Results tagged ‘ Kansas City Royals ’

MyGameBalls.com Ballhawkfest 2012 (6/9/12)

June 9, 2012 was a fun day.  My folks were visiting from Washington and we all headed out to Pittsburgh for Ballhawkfest 2012 featuring an interleague battle between the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates or, as it would turn out to be, the Kansas City Monarchs against the Homestead Grays.

We had a full day on the 9th so we drove out to Pittsburgh the night before the game and stayed in a hotel.  The first order of the day was to play a little homerun derby.  PNC Park regular and mygameballs.com member Rick Sporcic had booked us an incredibly interesting ballpark called Officer Paul J. Sciullo III Memorial Field.  As you can see from this panorama:

There is a bridge directly behind/above the tall chain-linked centerfield fence.  And it was definitely in play.

The derby crew was small, but all the guys were cool.  In addition to me, Tim and my dad (my mom and Kellan played around in the shade in deep CF/RF), there was Rick Sporcic, his buddy Hunter Stokes, Ballhawkfest veteran Garrett Meyer, Ballhawkfest veteran Alex Kopp, and Alex’s dad Mark Kopp.

I was in the outfield most of the time and didn’t have my camera.  So I only got a few pictures, mostly taken by Tim and Garrett.

Here is Garrett taking some hacks against Rick:

I didn’t get any pictures of Rick hitting, but he was definitely the batting champ of the day.  In his second round, he hit approximately 800 homeruns.

Garrett got some cool pictures of Alex pitching to me:

I hit about 5-6 homeruns onto the bridge.  Several went to CF where the bridge wasn’t very far from home plate.  My best hit went to LF and I was surprised when it carried all the way to the bridge.  In the following photo, I’ve laid our derby park on top of PNC Park so I could see how far my longest homerun went:

I was shocked by how small the derby park was when I put it on top of PNC Park.  But, you know, any time you’re hitting a baseball over an outfield fence it is fun.

Here is another picture that Garrett took that shows one of my homers sailing onto the bridge:

One of the best parts of the derby (which I completely failed to capture on film) was watching my dad hit.  He was lacing some hard line drives all over the park and eventually hit one bomb to leftfield.

Good job, pa!

After two rounds of homerun derby, we finished up with Garrett pitching to Tim:

Tim put on a good show.  He even took some successful lefty hacks.

After lunch, we all headed over to a local restaurant.  Two noteworthy things happened at the restaurant.  First, the service was horrible.  We had to wait for our food…

…for close to an hour.  This ultimately resulted in our bill getting cut in half by the manager.  Second, Milwaukee’s Best, Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohanek, and his wife April showed up.  They missed the derby because they had a morning flight in from the dairy lands of Wisconsin.

After lunch, even with the long delay, we had a good chunk of time before the gates would open at PNC Park.  My folks, the boys and I passed the time with a visit to the Duquesne Incline:

Eventually, it was time to head to PNC Park.  PNC was Kellan’s 12th MLB stadium.  This was also my mom’s first game at PNC Park.  I’m not sure of her stadium total, but let’s see if I can figure it out.  I’ve been to games with my mom at: Safeco Field, the Kingdome, The Big A (as a kid), Dodger Stadium, Oakland Coliseum, Veterans Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Camden Yards, Fenway Park, new Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field, and Tropicana Field.  Okay, so my mom might be tied with Kellan at 12…but, then again, she might have been to the Astrodome with my dad before I was born.  Hmmm…not sure.

Anyway, as we approached PNC Park for my mom’s and Kellan’s first time, my mom and Tim got their picture with the Willie Stargell statue:

And then we met up with the Ballhawkfest crew, which now also included Rocco Sinisi from Cincinnati and Zac Weiss from Pittsburgh.  We joined in with the rest playing catch on Clemente Bridge:

When the ballpark opened, Rick took over and ended up getting all of us non-season ticket holders into the stadium with the season ticket holders.

Thanks, Rick!

While almost everyone else huddled up in LF, we got Tim’s picture with the Pirate Pig…

…and then headed over to RF foul territory:

RF foul territory is a pretty good spot to hang out in during BP at PNC Park.  A lot of the time over there, it was just us Cooks or us and Zac Weiss.

When we arrived Jeff Francouer was playing catch with a football in front of the 1B dugout.  He was a little past 1B and his partner was close to home plate.  His partner tossed a few balls past him and I kept yelling, “Hit me, Frenchie!  Hey, I got a tight spiral!”  He thought it was pretty hilarious, but didn’t let me get in on the football tossing action.

Charlie Morton tossed us a baseball pretty quickly after we arrived:

Thanks, Charlie!

About thirty seconds later, a Pirates batter hit a foul down the line.  I caught it on one big hop.

Shortly thereafter, Juan Cruz tossed a baseball to Tim…

…and Tim made a nice catch on it.

Right after throwing the ball Tim, Cruz grabbed another baseball and tossed it to my mom.  So everyone had a baseball already:

Double thanks, Juan!

I gave my glove to my mom so she could patrol the line with my dad and the boys:

My mom didn’t get any other baseballs, but my dad could 4-5 on the day.

It was a great time down the line.  In addition to a bunch of baseballs, we pictures with three players.  First, Tim (and sort of Kellan) got a pitcher with hard throwing Kelvin Hererra:

I didn’t know it before this game, but Jose Mijares is super nice and really likes kids.  He saw Kellan standing along the wall with his glove and walked over and put a baseball into Kellan’s glove.  Then he handed out some high fives to both boys:

Thanks, Jose!

I really wanted to try to get a picture with Yuniesky Betancourt and/or Johnny Giavotella (to whom one of my friends from New Orleans had asked me to pass along a message that New Orleans is rooting hard for his success).  They ended up taking some grounders together:

And then Giavotella came over and posed for a picture with Tim:

And I passed on the news that his home town is rooting for his success (which I imagine wasn’t too much of a shock to him).  He seemed like a real nice kid.

While the Royals pitchers were running sprints in the outfield, Greg Holland…

…fielded a batted ball and tossed it over to me and Kellan.

Thanks, Greg!

Then righty-former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt went on a tear hitting foul balls down the RF line.  I caught one of Yuni’s one-hoppers.

My dad got one of his that was sliced into the seats just behind the handicapped seating area.   And then Tim snagged one that Yuni sliced into the seats right where my dad had already got one from Yuni.  It was the first *hit* baseball that Tim had ever snagged on his own:

And he loved that it had a nice scuff mark from hitting the concrete.

Tim’s baseball from Yuni was our last baseball of the day.  Tim and Grandpa both wanted to see if they could get Yuni to sign their baseballs (they never got near him) so they headed over to the wall just past the dugout:

While Yuni never stopped by, Humberto Quintero did, and he posed for this picture with Tim:

Toward the end of BP, my folks went off to tour the stadium a bit…

…while the boys and I hung out with Matt Peaslee and Erin Wozniak¸ who we know through Matt’s Pittpeas MLBlog and met in person for the first time last year:

Matt and Erin are good people, and huge Pirates fans.  Follow Matt on Twitter and you will always know when the Pirates win a ballgame (NOTE: Matt just tweeted that linked tweet exactly when I typed this part of this blog entry!).

After parting ways with Matt and Erin, we grabbed some ice cream helmets and headed out to LF for a group shot with most of the Ballhawkfest guys:

Everyone had success and BP.  All told, I think we combined to snag over 50 baseballs as a group.  Not too shabby.

After the group photo, we headed to the picnic tables by the Alleghany River to eat our ice cream…

…do some ballpark birding…

…, and play some catch.

And then it was game time.  We had some lovely seats in the four row of section 137:

When the teams took the field, we realized it was Negro Leagues throw-back day.  The Pirates were sporting Homestead Grays uniforms and the Royals were representing the Kansas City Monarchs:

I thought both uniforms really looked great, with a slight edge to the Monarchs uniforms.  I really liked the look of the red and grey Monarchs uniforms paired with the Royals royal-blue spikes (shown below).

We had the first five seats on the aisle…

…, which worked out great for Kellan (as we’ll see below).

Yuniesky Betancourt kicked off the scoring in the top of the third inning with a 2-run homerun to LF:

I also enjoy seeingYuni do well.  A lot of Mariners fans like to rag on Yuni, but I’ve always liked the guy.  I liked him as our short stop.  And I like him for being an incredibly nice member of the brotherhood of former-Mariners players.

Good job, Yuni!

I was all set to catch a game homer…

…or to help Kellan catch a between-inning warm up baseball.  But neither came to fruition.

Section 137 is only about 6 rows deep and Kellan spent almost the entire game walking up and down the stairs between rows A-F.  A lot of the time, he hung out right at the fence:

While Kellan was playing in the aisle, Tim and a blast (as he always does) with this grandparents:

I thought this was one of the funniest pictures of the night:

Kellan was working a strong game with the ladies sitting out in LF too:

By the way, did you see the Elivs Presley guy sitting in row C?  That was his gimmick because we were sitting behind Pirates leftfielder Alex Presley.

By the way, I should mention that the Royals scored their third (and final) run of the night in the top of the fourth inning to go up 3-0.

But then the Pirates came charging back with five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning.

That put the Pirates up 5-3, and that score would stick.

There was an odd play late in the game.  I can’t remember who the batter was.  But he hit a single to CF that Andrew McCutchen totally booted:

The ball rolled to the CF wall giving the batter second base for free.  But the batter came flying around 1B and bit the dust  — face first into the infield dirt.  He had a retreat to first base and, because he didn’t take second, McCutchen didn’t get charged with an error.

Here is a look at the “Monarchs” with their royal blue shoes:

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Around the 6th or 7th inning, we headed to the pizzeria behind the left bleachers.  This big pepperoni pizza…

…was only $21.  That would normally be expensive for a pepperoni pizza, but for ballpark pizza, that seemed incredibly reasonable.  I was thinking a whole pizza would cost $45 or something like that!

After eating, we took a little tour around the upper deck.  We stopped in at section 318:

Where we finally got a good look at the front of the “Grays” jerseys:

My camera has quickly been turning into a piece of junk this season.  It completed the metamorphosis at this game.  Here is a great family picture that my camera completely ruined:

Tim grabbed onto his grandfolks…

…and we headed out to section 301 down the RF line:

This is what it looked like from the cross-aisle in section 301:

We then hustled back to our seats and watched the rest of the game from our seats.  The Pirates held on and the Parrot came out to *Raise The Jolly Roger*:

But our day wasn’t finished just yet.  After the game, the boys saw their first concert:

A washed up and reduced to 3-members, Boyz II Men.

All-in-all, it was a great day!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

12/11 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
19 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3
69 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 4, 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 Park

1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird

5/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Johnny Giavotella, Kelvin Hererra, Humberto Quintero; Kellan – Willie Bloomquis
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

2012 Cook GFS Game 4 – Orioles vs. Royals (5/16/12)

On Wednesday, May 16, 2012, we woke up for the last time in our St. Louis area Caboose and hit the road for Kansas City.  The drive to KC was pretty easy, just a few hours. Nothing like our 550+ mile trek from Minneapolis to St. Louis.

However, we had put the wrong address in our GPS, which resulted in us driving right by our hotel (literally right by it, it was right off Exhibit 18 on I-70), right by Kauffman Stadium…

…and all the way into one of the least desirable sections of Kansas City.  After figuring out our mistake and backtracking 20 minutes, we found our hotel and just rested in our room for several hours.  But our hotel time, I reconnected by phone with Royals season-ticket holder and myGameBalls.com member Garrett Meyer.  We’d met Garrett last season at Ballhawkfest.  Garrett knew we’d be at this game.  After catching up a bit, Garrett and I discussed gate times and the Royals “early-bird” tour.

After discussing it with my dad, we opted to meet up with Garrett and do the early bird tour, which gets you into the Royals…

…Hall of Fame (where we saw some cool stuff like this…

…) and then it gets you into BP way before the rest of the public.

Besides getting in early, the normal BP people have to stay in the outfield for a while once they are let into the stadium.  Meanwhile, the early bird tour people stay on the infield, behind the dugouts.  We set up shop behind the Orioles’ visitors’ dugout on the 3B line:

It was beautiful.  Our view looked like this:

At the beginning, Garrett was on the Royals side (where the Royals pitchers were warming up).  A bunch of fans wearing Orioles gear were on our side and they all seemed to be either autograph collectors or folks who just wanted some extra time to see the Orioles.  No one seemed to have any interest in getting a baseball tossed to them.  Also, if foul balls are hit into the stands down the foul lines, the usher will let you run down and grab it.  It was a crying shame that ZERO baseballs were hit into the foul seats (which is amazing).

Anyway, while the Royals were taking BP, several infields took grounders at SS and 3B.  The first group of infields included Alcides Escobar…

…and the second group included former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt.  Both the tossed stray BP balls to us on their way off the field.

Thanks, Alcides and Yuni!

A few Orioles were hanging around in the bullpen below us.  Since people were asking for autographs, I asked Tim if he wanted to get one of our new baseballs signed.  He did.  Dana Eveland was happy to oblige Tim’s request:

During much of BP, Tim played with ants that were crawling out of a little hole in the cement…

…and Kellan just walked up and down the rows like walking was going out of style.

At some point, Garrett came over to the 3B dugout.  I hadn’t even seen him yet when I noticed an Orioles coach standing by the Orioles BP ball bin start tossing balls out in the crowd.  He must have thrown 6-7 baseballs in a row.

Moments later, Garrett walked over to me and Kellan and said, “That Orioles coach is tossing a Camden Yards Commemorative to anyone who asks for one!

Kellan and I high tailed it down there.  He was no longer throwing baseballs, but was still standing at the ball bin.  I called out to him and when he looked up I was happy to see the face of former-Mariner Jim Presley looking back at me.

I asked for a OPACY commemorative ball, he dug around in the bin until he found one (I saw it too), and then he tossed *a baseball* to us:

(Photo taken after the game started)

I was thrilled!  I shouted out a big:

Thanks, Jim!

And then Garrett whispered to me, “it is not commemorative!”  He could see in my glove as I thanked Presley and saw the MLB logo on the ball he’d thrown.  I was utterly confused because I *saw* Presley grab a commemorative baseball and throw it to me.  Or at least I thought I did.

Garrett and I exchanged puzzled looks.  And then I got bold.  I called out to Jim again and asked (paragraphing), “Hey, Jim.  I don’t mean to be annoying, but is there any way I could trade this baseball for one of the Camden Yards baseballs?”  He looked up at me with a confused look and asked, “That one wasn’t one!?”

Nope.

I tossed it back to him.  He put it back in the bin and he tossed me a pearl of a Camden Yards commemorative baseball.

Thanks again, Jim!

Presley then walked away from the bin.  My dad and Tim had not heard or seen what was going on.  When Garrett, Kellan and I went back down toward the OF end of the dugout, I told my dad that he and Tim should give it a shot if Presley wandered back over to the bucket.

Well, wouldn’t you know, he did…

…and they did, and he hooked them up to!

Sweet!

Quadruple thanks, Jim Presley!

It was our first Camden Yards baseballs and my dad’s first baseball of the trip.  So it was a very special interaction with a first class former Mariner.

Moments after Tim and my dad returned with their Camden Yards baseballs, an Orioles fan was getting an autograph from Brian Roberts at the camera well at the end of the dugout.

Tim and I swooped in and capitalized big time:

In one fell swoop, we accomplished three things: (i) Tim got Roberts to sign his new Camden Yards baseball, (ii) he got his picture with Roberts (first ever picture  with an Oriole!), and (iii) Roberts held the baseball and gave a thumbs-up in the picture so it qualified for five points in the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

Thanks, Brian!

Tim was in a thumbs-up mood.  So he got a thumbs-up picture with Garrett too:

While the Orioles pitchers warmed up down the LF line (where we could only go if a foul was hit into the stands), three set of Orioles position players played catch right in front of us at the dugout.  When the final group was finished, Chris Davis tossed us his warm up baseball before walking back into the dugout.

Earlier in BP, my dad and I had a little bit of discussion with former-Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair.  Tim and I have had several nice discussions with Adair at Camden Yards since he joined the Orioles’ coaching staff.

Well, after all of the Orioles pitchers had warmed up down the LF line, I saw Rick down the line chatting with an O’s pitcher and tossing a baseball back-and-forth from hand-to-hand.  He was probably 150 feet down the line.  When he finished chatting with the player, I called out, “Hey, Rick!” and I flashed him some leather.  I was hoping he would make a big long toss throw to me.

Instead, he walked toward us.  He was on his way to the dugout.  It was clear he was going to give us the baseball, but he wasn’t into the long toss idea.  As he got closer, he was into Tim’s catching range, so I pointed to Tim.

Adair made a good toss, but Tim botched the catch.  It fell to his feet and he picked it up.  He’s actually botched the toss from Jim Presley too.  So he wasn’t having a gold glove day so far.  But he got the ball on his own, so it was all good.

Big thanks to Rick Adair!

Eventually, a friendly female usher who was chatting with us behind the dugout told us that the entire stadium was open so we could move around wherever we wanted to go.  My dad went to the team store to buy some baseballs (he buys a team or stadium baseball at each stadium he visits), Garrett went out into the outfield where we saw several Orioles air mail baseballs over his head, and Tim, Kellan and I headed down the LF line, but stayed in foul territory.  We took up a spot on the wall and watched BP:

Orioles pitcher Luis Ayala was running around LF wearing a huge, oversized glove.  From myGameBalls.com and other mlblogs, I know there are several guys around the country who use a “big glove” like this.  So I scanned the crowd, and soon we met Minnesota’s own Big Glove Bob:

I love that picture of Tim and BGB.  Bob has the face of a man stuck in the middle of Tim unfolding a long and overly detailed story.  I believe this particular story was about how Shawn Camp tossed Tim two baseballs the day before in St. Louis.  That was a story with which Tim regaled anyone who would listen while at Kauffman Stadium – notably, Garrett about five times or so.

Kauffman Stadium was great, but the setup of the seats down the LF line was frustrating me while we were down the line.  At some stadiums the seats in the corner are situated diagonally so the end seat in each row butts up against the fence.  In that type of row, I can block Kellan into a defined space.  But  none of the seats down the line at Kauffman Stadium butt up against the fence.  In fact, there is a huge amount of space in front of the seats.  So it was very difficult to keep Kellan near us without chasing him back and forth.

I decided we should go out to LCF so I could block in Kellan at the end of the bottom row next to the batters’ eye.  We ended up going out there for a very brief time, but the sun was right on us and it was too hot.

While we were there, Ronnie Deck and someone named “Flaherty”…

…were shagging fly balls in CF and LCF.

I placed my third or fourth call of the day to my “Orioles guy,” Avi Miller.  The call went like this:

Todd – “Hey, Avi, what is Flaherty’s first name”?

Avi – “Ryan.”

Todd – “Oh…wait, I gotta go.”

I called him back about 30 seconds later.  That call went like this:

Todd – “Ryan Flaherty just tossed us a Camden Yards commemorative.  Thanks for the assist!”

Avi – “Any time, sir.”

If you’re visiting Camden Yards or seeing the Orioles on the road, Avi is a good guy to know.   Well, he’s a good guy to know in general, I guess.

Thanks, Ryan and Avi!

That was it for BP.  Thanks for the early bird tour, we snagged 7 baseballs with almost no effort.  Not too shabby.

As we made our way toward foul territory, we stopped briefly at the bullpen.  One of the Orioles coaches was crossing the warning track grabbing stray balls.  Totally out of view, he tossed one right over me.  I didn’t see it in time to get my glove up and it sailed right into the fountain.

Doh!

While we were out in LCF, me and the boys met up with my dad and Garrett.  After BP, Garrett offered to take us to the only “Kauffman Stadium” sign in the ballpark, which is above the Royals dugout on the 1B side, so we could get a Kauffman Stadium bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.  Because of the Diamond Club, you cannot get from the 3B side to the 1B side on the field level without going up into the concourse.  While we were passing through the concourse, Tim and Garrett posed for a picture with the Royals pig:

There were a bunch of kids in the first row above the dugout and it was far from an ideal situation to get a picture featuring the Kauffman Stadium sign.  This was as good as we could do with Garrett’s assistance:

I took a second picture of Tim from the first row just in case the last picture came out horribly:

Then, we split off from Garrett and the boys, my dad and I headed up to the upper deck to try again from up there:

That one isn’t ideal either, but it was better.  Tim was pretending to be scared his heights while up there.  That’s why he isn’t smiling in the photo.

While up there, I also got this panorama from the front of section 420:

And then we walked the concourse a bit.  All the way down the LF line, we could see a classic spiral ramp and the KC Chiefs stadium next door:

We all headed down to the field level for the beginning of the game.  We got some great tickets on stubhub for way under face value.  This was our excellent view from section 112:

And this was the view of the first pitch of the game:

Fairly quickly after the game started, Tim wanted to go see the kids play area that I’d mentioned was behind the scoreboard in CF.  I didn’t know what all was back there, but I was up for checking it out.  On our way, we met Sluggerrr:

As passed behind the Royals Hall of Fame, we noticed that the crown on top of the scoreboard had little spikes on it.  We figured we ought to take a picture of it:

We also figured we should take some panoramas from the top of section 202 in LF:

And from down at the bottom of section 202, just above the LF fountains:

As we made our way to the play area, we ran into the Kauffmans…

…who were apparently very enthusiastic with their waving.

On the back of the scoreboard, the Royals have a big “KC” logo instead of a “Kauffman Stadium” sign:

There was one big problem with the play area:  it had too much fun stuff.  Literally, it was just too much.  Tim was really excited about it.  But I quickly realized we could end up spending the entire game there.  And I wasn’t too excited to spend our only game at Kauffman Stadium behind the scoreboard where I couldn’t see the game.

Here are two of the things we didn’t do:

On the left, that is a miniature golf course.  See how the ground is all wet in front of the mini-golf?  Well, we didn’t notice as we made the approach.  And then a huge blast of water flew straight up my pants.  I walked over a fountain set into the walkway exactly when it went off.  My shorts were completely drenched.

It was funny, but I could have lived without the comic relief.

Tim was really excited to play, but I had to limit him to the play fort thingy.  Mini-golf just takes too long!

The play area would be great if this wasn’t our first game at Kauffman Stadium.  It would be ideal for the down time between the end of batting practice and the beginning of the game.

The other non-ideal thing was that the play fort was a bit too advanced for Kellan.  So Tim played for a bit while Kellan and I just roamed around.  And I got this panorama from behind the scoreboard:

And soon enough, it was time to head back into the infield and grab some dinner:

We go the nachos and grandpa got the BBQ sandwich.  In retrospect, I wish I would have tried a BBQ sandwich too, but I missed out.

Actually, I basically just missed out on dinner because this was going to be our only game in KC and I needed to run around and see the stadium.  So the boys ate dinner with Grandpa and I took off.

I started by heading the LF corner and I got this panorama from behind section 104 – just on the CF side of the Royals bullpen:

Then I checked out the fountains…

…and the trough behind the CF wall, where a few people have jumped down to grab homerun balls.  I could see several baseballs down there.

I got this panorama from the walkway behind section 101:

Then I walked through the area behind the batters eye and below the scoreboard, and I popped out on the other side in the party porch:

I walked across the party porch and got another panorama from RF:

Behind the Orioles bullpen in RF, there is a bar thingy that I didn’t go inside…

…and I’m not sure if it is open to the public.

There are more fountains and less seating in RF than in LF.  There are also more statues in RF than in LF:

Here is one of my favorite panoramas that I got at Kauffman Stadium, from above/behind the fountains in RF (the thing on the far upper right is the bottom corner of the scoreboard):

I circled around that bar thingy and got this panorama from section 248:

Then I headed up to the 300 level (which I would naturally call the “second” level).  It seemed to be a suite and club type level, but it seemed that they let anyone walk through it.

I had a funny interaction in the suite level concourse.  I ran into a super-drunk Orioles fan who was also walking around the stadium taking pictures.  He saw me walking with my camera and thought it was hilarious.  We chatted a bit, and he had previously also lived in Pennsylvania.  He ended up taking a picture of the two of us.  I gave him a hugely over-exaggerated thumbs-up in the picture.  I imaged that the next day he probably scrolled through his pictures and scratched his head thinking, “Wow – I drank too much.  Who in the world is this guy!?”

Anyway, I got panoramas from section 321:

And another from the stairway between sections 315-316:

I noticed that this would have been the ideal spot to get our picture with the Kauffman Stadium sign:

Maybe next time!

By the way, although I never tried to walk into the Diamond Club, it seemed as if anyone could sit in any seat at Kauffman Stadium without an usher ever asking to see your ticket.

Next, I headed up to the upper deck and got a couple shots before my dad texted that Kellan was asking for me.  First, I got this panorama from section 419:

And this one from section 417:

After twirling my way down the spiral ramp, I noticed that there was a cool “Royals” sign on the exterior of the stadium:

When I got back to the seats, it was reaching twilight.  The scene in the outfield looked pretty cool with a pink water show going on in the RF fountains:

By the way, I should mention the game was 0-0 through four-and-a-half innings.  In the bottom of the fifth, the Royals finally found the plate, twice, on the strength of a Humberto Quintero single to CF.  That made it 2-0 Royals.

Soon, it was time for ice cream.  Tim, Kellan and I went in search of some ice cream helmets.  We finally found them behind 3B.  I was surprised to find that the Royals only offered vanilla soft serve.  I thought that was odd.  And it was outside of Tim’s chocolate wheelhouse.  But the Royals made up for it with a strong showing on the toppings front.  Tim got crushed Oreos and Tim got chocolate chip cookie dough topping.  And the toppings looked and tasted GREAT!

Here’s a pretty sight:

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to share in much more than a single bite.  I used the ice cream time to finish my tour of the stadium.

I started by running up to the .390 Bar & Grille on the second deck.  It was a nice looking restaurant with a big sign “NOW OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.”  Unfortunately, all but one of my pictures in their came out completely blurry. But the one that came out clear was the most important.  Here is clear was the most important.  Here is our view if you choose to dine at the .390 Bar & Grille:

Wait, I got one more good picture from the restaurant:

That’s my dad holding Kellan as he scarfs down some ice cream.  We had the first four seats in the row and Tim is off-camera eating his ice cream in seat number 4.

I left the restaurant and got this panorama from section 401:

I already had a panorama from the front of section 420, so I went for another from the back row:

As I circled behind the first base dugout, a Royal (I think it was Francouer, but I’m not certain) smoked a foul ball right to OUR seats.  I zoomed in to see if I could see if my dad got it…

…, which would have been really hard while holding Kellan.

He didn’t get it.  Actually, if you look right between the ballboy next to the “Firestone” sign and my dad and Kellan, you can see a guy (two rows in front of my dad) in a blue shirt and light colored shorts.  He is leaning forward with his hands over his head.  In his left hand, you can see him holding the foul ball.  That is darn close!

I kept moving and got this shot from the stairs between sections 425 and 427…

…this one from between sections 435 and 437…

…, and this one from the very last seat at the end of section 439:

My tour was essentially complete, but I got a couple more pictures as I made my way back to our seats.  I got this shot from section 230:

And this one admiring the big World Series trophy that is part of a sign for the Royals team store:

By this time, it was official, I was hardly spending any time at all in our seats.  And, frankly, it wasn’t going to spend much more time there.  It was very late in the game by this time.  Like the 7thor 8th inning.

Kellan had been in the seats most of the game and he was ready to move around.  Mere minutes after returning to the seats, Kellan and I headed to the cross-aisle.  We ended up stopping in a huge tunnel behind section 118 (right behind 3B):

Kellan had a great time running around in this cross-aisle.  It was pretty clear that the Royals ushers didn’t care what fans did in this huge open area.  Kellan was sprinting back and forth across the big piece of cross-aisle/tunnel real estate, and all we got were “oh, that’s adorable” looks from the ushers.

After a while, Kellan decided it was time to continue his hanging from railings strength training:

The game was still tight.  In the top of the 8th, the Orioles finally got on the board on an RBI double by Nick Markakis.  That made it 2-1 Royals heading into the bottom of the 8th.

But the Royals got the run back pretty quickly.  After two quick outs, Billy Butler hit a single.  He was then replaced by pinch runner Mitch Maier.  Moments later, Maier motored around the bases and beat the tag…

…on a double by Alex Gordon.

That made it 3-1 going into the top of the ninth.

With three quick outs and the Royals could tuck the win into their back pocket.

We decided to get a closer look.  Garrett had texted and mentioned he was in the fourth row in section 118.  I noticed that the usher were not checking anyone’s tickets.  So as the teams made the offense-defense switch before the top of the ninth, Kellan headed down the stairs and met up with Garrett.

This was our view:

View nice.

Garrett was sitting with fellow myGameBalls.com member Leiming Tang.  Like the seats, Leiming was very nice too.

But you know what wasn’t nice?  The Royals’ decision to bring in Jonathan Broxton to close out the game.  Living in the Phillies’ television market, I know a thing or two about Broxton.  Well, really I only know one thing, I HAVE NEVER SEEN HIM CLOSE A GAME SUCCESSFULLY.  Okay, that might be an exaggeration, there is a chance that I have seen him do it.  But I seriously do not remember that ever happening.

Guess what?  It didn’t happen at this game.

You know, I said bringing in Broxton “wasn’t nice.”  I take that back.  I had wanted to see two games in Kansas City, but the length of the drive to Denver wouldn’t permit it.  And, frankly, I had missed a lot of this game because I was touring around the ballpark.

So I think the Royals were actually doing the nicest thing they could for me.  They extended the game, and almost let me see two games in one.

So, I guess you can tell by now, Broxton blew the save.  He blue it BIG TIME.

He coughed up the first run on a homerun by Wilson Betemit:

That made it 3-2 Royals.

He then gave up singles to Chris Davis, Xavier Avery, and J.J. Hardy.  Hardy’s single was of the RBI variety.

Tie ballgame, 3-3.  Extra innings on their way, and so was a huge dose of hitting futility (or pitching dominance).

In the top of the 10, we were happy to see 5’7” Royals pitcher Tim Collins.  Like Tim Cook, Tim Collins also sports number 55:

He sat the Orioles does in order.

After the 9th ended, Tim and my dad came down and met up with us in section 118.

Tim entertained Garrett with story after story after story.  Every fifth story, it seemed, was about how Shawn Camp tossed Tim two baseballs the day before in St. Louis.

Garrett was great.  He handled Tim’s shower of stories like a champ:

A friend of mine from New Orleans had told me a day or two before this game that a local guy named Johnny Giavutella had just been called up to the Major Leagues by the Royals.  Well, Giavutella pinch hit in the 10th inning:

He came up empty in the 10th inning, but eventually went 1-3 on the night.

We had lots of time to chat and take random photos, like these shots by my dad:

In the 13 inning, Nick Johnson hit a double for the Orioles.  For some reason, the ball was thrown out of play after the hit, and it was eventually tossed into the stands.  Johnson’s double­-ball now resides at my parents’ house!

Sluggerrr came and visited our section to keep the game entertaining (just in case the duel of the relievers wasn’t entertainment enough for some of the fans):

Heading into the 14 inning, Kellan was ready for more baseball!

In the top of the 15th inning, Adam Jones took matters into his own hands:

He hit a solo bomb to LF (way out of there) to break the 3-3 tie.

Kellan continued to clown around with Grandpa during the top of the 15th inning:

And then Tim, Kellan, and I moved into the first row with Leiming during the bottom of the 15th inning:

Actually, Tim had already been down there with Leiming and Garrett – and he had been having a blast hanging with the guys.  They were both awesome and really made Tim feel like one of the guys.

It just so happened that we were directly above the umpire’s tunnel.  Our friend (well, we don’t know him, but he’s been friendly to us in the past) Angel Hernandez was behind the plate.  We were in absolutely ideal post to get an umpire baseball.  Leiming, Tim, Kellan, and I all had our gloves ready when the final out was recorded.  (By the way, Garrett had moved to see if he could get the final out baseball – he was unsuccessful).

As we prepared for the final out, I told Tim he needed to be sure he squeezed that ball tightly if Hernandez tossed him a baseball because it would fall back down into the umpires’ tunnel if he missed it.

After the final out was recorded, Angel Hernandez walked right to us.  We all called out to him.  He then looked at me and Kellan and said, “Let’s let the little guys get one first!” and he flipped a ball to me.  He then flipped a second ball to Tim, and Tim caught it!  Success!

Finally, he tossed a third baseball to Leiming before ducking into the tunnel.

Thanks, Angel!

With these two baseballs, Angel Hernandez has now tossed us a baseball on each of the last three Cook GFS Roadtrips.

A few minutes later, we got a late night photo of four happy Cooks:

What a night!  Tim and I tied the longest game of Tim’s life, and Kellan set his new longest game record as well.

As we drove back to the hotel, I looked back, snapped this photo…

…and wished The K a good night.  It was a great one.

The next day would be a travel day.  A long one, we would be driving all the way to Denver.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

8/7 Games (Tim/Kellan)
12/11 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals
11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2
42 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 5, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2
6 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3
7/6 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Brian Roberts; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
4 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts

Deep In The Heart Of Texas (5/29/11)

On May 29, 2011, Tim and I were back for a second helping of baseball at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  After the blistering weather for the previous night’s game, I was fearing this 2:10 p.m. afternoon start.  Fortunately, the weather decided to have a little bit of mercy on us.  It was hot, but not unbearably hot like the day before.

We reported to the ballpark about two hours early.  As we approached the third base gate, I snapped this picture of Tim:

It is definitely a nice looking ballpark, inside and out.

When we entered the seating around in foul territory down the LF line, we found an almost empty field and no batting practice.  It was not a shock, but it was a little sad.

The only players on the field were a bunch of Rangers pitchers playing catch down the RF line.  The first 2-3 rows were packed all the way down the RF line behind the pitchers.  There was no reason for us to join the crowd.

So, we wandered down to the first row along the LF line.  There were no Royals warming up, but there was…

…four baseballs and a little cone (like a training cone to run around or something like that) laying on the ground.  We had about two hours to explore the ballpark, so we figured we had a little time to relax.  So we just grabbed some railing and looked out upon the field.

Our patience paid off, within a couple minutes a couple Royals pitchers and coaches exited the visitors bullpen and headed toward the 3B dugout.  One of the coaches (strength and conditioning coach Tyrone Hill) veered off to his right, doubled back about 30-40 feet, grabbed one of the baseballs, walked over and handed it to Tim (as represented by the red arrow in the last picture).

Thanks, Ty!

Meanwhile, new Royals pitcher Felipe Paulino started signing autographs down the line near third base.  Tim and I walked over and Felipe signed Tim’s new baseball for him.

While we were waiting for Paulino, a lady (probably about 40-45 years old) ran up with a Rangers program.  She was all giddy.  Then, she cursed at herself for forgetting her pen.  She asked if anyone had a pen, and I told her she could use ours.  She was very thankful.  Then, when I noticed she was going to get her program signed, I told her to hold on and I’d get her
a sharpie out of my backpack.

She was very excited.  When she handed her program and my pen to Paulino, the following exchange ensued—

Lady:  “I love to watch you pitch!”

Todd (thinking):  “Whoa, why does this lady like a Royals pitcher so much!?”

Lady (accompanied by various giddy-squealing noises):  “I LOVE MY RANGERS!!!”

Paulino (with a huge “ROYALS” emblazoned across his chest):  “Thanks.”

It was hilarious.

Enough with that lady, it was time to explore this ballpark.  First, we headed over to the 3B dugout and got this excellent picture of Tim:

It was a day for panoramas.  And this was our first, from half way up the seats looking out at Rangers Ballpark from Section 26:

A lady was sitting nearby, and she kindly agreed to take this photo of us:

Next, we headed to the outfield and got this shot of the visitors bullpen:

The Rangers bullpen is situated parallel to the outfield wall in RCF, and is almost always in the shade (or at least the chairs along the back wall of the Rangers bullpen are shaded).  In contrast, the visitors’ bullpen is situated perpendicular to the outfield wall and is almost always in the direct sun.

And lest the visiting relieves might forget who they are facing, the Rangers threw a big Texas “T” logo between the mound and home plate of the visitors’ bullpen.

We walked behind the bullpen and circled around toward the seats in section 54.  Just behind the seats, I got this fairly unique looking panorama from the concourse:

As that last picture shows, there is a shady bench in the visitors’ bullpen.  So, sure, the visiting relievers can sit in the shade…of course, from that bench they won’t be able to see the game.

We headed down into the seats and got this panorama of Rangers Ballpark from the first row of section 54:

While we were down there, we noticed several stray baseballs lying on and around the bullpen mound (a couple of them can be seen in the picture above from the back of the bullpen).  I figured those baseballs would eventually become souvenirs, but no one was around at this point.  So we continued on our tour.

Here is a view from the concourse behind section 47 in RF:

And then we went way up high and got this panorama from section 345:

From the concourse above the first base gate, we could see the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium out in the not-so-distant distance:

And this was the view from above the home plate gate:

Before heading to the top of the upper deck, we found an usher who was happy to take this shot of us in the upper deck behind home plate:

And from the back row Section 326, Rangers Ballpark looks a lot like this:

The inner workings of Rangers Ballpark are pretty interest too.  Check out this weird little landing at the middle of a stairway down  from the upper deck:

The usher who took this next photo back in the field level…

…, was quite nervous that I would trip and send Tim crashing to the ground.  But she still took the photo and did not ask me to take Tim down.

We decided to head back to center field.  There was a parade of dogs going on around the warning track and Tim loved watching it:

NOTE:  In the bottom right picture above, the guy who is holding the big snow shovel (not full of snow on this day) is the same guy  who pitched to Tim in Rangers (whiffleball) Park the day before.

When a couple Royals moseyed on out to the visitors’ bullpen, Tim and I walked over to the railing at the bottom of the section.  Royals’ bullpen catcher Bill Duplissea walked over and tossed Tim one of the baseballs that we’d previously seen sitting on the bullpen mound.

Normally, players toss baseballs to me (because Tim usually is not wearing his glove) or they had them to Tim.  But Duplissea just grabbed the ball and tossed it directly to Tim (unsolicited) and Tim reached up and made the barehanded grab – his first barehanded grab ever at the ballpark.

Thanks, Bill!

As Duplissea walked away, I got this shot of Tim and his new prize:

He was very excited about making the barehanded catch and demonstrated his technique for me numerous times – i.e., his technique was to put his hands together like a bowl.

In that last picture, you can see the official line-up card taped to the wall of the bullpen.  Tim and I watched a coach (Foster) tape it up there few minutes before Duplissea tossed Tim the baseball.  I’ve heard it is somewhat easy to get line-up cards from the Rangers Ballpark visitors’ bullpen, so I asked Tim if he wanted to come back after the game to see if we could get it.  He did.

And then we continued on our tour.

Here is a shot of Rangers Ballpark from section 42 as Alexi Ogando (I just made up that spelling, hopefully its correct) warmed up in RF:

And another view from Section 36:

We’d seen enough of the ballpark, so we decided to go grab out seats out in CF.  On our way, we stopped by a little make-shift ice cream stand just inside the first base gate.  Walking by earlier, I had seen that they had novelty ice creams for only $1.00.  So Tim and I plunked two $2.00 and each enjoyed one of these:

As the umpires met prior to first pitch, we noticed the Rangers mascot (whose name I do not know) standing behind home plate with a little girl:

That’s a good looking mascot.  But I’m sure the Mariner Moose could take him in a battle of overall entertainment value.

Before we knew it, it was game time.

With two outs in the top of the first, Eric Hosmer strode to the plate.  I don’t follow the Royals closely, but it seemed like Hosmer is supposed to be some hot shot rookie or something, so I
figured I ought to take his photo.

Although my camera didn’t focus properly, I captured a very blurry shot of Hosmer right after he snapped his bat off at the handle in the course of flying out:

From our seats, I continued our stadium tour.  These windows, from what I understand, are the Rangers Diamond Club:

And just above the windows, are the Rangers retired numbers:

Note: both the Rangers and the Astros have retired Nolan Ryan’s “34.”

Early in the game, we dined on nachos and…

…placed a call to Colleen/mommy to check in.  In the picture of Tim on the phone, he is in the process of asking Colleen the same question over-and-over-and-over-and-over.  He was getting a little frustrated that she wasn’t answering him.  Noticing his frustration, I grabbed that phone and saw that he has unknowingly hung up on his mother.  No wonder she wasn’t answering his question!

This picture…

…shows the inning-by-inning scoreboard behind home plate.  Most stadiums don’t have a scoreboard like that behind home plate, but they should.  It was very convenient.

One of my main observations about Rangers Ballpark at this game is that its construction seems  to create a swirling wind in the centerfield grass.  It must blow right out of the stands and into center.  The result:

Massive amounts of garbage on the field.  That is actually right fielder Nelson Cruz with and at least four pieces of garbage in his area.

Almost every half inning, a bunch of guys in blue shirts would run out into the outfield and collect the newly deposited garbage:

So, anywhere, in addition to our stadium observations, food and cellphone calls, there was a game going on too.

As shown above, it was 2-2 in the top of the fourth.  The Rangers scored one run in the second on a Mike Napoli double that plated  Michael Young.  In the third, they went up 2-0 on a Ian Kinsler solo homerun.  But the Royals wouldn’t settle for just two runs in the fourth.  Instead, they scored five on back-to-back doubles by Wilson Betemit and Mitch Maier, which was promptly followed by a homerun by Brayan Pena.

The Rangers got back one run in the bottom of the fifth on a Napoli homerun.  But Ian Kinsler struck out to end the frame, and was then tossed out of the game:

Another somewhat unique feature of Rangers Ballpark is that the right fielders warm up between innings with the 1B line ball girl:

They do that same thing in Milwaukee – or at least they did when we visited Miller Park in 2009.

I got a cool action shot in the top of the sixth inning as Billy Butler grounded out to second base:

As should be evident from the angle of all of the above game photos, we were once again sitting in section 50 in centerfield.  In fact, we were sitting in the exact same seats as the day before.  Here is a shot of Tim as he stood and watched the action below in the bullpen:

To Tim’s left in that picture the chain link fence ends at a point where the bullpen wall bends.  At the end of the fence, there is a little open space where stuff can drop down inside the wall.  Someone had crammed a plastic cup down into the open space and it was filled it all sorts of nasty looking junk.  We figured we should join in on the fun, so Tim and I both contributed a few sunflower seed shells to the cup full of nasty junk.  In that last picture, Tim has his left hand up to his mouth while he is working on cracking a seed open — he’s still a seed-eating-rookie and needs to use his hand.

Just for kicks, I got this shot of Josh Hamilton at the plate — before he grounded into a double play:

Despite the pre-game dollar novelty ice cream, Tim still had plenty of room for a mint chocolate chip ice cream helmet:

At some point, former-Mariner Mark Lowe warmed up in the bullpen…

…, but he never came into the game.

In the eighth inning, we relocated to some aisle seats that had opened up along Greene’s Hill.  I as hoping for a chance to run out into the grass in chase of a homerun.  This is what it looked like out there:

But no homeruns came our way.  One did, however, land in the gap in right field:

It sailed into the gap around where the white shoe is sticking out over the gap in the above picture.  It was a two run shot off the bat of Michael Young that tied the game at 5-5 heading into the ninth.

Everyone was excited about the new life the Young homerun brough to the Rangers.  These gals (Rangers employees) showed their excitement in the form of in-unison flag waving on Greene’s Hill:

I would guess that Rangers Ballpark has more Texas state flags that any other ballpark has of its respective state flag.

While we were out by Greene’s Hill, Tim was making funny faces at this little kid…

…and it was cracking the kid up.  In fact, Tim was exciting the kid so much that his dad handed him off to his mom — “you deal with this honey.”  I felt a little bad about it.  But what was I supposed to do, tell Tim not to have fun and make other kids have fun at the ballpark?  Nah, the ballpark is about having fun.  So I let it continue.

The Royals quickly dampened the Rangers mood once again.  In the top of the ninth, they scored an unearned run off of Rangers closer Neftali Feliz.  The inning started off with Chris Getz hitting a double to RF.  He got to third when Nelson Cruz bobbled the ball.  Cruz’s error is the reason Getz’s run was unearned when he scored on a Alcides Escobar’s sacrifice fly.

While everyone else in the stadium was upset with the situation, I was quite happy.  A Rangers loss would be good for the Mariners.  But the Rangers still had other plans.  And they started with the would-be goat, Nelson Cruz.  Fresh off of his costly error, Nelson led off the bottom of the ninth by blasting a homerun into the gap in LF.  Tie game.

Tim and I decided to run over there to see if we could see the ball at the bottom of the gap.  But the lady who jumped to the side to avoid being hit by Cruz’s homerun ball told us that a guy (Rangers employee) had walked through the bottom of the gap and retrieved the ball.

Anyway, we ended the game with this view from section 6:

I would like to report that the Royals stormed back to take the lead again and win the game.  But they did not.  Instead, they lost the game on a ridiculous play.  After the Cruz homer, the non-fleet-of-foot Mike Napoli hit a single.  Joakim Soria (who blew the save when he gave up the Cruz homer) struck out Mitch Moreland and David Murphy.

That brought Elvis Andrus, who had replaced the booted Ian Kinsler, to the plate.

Elvis slapped a single by the first baseman and into right field.  It was a nice little hit that should have advanced Napoli to third (and no more than third).  But for some unknown reason, Napoli just kept running toward home plate.  Right fielder Mitch Maier relayed the ball to first baseman Eric Hosmer.  Hosmer turned and fired a strike to catcher Brayan Pena.  Napoli was dead to rights.  Napoli had not even made it to the dirt around home plate.  He was a good five strides and a slide away from home plate!  But instead of coming out in front of the plate to meet Napoli, Pena STEPPED BACK and opened up the plate for Napoli to slide in safe while Pena tagged him on the shoulder.  It was, perhaps, the worst bit of *catchering* that I have ever witnessed.

And it led to this unwelcome sight:

Another Rangers win.

Oh, well.  (The silver lining is that former-Mariner Arthur Rhodes got the win).

Anyway, there was still plenty of fun to be had at the ballpark.

Our post-game fun started off with a visit back to the visitors’ bullpen.  He went down to about the third row of section 54 and waved at a Rangers employee who was working in the bullpen.  As she walked over to see what we wanted, I asked if we could get the line-up card that was still taped to the wall.  As she went to retrieve it, I heard a voice from our right say, “Hey, I read your blog!  You’re Todd and Tim, right?”

Indeed, we were, I confirmed as I said hello to Frank.  Although we’d never met, I recognized him from a cameo Frank had made the previous month on Zack Hample’s blog.  Tim and I have only been *recognized* a handful of times and it is always a funny experience.  It was great to briefly meet Frank, and he very kindly offered to take this photo of us with our first ever line-up card:

Two show our appreciation (for the picture and for reading about our adventures), I *rewarded* Frank with two free taco certificates Tim and I had *won* at the previous nights game when someone-did-something (got a hit or an RBI or a homerun or something).

Hope them tacos were tasty, Frank!

After parting ways with Frank, it was time to go get in line for *FANS* run the bases day.  Yes, FANS run the bases.  Kids of all ages were invited to circle the bases, and I was quite happy about it.

As we walked toward the line circling up the ramps in the first base concourse, I turned back and got this shot of the RF concourse:

There are definitely a lot of interesting views of all types inside Rangers Ballpark.  And here is another of them:

It’s an extra-wide tunnel into the RF foul seats.  And I got this shot of the stars in the steel framing up high above the walkway along the outer part of the 1B side concourse:

When we entered the seating area again, the game had been cover for a while.  The CF trash collectors were off duty, but the wind was still working hard.  This was the result:

Unluckily, the infield was trash free, and that was where we were running:

A couple more bonus Fans Run The Bases pictures:

It is always great to run Major League bases.  I believe this is the 10th set of Major League bases that Tim has run, including (in no particular order) Progressive Field, Miller Park, Rogers Centre, PNC Park, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citi Field, Petco Park, Citizens Bank Park.

As we always do, we got the traditional post-run shot of the third base dugout…

…and the father-son on field shot:

Finally, it was time to leave Ranger Ballpark.  It had been a lot of fun.  On our way out, we got this shot (actually two shots put together) of the third base entrance and a big Rangers logo on the ground outside the entrance:

And just like in Houston, we ended it all with a fire hydrant shot, this time a nice shiny silver hydrant outside of the third base entrance:

2011 C&S Fan Stats
11/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)
12/2 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros and Royals; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles]
6 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies, Rangers (2))
35 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals)
5/1 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington; Kellan – Camden Yards]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Roadtrip Grand Finale: Royals at the Cell (8-17-09)

1 - royals chisox.jpgAUGUST 17, 2009:  Roadtrip Grand Finale

I’ve been pretty busy lately and I’m lagging behind with my game entries.  So, a little untimely, I present the grand finale of The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2009.

This was a big game for us.  Royals vs. White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on the south side of Chicago.  With this game, we could check the Royals off of Tim’s list and, at age three-and-a-half he would have officially seen all 30 MLB teams play live.  I was pretty excited about the accomplishment and I had a little something special planned.  Ever since watching Curious George receive a frozen ice cream “trophy” from Chef Pischetti, Tim has loved trophies.  And he’s asked me a bunch if he would ever be able to win a trophy somehow.  So as a surprise, I had a special trophy made for the occassion.  More on that in a bit.

We started out the day at our hotel by O’Hare airport.  It was nice not to have any long distance driving this day.  We decided to spend the day playing around at the hotel.  A little swimming in the pool followed by a little baseball in a patch of grass outside.  Here is a shot of Tim’s pitching motion:

2 - baseball at hotel.jpg

He headed to the game early to catch some BP.  The line to get into the parking lot was slow moving, so Tim and I hopped out of the car and played some catch in the parking lot while my dad parked the car:

3 - cell parking catch.JPG

We headed into the park and the Royals were already hitting.  We missed the White Sox completely.  That was fine.  My goal revolved solely around the Royals.  Because they were the 30th and final team for Tim, I had a goal of trying to get a picture of Tim with a Royal player and his Trophy.  More specifically, I wanted to get his picture with one of the three former Mariners now playing for the Royals — Gill Meche, Willie Bloomquist or Yuniesky Betancourt.  My ultimate goal was Gill Meche because he pitched (and won) Tim’s first game back on September 12, 2006.

My dad went off to explore the park a bit and Tim and I went down to the field behind 1B.  I scanned the field for Meche, Willie or Yuni.  Within a couple minutes, Willie ran out onto the field from the Royals dugout and started taking ground balls at 2B — his new primary position now that Yuni has joined the Royals.

We were probably 125 feet from Willie.  Any time Willie looked remotely in our direction, I shouted his name.  My thought was to simply get his attention and motion for him to come over to the stands.  My hope was that he would come over after taking grounders.  He looked in our direction a couple times, but there were no signs of him being inclined to come over.  BTW, I figured he probably thought I wanted to get his autograph.

Eventually, a batter hit a weak grounder that rolled to a stop in the grass about 20 feet into the OF grass between 1B and 2B.  After Willie fielded a fungoed grounder deep in the hole between 1B-2B, he ran over to the ball sitting in the grass, picked it up and fired it directly to us.

“Thanks, Willie!”

Here was our view (with the arrow marking the flight of the ball thrown to us):

4 - Cell 1B field panaramic.jpgWe certainly appreciated the ball from Willie.  But it wasn’t what we were looking for.  Unfortunately, Willie figured (whatever we wanted) the ball should suffice.  After he finished taking grounders, he ran back into the Royals clubhouse.

I then spotted Gill Meche in the OF, but there was no possible way to get anywhere near him.  I never saw Yuni on the field.  Alas, my goal of getting Tim’s picture with a Royal and his trophy failed.

But don’t worry, we survived the minor dissappointment.

After checking out the scene behind the Royals dugout and chatting with a stadium attendant, we turned our gaze to CF where we noticed this:

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The Man In Yellow — our MLBlogs friend and Milwaukee home run catcher extraordinaire, Nick Yohanek a/k/a the Happy Youngster.

I asked Tim if he wanted to go say “Hi” to Nick and we enthusiastically answered in the affirmative.  So we headed out there.  On the way, we witnessed Nick catch a homerun ball.

When we got out there, my dad was standing near by.  We said hi to Nick and introduced him to my dad, whom he had not met the day before in Milwaukee.  Nick then introduced us to a MLBlogger named Ben a/k/a Jerseyboy.  I didn’t realize at the time, but I knew about Ben.  He has a ridiculously huge collection of authentic MLB jerseys.  Something like 1,500 of them.  I was actually the first person to ever comment on Ben’s blog back a couple months ago, when I suggested he add a vintage Spike Owen Mariners jersey to his collection.

As we chatted, BP ended and then it started sprinkling.  We took refuge in the concourse where we continued chatting, I realized Ben was the guy with the jerseys, we sampled the U.S. Cellular Churos, and I took this panaramic:

6 - Cell 1B concourse panaramic.jpg

After a few minutes chatting in the concourse, the PA announcer told us the start of the game was being delayed for about 40 minutes.  My dad decided to go somewhere or other — probably the team store to buy a U.S. Cellular ball.  Tim, Ben and I decided to tour the upper deck so I could take some panaramic views.

On the way, I took this picture of the upper deck concourse, which due to the interesting lighting I thought looked pretty cool:

7 - cell upper deck concourse.jpgHere’s the view from behind home plate:

8 - Cell home upper panaramic.jpg

From the LF corner of the upper deck:

9 - Cell LF upper panaramic.jpgAnd the RF corner of the upper deck:

10 - Cell RF foul upper panaramic.jpg

On our walk from LF to RF, we stopped so I could buy some nachos and drinks (complete with League Policy violating caps).  We sat in the upper deck and chatted while Tim destroyed our nachos:

11 - ben jerseyboy.jpg

That’s Ben in the Royals’ jersey.  On the right, as we chat and Tim scarfs nachos.  On the left, chatting with my dad in RCF following the conclusion of BP.

Ben and I realized we share a common practice.  We both help ourselves to copious amounts of pocket schedules at each stadium we visit.  While walking the upper deck, we both filled our pockets with White Sox pocket schedules.  (Following the season, I think I’ll put together an entry showing the schedules I have collected this season).

Soon, the grounds keepers prepared the field and it was time for baseball.  We headed back down to the field level and parted ways.  Ben hooked up with Nick, and Tim and I joined my dad in our seats down the 3B line (not far from the foul pole).  Mondays are half price ticket days at The Cell, so we got a good deal on some good seats.

Here was the view of Mark Buerhle from our seats:

12 - buerhle.jpgBuerhle would not duplicate his perfect game performance on this night.

The lead off batter for the Royals was none other than “Willie Ballgame”:

13 - willie ballgame.jpg

Pictured above to the right is Willie’s first at bat in the first.  To the left, Willie took over at short stop a couple innings into the game after Yuni Betancourt was drilled by a foul ball in the Royals dugout.  Between Big Willie and Big Willie is a picture of the ball Big Willie threw to us during BP.

Early in the game (maybe even the first inning, not sure now), Tim wanted to play catch.  We headed out to the RF concourse as Yuni came to bat and fouled a ball off the plate:

14 - yuni.jpg

A few moments later, Tim and I were playing catch when Yuni yanked a bomb into the White Sox bullpen in LF.  Tim and I went over to check out the situation.  We could see the HR ball sitting in the bullpen.  So Tim hopped onto my shoulders and we walked down to the first row between innings to gaze upon the ball — and to be in position in case someone in the bullpen decided to toss it into the crowd.

As the bottom of the inning was about to start, we headed back up the stairs to resume our game of catch.  That’s when a *first* happened, I heard a voice:

Alex - “Are you Todd?”

Todd - (turning to see young Alex K) “Yes.’

Alex - (To Tim) “And you must be Tim.  Hi, Tim.  (To me)  Hi, I’m Alex.  I read your blog and knew you’d be at this game.”

Although I had previously recognized and introduced myself to several MLBloggers at games (specifically, Zack Hample and Nick), this was the first time anyone had ever recognized me and Tim from our blog.  I gotta say, it was somewhat funny and cool.  I like that MLBlogs has created a community of people who end up running into each other while out at the ball park.  And this game had a lot of them.

Anyway, I quickly realized that I had seen Alex before.  In fact, I recognized Alex from an article I’d read recently on MyGameBalls.com — click here.  Alex is a young Hample-in-Training and is already quite adept at obtaining baseballs at MLB games.  You can read about his adventures (including his baseball road trip that crossed paths on this night with our baseball road trip) on his MLBlog — RiverAvenue.  (By the way, up above in the picture of Nick in CF, Alex is standing a few feet behind Nick wearing his Royal blues — shortly after that, he would catch a homerun ball that is documented with excellent photos on his blog).

Alex and I began to chat a bit.  A few seconds later, Nick showed up.  Alex and Nick needed to get to work on their efforts at retrieving the Betancourt home run.  But first, we needed to get a picture together:

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(make that a picture with poor lighting).

Tim and I went back to playing catch.  This is where we played (with the arrow pointing to where Tim stood and the photo taken from where I stood):

16 - LF catch area.jpgAnd I took this panaramic view in LF:

17 - Cell LF field HR panaramic.jpg

After a few minutes, we headed back over to see how Alex and Happy were making out.  Right then, some White Sox batter blasted a home run into the same bullpen.  Tim and I ran down the stairs in the off chance it would bounce up to us.  But it didn’t make the seats.  Then a White Sox bullpen coach ran out and grabbed the new home run ball and threw it over Happy and Alex and into the very seats they’d just been occupying in about row seven.  The coach then gestured toward Betancourt’s home run ball with a foul look on his face.  He looked up at the crowd and plugged his nose like Betancourt’s home run ball stunk.  He then scampered back into the bullpen seating area.  It was a funny scene.

Alex then accompanied me and Tim to the ice cream stand where Tim and I got our White Sox ice cream helmets.  We then said our good-byes and Tim and I rejoined my dad in the seats for some ice cream and more baseball:

18 - south side ice cream helmet.jpgI decided to take some random shots of Royals — like this…

19 - royals in the OF.jpg …and this…

20 - royals pitching happyalexben.jpg

…I’d tell you who these pictures are of, but I’m not sure.  They’re Royals, but not former Mariners.  So its hard to say.  By the way, did you notice those three characters sitting in the second row behind the Royals’ dugout?  One of them caught a foul ball sitting there.  I’ll let you track down their game entries to figure out which one of them got the foul ball.

Tim got all jacked up on his ice cream and started having a blast in the seats:

21 - funny faces.jpg

After a bit, Tim and I decided to go check out the OF concourse some more.  We found a bunch of cool “trophies” out there:

22 - cf statues.jpg

RF to LF behind the batters eye: Luis AparicioNellie Fox, Walter Pierce, Carlton Fisk, and Minnie Minoso.

A portion of the batters eye has a cut out where the the camera men are set up.  I stuck my camera through the cut out and took this panaramic:

23 - Cell CF batters eye panaramic.jpgAfter hanging out by the statues for a bit, we headed back to the seats again.  I took a random shot of the bullpen:

24 - bullpen.jpgTim hung out on Grandpa’s lap and did some giggling:

25 - drizzly fun with grandpa.jpgThe White Sox were staked to a modest lead.  Bobby Jenks was warming up in the Chisox bullpen.  I realized the game was about to end and we’d never visited RF.  So, we took a last picture of Tim along the front row railing by our seats…

26 - tim and wet field.jpg

…and a shot of Jenks as he ran out to the mound…

27 - jenks to save the day.jpg

…and then we took off for RF so I could take this panaramic…

28 - Cell RF hr field panaramic.jpg

…we continued circling the concourse and ended up in the exact same spot where I’d taken the first rain delay panaramic while chatting with Ben, and we got there just in time to see Jenks finish off the Royals for the White Sox win:

29 - chisox win.jpg

It was time to head down to the Royals dugout for a little trophy presentation — Tim loved it:

30 - trophy.jpg

In case you cannot tell, the trophy says:

 

Timothy J. Cook

30 MLB Teams

Sept. 12, 2006 – Aug. 17, 2009

 

I love the picture in the upper left.  He is trying to make a 3-0 with his fingers to represent seeing 30 MLB teams…but he was having a little trouble with it.  He had to concentrate real hard.

So there you have it, our second annual baseball road trip.  It was, in a word, excellent.  With the exception of not getting a picture with a Royals player, the trip met all of my expectations and goals.  The most important of which is further detailed in an entry I posted immediately upon our return to the hotel after this game — Milestone Achieved.

I am now officially looking forward to The (Third Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.

Season Fan Stats:

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

21 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, and White Sox (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
22 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals) 
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
 
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry) 
3 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
9 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) – Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

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