Results tagged ‘ GFS ’

Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip – Game 4, Yankees at Mets (5/27/2013)

On May 27, 2013, my dad’s birthday, we woke up in DuBois, Pennsylvania, with a bonus Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip game on tap for later that night in Queens.
We had plenty of time to get to NY so we started the day with a nice leisurely free breakfast in our hotel dining area:

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We had nothing but good things to say about the brand-spanking new Fairfield Inn in DuBois. A very nice place to stay for the night.
We hit the road and had a nice drive across Pennsylvania. It was route I’d never taken before. The boys did a little snacking in the car, and did some jumping jacks to burn some energy at a rest stop…

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…, then it was in to New Jersey, and on to the big city.

When we reached Manhattan, we parked in the upper west side and then dined on some huge pizza slices…

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…at Rays on 82nd and Columbus.

Sometimes I have trouble figuring out where we should get on the subway in the upper west side. So I gave Zack Hample a call. He pointed us in the right direction. And, wouldn’t you know it, as we approached the subway…

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…we ran into Zack on the sidewalk. It had only been 3 days earlier that we were hanging out with Zack in Toronto. It was cool to bump into him again on the same roadtrip, although not at another game.

My boys love riding the subway:

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My dad had never been to Shea or Citi Field and he was happy to get to see the sights…

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…from the 7 Train.

You know we had to get this photo right after arriving at Citi Field:

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We played a little catch in the parking lot and then hopped in line. As I held our spot, my dad took the boys for a little walk so he could see the outside of Citi Field. On their way back…

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…, Tim was showing off his muscles.

Once we headed into the stadium, we all headed to foul territory down the RF foul line. After a few minutes, the boys and I headed to the corner spot in RCF by the bullpens. Here was out view (to the left)…

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…and my dad snapped that picture of us hanging out at the bottom of the steep RF steps. In that line up of player in RCF, the left one in from the left (closest to us) was Bobby Parnell. Eventually, a baseball was hit out to the warning track about half way between the players and us. Parnell ran over to grab it, and he was kind enough to toss it up to us.

Thanks, Bobby!

It was really bright in RCF and nice and shady in LF, so we decided to head over there. On our way, we met up with Mr. Met:

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This was our view in LCF:

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Nothing was doing out there. The most interesting part of our time out in LCF was getting to watch Mariano Rivera shagging fly balls.

Coming into this game, at least one player or coach from every MLB team had thrown us a baseball since Tim’s first game back in 2006, every team, that is, except the Yankees. I was hoping we could cross the Yankees off the toss-up list at this game.

I was really hoping we could get a toss-up from Ichiro, but before Ichiro made it out to RF, we ran into another former Mariner, Shawn Kelley. And, wouldn’t you know, the former-Mariner now in a Yankees uniform tossed us a baseball:

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IN that picture, Tim is looking at me in disbelief because I had the audacity to catch the baseball that Shawn tossed to him after it sailed two feet over Tim’s head. Had I not caught it, we never would have seen it again. But Tim was definitely bummed out that he didn’t get to make the catch. Anyway…

Thanks, Shawn!

Then Tim’s favorite player (who sadly now wears pinstriped pajamas as his home uniform) came out to field some balls in RF:

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Hey, I failed to mention that, while we were in LCF, my dad found his way over to the corner spot where we got the ball from Parnell. At the time, Ichiro was blistering balls all over RF and the RF seats. When he hit a laser out to RCF, an unidentified Yankee fielded the ball and tossed it to my dad; a pretty cool birthday present from the Yankees.

We headed over to RF to watch Ichiro. He tossed several balls into the seats in foul territory, but nothing anyway near us. Once he headed to the dugout, we decided it was a bit too crowded in the seats. So we called it a day for BP, headed off to get some ice cream and headed to the picnic tables under Shea Bridge so the boys could eat their ice cream in peace:

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Kellan is still only two years old and is only potty trained when he feels like it. So he wears pullups most of the time. As we pulled into Manhattan, I changed Kellan and realized that I only had one more pullup! We were far from my car when we stopped into a drug store to get a fresh pack of pullups. As the kids ate their ice cream, I counted that I had 17 pullups in my backpack — quite possibly a new Major League record. I think this meant that my dad had about 8 in his back pack too. By the way, it ended up that I did need to buy them. Oh, well…better safe than sorry.

As the boys ate their ice cream two interesting things happened:

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First, a usher came over and toss a ball over the fence to the boys. Tim was mid-ice cream and couldn’t get his glove on in time. After the Shawn Kelley toss-up, I knew Tim wanted to be the one to catch (or at least secure) this ball, so I literally let the ball just hit me in the chest and bounce back against the fence. Tim ran over and grabbed it with his glove still in his throwing hand (picture above to the right).

Second, the same usher came back over to us two minute later with another ball. He felt that both boys should get a ball. This time, Tim had time to get his glove on and he made a nice catch on the high toss over the fence (there he is with it in the photo above to the left). Meanwhile, Kellan was shoveling ice cream into his face.

Double thanks, Usher!

By the way, that is the usher walking away from us behind Tim in the photo above to the left.

My dad came and found us. And look who else found us once my dad arrived:

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From time-to-time, Kellan has a case of the terrible twos. And this game featured a couple of them, including right when the game was about to start. That’s okay though. He can sit on my shoulders and fuss it up while we walk around and have a nice time. My dad needed to see some more of the ballpark so we all headed up to the Pepsi Porch in RF. That’s where we were when the game started. Here’s the second pitch…

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…because it ended up being a better picture than my shot of the first pitch.

The pitching match up was Jon Neise vs. Phil Hughes. That second pitch picture features a match up of Neise against Brett Gardner. Neise won that match up by way of strikeout.
My dad got his first taste of New York ushering…

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…while watching Robby Cano strike out for the final out of the top of the first. Neise k’d all three batters he faced. Anyway, see that little gate to my dad’s right in that picture above to the right? When we walked up to the standing room area, my dad walked up to that gate and rested his hands on top of the gate – a very natural thing to do in an SRO area. The usher told my dad that he couldn’t stand at the gate, he had to move over to the left…which was a pretty pointless rule.

On our way out of the Pepsi Porch, we got a picture of Tim posing in front of the 7 Train and muffler city (that’s my name for it. Whatever it’s called, it is an eye sore):

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And then Tim and my dad got a (bonus) picture with the Citi Field sign and some baseballs for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

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We were in the upper deck concourse down the 3B side in the top of the second when Ichiro came to the plate:

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Tim watched on with uneasy anticipation as his all-time favorite batter took the batters’ box wearing the wrong uniform. It was the first time we’d ever seen Ichiro bat in person wearing a non-Mariners uniform, and it was a bit unsettling.

We are never accustomed to wanting a Yankee to get a hit or do anything positive in a game. But all of us were happy when Ichiro laced a harmless single to CF:

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It was Ichiro’s only hit on the day. He went 1-3 with a walk.

If I had it my way, Ichiro would rip off another 200 hit season this year, but his teammates would always squander the opportunities and leave him stranded on base.
While we watched Ichiro bat, my dad chatted with an usher who pointed out this:

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You see it? Row 6 and, right behind it, row 6. Oops!

In the top of the third, we grabbed some food and finally found our seats:

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Tim and my dad enjoyed their food and ended up sitting in our seats for a while. Kellan and I were I our seats for about five minutes tops. I ended up ripping off a big piece of Kellan’s soft pretzel and giving it to him to eat. I knew it was a mistake the second I did it. Kellan launched into another case of the terrible twos. Instead of letting his whining annoy our fellow fans, I decided to head back over to the bullpen area where Kellan could work the crankiness out of his system without bothering other fans. Somehow, we ended up staying there most of the game.

In the top of the sixth inning, the Yankees took a 1-0 lead. Brett Gardner led off the inning with a triple and scored on a Jayson Nix RBI single.

In the bottom of the sixth, Gardner helped keep the 1-0 Yankees lead intact. At the time, Kellan and I were in the field level concourse in LF. There were two outs when Daniel Murphy came to the plate. Murphy blasted the ball to deep LCF. It had just enough to get out of the ballpark…but it didn’t have quite enough to get out of Gardner’s reach. Garden jumped high against the wall and brought the homerun back into the park for the final out of the inning. Here is a video clip of the catch.

Tim and my dad ended up meeting up with us back by the bullpens around the sixth or seventh inning. We played a ton of catch back there:

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Above to the left, Kellan was throwing balls against the wall while my dad played back up. Above to the right, I was throwing long tosses (essentially the entire length of Shea Bridge to Tim. No one seemed to care that we were doing there, so that was pretty cool.

You know what wasn’t cool? The fans by the bullpens:

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There were a bunch of Mets and Yankees fans and they were cursing up a storm at each other and putting down each other’s team. It was ridiculous. Eventually, an usher came over and threatened to kick out the guy above in the Mets shirt who is facing the camera. He felt this was a grave injustice and that it was the Yankees fans who should have been threatened to get kicked out.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, David Wright launched a game tying homerun to LF.

We had signed my dad up for a “First Game” certificate at the fan assistance booth in the upper deck early in the game. They told us to come back for the certificate in the seventh inning or later. We decided to head up to grab the certificate and get a picture of the four of us.

Turns out my dad’s certificate wasn’t ready so they ended up mailing it to him. During the eighth inning, an usher took this photo of us on our final stop on the GFS Roadtrip:

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Here was our view of the action from our SRO spot in the bottom of the eighth:

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Lucas Duda ended up striking out to end the eighth inning, but the Mets fans didn’t care because two batters earlier Daniel Murphy had come through with a go-ahead RBI single to CF. So the Mets were up 2-1 going into the top of the ninth.

As Bobby Parnell came in for the save attempt, we relocated to the SRO behind the field level seats behind 3B so we would be closer to the exits when the game ended.
Historically, I have found it difficult to get down to the umpire’s tunnel at the end of Mets home games at Citi Field. At first, I wasn’t even thinking we would try. But Kellan and I ended up walking down to the SRO area just behind the section immediately above the umpire tunnel.

The usher was not checking tickets. But we stayed in the concourse.

With one out, this was our view as Ichiro worked a walk:

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In a 8-pitch at bat, Lyle Overbay ended up striking out for the second out of the top of the ninth inning. In this course of battling Parnell, Overbay ended up hitting a little foul nubber right in front of the plate. I watched as catcher John Buck retrieved the ball and gave it back to home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth. Culbreth inspected the foul ball and then put it back in one of his baseball pouches.

Travis Hafner was the final batter of the game. As he batted, Kellan and I stood in the aisle right at the top of the stairs. Hafner ended up being retired on a moon shot, infield pop out to David Wright at 3B.

In terms of trying to get into position to get an umpire ball, pop fly outs are the best possible ending to a game. As everyone stood to watch the play, Kellan (on my shoulders) and I took off down the stairs and we had no problem reaching the umpire tunnel before Culbreth arrived. Culbreth ended up tossing a few baseballs to kids on the OF side of the tunnel. Then he turned and tossed his final baseball to us:

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The baseball was all smudged and dirty. I have a strong feeling it was the foul nubber that Overbay hit before striking out for the second out of the game. Of course, there is no way to ever confirm that suspicion…but it’s fun to speculate.

Thanks, Fieldin!

Right after we got the ball from Culbreth, a teenage fan standing next to us looked at me and asked, “Todd and Tim!?” “Yeah…well, Todd and Kellan,” I responded. I didn’t recognize him at first because he has almost doubled in size since the last time we saw him, but I was pleased to be face-to-face once again with our former ballpark buddy and MyGameBalls.com member, Alex K.

We chatted for a minute or two in the seats and then I asked if he could head up to the concourse with us so he could say hi to Tim. I knew Tim would be psyched to see him. Here’s the thing about Tim, he loves people. Especially, kids, of all ages. In 2009, we met Alex in Chicago and then saw him several times in NY, along with his buddy Joe Faraguna. Back then, every time we went to a game, Tim asked, “Will Joe and Alex be at the game?”

Tim was definitely thrown off at first at how much older and taller Alex looks now. But once he realized it was Alex from “Joe and Alex,” he was excited to see his old buddy. Of course, almost right away, Tim asked, “Where’s Joe?”

Check out these now (2013) and then (2009) picts of Tim and Alex:

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They’ve both grown a lot!

After chatting with Alex a bit, we headed toward the gates. On the way out, I realized my dad had missed out on a Citi Field must see, the big Jackie Robinson “42”:

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On the way to the 7 Train, we saw a cool Mets car:

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We said good-bye to Citi Field from the 7 train…

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…, the local 7 Train, that is.

It was a long but fun commute back to our car on the 7 Train and the 1 Train:

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And it was an even longer commute out of NY and back to Pennsylvania. We arrived home around 2:30 a.m.

So there you go, another successful Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip in the books. I’m pretty sure we’ll be in Texas in 2014 because my dad has now seen every team play a home game except the Rangers (he saw the Astros at the Astrodome so he still needs to visit Minute Maid Park and he saw the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium so he still needs to go to Marlins Park). Can wait to help him check all of those stadiums off of his list!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

11 Games

16 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets.

20 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2.

50 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 3, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2.

9 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field.

16 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson.

5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo.

Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip – Game 2, Twins at Tigers (5/25/2013)

On the morning of May 25, 2013, the boys and I woke up early in London, Ontario and headed down to our hotel lobby to find some breakfast as my dad caught up on his sleep. Our hotel (the London Suites, or something like that) had a restaurant called “Smoke and Bones” built into the building and they can a nice breakfast buffet. We enjoyed a big, filling breakfast.

Our Tigers/Twins game in Detroit didn’t start until 4:05 in the afternoon,*we though* the ballpark wouldn’t open until 2:30, and we only had a two hour drive so we were not in a rush to get going in the morning. We probably dilly-dallied a bit too long. In fact, I know we did. But we finally got on the road around 11:00 a.m.

It was a nice flat and relatively straight drive…

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…down from London to Windsor, Ontario.

Windsor is directly across the river from Detroit. Before we realize our cellphones wouldn’t work in Canada, we decided to get a hotel room in Windsor for the night. When we pulled into the Riverside Inn around 1:15pm…

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…my dad ran inside to check in and I realized that my phone could hook up to the hotel’s wireless connection from the car so I took that photo above to the left of Tim and Kellan and sent it to Colleen, and then we chatted back and forth over instant message briefly before my dad returned to the car.

The lady at the front desk recommended that we take the “tunnel bus” to the ball game. So, after running our stuff up to our nice room, we headed to the bus station right behind the hotel:

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This proved to be a terrible idea. After my dad threw down a bunch of cash to buy round trip tickets to Detroit, we headed out to the sidewalk to wait for the bus. We’d just missed a bus. The next bus wasn’t until 2:00 p.m. It was supposed to drop us off about 6 blocks from the stadium. I figured there was a chance this would work out and we’d get there on time. But when a bus employee appeared and started asking him about it. When we realized that the entire bus (which was going to be packed) would have to pass through customs at the border before we could head to the ballpark, I suggested that we eat the bus tickets and hop in my car.

So that’s what we did. After a 4-5 block drive, we headed through the “Tunnel to the U.S.A.” and found ourselves at the border crossing at 2:10 p.m.:

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From the point I took that photo, it took about 10 minutes to get through customs, but then it was a very quick drive to Comerica Park. As we approached the stadium parking lots, it was still a few minutes before the standard 2:30 gate opening time. When we drove by and saw people inside the ballpark, I figured that they must have been season ticket holders that got in a few minutes early. But then we realized that the gates were already open. Oh, no! We were missing out on our stadium time!

We parked and hustled into the ballpark.

Turns out the gate timing issue was these guys’ fault:

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In case you can’t tell, those guys on the newly upgraded scoreboard are the 1968 World Champion Tigers. For some reason, the Tigers were celebrating the 45th Anniversary of their championship season and, as a result, they had unknown-to-us opened the gates at 2:00 p.m., half an hour early.

The stadium was already pretty packed (for BP standards). Tim Kellan and I immediately headed to RCF in hopes of finding an open corner spot. My dad, who had never been to Comerica before, hung out down the RF line and took some photos of his 30th MLB ballpark (or, possibly, his 31st if he’s been to old Yankee Stadium):

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By the way, I should not that, as of this game, the only current MLB ballparks that my dad had not yet visited were Citi Field, Marlins Park (but he’s been to SunLife Stadium), Minute Maid Park (but his first game ever was at the Astrodome), and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (guess what state we’re going to next season!).

My dad spotted us with his camera…

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…and we had successfully found an open corner spot…but it was pretty cramped quarters out there, at least in the first row.

Here is what it looked like from out spot:

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I could not recognize a single Twins player out there. Everyone was wearing pullovers over their BP jerseys. Luckily, one single ball was hit directly into the corner right below us, and that guy picture above to the right walking away from us on the warning track toss it up to us. I have no clue who it was. But…

Thanks, mystery Twin!

The nice thing about our little corner spot is that (provided that we hugged the brick wall behind us) we were in (or at least half in) the shade:

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Eventually, my dad came over and found us. And very soon after he arrived, the Twins fled the field. BP ended way early because there was an on field ceremony to honor the 1968 team, which was fairly pointless in light of the long and informative discussion they had with the 1968 team on the big screen. Really, compared to the discussion they had streaming on the scoreboard, the on field ceremony was pretty boring.

We headed up to the upper level in deep RCF and tried to get some lunch at The Jungle restaurant…

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…but it was completely full and it didn’t look like anyone was about to head out.

We decided to head over to the Big Cat food court (where the Tiger-Go-Round is located) to grab some lunch. On the way, the boys and I got pictures with an old-school looking Mickey Mouse…

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…and a Tiger pig.

We also saw the new’ish Ernie Harwell statue…

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…and posed with a fake statue liberty.

Finally, we grabbed some lunch and then walked back to the Pepsi Porch (second deck in RF) and grabbed a picnic table for lunch:

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While we were eating, Kellan debuted an awesome new dance move:

After finishing our late lunch, we headed down to the seats in RCF, just above the visitors’ bullpen, and watched Joe Mauer and P.J. Walters warm up for the game, first in the outfield grass…

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…and then in the bullpen:

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See that guy leaning against the CF wall two pictures above (and to the left)? That is the Twins’ bullpen catcher. He was stretching out/loosening his back muscles by leaning against a baseball and rolling it across his back against the wall.

In the last photo above (also to the left), Wilkin Ramirez is standing in the batters’ box giving Walters the feel of pitching to a live batter. A couple pitches into the “at bat,” I called down, “Swing away, Wilkin!”

It would have been pretty sweet to see him launch a fly ball out of the stadium over the 3B line upper deck!

As the stadium PA announcer introduced Jose Feliciano to play the national anthem…

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…, all of the players on the field turned toward us…

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…and I realized that we were standing right below the flag.

After the anthem, we headed to our seats in section 141, row 12:

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As the game was about to start, my dad took the opportunity to document some of the scenes around the ballpark:

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We were rooting for the Tigers at this game because they had former Mariner Doug Fister on the mound. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Joe Mauer to jump all over Fister. With one out in the top of the first, Mauer launched a deep drive to RF:

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And after gathering to take a look at it, Crew Chief Joe “Cowboy” West confirmed the homerun call.

Once again, Kellan wasn’t in a sitting mood at the beginning of the game. My dad and Tim stayed in our seats while Kellan and I took a little walk in the beautiful Comerica Park cross aisle. As we walked toward home plate, Fister fought a losing battle with Josh Willingham:

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Willingham drew 1-out walk. We grabbed a prime standing-room spot in the cross aisle behind home plate just in time to watch Fister’s tough first inning continue against Justin Morneau:

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Morneau hit an RBI double to make the score 2-0 Twins with only 1 out in the first.

By the way, Kellan was on my shoulders as we walked (and stood) in the cross aisle. Sometimes Kellan gets squirmy and is only satisfied if I continue walking around when he’s on my shoulders. But, to my surprise and delight, Kellan was happy as a clam sitting up there on my shoulders behind home plate. So I decided to just hang out there for a while. Here was our view:

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Two batters after Morneau, Chris Parmalee hit an RBI single (scoring Morneau) to cap off the scoring in the top of the first.

After the first inning, the score was 3-0 Twins. It was really too bad because Fister ended up pitching 7 innings and not giving up another run the rest of the day…but the Tigers (spoiler alert) only managed to score 2 runs all day. Tough luck for Mr. Fister.

I was satisfied to just stay put in our SRO spot all day, but we had to get out of there quick when we saw this guy…

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…walking in the cross aisle behind the 3B dugout. That’s Paws the Tigers’ mascot. In the photo above to the left, I tried to take a *selfie* of the three of us with my cellphone, but I completely missed Kellan and missed most of myself. Paws saw how terrible my picture came out and he grabbed my phone and handed it to his escort, who took the photo above on the right. I like how Kellan is just chilling up there looking at Paws, which is much better than what he did last year (cried) every time he saw a mascot up close.

On a funny follow-up note, for the rest of the day Kellan kept asking about the “lion.” I told him over and over that Paws is a tiger, but he just kept calling him a lion.
Like the previous night, when we initially left Tim and my dad at our seats, Kellan and I promised to come back with ice cream. So Kellan and I set off to find some ice cream.
We headed to the concession stand in the LF concourse. But we couldn’t see any ice cream helmets (or ice cream) in the stand. So we walked the concourse toward home plate until we found a fan assistance office. The fan assistance staff explained that there were ice cream helmets out in the food court encircling the tiger-go-round (and while at the fan assistance office, I picked up “First Game at Comerica Park” certificates for Kellan and my dad).

The ice cream place was all the way around the other side of the stadium from our seats. I handed Kellan’s ice cream up to him and carried Tim’s ice cream back to our seats:

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Kellan ate his ice cream on the walk back. After I took him down so he could sit in his seat and eat his ice cream, a lady sitting behind me leaned forward and said, “I apologize, but I have to get this ice cream for you” and then she took a napkin and cleaned a huge piece of ice cream out of the back of my hair. Kellan and deposited the ice cream into my hair and somehow I had no clue it was there.
Anyway, while the boys ate their ice cream, Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera…

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…did not hit a homerun.

Guess what Kellan and I did after he finished eating his ice cream (or, I mean, after I finished eating his ice cream)? We went right back to our same SRO spot behind the 1B side of home plate. It was the perfect spot to catch a foul ball (which we didn’t) and Kellan was into hanging out there (and not so into sitting in the seats) so I figured let’s go for it!

For most of the rest of the game, Kellan and I stood between two college-aged gals on our left (who kept giggling about how cute Kellan was sitting on my shoulders) and two 40-50 year old men on our right (one of whom thought we were the ideal example of why baseball is the best sport for fathers and sons). At one point, as Kellan was all relaxed and just lounging up on my shoulders, I could hear the guy next to me telling his friend who awesome it was that I had brought Kellan to the game and we were just hanging out watching the game together. Two seconds later, the guy asked if I had a camera and told me that I just couldn’t miss getting a photo of this…

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…moment. After he took the picture, he handed my phone back to me and said, “I may need a copy of that one myself!”

It is a pretty cute picture. And it great to capture these moments when my lil’ guy can rest up there on my shoulders. It’s so sad that Tim is too big to do that now. They grow up so fast!

By the way, here’s a picture of the general scene:

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The guy in the ChiSox jacket is the one who took our picture, the Cubs guy is his buddy who was standing right next to me and Kellan in that empty spot between him and the girl in the orange jacket. That girl is one of the “college-aged” girls I mentioned before (hmm…maybe not college, but young 20s nonetheless), I’m not sure where her friend was at this point.

While Kellan and I were standing there watching the game, Tim and my dad toured all over the ballpark. First they went up to the upper deck where my dad snapped a few photos out past the foul pole:

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By one of the “D” stores (team stores), my dad got this great shot of Tim “hitting” against Fister:

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They got some pictures with the ferris wheel in the background…

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…some pictures above/behind the big Tiger statues and the tiger-go-round…

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…and a shot of Tim by a big Tiger coin-collector…

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…, which was just inside the main gate by the Ernie Harwell statue.

The Tigers made the game interesting by scoring a pair of runs in the middle innings while Fister kept the Twins locked in at 3 runs. In the fifth inning, Andy Dirks singled with two outs and then scored on an RBI double by Torii Hunter.

In the sixth inning, Jhonny Peralta took a leisurely trot around the bases…

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…after hitting a solo homerun with two outs. But that was all the scoring the Tigers had in them. The score after 6 innings (and after 9) was 3-2 Twins.

In the ninth inning, Kellan and I started the slow process of getting into position to make an attempt for a post-game umpire baseball. Here was our view as we first started our trek down to the tunnel:

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We ended up doing some birding during the ninth inning. Here are my bird shots:

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And here are 4 of Kellan’s first birding attempts:

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Eventually, he successfully captured a bird on *film*:

36-successful-birding-by-kellan

In the bottom of the ninth, this was our view:

37-fancy-obstructed-view

We were in a near perfect spot for an umpire ball, but that metal box is pretty poorly placed.

After the game, home plate umpire Andy Fletcher didn’t toss any baseballs into the crowd. When he walked by us, I could see two baseballs in his pouch, but they stayed there. On his walk out, he motioned to someone up higher in the stands behind home plate. I had a feeling he was going to come back to chat with someone so we stayed put. In a few minutes, he did come back. As he was standing right below us I asked if he could toss one of the baseballs in his pouch up to us, but he said (1) he only had a couple left, (2) was meeting up with a friend, and (3) had promised them to his friend’s kids. And that’s just what happened. He ended up chatting with a guy for a while and giving the two baseballs to the guy’s kids. Oh, well.

Kellan and I then met up with Tim and my dad out by our seats. It is super easy to meet up with your loved ones when you are in the U.S. and have working cellphones. Before heading to the exits, we got a great group picture:

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On our way out of the ballpark, we found a second Tigers Mickey Mouse:

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We exited via the CF gate so we had to walk all the way around the stadium to get to our car. On our way by the 3B gate, I got a couple photos of Tim and my dad:

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And then we headed back to Windsor, Canada for the night. We ended up playing catch for a while in the park across the street from our hotel…

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…before going out to a late dinner at “The Keg.” Note, in that picture above to the right, Tim is catching a pop fly and that is our hotel in the background. In that picture above to the left, that is Detroit in the background across the river. Detroit was incredibly loud all night because there was an electronic music festival going on over there, and it literally shook us over in Windsor.

All-in-all, the second day of the Roadtrip was a smashing success.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

9 Games

15 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers

16 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 2

42 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 1

8 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park

14 Player Pictures – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen

5 Autographs – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

2012 Cook GFS Game 3 – Cubs vs. Cardinals (5/15/12)

On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, we were right back at it for another Cubs-Cardinals rivalry game, the third game of the 2012 GFS Roadtrip.

The game was an odd 12:45 start.  My dad and I debated what to do with regard to attending *BP* or just showing up for the game.  We both suspected there would be no BP.  In the end, my natural sense of “its-just-wrong-to-show-up-at-game-time” prevailed.  We decided to take our chances with there not being BP.

As we approached the stadium, I pointed out a bunch of statues to Tim and mentioned that we should go check them out after the game, since there would still be plenty of day light after the game.  Tim decided he couldn’t wait.  He wanted to check them out ASAP.

My Dad and I agreed that he and Tim would go check out the statues while Kellan and I went to check out *BP* — or, more likely, pitchers’ pre-game warm ups.

Tim got creative and my dad took some wonderful posing-with-statues pictures at Busch Stadium’s LF entrance:

Meanwhile, Kellan and I headed into the stadium to find, in addition to several Cubs pitchers warming up down the LF line, the batting cage was set up for BP!  We headed down the LF line.  When the first set of pitchers finished throwing…

…super tall, Cubs pitcher Chris Volstad tossed us his warm up baseball.

Thanks, Chris!

Outside the stadium, Tim and my dad continued with some more serious statue poses:

Cut back to the field, there were still two sets of Cubs pitchers warming up along the LF line.  There were a couple autograph seekers camped out down the foul line, but no one else seemed all that serious about catching a baseball.  I figured our odds of getting another warm up ball were decent, provided that the pitchers didn’t notice that we got the ball from Volstad.  To avoid that scenario, we moved about 10 rows back and walked over to the next section further away from the pitchers.

When Casey Coleman finished throwing with his Rafael Dolis…

…(he is the Cubs pitcher on the left)…I called out, “Hey, Casey!?” and I gave him a solid glove-flap when he looked at me.

BOOM – he chucked us his warm up baseball.

Thanks, Casey!

Back outside, Tim and Grandpa wrapped around the 3B side of the stadium and got a few more statue and other memorial pictures:

Meanwhile, Kellan and I (well, really, it was just my decision) decided to head out to RF where there was a tiny patch of shaded seats.

By the way, I ought to mention that I was fearful of the sun all day.  The sun is Tim and Kellan’s kryptonite.  Kellan seemed to like the relief from the sun:

This is what Busch Stadium looked like from our temporary spot out in section 127:

Before long, Tim and my dad met up with us in RF.  Not soon after that, Shawn Camp…

…made a long toss to us after fielding a ball in RCF.

Thanks, Shawn!

And he wasn’t done with us just yet.

The sun was still creeping in on us.  So we retreated to the back of section 130:

Eventually, my dad and Tim headed down to the first row in the RF corner.

Kellan and I (again, really it was my decision) decided to head out to CF.  Before I could even take a panorama, Tony Campana…

…tossed us a baseball.

Hey, thanks, Tony!

So, it was on to LF for us.  On our way, we ran into Fredbird:

Kellan and I landed in section 172:

But it was just too sunny.  We gave up pretty quick there.

Meanwhile, my dad and Tim were still in the RF corner…

…and so was Shawn Camp.

Tim remembered Camp’s name from ten minutes earlier when he’d thrown a ball to us.  So when a ball was hit into an opening in the RF wall and Camp (for some odd reason) went after it, Tim waited for him to return with the ball.  And then my precious, wee-little Tim called out, “Hey, Shawn, can you toss me the ball, please!?” (NOTE:  I was 300 feet away and have no clue of the actual words, so I’m paraphrasing here).  Camp responded in the affirmative.

And Tim gloved this baseball (and he and Grandpa went behind home plate so he could pose with it):

Thanks, again, Shawn!

And congratulations to my big boy, Tim, for getting this baseball 100% on  his own!

Meanwhile, out in brutally hot and sunny LF, our main activities consisted of me taking pictures of the visitors bullpen…

…Kellan trying to run up the stairs to the concourse.

I took Kellan’s hint – he wanted out of the sun.

We walked the concourse toward CF where there is a “Welcome to Busch Stadium” sign…

…past the concession stands and tables in the deep CF concourse…

…and into the nice, completely shaded little-kids’ play area:

Kellan was the ONLY kid in there for a while.  Eventually, Tim and Grandpa met us there and Tim and Kellan were the only kids in the play area, which was good for Tim.  But the second another little kid showed up, the attendant told Tim he was too big for the play area.

So, while I took a panorama from the field from the play area…

…Grandpa took Tim to the speed pitch:

His best throw was 26 m.p.h., which he beat last year.  But, hey, it is early in the season.  He’s still getting “stretched out.”

The previous day, my dad hadn’t explored the upper deck at all.  So we decided to explore up there as the game drew near.

We headed up the switch-back-ramp.  On the second deck, I popped into the stairway between two suites and sections 230-229 to get this panoramic view of Busch Stadium:

We then got a picture of Tim and my dad with a “Busch Stadium” sign, which is on the back of the scoreboard:

And a partial panorama from the upper deck concourse:

Kyle Lohse’s first pitch of the game to David DeJesus???

It was a ball.  His second pitch resulted in a line drive single to CF.

By default, we decided to watch the first inning unfold from the upper deck concourse in RF.  As Tony Campana strode to the plate…

…Kellan practiced hanging from a railing.

Lohse’s first and only to Campana also resulted in a single to CF:

While all of this unfolded, our view from the concourse behind section 428 looked like this:

Lohse threw four pitches to the next batter, Starlin Castro.  But Starlin turned that fourth pitch around for a third consecutive single to CF:

DeJesus scored on the play:

The Cubs followed Castro with a run-scoring double play (LaHair), double to CF (Alphonso Soriano), an RBI single to CF (Ian Stewart), and a fly out to RF.

Three outs and five hits to CF into the game, the Cubs led 3-0.

While the Cards muddled through the top of the first, I got a nice picture of Tim and Busch Stadium:

In their half of the first, the Cardinals scratched out three hits and plated two runs of their own.  But we didn’t really see any of it because, after the top of the first, we walked around the upper deck a little bit so my dad could check it out.

My dad took this shot of Tim…

…with another St. Louis arch.  This one was notable because it was the only “Pujols” I saw displayed in the ballpark.  I am sure there are others somewhere, but they did a pretty good job of removing his presence around the stadium.

The fans were not quite as good.  Many of them were still wearing Pujols jerseys and t-shirts, and at least a handful of those fans had used magic markers to put a big “X” through the “Pujols 5” on their backs.  It’s too bad.  The guy will undoubtedly go down as one of the best baseball players ever and he did incredible things for these guys while wearing a Cardinals jersey.

By my dad’s and my standards, it was a hot day, but no big deal.  By Tim’s standards, it was like we were walking on the surface of the sun.  Our seats were down on the field level in section 167.  They were really nice tickets that I never should have bought for this day game.  They were in the direct sunlight.  I knew Tim would be miserable if we went down there.  So we did just the opposite of what happens every day at MLB ballparks, we put our nice field level tickets away and we *snuck* up to the very last row of the upper deck down in section 440, which is down the 1B line.

This was our view:

It was actually really nice.  Great view AND completely shaded.

It was made even a bit cooler by some nicely timed ice cream helmets:

Since we had eaten a nice breakfast not too long before coming to the game, I told Tim we could do a “switcheroo” and get ice cream first and lunch second.  He was all for the switcheroo plan.  In fact, he has suggested it at some other games since this one.

While we were eating a group of about 15 college gals came to claim their seats in the last row.  So we had to move up to the second to last row.

The Cardinals scored again in the bottom of the second to knot up the score at 3-3.

Eventually, I asked Tim who he wanted to win.  He was *crushed* the night before when he had picked the Cardinals and then they lost.  He had a new plan today.  He would wait to see the outcome of the game and THEN he would decide who he was supporting.  Ah, a fool-proof method.  He had to win!

While the boys chomped on their ice cream, I decided I should get some action shots.  Here is one of the most interesting action shots I have ever captured:

I was completely confused about what happened on the play.  So were the Cubs.  They argued.  The umpires deliberated:

But eventually they stuck with their initial call: Campana tried to pull back, but bunted the ball foul for strike three.  He was out of there!

With two down in the top of the third, I was all set to capture another LaHair homerun.  But after hitting a couple foul balls…

…he grounded out to Cardinals first basemen Matt Carpenter.

In the fifth inning with the score still tied at 3-3, we decided to grab some pizza for lunch and give our actual seats a try.  They were beautiful:

But Tim just could not hack it.  He was miserable.  He couldn’t even last a half inning in the sun.  I was fine leaving our seats mere minutes after sitting down in them because the lady directly behind me (who I will estimate was approximately 24 years old) literally dropped 2-3 f-bombs in every single sentence that came out of her mouth.  I’m not easily offended…and I guess I wasn’t really offended here either, but this lady was ridiculous.  In a ballpark full of kids and with two of them sitting literally 2 feet in front of you, an adult should know that they should note drop 100-200 f-bombs in a span of 10 minutes.  I’m not joking with that number.  Without any exaggeration, she dropped an f-bomb about every 5 words or so AND she talked constantly AND really loudly.

So, yeah, the seats were great, but I was fine getting my boys out of the pounding sun and profane atmosphere.

We needed shade, so we took refuge here…

…in the concourse just inside of Gate 4.  It was a nice time and place for to call home and chat with mommy a bit.

Oh, I should mention that Matt Holliday hit a tie-breaking solo homerun in the fifth to put the Cardinals ahead 4-3.

After thwarting my efforts to capture his tenth homerun of the season a few innings earlier, Brian LaHair hit a blast in the top of the sixth that tied up the score, once again, at 4-4.

After eating and chatting with Colleen, we ended spending the rest of the game in the shady little kids’ play area in CF:

In Cardinals and Cubs swapped runs again in the seventh inning to make it 5-5.

While Kellan played, I was able to watch the action over the front wall of the play area enclosure.  I was standing there in the eighth when Matt Carpenter put the Cardinals ahead 6-5 with this homerun:

If you click on that picture, you can see the homerun ball on the very top edge of the picture, directly above the catcher’s glove.

All the while, Kellan kept playing, sometimes in a manner that made him look like he is made of plastic:

After Carpenter’s homerun, Tyler Greene hit a triple and then Carlos Beltran pinch hit for the pitcher and drew an intentional walk.

That set up another cool action shot.  Rafael Furcal followed with a hard hit grounder to 3B:

Greene got caught too far off the bag, there was a brief run down, and the Starlin Castro eventually tagged out Greene:

During some of the action, Grandpa took Tim to one of the big kid attractions – a cage where you could hit baseballs hanging from a metal arm.  Tim had a great time taking some hard whacks at the ball and making it spin around the arm over-and-over-and-over:

And Kellan, he just kept playing in the play area:

Leading off the top of the ninth, Alphonso Soriano stepped to the plate.  The announcer on the flat screen TV just above us commented that “Fonzie” can turn around a pitch pretty quick so Cardinals closer Jason Motte better pitch him carefully.

Well, he apparently did not, because “Fonzie” turned around the second pitch he saw for a deep, game-tying homerun to RF.

So it was 6-6 going into the bottom of the ninth.

For a dad who wants to watch the game, but has two kids who cannot stand the scorching hot sun and want to play around, this covered play area really was idea.  I got tons of great action shots from my little spot on the play area wall.

But then some oblivious fan ruined my best one of the day:

It was a walk off double by Yadier Molina that scored Matt Holliday from second.  As you can see, I captured Yadier a fraction of a second before he made contact with the game winning hit and right at the same time as this lady walked into my shot.  (Queue the Debbie Downer sound effect).

Tim didn’t care about my photographic misfortune.  By the end of the game, he was again set on the Cardinals winning.

Moments after the game ended and the other kids started to clear out, Tim leapt to the top of the big baseball glove toy and claimed victory as his:

ALL HAIL KING TIM!

Before leaving the stadium, I took one last Busch Stadium panorama from section 505:

And a nice lady who ended up asking us about our Roadtrip and as quite happy we had the opportunity to see a Cardinals win in St. Louis took our picture:

On our way out, I snapped this picture of a little baseball field in the bricks way out behind CF:

I’m not sure if it serves a purpose or is just nice to look at.  It definitely is the latter, but it seemed like whenever we walked by it during these two games at Busch Stadium they had booths or some type events taking place on here – as opposed to having some kids playing whiffleball (which would have been better).

On our drive out of St. Louis we were heading West and would not pass through town again.  So I got a last photo of the Gateway Arch…

…and then we drove off into the sunset.

The next day we would hop in the car and drive to Kansas City for our one and only game at Kauffman Stadium.  More good times were definitely on tap, as we’ll see in our next entry.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

7/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)
11/10 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals
9 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3
33 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1
3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2
6/5 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak

 

2012 Cook GFS Game 1 – Blue Jays vs. Twins (5/12/12)

The 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip is extra special for several reasons.  First, it is the Fifth Anniversary of the GFS Roadtrip.  Second, we have expanded the GFS roster to include Kellan. And, finally, by checking off Busch Stadium (Cardinals), Kauffman Stadium (Royals), and Coors Field (Rockies), Tim and I would finally have seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game – we had already seen all 30 teams play a road game.

I wanted the Mariners to be involved in the game when we saw our final team play a home game.  During the offseason, I decided it would happen in Colorado when the Mariners visited the Rockies in May.

The Roadtrip kicked off on May 12, 2012.  We started in Minnesota.  It is the first city we have visited on two separate roadtrips.  We went to the H.H.H. Metrodome during its final season in 2009.  And now we were back to check out Target Field.

But first, we had to get to Minnesota…

…and this will officially be Kellan’s final “infant on lap” trip.  He’s getting to be huge these days.  But we have a nice flight nonetheless and were greeted by my dad at the gate.  His flight had landed about half an hour before ours.

After a brief rest in our hotel room, we took to the streets of Minneapolis on foot – destination Target Field:

We arrived before the gates opened.  The crowd at the RF (Kirby Puckett) gate was getting big already.  We got some pictures with a couple statues (Kirby and Kent Hrbek)…

…and then headed around the stadium to the shaded Tony Oliva gate.

Our first inside view of Target Field was from the left field corner and the Twins were taking BP:

The Blue Jays were already stretching by the dugout.  Soon, they started to walk down the foul line to play catch.  Luis Perez…

…gave us a smile as he walked by so I asked if he’d pose for a picture with Tim and Kellan.  He said he would after he played catch.  I asked, “Ah, then, could we get your warm up ball when you’re done too!?”  He said yes and then headed off to play catch.

But then he must have decided he didn’t want to forget about us, because he walked back over to us a minute later and handed Kellan our first ever baseball at Target Field.

Thanks, Luis!

One of our big goals of this game was to get Rajai Davis to sign Kellan’s first MLB pitch picture.  We soon spotted him playing catch just behind third base.  Unfortunately, he was on the field side instead of the foul line side.  Anyway, Kellan and I went over there on the off chance we could hook up with Davis:

In the picture above to the left, Rajai is all the way out in CF playing long toss.  While we were watching Davis play long toss, the on-field security guard to the right grabbed a ball that had been hit against that protective screen and he walked over and handed it to Kellan.

Thanks, Security Guard!

That was it for BP as far as baseballs go.

And we never got any closer to Davis.  He drifted off into CF after finishing playing long toss.

Kellan and I headed back toward the corner spot where Tim and my dad were still waiting on Perez to finish playing catch and come back for a picture…

…, but it was too hot and sunny and Tim surrendered to the sun.  He was going to burst into flames if he waited any longer for Perez.  So, sadly, we did not get a picture with a Blue Jay.

Instead, we headed toward home plate.  We noticed that they let you down into the dugout seats (inside the Moat) during BP.  Here is a panorama from within the moat:

Next, we grabbed some water for the boys.  And then Tim and grandpa headed off to the team store and Kellan and I headed to the shady spot in RF.  On the way, he fell asleep:

Tim and grandpa met up with us and we hung out here for the rest of BP:

Once BP ended, we headed up to the upper deck in the outfield to check out the stadium.  An usher was kind enough to take a nice picture of us:

That picture was taken here:

Tim can be temperamental about getting his picture taken sometime…probably because he’s been photographed  about 100,000 times in six years.  Anyway, I wanted to get our Target Field bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, but for some reason Tim was adamant that he didn’t want to be in it – just Kellan.  So, this was “take 1” of the bonus picture:

Here is what it looks like from the front row of the section just below the CF Target Field sign:

While we were up there, we found a couple of the statues from past all-star games and Tim did funny poses with both:

As we continued to circle around to LF, Tim and I headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium.  Check out how steep the steps are in the LF upper deck seats:

Here is what it looks like from the back row up there:

Behind 2B, they had a softball homerun hitting contest set up.  Two fans faced off against the hardest hitting mascot ever:

The mascot blasted 6 bombs on 7 swings, including one that hit the back wall of the upper deck.

Then we found another all-star statue.  I think this one might be for this season:

After that picture, Tim declared he was extremely hungry.  Instead of nachos, he wanted pizza.  We walked and walked and walked before we found pizza, but finally found it.  And we also found the most awesome food item in the history of Major League Baseball…

The NACHO HELMET!

For the record, our nacho lady only filled ours half way, which was plenty for me and Kellan, but every other  nacho helmet I saw all day was overflowing the top of the helmet.  We ate our nachos in our seats in the last row (row 10) of section 141:

I really liked these seats.  They were great.

Joe Mauer, P.J. Walters and (I’m guessing) the Twins pitching coach headed in from the bullpen for the game to start:

These three dudes were all set for the first pitch of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip:

And this was it:

We were desperately needing a water refill, which required me and Kellan to walk all the way behind home plate to find a water fountain.  On the way, we saw Jose Baustita bat up close:

All game long, the concourses were absolutely packed:

For the first 3.5 innings, it was a scoreless pitchers’ duel between P.J. Walters and Drew Hutchinson (two guys I had never heard of before this game).  To that point, this foul ball by Joe Mauer was one of the offensive highlights of the so-far uneventful game:

Eventually, Kellan needed to get moving.  We headed to Target Plaza so he could stretch his travel-weary legs:

After running around for a while in Target Plaza, we headed upstairs in CF.  At the deepest part of CF, this is what the concourse looks like:

While I took some pictures, Kellan worked his arm muscles and abs:

Then we took a look at the bullpens:

And deep LF:

And straight away LF:

Then it was time for another leg workout.  Kellan ran up and down this ramp from the field level to the upper deck about 3-4 times:

At the top of the ramp, Kellan wanted a solo picture posing with the Twins pig:

And then it was more running.  He ran a lot!

Eventually, we headed back to our seats through the field level concourse.  I took a picture from the concourse behind the odd seats in deep RCF:

They are tucked under the upper deck seats.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Hutchinson loaded the bases and then walked in the first run of the game for a 1-0 Twins lead.

Before sitting down again, Kellan and I grabbed some two-toned dipping dots helmets:

Those are some sweeeeeeet helmets.  I love ‘em.  These are our first two-tone helmets.

You can see this in some of the panoramas, but I figured I should take a picture of the “have’s” seating on the fancy side of the moat:

On the last game of the 2011 GFS Roadtrip, Johnny Damon hit a ball off the top of the RCF wall at the Trop.  They called it a homerun.  I could tell with my unaided eyes that it had hit the bar on the top of the fence and bounced back onto the field without leaving the ballpark.  They reviewed it.  And eventually Damon was told to head back out to second base.

In the top of the sixth inning of this game, Jose Bautista became the second player in as many GFS Roadtrip games to hit a disputed shot to the wall:

With my unaided eye, I could tell it bounced in the bushes above the OF wall and it should be a homerun.  I was right.  After stopping for a few minutes at 2B, Jose was told to finish his trip around the bases:

The boys were growing restless and I still needed to tour around the upper deck in the infield.  We decided to make it a four-man trip.  First, we headed to a little hallway on the second deck on the 1B side where Tim got his picture with a model:

And then we headed all the wall down the RF line in the upper deck – where the usher told me to reposition myself to take these pictures (I must have been blocking the view of some people in a downtown building because there was nobody (and no seats) behind me):

Then we walked around the upper deck:

There were a lot of people in the concourse up there too.  Unluckily, as you circle around home plate, there is an elevated walkway so you can stay out of the concourse.

Circling around home plate, I asked an usher to take our picture…

…and he warmed me that the sun would blast us in the face in the photo.

As we walked, I continued to take photos of the field…

…and of my boys and dad:

As we walked, we saw an awesome play.   Someone hit a foul pop up behind 3B.  The Jays short stop Yunel Escobar rushed back to make the play, but he bobbled the ball up into the air and Jays left fielder Jose Bautista swooped in to snatch it out of the air for the rare 6-7 put out:

Tim and I climbed to the highest seats in LF for this picture:

And at the bottom of that section, I snapped this cute picture of Tim, Kellan and my dad:

As we headed back to the RF corner to head down to the lower level, Joe Mauer launched a deep drive.  It was the craziest I have ever heard a crowd go for a double:

We headed back to our seats, but then I realized I never went up into the RF bleachers.  So Tim and I headed over there.  On the way, we took this picture of the worst SRO area ever:

All you can see is the right fielder and a TV screen.  On the plus side, it is completely shaded (under the  RF bleachers).

The connection between the RF seats and the CF seats makes for some crazy angles at Target Field.  I wish I had done a better job photographing it.  But I did get this awesome picture of two lone seats at the top of a mini-flight of steps:

Then we *scaled* the RF bleachers.  It was like rock climbing, I would imagine.  At the top I got this panorama:

And this photo of nervous-from-the-height Tim:

Here are some fun angles that make it look like the bullpen is at the bottom of a hole:

And then it was time to slowly walk back down the steep steps:

Approaching the stairs down to Target Plaza, I got this picture of the plaza…

…and one of Tim in front of the Twins Live set.

Late in the game, Bautista was on first base and I was just sure something was about to happen.  I was right, they tried to pick him off first unsuccessfully:

It was dark now and the ballpark signs looked great – check it out:

The Blue Jays had pulled ahead to a 2-1 lead, and they held on to win the game, which pleased Tim.  He had declared the Blue Jays to be his team to win early in the game.

After the game, I had an usher take a family shot of us…

…and it took Tim a few minutes to realize I had duped him into posing for a Target Field bonus picture.  Haha!!

On our way out of the stadium, Tim (in quite possibly his oldest looking picture ever) showed his respects for the Great Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist (#18):

So there you go.  One game down on the Roadtrip.  Another great night and another great stadium.  In the morning, we would drive to St. Louis for a couple games between the Cardinals and Cubs at Busch Stadium.  It would prove to be a super long drive, but well worth it.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

5/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
9/8 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins
6 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2
25 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1
3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2
5/4 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak

 

GFS 2011 Game 1 – Giants at Marlins (8/13/2011)

Its that time of year again.  Time for the fourth installment of the Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.  This will likely be the last Roadtrip with the original line-up.  In 2012, Kellan will likely come on board as the fourth Roadtripper.  But as for now, the cast of characters remains: Grandfather = Jim Cook; Father = Todd Cook; and Grandson = Tim Cook:

We flew into Tampa and stayed the night in a hotel.  In the picture above, we are about to pile into our rented Nissan Altima and head south to…

…Sun Life Stadium!  Note: that port-a-potty out front of Gate F is just one of the many luxury amenities the Marlins offer at the ballpark.

From a snagging a baseball perspective, my base goal was to get at least one baseball at each of the three stadiums we are visiting on this Roadtrip (Sun Life, Turner Field, and Tropicana Field).  As far as Sun Life Stadium goes, I was counting on this being our best bet.  It was a Saturday night game (presumably) with batting practice.  But then it started monsoon-caliber rain at our hotel about 15 minutes from the ballpark.  The gates weren’t scheduled to open yet, but we decided to head up to the ballpark anyway and just roam the concourses while clouds drained out all of their rain.

But then an amazing thing happened.  It was serious Noah’s Ark type rain at our hotel, but it was completely dry at the ballpark.  So we ran into the ballpark when it opened and were happy to find the Giants just starting to take BP.

Despite getting full-Giants BP, several things were working (quite effectively) against us: (1) the Marlins don’t like to let fans anywhere near their precious multi-purpose field, (2) the Giants have no power to right field (the only spot the ordinary fan can get to the front row on the field), and (3) the Giants (are quickly
proving to us that they) do not like fans.

We tried our luck in section 126:

That section is just on the CF side of the big tunnel that separates RF from CF.  The BP crowd was smaller on our side of the tunnel, but it would take a mighty blast to get a baseball out to us.  Tim relaxed in a multi-shaded orange seat right on the tunnel:

Only one homerun reached the deep RCF seats.  It landed about 3 rows behind us and only about 15 feet away, but I was blocked in by another couple fans and couldn’t even make a real attempt to catch the ball.  I say a “real” attempt because I did make an instinctual lunge toward the blocked off aisle as the ball came off
the bat – Sun Life Stadium punished me for this in the form of trying to break my shin on a cup holder bolted to the back of the seat in front of me.  Ouch.
A word to the wise:  at Sun Life Stadium, the rows of seats are narrow, the cup holders make them even narrower, and many of the seats fail to fold up.  So there are many, many opportunities to bash your knees and shins while passing through the aisles.

Meanwhile, the Giants literally tossed zero baseballs into three sections of seats in RCF.  BP ended with us still looking to secure our first ever baseball at Sun Life Stadium.  Our chances were not looking good and I was fearing that we might never get a baseball at this soon-to-be retired “baseball stadium.”  Even worse, without getting at least one baseball, we would not be able to get a Sun Life Stadium bonus picture point for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

Anyway, it was time to tour around a little bit.  We started by visiting the McDonald’s kids area:

The concourses on the 1B and LF sides of the stadium (which I assume match up with the sides of the Miami Dolphins football field) are largely empty (well, LF is completely empty).  But on this day, McDonald’s had  set up a couple face painting booths (FYI, I am about the biggest anti-face painting person on earth), two
basketball pop-a-shots, two football accuracy throwing things, and two baseball strike zone throwing things.  While my Dad wandered around looking for a hat and Sun Life Stadium baseball (FYI, they don’t have them) in the team store, Tim and I shot tons of hoops, tossed a few footballs, and pitched many, many strikes.

After the play area, we started the process of walking around the ballpark.  It was a shorter process than normal because the entire upper deck was closed, and the LF concourse is essentially unused.

First, we visited section 150 behind home plate:

Next, we grabbed some nachos and found some seats in section 106:

The nachos were good…

…but the cheese ran out prematurely.  The problem was that they only had one cheese holder and didn’t pour any cheese directly onto the chips.  That’s just not enough cheese.

While eating nachos, we noticed something that showed just how plain it is that the Marlins have second billing at Sun Life Stadium:

Yep, the stadium used to be called Dolphin Stadium, and the end seat on each row is adorned with a dolphin.

Since there is nothing in left field, we turned around after eating our nachos, and headed back toward home plate.  We were still baseball-less, so we decided to make an effort at a pre-game throwing baseball (something that I think we have only ever obtained once – from Ian Kinsler May 5, 2009).

Here is Tim hanging out in the “front row” by the dugout:

I say front row because it is row 1, but there are more seats below row 1.  They are right down on the field and you can’t get to them without those tickets.

As former-Mariner Greg Dobbs played catch below us, Tim had fun watching Billy the Marlin catch the “first” pitches:

He quite enjoyed little Billy too:

At one point, Billy came over to the first base side and gave Tim a happy point in exchange for Tim’s excited wave:

In that picture, you can see Greg Dobbs (No. 29) on the far left side of the picture:

Dobbs scooted way back past first base and played long toss before retreating to the dugout.   Dobbs was our best chance to get a baseball at this game.  He ended up with the ball just 15-20 feet below us.  He clearly wanted to give it away.  But the music was pumping loud through the stadium and Dobbs just couldn’t hear me.  If he had, I’m sure he would have given us the baseball.  Instead, he gave the ball to a 20-something fan in the true front row who had not even been paying any attention.  Dobbs essentially walked over and said, “Here, take this.”  Bummer.

My Dad headed out to RF where we had our tickets for the game.  Tim and I hung out behind the dugout for the top of the first inning to see if we could get a third out baseball (something we’ve only ever obtained once before – from Ronny Paulino earlier this season).

Cody Ross led off the game with the fly out to LF:

Jeff Keppinger followed Ross with a solo homerun to LF.  Eventually, Aubrey Huff struck out looking to end the first inning.  We were expecting the final out to be at first base, so we were nowhere near where we needed to be for a catcher toss-up.  So some other lucky fan got that third out baseball and we gave up and headed out to RF to meet up with grandpa:

This was our view of the game:

Tim “The Freak” Lincecum was pitching for the Giants…

…and he pitched a very solid game.

Eventually, Tim needed some ice cream.  I told him I would go get it while he stayed with Grandpa.  But when I turned toward CF in the concourse, there was no ice cream to be found.  It was time to explore again.

From CF all the way to the LF foul line, all two of the tunnels into the closed and/or non-existent seating areas were closed off.  In CF,the tunnels are covered with a blue tarp that serves as the batters’ eyes…

…and in LF two of the tunnels are open exclusively for cameramen.  Meanwhile, in the LF concourse, there is absolutely nothing going on.

I stopped off in section 107 where I took this panorama:

A couple more sections over toward 3B (probably section 105), I found this weird single seat at the back of the seating section:

My thought is that this seat is for the usher patrolling this section.

I checked in again at section 154 where this was my view:

While in section 154, I got some of my best photos of Lincecum:

Finally, I found ice cream helmets (vanilla/chocolate twist) and reported back to Tim and Grandpa.  As always, Tim enjoyed his ice cream:

We were ready for the weather to be blisteringly hot and disgustingly humid on this entire Roadtrip.  In fact, we failed to pack anything for the possibility of cold weather.  But the ice cream made Tim chilly.  He had to bundle up in my Mariners jersey…

…and snuggle with Grandpa for heat:

Meanwhile, I were still trying to figure out to come away from this game with a baseball.  I exchanged a bunch of texts with Ben “Benny Bang Bany” Weil, who in turn exchanged some texts with Mateo Fischer, and the word came back that  this tunnel…

…just past the third base dugout was the umpires’ tunnel.  So I surveyed it with my zoom lens and made our plan.

Meanwhile, the Giants tacked on a couple more runs to take the score to 3-0 Giants.  In the fifth inning, Nate Schierholtz scored from third on a wild pitch by Javier Vazquez.  And in the sixth, Cody Ross scored on a double by Aubrey Huff.  That was all the scoring for the night.

Mike Stanton was playing RF for the Marlins in front of us:

He has had some great games for me and Tim.  But he went 0-3 at this game.

From our seats, we had a nice view of the Marlins bullpen:

I thought the bullpen set up was pretty odd at Sun Life Stadium.  It is not that unusual for the bullpens to be located down the base lines.  But at Sun Life Stadium, the Marlins bullpen and the Marlins dugout are both on the first base line and the visitors’ bullpen and dugout are both on the third base line.  That’s odd because usually a baseline bullpen is located on the opposite baseline from the dugout so the manager can see his relievers warming up in the pen.

Tim found various ways to make wearing his dad’s jersey more fun:

The fans tried to get the wave going at one point.  So Tim decided that he and I should do our own wave:

In the eighth inning, Tim and I started to slowly make our way over toward the umpires’ tunnel.  First, we stopped in section 134 to take this panorama from just behind a big advertisement that blocks the view of numerous entire rows of seats behind “the Beach” area behind the Marlins bullpen:

Then we swung around to section 138 and got checked out the bullpen…

…and the beach:

And here is a panorama from section 138:

Two seconds after taking that panorama, a police officer in the Marlins bullpen told us we had to stay at least five rows back in the seats, which did not make much sense, but oh, well.

We headed up to the concourse and circled around to section 156 where the umpire tunnel is located.  The umpire tunnel is surrounded by blue seats.  The Marlins station ushers at the top of the blue seats and won’t let anyone down into them without a blue seat ticket.  So we found aisle seats in the orange seats just behind the blue seats.  Here was our view from section 156:

The umpire baseball attempt was going to be tricky.  There were two rows of people at the OF end of the tunnel, and one row of people at the infield side of the tunnel.  It seemed like our best bet would be to go directly above the tunnel, but that would mean home plate umpire Ron Kulpa would have to spot us long before
getting to the covered tunnel and make a lot toss over the tunnel to us.

But there was some more game to watch first.

Our new seats were just behind Greg Dobbs…

…and we had an excellent view of the action when Aaron Rowand grounded to Dobbs, and Dobbs threw him out at first.

My Dad was still lounging out in RF:

The Giants brought in Brian Wilson to close out the game:

I’ll tell you, I am officially sick and tired of hearing about his beard.  Can someone else win the World Series already so we can all forget that Brian Wilson has a big beard?

Anyway, Wilson and his beard did their job.  The Giants won 3-0.

After the game, Ron Kulpa did not hear us and did not give away a single umpire baseball.  We headed over to the Giants dugout for the relievers to make their way in to the dugout.  But , to our surprise, they never came.  They apparently have their own tunnel to the club house.  So the only person we saw at the dugout after
the initial victory high-fives was Jeff Keppinger as he was interviewed post-game.

Soon, my Dad found us and a Giants fan took our picture with a grumpy looking usher behind us:

On our way out of the stadium, we discovered there was a full batting cage with rotating arm pitching machine in the concourse behind the first base dugout:

So the first game of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip was in the books.  A 7 inning shutout win by Tim Lincecum and the Giants.  With our final game at Sun Life Stadium being the next day at 1:10 p.m. and still sitting on zero baseballs at Sun Life Stadium, we left this game unsure whether we would ever
be able to say we got a ball at Sun Life Stadium.  If not, Sun Life would join Shea Stadium, old Yankee Stadium, and Chase Field as the only stadiums Tim has visited and not got at least one baseball.  We’ll visit Chase Field again, but Sun Life Stadium was in jeopardy of joining Shea Stadium and old Yankee Stadium on the never-gonna-happen list.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
20/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
15 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (1))
55 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
10/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
7/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U of Miam); Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
* includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.
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