. I yelled down from the Mondster, “Hey, Vargas!!!!” He heard me! He looked up! He turned around and he fired the ball to me. Unfortunately, it was too low and it clanked off a light and some bricks just below us — out of reach.
Jason Phillips stood and watched Vargas’s failed attempt. And just then, someone hit him a ball. “Hey, Jason!” Phillips looked back up at me. He turned around and he fired the ball to me. A perfect strike. It would have hit me directly in the chest. It was a very impressive throw, and much appreciated.
Here is a picture that illustrates the flight of the ball:
At the time Phillips threw the ball, he was even a little bit — maybe 10-15 feet — closer toward LF. He didn’t lob the ball up to me. He fired it on a line, just like the arrow in this picture. As I said, a very impressive throw.
Tim and I then went down to the CF bleachers and met up with my mom who was standing right where my Dad caught Griff’s ground rule double about 10 minutes earlier.
Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard were standing below us. Felix runs all over the place trying to make high light reel catches during BP. At one point, he caught one near us. He looked up and made I contact with me (and Tim). There was a lady from Seattle shouting at him standing directly next to me to my left. Felix fired the ball up to us. He threw it to our right side so the shouting lady wouldn’t interfere. I could have caught it without moving at all — I just had to reach across my body and back hand it. However, as I started to go for the backhand, I realize there was a 8′ish year old boy wearning a Red Sox jersey and a glove standing next to me. If I didn’t catch the ball, he’d get it. I decided to let me have it since we already had the ball from Jason Phillips and we got Felix’s warm up ball the day before.
Soon thereafter, someone hit a ball into the OF corner by the end of the Red Sox bullpen. Here was the scene:
We were standing in the red circle. Erik Bedard was standing at the red “X”. There was a rope running along the warning track. (I think it was to keep people involved in the pre-game ceremonies off of the grass). The rope went down the warning track and around a big door in the outfield wall. The ball went in the corner behind the rope as shown above.
Bedard turned around and walked over and grabbed the ball. A whole bunch of people including a bunch of 10′ish year old kids, were standing by the bullpen directly above the ball. I figured Bedard would grab it and flip it up to them. While those people all yelled at Bedard for the ball, Erik picked it up and looked at them. He then walked as slowly as humanly possible back over to the yellow “X” in the picture above. Then he looked up and made eye contact with me (and Tim), and fired the ball to us. I had the feeling that Bedard had watched Felix throw us the ball when I let the kid catch it and he was trying to finish what Felix had started. The yelling lady was still next to me. Like Felix, Bedard threw the ball to my right so she wouldn’t get it.
Next, it was time to walk around. We checked out the RF corner and the Pesky Pole:
As RF corners go, this is one of the most interesting in baseball. Not very “corner-ish.” More like a RF curve.
We walked up through the old wooden grandstand seats:
We headed out to Yawkey Way and watched Tom Caron from NESN interview comedian Mike O’Malley:
Sean Casey was walking around the NESN set. I walked over to get a picture of him (or possibly with him), but he vanished into thin air.
It was getting close to game time, so we walked back into the stadium and went through the busy concourse behind home plate:
When we were down here, we got Tim a chocolate ice cream helmet and headed toward our seats in the grandstand behind home plate:
The seats were great. Here was our view:
The red arrow points to where Tim and I were standing when Griffey hit his single off of the Green Monster.
We watched te pre-game festivities such as the reading of the Fenway Park Code of Conduct…
…the carrying of the pink backpack to the Mariners bullpen by Christ Jakubauskas…
…the third ceremonial first pitch by Marky Mark Wahlberg (and his re-do third ceremonial first pitch due to his first third ceremonial first pitch sailing high over the catcher to the backstop):
Finally, it was game time. As always, future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki led off for the Mariners:
I like this picture for two reasons — (i) the ball is captured right above the plate (but low, it was called a ball) and (ii) Dustin Pedroia is, for some reason, floating in the air at second base (click on the picture to see it larger, Pedroia is totally off of the ground).
I got some more Red Sox pictures:
I wanted to get a shot of Big Papi clapping his hands before stepping into the box but I missed it. He hit the next pitch into the RF bleachers, the second Red Sox home run in the first inning.
By the time Griff was up for a second time, we were touring around in the grandstand out beyond the Pesky Pole. He walked. Here he is leading off first base:
We went out to the concourse in the RF corner and took this picture showing the Red Sox World Series and other banners:
FYI, see the guy wearing the red shirt above the blue 1967 banner in the middle of the picture? He is standing in the walkway behind the grandstand seats where Tim and I spent a lot of time over the course of the weekend.
The red arrow in that last picture is pointing to this:
I’m guessing this guy is called the “Green Monster.” We saw the real one of this guy running around on the field before each game, but we never saw him in the crowd. This was the best we could do with respect to getting a mascot picture.
See the red arrow in that last picture? It is pointing to a staircase that leads to the “Players Club.” I’m not sure what the Players Club is all about. It looked like it was for special events or people with special tickets. But we headed in to check it out and no one seemed to mind. Here is what it looked like:
…more players club…
…and we found something cool in the Players Club:
(From Left: 2004 World Series Trophy, Todd & Tim, 2007 World Series Trophy)
We walked out of the players club just in time to see this…
Through the break in the grandstand and bleachers, that is Jacoby Ellsbury hitting a home run to bring the score to 4-3 Mariners.
We met up with my folks and watched the game on a TV while we ate some food at the tables in the RF corner. From our table, you could see the Players Club above the food stands:
While we sat here, the Mariners brought in Miguel Batista. It was not Miguel’s day. He gave up a bunch of runs and the Mariners eventually lost the game 8-4.
Tim and I watched the last inning from our familiar RF corner by the Mariners bullpen. We were hoping Griff would get one more at bat, but it wasn’t in the cards. We settled for one more picture with the field before heading out:
This game, we switched things up and exited the stadium from the RF exit so I could get a picture of this:
Boston Red Sox
The greatest hitter who ever lived, an American patriot, and a pioneer in the development of the Jimmy Fund. Ted Williams will forever be one of the great heroes in the history of baseball, Boston and America. He amassed 521 home runs despite sacrificing five years in his prime to serve his country during World War II and the Korean War. He was a relentless champion of children, such as this child to whom he is offering his cap, in their battle against cancer, and helped make the Jimmy Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute the world renowned center of research and care that it is today.
The memory of Ted Williams will forever be a point of pride for the Boston Red Sox, the people of Boston, New England, and the United States of America.
We took one more picture outside:
With that, we started our walk back to the hotel…
For so many reasons, it was such an awesome weekend shared with Tim and my folks.
Season Fan Stats:
18 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
13 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
14 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
17 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)