Results tagged ‘ Jason Phillips ’

Better Than A Bedtime Story

Due to Mother’s Day, we will be home both days this weekend with our special little lady.  No games for Todd and Tim.  Our next game action will be during the week next week when the Mariners visit Baltimore.  For the time being, I figured I would share a non-game story from tonight.

One of my standing tasks at our house is getting Tim ready for and tucked into bed.  We’re not big pre-bed story reading people.  Tonight, however, Tim asked me to read him a story.  So after a vigorous teeth brushing, Tim climbed into his bed ready for a story.

But before he could pick a book, something on his night stand caught his eye…

night stand.JPG

…it was the two baseballs we got last weekend at the Phillies/Mets game in Philadelphia.

The four most important baseballs we got last year reside on Tim’s dresser and the rest of our 2009 baseballs are on a shelf in my home office.  A couple weeks ago, we had our first 11 baseballs of 2010 sitting loose on a table-top in our family room.  Tim asked if we could put them in his room.  While the two we got last week are on his night stand, the other 11 are now lined up across his dresser:

4+11 baseballs.JPGOur plan to read a story went out the door when Tim noticed the small “55″ written inside the MLB logo on one of the baseballs on his night stand.  He’d asked me to put those baseballs on his night stand and, once they were in place, he lined them up so they face his pillow.

Tonight, he asked me about the “55″ and the other numbers written on some of the other balls on his dresser.  What followed was a 20 minute walk down memory lane as we took several of the balls out of their cases to inspect them, played bare-handed catch from two feet apart, and discussed the games where we got the baseballs and the players who gave and/or autographed them for us.

We talked about his Ryan Rowland-Smith baseball from last September in Toronto.  It was the first (and so far only) baseball that Tim caught himself at a game.

We talked about the differences in the colors of the baseballs and how some baseballs — like our autographed Felix Hernandez baseball — look “dirty” because the players like it how it feels better in their hand that way.

We talked about our Willie Bloomquist baseball and how we got it the same night that Tim got his 30 Teams Trophy (also shown above on the night stand).   Tim remembered that it was a rainy night at the ballpark that night.  But he didn’t remember that was the same game at which he met Alex for the first time.  Since meeting Alex in Chicago, Tim and I have run into Alex (and Joe, who Tim thinks are brothers) at Citi Field twice, including at the game in which we got the baseball to the far right on his dresser.

We talked about the numbers written inside the MLB logo and how they correspond to the order in which we caught them at Tim’s MLB games.

We talked about the ripped leather in a big scuff mark below the MLB logo on Tim’s 50th baseball and how it probably happened when the baseball was hit into the seats during BP and scraped across the pavement in the field level seating area at Nationals Park.

We talked about the umpires who have given us baseballs after games and, notably, how Tim had dropped the baseball that Bruce Dreckman gave him recently at Citi Field, and how another umpire picked it up and gave it back to Tim.

As we chatted, we tossed the various baseballs back-and-forth to each other.  So many moments in life are forgotten forever.  And that’s one of the reasons I love getting a baseball at a game.  It gives us something tangible to hold onto and help tie us back into the memories of our days at the ballpark.  Tonight, it was a great way to get ready for bed.  It definitely beat reading one of Tim’s books for the 700th time.

Jason Phillips, C&S Hall Of Fame (2009)

Before getting into our 12 game reports for 2008, I thought I’d get to a topic I meant to cover at the end of the 2009 season.

Tim and I would like to officially induct Jason Phillips into the C&S Hall Of Fame:

Phillips C&S HOF Plaque.jpgAs the plaque notes, Phillips gave us baseballs at six different stadiums in 2009.  That includes (in order) Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Progressive Field, Safeco Field and Rogers Centre.

Prior to 2009, I did not know much about Phillips.  Really, all I knew is that he played first base and catcher for the Mets in 2003 when I saw him hit a home run off of Ryan Franklin in the Mariners first game ever at Shea Stadium.  2003 was the best of Phillips’s seven seasons (2001-2007) in the Major Leagues.

Well, in 2009, the Mariners invited Phillips to Spring Training.  When he didn’t make the club, they brought him on to work with the Mariners relievers in the bullpen.  And, that is where Tim and I crossed paths with Phillips in 2009.

It all started in Baltimore on June 10, 2009.

It was our first road-Mariners game of the season.  Before the game, Tim and I were minding our own business standing next to the Mariners bullpen watching Felix Hernandez warm up for the game…

3 felix and phillips.jpg…when out of nowhere, Phillips walks over to his catchers equipment bag, grabs a baseball and tosses it up to me and Tim.  It was totally unexpected, and very cool.

Here is the baseball from Baltimore…

Phillips No 1 Baltimore.jpg…shown here with Tim because Camden Yards doesn’t offer Ice Cream Helmets.

Next, we met up with Phillips in the Bronx on July 2, 2009.

It was a great game, the Mariners first win at the new Yankee Stadium.  In the ninth inning, Tim and I were sitting right above the Mariners bullpen in section 238 of the bleachers.  Phillips and Chris Jakubauskas had a good back-and-forth going with the crowd.  Eventually, Phillips grabbed three baseballs and started to toss them all into the crowd.  He was looking the other direction when I yelled down his name.  He immediately turned and fired a baseball our way.

I then decided I should give Phillips an A-Rod baseball I had with me and wanted to get rid of…

32 - A-Rod ball.JPG…for the whole story click here.  When I motioned down to Phillips to toss him the baseball, he thought I was tossing him a ball for an autograph.  He yelled up, “hold on!”  He then went and autographed a different baseball and threw it up to me after yelling, “its already signed!”  I thanked him for the second ball within about 10 minutes and then tossed him the A-Rod baseball, which gave him a big smile.  In retrospect, the A-Rod ball probably was the factor that made Phillips remember us for the rest of the season — so I’m definitely glad I tossed it to him.

Here are our two Phillips balls from the Bronx:

Phillips Nos 2-3 New York.jpgThe next day, we headed to Boston where we met up with Phillip at Fenway Park on July 3-5, 2009.

On July 3rd, we walked into Fenway Park with my folks, and saw Phillips standing in RF by the Mariners bullpen.  I yelled out his name, he turned and fired a baseball into my glove.

About 10-15 minutes later, Tim and I got down to the first row in the RF corner and called Jason over.  He came over and gave me a high five.  We chatted about the A-Rod ball from the night before.  He told me he put the A-Rod ball in the Pink Back Pack.  The next day, we spoke with Chris Jakubauskas, the keeper of the Pink Back Pack, and he confirmed that he had found the A-Rod ball in there.

On July 4th, we didn’t get a baseball from Phillips.  But he was walking by us when Erik Bedard tossed us a ball.  Phillips pointed us out and laughed at us, as if to say, “you again!”  I wondered if he’d cut us off after seeing us get 4 balls in just a couple days.

The answer:  No.

On July 5th, we got probably our most memorable baseball from Phillips.  As the following diagram shows…

…he tossed a baseball up to me and Tim on top of the Green Monster.

Here are our two Phillips balls from Fenway Park:

Philliips Nos 4-5 Boston.jpgNext, we met up with Phillips on August 22, 2009 in Cleveland.

It had been almost two months since we saw him in Boston.  I wasn’t sure if he’d remember us.  But we saw him before the game and he certainly did remember us.  We chatted a bit before he played catch with Felix Hernandez (who was going to pitch the following day).

I prefer catching a ball.  But, after he finished playing catch with Felix, I was happy to have Phillips hand-place a ball into my glove just before posing for a picture with me and Tim:

17 - jason phillips.jpgHere is our Phillips baseball from Cleveland:

Phillips No 6 Cleveland.jpgNext, it was back to Seattle, where we met up with Phillips at Safeco Field on September 17, 2009.

We chatted with Phillips a little bit at the beginning of this game.  Then, late in the game, he tossed a baseball up to us in section 186 between warming up a slough of Mariners relievers (the M’s ultimately won the game on an Ichiro walk-off single in the 14th inning).

Here is our Phillips baseball from Safeco Field:

Phillips No 7 Seattle.jpgFinally, we met up with Phillips for the final time of the season in Toronto on September 26, 2009.

This would be our final Mariners game of the season, and the sixth different stadium at which we’d see the Mariners play in 2009.  So I was hoping we could go 6-for-6 in stadiums with Phillips in 2009.

Phillips didn’t disappoint.  There was no BP for this weekend day game.  But Phillips spotted us when he came out to the field to play catch with a Mariner reliever.  He immediately set down his equipment bag and headed over to chat with me.  We chatted for a few minutes before he had to go do his job.

We didn’t get a ball from Phillips during pre-game warm-ups, but we did get baseballs from three other Mariners (including a special ball from Ryan Rowland-Smith).  That tied our all-time single-game record of 3 baseballs.  So, we knew that we’d set a new record if Phillips did end up throwing us a baseball, and after the great season interacting with Phillips, I was delighted with the prospect of him helping us break our 3-ball record.

Ultimately, he did.  The game actually ended before it happened.  After the game, the Mariners bullpen packed up and started heading to the clubhouse.  I yelled down at Phillips.  He looked up and saw that the bullpen baseball bag was already gone.  So, he ran out into RF and tracked down the baseball bag, which was being carried by David Aardsma.  He grabbed a ball out of the bag and threw a long strike right to my chest.

Here is our Phillips baseball from Toronto:

Phillips No 8 Toronto.jpg

For the season, a big “THANK YOU!” to Jason Phillips.  He really made the 2009 season extra special.  For going above and beyond the call of duty and being extra cool to me and Tim, we hereby induct Jason Phillips into the C&S Hall of Fame.

Tim’s MLB Debut (9/12/06)

Welcome to my first “turn-back-the-clock” game entry.  When I took Tim to his first game back in 2006, I didn’t even know MLBlogs existed.  Tim and I went to about 20 games or so between 2006-2008 and I plan to tell those stories this off-season.  This is the first.

When I found out toward the end of the 2005 baseball season that our first (and so far only) child due to be born in early 2006 was going to be a boy, I got really excited about the idea of having a little baseball partner.   I was looking forward to playing catch in the yard and teaching my son how to hit.  And I was really excited to have a little partner with whom to go to MLB games and, hopefully, to love the Mariners as much as I do.

Tim was born in January 2006.  I decided I wanted his first game to be a Mariners home game and I wanted it to be late in the season so he would be at least six months old…so he could at least somewhat “experience” the experience, not just “be there.”  I picked Tuesday, September 12, 2006 as the big day.  The opponent would be the Blue Jays.

Now, I’m a guy who likes to make an event out of things.  I’m not against creating my own holidays.  And I didn’t want this day to be just any other day…because it wasn’t.  September 12th would be Tim’s FIRST BASEBALL GAME and, better yet, his FIRST MARINERS GAME!  This was big.  So I fully intended to do it right.  And with help from some important people, most notably my awesome parents, it was done right!

I started out by simply emailing the closest people in my life sort of a “save the date” and open invitation.  I definitely wanted my parents and my best friend (and co-best Mariners fan) Paul to be there.  I was hoping also that Colleen’s folks (from Virginia) and her sister’s family (including my nephew, Gill, who (much to my dismay) I have still failed to get to a MLB game!) to join us.

Following my email, my mom had an amazing idea.  I have two cousins who both live in Western Washington and both have daughters 2 months older than Tim.  Plus, my parents have season tickets with their best friends, Lynn and Steve, and they have a grandson who is also two months older than Tim.  So my parents offered to get a suite so all four kids plus TWENTY-FIVE friends and family members could join together for this (personally) historic event.

YES!!!!!

Big, huge, enormous thanks to my folks!

So, we weren’t messing around.  This was going to be seriously awesome.

I decided I couldn’t go in there empty-handed.  In a possibly unprecedented move, I made a set of three custom baseball cards to commemorate Tim’s first game, complete with fake 1-game 2006 seasons stats (fyi, Tim had some great stats).  Here is what they looked like: 


1 - rookie cards.jpgThey were the size of regular baseball cards and I gave one to each person who attended the game with us — except the grandparents got a full set of three cards.

Before we knew it, it was September and our trip to Seattle was upon us.  The big day started with a run around Green Lake with my father-in-law, Kevin, and then some painting in my folks’ garage…


2 - painting sign.jpg…more on the painting later.

It was a 7:05 start and the weather was gloriously sunny.  Beautiful.  Our suite was down the 1B line just foul of rightfield.  In the picture below to the left, the red arrow is pointing to our suite…


3 - stadium views.JPG…and the picture to the right shows our view of home plate from the suite.

When we arrived at the stadium, I already had Tim’s first game ticket encased in an inch-thick screw down jumbo baseball card holder — where it will be locked down for all time.  The guy at the Suites entrance thought it was pretty unusual, but his scanner had no problem scanning the ticket through the glass.

Plus, it gave me the opportunity to explain to the ticket guy that four little kids would be celebrating their first game ever in suite number 5, which resulted in unexpected but much welcome extra-special treatment.

Shortly after arriving, we met up with my cousin, Janet, her husband, Destry (who runs ridiculously fast (i.e., sub-2.5 hour) marathons, and their daughter and Tim’s co-guest of honor, Julie.  Here we are hanging out in the three rows of seats in our suite: 


4 - TJCs with Johnsons.jpg…note the Ted Williams jersey on the wall behind us.  Each of the suites at Safeco Field is named after a Hall of Famer.  My guess is that the best suite will some day be called the “Ken Griffey, Jr. Suite.”

After watching lots of Mariners games on TV with me throughout the season, Tim was excited to finally be making his MLB debut…


5 - fun.jpg…Julie was just taking it all in — while wearing her sweet Mariners cheerleader outfit!

We got a “BP Group” picture of the folks who were there early:


6 - group in the suite pre-game.jpgLeft to Right:  (Totally cut off is my uncle Ray, Julie’s grandpa), my dad Jim, Colleen, Me and Tim, Destry, Janet and Julie, and my aunt Carol (Julie’s grandma).

After the group shot, it was time to hit field level.  This is literally the second picture ever taken of Tim in the field level of a MLB ballpark and the first with MLB ball players shown in the background…


7 - TJCs with Jason Phillips in background.jpg…any guesses who wore number “47″ for the Blue Jays in 2006?  Well, wouldn’t you know, it is none other than current Mariners bullpen catcher and Chief-Cook-and-Son-Baseball-Giver, Jason Phillips.  If the first picture had to feature non-Mariners, I think its pretty darn cool that it was Phillips.

Once we were down on the field level, we took a peak back up at our suite, where Uncle Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy, was doing his best Tricky Dick Nixon above my painting project:


8 - sign.jpgYes, the “First Gamers Club!”  I spent a lot of time debating if the sign should say this or “The September Call-Ups”  I think both are great.  But in the end this seemed better for the paper I used for the sign, plus it is more easily understood by non-baseball people.  FYI, they showed our sign on the jumbo screen during the game!

By the way, Laura is my cousin’s Daniel’s daughter and Kasey is Lynn and Steve’s grandson.  They weren’t there for BP, but you’ll see them soon.

After that picture above behind the 1B dugout, we spotted my dad down the 1B line.  He was seeing if he could catch a ball.  So, we went down and joined him.  Immediately upon meeting up with my dad (and about 1 minute after the picture behind the dugout), Colleen took this picture of three generations of Cook boys enjoying an evening at the ballpark: 


9 - first BP action.jpgAnd, immediately after Colleen took that picture, the BP batter hit a ball to that guy pictured above with the big red arrow pointing at him.

Until recently, I had no clue who he was.  But as he fielded the ball, I yelled, “ITS MY SON’S FIRST GAME CAN WE GET THAT BALL!?!?!?”

Without pause, he immediately turned around, walked over to us, and set Tim’s first MLB ball ever into my glove!


10 - tim's first ball ever.jpgI didn’t get my first baseball at a game until I was probably 12 or 13.  So I was SUPER-EXCITED to have a ball from Tim’s first game ever.

After we got that ball and posed for a bunch of pictures with it, I decided we’d accomplished all we needed to during BP.  It was time to walk Tim around his new baseball home.  Time to get acquainted with Safeco Field.

We started by heading up to the field level concourse and walking out to centerfield.

Now, about this time, you might be wondering why there were two guys with red arrows pointing at them in at picture above.  Well, when we reached CF, I heard someone yelling from the field.  Still standing in the concourse, I looked down and I saw that guy in the picture above with the smaller red arrow pointing at him.  He had a baseball in his hand, and he fired it up to us (still in the OF concourse) for Tim’s second ball of his life!  WOW!!!

A few minutes later, we met up with Janet and Julie in LF foul territory and we gave Tim’s second baseball to Julie so she too would have a keepsake from her first MLB game:


11 - ten minutes two baseballs.jpgWhat can I say.  The game hadn’t even started yet.  And we were already have a great time:


12 - exciting.jpgAfter our brief tour around the field, we headed back up to the suite where we found that more of our suite-mates had arrived.

Colleen’s mom and sister (and her family) couldn’t make the trip, but Colleen’s dad, Kevin, and his uncle Bob and aunt Ann did.  Here I am hanging out with Kevin and Bob before the game:


13 - gamerailing.JPGKevin is a Yankees fan (he has an excuse, he grew up in Jersey City) and Bob is a Red Sox fan, but they like each other nonetheless.

The game had not started yet so Tim grabbed a bite to eat — the old standard (bottle of milk) and a new treat (his first dog at the ballpark, he finished about 2-3 bites of the dog):


13 - first ballpark dog.jpgSoon all of the First Gamers Club kids had arrived and they were up for some playtime in the suite:


14 - playtime.jpgIn the picture above to the left, that is Laura, Julie, Tim and Kasey (left-to-right, obviously).  To the right, Tim and Kasey had a push-ups contest.  I think Tim did about 200.

And then the big moment arrived, and my dad was thoughtful enough to capture history for us — Tim’s first MLB pitch ever:


Tim's First MLB Pitch.jpgGil Meche to Frank Catalanotto — STRIKE 1!  
Things would only get better from there.

Tim and Kasey spent some time enjoying the game from the front row of the suite:


15 - tim and casey.jpgWe took about a billion pictures of everyone:


16 - people posing for pictures2.jpgTop left, Tim and my dad.  Top right, Lynn, Tim and me.

Bottom left, my sister-in-law (brother’s wife, not Colleen’s sister), Alison with Tim and my dad.  Bottom right, my mom, Tim and me.

Remember how I said I originally did not know who gave us Tim’s first baseball?  Well, I figured it out earlier this season (2009).  First, I noticed he was a left hander from the picture of him walking back out to his spot in the OF in the picture above.  So I looked up every lefty who played for the Blue Jays that season.  I then took the 3-4 possible mystery men and put them into Google Images.  I wasn’t positive, but my front runner was a September call-up named Davis Romero (who has never made it back to the bigs and is still playing Triple-A ball for the Blue Jays).

Then one day I was combing through old game pictures and I found the following picture from Tim’s first game:


17 - davis romero warms in bullpen.jpgIts an odd picture, don’t you think?  But odd’ness aside, do you notice anything?

At the top right, there is a TV screen mounted on the ceiling of our suite where (if you click to enlarge the picture) you can see that Davis Romero is warming up in the Blue Jays’ bullpen.  More importantly, its not too difficult to tell that Davis Romero, indeed, is the mystery man who gave us Tim’s first ever MLB ball.

So, at long last, “THANK YOU, DAVIS ROMERO!”

Anyway, we kept snapping away at the pictures, here are Tim and Colleen in the suite:


18 - tim and mommy.jpgRemember how I mentioned we got special treatment after I told the ticket taker about the First Gamers Club?  Here is part of it — free Mariners lunch boxes!


19 - lunchbox.jpgThat’s a great lunch box.  Although he didn’t give it a lot of thought at the time, Tim loves it now.

Here is a shot of my mom with two of her sisters Margaret (left) and Carol and, of course, Julie too:


20 - sisters.jpgAlthough he’s a Yankees fan, “Poppy” got into Tim’s big first game too…


21 - poppygame2.JPG…as did Bob and Ann (pictured to the right).

And as the Mariners led the Blue Jays, we just kept snapping away at the photos and having a grand old time in suite number 5:


22 - people posing for pictures.jpgTop left, me and Tim with Lynn and Kasey and Laura and her mom, Noelle (my cousin Daniel’s wife).  Top right, me with my dad and brother, Jason.

Bottom left, Alison, my dad and Steve.  Bottom right, half of my dad with Tim, Destry, Julie, Kasey and Lynn.

But then, the tiredness kicked in.  Tim had a tiredness-inducing double whammy going here.  First, it was late at night for the boy (9′ish o’clock).  Second, we were on the West coast just two days removed from our home in Pennsylvania and he was still on east coast time — so it was really three hours later for Tim.

So, Tim spent some time chilling out under a blanket strapped to either me or Colleen in a baby bjorn:


23 - tired tim.jpgSoon, it was time for more special treatment — the Mariner Moose showed up to greet us in the suite:


24 - the moose visits.jpg…as you can see, Uncle Ray really enjoyed the Moose’s visit.

In between photo sessions, we actually watched the game:


25 - fans in seats.jpg…and look who was with us, my best buddy Paul!


26 - with paulie.jpgIt was great to have “Pauliewog” there for Tim’s first game because I’m gonna rely on Paul a lot in life to re-enforce for Tim the finer points of Mariners-fandome and provide him a shining example of a positive Mariners attitude.

And before we knew it, the Mariners WON!  The first in-person Mariners win of Tim’s life — I couldn’t have scripted it better:


28 - mariners win.jpgAfter the game, Tim and I got one more picture with the field in the background before heading out:


29 - infrontend.jpgI think this game was the start of something beautiful. 
Welcome to a new era, the Tim-and-Todd-traveling-baseball-fans era.

By the way, Ichiro went 1-5, Raul Ibanez (1st inning) and Adrian Belte hit homeruns, and Gil Meche got the win.  You coudn’t have scripted a better first game experience.

Balls and Helmets

Tim and I have had all of our baseballs from 2009 laying around unorganized and our ice cream helmets in a similarly disheveled state.  So, I decided to get organized.

The four most important baseballs of the season are in Tim’s room on his dresser with his 30-MLB team milestone trophy, his Mariners Mr. Potatohead, and his miniature Ken Griffey, Jr. glove:

top 2009 baseballs.jpg

Those baseballs include:

  1. Willie Bloomquist/Royals ball (U.S. Cellular Field) – from Tim’s 30th MLB team milestone game (8/17/09).
  2. Felix Hernandez/Erik Bedard (Fenway Park) warm up ball signed by Felix Hernandez (7/4/09).
  3. Jason Phillips autographed ball (Yankee Stadium) – trade for A-Rod photoball for M’s pink backpack (7/2/09).
  4. Ryan Rowland-Smith’s autographed warm-up ball (Rogers Centre) — Tim’s first ball he caught himself (9/26/09).

NOTE:  Honorable Mention Most Important Baseballs Awards go to the HHH Metrodome ball that we caught at the Metrodome (8/15/09) and the ball Jason Phillips threw to us on top of the Green Monster at Fenway (7/5/09).

The rest of our 2009 baseballs are now all in baseball cubes displayed on a bookshelf on which they fit perfectly:

balls and helmets displayed.jpgAs you can see, on the bottom shelf we have our ice cream helmet collection.  Most piles are all the same team (e.g., the big Mariners and Phillies piles).  But a couple teams are hidden beneath other teams (e.g., the Pirates and the other New York team).  Eventually, I’ll need to figure out a better way to display our helmets.

FYI, the balls on the helmet shelf are mostly from my youth.  I lost track of how many balls I caught growing up in the Kingdome.  Eventually, I ended up playing home run derby with most of them (something me and my friends played constantly during the summers) and lost them in the woods beyond the outfield fence at Madrona Elementary School (which is a great place to play home run derby).  Anyway, the end balls in the back row are from last season, the other nine are my only remaining Kingdome balls.  You can see on one of them I wrote “Julio Franco” in red in really poor, youthful handwriting.  It was back when he played for the Rangers, probably from 1989 or 1990.  The ball to the right of the Franco ball was from Kirby Puckett.

While I’m at it, I might as well share one more picture:

tim's shelf.jpg

These are balls from 2006-08.  On the top shelf:

1.  Tim’s first ball ever – from Davis Romero (Blue Jays) at his first game ever, and first game (obviously) at Safeco Field (9/12/06).

3.  Tim’s third ball ever - from Brandon Morrow at his third game ever, second Mariners game, and first game at Camden Yards (8/9/07)

4.  Tim’s fourth ball ever – from Glenallen Hill at Tim’s 1st MLB Anniversary, our only ball ever at Citizens Bank Park (9/12/07)

FYI, we gave Tim’s second baseball to my cousin’s daughter who shared her first game ever with Tim (as we will see in a forthcoming entry – ETA next week).

The rest of the baseballs are spring training balls from 2008.  The top left ball is autographed by Adam Moore and the top right ball is autographed by Jose Vidro – both during spring training 2008.

Interstingly, this post now shows every baseball Tim and I have ever caught together except one, which we got during our first baseball roadtrip in 2008 and got autographed by some Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers.  What the heck, lets show it too:


PNC Ball.jpg

This ball is autographed by T.J. Beam, Tyler Yates, and Sean Burnett of the 2008 Pirates.

So, there you go, our entire Major League baseball collection and Major League ice cream helmet collections in one blog entry.

2009: It Was The Best Of Times…

Simply put, 2009 was outstanding.  Tim and I had more fun than than should be allowed.  We saw a lot of amazing baseball (33 games) including:

  • Tim’s first time seeing Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a homerun (and as a Mariner!)
  • Ichiro getting lots of hits en route to a record breaking 9th season with 200+ hits
  • Felix Hernandez dominating the AL
  • Jamie Moyer being Jamie Moyer
  • A walk-off homerun by Raul Ibanez
  • A walk-off single by Ichiro in the bottom of the 14th inning
  • Two games with walk-off singles by Jose Lopez
  • baseball in 13 stadiums including, most notably in my book, our first game at the Metrodome (also, Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field, Miller Park, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Rogers Centre and Progressive Field)
  • Seeing a the Cubs score 10 runs in one inning
  • Tim finishing off seeing all 30 MLB teams play live.
  • A winning season by the Mariners!  (85-77)

We also made great memories interacting with some ball players including:

  • Tim asking Mariners reliever Chris Jakabauskas in the lobby of our hotel if he wants to come “see our room.”
  • Meeting Mariners G.M. Jack Z. on the streets of Boston.
  • Getting a picture with Felix Hernandez.
  • Getting a picture with Ryan Rowland-Smith and having him throw a baseball to Tim:
  • Giving Jason Phillips an A-Rod baseball to put in the Mariners bullpen’s pink backpack and then confirming the next day (in the hotel lobby) with Jakabaukas that the ball was indeed in the backpack.
  • Getting 8 baseballs from Jason Phillips, including a pre-autographed ball, and baseballs at 6 stadiums.

The season — my first on MLBlogs — has provided so many great moments that I’ve recorded in game entries.  Some of my favorite entires have included:

Finally, we took tons of great pictures to document our adventures this season. 

Here are some of my favorites (at least one from each game):

We started the season off on a chilly day in Baltimore — the world was our oyster, we had our whole season before us:

cheesin.jpg

In week 2, we cheered on as former Mariner Raul Ibanez hit this pitch for a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning:

ibombez.jpg

In week 3, Tim raced down the foul territory warning track on his way to his first Kids Run the Bases of the season following our first game ever at Citi Field.

citi RF foul track.jpgIn week 4, Tim couldn’t adjust to the West Coast time change and was a little out-of-sorts when Jarrod Washburn threw us our first ball of the season from the Mariners dugout during the 9th inning of an exciting Mariners win:

sad boy with a ball.JPGWith this pitch on May 2, 2009, Tim had finally officially seen Ken Griffey, Jr. play for the Mariners (YES!!!):

Griff at Bat.jpgOn May 3, 2009, we took in an excellent Mariners game with some of my high school friends and their kids.  Awesome times.  And the Mariners won in 15 innings:

joyners huge gloves and tim.jpgOn May 4, 2009, Tim and I got our picture with Red a/k/a “Beltre Guy” — who is fast becoming a Safeco Field Legend due to his passionate following of Adrian Beltre.  Will Red be back in 2010?  We will see: 

beltre guy.jpgOn May 5, 2009, we snagged a bag of hot roasted peanuts from a long-time Mariners legend, Rick “The Peanutman” Kaminski:

peanut man.jpgBack in Philadelphia later that same week, Tim put the smack down on this ice cream helmet — this boy really knows how to put an ice cream helmet in its place:

ice cream helmet devoured.jpgIn mid-May, we went to Philadelphia to see the Dodgers, but the best part of the night was seeing my favorite pitcher, Jamie Moyer.  With Colleen’s new camera and a little computer magic, I was able to create one of my favorite pictures of the season:

moyermotion.jpgThe very next week, we took in our first game ever at Nationals Park, Tim ran the bases (twice) following the game, and we got a sweet picture with Theordore “Teddy” Roosevelt:

TJCs and Teddy R.jpgNext up, we were back in Baltimore to see the Tigers with a couple Tigers-fan-friends.  And Tim and his buddy, Brady, put on a dance show in the shady upper deck:

dancing.jpgOn June 3, 2009, Tim and I returned to Nationals Park hoping to witness Randy Johnson’s 300th career win.  Instead, we watched hours of rain turn the field into a lake (we also met Zack Hample for the first time and spent several hours chatting with him while watching the rain fall):

11 Lake NatsPark.jpgOn June 10, 2009, Tim got to see Griffey bat play for the first time ever in a Mariners uniform (he wore a Seattle Rainiers uniform on May 2nd, and was sick the rest of that week):

16 power stroke foul.jpgAfter the game, Mariners trainer Rick Griffin gave us a close up look at Griff’s bat — sweet:

31 swingman.jpgOn June 28, 2009, we stopped by Camden Yards on our way home from an OBX vacation and witnessed a monster Adam Dunn bomb and Tim ran the bases at our favorite park outside of Seattle, Washington:

25 - on field family picture.JPGTim and I had tons of fun watching the guys in the M’s bullpen this season.  In this July 2, 2009 picture, Chris Jakabauskas is shown sitting in the bullpen at new Yankee Stadium with one of three big metal warrior helmets the Mariners bullpen displayed during games until Bug Selig put the kybosh on the M’s fun:

31b - jak and helmet.JPGThe next day, my mom, dad, Tim and I were in Boston to watch our Mariners (and Jakabauskas) beat the Red Sox:

20 - ready to play ball.JPGWe started out watching the July 3, 2009 game from these seats with a young Red Sox fan named Tyler who told us to stay sitting there until people with tickets showed up.  The fans in Boston were awesome all weekend:

18 - seats by tyler.JPGThe next day, Eric Bedard gave us his and Felix Hernandez dirty warm-up ball, a few minutes later, we got our picture with Felix and he signed the ball:

7 - felix warm up ball autograph and photo.jpgTim and I spent a good portion of the Independence Day game standing (or crouching) in this walkway SRO area — where the local fans continued to be extremely nice to us:

18 - fun in the walkway.JPGLater in the game, my mom taught Tim how to do the wave:

22 - first wave.JPGDuring our third and final game at Fenway, Tim and I stumbled across the 2004 and 2007 world series trophies — although I wasn’t able to get a picture of it, this game was extra special because Tim saw Griff get a hit (a single off of the Green Monster) for the first time ever):

23 - 2004 2007 WS trophies.JPGIn mid-July, Tim and I headed back to Nationals Park for our rain-out make-up game and Tim tried unsuccessfully to get someone to hit him a homerun:

17 - hit it here.jpgIn late July, we were back in Philadelphia to see the Cardinals, during one of many rain delays we sat through this season, Tim begged and pleaded for an ice cream helmet:

12 - ice cream pleeeeeease.JPGDuring the rain delay, Tim and I toured around Citizens Bank Park trying to find a place where Tim could eat his ice cream in peace — it took us to three different locations:

13 - 1st ice cream spot.JPGIn early August, we were back in Philadelphia to see Moyer pitch against the Marlins:

7a - moyer warm up motion.jpgHopefully this won’t be the last time we ever see Moyer pitch — but, sadly, it could be:

8 - moyer bullpen motion.jpgOn August 5, 2009, Tim and I headed out to a sold-out FirstEnergy Stadium to watch future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez pitch for our local Reading Phillies:

12 - pedro motion.jpgA week or so later, Tim and I meet up with my dad in Chicago for The Great (Second Annual) Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Road Trip of 2009 where we witnessed the Cubs hang a 10-spot on the Pirates in the second inning:

22 - ten spot.JPGBefore the game, my dad toted Tim around as we toured Wrigley Field:

14 - holding tim upper RF.jpgTim and I had a blast touring around the upper deck at the Metrodome — as the title of this picture indicates (we loved the Metrodome!):

16 - we love this place.jpgThis is one of my favorite pictures from our trip to the Metrodome (other favorites include looking behind the canvas curtains in RF-CF):

14 - big screen close up.jpgOn the third day of the baseball road trip, we visited the House that Happy Built — and we got this picture with Nick “The Happy Youngster” who we had first met on June 10th in Baltimore):

27 - happy.jpgTim wore his pajama pants to Miller Park (his choice, not mine), and he also ran the bases following the game (and I ran them with him!) after which we got a picture with my dad:

40 - 3 cooks at miller park.JPGThe next day, we finished off the baseball road trip and Tim finished off seeing all 30 MLB teams when we saw the Kansas City Royals play for the first time (and we got a ball from Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist):

13 - willie ballgame.jpgAfter the game, I presented Tim with a trophy memorializing his 30-team accomplishmen (thanks to Curious George, Tim loves trophies) — after the game, the nice folks did a cool little article about Tim’s milestone:

30 - trophy.jpgI took this picture for Tim’s 30-Team milestone entry — I like it:

helmets and balls.JPGJason Phillips, shown here with me and Tim in Cleveland in late-August, was by far the coolest guy we ran into this season.  Jason gave us 8 baseballs this season including at least 1 baseball at each stadium at which we saw the Mariners play this season (Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Progressive Field, Safeco Field, and Rogers Centre) — plus, we took time out to chat (and be photographed) with us several times throughout the season:

17 - jason phillips.jpgDuring that same game, Tim got his picture with Slider:

23 - slider tim.jpgThe following day, Tim and I achieved our No. 1 goal of the season — we saw Griffey hit a homerun as a Mariner — No. 624 of his career:

8 - griff about to score on HR624.jpgWhen we arrived home late that night, I watched the highlight and realized that Tim and I (the blue and white blur) could be seen in the highlight of Griff’s homerun:

9 - KGJ HR 624.jpgOn Tim’s third MLB anniversary (Sept. 12, 2009), we went to see the Orioles beat the Yankees in the Bronx and we had a blast.

 

1 - magic floating tim and yankee stadium.jpgDuring the fun-filled day, Tim played catch with an usher in the LF bleachers concourse:

25 - catch with usher.jpg…and the usher temporarily lost Tim’s baseball when it rolled through a hole in the stadium’s wall — the usher retrieved the ball, but also rewarded us with an Orioles BP homerun ball:

26 - the ball incident.jpgTim also caused a scene in CF going all medieval on a pile of Moe’s Billy Barou Nachos — a mere 1,410 calories:

15 - CF nacho madness.jpgBack in Seattle the following week, we saw Adam Moore make his MLB debut and Tim showed us a new way of wearing a baseball glove:

18 - new catching technique.jpgAt our final game of the season at Safeco Field, Colleen and I minute to pose for a picture while Tim played in the kids’ play area:

10 - with colleen in playarea.jpgThe next weekend, we attended our first game in Toronto and got a picture with and a ball and autograph from Ryan Rowland-Smith:

14 - TJCs with RRS.jpgThe ball from Rowland-Smith was the first ball Tim has ever caught thrown by a major leaguer — which is featured in another mygameballs.com article:

15 - fun with RRS.jpgOn the final Saturday of the regular season, we were back at Citi Field where we spent time with new friends and MLBloggers Alex K. and Joe F who were supercool to Tim:

5 - tim's guys.jpgWe closed out the season on the final Sunday back at Camden Yards — where it all began just six months earlier.  This time, Tim enjoyed the only ice cream helmet (a Mariners helmet) served at Camden Yards in 2009:

20 - Camden Yards BYOICH.jpg

Although my wife can, I officially “can’t wait” for the 2010 baseball season to begin.  I’m already planning it out and we have some exciting baseball trips in the future.

I’ve certainly enjoyed sharing our stories from the ballpark this season.  The reason I created this blog was the record our baseball adventures so Tim could look back on them later in life.  This season has been thoroughly documented and I’m quite happy with the results.  Now, entering the off-season, I’m thinking about the games we went to before this season.  I have them all recorded in Tim’s Baseball Log.  But I’m thinking that I might find time during the off-season to put them in story form here on my blog.  Therefore, if you’re interested in hearing about and seeing some pictures from the games Tim went to between 2006-2008 (about 22 games total), check back from time-to-time during the offseason.  Otherwise, see you in 2010.

Mariners in Toronto – Part I of II (9-26-09)


1 - first look at skydome.jpgOkay — get ready for a long (and hopefully fun-filled), picture-laden game report.

It took some coaxing, but about a month ago I finally got my lovely wife, Colleen, to agree to a late-season family trip to the Great White North.  It would be our first trip ever to Toronto, our first game outside of the United States, and our first game ever at Rogers Centre.

It would also be our final Mariners game of the season, and a re-match of Tim’s first game ever.

To the right is a picture of our first close-up view of Rogers Centre.  Behind the stadium, you can see the CN Tower, which I am told is the tallest free-standing structure in the world.

Let’s get to the game.

We drove north from Pennsylvania the night before and stayed about 88 miles from Toronto, right down the street from Niagara Falls.  I didn’t know when, if ever, we’d get back to Toronto, so I wanted to get there early for all of BP.

We arrived before the stadium opened, grabbed our tickets at will call, and chatted with some nice Canadians in line.  Much to our delight, the Canucks informed us that it was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!  YES!  I was psyched.

The stadium opened at 11:00 a.m.  I hustled in to see what I could see, and Colleen took this picture as she and Tim approached the field level seats:

2 - just ichiro and todd.jpgMe and Ichiro.  No BP.  No one else on the field.  Just Ichiro.  Aye, aye, aye…two hours to kill before the game.  By the way, that is a banner I made sticking out of my backpack.

Here is the view from the 1B field level seats — essentially our first view of the field upon entering the stadium:

3 - rogers 1B Field panaramic2.jpgWe wandered back-and-forth between Ichiro, the foul pole, and the Mariners dugout.

I took some random pictures: 

4 - random pre-game stuff.jpgTo the left, big cushy seats along the front row (and Tim standing at the far end of them). To the right, the M’s batting helmets, gloves and shin guards.  Check out the shag-carpet looking field turf.

We looked into the dugout to see if any Mariners were in there…

5 - father and son pre-game.jpgNope.  Not yet.  By the way, Colleen took this picture because she thought it was cute how Tim was looking up at me.

After a bit, Tim and Colleen went up to the 200 level to a kids area (that didn’t impress Colleen).  I decided to stay on the field level and explore a bit more.

Then, some Blue Jays came out to play catch — a bunch of them.  I decided to go over and see them.

First a little background.  Do you recall that I’ve had a bunch of interactions this season with Mariners bullpen catcher (and former big leaguer) Jason Phillips?  Jason has been extremely cool to me and Tim.  Well, the Blue Jays just called up Jason’s younger brother, Kyle, for his first action in the major leagues.

I was thinking it would be really cool to get a ball from a pair of brothers at the same game.  So I decided to see if Kyle Phillips was over there.  But I couldn’t find him.  I noticed that Jays pitcher Brian Tallet was about 2 feet from the first row playing catch down the LF line:

6 - no soup for brian tallet.jpgI went over and politely asked him if he knew where Kyle Phillips was.  He totally ignored me.  And, I never found Kyle.  Oh well.

I was now on the opposite side of the infield.  I decided to walk around the OF concourse and head over to the Mariners bullpen.

When I got there, this is what I saw:

7 - olson-moore bullpen.jpgTo the left, bullpen coach John Wetteland is at the top left about to exit the bullpen door.  I have been debating with myself over the identity of the stretching Mariner at the bottom and to the right.  At first, I thought it was Garrett Olson.  But then I saw Garrett Olson out in RF later and I didn’t think he was the same guy.  I decided the stretching guy was rookie catcher Adam Moore — a guy I’m following closely.  But after returning home and examining all of my numerous pictures, I again think it is Garrett Olson.

Whichever one it is, the guy was cool.  He was down there stretching and I was up above just standing around observing my surroundings.  He turned around and looked up and saw me wearing my Mariners jersey.  He yelled, “Hey, there!” up to me.  We chatted for a minute or two.  We discussed that the Jays were throwing a lefty and Ken Griffey, Jr. would not be in the line up — a familiar scenario for me this season.

After chatting for a couple minutes, he yelled “hold on a minute” and he ran over to the wall (up where Wetteland is pictured).  He opened the bullpen baseball bag and pulled out a ball and threw it up to me.

“Thanks, mystery Mariner!”  (probably Garrett Olson)

 After chatting with probably-Garrett-Olson, I headed back over to the seats along the 1B line and I watched some more stretching:

8 - pre-game stetching.jpgThat is David Aardsma to the left and Ichiro to the right.

Eventually, Chris Jakubauskas came out to the field behind 1B (below at left side)… 

9 - jak and morrow.jpg…I yelled down to him, “Hey, Chris, need someone to play catch?”  He laughed and kept stretching.  Eventually, Brandon Morrow (top middle) ran out to stretch and play catch with Jakubauskas.  In the bottom left picture, Morrow threw one by Jak and all the way to the LF wall.

After Jak returned with the ball, they played catch for a few more minutes and then Morrow tossed their warm-up ball to me.

“Thanks, Brandon!”

Then, Jason Phillips made an appearance:

10 - jason phillips.jpg

Jason walked out to the RF foul line to play catch with someone-or-other, I can’t remember who.  I was watching some other M’s play catch.  When I looked left, Jason was walking out from the dugout.  He looked my way and raised his hand in the air above his head as if to say, “You again, you’re everywhere!”

He immediately set down his bag (that big bag behind him in the picture) and walked over to chat.  He gave me a hand shake and we chatted for several minutes.  I asked him about his brother and he said Kyle would be catching that day and he was excited to watch his brother play.

I mentioned to Jason that I was at the Mariners first game ever at Shea Stadium when “some dude wearing glasses hit a home run against my Mariners.”  Jason responded, “Yep, that was me.  Hit it to center off of Ryan Franklin.  And Franklin was mad at me about it.”

I also gave Jason a card with our blog address on it.  Hey, in case you’re reading this, Jason, THANKS!  You’ve really made this seasona lot of fun and very memorable for me and Tim.  Looking forward to seeing you in 2010 if you stick with the M’s!

While all of this was going on, Colleen took a couple shots of Adam Moore stretching and running…

 
11 - more adam moore.jpg 
IMG_4456.jpg
  

 …as shown on the right, Adam Moore is the first ball player Tim ever met, and his first autograph.  It was at spring training in 2008.  I’ve been following him ever since and hoping he’d get called up to the big club.  Hopefully he’s here to stay.

Oh, yeah.  So I guess you could tell, Colleen and Tim met up with me again after the play area.  Tim was ready to catch his first ball ever… 

12 - how about a ball.jpgYeah, Tim has got a bunch of baseballs at games.  But they’ve all been either (i) thrown to me or (ii) handed to Tim.  Tim had been telling me at games recently that he wanted to catch a ball himself.  I was hoping it would happen.

By the way, in that last picture, do you see a baseball in the black glove sitting on the ground by the foul line to Tim’s left?  That ball is also shown here:

13 - RRS to GO.jpgThat is Ryan Rowland-Smith throwing the ball to Garrett Olson.  He was throwing some wicked junk balls that Garrett really had to work hard to catch.

Back to that ball in the glove.  That was Ryan Rowland-Smith’s glove.  After he and Olson finished tossing, Ryan headed over to the RF corner where someone who appeared to be a Rogers Centre regular had a whole bunch of glossy pictures set out on the wall.  Rowland-Smith headed over and autographed one for her.  Then he worked his way down the wall in our direction signing for everyone.

When he reached us, I asked if we could get our picture with him — “of course” was his response:

14 - TJCs with RRS.jpgAs we were getting ready for this picture, I asked, “After this picture, do you think you could throw that ball in your glove into my son’s glove?”  “Oh, definitely, no problem” was Ryan’s response.  It was funny.  He almost said it like it was a foregone conclusion.

After the picture, Ryan headed over to his glove and grabbed the ball.  I stood Tim up on the wall and Ryan tossed it to him…

15 - fun with RRS.jpgIn the top left, Ryan had just thrown the ball to Tim, but Tim missed it.  Ryan is chuckling and coming over to grab the ball off of the ground.  In the top right and bottom left corners, Ryan is autographing the ball for us.  He then handed it back to us and went on signing.

But the story isn’t over.  We were still standing right next to Ryan and he was still signing.  A couple seconds later, someone handed him a ball to sign, but didn’t have a pen.  Ryan asked, “Does anyone have a sharpie?”  At the same time, Tim said something to me about being sad that he missed the ball when Ryan threw it to him.

I handed a sharpie to Rowland-Smith and said, “I have one.  By the way, do you think you could re-throw that ball to my son so he can try to actually catch it.”  “Of course, no problem,” Ryan said with another chuckle.

Ryan then took the ball all the way across the warning track.  I was thinking, “Oh, my gosh.  How’s Tim gonna catch this from that far!”  In the bottom middle of the picture above, the red arrow shows the flight path of the ball as Tim squeezes it safely in his glove.

SUCCESS!!!

Tim (and I) was so excited about his big catch:

16 - woooh.jpg

By the way, today (9-29) I asked Tim who threw the baseball that he caught.  He thought about it for minute and first said, “Jason Phillips.”  Then he thought harder and he came up with a new answer, “Smith Roll.”  Hey, that’s not too far off.  “Ryan Rowland-Smith” is probably a hard name for a 3-year-old to remember.

An extra big, huge thank you to Ryan Rowland-Smith.  He was so extremely nice.  He really came off like he is one of the nicest guys around.  His demeanor just exuded niceness.

At this point of pre-game, I realized we had caught three baseballs — tying our single game record — and we hadn’t even got a ball from Jason Philips.  There was a great chance of breaking our record, despite no BP.

But for the time being, it was getting close to game time.  Most of the players had left the field.  So Tim and I decided to go on a stadium tour while Colleen went to find our seats.

I started with a panaramic from the RF corner where we’d celebrated Tim’s big catch:

17 - rogers rf foul corner field panaramic.jpgHere is a shot of the ailse that leads from the main concourse down to the RF corner:

18 - rogers field level back aisle.jpgBehind home plate: 

19 - rogers plate field panaramic.jpgNotice that big blue double railing down the middle?  I think that has something to do with helping handicapped patrons down the stairs, which is nice.  But it kept fustrating me because you can’t get passed it without walking up to the concourse.

Here is a shot from foul territory in LF:

20 - rogers LF foul field panaramic.jpgI thought this sign was pretty funny:

21 - low headroom.jpgThat “low headroom” sign is on that same support beam all the way around the stadium.  Behind home plate, it is a good sign because the headroom is very low.  But where it is pictured above, it is about 30 feet above the aisle below.

Here is a picture standing in front of the batters eye…

22 - rogers CF batters eye view panaramic.jpg…which is just a big black cloth laid over the field level seats in CF.

Then we headed up to the 500 level (we’ll have to come back to explore the 200-300-400 levels).  Here is a panaramic view from roughly behind home plate in the 500 level:

23 - rogers plate upper panaramic.jpgBy the way, the double set of lights at the top right isn’t real.  That’s an effect from me combining multiple pictures to make that panaramic view.  There is only a single set of lights up there.

Here is are a couple views of the seats and roof support beams in the 500 level:

24 - blurry 500 level.jpg…check out how they have railings between every row of seating.  They only have that in the 500 level (as far as I could tell).  I guess it is so people don’t fall down the incredibly steep steps.  It makes it hard to walk through the narrow rows quickly.

Here is a view from a little more than half way up the 500 level in RF foul territory…

25 - rogers RF foul upper below lights panaramic.jpg…not bad, but you are gonna miss any catches made right down the RF line.

 And, here is a panaramic view from the back row of the same section…

26 - rogers rf foul upper behind lights panaramic.jpg…notice anything?  Yep, that’s right.  The seats are ABOVE THE LIGHTS!!!  Not quite as good as the seats half way up the section.  Here you’re going to miss anything that happens at home plate or in RF or LF.  But, hey, its a unique view and you could chalk it up as an odd experience if you are ever forced to sit here.

Here is another view from further out in RF — in homerun territory.  It would be quite a blast if a home run ever made it up here:

27 - rogers rf foul line upper panaramic.jpgHere are a couple more random shots from up there:

28 - rogers centre stadium scenes1.jpgTop left, there appears to be a restaurant (or something) just below the big screen.

In the top right and bottom left, you can see a crane contraption that is holding up the foul pole.

Bottom right, its just a picture of the big screen — featuring Franklin Gutierrez.

And that was our tour.  We headed to our seats in RF for the game to start.  This was our view from the first row in section 104:

29 - rogers rf section 104 row 1 seat 107 panaramic.jpgAlmost immediately, I headed back out to the concourse to get Tim a treat:

30 - blue jays ice cream helmet.jpgSo, at the beginning of each game at Yankee Stadium, the entire RF bleachers section chants each Yankees players name until they wave at the RF bleachers.  At Rogers Centre, this guy is in charge of the roll call:

31 - roll call guy.jpgHe did it all himself.  But he successfully collected a bunch of Blue Jay waves.

Back to our seats.  Check out how awesome these are — the M’s bullpen bench was elevated above the OF wall just a coule feet from us:

32 - elevated M's bullpen.jpgAfter the roll call guy did his thing, the entire Mariners bullpen yelled, “VERNON WELLS!”  Vernon promptly gave the bullpen a big smile and a wave.

John Wetteland then yelled to Vernon:  “Can I have a baseball?”  Others followed with, “Can I have your bat?,” “Can I have your glove?,” and “Can I have your cleats?”

And that wasn’t all the fun they had.  The entire M’s bullpen then waged an all out every-man-for-himself pumpkin seed flicking war.  Seeds were flying everywhere for about 15 minutes.  David Aardsma and Jason Vargas both took seeds to the face.  Some of those guys could flick a seed 30 feet on a line.  It was pretty impressive, and hilarious.  Everyone in the crowd was watching them closely and getting a kick out of it, including this guy:

33 - tim is all smiles in toronto.jpgThen we were interrupted with some baseball.   I can’t remember who hit this ball, but a Mariner hit a ball to deep right CF.  I thought it was extra bases all the way.  But the Jays’ right fielder, Jose Bautista, tracked it down and made an amazing catch just below us before smashing into the hard plexiglass wall at full speed.  It seemed like he was down for a minute or two after the catch.

Here is a screen shot from the highlight on mlb.com.  This is just before he smashes into the wall — the red arrow is pointing to me, you can’t really see Tim in the seat next to me (the empty looking seat), and then Colleen is in the pink:

34 - bautista catch screen shot.jpgDuring the game, Tim tested out his new hobby (more on that later):

35 - cameraman tim.jpgThen it was time to take a walk.  We walked around the 100 level concourse.  We walked by a neat looking market before ending up in the team store:

36 - rogers team store.jpgTim didn’t want to leave the team store because it had a field on the ground.  Most of it was painted, but the bases and home plate were glass and you could see a real game-used home plate and bases under each piece of glass.

Tim took a lot of swings at fake balls and ran a lot of bases in the team store.  I was okay with it because I could see the game while I stood by the guard at the home plate pictured above to the right.

While I was standing there, Ichiro was kicked out of the game for the first time in his career and Adam Moore hit his first extra base hit (2B) and collected his first RBI of his career.  It was cool to be there for that.

Eventually, we left the team store and I walked all the way around the stadium while holding Tim in my arms…

37 - sweeney swings k-phillips catches.jpg…while doing so we saw Mike Sweeney at bat and Kyle Phillips playing catcher.

After Ichiro was booted for arguing balls and strikes, Bill Hall took his place in RF. 

38 - two RFers.jpgAs we walked around the concourse, Tim fell asleep.  I headed back to our seats and handed Tim off to Colleen.  Unfortunately, it was very difficult to sit next to Colleen while she held Tim like this because Tim’s legs were in the way:

39 - nap time.jpgSo I continued to walk around and take pictures.  And then I hung out above the Mariners bullpen in section 106.

I got some good action shots including these… 
40 - the kids are alright.jpgTop left, Adam Moore getting drilled by a pitch.  Top right, Josh Wilson getting a line hit up the middle moving Moore to second.

Bottom left, Moore on second thanks to Wilson’s hit.  Bottom right, Matt Tuiasosopo hitting, I believe, a sacrifice fly scoring Moore.

Hey, how have I not shown you the roof yet –here it is: 

41 - rogers roof.jpgTim slept until the end of the game — in the 10th inning.  I spent the last inning or two behind the bullpen taking pictures:

42 - rogers bullpen scenes.jpgTop left, Rob Johnson, Jason Phillips, Randy Messenger, David Aardsma, and Jason Vargas.  Top right, Chris Jakubauskas’s glove and pink backpack.

Bottom right, David Aarsdma half-heartedly warming up – he never entered the game.  Bottom left, the bullpen baseball bag.

I usually try to come away from each game with one baseball.  At many games, we get none.  But I generally don’t set any goals other than trying to get one ball.  Although we already had three at this game, I still wanted one more.  I needed a Jason Phillips ball.  You see, we’d now seen the Mariners play at six stadiums this season and Phillips had given us at least one ball at each stadium this season (in order, Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (2), Fenway Park (2), Progressive Field, and Safeco Field).

But when the game ended, I still had not got one from Jason and I thought my window of opportunity had closed.  I saw him pack up his bag on the other side of he bullpen before handing it to Miguel Batista to carry to the dugout.  Meanwhile, David Aardsma zipped up the bullpen baseball bag and started walking to the dugout.

As Jason walked by below me, I called out, “Hey, Jason!”  He looked up and pointed at me as if to say, “OH, YEAH!”  He then jogged into the OF and caught up with Aardsma.  When he went for the baseball bag, Aardsma played keep away for a second.  Then Phillips pointed over toward me and said something to the D.A.  Aardsma relented and let him have the bag.  Jason opened it up, grabbed a ball, turned toward me and threw a long strike into my glove.

“THANK YOU, JASON PHILLIPS!”

Next, it was Kids Run the Bases time!

We got into a long line that snaked its way through the bowels of the Rogers Centre under the RF seats.  Here are a couple behind the scenes areas we saw:

43 - behind the scoreboard OF wall.jpgThe top pictures show wires coming out from under the seats, presumably to power the large screens on the OF wall.  The bottom pictures show the back of the OF wall from under the field level OF seats.  It looked like the video screen sections of the OF wall were on rollers and could be moved around (for example, to reconfigure the stadium for a Buffalo Bills game).

Here is another interesting shot, a hole in the wall looking into the Mariners bullpen:

hole in bullpen wall.jpgNext, we got our classic Kids Run the Bases RF wall distance picture (for the first time ever including meters as well as feet): 

44 - rogers RF wall 328ft-100mtr.jpgThen it was off to the races.  I *chaperoned* Tim:

45 - running the bases.jpgIn case you missed the video of Tim running from my last post — click here to view it.

Unlike the other teams where we have run the bases, the Blue Jays didn’t kick us off of the field immediately upon Tim finishing running the bases — so we were able to get a nice family picture….
46 - rogers and the cooks.jpg…and some other random shots hanging out on the field:

47 - more on field fun.jpg

Tim thought that silly face he is making in the picture by the dugout was hilarious.

Finally, we got one more picture from the main concourse before leaving the Rogers Centre:

48 - father-son-field.jpgThanks for an excellent season Mariners.  It was grand, indeed.

Season Fan Stats:

31 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun
(Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)


49 - outside rogers centre.jpg12 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, “Jacobs” Field, and Rogers Centre)
25 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)

26 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
32 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
6 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry) 
5 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry) 
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) – Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

50 - four balls.jpg

Extra Innings in Seattle (9-17-2009)

On Thursday September 17th, we found ourselves in Seattle.  It wasn’t a planned trip.  We’d just be in town for a couple days.  But we found some time for our Mariners.

We headed to Safeco Field in the early afternoon.  It was a 3:40 start and Tim was fast asleep when we arrived at the Field:

1 - missed BP and sleepy.jpgWe were there plenty early, but BP ended early.  So we watched the grounds crew ready the field:

2 - caring for the IF.jpgAfter a few minutes, M’s catching prospect, Adam Moore, popped out of the dugout.  I called out, “Hey, Adam!”  He turned around and said hello.  I asked him, “Will we see you out there today”?  “Yep,” he responded as he headed out toward the M’s bullpen.

I’ve had my eye on Moore for a couple years because he is the first ballplayer Tim ever met — back at spring training in 2008.  This would be his major league debut.  We followed him out to the OF to watch him prepare for the game.  He did a lot of stretching and running:

3 - adam moore stretching.jpg

I took some photos of the batters eye (below to left) and the M’s bullpen (below to right): 

4 - safeco batters eye and bullpens.jpgThen we watched M’s fireballer, Brandon Morrow, warm up for the game: 

5 - Morrow in Bullpen.jpg

As Morrow and Moore warmed up, I tracked down Jason Phillips and had a brief chat with him.  Jason Phillips and I have run into each other a lot this season.  And he has always been very cool.  Extremely cool, in fact.  For proof, just see here, here, here, here and here.

Phillips circa 2003.jpgHey, did I ever mention that I realized I saw Jason Phillips hit a home run against the Mariners once?  I did.  It was back in 2003.  It was the Mariners first game ever at Shea Stadium.  I’d never heard of Phillips at the time.  He wore some crazy sports glasses (see picture).  Back in those days, he played catcher and first base.  He ended up hitting a home run off of Ryan Franklin.  I vividly recall thinking, “Who is this guy with these crazy glasses hitting a homerun against my Mariners?”   Now, I know.  It was Jason Phillips.  And, although he helped the Mets best my M’s back on June 6, 2003, I’m happy he’s one of us now.  And, unless he decides to make another go of it as a player and catches on somewhere, I hope he’ll stick around with the M’s.  He’s proven to be “good people.”  (By the way, on June 7, 2003, the Mariners-Mets game was rained out.  So I got a two-for-one double-header on Sunday, and the M’s swept the double-dip behind a couple gems by Freddie Garcia and Jamie Moyer – between the two games, the score was Mariners 20, Mets 1).

Later in the game, I asked Phillips what happened to the glasses.  “I had surgery,” he replied.

As Morrow was warming up in the pen, the rest of the M’s bullpen marched out to the pen…backwards: 

6 - backwards watching to the pen.jpg

After Moore and Morrow started walking toward the dugout for the beginning of the game, I asked Tim if he was ready for some ice cream.  He was.  We went to the ice cream stand tucked back in a corner by the Mariners Hall of Fame.  And check out what I found hanging right by the ice cream stand:

7 - respect for moyer.jpgNice job, Mariners.  I like it.  Respect for Moyer.  That’s what he deserves (psst…take note Philadelphia).

We made it back out to the concourse behind home plate in time to watch Adam Moore make his debut behind the plate.  This is his second batter:

14 - adam moore's 1st career batter.jpgA huge portion of the stadium was in the shade, but our seats were not.  So we headed over to section 149 and grabbed some cool and shady ice cream seats:  


9 - nice ice cream seats.jpg

This was our view:

8 - safeco Section 149 panaramic.jpgAnd this was Tim’s ice cream face:

10 - ice cream madness.jpg

Colleen took a shot of Ichiro out in RF:

11 - ichi in the OF.jpgAnd I took a shot of Ichiro at the plate (he walked on the next pitch):

12 - ichiro at bat in 1st.jpgI was hoping he’d steal second…

13 - ichi leads off.jpg…but he stayed put.

 A usher came to check out tickets.  I told him we were in a different section and asked if we could stay while Tim ate his ice cream.  The usher said no problem.

I told Tim to eat reeeeeeaaallllly slowly.  I wanted to stay until Adam Moore’s first big league at bat.  First, I got my first peak at another September call-up, Matt Tuiasosopo.

15 - Tuiasosopo at Bat.jpgJust before Adam Moore came to the plate, the usher came back and asked, “Is he done with his ice cream?”  I was already trying to focus my camera on Adam Moore.  I confirmed that Tim was finished with his ice cream but asked if we could stay for Moore’s first career at bat.  Again, he said “no problem.”

Here are two shots from Moore’s first at bat, I believe it was a ground out: 

16 - adam moore's 1st career AB.jpg
17 - adam moore's 1st career AB no.2.jpgHe went 0-5 on the day with several ground outs.  No strike outs.  I thought two of his grounders were going to make it though for hits, but they did not.

Immediately after his at bat, we packed up my bag and headed out of section 149.  Tim was on my shoulders and was fidgeting with my glove with his foot as we walked up the stairs to the concourse.  When we reached the top, Colleen took what might be my favorite picture of the season so far:

18 - new catching technique.jpgNext, Tim and Colleen headed to the play area and I stood in the concourse behind the field level seats in LF (section 151).  After a while, Tim and Colleen came and met up with me and we sat down in section 152.

These also were not our seats.  An usher spotted us.  But instead of checking our tickets and booting us out, he gave Tim these…

20 - blueberry and marshmellow.jpg…baseball cards of Jack McDowell and Barry Larkin.  Tim held them up to show me and said, “Look, its Blueberry (McDowell) and Marshmellow (Larkin).”  He thought his nicknames were quite clever and he repeated them over and over.

Another usher randomly came up to us and asked if we wanted her to take our picture: 

19 - Pa Cooks in Wa.jpgThe ushers seem to be more relaxed in section 152 than they are in section 149.

Colleen got into the picture taking action several times.  She took this nice shot of Morrow on the mound: 

21 - morrow pitching.jpgI took another picture of Adam Moore not getting his first base hit of his career (with Ichiro on deck behind him):

22 - adam moore with ichi in back.jpgOur seats in section 152 were right next to a fence that looked down into the White Sox bullpen…

23 - feeling right at home.jpg…hey, make yourselves right at home, guys!

There is a fence behind the bullpens with standing room from which you can watch the game.  We headed down to stand behind the White Sox pen for a little bit.  After a few minutes, a guy came walking through a little fence that separates the M’s bullpen from the visitors’ pen.  He was a Mariners employee, not a ballplayer.  I’m not sure what his job is, but he was in the pen all night.  He walked up to Tim at the fence and handed him a piece of gum in a wrapper.  Then he pulled out a baseball and squeezed it through a gap in the fence.  Here is Tim with the ball:

24 - HHH Metrodome Ball.jpgYou can’t tell in that picture, but it was a HHH Metrodome commemorative ball.  We were pretty excited to get it.  My guess is that the White Sox brought it with them… but who knows?

After Tim posed with the ball, we relocated by 60 feet and stood behind the M’s bullpen: 

24 - behind M's bullpen.jpgAbove to the left, we played a little catch.  Above to the right, we watched pitchers warm up (shown here is Garrett Olson).

 By this point, it was the 7th inning and we were trailing 3-0.  I think we only had 1 or 2 hits.  But then Adrian Beltre stepped to the plate and hit a home run that handed in the bullpen and rolled directly to our feet…

25 - beltre blast.jpg

In the screen shots above, Tim and I are standing directly beneath the “49″ in the Mets-Braves score.  In the top picture, the homerun ball is a white blur directly between me and Tim.  In the second picture, I’m bending down acting like I’m going to field the homerun ball as a grounder as it rolled to a rest just below us on the other side of the fence.

But for that fence, we could have just leaned over and scooped up Beltre’s blast.  Here is the opposite view (courtesy of Colleen, who can also be seen lurking in the shadows in the screen shots above):

26 - beltre blast reverse.jpgThe ball is directly in front of me just below the cement on which Tim is standing.

John Wetteland came and grabbed the ball.  I asked him if he could toss it over to us.  But he explained that they always save home run balls for the batter.  He grabbed it and gave it to someone who put it in their bag for Beltre.

The Beltre home run brought the score to 3-1 White Sox.

Next, we headed up to the left field bleachers where we sat in the first row of section 186 from around the 7th to the 11th innings.  Our seats for this game were actually in section 183, but we opted for 186 because it is above the Mariners bullpen.  183 is above the visitors’ bullpen.

This was our view from section 186:

28 - safeco Section 186 front row panaramic.jpgThis is a look to our left where you can see Ichiro on the big screen and the side of the roof tucked behind the scoreboard:

29 - safeco jumbo screen and roof pushed back.jpgHere is my little family:

30 - section 186 fake smile with mommy.jpgThis is the view looking down from section 186 toward the left.  It is the standing room area in CF…

31 - CF standing room area.jpg…its very popular with the singles.  Lots of drinks being consumed down there.  Lots of flirting taking place.  Hopefully some of them are also watching the game.

I’m always trying to snap photos of fielders catching balls.  But its hard because you have to be pretty quick with a slow reacting digital camera.  Here were my best efforts on the night:

32 - action in the OF.jpgI nailed that Gutierrez catch on the right.  On the left is Ichiro, but I missed getting the ball in the shot.  I just happened to be taking a picture of Ichiro getting ready for the pitch when the batter lofted a short fly to him.  Even with my camera already locked on Ichiro, I couldn’t get the ball in frame.

Here is a shot Colleen got of me and Tim watching our squad:

33 - section 186 with daddy.jpg

Colleen took a great action shot too:

lowe induces a grounder.jpg

I posted a picture almost exactly like this next one back in May, but I think it looks great so here it is again: 

34 - safeco sign and clock.jpg

Our time in section 186 was extremely exciting because the Mariners mounted a ninth inning comeback.  We were still down 3-1 going into the bottom of the ninth.  The ChiSox brought in local product Bobby Jenks.  He’s pretty good.  But not good enough on this night.  Jose Lopez hit a solo bomb into the White Sox bullpen to bring the score to 3-2.  Then, with 2 down, Bill Hall hit a solo bomb of his own, also into the White Sox bullpen.

Bring on some extra innings!!!

As I mentioned, Section 186 is just above the Mariners bullpen.  To be more precise, it is above the home plates in the Mariners bullpen (on the CF side of the bullpen).  The Mariners used 8 pitchers in this game so Jason Phillips was constantly warming up someone throughout the late innings.  Here he is in action:

34a - Jason Phillips in Safeco Bullpen.jpgSee the pink backpack in that picture?  Well, Phillips’s catchers equipment bag is the blue bag two over to the right.  At the bottom of the bag (as pictured), you can see a sliver of white.  That was a baseball sitting on his bag.  At one point, Jason walked out to start warming up another pitcher.  I shouted, “Hey, Jason” down to him and pointed at the ball sitting on his bag.  He pointed at the pitcher he was about to help warm up.  But the way he did it, I could tell he was going to toss a ball up our way, just not quite yet.

In the eleventh inning, Jason was just standing there by home plate.  He was about to start warming up another pitcher.  And all of us sudden you could see a thought pop into his head.  He darted a look up me (Tim and Colleen had just left to visit the play area).  We made eye contact and he immediately turned and walked over to his bag and pulled a ball out of it.  The LF bleachers are about 25-30 feet above the bullpen.  He tossed the ball to me but it didn’t make it all the way up.  It clanked off of the steel beam supporting the bleachers and fell back into the bullpen.  Phillips let out a little sigh, and he walked back to his bag for another ball.  The second time was the charm.  He fired a strike into my glove.

For the seventh time and in the fifth stadium of the year, “THANK YOU, JASON PHILLIPS!!!”

Here is an illustration of the throw:

39 - 7th jason phillips ball.jpgThe first ball hit that big beam next to the Dodge advertisement and fell staight down passed all of the people standing above the out-of-town scoreboard.

After securing the much-appreciated ball from Jason Phillips, I headed down to the play area to meet up with my people.  It was getting late, and a lot of people had left already.  Tim was the only kid in the play area.  I split time between watching the game on the flat screens in the play area and watching live from the main concourse in CF.  This was the view from CF: 

37 - safeco CF top panaramic.jpgAnd this was my view of Colleen in the play area from CF:

35 - colleen in playarea.jpgWhile in the playarea, Tim and I played fake home run derby.  He hit a home run on every pitch:

27 - playarea fun.jpgHere is a veritcal panarama showing a view from the roof above the play area down to the floor:


36 - safeco playarea vertical panaramic.jpgWhile in the CF concourse, I took the opportunity to document the two balls we’d collected at this game (including the somewhat warn HHH Metrodome logo on the ball Tim got from the guy in the bullpen):

38 - two balls in seattle.jpgSpeaking of the guy in the bullpen, here is a picture of him as he walked by Jason Phillips and Sean Kelley:

phillips and other ballgiver.jpgThis was our sixth game of the season at Safeco Field, and our fifth of the season without Griffey in the starting line-up.  So, I was thrilled when he came to bat as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 12th:

40 - griff at bat from CF.jpgUnfortunately, Griff stuck out.  But it was still great just to see him.

Adam Moore came to the plate once again searching for his first big league hit.  I thought he was going to get it on this swing, but it didn’t qutie happen:

41 - adam moore grounds out.jpgBut the Mariners would not be denied on this night.  In the bottom of the 14th, Ryan Langerhans got on with a single.  Kenji Johjima followed with a hit-by-pitch (pinch hitting for Moore).  And Ichiro followed with a game winning single scoring Langerhans from second.

MARINERS WIN!!!

42 - mariners win.jpgThe team chased Ichiro all the way into CF to beat on him in celebration of his game winning hit.  He made his best effort at avoiding the celebratory whooping, but the team tracked him down in the end.

On our way out of the stadium, we stopped to watch the street drummer do his thing.  Tim danced up a storm as this guy put on a five gallon drum clinic.  After a few minutes, the guy handed Tim a pair of drunk sticks and said, “You dance pretty good, little man.  Let’s see how you drum!”  Here are Tim and the drummer doing their thing together:

43 - tim and the drummer guy.jpgColleen took a video clip of Tim and the drummer that can be viewed by clicking here.

After thanking the drummer for the memories and rewarding him with a tip, we called it a night.

Season Fan Stats:

29 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun
(Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)

12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)

24 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
28 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09) 
5 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry) 
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry) 
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) – Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

 

This entry is dedicated to the memory of my father’s brother and my uncle:

 

Douglas S. Cook

 


doug.jpgA UW Social Work Professor and a dedicated advocate for people with developmental disabilities, Doug died on September 10th from Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. A more loving, gentle and principled human being could not be imagined. Doug was born in Yakima, WA on March 30, 1946. He earned a MSW at Rutgers, a Master of Divinity from Princeton and a PhD from UW. Before the onset of illness, he was the Director of Social Work at the UW CHDD where he researched, published and taught. The UW School of Social Work presented him with their Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1999. His students honored him with Best Practicum Instructor award. Doug also received awards in the disabilities field too numerous to list. He was a hiker, a dancer, a bowler and most of all a loyal friend. Doug was always generous with his smile and his kindness.

Mariners at The Jake (8-22-09)

After returning home from Boston back in July, it started to hit me that, if Griff decides to retire after this season (and I sincerely hope he DOES NOT), Tim and I would never see him play again.  I didn’t like that idea.  So I reviewed the rest of the M’s schedule to see if they would visit anywhere even remotely near southeastern Pennsylvania.

They had one more trip to Cleveland on the books.  Cleveland is in northeastern Ohio, and Ohio borders Pennsyvlania to the West.  I determined that fits within the definition of “anywhere even remotely near southeastern Pennsylvania.”

Therefore, just 4 days removed from the conclusion of a wonderful roadtrip with my dad, Tim, my wife Colleen and I piled into the car and headed across Pennsylvania on the PA Turnpike.

After camping out a night in Washington, PA, we headed north up the Ohio turnpike to Cleveland and after taking 80N-to-480W-to-77N-to71 we cruised into town on 9th Street and this was our view:

1 - the jake.JPG

Ah, Jacobs Field…the Jake.  (I think that is a typo on the sign, that’s not how you spell ‘Jacobs’).  It was good to be back to the first field where Tim ran the bases.  And it was great to be in the same city as the Mariners.

We came into the city early to see what we could see in the Land of Cleve.  Unfortunately, we knew nothing about the city…except that its on a BIG lake.  We ended up driving through downtown and spotting the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Browns Statium.  So we turned left down a street heading toward the water.  Next, we turned right down a long road that ran by some water and an airport before finally reaching a marina.  Here are some pictures of what we saw:

2 - down by lake erie.jpgCheck out that lake!  Tim was asleep when we pulled up to the marina.  We woke him up and pointed out the huge lake.  He responded, “No, Daddy.  That’s not a lake.  That’s an ocean!”  Its big.  In that top right picture, that’s the R’n’R Hall of Fame.  Below, is a Blue Angels jet resting on a stand in front of a Navy facility by the airport.  Pretty cool stuff.

And, that was the extent of our city touring.  We had a game to go to!

After parking in a garage a few blocks away, we walked up to a misty Jacobs Field.  The clouds were just spitting a little bit.  No need for an umbrella or a hood.  And I figured it would be no problem for BP.

I was wrong.

Colleen and I had made a deal.  We would come early to this game so I could watch some BP.  But we wouldn’t come early the next day (which was a day game and might not have BP anyway).  But as a approached the gates, I could see the in field was covered.  No BP.

There was a sign that said the stadium was open at Gate C.  So walked over to Gate C in RCF: 

3 - walking to gate c.JPGWe’d never entered through Gate C before (we’d only been here once before).  Below to the far left, that is what it looks like…

4 - gate c feller lineup.jpgIn front of the Gate C entrance, there is a statue of Bob Feller (middle) with which Tim posed.  I didn’t think it was a very good statue, at least compared to the extremely life-like statues at U.S. Cellular Field.  [NOTE TO THE MARINERS:  When Griff does eventually retire, use whomever made the statues at U.S. Cellular for his statue.  Also, use a classic Griff pose, not the pose with both arms over his head after hitting a home run.]

As we entered Gate C, there were two display cases just inside the gate with lists of the two teams’ starting line ups.  Oh, no…no Griff!

Despite my disappointment (which I was prepared for because I knew a lefty was pitching for the Indians), I thought it was a cool feature to have the line-ups posted like that.

Below is a view of the RF concourse…

5 - RF concourse.jpg

…we quickly learned that we were trapped in the RF seats and/or concourse until 6:00 p.m. — a full a hour away…and most of the food stands were not yet open (and as I mentioned, no BP).  What ever would we do to kill the time?

We walked down into the field level seats as close to the RF foul pole as we could get (the Mariners bullpen is between the seats and the foul pole.  Here was our view:

 

6 - jake RF HR field panaramic.jpg
As shown above, there were a couple Mariners on the field.  David Aardsma ran out to the bullpen (shown above) to grab some baseballs for playing some catch with his colleagues in the M’s bullpen.

The big draw on the field was Ichiro.  He played catch (with his interpreter, I believe)…

7 - ichi warms up.jpg

…and then he did some running.

Then a couple Mariners relief pitchers played catch by the tarp over the in field.  Because we were stuck in RF, we couldn’t get very close.  I couldn’t recognize anyone from out there except David Aarsdma.

Ardsma and his buddy were the last two playing catch.  His partner threw a ball passed him that rolled out and sat in the grass just off the tarp behind second base.  Aardsma pulled another ball out of his pocket and finished playing catch.

When he was finished, he walked out to grab the ball behind second.  We were now all alone in the seats in RCF.  I called out, “Hey, D.A.!!!!!”

The D.A. immediately picked up the damp ball and threw it REALLY far and directly into my glove:


8 - aardsma ball.jpgIn this picture of Tim, that is Aardsma to the left of Tim’s head.  D.A. threw the ball to us from about 2 feet behind the tarp right behind where Tim is holding up the ball.  It was a great throw.

After throwing the ball to us, a bunch of people in RF yelled Aardsma’s name and he turned and threw his other baseball on a line all the way to the back of the RF seats.  The throw was very impressive.

Here is a panaramic view from where we caught the ball from Aardsma:

9 - jake RCF field panaramic.jpgAnd here is a look to our left.  Check out how thick the OF wall is.  I’m not sure, but this seems to be designed so people do not interfere with borderline homeruns:

9a - jakes thick OF wall.jpg

By the way, Aardsma’s second throw landed at the top of that last section, just under the overhang.

Here is a view to our right:

10 - jake LF stands and scoreboard.jpg

The red arrow points to our seats in Section 184, Row B.  They were excellent seats.

Next, we went to Heritage Park.

11 - heritage park.jpg

Heritage Park is the Indians’ outdoor Hall of Fame.  Its pretty cool.  As you can probably tell from the bottom picture, Tim and I played catch in Heritage Park.  Colleen didn’t think it was appropriate to play catch in there.  I told her they’d tell us to stop if they didn’t like it.

After a couple minutes, a stadium usher type standing behind the plaque in the bottom left corner of the picture above called me over.  Uh, ho.  I figured we were, indeed, getting shut down.  I walked over to him.

Todd – “Yes?”

Usher – (pulling a baseball from his pocket and whispering while staying behind the column) “Throw this one back to him.”

So, how about that?  Instead of getting told not to play catch in Heritage Park, we were rewarded with a ball.  Not bad.

“Thanks, Usher-guy.”

Tim was happy to add another ball to his collection.

After playing some more catch, we walked down the stairs to the lower section of Heritage Park.  While down there, Colleen found this:

12 - hal trosky.jpgThis was literally the first and only plaque Colleen read.  So, as a big-time migraine sufferer, she was mighty surprised to see she’d picked the plaque of a ball player whose “Career was curtailed after 1941 season by migraine headaches.”  That is something you don’t hear every day.

Finally, they opened the rest of the stadium.  We were eating some nachos by this time.  We relocated to the seats just a little bit down the line from 1B.  We were at the top of the section when two individuals popped out of the M’s dugout and started walking toward the bullpen.  One of them was Jason Phillips, whom you might remember from our trip to New York and Boston in July.  We had a couple interactions with Phillips in Boston and New York this season, and he’d already given us 5 baseballs so far this season.

I ran down to the first row and arrived there just as he passed:

Todd – “Hey, Jason!”

Phillips – (looks over and give me a big smile) “Hey, how you doing, buddy?”

Todd – “Good, man.  Nice to see you.  Any chance of you hooking us up with a warm up ball today?”

Phillips – (I couldn’t understand exactly what he said, but it was something like) “I’m sure we can make that work.”

Then he said something like, it would be a little bit because he had to do some stuff first.

I went up to talk to Colleen and Tim.  And we relocated down to the bottom of the field section.  Eventually, Jason and Felix Hernandez started playing catch, and we watched:

13 - felix phillips.jpgThen Felix and Jason walked back into the dugout.  As Jason walked away, he looked over to me and held up a finger as if to say, “Hold on a minute.”

Tim and I hung out in the RF foul corner and scoped out the scenery…

16 - TJCs RL corner.jpg

…like this weird little “chalking” machine that really shoots white spray paint onto the ground…

14 - chalking machine.jpg

It didn’t do a very good job.  A chalk line looks about 10,000 times better than this painted line, even after the guy took two passes at it.

We scoped out the bullpen, which has a seating area in the front with the pitching mounds behind…



14a - Ms bullpen.jpg 

15 - wedding bells.jpg
 

…just above the OF fence in foul territory, we noticed what looked like a wedding party.

In a little bit, Jason came back out and went into the bullpen again.  Again, he looked over to us and gave us the “hold on a minute” finger.  He put on some shin guards in the bullpen and grabbed his catchers mitt.

Then he walked out of the bullpen, came straight over to us and set a nice looking ball showing some warning track dirt marks into my glove.

Then we all posed for a picture:

17 - jason phillips.jpg

“Thanks, Jason!”  He has been mighty cool to us this season and I am hoping he sticks on with the Mariners as bullpen catcher and eventually as a coach (that is, unless he has an opportunity to make a comeback as a player).

Next, we headed out to our seats in the LF bleachers — Section 184.

I trudged up the stairs and into the upper CF corner in Section 185 and took this panaramic view:

18 - jake CF panaamic.jpgI didn’t get much in the way of action shots at this game.  But here is a classic Ichiro pose:

19 - ichibats.jpg

Here is Mike Saunders, who made an error in LF and got hounded for the rest of the game by a bunch of guys three rows behind us:

20 - branyanbats.jpgThere is our OF corps for the night:

21 - Ms OFrs.jpgOf course, Tim wanted to play catch several times during the game.  And he wanted to play in the tunnel from the LF concourse into the LF bleachers.  I told Tim we’d certainly get kicked out of the tunnel and told to either stop or move elsewhere…

22 - jake tunnel catch.jpg…I was wrong.  Instead, we were encouraged by the Section 184 usher.  In fact, you can see him watching us in the picture to the right.  He thought it was great that we were playing catch in the tunnel, even as people passed in and out of the tunnel.

Here is another action shot: (i) to the right, Fister nailed someone in the head (he was okay) and everyone gathered around to check him out and (ii) Josh Wilson about to catch a pop up…

23a - earholed popup.jpg

…see that bat boy running in from the right side in the Josh Wilson pop-up picture?  There was a runner on 3B and that kid came sprinting in like he was Usain Bolt.  The guy behind us got all excited and thought it was the runner trying to score.  He was right to get excited.  It was pretty strange to see that bat boy come sprinting in like that.

Midway through the game, the Indians mascot, Slider, came to our tunnel with a pizza and gave it to some guy in Section 185.  Tim and I left our seats and I asked Slider’s chaperone if we could get a picture with slider — of course we could:

23 - slider tim.jpgA great picture.  But what exactly is slider supposed to be?

Soon it was time for ice cream.  We had to walk to the Pierre’s booth behind home plate.  On the way, I took this action shot of Mariners rookie pitcher, Doug Fister, through the foul pole:

24 - foul pole fister.jpg

The Jake has some interesting art hanging around the park.  Here is one of Pronk.

24b - pronk.jpgPierre’s had real ice cream and multiple desirable flavors at a reasonable price!  I couldn’t decide if Tim would enjoy chocolate chip mint or moose tracks better.  So we got both and shared them both:

24a - ice cream helmets.jpgTim loved having two flavors.

The game itself was a good one, but disappointing.  The Mariners led most of the game on the strenth of an Indians error and a Russell Branyan HR in the first inning.  But we wouldn’t score again and the Indians would tact on a run at a time in three different innings.  The game headed to extras.

Griff didn’t play, but I could see him in the dugout…

25 - griff chillin.jpg…he started carrying around a bat while wearing his batting gloves.  The M’s had pinch hit for DH Mike Sweeney late in the game (or maybe it was pinch ran for him) with Ryan Langerhans.  I was sure Griff would pinch hit for Langerhans in the 10th or 11th inning.  With his bat in hand, it looked certain.  But then the Indians brought in another lefthanded reliever, and the M’s kept Langerhans in to bat.  So, no Griff.  Bummer

Late in the game, Colleen wore my new grey zip-up sweat shirt.  And Tim wanted to share the hood: 

25a - stop hoody time.jpg

Tim was happy to have “mommy” join us for this game.

In the bottom of the 11th, Luis Valbuena (a former Mariner) hit a walk off homerun.  Double bummer.

To make up for dissappointing us by beating our M’s, the Indians put on a huge and extremely cool Rock’n’Roll Fireworks show.  We had to relocate to the infield seats (you’ll see why below).  On our way, we got a nice family picture (featuring Colleen’s nice new hairdo and fireworks being set up behind us).

26 - pa cooks at jake.jpgHere’s why we had to move, we would’ve been blasted with fireworks:

27 - jake fireworks.jpg

IMG_1112.JPGThe initial blast scared Tim.  Then he started enjoying the fireworks…but finally the loud music put Tim to sleep…

28 - watching fireworks.jpg…so we took off early to beat the traffic.

We would be back the following day and we’d be hoping with all our might that Griff would be in the line-up. 

Season Fan Stats:

26 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
12 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)

22 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
25 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
 
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry) 
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) – Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

Fenway Park – Part 3 of 3 (A Moment to Remember – 7/5/09)

1 - more copley ball.JPGFor the second day in a row, we woke up and had breakfast and played some baseball in Copley Square.  On this day, however, we just played catch and did some base running (on four drains in front of the Church in the square).

Soon, it was time to head to Fenway Park for our final game of the weekend roadtrip.  We were hoping for a Mariners sweep.  But it wasn’t in the cards.

I’m going to break with my usual protocol and skip to the fourth inning.  I’ll go back and cover the game from the beginning, but I don’t want to bury the most important part of this unfortunate Mariners loss in the middle of the entry.

You might have noticed by now that I am a big Mariners fan. And, by definition, that means I am a huge Ken Griffey, Jr. fan.  Ken Griffey, Jr. means everything to Mariners fans (at least to real Mariners fans).  I was 13 when Griff broke into the Mariners back in 1989.

The Mariners were a fairly unimportant team until 1989. Well, they were important to me and about 10,000 other people in the state of Washington.  But they were sort of a minor league Major League team to everyone else.  They had zero winning seasons in their history.  There were constant rumors and threats that the team would move — most notably to Tampa, Florida.  The Kingdome — as beautiful and perfect as it was — was largely empty.  (By the way, that wasn’t sarcasm, the Kingdome was, indeed, beautiful and perfect).


2- me and griff 1991.jpgAnd then, in April 1989, things changed.  KEN GRIFFEY, JR. ARRIVED!  All of a sudden, one of the most celebrated young ball players in baseball was a Seattle Mariner.  People started to pay some attention to our club.  People started showing up at the Kingdome.

In 1991, we had a WINNING SEASON!

In 1995, we WON THE WEST!  We made the PLAYOFFS!!  We were two games from the World Series.

The Mariners were no longer going to move away!  Instead, they built Safeco Field.  It was a golden era in Mariners baseball.

Long story short:  Ken Griffey, Jr. changed baseball in Seattle, he saved baseball in Seattle, he IS baseball in Seattle.

Therefore, when my son was born in 2006 and we started going to baseball games together, I had a goal:  Take Tim to see Griffey.

We have had incredibly bad luck in this respect.  Prior to this weekend, we had gone to see him play more than 10 times, and Griff played in only three of those games.  In those games, he has had gone hitless (but with a bunch of walks).

So we turn to this game.  Shortly before game time, they announced the starting line-up.  I was more saddened to learn that Mike Sweeney would be DH’ing and Griffey would have the day off.

I started thinking worst case scenario.  This is very possibly our final Mariners game of the season.  They don’t come back to the Northeast this season.  In 30 years, would Tim have to tell his son, “Yeah, your grandpa took me to see the great Ken Griffey, Jr. when I was a boy.  But I never saw him get a hit.”  I hated the thought.  But there was nothing I could do about it.  The Mariners were facing a lefty, Jon Lester, and Mike Sweeney had to get his work in to stay sharp.

Then in the fourth inning (with no disrepect to Sweeney), something wonderful happened:

3 - sweeney back spasms.JPG

I was totally unprepared.  (That notice was actually posted in the 5th or 6th inning).

Tim was sitting on my shoulders.  We were at a food stand behind the grandstand behind the seats by the 1B dugout.  I had just ordered a sausage with onions and peppers (for me), a hot dog (for Tim), a diet coke, and a bag of peanuts.  There was no counter at the cash registered so I had to hold everything in one hand while finding my money and paying the cashier with the other hand (while still balancing Tim on my shoulders with no hands).

In the midst of all of this, I hear the following over the stadium P.A. system:

“Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, JUNIOR!”

Instantly, my thought was, “The Red Sox don’t have a Junior!  AHHHHH!!!”

I jammed my wallet and change into my pocket, gathered up everything as best as I could and ran toward the field as fast as I could.

This picture shows our starting point and our route to the field:

4 - oh my griffs up.JPG

When we ran into the back of the grandstand, I believe we were in Section 13 or 14.

I yelled up to Tim, “I THINK GRIFF IS UP!”

Right as we got in view of the field, we saw Lester start his wind up and deliver a pitch to Griffey.  What happened next was possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen at a major league stadium:  Griff drilled the pitch off of the Green Monster!

According to my DVR, it looked something like this:

5 - Griff Hits the Monster.JPG

I think that to everyone else in the stadium, it was just a random lead off hit in the top of the fourth inning.  But to me, it was possibly the greatest baseball moment ever.  For the first time in over ten years, I witnessed Ken Griffey, Jr. — my boyhood hero and favorite baseball player of all-time — get a hit for my Seattle Mariners and I witnessed it with my son sitting on my shoulders sharing the moment with me.  And the fact that he hit the ball off the Green Monster, the most famous outfield wall in baseball, made it even more exciting.

This simple hit is easily the highlight of my season so far, and I plan to think and talk about it with Tim for years and years to come.  I hope Tim and I get another chance to see Griffey play — this season and next.  But, if that is not possible, this hit will keep me satisfied.

(By way of background and to clarify, *I* have seen Griffey get tons of hits, hit numerous homeruns, multiple grand slams, makes dozens of circus catches (including the one when he broke his arm in half) — but I’d never shared any of those moments with Tim.  That’s what made this hit so special).

By the time I could get to a spot where I could put our food down and get to my camera, Franklin Gutierrez had advanced Griff to second with a single.  Here is Griff leading off of second:

 

6 - griffs on second.JPGGriff would have two more plate appearances on the day, both walks.  He went 1-1 on the day.  Amazingly, I got zero pictures of Griff at the plate during this game.

Okay, now lets back track to the beginning of the game.

We entered the stadium again through the CF gate on Lansdowne Street.  It was a 1:35 start, but the teams still took BP.  We arrived as the first group of Mariners were hitting, including Griffey and Ichiro.

We started out in the CF bleachers.  Griffey was blasting bombs into the RF bleachers.  I wanted to go over there, but there is no way I am going to try to catch a HR ball with Tim on my shoulders.  Shortly after we arrived, Griff hit a ground rule double to straight away CF that bounced up into the stands and directly into my Dad’s glove.

My Dad has had great luck with Griffey this year.  In addition to this BP ground rule double, on the first day of spring training, my Dad got Griff’s second BP homerun in his second tour of duty with the Mariners.

I decided to go up onto the Green Monster and see if Tim and I could get into the seating area.  There is a staircase in the CF concourse that takes you up to the Green Monster.  You can walk out to the edge of the seating area, but they won’t let you out into the seats without a Monster ticket.   So Tim and I just stood around up there for a few minutes taking in the view before heading back down to the field level seats.

I had a thought in the back of my head that it would be neat to get a ball thrown up to us on the Green Monster.  Tim and I stood in the closest spot to the seats that you can get to without a Monster ticket:

8 - phillips from monster.JPG We stood in the spot under the red arrow where the guy in the red shirt is standing.  I noticed Jason Vargas and Jason Phillips standing together below in LCF.   (In the picture to the right, that is Jason Phillips after the two Jasons split up).

After a few minutes, someone hit a ball to Vargas.  I yelled down from the Mondster, “Hey, Vargas!!!!”  He heard me!  He looked up!  He turned around and he fired the ball to me. Unfortunately, it was too low and it clanked off a light and some bricks just below us — out of reach.

Jason Phillips stood and watched Vargas’s failed attempt.  And just then, someone hit him a ball.  “Hey, Jason!”  Phillips looked back up at me.  He turned around and he fired the ball to me.  A perfect strike.  It would have hit me directly in the chest.  It was a very impressive throw, and much appreciated.

“Thanks, Jason!”

Here is a picture that illustrates the flight of the ball:

At the time Phillips threw the ball, he was even a little bit — maybe 10-15 feet — closer toward LF.  He didn’t lob the ball up to me.  He fired it on a line, just like the arrow in this picture.  As I said, a very impressive throw.

Tim and I then went down to the CF bleachers and met up with my mom who was standing right where my Dad caught Griff’s ground rule double about 10 minutes earlier.

Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard were standing below us.  Felix runs all over the place trying to make high light reel catches during BP.  At one point, he caught one near us.  He looked up and made I contact with me (and Tim).  There was a lady from Seattle shouting at him standing directly next to me to my left.  Felix fired the ball up to us.  He threw it to our right side so the shouting lady wouldn’t interfere.  I could have caught it without moving at all — I just had to reach across my body and back hand it.  However, as I started to go for the backhand, I realize there was a 8′ish year old boy wearning a Red Sox jersey and a glove standing next to me.  If I didn’t catch the ball, he’d get it.  I decided to let me have it since we already had the ball from Jason Phillips and we got Felix’s warm up ball the day before.

Soon thereafter, someone hit a ball into the OF corner by the end of the Red Sox bullpen.  Here was the scene:

9 - bedard ball.JPG

We were standing in the red circle.  Erik Bedard was standing at the red “X”.  There was a rope running along the warning track.  (I think it was to keep people involved in the pre-game ceremonies off of the grass).  The rope went down the warning track and around a big door in the outfield wall.  The ball went in the corner behind the rope as shown above.

Bedard turned around and walked over and grabbed the ball.  A whole bunch of people including a bunch of 10′ish year old kids, were standing by the bullpen directly above the ball.  I figured Bedard would grab it and flip it up to them.  While those people all yelled at Bedard for the ball, Erik picked it up and looked at them.  He then walked as slowly as humanly possible back over to the yellow “X” in the picture above.  Then he looked up and made eye contact with me (and Tim), and fired the ball to us.  I had the feeling that Bedard had watched Felix throw us the ball when I let the kid catch it and he was trying to finish what Felix had started.  The yelling lady was still next to me.  Like Felix, Bedard threw the ball to my right so she wouldn’t get it.

 Next, it was time to walk around.  We checked out the RF corner and the Pesky Pole:

9a - pesky pole.JPG

As RF corners go, this is one of the most interesting in baseball.  Not very “corner-ish.”  More like a RF curve.

We walked up through the old wooden grandstand seats:

 
10 - grandstand seats 1B line.JPG

We headed out to Yawkey Way and watched Tom Caron from NESN interview comedian Mike O’Malley:

11 - nesn tom caron and mike omalley.JPG

Sean Casey was walking around the NESN set.  I walked over to get a picture of him (or possibly with him), but he vanished into thin air.

It was getting close to game time, so we walked back into the stadium and went through the busy concourse behind home plate:

12 - concourse home to third.JPG

When we were down here, we got Tim a chocolate ice cream helmet and headed toward our seats in the grandstand behind home plate:

16 - overflowing ice cream helmet.JPG

The seats were great.  Here was our view:

13 - fenway 22-15-18 panramic.jpg

The red arrow points to where Tim and I were standing when Griffey hit his single off of the Green Monster.

We watched te pre-game festivities such as the reading of the Fenway Park Code of Conduct…

14 - fenway code of conduct.JPG

…the carrying of the pink backpack to the Mariners bullpen by Christ Jakubauskas…

15 - Jak-n-backpack.JPG

…the third ceremonial first pitch by Marky Mark Wahlberg (and his re-do third ceremonial first pitch due to his first third ceremonial first pitch sailing high over the catcher to the backstop):

17 - Marky Mark Pitches the Funky Stuff.JPG

Finally, it was game time.  As always, future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki led off for the Mariners:

18 - lester-to-ichi with floating ball and pedroia.JPG

I like this picture for two reasons — (i) the ball is captured right above the plate (but low, it was called a ball) and (ii) Dustin Pedroia is, for some reason, floating in the air at second base (click on the picture to see it larger, Pedroia is totally off of the ground).

I got some more Red Sox pictures:

19 - youk-n-papi.JPG

I wanted to get a shot of Big Papi clapping his hands before stepping into the box but I missed it.  He hit the next pitch into the RF bleachers, the second Red Sox home run in the first inning.

By the time Griff was up for a second time, we were touring around in the grandstand out beyond the Pesky Pole.  He walked.  Here he is leading off first base:

20 - griffs on first.JPG

We went out to the concourse in the RF corner and took this picture showing the Red Sox World Series and other banners:

25 - fenway banners panaramic.jpg

FYI, see the guy wearing the red shirt above the blue 1967 banner in the middle of the picture?  He is standing in the walkway behind the grandstand seats where Tim and I spent a lot of time over the course of the weekend.

The red arrow in that last picture is pointing to this:

 
26 - the Green Monster.JPG

I’m guessing this guy is called the “Green Monster.”  We saw the real one of this guy running around on the field before each game, but we never saw him in the crowd.  This was the best we could do with respect to getting a mascot picture.

See the red arrow in that last picture?  It is pointing to a staircase that leads to the “Players Club.”  I’m not sure what the Players Club is all about.  It looked like it was for special events or people with special tickets.  But we headed in to check it out and no one seemed to mind.  Here is what it looked like:

21 - players club.jpg

…more players club…

22 - players club.jpg

…and we found something cool in the Players Club:

23 - 2004 2007 WS trophies.JPG

(From Left:  2004 World Series Trophy, Todd & Tim, 2007 World Series Trophy)

We walked out of the players club just in time to see this…

24 - Ellsbury homer.JPG

Through the break in the grandstand and bleachers, that is Jacoby Ellsbury hitting a home run to bring the score to 4-3 Mariners.

We met up with my folks and watched the game on a TV while we ate some food at the tables in the RF corner.  From our table, you could see the Players Club above the food stands:

27 - players club outside.JPG

While we sat here, the Mariners brought in Miguel Batista.  It was not Miguel’s day.  He gave up a bunch of runs and the Mariners eventually lost the game 8-4.

 Tim and I watched the last inning from our familiar RF corner by the Mariners bullpen.  We were hoping Griff would get one more at bat, but it wasn’t in the cards.  We settled for one more picture with the field before heading out:

28 - one last look.JPG

This game, we switched things up and exited the stadium from the RF exit so I could get a picture of this:

29 - ted williams.JPG
When my Dad was a kid, there was no baseball team in the state of Washington.  Ted Williams was his baseball hero.  This is what the plaque below Ted says:

9

Ted Williams

Boston Red Sox

The greatest hitter who ever lived, an American patriot, and a pioneer in the development of the Jimmy Fund.   Ted Williams will forever be one of the great heroes in the history of baseball, Boston and America.  He amassed 521 home runs despite sacrificing five years in his prime to serve his country during World War II and the Korean War.  He was a relentless champion of children, such as this child to whom he is offering his cap, in their battle against cancer, and helped make the Jimmy Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute the world renowned center of research and care that it is today.

The memory of Ted Williams will forever be a point of pride for the Boston Red Sox, the people of Boston, New England, and the United States of America.

We took one more picture outside:

30 - goodbye fenway.JPG
“Good bye, Fenway!”

With that, we started our walk back to the hotel…
 

31 - hit the road.JPG
…so we could start our drive back home.

For so many reasons, it was such an awesome weekend shared with Tim and my folks.

32 - weekend recap.JPG
 

Season Fan Stats:


fenway ticket.jpg18 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
13 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
14 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
17 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire) 
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
 
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry) 
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

Fourth of July at Fenway – Mariners Win!

So, we woke up to a lazy Saturday morning in Boston…

1 - july 4th.JPG…it was Independence Day, better head over to Fenway.

Wait, first, we better hit some baseballs in Copley Square:

2 - copley ball.JPGI’m not sure why, but some tourist actually took pictures of Tim hitting in Copley Square.

Soon, it was time to hit the road for our already familiar walk down Boylston Street to Ipswich Street and over to Lansdowne — ah, Fenway Park:

3 - walking to fenway.jpg

 Tim and I entered the park through Gate C on Lansdowne and headed up the CF stairs to the Green Monster.  I was sad to learn that they were already checking tickets, so we couldn’t get all the way out onto the Monster, but I took pictures for this panaramic:

4 - fenway CF green monster panaramic.jpg

My folks entered from Gate A on Yawkey Way and went into the field seats behind the Mariners dugout where someone snapped this shot:

4a - folks in fenway.JPG

Tim and I came over and met up with my folks and we spotted our buddy from the streets of Boston, Mariners GM Jack Zdureincik:

5 - Jack Z in dugout.JPG

While we were standing here, there was almost nothing going on on the field.  Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard were playing catch down the LF line by the Green Monster.  But the field was otherwise empty.  Maybe some grounds crew people were watering the infield.  Tim and I were just sitting in the front row drinking some cold water to cool off.

A couple minutes after taking that picture of Jack Z. above, Tim, my mom and I moved down the 3B line a bit and stood where the red arrow is pointing in the picture of Jack.  Immediately, upon our arrive (literally within a few seconds), Erik Bedard and Jason Phillips walked by:

6 - bedard and phillips.JPG

Bedard spotted Tim and I and chucked his and Felix’s warm up ball to us — Sweet!

“Thanks, Erik!”

Jason Phillips looks over at us and give us a big smile and a point, “You again!”  We returned the favor with a smile and a point.  If you haven’t read the last two entries, Phillips, Tim and I had shared a couple exchanges the previous day and two days earlier in New York.

In case you aren’t familiar with Mr. Phillips and want to look him up on Baseball-Reference.com, you’ll notice there are two Jason Phillips in major league history.  This one is Jason Lloyd Phillips.  He is now the Mariners bullpen catcher.  But he previously played for the Mets, Dodgers, and Blue Jays.  His best season was 2003 when he hit .298 with 120 hits, 11 HRs and 56 RBI for the Mets.  Hopefully he’ll get another shot to make a big league club.  If not, I’m happy to have him in the Mariners bullpen and organization.

Back to the game at hand.  We noticed that Mariners ALL-STAR pitcher Felix Hernandez was signing autographs down the 3B line.  I’m not a big autograph guy, but I figured what the heck, let’s give it a shot.  I didn’t have a pen, but I thought it would be cool to have Felix sign the ball he’d just used to play catch with Bedard.

Much more than autographs, I prefer getting our picture with players.  So when Felix grabbed his warm up ball back from me I asked him if we could get our picture with him.  Felix signed the ball with a borrowed sharpie and responded, “Sure.”

I took the first one myself and then looked at it and it wasn’t very good.  Felix just stood and watched me waiting for me to give him the “okay” on the picture.  Very cool.  A nice Bostonian said, “Let me take it.”  So I handed her my camera and Felix posed for another picture with us — much better:

“Thanks, Felix.”

“Thanks, lady.”

Here we go:

7 - felix warm up ball autograph and photo.jpg

When I gave King Felix the ball, I was wondering if he thought it was odd that I’d ask him to sign such a dirty ball.  He didn’t give me the ball, so he didn’t know it was his warm up ball.

My dad buys a team ball at each stadium he visits.  He got Felix to sign a Red Sox / Fenway Park Fourth of July Ball.

Here we are in the 3B side concourse showing off the Bedard-Hernandez ball:

8 - championship wall and felix ball.JPG

Although you can’t see it, that wall has signs for all of the Red Sox World Series Championships.  FYI, you can see in this picture that I brought my new Rawlings Trap-Eze infielders glove.  I saw it at the Rawlings outlet and loved the white lacing.  I have no actual need for an infielders glove (I play LF for a beer league softball team), but I had to get it.  I love it.

Next, we checked out Yawkey Way:

9 - Yawkey Way.JPGThis is the main street along the 3B side of the park.  FYI, Fenway Park’s address is 4 Yawkey Way.  This street and all of the people shown in the picture are actually *inside* the stadium.

That band was playing on Yawkey Way and they were rockin’ it hard.  I really enjoyed them.  To their right, you can see “Big League Brian” — the dude on stilts.  He has a soft baseball that he throws back and forth with fans in the crowd.  Tim wanted to go down to see him and the band, but when we finally made our way down there the band was packing up and BLB was nowhere to be found.

Next, my folks headed to our seats in the CF bleachers — section 37, row 21.  Tim didn’t want to go out into the sun.  So we hung out in the shady standing room area at the back of the grandstand behind third base.

And we took some pictuers.

Here is the Mariners bullpen crew walking to the bullpen — Chris Jakubauskas is sporting the pink backpack (Q:  Is my A-Rod ball in there???  We’ll have to wait and see…):

10 - bullpen to bullpen.JPG

Griff and his colleagues stood for the National Anthem:

11 - National Anthem.JPG

Ichi and Griff in the on-deck circle:

12 - Ichi and Griff.JPG

Ichiro led off the game.  Its no secret, but I’ll go on the record — this guy is decent, extremely decent:

13 - Ichiro.JPG

He was followed shortly by The Kid:

14- Griff Hitting.JPG

In the bottom picture, you can see the ball going foul.  He hit it directly above me and Tim.

By the way, I must note that the people at Fenway (pretty much everyone, fans, attendants, cops, everyone…) are so cool.  Many of the standing room areas under the grandstand have painted lines on the ground that are clearly marked “STANDING ROOM.”  In those areas, they have attendants that will come ask you to stand in the lines if you are milling about outside of the lines.

As Griffey was at bat, I was standing right behind the seats and 15 feets or so outside of the designated “STANDING ROOM.”  Tim was on my shoulders and I was focused on taking shots of Griff.  A bunch of other fans were standing all around me, also outside of the designated “STANDING ROOM.”  I could hear an attendant approaching and telling people they needed to stand in the marketd areas.  Then amazingly, he went to every single person in my area EXCEPT ME.  He tapped each person on the shoulder and politely explained that they needed to stand in the painted “STANDING ROOM” areas.  But he just let me stand in the middle of the aisle and take pictures of Junior.  How cool is that?  He understood that it was important to me to get some shots of my guy, and he just let me stay there and do my thing.

“Thanks, dude!”

 After Griff’s at bat, Tim was ready for a chocolate ice cream helmet, and we were lucky enough to walk by a standing room counter space right as a guy left it — so I watched the game from here (leaning around the pole) as Tim ate his ice cream:

14a - ice cream standing room.jpg

FYI, if you want oreos, M&M’s or other toppings on your ice cream helmet at Fenway, I believe you have to go to the ice cream place behind the RF bleachers.  They had no toppings at the ice cream stand at the back of the grandstand.

Here is a shot of the grandstand seating down the 1B line:

15 - Grandstand.JPGIn

In my post for the July 3rd game, I mentioned that Tim and enjoyed standing in the walkway behind the grandstand seats down the 1B line.  The red arrow in the last picture shows where we stood for several innings during this game.  Here is what it looks like up close:

16 - walkway.JPG

Tim is sitting on the step in this picture.  He is checking out some beads that a Red Sox fan gave him on our walk to this spot.  The guy was all dressed and painted up in red, white and blue for the Fourth of July.  He saw Tim on my shoulders and gave him a set of red and blue beads.  For the rest of the weekend, Tim had me wear one set while he wore the other.

Here is our view of the field from where Tim was sitting (FYI, the view is much better from the standing position — I really liked it in this spot):

17 - view from section 5 walkway.JPG

Tim loved it in the aisle way.  He was all smiles, that is until he grabbed his glove and started playing catcher:

18 - fun in the walkway.JPG

Note, Tim is not wearing his shoes.  He felt right at home at Fenway.  He was in his socks probably 50% of the time while we were at Fenway during the weekend.

From the aisle, we watched the Mariners bullpen stand in a line:

19 - Mariners bullpen lineup.JPG

(From left:  Coach John Wetteland, Mark Lowe, Sean Kelley, David Aardsma (bald), Roy Corcoran (hat behind Aardsma), Sean White (looking down), Chris Jakubauskas, Not-Sure-Probably-Jason-Phillips, Not-Sure-Probably-Miguel-Batista — through the crack, pink backpack).

I’m not sure why the Mariners bullpen does this, but (as you’ll see) they do it a lot.  They are standing in a line facing away from the scoreboard and toward the doorway from the bullpen to the field.  I meant to try to ask someone in the bullpen what it was all about, but I forgot.  My mom’s theory is that they are seeing off a bullpen-mate who is entering the game.  I’m not sure.  I don’t think a reliever came in at this point.  Anyone have any ideas?

Finally, we had avoided the sun long enough, we decided to join my parents in our seats in CF.  Here was our view:

20 - fenway section 37 row 21 panaramic.jpg

[NOTE:  While uploading that picture, Franklin Gutierrez hit a 3-run bomb against the Rangers to put the Mariners up 3-1 in the bottom of the 8th.  Can we finally beat the Rangers?  Yes!  Go Mariners!]

Before sitting down, Tim showed my folks his shoulder-top power stroke:

21 - swinging in 37.JPG

My mom and the Fenway faithful taught Tim how to do his first “wave”:

22 - first wave.JPG

The Mariners changed pitchers and the outfielders converged to do some stretching:

23 - to stretch or not stretch.JPG

Soon, I decided to go down behind the Mariners bullpen, just in case Griffey, Ichi or Branyan decided to hit a HR there.  Tim stayed with my folks for a bit, but then he requested to come down to me — by this point, the boy was bare footed (so I made him stay on my shoulders):

24 - behind bullpen.JPG

Can you spot us in that picture?  We’re standing next to a police officer at the back upper corner of the bullpen.  Notice anything else in that picture?  Yep, the guys were back at it again:

28 - bullpen lineup.JPG

I know there is some meaning to this, but what is it?

We watched Miguel Batista play catch with Ichiro between innings:

26 - miguel batista.JPG

All of a sudden, Tim tells me, “Take a picture of those guys!”

Todd:  “Who?”

Tim:  “Those guys” (pointing, but I couldn’t see it because he was behind my head)

Todd:  “Who?  I can’t see where you’re pointing.”

Tim:  “THOSE GUYS!”

Todd:  “Buddy, I can’t see where you’re pointing.  Who do you want me to take a picture of?”

Unknown Voice:  “He’s pointing at me.”

Todd:  “Oh, okay.”

Here are “those guys”:

25 - cop usher and shiny glasses.JPG

“Those guys” didn’t care at all that Tim and I stood right here in the middle of the aisle for the last three innings of the game.  Very cool.  Thanks, those guys.

The police office asked Tim, “Hey, little guy, are you a Red Sox fan?”

I told him that we were Red Sox fans to the extent that we can’t stand the Yankees (sorry, Yankees fans).  The officer responded, “That’s fine by me.  We can accept that.”  He was a nice guy.

Soon we saw this guy stretching out and warming up:

27 - Aardsma.JPG

David Aardsma = Mariners Win.

The Happy Totals to prove it:

32 - more happy totals.JPG

If you couldn’t tell, our seats were under the “great” in the “make something great” sign.

How awesome, three games into our weekend road trip, the Mariners are 3-0.

The bullpen guys marched back to the dugout to greet the rest of their teammates — Jakubauskas totes the pink backpack…hmmm…and my A-Rod ball?):

30 - bullpen to dugout.JPG

Then I watched a couple guys fix the Mariners bullpen mound.  This closet is at the CF end of the Red Sox bullpen:

29 - bullpen fixer.JPG

The bullpen fixer guys, like everyone else, were really nice too.  One of them congratulated Tim on his team winning the game.

Before leaving Fenway, we got a family picture:

31 - cooks at fenway.JPG

Tim shows off his Felix Hernandez ball.

It was the Fourth of July, so that night, we headed to the park along the river and watched some fireworks:

33 - fireworks.JPG

After fireworks, we returned to our hotel and who did we run into by the elevators?  Mariners reliever and keeper of the pink backpack, Chris Jakubauskas.  As he walked by, I called out, “Hey, Chris!?”  He spun around, “Hey, man.”

He walked over and chatted with me and my folks for a couple minutes – probably about 3 minutes or so.  Here is paraphrased excerpt of part of our conversation:

Todd:  “So you got an A-Rod ball in your pink backpack?”

Chris:  “Huh, what?  Oh, yeah.  Where’d that come from?”

Todd:  “Its mine.”

Chris:  “I was going through the backpack because I have to make sure we have certain things in there and I pull out this A-Rod ball.  I’m like, ‘What the h— is this A-Rod ball?’  I took it around to everyone, ‘Did you put this A-Rod ball in there?’ No one knew about it.”

Todd:  “I gave it to Jason Phillips the other night in New York”

Chris:  “I’m gonna have to ask Phillips about that one.”

Todd:  “I’ve had it sitting around for a couple years and couldn’t stand it, so I thought it would be happier in the pink backpack.”

Tim (to Chris):  Do you want to come see my room?”

Chris:  “What, little guy?”

Tim:  “Do you want to come see my room?”

I told Tim that Chris has his own room and was on his way somewhere so he couldn’t come see our room.  Before parting ways, I asked Chris if he’d watched the fireworks from his room in the hotel.  He explained that David Aardsma (a former Red Sox player) got them out onto the Green Monster to watch the fireworks.  Hmmm…its nice to be a major league ball player and to have connections!

It was very cool chatting with Jakubauskas.  He was extremely nice and was glad to chat with some Mariners fans in the elevator bank.  Many props to Jak.  He’s got some fans in the Cook household.

After chatting with Jak, we called it a night and looked forward to our final game of the weekend the next day…

Season Fan Stats:

17 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
13 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
13 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), Red Sox (2) and Yankees)
15 Baseballs (10 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire) 
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
 
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry) 
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))

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