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August 6, 2012 marked our only Mariners game at Camden Yards of the season. So we had to make the most of it. We arrived in plenty of time, got out tickets, and waited for those gates to open up and let us at our Mariners:
When we made our way into the stadium, the Orioles were hitting and our Mariners were stretching in front of their dugout. So that’s where we headed. As we approached the dugout, Stephen Pryor was walking down the line a bit to throw his glove in the grass outside of the *stretch zone* — I asked and he happily agreed to pose for this picture with the boys:
I think Kellan’s face in that picture is hilarious. He simply refused to smile at the time. He does that at times.
We were safely out of foul ball zone so I could let down my *don’t hit my boys* guard. But moments after that picture with Pryor, an Orioles batter ripped a foul ball off of a protective net and it bounced over to the warning track and rolled to a stop just below us. I reached over and grabbed it.
Thank you, very much, Orioles batter and lucky ricochet!
Then we headed above the dugout and watched our guys chat with each other…
…and then go through their stretching routine.
As the stretching began to wind down, I decided we should head down the LF line so we could claim a nice spot (among the 10 fans over there in foul territory) to watch the M’s play catch. As we started walking down the line, I saw that Jason Phillips was standing on the foul warning track chatting with some guy (a non-uniformed Mariners employee). As we were walking, Phillips looked up and saw us and he walked over to the bag of baseballs and grabbed one.
Phillips was deep in conversation when we reached Phillips, but he walked over and set the baseball in Tim’s glove.
Since he was deep in conversation, we didn’t wait around to chat with Phillips. We just continued down the line. We stopped about one section in from the foul pole and an Oriole immediately hit a baseball foul right behind us. It trickled down the stairs right to us.
With Ichiro no longer on the team, King Felix is by far Tim’s new favorite Mariner. At this game, he was sporting his white “Hernandez” t-shirt jersey that the Mariners gave my folks when they were invited to a game in the owners’ suite earlier in the season. As all of the players made their way down the line, they stopped about 2-3 sections down from us and gathered around Phillips.
I pointed out Felix to Tim and Tim screamed, “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, FEEEEELIX!” Felix turned around and said “hi” and waved at Tim. He then looked back-and-forth like he was searching for something. He was. It was the baseball bag. He went over, grabbed a ball, and launched a arching pop fly in Tim’s direction. Tim tried to navigate the seats in the first row, but the ball fell one seat short. No catch, but Tim easily picked up the commemorative Orioles Park baseball from the folded seat.
Moments later, Felix started signing autographs. We scooted over to the small gathering of people around Felix. I was holding Kellan but another fan helped guide time right into the thick of the group…
…(you can see his hat just under the arms of the guy in the royal blue shirt) and King Felix stepped back from the group to get an extra good hold on the ball as he put a beautiful signature right on the sweet spot of the baseball he had just tossed to Tim.
Thanks, again, Felix! (And congrats again on the Perfecto!)
On our drive home, Tim was looking at the Felix autograph while chatting on the phone with his mommy and explaining the autograph. He said something hilarious: “Felix’s autograph is so cool. It’s part signature and part letters! You know how most autographs are just scribbles like a signature? Well, this is both signature and letters!!!” (That’s a paraphrase, by the way).
Once the Mariners started playing catch, we stationed ourselves between Oliver Perez and Shawn Kelley:
Perez was playing catch with King Felix while Kelley played catch with Lucas Luetge.
This was some of the coolest *catch watching* in which we have ever participated. Perez, who apparently has a crazy-strong arm, and Felix were playing long toss and Felix just kept scooting back-and-back-and-back. Eventually, Perez threw a homerun over the CF fence and into the batters’ eye. The grass in the batters’ eye is elevated so Felix was able to see Perez when he went up to retrieve the ball. So Perez and Felix ended up playing catch from the batters’ eye to the LF warning track for a minute or two. It was mighty impressive!
When Felix came back into CF it got even more interesting. Felix nearly threw a ball into the seats. Perez had to drift all the way back to the wall and reach up to get the ball. Then, Felix threw a ball about one full section to our right. It was definitely going into the stands. I raced over there and there was zero doubt in my mind that I was going to catch it. The throw was so offline and high that it didn’t seem like Perez was even going for it. But then, as I reached up to make the easy catch at head level, Perez came flying in and made a running/jumping catch about one foot in front of my glove!
The whole thing was a ton of fun to watch.
Felix and Perez finished with some shorter harder throwing:
And then Felix came over to the wall and started signing autographs again. Tim really wanted to get his picture with Felix, but there were too many people at this point gathered around trying to get an autograph. So we backed away from the scene…and got rewarded for it. As Felix signed autographs, Perez slowly walked toward the dugout. Tim was just goofing off minding his own business in the front row when Perez walked up behind him and handed over the highly entertaining Perez-King Felix warm up baseball. Awesome!
While all of this was going on with Felix and Perez, I had also been communicating a bit with Shawn Kelley. Kelley seems to be a super cool guy, a great dad and a big fan of kids. And if you follow him on Twitter, you’ll see he’s pretty funny too.
Well, my goal was to get a picture of him with the boys. At times while players warm up, you can make eye contact or get in a word or two without disturbing their process. I used these little breaks in the action to ask Kelley if the boys could get a picture with him after he was done warming up.
It was funny because he kept motioning like, “You want my autograph?” And I would respond, “That would be cool too, but I really want a picture with you.”
Then, wouldn’t you know it, Kellan fell down and scraped his knee a bit (he does this all the time) right as Kelley wrapped up his throwing. Kelley still thought we were asking for an autograph. But all of our baseballs were put away and I didn’t feel like pulling one out. I really just wanted a picture of him and the boys. Because of the sniffling due to the scraped knee, the picture ended up being just Tim and Shawn:
Probably also due to the sniffling from the scraped knees, before leaving Shawn reached out and handed his warm up baseball to Kellan. And it actually did the trick perfectly! Kellan loves when he gets a baseball. His eyes lit up and he yelled, “Baseball!”
And, hey, it was an Orioles Park commemorative (as was the Perez-Felix warm up baseball!)
Double thanks, Shawn! Keep up the good work!
Once all of the pitchers were finished playing catch, we decided to head out to LCF by the bullpens. Blake Beavan was out there and he decided to toss us this:
While out by the bullpen, Kellan and I were hanging out in one row and Tim was sitting right in front of me. We spend most of our BP time in foul territory so we catch very few homerun balls. In fact, I’m pretty sure the last time I caught a BP homerun on the fly at Camden Yards was in 2004 before Tim was born. Well, it is time to reset that clock. Now, it has been since August 6, 2012.
A Mariner took a mighty hack and hit a screaming liner right to me. Here is a reenactment of where I caught it, right above Tim’s head:
Yeah, he was busy eating a Nature Valley bar at the time.
That was it for BP. Time to hit the kids’ play area. We cut through the cross aisle around home plate and had an usher take our picture on the way:
After a vigorous bouncy house session, Tim and Kellan played on the too high and dangerous play fort…
…and then Tim did some pitching:
As Tim was unleashing his fastball fury, a fan walked by and yelled something like, “Looking good, King Felix!!!”
After the boys did some playing, we headed over to the bullpen to watch Jason Vargas warm up for the game:
He was looking pretty good. And he had just been named A.L. Pitcher of the Month for July. So I was hoping for good things from him in this game.
Once again (this is becoming the norm this season), Tim requested to do the old switcheroo – ice cream first, dinner second. So we did. We grabbed some ice cream helmets and found some seats in (approximately) section 62:
But something was amiss. Kellan wanted nothing to do with his ice cream. Instead, he just wanted to get out of those seats ASAP:
In that picture, he is trying to squeeze by me into the aisle. He screamed throughout the national anthem. I knew we couldn’t stay there. Oddly enough, he calmed down the second we left this section.
We moved to some nearby handicapped accessible seats in the cross aisle…
…and, instantly, Kellan’s screaming turned to smiles:
But he still didn’t want his ice cream. So, as Dustin Ackley led off the game for the Mariners…
…, I took one for the team and ate Kellan’s ice cream.
The Mariners failed to score in the first. Then it was Vargas’s turn:
Although he gave up two hits (including a double), he also got through the first inning unscathed.
Unfortunately, Chris Tillman kept retiring Mariners batters while Vargas gave up three runs in the bottom of the second. They were the only runs Vargas would give up over eight otherwise strong innings of work. But the Mariners just weren’t hitting.
We followed ice cream with a tasty pizza dinner:
I can’t remember who the batter was, but one piece of excitement was when one of the Orioles hit a single into LF and his bat traveled almost as far as the baseball. Here is Kyle Seager retrieving the barrel of the bat from shallow LF:
While we were still eating our pizza, the Oriole Bird wandered by on his way to deliver some birthday wishes to several fans. He stopped to pose for a picture with Tim (and his pizza crust):
Kellan kept a watchful eye on the big, scary Bird:
When the Bird wandered by again, after delivering a gift bag to a second birthday celebrating fan, Tim went over to say hi again and the Bird swiped the hat right off of Tim’s head…
…and proceeded to munch on it in his big beaked mouth. Tim got a great kick out of the Bird’s antics.
In the fifth inning, Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl stopped by to say hi. He also asked me, “is it too early to mention the no hitter?” Indeed, Chris Tillman was throwing a no-no at the time. I quickly responded, “No, Tillman is throwing a no hitter!!!”
That did the trick: Mike Carp came up moments later and rapped the first Mariners hit of the night into LF.
Matt also mentioned that a guy who he described as “Alex from Seattle” was looking for me. I had no clue who that was. But we were soon pleasantly surprised when Alex “Not from Seattle but wearing a Mariners t-shirt” Kopp approached.
We last saw Alex at PNC Park on June 9th (for MyGameBalls.com’s Ballhawkfest 2012). Since then, Alex has started his first job out of college. It was great to catch up with Alex for an inning or two…during which Alex had a great (but unsuccessful) chance at catching his first ever game foul ball. Don’t worry, the next day he would catch a Nick Markakis game homerun on the fly in the flag court).
Around the sixth inning, we witnessed one of the worst scenes we’ve ever witnessed at a ball park. It looked sort of like this:
Here’s what happened. We ran over to the moon bounce for a second round of bouncing. Some kids were in the bounce so we had to stand in line. I was holding Kellan and getting him ready (taking his shoes off) when they started letting the next group of kids into the moon bounce. Tim ran up and jumped into the moon bounce. Right as I started to approach with Kellan, a 45-ish year old dad with a 4-ish year old son walked up and asked the moon bounce attendants to call for help. The sat down on the corner of the moon bounce mat, about 2 feet in front of us, and the kid’s head was bleeding like crazy. You can see the dad in the blue shirt and orange hat on the right side of the photo above, with blood all around them on the ground.
My mom was an ICU nurse and she tells me that head wounds bleed a lot. But, man, I’ve never seen anything like this. The kid was drenched in blood. My first instinct was to shield Kellan from seeing what was going on. Another Mariners fan was standing right there (in the hot and sweaty evening air) and he freaked out (in a good way). He ripped off his (no doubt sweaty) shirt and tried to give it to the dad to wipe up the kids’ blood. The dad was very thankful but declined because he had something of his own to clean up the kid.
I have no clue what happened to the kid. My first thought was that he fell off of the terribly dangerous looking and tall play set, but I didn’t see any blood on the ground over there.
All sorts of cops and security people ran over. The dad did a great job comforting his boy and calling for more help.
Meanwhile, Tim was bouncing in the moon bounce and I circled around the side so Kellan wouldn’t see too much of what was going on. All of a sudden, a 30-ish year old lady took a backwards dive right onto the cement. Someone yelled that she was having a seizure, but she was not moving at all. My guess is that she passed out from watching the kid with the bloody head. Whatever happened, she wasn’t moving at all. She no doubt bashed her head hard of the cement when she fell. Her daughter (shown on the far left sitting on the ground wearing pink) started to totally freak out.
The lady seemed to be with some other people who started to tend to her. They all called for more help and scream out for another ambulance (the dad had already asked for one for the boy).
Just then, they let the kids out of the moon bounce. The bloody kid was practically sitting on Tim’s shoes so he had to go right up to the dad and kid to get them. Actually, you can see Tim’s hat directly above the dad’s orange hat as he is grabbing his shoes. Once he ran over to me and put on his shoes, I got my boys out of there as fast as humanly possible.
There was bad mojo in the air and I wanted none of it. I have no clue why that cop appears to be smiling/laughing for my camera. It was a very serious and unpleasant scene. It might just be a bad picture and he wasn’t really smiling. Who knows.
We got out of there and headed back to the cross-aisle:
Soon, we headed behind home plate. The Mariners were still losing 3-0. They did eventually score one run in the 8th inning and they definitely had opportunities to score a second and third run, but they just couldn’t do it.
We headed behind the dugout in the cross-aisle to watch the 8th and 9th innings. Interestingly enough, the usher at the top wouldn’t let us stand in the cross aisle (that’s a new one on me at Camden Yards), instead she *made us* sit in the fancy seats behind the home plate end of the dugout:
Okay, usher. If you insist!
I took a bunch of unimpressive action shots as the Mariners tried unsuccessfully to tie up the score.
Seager hit a 1-out single in the top of the ninth:
At this point, a homerun would have tied up the score.
Mike Carp grounded out sending Seager to 2B:
Casper Wells hit a weak grounder for an infield single:
Now, with two outs, a homerun would have put the Mariners ahead and a gapped would have probably at tied it.
But, as I mentioned, it wasn’t to be. Eric Thames (not on this pitch) grounded into a game ending fielder’s choice:
That sent out Mariners in-person season record to 2-1. Alas, no undefeated Mariners season for us in 2012.
After the game, an usher took our picture behind the Mariners dugout:
And one our way out of the stadium, I took this panorama from right next to the batters’ eye:
Thankfully, our next three games would feature the Mariners at Safeco Field. Hooray!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|17/15 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves|
|26 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|95 Baseballs – Mariners 15, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1|
|17 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1|
|10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park6/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird|
|6/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|6 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez|
Bonus Picture: Tim likes to pose with the many Orioles signs all over the place at Camden Yards: