Results tagged ‘ Jesus Tiamo ’

Game 1: The Pale Hose (7/13/2013)

In our continuing effort to have Kellan see all 30 MLB teams play a game live, on July 13, 2013, we planned to attend the Phillies game vs. the Chicago White Sox.  As American League teams go, the White Sox are right up at the top of the “Teams I Never Watch or Think About” list.  So it was practically like we were all going to see them play for the first time.

The game started with a little confusion.  It was scheduled as a 4:10 Saturday afternoon start.  But the Friday night game the day before was rained out.  So our game was turned into Game 1 of a Separate Admission Doubleheader (the worst kind of doubleheader).  The problem was figuring out what time the game would start and the gates would open.  Late Friday night, I pulled up an article about the rain out on the Phillies website.  But what I didn’t realize at the time that the Phillies’ website linked me to the White Sox website, which is based in the Central Time zone.  When I read the game was going to be played at 2:00 on Saturday, I didn’t realize it was 2:00 p.m. Central, or 3:00 p.m. Eastern.  The Phillies twitter account was thoroughly unhelpful I might effort to figure the situation out.  Harrison Tishler, however, had all of the answers (and once I realized I had read a Central time zone-based article, I finally believed all of Harrison’s answers).

Anyway, we met up with the Tishler men (no, Tami) outside of the LF gate.  Unfortunately, due to the doubleheader, the gates only opened at 1:10…

…, normally they would open at 12:40 for a 3:10 game.

Because the gates opened later than normal, the entire stadium opened at once.  So we wasted no time in heading over to our beloved pizza wedge:

When we set up in the pizza wedge, there were two groundskeepers working on the Phillies mound in the bullpen (which is pretty standard two hours before game time at Citizens Bank Park).  Very soon, Harrison and Seth Tishler arrived on the scene.  I asked Seth (and he agreed) to watch the boys for a minute while I ran up to the concourse to fill our water bottle at the drinking fountain.  When I returned to the pizza wedge approximately 60 seconds later, Kellan had a baseball in hand.

Turns out that Kellan dropped his glove into the Phillies bullpen.  One of the groundskeepers retrieved it and tossed it up to Tim.  When Tim caught Kellan’s glove, this baseball was tucked inside Kellan’s glove.

Thanks, Groundskeeper!

At the time, not much was doing on the field.  But there were signs of life.  The White Sox were getting ready to take BP:

See number 17 in there?  That is White Sox coach, Daryl Boston. Lemme tell you a little story about him…and about these two guys in the bright orange:

The Tishlers went off on their own as White Sox BP was set to get started.  Shortly, Father and Son Orange Shirt showed up on the scene.  See the empty seat in front of Kellan in the phone above?  That’s seat number 3 in the pizza wedge.  Tim, Kellan and I were taking up the corner spot plus seats 1-3 (our standard operating procedure at BP at CBP).  There were zero other people in section 101.  There was hardly anyone in all of RF.  But these guys came in an camped out in seats 4-5.

They were nice enough folks.  We chatted a bunch.  But I was not a fan of getting crowded in the corner when the rest of RF was essentially empty.  But the dad was gung­­-ho about getting his son a baseball from the bullpen (I explained that no one would be in the bullpen until around half hour before game time).

Anyway, eventually Daryl Boston wandered out to RF.   He was in front of section 102 or 103 and he was hitting baseballs against the OF wall with a fungo bat.  I could see his “17” on his back.  Just then, the Dad in the Orange Shirt was flipping through one of the little booklets that lots of MLB teams give out that are full of info about the team and the current series, etc.   It looked, to me, that he was looking at the White Sox roster.  I looked over at the booklet (yeah, in an empty OF, the guy was so close that I could read the booklet in his hands) and scanned the “coaches” portion of the roster.  There it was:  No. 17 = Ron Wotus.  [FYI, Ron Wotus is a coach for the San Francisco Giants, something I did not learn until much later].

As “Wotus” started walking toward LF, I called out, “Hey, Ron, Fungo!” and I flapped my glove.  “Ron” immediately tossed a baseball into the air and tried to delicately fungo the ball to me.  But it fell short.  He tried again.  It fell short again.  Then he walked over and picked up one of the balls and tossed it up to us.

Thanks, Ron! (I mean Daryl!)

As you can imagine, Boston’s reaction to my “Hey, Ron, fungo!” request did nothing to dispel my thinking that Boston was Ron Wotus.

A few minutes later (while we were still waiting for BP to start), “Wotus” finished chatting with some White Sox in LF and headed over toward the “bucket.”  For all the way across the OF, I once again yelled, “Hey, Ron, FUNGO!!!”

Once again “Ron” immediately looked over at us, tossed a baseball in the air, and blasted a pop fly high in the air toward us.  But it was off line…and it was hit way too hard.  There was a guy at the top of the bullpens along Ashburn Alley and I was certain it was going to plunk him in the head.  I yelled, “HEAAADS UP!!!!!”  (I yell that a lot at MLB games because lots of fans don’t pay attention).  Anyway, the ball slammed off of the ball wall of the visitors (upper) bullpen, just below the guy on Ashburn Alley and it bounded down into the lower bullpen elevator.  Sort of like this (minus this Tishlers and other people standing around):

Later, Matt Lindstrom walked by and I told him about “Ron” hitting the fungo into the elevator.  He tried to get it for us, but the elevator was locked!

(By the way, you might be wondering why they have an elevator in the bullpen at a major league stadium, it’s because they put a bunch of the equipment into roller carts and then raise/lower them on the elevators.  Otherwise, they would have to carry everything up and down the stairs.)

A little bit later, these two gentlemen played a part in our afternoon’s activities:

Number 40 is Ramon Troncoso.  He was the only guy out in LCF not hiding his jersey with a  pullover so he was the only person whose name I knew.  The other guy?   No clue who he is.

Eventually, I decided we should try to get a ball for the Kid in Orange.  I ended up calling out “Ramon!” when he fielded a ball near us and, when he looked up at me, I pointed at the little guy.  Ramon tried to toss the ball to the kid’s dad, but he tossed it too high.  It sailed over him and I caught it and handled it over to the Orange Guys.

A few minutes later, the other guy in the picture above tried to toss a ball to us, but threw it over us and the Dad in Orange caught it and handed it to us.  Then I proposed something that seemed quite logical to me:  I caught the ball from Ramon Troncoso, the Guy in Orange caught the ball from the other guy, why don’t we switch balls so we have the ball I caught and the Orange Folks have the ball they caught?  He thought my logical was sound.  And so we switch balls.  And we ended up with the ball I’d previously caught from Ramon.

So, thanks, Ramon…and other guy.

The Phillies ultimately came out and started playing catch in RF while the White Sox were hitting.  We decided to take a break from BP.  We headed to the concourse to play some “Games of Baseball”:

When we returned to the pizza wedge, the Tishler were there:

We hung out for a bit and then went and played some more “Games of Baseball.”   When I figured the pitchers were starting to warm up, we headed back to the pizza wedge again.  Turns out, we were too late.  Warm ups were in full swing and our buddy, Jesus Tiamo, had already tossed out a bunch of baseballs.  We headed to the end of the second row…

…and Tiamo couldn’t resist those two Mariners fans’ cute little faces.  He went and grabbed another baseball and tossed it to Tim.

Thanks, Jesus!

Wanna see something cool?  Check this out:

That’s White Sox catcher Josh Phegley standing at the top of the stairs in the visitors’ bullpen.  Right after Jesus tossed the ball to Tim, Phegley headed down the stairs from the visitors bullpen to the Phillies bullpen.  When he hit the landing at the Phillies bullpen, he called out to us, and he tossed us a baseball.  In the picture above, you can see this baseball in Phegley’s right hand!

Thanks, Josh!

Before the game started, we headed off to get some ice cream.  On our way, we stopped by this misting contraption:

This is the only game we’ve ever seen this thing at in Philadelphia.  It’s a good idea.  The kids loved it.  Not sure why it wasn’t there more often.

We decided to go with a banana split, because bananas are healthy, you know?  I addition to two full bananas, our banana split featured ice cream, caramel sauce, white cream and maraschino cherries.  When I said I wanted cherries, Tim protested – he doesn’t like them.  I said, “Don’t worry, they’ll just put 1-2 on it and I’ll get them out of there quick for you.”

Well, I was wrong.  Our banana split featured TWENTY-ONE cherries!

Check out this beauty of a sundae…

…and our long walk two the place where the boys wanted to eat the sundae:

Cherries, anyone!?

The game started while we were out in the RCF concourse eating ice cream and then playing more Games of Baseball.  The Phils jumped on the White Sox early, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning.

While the boys were playing the games, I realized that “Bull’s BBQ,” which is between the running game and the trivia game is named after Greg “The Bull” Luzinski.  One of the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt photos for this season is a picture of you eating a food item named after a player.  I’d been looking for such a food item all season and I’d never thought about Bull’s BBQ.  I’d never been there before.  So I checked out the menu.  Almost every item is named after The Bull!  So before we grabbed some food for the boys and headed to our seats, I grabbed a “Bull’s Pulled Pork Sandwich”

Check out Tim (top left below), eating a big bite of the Bull’s Pulled Pork Sandwich in our seats:

And check out those great seats!  I should note that this game was our last game before Kellan turned 3-years-old.  It was his last *free* game at Citizens Bank Park.  I scooped up these two aisle seats in section 102 on stubhub for cheap the morning of the game.  And it ended up that the people with seats 3-6 were missing a seat mate who had to skip the game.  So they didn’t mind having one of us sit in seat 3.  Kellan wanted to hang out in the aisle the whole time, and watch the players in the bullpen.  Section 101 and 102 are Citizens Bank Park are some of the coolest seats around.

Here’s a random action shot of Alexi Ramirez:

And here is our view of Citizens Bank Park from our seats in section 102:

In the bottom of the third inning, Jimmy Rollins ripped a single to LF:

It was the second Phillies hit of the inning, but the White Sox wiggled out of the jam.

In the fourth inning, we headed over to the kids’ play area…

…and the kids did a whole lot of playing:

We were in the play area in the fifth inning when Alejandro De Aza hit a 2-run double to tie the game up at 2-2.

In the top of the sixth inning, we left the play area and , we decided to head up to the upper deck for a while.  We walked there via Ashburn Alley.  Just as we made it to the back corner of the bullpens, Conor Gillaspie hit a sacrifice fly…

…and Adam Dunn scored the go-ahead run for the White Sox.

So we headed up to the upper deck, and we ran into something odd on our way:

There were a whole bunch of nuns up there.

Here was our view from section 428:

Check out Dominic Brown’s curious positioning in LF:

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Darin “Babe” Ruf, blasted a solo homerun…

…to deeeeeeep CF.  That tied the game up at 3-3.

While the Phillies fans were excited about their team tying up the score, Tim and Kellan were excited about something else:

See that red arrow up there?  That’s pointing at one of the steel beams holding up the light towers along the 3B side of the stadium.  When we are up in section 428, Tim and Kellan often spit seeds down the middle of the light towers.  On this day, while doing so, Tim and Kellan found some animal tracks on the beam.  We couldn’t tell what kind of animal it was.  But the tracks looked like they were the size of maybe a cat or a raccoon.  It was pretty odd finding the tracks and imaging animals climbing around inside the stadium.

With the score tied in the 8th inning, we decided to head back to our seats in section 102.  But when we got there, there were a bunch of empty seats in section 101 (the best section in the ballpark).  We grabbed some seats in the third row.  When an usher standing at the bottom of the stairs saw us, he told us to move up to the front row.

If you insist, sir!

This was our view heading into the top of the ninth inning:

So we’ve been listening to a lot of classic Metallica on our game day drives this season – mostly Master of Puppets, some Ride the Lightning too.  On the way to this game, we listened to Ride the Lightning.  When Jonathan Papelbon headed to the mound in the top of the ninth inning, I was a proud father when Tim pointed out that his entrance song (For Whom The Bell Tolls) was one of the songs we listened to (and discussed) on our car ride down to this game.

During the top of the ninth inning, Kellan focused on making silly faces…

…and monkeying around with his bro:

After the final out of the top of the ninth inning, the Phillies cleared off the field, and then came the rain, and the tarp, and a rain delay.

Up in the concourse behind section 102, we met up with Harrison and Seth.  Check out these colorfully dressed guys:

The Tishlers volunteered to help us earn some points for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.  I had noticed that the upper deck in LF was almost completely empty, and there was absolutely no one in the three sections closest to CF.  So we all headed up there in the rain for this scavenger hunt photo:

We all headed back to the pizza wedge as the rain let up.  I always enjoy getting a photo of the infield tarp pulled out to the outfield wall.  Like this one:

After a 41 minute rain delay, the game resumed, and Tim shook the rain off his wet hair like a dog (well, he might have used his hands a bit too):

The Phillies should have won the game in the bottom of the ninth.  Kevin Frandsen lead off the inning with a single.  He took second on a Darin Ruf’s follow-up single.  Braves pitcher Nate Jones then balked Frandsen to 3B and Ruf to 2B with no outs.  But the next three batters couldn’t get it done.  Carlos “Chooooooch” Ruiz flew out to shallow LF.  Lance Nix struck out swinging.  And Ben Revere ended regulation play with a line-out to RF.

So we got some free baseball.  Remember, this was the first game of a separate-admission doubleheader.  After a 41 minute rain delay, fans were already lining up at the gates for game 2 when our game headed into extra innings.

J.C. Ramirez pitched the top of the 10th inning for the Phillies.

During the bottom of the ninth inning, Ramirez warmed up right behind us in the Phillies bullpen.  At one point, Ramirez uncorked a wild pitch to Jesus Tiamo.  It kicked off the back wall and ricocheted out into the grass in front of Tiamo.  They grabbed a new ball to finish Ramirez’s warmup session.

After Ramirez was finished warming up, Tiamo tossed the ball up us:

The ball was so exciting and the game so long, that Kellan drifted off to sleep in the tenth inning with the ball snug in his glove.

Thanks, Jesus!

Ramirez held the Pale Hose scoreless in the top of the tenth.  But…

…not in the top of the eleventh.

After recording two quick outs in the top of the eleventh, Ramirez gave up a triple followed by an RBI double followed by an unearned run scoring grounder to short.

The Phillies mustered one run in the bottom of the frame, but that was all she wrote.  The White Sox won 5-4 in 12.

After the game, we got a Cook Boys photo…

…before heading to the gates and pushing our way through the in-bound crowd.

We drove off into the sunset…

…on our way home while the Phillies began their second extra-innings game of the day!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

17 Games                                                     
 
18 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers, White Sox
 
31 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 3, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4
 
82 Baseballs – Mariners 11, Royals 4, Phillies 14, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 1, Umpires 7, Reds 9,   Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6, White Sox 3
 
10 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC   Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park
 
32 Player+ Photos – Oliver   Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy   Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith
 
10 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo,   Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez

Photo Day at the Phillies (6/1/2013)

On June 1, 2013, we continued our quest to have Kellan see all 30 MLB teams play a game live.  The Brewers were on the “must see” list and they were in Philadelphia, and so were we.

For some reason, we were running a bit late getting to the ballpark.  We arrived before the gates opened, but there was already a healthy-sized crowd there before we arrived:

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The reason for the big crowd:  it was Photo Day!

The Phillies’ website said fans could get photos of their favorite Phillies on field starting at 2:30.  I didn’t know exactly what that meant for the pregame schedule.  The stadium was going to open at 1:30.  Would there be an hour of BP before moving on to the Photo Day festivities?  No.

As we reached the seating bowl, the field was already set up for Photo Day.  I wish I would have taken a picture of it from the concourse, but I just wanted us to get down there onto the field.  Several gates to the field were open along the front row of the foul territory seats on both sides of the diamond.  Fans could walk around pretty much the whole field (with limited exceptions, like in front of the Phillies dugout).  In the outfield, there were two catwalk’esque runways put together on each side – two in LF and two in RF.  The runways ran about half way out into the outfield grass from the warning track and fans could stand out in the OF waiting for the Phils to arrive.

At the beginning, we hung out down the 3B line…

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…and in front of the Brewers dugout.

A bunch of Phillies ballgirls started circling the field…

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…signing autographs for the kids (or, I guess, adults, too).  Each ballgirl has her own baseball card and they personalize all of their autographs.  Two of the 7 ballgirls we met up with *loved* the name “Kellan.”

Interestingly, while the fans were blocked from going in front of the Phillies dugout, there were no similar restrictions in front of the Brewers dugout.  If a Brewer wanted to come out to the field to run, stretch or throw, he had to walk through the crowd.  It was pretty awesome.  (By the way, this was the exact same situation that they had at Photo Day at Fenway Park in April).

I bought Tim that cheesehead Kellan is wearing in the photo above while I was on a business trip to Milwaukee in 2012.  I figured it would be funny to wear at a Brewers game, and this was our first opportunity.  Guess what?  Everyone loves a fan wearing a cheesehead.  We could hear people commenting on it all around us while the boys were passing it back and forth.

The Brewers liked it too.  Like Tom Gorzelanny who stopped to get this photo with the boys on his way back to the dugout:

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By the way, we were hanging out right here because half of the warning track was blocked off for fans in wheelchairs, but there were none at the time so it was a totally unblocked view of the field.

Brewers coach, Lee Tunnell, liked the cheesehead too…

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…he tossed a baseball to us after playing catch with several Brewers.

We hung out by the dugout a bunch because it was fun watching what was going on in there.   Tim touched (and made me touch) this…

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…burning hot TV camera.  After touching it, I was surprised it hadn’t spontaneously combusted.  It was firey hot from the sun, which was beating down hard on us.

I wanted to find Yuniesky Betancourt.  I was hoping to get my picture with him because (1) he’s a ex-Mariner, (2) he’s always been very nice to us, and (3) I was wearing my Jose Lopez jersey (who was Yuni’s doubleplay partner and buddy while in Seattle).  But Yuni was nowhere to be found during pre-game festivities.

With no Yuni in sight, Tim posed for a photo by the bullpen with Michael Gonzalez getting interviewed in the background:

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When it seemed apparent that we wouldn’t find Yuni, we headed toward the outfield.  Kellan was content sitting on my shoulders and didn’t want to get down for any photos.  Tim got a photo in LF with the foul pole behind him:

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Check out his sweet shirt in that photo – “Cheesehead Cowpants.”  I got him that gem while on a different business trip to Milwaukee…actually, to Racine, Wisc.  Pairing the Cheesehead Cowpants shirt with Tim’s banana shorts is one of my favorite non-Mariners gameday outfits.  It’s pretty hilarious, no?

Here’s a random photo in LF:

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We headed  over to the RCF warning track below the pizza wedge…

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…so we could see the players-point-of-view when we’re usually looking down at them from the pizza wedge.

Check out how easy it would be to pick off a homer in CF:

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No jumping required.

While we were out in CF, several Brewers were in the upper (visitors’) bullpen.  The last two to leave were coaches, including Marcus Hanel.  As Hanel walked by…

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…we said hi to him and he handed us a spare baseball, he had two in his glove and he took the other back to the dugout with him.

Of course, we had to check in with the Mariners on the out of town scoreboard:

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Finally, Phillies players started making the rounds.  The “rule” was you weren’t supposed to get individual posed pictures with the players, you know, because they didn’t have time to pose for a picture with everyone.  I think that’s always the rule at all of the ballparks.  Anyway, some of the Phils just walked around saying hi and shaking hands.  Some walked a bit and then randomly stopped to take a photo with one or two fans (Chase Utley).  Others posed for photos with every single fan who wanted a picture.  That’s how it oughta be!

We ran all over from RCF to LF and out the LF catwalk trying to get a bunch of player photos and looking for certain guys.  We missed a lot of guys while looking for other player or because the guy didn’t want to stop for a photo.   Here’s who we met:

First up, right in CF, we met Joe Savery…

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…and Jonathan Pettibone.

Right after we got their photos, I saw Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz coming our way from LCF.  We missed some guys (like Antonio Bastardo) trying to make sure we didn’t miss Chooch.  And, happily, we did not miss chooch…

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…or Charlie Manuel.  If you ask me, both Charlie and Tim have hilarious faces in that picture, and eerily similar at that.  If you couldn’t tell, we were out on a walkway in LF when we ran into Charlie.  We stayed out there most of the time and we kept going back because it was less crowded than the warning track.

If you ever go to Photo Day on a blazing hot day, I highly recommend taking squirt bottles.  The players love squirt bottles, and so do other fans, for the most part.  When we asked Justin DeFratus for a picture, he took off his hat and said, “First, you have to squirt me in the face.”

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After DeFratus posed for a picture with Tim, he remarked at what a good deal he and Tim had made.  It was a pretty good deal too.  Tim’s a lucky boy.  Not many people can say they’ve squirted a uniformed major leaguer in the face with a squirt bottle!

While Cole Hamels passed by behind, Ryan Howard posed for a picture from afar as Tim squirted his bottle in the air…

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…and Ben Revere sported shiny glasses and one of the straightest bills in the league.

We had a nice Mariners-based chat with both Larry Anderson (a former Mariner)…

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…and Gary “Sarge” Mathews, Sr. (who likes to wear fancy hats like Mariners announcer Dave Sims).  L.A. was really very nice.  He chatted with us a minute or two about the Mariners and the beautiful Kingdome.  Sarge claimed that he was wearing hats before Dave Sims.  On twitter, Dave later told me he and Sarge both started wearing hats in 2007.

How about a couple Washingtonians?  Mount Vernon, WA’s Kyle Kendrick…

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…and Spokane, WA’s Ryne “HOF” Sandberg.  I asked Kendrick how his family was enjoying the detour around the collapsed bridge in his home town.  Not surprisingly, they were not big fans of it.

Several years ago, three future Major Leaguers playing for the AA Reading Phillies (now the Reading Fightin Phils or the “Fightins”) came to my Reading-Berk Business Softball League game against the R-Phils front office and they heckled us mercilessly. Those players were Kyle Drabek, Mike Zagursky, and current Phillies reliefer Michael Stutes…

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…who totally remembered it when I mentioned the softball game to him.  Next to Stutes and Tim, that’s Tim “Spray Man” Cook and 2007 N.L. MVP Jimmy Rollins.  Rollins was riding around on that utility truck behind him in the photo.  He would ride a little bit and then hop up for a few pictures.  We had to chase him all the way down one of the runways before filing meeting up with him on the warning track.  When he saw Tim, he said, “Come on, Spray Man!” and then he squirted Tim three times in the face while I took this photo.  Great memory!

After getting that pic with J-Roll, we wandered around trying to find the best N.L. bullpen catcher, Jesus Tiamo, but to no avail.  So, we headed off to grab some ice cream:

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Ice cream in the shady on a hot day is good stuff.

While we ate ice cream we watched the grounds crew take up the four white runways in the outfield.  Soon, it was time for the pitchers to warm up.  When Jesus Tiamo headed out to the bullpen, we wandered down into the pizza wedge and he promptly tossed a ball to Tim…

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…and another to Kellan.

Thanks, Jesus!

I asked Jesus if he was out on the field for the photo session, but he said he was not.  That’s too bad.  It would have been great to get a photo with him.

Before the game got started, we went to the play area…

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…and then we played some games:

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We were happy to see that Santa Claus…

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…was spending his vacation in Philadelphia, and apparently roots for the Phils.

We played enough games to get 20 stamps…

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…the exact number you need to win one of these Citizens Bank Park mini-bats.  When the guy realized I had two boys, he through in an extra bonus bat!

Thanks, guy!

The game had just started by this point.  We decided to head to the upper deck to grab some food and sit in the shade.  On our way across Ashburn Alley in CF, Tyler Cloyd induced Ryan Braun…

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…to fly out to Ben Revere in CF to end the top of the first with no score.

Within thirty seconds of taking that last photo, I found a $5 bill on the ground in Ashburn Alley:

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Hooray!

After circling around to the concourse in LF foul territory we spotted the Phillie Phanatic…

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…riding his ATV down the switch back ramp.  That was kind of amazing because we never see the Phanatic out and about in the stadium.  He’s usually just on the field or on top of the dugouts at the end of the game.

On the upper deck concourse, Tim and Kellan did some fake hitting and base running before we grabbed some food:

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Speaking of food, after buying our hot dogs, I found another $5 bill on the ground!  That raised the my found-money-at-a-ballpark grand total up to $30, all at Citizens Bank Park.

We sat here…

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…in section 421 while we ate our lunch:

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So, by the way, there was some scoring by this point that I haven’t mentioned.  In the top of the second inning, the Brewers scored two runs on a single to RF and a throwing error by Delmon Young.  That made it 2-0 Brewers.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Phillies got on the board when Brewers’ second baseman Jeff Bianchi couldn’t handle a bases loaded knock by Kevin Frandsen.  The Brewers got out of the jam without giving up any more runs.  2-1 Brewers after four.

The Brewers got that run back pretty quick.  In the top of the fifth, Aoki hit a single followed by a triple by Jean Segura.  3-1 Brewers after five innings.

The Phils got one more run in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Erik Kratz.  Back to a 1-run game, 3-2 Brewers after six.

We were just relaxing.  And having fun with squirt bottles:

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We were right up at the top of the upper deck seats.  Check out what we could see behind us:

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That’s the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot.  I’m not sure when they put in the covered parking.  I’d never noticed it before…but then again, we never park over there.

We decided to hit up the kids’ play area one more time before it closed.  One our walk down to the concourse, I got this shot…

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…of the stairs.  I love how there is one solitary row right about the tunnel.  That’s be a sweet place to sit someday.

Visiting the kids’ play area turned out not to be a great idea.  The kids’ play area is pretty big and parents can only see one side of it at a time from the area below.  The kids went up to play and I sat on the ground in front of the play area taking some notes in my notebook and putting baseballs in baggies.  Tim and Kellan came running by a couple times after going down the big twisty slide.

But then I didn’t see them for a while.  A couple times I heard some crazy kid screams from inside the play area.  They were spaced out over a minute or two.  I grew concerned that it was Kellan and he was stuck inside the play area up top somewhere.  I started walking around the play area and I found this scene on the back side:

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Actually, this wasn’t right when I got there.  There is a steering wheel type toy up there.  When Kellan tried to play with it, a kid a little shorter than Kellan with a mohawk started hitting Kellan and pushing him into the walls (I missed all of that).  He apparently also bit Kellan’s finger (I also missed that).

When I found Kellan, Tim was trying to push Kellan and the other kid apart.  Kellan was screaming and crying.  The mohawk kid ran off to the right.

I had no clue what was going on at this point.  I just knew that Kellan was going ballistic crying.  I asked a Phillies employee (the lady shown in the picture above) if I could go up and get him because he wouldn’t come down.  She said parents couldn’t go up after kids.  A minute later, I saw her up there.  I still had no clue what was happening – if Kellan and that kid were just fighting (i.e., both being bad) or what. Then I saw that lady up there.  My first thought was that she was going to kick Kellan out for fighting with that kid.  But she was up there to find the kid with the Mohawk.  The other kids told her where he went in the play area and she went and kicked him out of there.

She then came back to see if Kellan was okay.  While she was away, two moms came up to me and told me what happened with the kid with the mohawk.  They were both super mad and they mentioned that the mohawk kid’s dad was standing below laughing as he tussled with Kellan.  One said that she wanted to run up there and kick that kid out herself.

Anyway, I was calling up to Kellan and asking him to come down.  He was just standing up there crying and wouldn’t move.  That lady up there couldn’t really get him to move, but she point out to me that he could walk to the right and take the slide down.  I finally got him to walk over there and slide down to me.  He was still crying and screaming when he reached me.  I picked him up and popped him onto my shoulders and the three of us got out of there right away.

As we walked toward home plate through the concourse, Tim told me all about what happened up in the play area and Kellan instantly fell asleep (it was a tiring altercation with the little mohawk kid).

We had a goal of getting some mathematical photos for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, we headed to the RF foul corner, but we were too far away.  So we headed to the SRO area behind the Brewers dugout.

In the top of the eighth inning, Jonathan Lucroy hit a solo homerun that put the Brewers up 4-2.

I’m happy to report that we were able to get both math photos that we needed:

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And we got to see our Yuni Betancourt (unfortunately) not hit a homerun:

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When Kellan woke up, he started spraying his bottle and eventually hit this cameraman:

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I told Kellan not to do that, but the cameraman turned around and said, “no, please do!”

In the ninth inning, we ended up heading down into section 129:

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Freddy Galvis led off the ninth inning with a solo homerun:

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The crowd was excited for a Phillies comeback.  Kellan was most excited about how thoroughly he had doused his face with his spray bottle:

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Jimmy Rollins followed with a pinch hit single.  Interestingly, Kyle Kendrick pinch ran for Rollins.  Ben Revere sacrifice bunted Kendrick to second.  Cesar Hernandez followed Revere.  During his at bat, the Brewers picked Kendrick off second base for the second out of the inning.  And, wouldn’t you know it, Hernandez then hit a double off the RCF wall.  Had Kendrick not been picked off, Hernandez’s double would have tied the game.

With a one run lead still intact, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez intentionally walked Dominic Brown and then got Michael Martinez to ground out to end the game.

Brewers win 4-3.

Following the final out, it was super easy to get into the corner spot at the home plate end of the Brewers dugout. We got home plate umpire Tom Hallion’s attention and he bounce-passed a baseball to Tim off of the top of the dugout.

Tim hammed it up when someone took a shot of us…

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…before heading to the gates.

The game ended at just about 7:00 p.m. and we ended up playing catch…

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…in the parking lot for half an hour before hopping in the car or the ride home.

It was another great day at the ballpark!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

12 Games
17 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers
22 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2
55 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 4, Reds 4,   Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2
9 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field
30 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins
5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Fun Fun Fun As Fish Fry Phils (5/4/2013)

The weekend of May 4-5 was going to be the first weekend of the MLB season during which we did not go to a game. But when we woke up on Saturday morning (May 4, 2013), a tweet was waking from us from Phillies Phan Harrison Tishler: “headed to Philly today?”

After reading Harrison’s tweet, I asked my wife, “Should the boys and I go to the Phillies game today?” “Sure,” she replied.

Game on!

I bought some tickets online and we headed down to Citizens Bank Park. I can’t stand e-tickets so I selected the “will call” delivery option. The website said I could pick up our tickets at a ticket machine on either the 1B or 3B sides of the stadium. After checking in with the Tishler’s at the LF gate, we headed off toward the 3B side of the stadium, did find any ticket machines…

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…, so we circled around to the 1B side, picked up our tickets at the 1B will call box, and ended up running around the entire stadium.

Back at the LF gate, we prepared our backpacks for the security check:

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That’s Harrison, Tami and Seth Tishler right behind Tim. It was great seeing them for the first time of 2013. Harrison had recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah and he brought us one of his personalized Phillies-themed “H” baseballs…

2b-HarrisonTishler-BarMitzvah

…, which is now on display on one of Tim’s baseball shelves.

Thanks, Harrison!

When the ballpark opened, Tim, Kellan and I headed into the first row in the LF corner. Right when we arrived in the first row, Bernie the Usher called over to Tim and told him to come over and see him. When he did…

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…, Bernie set a baseball in Tim’s glove.

Thanks, Bernie!

This was our view during the beginning portion of BP:

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During our first game at Citizens Bank Park of the season, Erik Kratz tossed us ball to Tim in the LF corner early in BP. This was our second Phillies game of the year, and it was like de ja vu all over again. The funny twist this time is that the ball tipped off of Tim’s glove and landed in the flower bed:

5-erik-kratz-flowers

Tim reached for it with his glove, but it was too far to reach. I reached down for it but Tim wanted to grab it on his own. Tim ended up hopping into the flower bed to grab the ball.

Thanks, Erik!

I like to keep the boys out of the direct sun as much as possible, so we decided to head to the back of the section that straddles the LF foul pole:

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Sometimes when we’re up front in this section, homeruns or long fouls get hit into the back of this section. So I figured we’d wait a bit and see if one would come out way.

No dice.

So we headed out to CF until about 5 minutes before the whole stadium opened:

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Right before the rest of the stadium opened, the boys played the running-the-bases game:

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Can you guess who won? Yep, Tim. That jump is his excited/victory pose. [Note: there was another kid around Tim’s age to the far left on the yellow footprints. So Tim wasn’t just celebrating because he beat Kellan.]

When the rest of the stadium opened, we headed down into the pizza wedge. When we got down there, there was a stray baseball at the back of the Phillies bullpen and two groundskeepers working on the mound. In all of my experience at Citizens Bank Park, I’ve seen the two guys who chalk the foul lines give away some stray balls, but all other groundskeepers have said they were not allowed to give away baseball. Knowing these guys almost certainly couldn’t, I pointed out the stray baseball and asked the groundskeepers if they could toss it up.

They were not allowed to, one of them responded. And then they headed out into CF, walked the warning track toward the RF corner, and exited the field through the tunnel under the concourse.

A few minutes later, the same groundskeeper who had said he couldn’t toss up the baseball appeared above the RF seats, walked down the stairs into the pizza wedge, and handed a totally different baseball to Kellan. He apologized for not being able to toss the baseball from the bullpen up to us. It was pretty funny.

Thanks, Groundskeeper!

While we were in LF, Alex Sanabia kept running back-and-forth across the outfield. Early in BP, we said “hi” to him (“Hi, Alex!”) and we exchanged waves. . When we reached the Pizza wedge, Sanabia was hanging out in RCF. When he fielded a ball, Sanabia made a long throw to Tim…

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…but it sailed high over Tim’s head so I had to catch it for him.

Thanks, Alex!

Tim and Kellan posed with their baseballs from Sanabia and the groundskeeper:

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Lately, we’ve stayed in the pizza wedge until BP ends. At this game, we decided to switch things up. We headed back over to LF…

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…where Chad Qualls tossed us a baseball…

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…and then the boys ate a bunch of snacks:

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After the boys were full of snacks, we decided to head back to the pizza wedge. Kellan popped up onto my shoulders and we walked across the LF seats about 15 rows back from the field…

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…when we made the bend toward CF a Marlins batter took a mighty hack and sent a fly ball in our direction. I stopped mid-row and watched the balls flight. It was right in line with us, but seemed like it wasn’t quite going to make it to us. But it kept carrying. With Kellan still on my shoulders, I leaned forward over the row of seats in front of us and reached and made a back-handed catch on the fly.

It was the first time I’d ever caught a batted ball on the fly with one of the boys on my shoulders and it was pretty darn cool. [Note: I have caught a BP homer on the fly while holding Kellan with my right arm…so has my dad.].

When we made it back to the pizza wedge, Kellan crawled around like a dinosaur a bit:

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And Tim caught a baseball tossed to him by A.J. Ramos:

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Thanks, A.J.!

BP ended way early because it was Little League day and a whole bunch of Little Leaguers got to march around the ballpark on the warning track. As we watched, Tim said he wanted to go find Harrison, but I assured him that Harrison would turn up in the pizza wedge before too long. Meanwhile, former Mariner Miguel Olivo started stretching in CF.

I was right. Harrison and Tami soon showed up. We all camped out in the first row of the pizza wedge. Eventually, Phillies bullpen coach Rich Dubee walked out to the bullpen. He grabbed a bunch of baseballs and tossed one to Harrison and then a bunch to other fans to our right (higher in the pizza wedge seats). Dubee was all out of baseballs, but then he spotted that same baseball sitting on the hose (the one I’d asked the groundskeeper to toss up to us)…

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…and Dubee tossed it to us.

Thanks, Rich!

Meanwhile, back in CF, Olivo wasn’t getting much of a chance to warm up because he was giving high fives to Little Leaguers and posing for photos:

18-miguel-olivo-is-pretty-darn-cool

Soon, Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo made his way to the bullpen. He too ended up grabbing a bunch of baseballs and tossing them into the crowd. He tossed one to Harrison, then another to me and Kellan, and then one to Tim.

That last one that Tim caught was extra special…

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…because it was the 400 baseball that we’ve got at MLB games since Tim’s first game back on 9/12/2006. Jesus ended up signing it for us too!

Double thanks, Jesus!

We watched Cole Hamels and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz…

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…warm up for a few minutes and then we parted ways with the Tishlers and headed off to find some dinner.

The plan was hot dogs for dinner. But at the last minute, Kellan rejected the hot dog concept and opted to get a giant pretzel.

We picked a nice random spot in the RF concourse to eat:

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What was in that plastic bin sitting behind Kellan in that last picture, you ask? Well, a bunch of…

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…rocks, water and sludge, of course!

Tim finished eating before Kellan so he did some dancing to pass the time:

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Usually, we like to get a picture of the first pitch of the game. We missed it at this game, so the third pitch will have to do:

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This game absolutely flew by. It was amazing. After watching the first batter of the game *live*, we headed to the kids’ play area:

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Cole Hamels blanked the Marlins in the first (despite hitting a batter). Freddy Galvis knocked a single in the Phils’ half of the first, but was left stranded on base. After Galvis’s first inning single, the Phillies would not collect another hit all night. And the Marlins only had four hits in them.

The first three innings blew by in a blink of an eye. Marlins right fielder Marcell Ozuna knocked a solo homer in the top of the second and Chris Valaika followed with a solo blast of his own in the top of the third.

That made it 2-0 Marlins and we finally left the kids’ play area.

We were ready for some ice cream so we went to our go-to ice cream lady:

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Check out this monster chocolate chip cookie sundae:

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We took it up to our seats (or almost our seats) in section 306…

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…to eat our sundae:

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I’ve taken hundreds of stadium panoramas over the past several years and this one from section 306 row five might be among the very best looking panoramas:

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After devouring our ice cream, the boys wanted to keep on moving. We headed back to the kids’ play area. As the kids were playing, I was amazed to notice that it was only 8:30 and the game was already in the seventh inning!

We decided to switch things up, and head to spot where we had not spent much time. He headed up to the second deck in LF. Check out the view from the SRO area right behind section 243:

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Over Kellan’s objection, a nice usher took our picture with the field behind us…

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…and another with the liberty bell:

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And I took an extra shot of Tim with my cellphone that turned out pretty cute:

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The boys stood on this little railing a bit…

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…and watched the game. But then they decided they should play some fake baseball:

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While the usher nearby cracked down on some fans standing in the wrong SRO spots. But, thankfully, he had no problem with Tim and Kellan playing fake baseball in the middle of the cross-aisle.

Heading into the ninth inning, the boys and I headed down to section 129 to make an attempt at an umpire baseball. We had a nice view of Steve Cishek…

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…and he pitched to J-Roll…

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…in the bottom of the ninth. But Kellan was tired and cranky and he didn’t want to sit down. Actually, he did want to sit down, but he wanted to sit on my shoulders, which couldn’t happen in the third row of the seats. So we took off.

We headed down the LF line and watched Chase Utley fly out…

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…to end the game.

We headed to the gates, but our game experience wasn’t over quite yet. We ended up trudging around in the Phillies parking lot for probably half-an-hour, but we finally found what we were looking for:

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The Veterans Stadium home plate marker! That picture earned us some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.

On our way to the car, Tim got a final photo fake catching a baseball at the Veterans Stadium first base marker:

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And there you go. Another great game at Citizens Bank Park.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

6 Games

10 Teams – Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins

10 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2

28 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4

5 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park

11 Player Pictures – Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen

2 Autographs – Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Gill and Kate’s Citizens Bank Park Debut and Some Crazy BP (9/22/2012)

On September 22, 2012, the boys and I went to our fourth and final game of the season at Citizens Bank Park.  And it was a special one because we weren’t alone.  We were joined by Colleen and a bunch of sorta-Phillies-fans, Uncle Kevin, Aunt Kimberly, Gill and Kate.

Kevin was raised in Manayunk and (to the extent he cares about baseball) identifies as a Phillies fan.  I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get these guys out to a Phillies game the past couple seasons.  So we put this game on our calendar at the very beginning of the season.

Colleen decided to skip BP and meet up with her sister and family at their hotel in Center City Philadelphia.  There was an interesting parade going on…

…when we dropped Colleen off along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

I should mention that this was one of those odd 4:05 starts.

We reached the LF gate at Citizens Bank Park in plenty of time to play some catch…

…before the gates opened.  After the literally opened the gates, but before the ballpark was “opened” to the fans, something bizarre happened…

…an usher appeared from the direction of LF or 3B, walked out to the gate and handed a baseball to Kellan.  And then he immediately turned and kept walking toward CF.  That is him at the end of the red arrow walking away from us in the middle picture above.

As I mentioned, it was a bizarre start to the day.  I threw in the green “1” in the picture above because (with VERY little effort on our part) things were about to get historically ridiculous for us.

Things started off normal enough.  We headed to the LF corner when the gates opened.  Tim was by my side and Kellan was relaxing on my shoulders when Steven Lerud spotted Kellan.  Kellan was wearing his glove.  When Lerud fielded a ball on the edge of the warning track, he turned around and asked if Kellan could catch it.  “No,” I explained, “but I can catch it for him.”  And that’s just what happened:

Thanks, Steven!

Things were quite in LF.  Eventually, we headed out to LCF where nothing much happened.  But then the rest of the stadium opened up, and we headed over to the pizza wedge.

Pretty much right when we arrived at the pizza wedge, Rod Nichols (September coaching call-up from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs) tossed us a baseball:

Nichols is the guy hiding behind the other guy next to the green “3.”   In that picture with the “3,” Tim is catching a baseball that Antonio Bestardo tossed up to him from the warning track.  A great catch by Tim!

Thanks, Rod and Antonio!

There were very few people out in RF, and even fewer after the Phillies cleared the field but Braves had yet to take the field.

Soon enough, Eddie Perez and Alan Butts sauntered out to the bullpen.  I told Tim their first names and he welcomed them to the outfield.  Eddie, who seems to be a really nice guy, waved at both of the boys from the outfield.  Then, as Perez and Butts made their way up the stairs toward the Braves bullpen (the upper bullpen), Perez veered off to his right into the Phillies bullpen:

Perez saw two baseballs sitting on the ground by the Phillies bullpen bench.  He grabbed them both and tossed them both to us!

Thanks and thanks, Eddie!

So, there you go.  The Braves hadn’t even come out for BP yet, and we already had caught six baseballs.  We decided to hit the restroom, get some water, and relax in the shade a bit until the Braves took the field.

While we were hanging out in the shady concourse behind section 102, we made a decision that our next two baseballs (assuming if got two more) would be for Gill and Kate.  In the world of MyGameBalls.com, we don’t “count” baseballs that we give away and I had already literally recorded the six baseballs we’d already caught in the little notebook we carry with us at games.  So we were really hoping we could get at least two more baseballs so we could have one each for Gill and Kate.

And right as BP started, something awesome, and then awkward, and then awesome (again) happened.  Tim Hudson (shown here later in BP)…

…ran across LF toward the bullpen entrance.  We were right in the tip of the pizza wedge.  Until Tim Byrdak tossed Tim a baseball (and then two more) earlier in the season, Tim and I had been on a five year mission to get Tim a baseball from a Major League “Tim.”  And, right at the tippy-top of our most wanted list sat the ultimate Major League Tims:  Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson.  Bot had eluded us.  But on this day, as Tim Hudson approached with a baseball in his glove, I called out, “Hey, Tim!  How about tossing a baseball to another Tim!” as I pointed down to Tim.  As  the green “7” above suggests, it worked!

We were super-excited to get a baseball (a beautiful one that appears to be “game rubbed”) from one of the best Tims in the business.

Thanks, Tim!

But then my thoughts immediately turned back to the decision we had made just a few minutes earlier – the next two baseballs would be for Gill and Kate.  Oh, no!

There was no way we could give up this Tim Hudson baseball.

So, I announced to Tim and Kellan, “Okay, our next two baseballs will be for Gill and Kate!

But then Paul Maholm wandered by and tossed a baseball to Tim…

…, and Tim made a great catch. When I announced, “Okay, there’s one for Gill and Kate.”  Tim replied, “No!  Not this one!”  He was too proud of his catch, and the really liked the nice grass stain on the baseball.

“Okay, our NEXT two baseaballs will be for Gill and Kate!”

But how many more opportunities would we even have!?

Well, luckily, we had at least two more:

Not too long after Tim caught the ball from Paul Maholm, Kris Medlin tossed a baseball to me.  And then Maholm fielded another baseball on the warning track right below us.  Tim called out to him, “Paul, can I have another baseball for my cousin?”  And Maholm obliged.

Thanks, Paul and Kris…from us and Gill and Kate!

So, those two balls don’t appear in our official count on MyGameBalls.com or the Cook & Son Baseball Museum (http://www.cookandsonbats.com/museum/”), but let’s put the “official” count aside and focus on what was in our backpack at the time…at the time, they represented numbers 9 and 10 on the day.

And the day wasn’t over yet.  In fact, it was still early in the Braves portion of BP!

Soon, a Braves lefty hit a homerun that landed in the first row of section 103 and then bounced up into the second row…

…where I scooped it up for our only hit ball of the day.

Okay.  Things were officially ridiculous at this point.  So, with half an hour left in BP, we decided to call it quits.  We  headed back to the water fountain for a refill, got some funny pictures of the boys standing inside steel beams…

…, took a cellphone picture (that one above) and sent it to Colleen to show Gill and Kate, watched some crazy German heritage day dancing (with whips!) in the concourse…

…, and then headed to the “Games of Baseball” for some fun:

So at this point, we had about an hour until the game was scheduled to start.  We decided to use that time to carry out a “Games of Baseball” mission.  When you play each game (of which there are only two this season – a trivia game and a race around the bases), you get stamps in a little booklet that can be traded in for prizes.  The top prize is a baseball string backpack that takes 30 stamps – an entire booklet.  We wanted it bad.

So we spent the next hour going back-and-forth amongst the BBQ smoke…

…from game-to-game-to-game-to-game…and so on.

At around 3:30, half hour until game time, we took a break to watch Roy Halladay warm up a bit:

I took that picture of the two coaches (above to the right) because that is Rod Nichols sitting on the bench.  He had tossed a ball earlier and I had no clue who he was.  I took this picture so I would have something to compare against whatever pictures I might later find of him on google while trying to figure out who the heck he is.

As Roy Halladay stretched in the outfield, our old buddy Jesus Tiamo made his way out to the bullpen and guess what?

He tossed Tim a baseball.

Thanks, Jesus!  You were truly awesome to us this season!

While that baseball goes down officially as our tenth baseball of the day, it was literally our twelfth, which was one more than our personal record at the time.

And then it was right back to the “Games of Baseball”:

It took  right up until game time, but we completed that whole stamp booklet and claimed the top prize!

Along the way, Gill, Kate, Kimberly, Kevin and Colleen arrived.  After I handed over the Medlin and Maholm baseballs to Gill and Kate, they got in on the gaming action too:

And then it was game time.  We reported to our seats, blue tongues and all:

(I should mention that lollipops are also awarded to “Games of Baseball” participants).

Although our seats at this game were in the upper deck, they were pretty awesome:

We were in the first row of section 427.  I liked it a lot; a very nice view of the game.  (By the way, that picture is out of order, it’s from later in the game).

We were late arriving to our seats because it took a long time for us to get all of the “Games of Baseball” stamps that we needed.  The game started while we were trudging through the concourse toward section 427.

Roy Halladay started for the Phillies and was not sharp.  He walked the leadoff batter Michael Bourn to start the game.  Luckily for the Phils, Bourn was caught stealing before Martin Prado hit a single to CF.  Prado was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Jason Heyward.  Right as we sat down in our seats, I pulled out my camera and just missed capturing Chipper Jones hitting a first-pitch single to RF.  This would be the last time we would ever see Chipper play and I really wished I would have got that picture.

Anyway, with Chipper on 1B and Heyward on 2B, Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate and jacked a 3-run bomb to RF:

That made it 3-0 Braves and, it turns out, it was a game-winning homer for Freeman.

I really wanted to get some good Chipper Jones pictures.  Here was my best effort for a defensive picture:

In the bottom of the first, Jimmy Rollins hit a grounder right down the line.  Chipper made a nice diving catch, but the ball was just foul.

The Phils would go scoreless in bottom of the first.

The Braves were right back at it in the top of the second.   Again, it started with Halladay issuing a walk to the first batter of the inning, this time Brian McCann.  After back-to-back strike outs, Hallady then gave up a single to Bourn and walked Prado.  That brought the J-Hey Kid to the plate.

And Heyward to this loaded up…

…and took a mighty hack sending the baseball down the RF line into the corner where it was fielded by Domonic Brown…

…, but all three baserunners (McCann, Bourn, and Prado) scored on the play.  Heyward ended up at second.  Hey wouldn’t stay there long.

Six earned runs and 5 outs into the game, Roy Halladay’s day was finished:

Jeremy Horst relieved Halladay…

…and, two pitches later, he gave up an RBI double to Chipper Jones (scoring Heyward).

After two innings, the score was 7-0 Braves.

We had lots of nice cousin time while piled in our seats:

We also did some birding.  Check out this red-tailed hawk that was perched on the light stand on the 1B side of the stadium:

(Special thanks to my uncle, Ed, for helping us identify that bird.  Ed raises falcons and knows a thing or two about birds).

Kellan snuck into this picture of Tim and Kate showing off their missing teeth gaps:

This season, Darin Ruf set a new single-season homerun record (38) for the Reading Phillies.  Ruf was called up to the big squad in September, made his MLB debut on 9/14, and pinch hit for Jeremy Horst in the bottom of the third inning of this game:

(Congrats on the great jersey number, Ruf!)

At the time, Ruf was batting .000 for his MLB career with zero RBI.  Well, we didn’t get to see Ruf’s first MLB hit.  But he did manage to lift a high fly ball to deep CF that was good enough for a sacrifice fly (scoring Kevin Frandsen who had hit a triple) and Ruf’s first MLB RBI.

By the way, in 12 games Ruf would eventually collect 11 hits and 3 HRs by the end of the season.

After three innings, the score stood at 7-1 Braves.  And it was time for us to trudge down the stairs …

…head toward home plate in the upper deck concourse…

…circle around home plate…

…, and pose with a pig…

…on our way to the kids’ play area:

Colleen and Kimberly caught up on their sisterly chit chat while watching the kids play:

I don’t think we have ever seen the play area so packed.  It was pandemonium in there!  And I was proud to see Tim stepping up his big brother game and helping his little bro navigate the crazy labyrinth of kids:

Oh, yeah, Ryan Howard hit a homerun while the kids were playing.  That made the score 7-2 in favor of the Braves.

We couldn’t hang out too long in the play area because it was just way too crazy.

Standard Operating Procedure said next it was time to race…

…up the ramps to the upper deck.  We stopped to get a red-faced cousin photo in front of the big Citizens Bank Park sign on the back of the upper deck seats:

Before heading back toward our seats, I pulled out my camera, zoomed out across eastern south Philadelphia, and snapped a picture of a cool sight – the S.S. United States:

If you click that link above, you can find out all sorts of cool facts about the S.S. United States.  The ship has been docked in south Philadelphia along the Delaware River for years.  Back when I lived in Philadelphia, I always thought it was a little eerie when I would ride my bike up Columbus Boulevard past the ship.

We made it back to our seats in time to watch Chipper Jones strike out to end the top of the sixth:

Kellan got quite excited when the Phillie Phanatic made an appearance on top of the Phils’ dugout:

In the top of the eighth inning, Michael Bourn lead off with a double and then scored on a Jason Heyward single.  Next, we watched our final Chipper Jones…

…at bat that we will ever witness.  It looked like this:

It ended with fielder’s choice to SS.  And here is one of the final pictures I will ever take of Chipper Jones, after he took the field in the bottom of the eighth:

In the bottom of the eighth, Kellan was a little squirmy.  He needed to take a walk.  On our way back to the seats, we spied on Gill, Tim and Kate from below:

With the Braves leading 8-2, Kevin, Kimberly and the kids decided to take off a bit early to beat the crowd.  Before they headed out, I took some random pictures of Kate and Tim…

…and then we all danced liked crazy to our all-time favorite Korean pop song, Psy’s Gangnam Style:

Right before they headed out, we had Kimberly snap a great family picture of us – one of the best of the season:

I’m not sure why he was so excited in this picture…

…, maybe it was because I told him that we were going to head down to section 130 for the ninth inning:

After an unprecedentedly crazy BP, we figured we would make an attempt at getting a post-game umpire baseball.  Kellan gave home plate umpire Jerry Meals a target while the Phillies were still taking their hacks.

When John Mayberry grounded out to end the game, we sprang into action and this was the result:

Here’s what happened.  We were sitting in the fourth or fifth row in section 130.  There were only two people sitting in section 129 (the closest section you can get to the umpire’s tunnel without being in the diamond club).  As Mayberry grounded out, Kellan and I slipped past those two people in the second row and then hopped into the last seat in the first row.  I thought Tim was following me, but when we got to the first row, he was nowhere in sight.  I figured he must have stayed with Colleen.  As Meals approached the umpire’s tunnel, I called out his first name:  “Jerry!”  He looked up and locked eyes with me, pulled out a beautiful rubbed up baseball and tossed it right to me.

Just then, out of nowhere, Tim popped up from below.  He had run straight down the stairs to the dugouts and then squeeze by everyone in the front row until he made it over to us.  He promptly threw up his glove in a “I’ll take one, too, Jerry” motion.  And Jerry obliged (although he bounced his throw on the dugout and it ended up landing under the seats in a plate of food).

Double thanks, Jerry Meals!

By the way, the 13 and 14 in the last picture count the Paul Maholm and Kris Medlin baseballs that we gave to Gill and Kate.  If you check out our entry for this game on MyGameBalls.com, it shows 12 (not 14).  Anyway, it was a crazy, crazy day at the ballpark.

After the umps cleared the field, it was the victorious Braves’ turn to head into the dugout following their on-field celebration.  Pretty much the entire team (except for the relievers) cleared the field by way of the stairs almost right below where we were standing.  As Chipper Jones headed reached the top of the stairs, he balled up his batting gloves and tossed them into the first row.  They were tossed probably 5-7 feet to our left.  I was holding Kellan so I didn’t even make a move for them.  But the guy right next to Tim dove out to his left and intercepted the gloves before they made it to the people standing in the gloves’ direct path.  It was a pretty cool pair of souviners for that guy to take home.

Right after Chipper tossed the gloves, a fan maybe five rows back in the diamond club yelled, “Hey, Chipper” and Chipper half looked up and waved with his glove.  It was clearly nothing more than a “oh, hey, there fans” gesture by Chipper, but the guy took it (completely unreasonably) as a “Hey, throw me that ball and I’ll autograph it for you” gesture.  He immediately chucked a baseball at Chipper.  It barely missed Chipper as he ducked out of the way.  It was sour ending to Chipper’s night, I could see him mouth some non-appreciative words to himself as he ducked into the tunnel below us.  All-in-all, it was a pretty hilarious scene.  The guy’s baseball (which was already autographed by several players) hit some other player(s) and then ricocheted onto the field.  I thought the guards down there would toss it into the dugout never to be seen again.  But they gave it back to the guy while giving him an earful of non-appreciative sentiments.

We took two more pictures on our way out of the ballpark:

Right as we reached the car, the skies opened up and it absolutely poured rain down on us:

Meanwhile, Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate had just exited the subway in Center City and were getting absolutely soaked on the walk to their hotel.

From a historically crazy BP, to all of the “Games of Baseball,” to all the family fun, it was a great day at the ballpark.  Sadly, we would only have one more day at the ballpark in 2012, and it would be the next weekend in Baltimore.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

26/24 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
42 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 9, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
151 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 9, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6
24 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 11, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway   Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park9/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners  Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (3); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Two Nights At A Ballpark In Philadelphia (9/8 & 9/9/12)

This is the story of two evenings that the boys and I spent at a ballpark in Philadelphia.  Two nights, 51 outs, and a whole lot of fun.

The story starts in the afternoon on Saturday, September 8, 2012.  Colleen was away for the weekend visiting her folks.  But the boys and I had Phillies tickets.  The Phils were scheduled to take on the Colorado Rockies.

We hopped into the car a little after 2:00 p.m.  Kellan napped a bit and Tim and I played a rousing game of turkey vulture – where we battle to see who can spot more turkey vultures along the drive.

We made it to the LF gate…

…in plenty of time.  In fact, we arrived around 4:00 p.m., and the gates were scheduled to open at 4:35.  We past the time chatting with our Citizens Bank Park pals, the Tischler (Seth, Tami and Harrison.

Generally, I pay no attention at all to weather reports.  But, on this day, the consensus was that the weather wasn’t going to cooperate with the game schedule.  They typically open the first three gates at the LF gate 2.5 hours before a Phillies home game.  But shortly after we arrived, an usher came out and opened the very first gate, which required us to relocate from first in line at the third gate and the Tishlers to relocate from first in line at the second gate.

The usher said he was preparing the first gate because the Phillies were going to open the gate half an hour early…if it started raining.  Essentially, if it started pouring rain on us, they would open the gate so we could take cover in the concourses, but if the rain held off we would simply get to stand outside an open gate for another half hour.

The skies over Center City Philadelphia (behind us to the northwest) looked rather threatening…

…but the sky was blue over Citizens Bank Park (in front of us to the southeast).  Rain usually moves from the southwest to the northeast around Philadelphia (up the coast toward NYC) so I still felt like we or, more precisely, the game could survive the weather.

Oh, yeah, in addition to rain, there was 70 mile per hour wind in the forecast too.  That concerned the Phillies too.

When they finally let us in, at the normal 4:35 gate time, we hustled in to the corner spot by the LF foul pole and found this scene on the field:

No BP.  Sad.

But the Rockies pitchers were out playing catch.  There was only a small gathering of fans out there.  I figured all of the Rockies would toss their warm up balls into the crowd.  There were plenty to go around for the few people out there.

See that white “X” on the foul line down by the corner spot?

Out of the blue, Carlos Torres looked right at me from that “X” and then he tossed his baseball to me and the boys.  We were right in the corner spot at the bottom edge of the section that is open for BP.  To our immediate right, a yellow plastic chain blocked off access to the rest of the stadium.  Torres’s throw landed just out of my reach on the “off limits” side of the yellow chain.  But Bernie the very cool usher saw it all play out and came and grabbed the ball and gave it to Tim.

Thanks, Carlos!  And thanks, Bernie, for the assist!

Harrison had a consecutive game streak of getting a baseball that we wanted to extend.  I didn’t want to hurt his chances of that happening.  So the boys and I relocated to the next section over into leftfield fair territory…

…so Harrison and his folks could be alone in the corner spot (the red arrow above is pointing to Harrison and, oh, by the way, see the young girl in the purple “Rockies” (not actually Rockies) shirt?  Watch for her later in this entry where you can find her wearing Phillies gear.  She is a full-on pre-teen, female ballhawk with Hamplesque focus and determination and she would prove to be Harrison’s main competition the rest of the night, in very entertaining fashion, in my opinion).

Anyway, this was our view of the field after we relocated to the fair side of the foul pole:

And this is Edgmer Escalona a minute or so after he tossed us a baseball that he had in his pocket:

I was pretty amazed that he tossed us this baseball (completely unsolicited) because there were several teenagers to our left wearing (actual) Rockies gear.  But, what can I say, ball players generally love awesome like boys like Tim and Kellan.

Thanks, Edgmer!

Unfortunately, that was it for toss-ups – not just for us, for everyone.  One Rockies pitcher tried unsuccessfully to throw his warm up ball into the RF seats (section 103) from the LF foul line, but his throw hit the wall and rolled back onto the grass where it was left:

Every other Rockies pitcher took his baseball with him back to the dugout.  There was a grand total of two pre-game throwing Rockies toss-ups and both of them were tossed to us.  And that means that Harrison got snubbed.  Sorry, Harrison!

Before heading out to the pizza wedge, I took some photos of the plants that separate the fans from the outfield wall:

I’m not sure why they don’t have one of these in RF too.  They are a great idea because they look nice when they flower and they prevent fans from interfering with questionable homeruns.

Just before 5 o’clock, we took a stroll down Ashburn Alley…

…toward the RF seats.

The RF seats weren’t going to open for another five or ten minutes when we arrived at the RF end of the bullpens.  That’s where we met up again with Harrison:

I told Harrison that I thought I had spotted a baseball in the back corner of the Phillies bullpen.  In the picture above, if it was really a baseball, it would have been right below Tim (about 20 feet below) on the other side of the fence.  When we looked over the fence, we couldn’t see anything.

But when the RF seats opened and we made our way down to the pizza wedge…

…, there it was tucked under the padding on the back/side wall of the bullpen.  It was right behind the home plates .  It must have trickled by one of the catchers while a Phillies pitcher was warming up in the bullpen.

Since we already had two baseballs, we were really hoping that Harrison could manage to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen, or the one on the RF grass.

Remember that one in RF that the Rockies pitcher had  thrown?  Well, it was still there.  There was no one on the field.  We just sat around chatting awhile.

Eventually, a groundskeeper-type guy started walking across RF on the warning track.  When he was still way off, Harrison made his move and hollered to the groundskeeper about the baseball.  The groundskeeper didn’t say a word but started veering slightly into the grass:

It was clear that he was going to toss the baseball to Harrison.  I was happy for him.

But then Harrison started walking closer to RF.  “No, no, no!!,” I thought to myself.

See the girl in the red shirt above?  That’s the same girl who was wearing purple in LF.  Harrison walked down and stood right next to her because she was directly in front of the baseball.  I am positive that the guy would have grabbed the ball and walked down to Harrison closer to CF to toss it to him with zero competition because Harrison is the one who asked the groundskeeper to toss up the baseball.

But when the groundskeeper tossed it up to Harrison (standing next to that girl), it flew too high and went right over both of them into the second row.  And guess who got it in the scramble?

Not Harrison.  Darn.

So Harrison turned his attention back to the baseball tucked under the padding in the bullpen.  Unfortunately, the girl in red had the same plan.  Meanwhile, with the game still two hour away (allegedly), the boys and I headed to the other side of the stadium and grabbed a huge heap of food for dinner:

That thing I got (bottom left above) was called “The Big Leaguer” or the “Major Leaguer” and, oh, boy, it was a lot of food.  It was essentially a Rueben and a burger combined.  Not my healthiest meal ever, but quite tasty.

It was 6:45 by the time we left McFadden’s and headed back out to RF.  The Tishlers were sitting under cover at the back of section 102.  It was raining.  We grabbed some seats with the Tishlers…

…relaxed a bit and shared in some conversation.  This is what was happening on the field:

It wasn’t raining like crazy, but there didn’t appear to be any baseball in our immediate future.

When game time rolled around, the PA announcer announced that the Phillies were putting the Cardinals-Brewers game on the big screen:

We just kept sitting and chatting.  The stadium started filling up a lot more.  Just before 8 o’clock we saw something hilarious…

…an usher was standing and leaning against the SRO counter sleep-standing.  Before I could snap her picture, she sat down slept some more.

We didn’t know if we were going to see any baseball at all that day, but one thing was certain – there would be ice cream:

I should mention, as we sat in those seats under cover for hours, the young girl in the purple/red, was in constant movement circling the bullpen, looking at that baseball against the wall from every angle, and hoping and praying someone would come out and toss it to her.  It was pretty hilarious.  Meanwhile, Harrison was playing it cool waiting for his opportunity to get his hands on that baseball.

At around 8:10 p.m., a charge of excitement circled the stadium when a bunch of groundskeepers entered the field from the RF foul corner:

They headed toward the tarp and started sweeping the water off the sides of the tarp.   I was hopeful there was baseball in the forecast.  Kellan was ready for some Major League action:

When some groundskeepers headed out to the bullpens, Harrison sprang into action in his attempt to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen.  It was like a chess match with the young girl.  It was a funny situation. Seth, Tim, Kellan and I were Harrison’s pawns as he jockeyed for position along the back wall of the bullpen:

It was a lot of fun, but nothing came of it.  A couple groundskeepers worked on the mound a bit, but they were busy and had no interested in walking to the other end of the bullpen to grab that baseball for Harrison.

The groundskeepers never took the tarp off the field.  The Phillies never made any announcements.  Time just kept ticking by as we made our way later and later into the baseball-less night.

Eventually, the Tischlers decided to call it a night.  They were hoping the game would be postponed and they would be able to re-use the tickets for another night.  Before they left, Tami took a couple pictures of me and to boys:

When they left, we decided to head over to the other side of the stadium to check out the team store.  On our way, we stopped by section 117 and got our picture behind the Phillies dugout…

… and a panorama from the back of the section:

The boys had fun playing around in the team store:

I had never really realized there was an upstairs in the team store that is all kids’ stuff.  And, as a bonus, there was a big Phanatic statue up there:

It was nearly 10:00 p.m. by this time.  We head been inside the stadium for five-and-a-half hours.  Moments after the picture with the Phanatic statue, the PA announcer announced that the game had been postponed due to rain.  It would be played the next day as the second half of a double-admission doubleheader.

The boys and I started to head toward the exits.  As we made our way to the field level concourse, we saw Jesus Tiamo and someone else…maybe Mick Billmeyer, walking out to the bullpen.  I figured we ought to head over there on our way out to see about that baseball that had been sitting in the bullpen all night.  But they were in the bullpen for two minutes at most.  By the time we were circling CF, Tiamo and his colleague were heading back toward the dugout:

I don’t know why, but I decided to head back to the bullpen anyway.  As we reached the concourse behind section 102, an usher told us the seats were closed.  We hung out for a minute.  And then someone in a Phillies uniform popped out of the dugout and walked down the warning track on the RF foul line:

We decided we’d waited around so long already that it couldn’t hurt to wait around for a couple minutes more.  After the guy stopped to chat with that other guy in the blue rain jacket, guess where he walked?  That’s right, right to the Phillies bullpen.

We waved him down and…

…he ran over to the corner and grabbed that elusive baseball and tossed it up to us.

Holy cow.  I couldn’t believe it.

The ball was SOAK and HEAVY.  Tim and Kellan posed victoriously with the ball:

And as they were posing, we heard a yell from below.  I looked down into the bullpen and it was the ballboy.  He had found another, completely dry, baseball on the bullpen bench (or maybe sitting on one of the chairs), and he tossed it up to us too.

Wow.

Thanks, guy!

By the way, the ball has dried out just fine.

And with that, we called it a night.  On the rainy drive home, we discussed whether we should make the trip back to Philadelphia the next day for the make-up of this “game.”  Tim was all for it.  We didn’t have any other plans.

So…..on September 9, 2012, we made our way back down to Philadelphia hoping to see a baseball game.

There was a 1 o’clock game.  Our game was supposed to start at 6 p.m., and the gates were supposed to start at 5 o’clock.

We went to another rain out in 2009 at Nationals Park and it was a nightmare trying to work with the Nationals to figure out how the make-up game would work.  But it was completely different with Phillies.  I called the Phillies in the morning to see if we could exchange our tickets for better seats.  I was hoping for something in the front row in the outfield.  They told us we could exchange tickets at the first base ticket office.  So we planned to arrive around 4:30 p.m. to work out an exchange.

Here is a bad thing about having a double-admission doubleheader – parking.  When we arrived at Citizens Bank Park, the first game had just ended and a huge stream of cars was flooding the exits.  Here is the scene while a parking attendant was trying to create a lane to get us into the parking lot:

It took some work, but he managed to get us into the parking lot.

We were able to exchange our tickets in row 14 of section 104 for two tickets in the first row of section 103.  I was pretty excited about that.  We had never had front row seats at Citizens Bank Park.

We had plenty of time to kill before the gates opened.  Since I knew there would be no BP and no early BP gate opening time for the LF gates, we decided to switch things up and get in line at the 1B gates right by the ticket office.

We past the time by playing catch outside the gates:

They opened up the gates and prepared to let us in just prior to 5 o’clock:

But then they made us wait 10-15 minutes more before they finally let people inside the stadium.

When they did, we headed out to the pizza wedge:

Check out all of the activity on the field:

So we grabbed some seats and relaxed:

Luckily, we had lots of practice sitting in the seats and relaxing from the night before, so we were pretty good at it!

Eventually, someone-or-other (a coach) came moseying on out toward the bullpen…

…and Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo followed not too far behind.

When they made their way into the bullpen, Tiamo came over and tossed a reese’s miniature peanut butter cup up to Tim.  Then he walked over to the bench and rooted around in his equipment bag a bit…

…before he turned around again and tossed probably five baseballs into the stands.  Tim got one, Kellan got one, that same girl from the night before (whose arm you can see as she stands behind Tim in that last picture) got another, plus a few other kids at the other end of the bullpen.

Double thanks, Jesus!

We headed over to the games in the RF concourse and Tim and Kellan showed off their prizes from Tiamo…

…and then they shared the little peanut butter cup.

Then we played a few games…

…and collected a few game stamps.

We headed over by the visitors’ dugout before the game and that is where we were for the singing of the national anthem:

Check out our AWESOME front for seats:

The one and only bad thing about the seats is that we were trapped in the middle of a row sitting next to a mom and dad who had two kids that were obviously of ticket-needing age, but didn’t have seats of their own.  So we were packed in like sardines down there.

But check this out, Kellan was able to eat an ice cream helmet with his fingertips were *in play*:

Tim often times asks for an ice cream cone instead of an ice cream helmet.  I very seldom agree, but I did at this game.  And here is why I very seldom agree to the cone:

Those pictures don’t do it justice.  Tim looked and felt like he had been dipped in a huge bowl of melted ice cream.  While both boys still manage to make a message while eating an ice cream helmet, the ice cream helmets really help cut down on the mess.

The game featured a match-up between Rockies rookie Drew Pomeranz and Phillies rookie Tyler Cloyd.  Both gave up one hit in their respective half of the first inning, but escaped without giving up any runs.  I tried to capture Chase Utley’s first inning single, but I missed it and had to settle for this shot of him retreating to first after taking an aggressive turn toward second:

I did, however, get an action show of Tim:

Meanwhile, Kellan was just chilling and watching some baseball:

The Phillies scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning.  The only action shot I got of it was Dominic Brown swinging and missing en route to a strike out:

Just before Brown’s strikeout, Ty Wiggington hit a double.  Immediately after Brown’s strikeout, Michael Martinez hit a single to CF to score Wiggington.

Soon thereafter, I had to take another panorama from out seats because the sky looked pretty cool:

There was an empty seat right behind us so the boys could stand right on the fence…

…and be right on top of the action.

While standing there, Tim decided he should give Kellan lessons on how to “look cool” while leaning against a fence.  This was Tim’s *coolest* pose:

Cloyd had a rough inning in the top of the third and Rockies came charging back.  Dexter Fowler, Jordan Pacheco and Tyler Colvin loaded the bases with three singles.  The Rockies then took a 2-1 lead on Ramon Hernandez’s 2-RBi single to CF.  Hernandez was followed by Chris Nelson…

…who took a causal stroll around the bags after hitting a 2-Run homerun to LF to make the score 4-1 Rockies.  Check out Chase Ultey in the bottom

Even with great seats, if it is just me and the boys, we’re not going to spend the whole game sitting in one place.  We do a decent job of it when joined by my Colleen or my folks.  But when it is just the three of us, we like to be on the move during a game.  So after three innings in these wonderful front row seats, we took off for the play area:

Once again, Tim did a great job chaperoning Kellan through the big kid playarea.

After the play area, we headed over to the RF concourse and played some more games:

If you get enough stamps in your stamp book (they had out a little paper stamp book when you play your first game of the day), you get to cash the stamps in for a prize.  Tim got enough stamps to get a bunch of Citizens Bank Park pencils and that Phillies megaphone shown above to the right.  And that megaphone would provide a lot of entertainment over the course of the rest of the game.

Next up, we hit Chickie’s & Pete’s…

and got some (seafoodless) “Crab Fries”:

The fries were super salty with the special seasoning, and they were mighty tasty.  We were in line at Chickie’s & Pete’s when Ryan Howard hit 2-unearned-run-RBI single that hit the RF wall right below our seats.  It would have been very exciting had we been sitting in our seats instead of standing in line for fries.

Anyway, Howard was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit into a double.  That ended the inning with the score 4-3 Rockies.

Even though our seats were amazingly awesome, we never returned to them.  You see, the crowd was thin in the RF seats and this was our first and best opportunity ever to sit in section 101 (or, as we call it, the pizza wedge).  Section 101 is really cool because it is a little pizza wedge shaped peninsula between RCF and the Phillies bullpen.

Here is a panoramic view of what it looked like from our seats in row six of the pizza wedge:

Row 6 is only four seats across.  I sat in the first seat in from the aisle, Tim sat in the seats on the fence (on the bullpen) and Kellan primarily sat on my lap, stood next to the fence, or sat in my arms as stood watching the game (including a period of several minutes during which I held Kellan and puffed up my cheeks so he could repeatedly smash my cheeks are hard as he could).

The second half of the game was good for the home team, but it was even more fun for us because we were sitting in the pizza wedge.  The boys took turns (maybe not as much as Kellan would have liked)…

…screaming through the megaphone.

A lot of that megaphone yelling was directed toward Tim’s buddy, Jesus Tiamo:

It was pretty hilarious.  From the home plates in the Phillies bullpen, it is impossible to see anything happening on the field.  The Phillies used seven pitchers in this game and it seemed like Tiamo was constantly warming up the next reliever.

The Phillies scored two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh inning to take a 7-4 lead.  Each time the Phillies scored a run, Tim hopped to his feet and turned back toward Tiamo behind the bullpen plate and megaphoned to him, “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”

The funniest part of the night was when Jimmy Rollins hit a single in the bottom of the seventh.  The hit sent Carlos Ruiz to 3B and Kevin Fransden to 2B.  However, Tim thought Ruiz continued running and scored.  He hopped to his feet and shouted:

TIM:  “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”

TODD:  “No, they didn’t.  Ruiz stopped at third.”

TIM:  “NEVERMIND, JESUS, HE STOPPED AT THIRD BASE!”

It was pretty hilarious.  And, while you might think it would have annoyed Tiamo (as my wife later suggested), that was far from the case.  It was really amazing.  I am estimating that Jesus waved and smiled at Tim and Kellan at least twenty times.  AT LEAST!

At times, it seemed like he was waving at them between every pitch he caught in the bullpen.

And when Tiamo finished catching Phillipe Aumont in the bottom of the seventh inning (just before the former-Mariner Aumont pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the Phillies), Tiamo tossed Tim Aumont’s warm up baseball.  And that resulted in another cool moment.  Tiamo’s toss was a high looping lob.  I thought it was going to sail over and out of Tim’s reach so I came in behind him to catch the ball for him.  But Tim reached up as high as he could and our gloves came together in the air, high above Tim’s head, and Tim came down with the ball in an absolute snow-cone catch.  It was pretty awesome!

Tim thanked Jesus and then posed with the ball as Jesus walked back to the bench:

Thanks again and again and again, Jesus!

Here’s something interesting we had never noticed before, the Phillies have a little office refrigerator outside their bullpen bathroom:

During the eighth inning, Jesus warmed up the final Phillies pitcher of the night, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon:

Papelbon was the winning pitcher in the first game of the doubleheader.  So he was gunning for a rare 1 win, 1 save day.  Papelbon gave up a 2-out souble to Dexter Fowler, but otherwise had no trouble shutting the door on the Rockies.

Phillies win 7-4:

As the team celebrated and the few remaining guys in the bullpen headed out to the field to join in the victory celebration, Jesus Tiamo turned back and gave Tim and Kellan a final smile and wave “good-night!”  Jesus and the megaphone definitely made it a unique fun night.

Before we headed for our car, a nice usher that we had chatted with a bit recently took one final picture of us in the pizza wedge:

Fun times.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

24/22 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 1
22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

The Nationals, Nationals Park, Shea Stadium, the Cooks & 2008 Converge On Citizens Bank Park (8/25/2012)

For months, we planned to visit Citi Field on August 25, 2012, for our only Astros game of the season.  It was going to be our best opportunity of the season to try to get our hands on one of the Astros 50th Anniversary commemorative baseballs, we had already caught at least one of each of the other five 2012 regular-season commemorative baseballs.

A couple days beforehand, I bought our tickets on stubhub.  The night before, we were all set to head up to Citi Field.

And then I realized something: no one had bought the Phillies-Nationals tickets we had listed on stubhub!  Oye!

I put our Mets-Astros tickets back on stubhub, took a loss when they resold, but avoided the bigger loss that would have resulted from not selling or using the Phillies tickets.  And, just like that, we had a new plan for August 25, 2012:  Nationals-Phillies at Citizens Bank Park!

It was only Kellan’s second Phillies game ever.

We arrived before the games opened.  While in line, we played a little catch, ate some snacks, and hung out with the Tishlers (center)…

…, Tami (mom), Harrison (son), and Seth (dad).

The Tishlers are a fun family that we have run into and spent some time with at several Phillies games this season.  Twelve-year-old Harrison is an up-and-comer on MyGameBalls.com, and Seth brings his glove and likes to get in on BP action as well.

Tim loves hanging out with older kids and he always has a blast hanging out with Harrison.  While waiting in line, Tim whipped out his camera and took a picture of himself and Harrison:

When the gates opened, Tim and I ran over to the LF seats and Kellan enjoyed the ride on my shoulders.  We’ve only ever got one “hit” baseball at Citizens Bank Park, a BP homerun at Kellan’s first Phillies game that bounced around in the seats before I grabbed it.

But almost right off the bat this happened:

Kellan and I were standing at the green dot (he was still on my shoulders).  Tim was standing just to my right, closer to the foul pole.  A Phillies batter hit a homerun directly over our heads.  I turned around watched it hit off the first seat in about row 10 or so.  It ricocheted on a single bounce right to me.  I casually lifted my glove and caught it right in front of my head and Kellan watched on from above.

That was the first hit baseball that I have ever caught with Kellan on my shoulders.  I thought it was pretty cool, but Seth really thought it was great.  He was all smiles and quickly let me know that he thought it was awesome how casually I caught the ball with Kellan up there.

Before going on, I should point out the guy in the last picture who is standing closest to the camera wearing a dark Phillies shirt and his son in the front row (left of the green dot) wearing a Phillies jersey.  About 10 minutes after I took that picture, the guy approached me and asked if I had a blog.  He didn’t seem to know us by name, but he had read our blog and recognized us from our Mariners gear.  He was a nice guy.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember his name.  He introduced us to his son and several other family members.  I think he said that he has been to about 17 MLB stadiums.  The best thing about the interaction was how he asked who we were.  He asked me something like, “Are you the guy who takes his son all over to different MLB stadiums and takes tons of pictures of everything?”  While I don’t know if I am “the” guy, I definitely am “a guy” who does that.

The clouds started to sprinkle the tiniest little bit of rain.  So we headed over to the back of the one foul territory section that is open during the first hour of BP and took cover under the second deck seats.

Shortly after arriving there, a security guard came over and asked if it was the boys’ first Phillies game.  I pointed at Tim and said, “He’s been to lots of Phillies games,” and then pointing to Kellan, “and this is his second Phillies game.”

I didn’t see it yet.  But I had the strong feeling that the guy had a baseball and wanted to give it to a kid experiencing his first game.  We certainly do not meet that criteria and I didn’t want to pretend we did.  When he did, in fact, pull out a baseball, I practically tried to talk him out of giving it to us.  But he also didn’t seem like he wanted to make the effort to find another little kid who might be at his/her first game.  So he gave the baseball to Kellan:

(By the way, that is the same baseball in both pictures).  It was our 109 baseball of the season, setting a new Cook family single-season record.

Even though he didn’t get to make a true baseball rookie’s day like he had originally planned, I’m pretty sure he was happy with his decision to give the baseball to Kellan because Kellan gave him the cutest 2-year-old “Thaaaaaank you!” which gave the guy a chuckle and a huge smile.

Thanks, security guard guy!

Just before the security guard found us, I had opened a bag of cheesy rice cakes, which we refer to as “pirates.”  When the guy handed the baseball to Kellan, his fingers were already a cheesy mess.

Tim and Kellan kept throwing back the pirates like they were going out of style:

Normally, we head out to the pizza wedge when the rest of the stadium opens.  But we decided to head down the LF line to watch the Nationals pitchers warm up because we had heard recently that they were using old commemorative baseballs (Shea Stadium and Nationals Park) from 2008.

Just before the rest of the stadium opened, three of the Nats coaches were hanging out down the LF line, with one of them sitting in the seats:

When we got down there, Tim and Kellan got the most hilarious picture ever with Steve McCatty, the only one coach who was still down there.

We watched the Nats pitchers warm up…

…and it appeared that none of them were using commemorative baseballs.

The highlight (or maybe lowlight?) of our time over on the foul line was that someone hit a foul ball in our direction.  It was going to land several rows below us.  The Tishlers were right there, but they were focused on the Nats pitchers.

I screamed, “HEEEEEEEEADDDDS UPPPPPPPP!!!!!”

It didn’t help.

The ball nailed Seth in the shoulder.

Once the Nats pitchers began to disburse, the boys and I relocated to the pizza wedge.  Two Nats were hanging out in RCF.  One of them fielded a baseball near us and tossed it up to us…

…before walking back to our spot.  It was Tom Gorzelanny (T.G. in the picture above).

Thanks, Tom!

Now, the baseballs the pitchers were using along the LF line were from the pitchers baseball bag.  The baseball that Gorzelanny tossed to us was a batted ball from the BP bucket, and we were very happy to find it was 2008 Shea Stadium final season baseball!

Double thanks, Tom!

I was very happy for us to get one of the 2008 Shea Stadium baseballs because Tim and I went to a Phillies-Mets game during the final month of baseball at Shea Stadium.

I soon overheard someone mention that they had caught a 2008 Nationals Park inaugural season baseball.

Now remember “S.B.” in that picture above?  That’s Sean Burnett.  I had no clue who it was at the time.  But at one point, a nearby fan started chatting with him a little bit and I overheard the fan call him “Sean.”  The second he finished chatting with the fan and turned around to walk back to Gorzelanny, I called out, “Hey, Sean!”  When he turned around, I made a bold move, I asked Burnett if he came across a Nationals Park commemorative baseball during BP if he would toss it up to us.  Without hesitation, Burnett said, “Sure!”

A few minutes later, he caught a fly ball right by us and tossed up to us a beautiful 2008 Nationals Park commemorative baseball!

Thanks, Sean!

Look at these two beauties:

Before long, the Tishlers arrived on the scene.  I got a picture of Tim and Harrison in the tip of the pizza wedge, but Kellan wanted nothing to do with being in the picture:

Harrison had snagged a baseball or two, but no commemoratives.  He really wanted to get one of each of the 2008 commemoratives.  Before too long, someone tossed a Nats Park baseball to Harrison.

As BP progressed, a couple No. 1 overall picks made their way out to CF.  Bryce Harper was only out there for a short time…

…until he had to go take his hacks in the cage.

But Stephen Strasburg spent a bunch of time out there shagging fly balls:

When one of his teammates hit a baseball to the CF warning track, Strasburg ran over, fielded the ball and tossed it up to us.  It was another Nationals Park commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Stephen!

Now, I don’t really remember the timing of this hit.  But at some point during BP, one of the Nationals hit a homerun over the pizza wedge:

It hit the back wall of the Phillies’ bullpen, and rolled out in the grass between the bullpen mound and bullpen plates.  While still focusing on the field in hopes of getting a Shea Stadium baseball, Harrison also set his sights on the homerun baseball waiting in the bullpen.

Toward the end of BP, a Nationals batter hit a homerun directly to us.  We were in the first row of the pizza wedge (section 101).  Kellan was standing in front of me leaning on the railing and Tim was to my right.  The baseball sailed right over Kellan and into my waiting glove.

I turned it over to find that it was another Shea Stadium commemorative.  Tim immediately instructed me to, “Give it to Harrison!  He needs a Shea ball.”

But Harrison said he wanted to get one on his own.  I must admit, I was a bit relieved that Harrison didn’t want that baseball because it was the first BP homer I had ever caught on the fly at Citizens Bank Park.

So we turned our focus back to watching Harrison and hoping he would be able to snag a Shea Stadium baseball of his own.  While we watched, Tim demolished some more cheesy pirates:

Well, some of them, as you can see above, escaped Tim’s mouth and found their way onto the warning track.

Eventually, the Phils cleared the field and, a bit later, Roy Halladay and the bullpen coaching crew headed out to the bullpen:

As Phils bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo (an all-round nice guy by all accounts) walked across RF and approached the warning track by the bullpens, Harrison told Tiamo that there was a left-over BP ball in the bullpen and asked if Tiamo would toss it up to him.  In the picture above to the right, Tiamo is the guy in the middle (wearing No. 81).  He happily obliged Harrison’s request and that baseball ended up being the Shea Stadium commemorative that had evaded Harrison during BP.

I wanted to snap some pictures of Roy Halladay warming up before the boys and I departed the pizza wedge for the play area.   But he took his sweet time getting ready to throw.  After visiting the bullpen mound to grab a baseball from the bag, (shown above), Halladay headed out into CF where he and Erik Kratz (who I had never heard of before at the time) did some stretching while lying on the ground:

Although we are a Rawlings family, I liked the look of Halladay’s Nike glove.  But doesn’t that just seem weird?  A Nike glove?  I am all about Nike shoes, but I am going to keep my Nikes on my feet and continue to let Rawlings outfit my glove hand (and Tim’s and Kellan’s too).

Roy then slowly made his way to the little boys room in the bullpen (and the following shot also includes a better shot of Tiamo):

And then he did a bunch of stretching against the CF wall…

…before finally starting to play catch with Kratz:

We decided it was time for a little gaming.  Last season, the Phils had a speed pitch, a trivia game, and a running the bases (in place) game.  This season, Chickie’s and Pete’s has taken over the speed pitch area and only the trivia and base running games are left.  But Tim has fun with both of them:

The trivia game asks all Phillies trivia.  Tim knows none of the answers and I know very few.  But sometimes we get lucky on them.  The base running game is pretty funny to watch.  Each time we did it, Kellan would run about 5-10 steps and then just stop to watch Tim run.

From there, we headed on to the nacho stand and then the kids play area.  Kellan hadn’t had any real lunch (just snacks) following his nap so I hoped he would eat nachos with me while Tim played in the play area.  That was silly.  He ate 2-3 cheesy chips, but all he wanted to do was play.

I released him first into the little kids portion of the play area:

But he really wanted to go into the big kids play area.  I thought it was too big for him.  But Tim did some excellent big brothering.  He took Kellan up into big playarea and showed him all around.  It was really cute.  I could see Tim showing and explaining stuff to Kellan up there.  They posed for a picture together in one of the spheres:

And they even climbed all the way to the very top so they could ride the big spiraling slide all the way to the bottom:

Kellan had a blast with his brother and the other big kids.  I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable with Kellan going up there alone yet, but he did great with Tim.

The game started while we were walking to the playarea.  Halladay retired the Nationals in order in the top of the first and then Phillies scored two runs on RBI singles by Chase Utley and John Mayberry.

Finally, I decided it was time to head to the seats.  But one our way, we swung by the ice cream spot in the concourse behind 3B.  I always ask for a tray with our ice cream, but for some reason I failed to do so this time.  With an ice cream  helmet in each hand and Kellan on my shoulders, Tim and I began the long walk from the 3B side, around the scoreboard in LF, behind the batters’ eye, and to our seats in section 104 (RF).  It wasn’t overly hot at this game.  In fact, it was somewhat pleasant.  But that didn’t prevent both helmets from melting down and dropping all over my shoes on the walk.  It was pretty crazy, after the game, you could clearly tell that I had held Tim’s chocolate-vanilla twist in my right hand and Kellan’s vanilla helmet in my left hand.

I dropped the boys and the ice cream in our seats in row 14 and then quickly ran 20 feet over to the nearest concession stand to get trays for the boys to use to hold their helmets.  Finally, we were ready to eat ice cream…

…and watch some baseball:

That last picture is from the top of the fifth inning.  In that picture, Roy Halladay is pitching to Kurt Suzuki and Danny Espinosa is leading off first base.  Espinosa and Roger Bernadina had already both hit singles in the inning.

While Suzuki was hitting, Bernadina was over at second behind held closed by Chase Utley:

Suzuki singled to load the bases.  Gio Gonzalez failed to help his own cause.  He put the ball in play, but Bernadina was forced out at home plate.

But rookie Steve Lombardozzi came through for Gonzalez.  He hit a single to CF that scored Espinosa and Suzuki to tie the score at 2-2.  Bryce Harper grounded out to end the inning, but the damage was done.  Halladay’s lead was gone and we had a new ball game.

Just like old times in Philadelphia, look who was patrolling RF:

We didn’t stick around too long in our seats.  The boys needed some real food.  So we got out of there.  At our last Phils game, Tim and I got pizza and sat in the upper deck.  We decided to do that again.  But first we stopped by the RF councourse and played a few more games:

You get 1 or more stamps in a little book depending on how well you do in each game.  The more stamps you collect the better prize you can get when you cash in your stamps.  Tim collected 10 stamps which were good enough for a Citizens Bank Park pencil and this weird “water bottle”:

It was much more “bag” than it was “bottle” but Tim loves it.  We filled it up and headed up to the upper deck in search of pizza.

We got a picture of the boys and the Liberty Pig:

Finally, we grabbed some pizza…

…and found some seats in section 424:

The Phils regained the lead in the bottom of the 6th inning when John Mayberry, Jr. hit a solo homerun to LF.  They tacked on an insurance run in the 8th inning on a sacrifice fly, also hit by Mayberry.

During the late innings, the Phillie Phanatic pumped up the crowd from the top of the Phils’ first base dugout…

…and Kellan was super-excited about it:

As it got to the 8 inning, we decided to walk down to the field level concourse.  We were considering making an attempt at an umpire ball, which is always difficult at Citizens Bank Park, but we weren’t certain.  We figured we’d just go down and check out the situation first.

On our way out of section 424, we had an usher take our picture:

And then we started a long walk down the concourse to the RF corner and then back-and-forth down the switch-back ramps to the field level:

When we finally got down to the field level where the red line turns into a green line, I realized something.  When we sat down in section 424, I had set Tim’s new water bottle down on the ground behind our seats.  I had a sneaking suspicion that I had left it there.  We stopped and checked my backpack.  Nothing.

So we followed the green line (which is a magic line that shows through the seats) up a set up stairs and all the way back to section 424.

This whole walking process took so long that it was already the bottom of the ninth when we retrieved the water bottle.  We grabbed a standing room spot behind the 300-level seats to watch the final three outs of the game.  While Jonathan Papelbon warmed up for the Phils, Tim posed with his new missing tooth hole:

And then Paps got to work.  He struck out Jayson Werth and induced a fly ball out from Roger Bernadina.

The Nats hopes came down to Danny Espinosa:

But on this pitch  (the third pitch of the at bat)…

…, Papelbon struck out Espinosa to record the “W” for the Phillies.

Everyone celebrated:

It was a little weird seeing the final out from the upper deck.  That doesn’t happen too often for us.  Before we headed out of there, we had an usher take one more picture of the three of us…

…as the Phillies celebrated in the background.

Then we slowly made our way to our car.

All around, the whole day was a lot of fun.  I like the slightly less packed Citizens Bank Park of 2012.  Two thumbs up!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

21/19 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners,   Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks,   Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets,   Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays,   Pirates, Braves
33 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies   4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
113 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins   4, Mets 8, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
21 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
11/11 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco   Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target   Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park;   Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field,   Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens   Bank Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner,   Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Todd & Tim in Philadelphia: Reprise of a 2-Man Team (6/23/12)

Our plans for Saturday, June 23, 2012 changed several times leading up to the day of the game.  After several years of just me and Tim going to games together, Kellan had been to the last 11 in a row with us.  I was thinking it would be good for Tim to get some one-on-one time and do an old school Tim-and-Dad game.  We were going to go to see the Rockies and Phillies mid-week and then bring Kellan with us again to this weekend game.  Then Tim got sick.  The mid-week game was out and I thought I would just take Kellan to the weekend game.  Then Tim gave his germs to Kellan and started feeling better, although he still had the remnants of a rash that went along with his sickness.  So the final plan was to just take Tim to the weekend game while Kellan stayed home with mommy and rested up and recovered.

So that is what we did.

It was interleague play and the Phillies were hosting the Rays in an afternoon game set to start at 4:05 p.m.  We headed down in time for the gates to open.

We were probably 15-20 people back in one of three lines at the LF gate, but somehow when we stepped down into the LF seats, we were literally the first fans in the OF.  It was pretty strange.  Probably 45 people beat us into the stadium, but I had no clue where they’d all gone.

We ran down to the first row and did two things.  First, I asked Juan Pierre if he could toss a baseball to Tim when he eventually got one.  He said yes.  And he tossed the very next ball he got to us…although, for some reason, he threw it to me instead of Tim.

Second, we got Tim’s picture wearing a Justin Bieber shirt during BP:

He is doing a little “heart” shape with his hands.  Apparently, Justin Bieber does that.  Although, I should note that I only know that from watching Jimmy Fallon’s hilarious parody of Bieber.  Big thanks to Dan Sauvageau in Denver.  He got Tim this shirt for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt while we were in Denver.  But there was no BP the day he gave it to Tim so we didn’t get the picture.  I have carried this shirt to every game since that day and always forgotten to get the picture.  To stop that trend, Tim put the Bieber shirt on at home before leaving for this game so we wouldn’t forget again.  We covered up that shirt within minutes of getting the picture.

Big thanks, Dan!

No knock on Kellan, I love going to games with that little guy.  But, wow, it is so much easier to do BP (and the entire game) with just me and Tim.  For starters, I don’t have to carry Tim at all.

After getting the baseball from Juan Pierre and getting the Bieber picture, we headed out to RCF.  I wanted to see if Michael Stutes was around – frankly, I don’t even know if he is still on the Phils rosters.  I didn’t see him.  Most of the Phils pitchers were still running in RF.

Eventually, Joe Blanton broke off from the pack and walked along the warning track retrieving baseballs that had been hit out there while no one was there to shag them.  There were 2-3 baseballs on the track directly below us.

Blanton grabbed the first and tossed it to a Phillies fan to our right.  Then he grabbed the second ball and threw it in to the bucket.  But the third ball?  He tossed that one up to Tim…

…and Tim gloved it with no problems.

Thanks, Joe!

It was time to find some shade.

We headed to the back of section 140 where some shade was reaching the seats.

At our last game at Citizens Bank Park, we headed over to section 140 and an usher (who I am told is named Bernie) gave Tim a baseball.  Well, as we were a full section away from section 140, I could already tell that the exact same thing was going to happen at this game.

And, sure enough, it did:

Thanks, Bernie!

So, I just got a new camera because my last camera was *almost* destroyed on the GFS Baseball Roadtrip.  Our new camera has a “sweeping” panorama feature.  Here is my first use of the new panorama feature:

Not too shabby.

So we had three baseballs already and tons of time left during BP.  Tim wanted to stay in the shade and I didn’t have Kellan to hold or try to keep him safe.  So I decided to put on Tim’s 10 inch glove…

…and try to catch a homerun on the fly (something I have never done at Citizens Bank Park) while Tim sat in the shade at the back of the section taking pictures:

Tim LOVES taking pictures.  I gave him my old camera to use since I had the new one.  And he snap, snap, snapped pictures…until he finished the job of sending that camera to the junk heap.

I stood in the aisle next to Tim (sitting in the second seat) and ran around trying to catch a homerun.  But nothing came anywhere near us.

When the rest of the stadium opened to the public, we headed over to the pizza wedge:

Nothing came near us during the rest of Phillies BP.

While not much was going on, Tim noticed this camera:

I wondered if it was an MLB Network ballpark cam.

I noticed something interesting when the Phils cleared the field, three of the Phillies pitchers walked into the tunnel in the RF foul corner instead of walking to the dugout:

The transition from Phillies BP to Rays BP was odd.  The Rays were still stretching by the dugout when the Phils headed to the clubhouse.  They just kept stretching and stretching.  There was a lot of dead time before the Rays really started hitting.

Before the Rays started hitting in earnest, a sole batter started hitting.  It was Rays starting pitcher, James Shields…

…and one of his hits rolled to a stop directly below Tim (and directly below the “399” sign on the wall).  There were zero people in the OF shagging baseballs.  I had a feeling that we would end up getting that baseball once the Rays took to the field.

And we did.  Eventually, Hideki Matsui’s interpreter, Roger Kahlon (thanks to Josh Leuke identifying Kahlon for me on Twitter), walked out into RF and tossed a few baseballs back to the bucket.  He didn’t see the baseball all the way out by the dugout.  But I waved at him and pointed and the baseball and Tim.  That did the trick.  He turned and walked toward us…

…and tossed the baseball up to Tim.  Again, Tim made a nice catch.

Thanks, Roger!

After getting that baseball from Kahlon, we decided to resume the picture taking and homerun-catch-attempting.  We moved over to section 103.  Tim sat in the shade toward the back of the section and I stood in the aisle a couple seats down from Tim.

I had one near perfect chance to catch a homerun.  It landed about 15 feet from where I was standing when it was hit.  All I had to do was move down the stairs about 5 rows.  It was hit right to the aisle.  But…

…this guy with no glove standing in the aisle completely boxed me out as I tried to walk past him.  He didn’t realize he was doing it.  The ball was hit to the RF side of the aisle.  He moved to that side right as I was trying to pass him.  He literally pushed me right into the row and made it so I couldn’t pass.  He made no effort to walk down a few rows to make the catch.  While I was trapped in the row, another fan ran over and caught the ball on the fly.

That was my chance.  I didn’t come anyway near another homerun.

Toward the end of BP, we went over to the bullpen again.  Tim and I both noticed this plaque on the wall in the Phillies bullpen:

I’ve never notice that before.  Right after BP ended, Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo grabbed a baseball out of his equipment bag and tossed it up to Tim.  But he tossed it too high and I had to catch it, in Kellan’s tiny glove.  This is what the scene looked like:

As you can see, we also did a little sub-amateur birding in the bullpen.

Thanks, Jesus!

After Tim took a few more pictures, we headed for the upper deck to do some stadium exploring.  The first thing we noticed, right upon exiting the field level seats, is that the speed pitch from past seasons…

…is gone and a Chickie’s and Pete’s is no in the location of the old speed pitch area.  Chickie’s and Pete’s used to be in the concourse above the RF end of the bullpens.  This Chickie’s and Pete’s was not here at the first game we went to this season (neither was the speed pitch).  It’s too bad.  That speed pitch was pretty cool.

Our original post-BP plan involved getting some pizza and heading to the upper deck above the “pizza wedge.”  But then Tim asked if we could pull the old switcheroo – one of his favorite moves of the season – where we get ice cream first and dinner second.  So, we just walked around for the time being.

We headed up to the second deck and got two panoramas from section 206.  The first was using my camera’s sweep panorama function…

…and the second was an old-fashioned stitched panorama:

I like them both, but I prefer the old-fashioned method.

We ended up taking a long, round-about path to our favorite ice cream spot.  We traversed the upper-deck from the RF foul pole to third base.  Along the way, we ran into the Liberty Pig:

We found the other Phanatic pig (shown out of sequence) down by the kids’ play area during the game.

We ended up taking a flight of stairs down to the field level to find Tim’s ice cream.  At the top of the stairway, we stopped to get this panoramic photo of (what I have always considered to be) the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:

While heading down the stairs, we stopped off at the Hall of Fame suite level.  The guys guarding the door let us pop inside to get Tim’s picture with the wall of baseballs:

That wall of baseball runs almost all the way from foul pole to foul pole on the Hall of Fame suite level.  It is a whole lot of baseballs!!!

When we reached the field level, we grabbed Tim’s ice cream helmet, exchanged some tickets to a future game, and then walked to our seats for the start of the game.

Along the way, we stopped to get Tim’s picture with a card board cut out of the Phillie Phanatic:

The top of the first was just about ending when we got to our seats in section 104.  When the Rays took the field in the bottom of the first, Hideki Matsui was stationed almost directly in front of us:

Unfortunately, our seats were in direct sunlight.  I was fine with it, but Tim was not a fan.  He crouched down on the floor beneath our seats to eat his ice cream helmet:

While I watched Hunter Pence at the plate and Juan Pierre swiping second…

…, I knew we had to find somewhere else to sit.  Our seats were awesome.  But they just wouldn’t work for Tim.

I quickly spotted some seats that would work in the upper deck:

After Tim finished his ice cream, we ditched RF.

On our way to the upper deck, we stopped by the kids’ play area.  While we were there, the Rays scored 3 runs on a Ben Zobrist single, Jose Lobaton walk, Jeff Keppinger 2RBI double, Elliot Johnson walk, and James Shields RBI groundout.

After the play area, we headed up the escalator…

…stood in front of some mist-blowing fans in the second deck, and then headed up to the upper deck.

While walking over to section 427, I noticed that the pub in the upper deck has an incredibly apt pun-laden name…

…the High & Inside Pub.

While we were en route to our new seats, Jimmy Rollins hit a 2-run homerun to bring the score to 3-2 Rays.  We couldn’t see the homerun from where we were walking, but we could hear the crowd going crazy for J-Roll.

We ended up sitting in the back row of section 427, right under one of the light stands:

If we moved over a bit to see around the light stand, it looked sort of like this:

Directly behind us, there was a chain linked fence that looks out over the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:

It was pretty nice and relaxing up there in the shady upper-deck.  We kicked back and ate our pizza dinner.  Here was my beverage-eyes view of the game during our dinner:

The upper deck is often times a good spot for action shots.  In the bottom of the fourth, I captured Jimmy Rollins hitting a single to RF and then taking second on the throw to 3B:

Juan Pierre followed J-Roll and I captured him hitting the 17th homerun of his 13-year career:

It was a 3-run jobber that gave the Phils a 5-3 lead.

We were having a great time in the upper deck.  I took a couple self-portraits to capture the moment, but they didn’t turn out too good.  Here is the best of them:

And here is a random shot of BJ Upton at bat:

Tim was using my old camera to take a bunch of ballpark photos.  At one point, he turned around and started shooting photos outside the stadium…

…we saw a cute father-son scene going down out front by the Michael Jack Schmidt statue.  Pretty cool scene.  The funniest part was that this father-son combo were leaving the game in the fourth inning!  But they were obviously have a great time together, so it was pretty cool to spy on their good time for a few seconds.

I got another cool action sequence of James Shields pitching:

So we were having a great time in the upper deck.  The shady seats were really great.  But we couldn’t stay put for too long.  At one point, I noticed that the shadow of the upper-deck was reaching across the field from LF all the way behind home plate.

We stood up and tried to see if we could find ourselves in the shadows on the field.  But we couldn’t.

Then I realized how we could find ourselves in the shadows.  We had to go to the far end of the upper deck out by the LF foul pole.

As we approached the last section, we could already see our shadows out in LF:

Then we got one of my favorite pictures we have ever got at a MLB stadium:

Check out Tim’s shadow on the LF foul pole.  My shadow is in the LF grass just to the right of the shadow of the foul pole.

The view down by the foul pole is pretty good too.  Here is what it looked like while J-Roll grounded out to end the sixth inning:

Before heading back down to the field level, I snapped a picture of Tim with Center City Philadelphia in the background:

And then we headed down the switch-back ramp to the field level.  From the ramp, we stopped and took two panoramas using my new cameras *sweep* function, this one…

…and this one:

After running down the first two parts of the ramp, we stopped on the 200-level and took the big escalator back down to the field level:

We hung out and watched the action from the SRO area for a bit.  We saw Matsui fly out to LF to end the top of the 7th:

The kids’ play area closes at the end of the 7th inning.  So quickly headed over there so Tim could play for about 5 minutes.  And then headed back to the SRO area behind the 3B side.  We wanted to make an attempt at getting an umpire baseball.  It was going to be near impossible because the seats were still packed behind the 3B dugout and, of course, we weren’t even down there.

In the top of the ninth, we ended up finding some nice seats in about the 7th row.  It looked sort of like this as Jonathan Papelbon pitched to BJ Upton:

After retiring Upton, Papelbon gave up a single to Matsui:

Papelbon had not blown a single save opportunity this season…until this game that is.  Starting with a 2-run lead, Papelbon twice had the Rays down to their final strike.  The crowd was on their collective feet.  We were inching down toward the third row where there was a decently clear path to the umpires’ tunnel.  And twice Papelbon gave up RBI singles instead of recording the final out of the game.

The save was blown.  And we were heading to the bottom of the ninth.

The bottom of the ninth did not last long.  Jim Thome…

…pinch hit to lead off the inning.  And he hit a walk off homerun to end it.

I hate when closers blow a save and are then awarded the win minutes later when his team picks him up.  Well, that’s what happened with Papelbon.  He vulture the win from his teammate, Raul Valdez.

I should note that Thome’s homerun was a historic blast.  It was his 609th homerun, bringing him into a tie with Sammy Sosa at seventh on the all-time career homerun list.  Let’s hope Thome passes Sosa, but doesn’t climb any higher on the list (next would be the undisputedly better than Thome, Ken Griffey, Jr.).

But that’s not the sum total of the historic value of the Thome blast.  It was also his 13 career walk-off homerun, breaking a tie with Mickey Mantle and making Thome the undisputed all-time career leader in walk-off homeruns. (Note: Like Griff, Mickey Mantle was also undisputedly better than Jim Thome).

Anyway, we got into pretty decent position for an umpire baseball, decent for a non-Diamond Club attendee at Citizens Bank Park.  But Jim Joyce tossed all of his extra baseballs into the Diamond Club.

But we didn’t leave empty handed.  As the Rays relieves and bullpen staff made their way into the dugout, Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi tossed Tim our final baseball of the day.

Thanks, Scott!

By the way, in an interesting side note: we have been to two Rays games this season.  The Rays lost both of them on walk-off homeruns in the bottom of the 9th.  And Scott Cursi tossed us a ball as he entered the dugout both times.

So, thanks again, Scott!

Before we headed out, we had two different ushers take pictures of us:

It was a great reprise our 2-man team for this game.  Kellan will be back with us for our next game.  But I think I’ll definitely do at least one more *just Tim and Dad* game this season.  We’re a great 2-man team!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

13/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)
17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates
20 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3
75 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

14-Inning Affair in Philadelphia (5/1/2011)

On Sunday, May 1, 2011, Tim and I set off for Philadelphia and our first non-doubleheader game of the season.  Just like last May 1st, the Phillies would be taking on their division rivals, the New York Mets.  Unlike last season, this game was a night game.  In fact, it was the ESPN Sunday night game.

We arrived before the gates opened.  But there was a problem:  we were staring down 2.5 hours of batting practice, but while still in the parking lot we discovered that both Tim and I forgot to pack our gloves.  Oh, no!

But on this date, baseball gloves were not necessary.  With five lifetime baseball at Citizens Bank Park, we were about to have an unprecedented day.

Immediately upon entering the stadium, he headed to the LF corner and ran into former-Mariner, Raul Ibanez:


1 - Ibanez post toss up.JPGRaul gave us props for our Mariners shirts, and then tossed us a baseball.

Thanks, Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuulll!!!

After a few minutes, we abandoned LF and headed to the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye.  We checked out the empty bullpens (and noticed a Phillies BP baseball down below in the entrance way to the bullpen area), peered around the batters eye to watch some BP…


2 - citz bullpen.JPG…, and checked out the various displays that teach you how to grip the baseball to throw different pitches.

While behind the batters eye, they opened up the rest of the stadium.  So Tim and I headed to the corner spot in RCF (section 101, row 1, seat 1).  There is some extra space in the corner pasted seat 1, Tim literally “hung out” there:


3 - CF corner spot.JPGPhillies back-up catcher, Dane Sardinha, was shagging baseballs right in front of us.  While we were trying to figure out who in the world Sardinha was, Antonio Bastardo ran down a fly ball in straight away CF and then tossed us our second baseball of the day:


4 - Antonio Bastardo.JPGIt was our second baseball, and I barehanded it just fine.

The Phillies’ “Four Aces” (minus the day’s starting pitcher, Cliff Lee) were hanging out in front of Section 103…


5 - Four Aces Minus Lee.JPG…and Roy Oswalt was doing all of the shagging.

At one point, this groundskeeper walked by…


6 - Thanks Phils groundskeeper.JPG…and grabbed that baseball out of the bullpen entrance way.  He walked over toward us (by the way, RF was filling up, but for some reason, not a single person joined us in section 101), and tossed the baseball up to us.  Amazingly, without any gloves that was our third baseball of the day, in all of the games we’d attended with glove-on-hand, we’d never got three baseballs at a Phillies game before.

Eventually, the Phillies vacated the field and the Mets started taking their hacks.  Mets third baseman, David Wright, was putting on a show.  He jacked homer after homer into the bushes behind the CF fence.  In fact, we watched so many baseballs fly into the bushes, Tim found this little birdie in the bushes:


7 - lost birdie.JPGTim started telling me all about this birdie and his life and family.

By the way, this was our view of Citizens Bank Park from section 101, row 1, seat 1:


8 - Citizens Bank Park section 101, row 1, seat 1 panorama.jpgWhile hanging out in the corner spot, there was one close call with a BP homerun.  Some unidentified Mets batter hit a homerun directly over our heads.  It sailed about 5 feet over our heads.  In seat 1 of section 101, there is no second row and it was not possible to back up to try to bare hand the homer.  It sailed into the Phillies bullpen, bounced off of the back wall, and came to rest in the middle of the bullpen grass.

A little bit after 7:30, Cliff Lee headed out to the bullpen flanked by pitching coach Rich Dubee and bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo:


9 - Lee prepares for ND.JPGAs Lee started stretching, Dubee headed into the bullpen and grabbed some baseballs out of the baseball bag.  Tim asked Dubee if he could have a baseball.  Dubee motioned/shrugged as if to say, “sorry, we need these baseballs to warm up Cliff Lee” (it was a highly communicative shrug).  Dubee made eye contact with me and I pointed toward that Mets homerun ball that had flown over our heads.  Dubee nodded as if to say, “yep, that one is all yours.”  He then called to Tiamo and pointed to the Mets homerun baseball and then to Tim, “Give it to that little boy.”

After Tiamo carried out Dubee’s instructions, I snapped this picture of the two coaches:


10 - Dubee and Tiamo.JPGAfter Tiamo tossed us the baseball, Tim and I headed to the speed pitch:


11 - 26 mph gas.JPGThe fastest of Tim’s three pitches clocked in at 26 blazin’ fast miles per hour.  He loved the speed pitch.  On his way out, they handed him a ticket (everyone gets one).  He was sure it was some sort of award for pitching so far.  We wrote “26 M.P.H.” on the back so he’d remember how fast he tossed the baseball.

Just outside the speed pitch, Tim posed for this picture with the Tiamo-Dubee-Mets-homerun baseball in front of the Liberty Bell Citizens Bank Park sign:


12 - Tim and Liberty Bell.JPGAnd then it was game time.  On our way through the concourse, we stopped for some nachos and then reported to our seats in Section 140, Section 8, Seats 1-2:


13 - Citizens Bank Park section 140, row 8, seat 1.jpgAs you can see, Row 8 is really the second row of Section 140.  We got these tickets on stubhub and I really loved them.  Great seats.  Highly recommended.

It was a great pitching match-up for this game:  Cliff Lee vs. Chris Young.  Both pitchers were on their game.

After Jimmy Rollins drew a walk in the bottom of the first, Ryan Howard came to the plate ready to get the Phils offense going…


14 - Howard ready to mash.JPG…, but, unfortunately for the Phils, J-Roll got picked off to end the inning:


15 - Jimmy Rollins  picked off.JPGThe two leftfielders both had Northwest connections — Two-time former-Mariner Raul Ibanez for the Phillies and British Columbian and Gonzaga Bulldog Jason Bay for the Mets:


16 - Ibanez and Bay in LF.JPGRonny Paulino led off the second inning with his first hit as a New York Met, a line drive single to center.  But he was left on base when Jose Reyes…


17 - Jose Reyes at bat.JPG…flew out to Ibanez to end the inning.  Now, Reyes, there is a guy the Philadelphia fans really seem to dislike.

During the break in the action, Tim posed with his Raul Ibanez baseball and the Citizens Bank Park sign:


18 - Tim Ibanez baseball and CitzBankPark sign.JPGAnd for good measure, he posed with his vanilla cookies and the field:


19 - chilling and eating cookies.JPGAfter eating a pack and a half of these tasty vanilla cookies, Tim declared himself too sugared up to get ice cream!

During the game, Tim spent a bunch of time agonizing over his All-Star picks:


20 - All-Star Ballot.JPGThe game was 0-0 through the first four innings.  Then, with two outs in the top of the fifth inning, David Wright (another guy who Philadelphians really seem to dislike) hit a single and then scored the first run of the day on Carlos Beltran’s RBI double.

Between the top and bottom of the fifth, Tim and I ran over to section 138 so Tim could get his picture with Emily, the Phillies ballgirl:


21 - Tim and ballgirl Emily.JPGAnd while we were at it, he got a personalized autograph on Emily’s ballgirl card…


22 - Emily's ballgirl card.JPG…, which Tim put in his baseball card album along-side his Ichiro, Griffey and other MLB baseball cards.  When we got back to our seats, Tim showed his autographed card to all of our seat neighbors.

Between innings (not sure which innings), the Phanatic was ripping his way around the ballpark on his four-wheeler.  I got this cool picture where the Phanatic is in focus and pretty much everything else is blurred a little:


23 - speeding Phanatic.JPGWe’d get up close to the Phanatic later in the game.

He was giving up some hits, but Cliff Lee…


24 - Cliff Lee delivers.JPG…was pitching quite effectively.  The only problem for the Phillies was that Chris Young was pitching just as effectively, if not more so.

After a lot of work and careful consideration, Tim finished his All-Star ballot:


25 - All-Star Ballot Complete.JPGStill training 1-0, the Phillies missed an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Howard was left on base.  The inning ended in a bizarre fashion.  With Howard on 3B and Ben Francisco on 2B, Phillies catcher Brian Schneider seemingly checked his swing to work a full-count with two outs.  Finally, about 5 full seconds after the pitch, home plate umpire Jim Wolfe checked with his colleague over at 3B and Schneider was rung up.

It was the most delayed strike out call that I have ever seen.

And it was followed by the quickest ejection call I’ve ever seen.

Charlie Manuel came charging out of the Phillies dugout to argue with 3B umpire Lance Barksdale, I don’t think Charlie had even reached the pitchers’ mound when Barksdale tossed him from the game.  Charlie continued on his way to Barksdale and got his money’s worth out of the argument:


26 - Delayed strike out call Early Toss out call.JPGIn the top of the eighth, a Mets leftie (I think Ike Davis) hit a foul ball that skipped around in the crowd before being grabbed by a lady within 10 feet of our seats.  Here is a picture featuring my shoe for perspective:


27 - foul ball catcher nearby.JPGI’m sitting in my seat, and the foul ball was secured by the lady in the red hat three seats down from “Lee” (i.e., Lee, Manuel, Victorino, foul ball lady).

Right around this time, something odd happened.  I got a text from Avi Miller:

“In case they didn’t tell you at Phils game:  Obama making announcement tonight unscheduled.  Related to national security.”

Then a second text:

“Was supposed to be 10:30, but they’re still setting up so it could be any minute.  Speculation is it could involve anything like Gadhafi, Osama [bin Laden], or even Libya in general.  Who knows.  Has to be big to do a Sunday night sudden announcement.”

Then a third text:

“Multiple sources saying Osama is dead and in US control.  Will let you know.  Obama hasn’t spoken yet, but that’s what all the news sources are saying.”

While I was exchanging texts with Avi, fans all around the stadium were apparently receiving similar texts from their friends and family.  What an odd place to be, I thought, to learn big international news like this.

Meanwhile, life and the game went on.

It was getting late in the game and the Phils were down 1-0.  I was thinking about relocating over by the 3B dugout soon so we could try to get our first ever umpire baseball at Citizens Bank Park.  First, I needed a picture of us in our seats.  A guy sitting behind us was happy to help:


28 - TJCs in section 140 row 8.JPGThen in the bottom of the eighth, things got interesting.  The Phillies tied it up 1-1 when John Mayberry, Jr. scored…


29 - Phillies knot it at 1-1 in 8th.JPG…on an RBI single by Ryan Howard.

Then things go really interesting.  It started in LF, but soon the whole stadium was chanting “USA! USA! USA!”  I missed most of the best and loudest chanting, but I was able to capture a few seconds of it:

Obviously, something was up.  I texted Avi to see what Obama had to say.  His response:

“that’s why.  Officially announced and confirmed.  Osama dead.  Killed by bomb about 10 days ago, they were waiting to confirm body.”

Of course, we have learned over the course of the last week that a lot of the initial news about this event were incorrectly reported.  But the gist of Avi’s message was accurate:  President Obama had announced that U.S. Forces had killed Osama bin Laden.

Every once in a while, the chants came back:  “USA! USA! USA!”  A very memorable way to learn this news, indeed.

We decided to head over toward the 3B dugout.  It can be hard to get down into those seats because the ushers usually patrol it pretty rigorously.    But we slipped into the back row of section 130 with no trouble.  It was really windy in the concourse (it always is at Citizens Bank Park), and Tim was instantly freezing.  There was no one sitting in the last row of section 130.  So we slid by the usher, sat in the last row, and I instantly took off Tim’s shoes and helped him pull a pair of sweatpants over his shorts.

It must have looked like we belonged, because the usher never said a word to us.  Here was our view in the ninth and tenth innings from the back of section 130:


30 - 9th inning section 130 back row.JPGIn the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Howard crushed a fly ball to the warning track in deep CF field.  I was sure it was a walkoff homerun, so I grabbed Tim and we ran down the stairs toward the umpires tunnel.  But Howard’s hit died and was caught on the warning track.

Ooops…

We pulled up and grabbed some new aisle seats at around row 10.  Here was our view for the rest of the tenth and part of the eleventh innings:


31 - 11th inning section 130 10th row.JPGWe were so close, we could practically hear Jose Reyes ignoring the fans heckling him on the on deck circle.  Here’s what he looked like at the plate…


32 - Reyes.JPG…as the Phillies fans verbally assured Reyes that he is terrible and was destined to strike out.  Instead, he popped out to the catcher.

Finally, in the twelfth inning (at 12:01 a.m.), we made our way to the penultimate seats, second row behind the home plate side of the dugout (Section 129):


33 - 11th inning section 129 2nd row.JPGThe game just kept going and going.  No one could score.  Both teams seemed capable of advancing baserunners to third base, but that was it.  Inning after inning, third outs erased all of the would-be winning runs.

The Phillies fans needed something to inspire them to inspire their Phils to do something special.

Enter the Phillie Phanatic.  He hopped onto the 3B dugout and started running down the length of the dugout toward us giving everyone high fives:


34 - Phanatic approaches.JPGI stood up to get some big green, furry hand.  But as he approached, my hand was left unsmacked as I watched “something” whiz by me.

Inside my head I thought, “What was that!?”

I scan the field and wondered, “Are they throwing t-shirts into the crowd?”

I saw the guy immediately in front of me bend over toward the empty seat to his right, like he’s grabbing for a t-shirt on the ground or something.

But I didn’t see anyone throwing t-shirts!  “What’s going on!?,” I thought.

The Phanatic stopped at the end of the dugout and looked down at us…or, more precisely, at the guy bending down toward the empty seat:


35 - Phanatic immediately post incident.JPGThe guy got back up to his feet and his nose was spewing blood all over the place.  The Phanatic, the guys family and everyone watched as the guy stood there bleeding.


36 - Phanatic friends and USA guy survey the situation.JPG

The guy was not happy.  The Phanatic bent over, put his arm around the guy, and said something to him.  He (the Phanatic) then walked over to an usher about ten feet away, and said something to him.

The guy sat down holding his bleeding face.  I could tell he was fuming mad and...


37 - bloody and unhappy Mets fan.JPG…, as his blood dripped down the empty seat next to him, about ten ushers showed up on the scene.

An usher got someone in the Mets dugout to throw up a towel to clean up the guy’s face.  Another usher brought a bag of ice.  A medic-type-guy arrived and convinced the guy to leave the seats and go get checked out at the first aid station.  The guy reluctantly left.

Oh, by the way, he was a Mets fan.  After he left, the Phillies fans made numerous jokes at his expense.

Oh, by the way, while all of this was happening, Mets pitcher Taylor Buchholz struck out Phillies back-up catcher Dane Sardinha…


39 - Buchholz to Sardinha.jpg…for the third out of the bottom of the 13th inning, and then Mets catcher Ronny Paulino (who enjoyed a five hit night), tossed us Tim’s first ever third-out baseball.

Thanks, Ronny!

Now, back to the bloody guy.  The big question:  what the heck happened to him!?

I honestly don’t know.  I was literally the closest person to him when whatever happened to him happened to him.  But I didn’t see it because I was looking toward the Phanatic advancing from the 3B side of the dugout.  All I saw was “something” red whiz by (something that I initially thought was a t-shirt being tossed into the crowd).

I heard people muttering something about the Phanatic kicking the guy.  I don’t know what that means.  The Phanatic was running down the dugout giving out high fives.  Could he have accidentally got too close to the edge of the dugout and ran into the guy (who I believe was standing up at the time) at full speed?  I don’t know.  Was the Phanatic’s red leg the “something” that whizzed by me as I reached up for a high five (and was left hanging)?  I don’t know.

Bottom line, I have no clue what happened except that this dude was standing their one second, and the next second he was dripping blood all over the front row and the top of the dugout.  I did a search for news articles that might have mentioned the fan getting hurt and found nothing.  I guess I’ll never know for sure what happened.

For the rest of the game, these two guys were on hand-and-knee sterilizing and cleaning the area:


40 - clean up ailse 1.JPGThey had little boxes with biohazard signs on them.  They poured white powder all over the ground and sprayed a cleaning substance all over the blood marks on the seats and dugout.

Tim kept asking me why the guys were pouring *sugar* on the blood (they said it was an absorbing powder/gel substance that sucks up the blood) and telling me to point out to the guys that there was a peanut shell full of blood on the ground under the seat.  Tim is very observant when it comes to peanut shells.

Anyway, soon after Paulino tossed us the third out baseball, he hit the game winning RBI hit in the top of the fourteenth.  It was almost 1 o’clock in the morning.

It seemed as if the Phils were folding up shop for the night when they sent Cole Hamels in to pinch hit with one out in the bottom of the fourteenth:


41 - Hamels Hamels Hamels.JPGHe grounded out.

Tim was really, really tired:


42 - icky clean up tired boy.JPGBut soon, John Mayberry, Jr. struck out to end the game.  Tim was so tired that I was holding him as umpire Jim Wolfe approached the umpires’ tunnel.  I called his name.   He looked up and saw us.  He grabbed a baseball, and tossed it right to us.  But an extremely large adult fan in the diamond club section leaned over a railing, reached in front of us with his bare hand, and deflected the baseball right into Tim’s face.

That was all the half asleep boy needed:  he burst into tears.  The guy didn’t even notice what he’d done as he scrambled for the loss baseball on the ground.  Jim Wolfe, on the other hand, saw exactly what happened.  And he hollered at me, held up a second baseball and tossed it to me and Tim.

Thanks, Blue.

After we caught the second umpire baseball, the guy who had knocked the ball into Tim’s face had learned what he’d done from some other fans (generally everyone around was very sympathetic to poor little Tim getting nailed in the face) and he came over and apologized.

As we headed up the stairs to the exit, I asked Tim to hold up the replacement umpire ball so we could get a picture…


43 - I don't want to remember this.JPG…”so we can remember what happened to you when we tried to get that ball from the umpire.”  Tim replied, “but I don’t want to remember that!”

The picture and our little exchange about the memory actually helped a lot.  I think Tim was more stunned (and exhausted) than he was hurt.  After our exchange, he dried his tears and reverted to his usual happy little self.

Wow, what a day.  Our first non-doubleheader of the season ended up going 14 innings (and until 1 a.m.), we witnessed a memorable crowd reaction to the announcement about Osama bin Laden, we got a third out baseball, our first umpire baseball at this stadium, and 6 total completely gloveless baseballs (more than doubling our lifetime total of 5 previous baseballs at Citizens Bank Park), and we witnessed the mysterious fan injury as the Phanatic ran by giving high fives and all of the “biohazard” clean-up that followed.

Incredible.

2011 C&S Fan Stats

 

5/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)

6/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets; Kellan – none]

2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)

15 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets)

3/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – none]

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

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

1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)

1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)

2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]

*includes Spring Training

 

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