Results tagged ‘ Ken Griffey Jr. ’

Mr. Davis and the Cooks at Safeco Field (8/5/2013)

Who was the first batter at the first MLB game you ever attended?  Personally, I have no clue.

But I can tell you that Frank Catalanotto took “strike 1″ when Tim watched Gil Meche deliver the first pitch of his first Major League game back on September 12, 2006.  And I can tell you that Luke French delivered “strike 1″ to Rajai Davis with the first pitch of Kellan’s first Major League game back on October 1, 2010.

Our goal has been to meet and get an autograph from each of those guys.  And on August 5, 2013, which marked the first full day of our 2013 Seattle vacation, we finally caught up with Rajai Davis.  Here is the story of that day.

We had four Mariners games planned for the trips.  On our way down to this one, we were happy to have Colleen “Mommy” Cook…

…join us for her first game of the season.

We arrived plenty early and entered through The Pen entrance…

…in left field.

At the outset, Tim hung out with Granpda while Kellan, Colleen and I headed out by the batters’ eye:

There were two baseballs in the grass out there and an usher eventually tossed one our way.

Thanks, Usher!

I then split off from Colleen and Kellan and headed over to the LF corner to check out Edgar’s Cantina.  It’s nice, but I’ll never really spend any time here for at least a decade or two because kids are not allowed in there (which seems silly to me since people drink alcohol everywhere in the ballpark…and all ballparks).  Anyway, here are a couple photos.  First, the view to home plate:

The bar:

And through the window looking into the visitors’ bullpen:

Someone hit a homerun into the Cantina while I was in there.  They put a net over the top of the fans during BP, but the ball still trickled down and made its way into the hands of a fan back toward the bar.

So long, Edgar’s, I’ll come check you out again once the boys are in college or something.

When they opened the rest of the ballpark, Tim and my dad headed to RF for a bit and Yoervis Medina tossed a ball to Tim.

Thanks, Yoervis!

Colleen, Kellan and I headed to foul territory in LF.  We had one major goal for this game:  get a special autograph from Rajai Davis.  I knew the 3B line would be our best bet to make it happen.

As the Blue Jays took the field, the scene looked a little like this:

The three of us went to the lower “X” on the far right side of the photo.  Davis was playing catch with one of his teammates and he was in shallow CF throwing to his partner just behind 3B.

I made a big sign (just like I made for Tim’s first batter, Frank Catalanotto) that read:

RAJAI DAVIS

AUTOGRAPH

PLEASE!!?

When I spotted Rajai out in shallow center, I yelled, “RAAAAAAJJJJJJJAAAAAAAAAIIIIIII” at the top of my lungs and held the sign high over my head.

Davis looked over and gave me a nod and a little “hold on a minute” hand gesture.

Yes!!!

I knew we were going to succeed in our two three-year old Davisquest.

After taking some fungo’d pop flies in LCF, Rajai made his way over to us (and my dad, who had joined us) took a lot of pictures:

Top Left: I’m showing Rajai the photo of the first pitch of Kellan’s first MLB game back on October 1, 2013.  The picture was already signed by the M’s starting pitcher, Luke French.

Top Right:  While a Rueters photographer snapped away, Rajai and I look up to track a ball after hearing the crack of the bat.

Bottom Left:  Rajai points at the picture and mumbles (as if half to himself and half to me), “Ah, Oakland A’s.  Luke French.  Yeah…that’s a good night for Mr. Davis.”  After the game, I checked the box score and found that Mr. Davis went 2-3 with an RBI and 2 walks on the night. Nearly everything went wrong that night.  The M’s lost 9-0.  Thankfully, the one thing that went right was that Rajai was retired on the second pitch of the game.  So Kellan started his MLB career with the Mariners throwing “strike 1, out 1” on his first two pitches.

Bottom Right:  Rajai signs the photo for Kellan.

After signing the photo, Rajai was super cool (and patient) and hung out long enough for my dad to snap a few more photos of us (in which, for some reason, Colleen tried to lean back out of the photo instead of joining us – silly girl):

Here’s a close up of Rajai and Kellan (and me since I was holding Kellan):

And here’s a photo I found after the game by search google for “Rueters Rajai Davis”:

That photo was posted on several sports websites around the world…I’m not sure why, but I won’t argue about it.

Finally, check this out:

How many people have a picture of the first pitch of their first MLB game signed by both the pitcher and batter AND photos with both of the players??  Not many, I am sure.  In fact, Kellan is the only one I know (we are still trying to track down Tim’s first pitcher, Gil Meche).

After our Rajai Davis experience, we headed further down the LF line for a while:

There were so many Blue Jays fans down from Canada that we stood no chance at getting any toss-ups.

Late in BP, Colleen and my dad stayed with the boys in the shady foul territory and I headed out to RF to try my luck at catching a BP homer.  It was really sunny out there…

…and I came nowhere near catching any homers.

Check out my dad, Colleen and the boys (you can only see Tim in this photo) hanging out in LF foul territory…

…behind a line of Blue Jays fans.  I’m pretty sure that there are more Blue Jays fans at BP at Safeco Field when the Blue Jays visit Seattle than there are at any Blue Jays home game.

On my way back over to foul territory, I stopped by the Mariners bullpen to check out the new setup…

…, which is the result of the M’s bringing the fences in for the 2013 season.  Last season, there was a tall chain link fence between the bullpen and the fans.  Now, it is just a low railings.  Much more access and less interference between fans and players.  I like it.

Here are a few views of the newly reconfigured LF area:

Lower Right:  Edgar’s Cantina from the seats next to the LF foul pole.

Lower Left: The hand operated scoreboard is now above Edgar’s and set back 10-15 feet from the field – it used to be right above the OF wall.

Upper Right:  Tim touching the LF foul pole.

Upper Left:  The new standing room area above Edgar’s Cantina.  This area replaces two sections of seating that used to be in LF.

Next, we headed off to the Kids’ Play Area for a bit:

Last season, we concluded that Tim wouldn’t be able to go in the play area this season.  This season, he was a smidge taller than the height limit, but they still let him in with Kellan – and he still had lots of fun.

While we watched the kids play, my dad posed for a picture with the Rajai Davis sign and…

…then I drew a “Hit It Here” sign on the back of the Rajai sign.

Before the game started, we headed back to the bullpen to watch Hisashi Iwakuma warm up for the game:

And then Tim acted like he was throwing this Pepsi sign on our way to our seats:

We made it to our seats in CF in time for Kuma’s first pitch to Jose Reyes:

And that’s when I noticed that one of the Blue Jays’ BP homers had busted the out-of-town scoreboard above the bullpens:

It was like this the entire game, but was fixed by the next day.

For most of the game, my dad and Tim sat next to each other…

…and Colleen, Kellan and I sat right in front of them, with me on the aisle seat.

The game was a pitchers’ dual with R.A. Dickey…

…going pitch-for-pitch with Kuma.

In the bottom of the second inning, Justin Smoak hit an infield Popfly that just missed hitting the international space station…

…and it almost went for a base hit, but for the last minute diving catch by Jays third baseman, Brett Lawrie.

In the second inning, Kellan and I set out on foot for a little adventure.  First, we headed out to the SRO area in CF by the Mariners bullpen:

Check out the shadows on “MarinersVision” in those bottom two picts.  The sun was streaming into the ballpark from low on the horizon across Puget Sound resulting in a shadow of the lighting fixture clock in LF being cast against the screen.

Next, we headed to the SRO bar area Edgar’s Cantina:

I guess, in theory, this is somewhat like the Flag Court in Baltimore or the LF corner in Cleveland, but it is much smaller and is partially covered with an overhang.  Not bad though.

Next up, we headed over to the Mariners team store, where Kellan wanted me to buy him a stuffed Mariners Moose thingy (which I meant to buy later in the week, but forgot to do)…

…and then we headed back to our seats.  By this point, it was the fourth inning and I had to shake my head at the fact that people were still arriving for the game!

In the bottom of the fifth, it looked like the M’s were getting something going.  Dustin Ackley led off the inning with a single.  After Humberto Quintero flew out, Brad Miller slapped a single…

…of his own.  But that’s all the M’s could muster in the inning.  Two more quick pop outs followed and the game went into the sixth inning with a scoreless tie.

Here are some random, mid-game cute pictures of Colleen and Kellan:

We held the “Hit It Here” sign a bunch when the M’s were batting.  But no one ever hit us with a homerun.

I had forgotten about this, but Mariners home games against the Blue Jays are usually annoyingly crowded.  I’m all for tons of fans showing up at Safeco Field.  But I’m not for tons of visiting fans showing up.  I don’t particularly enjoy hearing the crowd at Safeco Field cheer AGAINST the Mariners.  I get enough of that phenomenon when we see the M’s play road games.  When I Seattle, I like the crowd to go crazy IN SUPPORT of my boys in blue.  This was the wrong series to attend from that perspective.

Anyway, due to the large’ish crowd (at least large’ish for a Mariners Monday night game), the people running the play area handed out these cards…

…at the beginning of the game.  They ran 15 minute shifts throughout the night and Tim and Kellan (accompanied by Colleen) had their chance to play a bit more from 8:40 to 8:55 p.m.

While they were away at the play area, my dad came down a row to sit next to me.  Soon, a couple of my high school friends sent me messages that looked like this:

My dad and I made the Mariners broadcast with my “Hit It Here” sign.  I think that picture is pretty funny because (1) my dad is smiling like he knows we’re on TV, (2) I’m doing something weird with my mouth (maybe I was eating something???), and (3) Kellan’s cute little glove looks so tiny on the corner of the chair in front of me (next to my knee).  I only wish they would have put us on when Colleen and the boys were all there.  Tim would have gotten a kick out of that.  Oh, well.

In case you were wondering, he was the Mariners outfield for the game:

Michael “The Beast” Morse, Michael “The Condor” Saunders and Rauuuuuuuuuuuul Ibanez.

And, in case you were wondering again, here is the oddly cool green-based Ken Griffey, Jr. shirt that Tim wore to the game:

So, Justin Smoak led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a massive Smoak-bomb to deeeeeeep RF:

That put the M’s up 1-0 with only sixth defensive outs to go and Kuma dealing a gem on the mound.  I was feeling quite positive about the prospects for an M’s “W”.

But it wasn’t our night.  Kuma gave up a lead off triple to Brett Lawrie in the top of the eighth inning.  After retiring Josh Thole, Kuma gave up an RBI single to Jose “Jose, Jose” Reyes.  Tie ball game.

Funky Cold Yoervis Medina then came in and recorded the second out of the inning.  But then he gave up a single to Jose Bautista, a wild pitch sending Reyes to 3B, and a walk.

By this point, Tim and I were over by the Mariners bullpen…

…watching Oliver Perez warm up:

And just taking photos of the bullpen setup that was still very new to us:

Unfortunately, Perez gave up a 2-RBI line drive single to Mark DeRosa.  That put the Jays up 3-1, and that was the final score.

On our way back to our seats we were hopeful for a Mariners comeback (that was not in the cards).  We stopped along the way at what I think is one of the most unique spots in any MLB stadium – The Pen’s lounge area with open flames:

The boys love that spot.  Unfortunately, you cannot see the game whatsoever from there.

The M’s gave it their best shot, but couldn’t come back.  Final score 3-1 Blue Jays.

After the game, we got some family pictures before heading out:

While we prefer Mariners wins, it is always great to be at Safeco Field, and we left this game knowing we had three more opportunities to see the M’s win at this beautiful ballpark over the course of the week.

Go Mariners!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

20 Games                                                     
19 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers, White Sox, Braves
32 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 4, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4
93 Baseballs – Mariners 13, Royals 4, Phillies 19, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 3, Umpires 7, Reds 9, Nationals 3, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6, White Sox 3
11 Stadiums – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park
33 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, Rajai Davis
11 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo,   Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez, Rajai Davis

Cook & Son’s MLB Adventures (Vol. 1)

The offseason and January 1st are for remembering the past and looking forward to the future.

As far as remembering our baseball past goes, here’s a video that I made in 2010 that I absolutely love:

I really need to put together Volume 2 soon.

That’s all for now.  Go Mariners!

Tim’s Baseball Log

The offseason has been pretty quiet over here at Cook & Son Bats’ Blog.  But I have received a few comments lately about “my book.”  It is not your ordinary book, and I haven’t really discussed it much (if at all) on the blog.  So now seems as good a time as any to explain a little bit about “The Baseball Log”:

Pictured above, that is Tim’s (the original) Baseball Log in the middle and Kellan’s and my Baseball Logs on either side.

Tim was born in early 2006.  In October 2005, I was eagerly awaiting his birth when my wife’s grandmother passed away.  We had to drive down to Virginia for her services.  My wife stayed with her family for a few more days, but I had to head back to Pennsylvania for work.  Whenever I am on a long drive alone I do a lot of thinking.  On my drive home, I did a lot of thinking about all the fun times I expected to have with Tim going to baseball games in the future.  And I thought a lot about all of the great times I shared with family and friends at the Kingdome watching the Mariners while I was growing up.

Growing up in the suburbs of Seattle, I attended between 10-30 Mariners games a year while I was growing up.  I have a lot of very specific memories of those games:  Ken Griffey, Jr. breaking his arm making a miraclous catch in deep RCF, Game 1 of the 1995 ALCS, catching my only two live game foul balls, seeing Bo Jackson hit two homeruns in a game, Griffey’s 8-game homerun streak, Randy Johnson’s 19 strikeout performance featuring a monster bomb by Mark McGwire, Mike Greenwell singlehandedly beating the Mariners with a 9-RBI performance, a fan running out to CF to ask for Kirby Puckett’s autographs during a game, Nolan Ryan giving up a leadoff hit to Harold Reynolds and then pitching a complete game 1-hitter, and temporarily giving up on the M’s and starting to leave a game against the Yankees in late 1995 but running back into the field level seats in time to watch Griffey blast a monster game-winning homerun.

But for each of those specific memories, there are 10 games or more of which I have absolutely no memory.

As I drove, an unanswerable question came to mind:  “What is the Mariners record in the games I have attended?”

I have no clue and no way of figuring out the answer.

I needed to make sure my son didn’t suffer the same fate.  I wanted to make amazing baseball memories with him…and actually remember ALL OF THEM!  And in that moment while dwelling on that unanswerable question, I invented the answer:  The Baseball Log!

I’m good at tinkering and making stuff.  But I’d never made a book.  It took a lot of thought and planning.  I determined what I wanted to be included in The Baseball Log, and then I figured out how to make it.  I started with fancy resume paper, a thin slice of wood, a side of leather (that I had used to make a baseball glove), some glue, a needle and thread, a leather stamping set, and a computer and printer.  I put it all togther…

…and I made Tim’s one-of-a-kind Baseball Log:

For more than a year, Tim owned the only Baseball Log.  But I started thinking that other people out there might like a Baseball Log of their own.  So I did some research about online self-publishing companies.  I decided on “eBookstand Publishing.”  I did some revising and reformatting.  And, boom:  the “commercial” version of The Baseball Log was born.  I dedicated the book to the biggest baseball inspirations of my life at the time:

FYI, if I had decided to add one more item to that list, it would have been “Spike Owen.”  My original favorite player of all-time.  Curse you Red Sox for stealing my guy!

Anyway, here are the basics of The Baseball Log.  The overwhelming majority of the book is simply page after page after page after page of empty boxes for the owner to fill in their own baseball memories.  Here is a look at the first page of Tim’s Baseball Log:

As you can see, it has spaces for the date, line score info, site of the game, companions with whom you attended the game, and game notes.

I forget the specific number, but I think the commercial version of The Baseball Log has room to record approximately 1,000 games.  Here is a look at a random page of my Baseball Log, which includes Griffey’s 601st homerun, Felix Hernandez’s grand slam off of Johan Santana, and the first game of the First Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip:

NOTE:  The 3-4 games listed on that page are the last two games that I have attended without Tim accompanying me.

Of course, the Baseball Log has a couple pages for the owner to record his or her favorite team’s (hopefully, the Mariners) record in games he or she attends:

The top book in that picture is Tim’s Baseball Log, the middle one is mine (you can see I have attended two more Mariners games than Tim since he was born…and the Mariners won both of them), and the bottom book is Kellan’s (poor guy has only seen 1 Mariners win so far!)

I made one upgrade that I really like in the commercial version of the Baseball Log.  Tim’s book has pages for recording when Tim has seen each team play a game.  I reformatted those original pages into the “Touch ‘em All Checklist” where the owner of the book can record the date of the first home and away game for each team he has seen.  Below, you can see that I (and Tim) have seen every MLB team play a road game, and every team except the Royals, Cardinals and Rockies play a home game…

…we will complete this list in May 2012!

There are pages to record Hall of Famers who you have seen play in person…

…once some of the players Tim has seen play retire and are inducted into the Hall of Fame, he will be able to reference the relevant games by page number in the “Memorable Games” column.

I had one more idea that has never panned out…but I still love it.  My hope was that fan assistance office or front office receptionists at the various MLB stadiums would have “received” stamps that they use to stamp incoming mail.  If so, my plan was to get our Baseball Log’s stamped like passports…

…to date, I have yet to find any MLB stadium that had a stamp for our books.  I have discussed this with a guy in the Phillies front office and he loved the stadium passport idea.  Still, nothing has come of it.  But wouldn’t that be great to be able to get a stamp at each stadium you visit listing the name of the team/stadium with the date included?  I’d love that.

The Baseball Log also has spaces to record your favorite players by year, and a bunch of blank pages at the back for autographs (although we have never attempted to have anyone sign our Baseball Logs).

I’ll share one last picture with you.  When I self-published the book, I decided to make it a sturdy hard backed book — just like Tim’s Baseball Log — so it could (hopefully) endure a lifetime of use.  Because it is a hardback, I got to design a dust jacket.  As shown in the top picture, I used a baseball — one I snagged at the Kingdome — and I did some editing to remove the normal writing on the baseball and replaced it with “BASEBALL LOG.”  Here is a picture of the actual baseball that is pictured on the front cover:

I just realized tonight when I took this picture that I took the cover photo of the baseball on July 16, 2007 — exactly three years to the date before Kellan was born.  Awesome!  Makes me feel that Kellan had a little influence on the book years before he was born.

So, there you go:  The Baseball Log.

It is not for everyone.  In fact, it is not for most people.  Even most dedicated fans.  But for the right person, it can be really awesome.

If you happen to be one of the very few people out there who have purchased your very own Baseball Log, I hope you are really enjoying it.

If you don’t have a Baseball Log but would like one.  You can check it out here: http://www.ebookstand.com/book_cart.php?id=2133&order=cart — or here: http://www.amazon.com/Baseball-Log-Todd-J-Cook/dp/1589094719/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327373869&sr=8-1

Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2011)

On September 12, 2011, Tim had a rough afternoon.  He fell on the playground at school, banged up his knee, and had to go see the school nurse:

No fun.

But don’t you worry, things were about to turn around for young Tim.  Today was his Fifth MLB Anniversary and we were about to have an awesome evening of baseball at Camden Yards.

You might have noticed that Tim had a little turtle that he has been bringing to games the last couple months.  His name is “Shelly” (yeah, he’s a boy!).  Tim got Shelly at the Baltimore Aquarium the day after Kellan’s first birthday and he loves that little turtle like crazy.

On our drive to the ballpark, Tim devised a plan revolving around Shelly:

First, he wanted Shelly to get his first baseball at the game.  Second, he wanted to get a player to sign the ball for Shelly.  I told Tim we’d do our best to achieve these goals.

The first goal would not take long.  I bought cheap (super cheap) but good (really good) tickets on stubhub, but they were not “season” tickets, and we were running late and arrived after the ballpark opened and Avi Miller was already inside the ballpark.
So we were stuck in CF-RF for about 10 minutes upon entering the ballpark.

We wandered down into section 90 to see what was happening.  A few moments later, former-Mariner Chris Jakubauskas…

…saw me put on my Mariners jersey.  Jak ended up calling to one of his Orioles teammates who had a baseball.  The teammate tossed the ball to Jak and then Jak waved and then tossed the baseball to us.

Thanks, Jak!

Tim promptly declared that this baseball was for Shelly:

The last couple minutes before the rest of the ballpark opened to non-season ticket holders ticked by ever so slowly.  But finally we were permitted to make our way into RF foul territory and around home plate.  We were going to head down the foul line toward the LF foul pole.  By this time, the Rays were hitting and the Orioles had all exited the field.  As we past third base and the infield dirt, the batter hit a soft grounder that rolled to a rest in the grass behind short stop.  Rays pitcher J.P. Howell ran over from shallow CF, grabbed the ball, waved to us and made a long throw our way.

Thanks, J.P.!

Mere seconds after gloving the ball, a familiar voice came from behind us, “That’s J.P. Howell.”  It was our friend and future
Orioles Fan Hall of Famer Avi Miller.

Avi knew it was Tim’s fifth MLB anniversary.  Although he was wearing a Rays hat…

…, Avi announced that he had brought a Mariners hat in honor of Tim’s anniversary.  Very kind, Mr. Miller.

The three of us walked down the line toward the foul pole and a Rays batter hit a grounder down the line and directly to the on-field usher (Tom) who was standing directly in front of us.  Tom grabbed the ball and turned and gave it to Tim.  Big thanks, sir!

Avi headed back out into left field and Tim and I stayed put.  It was an unusually small BP crowd.  But after hanging out in foul territory for a bit, Tim wanted to head out into LF as well.

As Tim and I circled around the foul pole, a batter hit a baseball to the wall just below us.  There were really no fans anywhere around us.  When Juan Cruz walked over to retrieve the baseball, I said, “Hey, Juan.  Any chance we could get that baseball?”
Cruz looked right at us with a odd (but otherwise indescribable) expression, and then turned and walked away without saying a word.

So, we headed out to section 186.  Not too much was going on.  We chatted a bit with Matt Hersl.  We chatted a bit with Avi.  At one point, Avi asked if we knew a player’s name…

…it was Juan Cruz.  I told him that I was pretty sure it was Juan Cruz, but he’d given us a really weird look earlier so maybe I was wrong.  Hmm…maybe I’d call him the wrong name?

Nah…I looked in our little book where I record all sorts of stuff.  Yep, Juan Cruz had tossed us a baseball earlier in the season…and my list confirmed that his name was, indeed, Juan Cruz.

Eventually, someone hit a laser line drive homerun directly over our head.  I jumped for it and it probably sailed less than a foot over my glove.

Like two seconds, I heard someone yell (at us) from the field.  It was Juan Cruz!  I was utterly confused.  He was probably 2-3 sections over toward the LF foul pole.  He held up a baseball and pointed at us.  I wasn’t sure if he was looking pointing at us or someone else.  Tim was standing directly in front of me.  In fact, I had my hands on his shoulders as I looked at Cruz with a confused look on my face.  (A little backstory, I am incredibly terrible at deciphering what people with accents are saying, and Cruz is from the Dominican Republic, but for some reason it sounded like he was yelling with a thick southern accent).  He yelled
something that was completely indecipherable to me:

Cruz - “BLAH, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”

Todd – (confused) What!?

Cruz – “BLEE, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”

Todd – (even more confused and not even sure if he was yelling at me or someone else!) “What!?”

Cruz – “BLEE, CAH, BLAHHHH!”

Todd – (really embarrassed by this point) “What!?!?!?!?!”

Cruz – (pointing at Tim directly in front of me) “BEEEEE CAREFULLLLLL!!!!”

Ah, ha.  Finally, it all made sense — he didn’t want to hit Tim with his throw!

Todd – “Oh, okay!”

And then he threw me a strike.

Thanks (and sorry), Juan!

After the baseball from Cruz (already our fourth of the day), the main highlight of the rest of BP was that James Shields made a ridiculously awesome catch, leaping high over the wall in LCF to pick off a would-be BP homerun.

Wait, there was another highlight during BP.  Tim got his picture sitting in one of Camden Yards’ two orange seats (the one where Cal Ripken, Jr.’s 278th homerun landed), and then Shelly got his picture in the Ripken orange seat too:

Wait, again, there was still one more highlight of BP.  At one point, Tim and I were chatting with one of the Orioles regular leftfield ushers (Miss Kelly).  After attending a bunch of O’s games over the last couple years and hanging out with Avi and some of the
other LF regulars, Kelly clearly recognized us.  But I was pleasantly surprised when she actually knew Tim’s name!  “Wow,” I thought to myself, “If an usher knows us by name, I guess we are officially *quasi-Camden-Yards-regulars!”  I like it!

After the Rays cleared the field, the extremely small crowd of BP-goers cleared out of LF except for us, Avi and one or two other guys.  There were tons of BP homers strewn about the ground in the Orioles’ and Rays’ bullpens.

After a while the pitchers, catchers, and coaches headed out to the bullpens.  Former-Mariners pitching coach and current Orioles pitching coach was kind enough to toss us a baseball from the Orioles bullpen.

Thanks, Rick!

Adair also noticed our Mariners shirts and stopped to chat a bit. He asked Tim who his favorite player is (Ichiro) and his favorite pitcher (Tim faltered, but then agreed when I suggested Felix Hernandez).  I told Adair the story of my mom getting one of the Rick Adair prank t-shirts that Ken Griffey, Jr. had made during spring training in 2010.  He got a kick out of that.

After Adair left, another Orioles coach (or a guy who at least seemed to be a coach) came over and started talking to some fans and signing some autographs.  We decided to put Tim’s pre-game autograph plan into action.  It worked perfectly, and now we are proud to say that Tim’s little turtle Shelly is the proud owner of a baseball from Rick Adair bearing a personalized autograph from Orioles Hall of Famer Scott McGregor:

Nice!  Thanks, Scott!

It was getting close to play area time.  But we hung out for a few more minutes.  Eventually, Rays coach Jim Hickey entered the visitors’ bullpen:

There were still probably three BP homers laying in the grass.  Avi asked Hickey for one and he responded, “You’re too old!”  He then turned and weakly tossed a ball in our direction.  But it didn’t clear the fence and it bounced down into the stairway that leads from the back of the bullpen down to the bullpen bathrooms.  His second toss was on the money.

Thanks, Jim!

Interesting side note, someone else later tossed the other ball (the one that Hickey failed to get over the fence) to Avi.

That was it for our field-area pre-game festivities.  We’re typically pretty good at getting 1 or 2 baseballs during BP.  But due to the incredibly small BP crowd, we amazingly came away with six baseballs!  It was pretty crazy.

Aside from a game in 2010 when we got 10 baseballs (including 7 easter eggs), we had never gotten  more than 7 at a single game.
Interestingly, we had come into this game sitting on 191 baseball since Tim’s first game.  Coming into the game, I did not even consider the possibility that we would have a chance to approach the 200-plateau at this game.  But with six baseballs in our backpack, I began to wonder.  I jokingly told Avi that *all we needed* was to get 3 baseballs during the game to hit 200.
There was still no way I thought it could happen, but in the back of my mind, I thought it would be pretty cool to do it because Tim had gotten his first baseball on September 12, 2006 and his 100th exactly one year earlier on September 12, 2010.  How cool would it be to hit 200 on September 12, 2011?  Pretty cool, was my thought.

But enough with the wild speculations, we had a play area to get to.

Tim started out by posing for (another) picture with one of the big bird bobbleheads (this time with his trusty companion, Shelly):

And then he played like a mad man:

As play areas go, Camden Yards is always a fun one.  Lots of things to do and not too crowded to have fun.

As game time approached, we grabbed a hot pile of nachos…

…and our awesome $5.00 tickets from stubhub:

Actually, that view is from row four of section 10, and our seats were actually about 10-15 feet to the left in row 4 of section 12.  Anyway, the seats were awesome, and there was a constant possibility that the ballgirl would catch a foul grounder and give it to Tim.

I mean, check this out:

The ballgirl was sitting just on the other side of the guy in the blue shirt and blue hat.  She did get a grounder early and gave it to
the son of the guy in orange directly in front of Tim in that last picture.  But we didn’t stick around in these seats (we need our freedom to move around!) long enough to see if she’d eventually give Tim a foul ball.

Here’s an interesting picture:

I took it because the Orioles’ first base coach’s last name is “Kirby,” and that is also the name of our awesome black lab (interesting fact:  my wife and I met at a dog park thanks to Kirby!).  The picture is also interesting because it shows home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.  Cuzzi has given us a post-game baseball once before.  Hmm…I wondered if he might do it again.  We’ll have to wait and see.

The Rays got on the board first in this game.  In the top of the third inning, the Rays scored three runs on a 2-RBI double by Ben Zobrist and an RBI single by Sean Rodriguez.

Despite the awesome seats and very real possibility of getting a foul ball from the ballgirl, Tim wanted to roam.  And so, we roamed.  First, we tracked down the highly accessible Orioles Bird:

Then it was time to grab a 5th Anniversary ice cream helmet.  We decided to head out to LF:

Here is a panoramic view of Camden Yards from our very, temporary seats in section 80:

When Evan Longoria stepped to the plate, I sent Avi a less than prophetic text declaring that I was about to catch Evan Longoria’s homerun (note:  Avi, in fact, caught Evan’s first homer of the 2011 season).  In reply, Avi mentioned that he was sitting a couple sections to our left; over by the bullpens.  So, after Longoria failed to hit a homerun to me, we relocated to section 86, where Avi delivered on his promise to wear a Mariners cap in honor of Tim’s 5th MLB anniversary:

Over the next several innings, we sat in a lot of different seats in section 86, but here is just one of our short-time views of the ballpark from section 86:

We spent a lot of time during the game hanging out by the Rays bullpen.

Right below us during a big portion of the game, was Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi:

That hyper-crazy look on Tim’s face was induced by a three-pronged attack on his senses – chocolate ice cream, chocolate sprinkles, and chocolate sauce!  Only on his MLB anniversary!

I had no clue what Cursi’s name was, but Avi did and he passed on the info to me and Tim.  Had it stuck in my brain a little better, it
might have paid off in a big way.  In the bottom of the sixth inning (with the O’s trailing 4-1), Orioles catcher Matt Weiters hit a homerun that was hearing almost right to us.  But it was a tiny bit to our left (toward centerfield) and not quite far enough to reach us.  The homerun landed in the Orioles bullpen, bounced over the wall into the Rays bullpen, and right to Scott Cursi.  We were literally the closest people to Cursi at the time.  I wanted to ask him to toss the homerun ball up to us, but “Scott” just couldn’t get off of my tongue.  Before I could recall his name, he rolled the ball back toward the bullpen bench.  It rolled past the bullpen and to a police officer stationed at the other side of the bullpen.  The cop set the ball down against the back wall of the bullpen for a few seconds.  Eventually, one of the players gave him the “it’s okay” sign, and he tossed the homerun ball to a fan above the bullpen.  Shucks!

At one point, Tim went down a couple rows and visited with…

…Avi, Flava Dave (glove on head) and Tim Anderson (Markakis jersey).  In the picture above, Tim is taking great joy in pointing out the Dora the Explorer backpack in the Rays bullpen.

So, late in the game we were still sitting on 197 lifetime baseballs.  I continued to tell Avi in jest that “all we need is three more balls
before the end of the game” to reach 200!  But it wasn’t looking it was going to happen – and why would it?  I doubt we have ever got three baseballs after the start of a game before – certainly, we have never gotten three baseballs after the seventh inning stretch.

But this was Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary!  Magic was in the air!

In the seventh inning, Scott Cursi gave a baseball to a Rays-fan Dad who was celebrating his daughter’s first birthday game (hey, if it was also her first game, she has a great MLB anniversary!).  After he tossed up that  baseball, I called down, “Hey, Scott, it is not my boy’s birthday, but it’s a really special day for him.  Any chance he can get a baseball too?”  Cursi responded in the affirmative.  Then he walked over to his equipment bag (bullpen catchers always have a bunch of loose balls in their
equipment bags!), pulled out and examined two different baseballs, and then tossed one of them to us.

Thanks, Scott!

I was super-excited.  Could 200 actually happen on Tim’s MLB anniversary?  We relocated down by Avi and the guys next to the Orioles bullpen.  Avi had seen us get the ball from Cursi.  “Just two more!”, I reported!

In the eighth inning, our buddy Chris Jakubauskas started warming up for the Orioles…

…he was pitching to Orioles bullpen catcher (and Avi’s chum) Ronnie Deck.  Avi was optimistic that Deck would assist us in reaching the 200-plateau on Tim’s MLB anniversary.  When Jak threw his final pitch, he walked off  of the mound without waiting for a return throw from Deck.  Ronnie jumped to his feet, and I yelled out, “Hey, Ronnie, can we get the baseball, please!?”
Ronnie took 2-3 almost exaggerated running steps toward the bullpen bench, and then stopped on a dime, spun, and tossed us the baseball over the fence.

199!

Holy cow, I thought, this might actually happen!

We knew what had to happen.  “We’re heading to the umpire’s tunnel, I announced to Avi, Flava Dave, and Mr. Anderson!

Luckily, this was one of the least attended games of the season.  The crowd was particularly sparse with the O’s trailing 5-2 going into the ninth inning.  The ushers were checking tickets and we were able to take the ideal seats beside the umpire tunnel:

As the ninth inning progressed, Tim and I chatted with the guy who sits beside the tunnel and punches the buttons that displays the pitch information (speed and kind of pitch).  I tried my best, but I failed to correctly decipher a single pitch.

As the game drew to a close, I kept waiting for kids to storm the tunnel area, but it wasn’t happening.  Finally, Mark Reynolds struck out to end the game…

…and Phil Cuzzi walked back to the net behind home plate.  After the field crew quickly opened the entrance to the tunnel, Cuzzi stayed put.  He was waiting for his three colleagues to join him before he exited the field.

The mustachioed usher on the other side of the tunnel had brought a little girl down to make an attempt for an umpire ball.  But the little girl and Tim were the only kids in sight while Cuzzi waited for the other umpires.  I looked around expecting a flock of kids to run to the tunnel.  It never happened.

As Cuzzi ducked under the net and entered the tunnel walkway, it was just the little girl and Tim who were waiting for him.  I could not believe it.  Our 200th baseball seemed like a guarantee at this point.

First, Cuzzi placed a baseball into the little girl’s hands.  Next, he turned around and spotted Tim.  He reached out and placed a beautiful, rubbed up gem of a baseball into Tim’s (actually Kellan’s) baseball glove.

YES!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Cuzzi!!!

On the fifth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball, and the first anniversary of our 100th baseball, Tim held up his glove with a smile and displayed our 200th baseball:

I truly could not believe it.  Aside from the 7-easter egg fluke game in Cleveland, we had never got nine baseballs at a game.  It was like the baseball gods were smiling down on Tim trying to make his 5th MLB anniversary as special as possible.

Mission accomplished, baseball gods!

As the fans filed out of the stadium and the relievers made their way to the dugouts, Tim got a post-game photo with Flava Dave:

And then we spotted a couple Rays players lingering along the foul line wall.  He headed over there and Tim autographs from
and Tim’s picture with rightfielder Brandon Guyer…

…and third basemen Russ Canzler:

Before heading for the gates, we got a final Father-Son Camden Yards picture by the dugout:

When I looked back at the field on our way up to the cross-aisle, I noticed something funny – Brandon Guyer had jumped the wall and was standing with the fans (who I suspected were his friends and family) in the seats:

On the way out, we stopped on Eutaw Street so Tim and Shelly could say good-bye for the offseason to Ken Griffey Jr.’s deep RCF homerun maker:

And (okay, that other picture wasn’t the *final* father-son picture), I took a parting shot of Tim and I on our way out of the gates:

It is always sad when we know we will not visit Camden Yards until the next season.

Tim said his respects to Babe Ruth…

…and then we called it a night.

It had been an amazing…

…Fifth MLB Anniversary for Tim.

September 12th is quickly becoming one of my very favorite holidays!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
29/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)
19/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]
23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
91 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 6 Marlins,
1 Pirates)
13/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]
18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen,
Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star

The Ohio Cup (7/2/11)

I’ve been trying to get Tim and I to Comerica Park for a couple years now.  It has never seemed to work.  My original plan this season was to work it  into our Texas trip back in May, but the flights just wouldn’t work.  So we came up with a new plan:  Fourth of July weekend road trip to Cincinnati and Detroit.

Cincinnati was up first.  We hit the road in the evening on Friday, July 1st and drove to a hotel in Pittsburgh.  On Saturday, July 2, 2011 we headed off to Cincinnati to take in a game in the “Ohio Cup” series – Cleveland Indians vs. Cincinnati Reds.

But the game wasn’t until 4:05 p.m., and it was only about a four hour drive to Cincinnati.  No matter what, we were going to get there before the gates opened.  So, when we were about 50 miles out from Cincinnati, I called Colleen and asked her to look up the address for Moeller High School – Ken Griffey, Jr.’s high school (and, oh, yeah, Barry Larkin’s too)!

First, we pulled up to the scruffy looking practice baseball field (The Tom Fitz Athletic Fields) behind the school…

…where I imagined Griffey playing ball as a teenager.  We ran the “bases” (there weren’t really any bases) and took some lefthanded hacks (without a bat) at the plate.  Ah, it felt just like we were “The Kid” himself.

Up above a hill out in right field, there were really (really!) nice looking soccer and football fields.  It made me think that there must be other baseball facilities somewhere else.

Anyway, we pulled around to the front of the school and got a few pictures:

In the picture above to the right, Tim is pretending he is Griffey walking into school.

Just as we were able to leave, a guy exited the main doors (where Tim is approaching in that picture above) and started packing some stuff into a van.  I ran over and asked him if he knew where the baseball team plays.  He was very nice and we ended up striking up a 10 minute conversation.

It was probably obvious since we were wearing Mariners clothes and I was asking about the baseball fields, but I felt compelled to explain to him, “We’re ‘Griffey people.’”  His reply was priceless:  “So are we!”

It ends up that the guy was Griffey’s U.S. History teacher back in the mid-1980s.  He shared a handful of Griffey stories with us that were incredibly awesome to hear.  Nothing overly important or exciting.  Just tidbits about Griffey the high schooler and Griffey the man returning home after being traded to the Reds in 2000.  It was a cool behind the scenes glimpse at my all-time favorite ballplayer.

The least shocking story was that Griff wasn’t exactly a model student.  He apparently gave a lot of “I’m gonna play professional baseball” responses when prompted by his teachers to take his schooling more seriously.  They would remind him, “You know, lots of people say that, but it doesn’t work out for most.”  And as his teacher told is, Griff would always assure the, “but it IS going to work out for me.”

If were really the discussions (and I have no reason to doubt it), it certainly looks like Griff proved himself right.

One other story I thought was cool to hear is that Moeller used to use a baseball field a couple miles away that was behind a Thriftway store.  It had no fence and Griff would jack bombs over the outfielders that would roll and roll forever.  He was so good at it that his teammates referred to the field behind the Thriftway as the “Griffway.”

Oh, yeah.  And he mentioned that Griffey spent some time practicing on that scruffy field behind the school, but that’s it.  He never played games there.

And with that, lets continue on to Cincinnati.

Great American Ball Park is interesting.  Downtown Cincinnati (as far as I can tell) is essentially situated on a hill that runs down to the Ohio River.  Route-71 comes into downtown
and cuts across downtown at 3rd Street – at the bottom of the hill – just above the river.  The big downtown buildings are up the uphill side of 3rd Street and Great American Ball Park is tucked into the little space right between the buildings/3rd Street/Route-71 and the Ohio River.  If you park in downtown, you have to walk across the bridge…

…to get to the stadium.  (Those pictures were actually taken after the game…so everyone is walking away from the park instead of to it.)  In the picture above to the right, you can see that the ballpark is tucked between two buildings.  The building to the left the Reds front office and the building to the right is the main team store and the Reds (very cool) Hall of Fame.

Here is a look as you get closer to the stadium…

…and that picture to the left is a huge engraving (I guess that’s what you would call it) on the end of the front office building.

This approach leads you to the gates right behind home plate.  There are a bunch of statues in the area in front of the home plate gate:

In the picture above to the right with Tim facing the statue of the pitcher, Tim explained that he was being the catcher and he was telling the pitcher what pitches to throw.

When we arrived, it was still about 20 minutes before gate opening.  And it was really hot.  We scooted around to the third base gate, where it was somewhat shady, and we hopped in
line.  While in line, we spotted our first (of many) Griffey jerseys of the day:

After entering the ballpark and stowing our two new Dusty Baker bobblehead/toothpick holders, we headed to section 109:

The Reds were hitting, but they were almost finished, and the Indians pitchers were starting to report to the LF line to warm up and do some throwing.  BP got packed quick.  My hunch was that we wouldn’t come away with a baseball from GABP.  But after the Indians pitchers finished up throwing, an Indians batter hit a ball behind 3B that veered over into foul
territory where an Indians pitcher fielded it right in front of us.  When I asked if he could toss it up to Tim, he walked over and handed it directly to Tim.

As he walked away, I called out, “Wait!  What’s your name!?”  He reply, simply, “Tony!”  I thought that was pretty funny.  We’re on a first name basis, you know?  I later checked the roster and found that Tony’s last name is Sipp.

Here is a picture of Sipp walking away from us…

…and Tim smiling for the camera with his baseball:

Thanks, Tony!

Okay.  We had a ball from GABP and that was enough for us.  We’d only been to this ballpark once before so it was officially time to do some exploring.  We started by heading behind home plate, where we got this picture of Tim (again posing with his Tony Sipp baseball):

Tim looks pretty sweaty in that picture, but it is really water.  It was so hot that we kept dousing Tim’s head with cold water.

Here is a panoramic view of Great American Ball Park from the cross aisle right behind section 121:

Next, we headed down into the seats behind the third base dugout and got this panorama from the second row of section 117:

Although no one checked our tickets when we headed down into the seats behind the dugout, I got the feeling that someone was supposed to have done so.  There was hardly anyone in the seats behind dugout, but lots of people down the foul lines and in the outfield.

They definitely were checking the tickets of anyone who dared stand in the front row behind the dugout.  But they did let Tim stand there long enough to get this picture:

There is a big steamboat looking thing above the batters’ eye in CF and Tim requested that we go out there and check it out.  So that’s what we did…well, we tried to.  You can’t actually get out onto that steamboat unless you are part of the group that has the steamboat for the game.

So we just stood around in upper deck next to the steamboat for 10-15 minutes.  Here was our view:

One Indians player in CF was clearly having more fun than anyone else on the field.  I had no clue who he was.  The last group of hitters was only two guys and I am pretty sure they were pitchers preparing for their final interleague games.  They hardly got the ball out of the infield.

But they did get one ball out to the “fun guy” in center field.  He was way out there in CF.  After gloving the baseball, he started walking toward another player in LCF.  I didn’t say a word, but I held my glove up.  As he walked, he noticed us and he threw a laser to me.  It was an amazing throw considering the height and distance the ball traveled.

Here is “fun guy” and Tim with our first ever upper deck toss up:

I took pictures of the guy and tried to get a close up of his glove…where it appeared that his name was embroidered.  In the best photo, I could tell the first name was “Cade” and the last name looked like it started with “Dur.”  The roster told me that Chad Durbin now pitches for the Indians and Wikipedia told me that Durbin has a son named Cade.  So there you go, thanks are due to Mr. Durbin.

Thanks, Chad!

This picture taken later in the day illustrates Durbin’s impressive throw:

Interesting side note, the baseball that Durbin threw up to us is a minor league baseball.  It is so scuffed and dirty that it is impossible to read which MiLB league it is from, but it clearly appears to have the MiLB logo instead of the MLB logo.

Next, we headed over to the LF corner of the upper deck and got this panorama from section 406:

And then we got a picture of Tim from the same spot:

After running up to the top of the seats, we got this panorama from the top of section 406:

Next, we headed over into the infield.  We headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium and found a nice spot where we could get a good picture of Tim with his Chad Durbin baseball and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com scavenger hunt:

After climbing up to the top of section 510, this is what it looked like:

Zooming in, here is a look at the batters’ eye steamboat:

Tim was not feeling the tippy-top of the upper deck.  Too high.  So we headed down to the upper deck concourse.  I kept dousing Tim’s head with water.  When we visited the restroom after leaving section 510, Tim noticed his wet hair in the mirror.  Before leaving the restroom, he asked me to help him spike his hair up into a mohawk.  When we headed back
into the concourse, this is what Tim’s hair looked like:

Speaking of the concourse, this is what it looks like in the upper deck behind third base at Great American Ball Park:

It was time to circle the upper deck and take some more panoramas.  First, section 516…

…section 423…

…a picture of the two of us between panoramas…

…section 430…

…and finally a panorama from the cross aisle above section 436:

That was enough of the upper deck for us, so we headed down to the field level and got this panorama from behind section 139:

Section 139 is right next to the visitors bullpen.  This is what the bullpen looks like:

The bullpens were actually pretty interesting to me.  A lot of stadiums where the bullpens are not side-by-side seem to put the visitors’ bullpen out in the direct sunlight and the home bullpen in a shady area.  The Reds, however, did the opposite.  Pretty early in the game, the visitors’ bullpen was in the shade while the Reds relievers were still in the direct sun.

There is a great standing room area in CF just to the RF side of the batters’ eye.  Here is a panorama that I took from that SRO area just behind section 146:

We were in the SRO area when someone-or-other sang the National Anthem.  Just behind the plate, Mr. Redlegs and Rosie were standing with hands over hearts:

Mr. Redlegs is very similar to Mr. Met.  But if you ask me, Mr. Redlegs is hands down the superior mascot.  The Rollie Fingers ‘stache really sets him apart…as does his retro Reds hat.

We had seats in the direct blazing sun in RF so we started hearing that way.  As we walked behind the Reds bullpen, we noticed something interesting:

Aroldis Chapman was down there signing autographs.  Of all of the players at this game, Aroldis is the player with whom I most wanted Tim to get his picture.  While that was out of
the question, we were hoping Chapman would sign Tim’s baseball from Tony Sipp.  Soon after we arrived at the stairs up above Chapman, he called it quits and walked into a door opposite the bullpen.  We waited patiently.  And then he reappeared.  I called his name and I’m pretty sure that he only stopped because he saw Tim.

When Chapman stopped below us, he was holding a Gatorade-type bottle in one hand and he motioned for me to toss the Sipp baseball down to him.  At this point, he had the drink in one hand and the baseball in the other hand, he motioned for me to toss down our pen.  I figured he would just let it hit the ground and then pick it up.  But he showed some major hand-eye coordination by catching the pen at hip level with his index finger.  It was very impressive.

After he signed the ball and tossed us the ball and pen, I shouted out a big “Gracias, Aroldis!”  That put a huge smile on his face.  During this interaction (and while previously watching him signing autographs), we were probably 10 feet above Chapman’s head and it was impossible to chat with him.  Nevertheless, it was clear that the guy conveys a ridiculously warm/nice/pleasant attitude.  He really seemed like a great guy.

Here is a picture of the Chapman autograph.

Finally, it was time for the game to start.  We headed to the Skyline Chili stand right behind section 103 and grabbed some nachos and a cheese coney…

…and then we headed down to our seats in section 103.  This was our view from section 103, row C, seats 13-14:

It was crazy hot in our seats.  I could tell that we wouldn’t be able to stay in these seats for too long, which was unfortunate because they were great seats.  But I knew we’d last at least a couple innings because Tim was going to town on our big pile of nachos:

It was good to see the Reds play again.  We haven’t seen them since 2008, Griffey’s last year with the Reds.  During his time in Cincinnati, I watched tons and tons of Reds games.  They have a lot of new players since then, and a lot of players that were there in 2008, but have really matured over the past several years.  Like this guy…

…2010 N.L. MVP Joey Votto.  In that at bat, Votto is about to ground out in the first inning.

This was a low scoring game.  The pitching match-up was Fausto Carmona vs. Homer Bailey.  We sat in our assigned seats through the second inning and the score was 0-0.

We were overheating (well, Tim was), so we headed to the standing room area in RCF which is set up as a big misting station.  It really felt amazing in there.  We stayed under the
mist-sprayers for a long time and we got soaked:

Meanwhile, former-Mariner Mickey Brantley’s son Michael Brantley hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the third inning.  That would be all the runs that the Indians would score during this game, and it was all they would need to win.

While we were interested in the game, we were just as interested in seeing as much of Great American Ball Park as we could.  After we were thoroughly misted, we decided to head in the opposite direction of our seats and keep exploring.

As we headed toward the 3B side concourse, we looked up and took this shot of the big toothbrush-style light stands:

We lingered in the SRO area behind section 118 for a while.  It looked like this:

And then we cut through the concourse and found a nice standing room spot behind section 130:

Aside from the Brantley bomb, Homer Bailey was looking pretty good:

An inning after the homerun, Bailey had no problem retiring Brantley on a weak pop up to short stop:

We decided to wander aimlessly around the ballpark and it quickly paid dividends.  We ran into both Slider (the visiting Cleveland Indians mascot) and Gapper (the “B-list” Reds mascot…or at least that is how I would rank him compared to Mr. Redlegs):

In the concourse behind home plate, there is a really cool looking Reds logo set into the floor:

And some cool (and really big) mosaic pictures on the wall…

…check out Ken Griffey, Sr. in the mosaic to the left (of course, Sr. (wearing number 30) was an instrumental part of the “Big Red Machine” back in the day).  Junior has got the Hall of Fame stats, but Senior has got the rings (2 of them).

Behind section 119, there is a big staircase that is mostly blocked off and is used as a SRO area:

That’s where we were standing in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jay Bruce…

…flied out to CF.  I would have got a great action shot of the Grady Sizemore and Austin Kearns running into each other just before Sizemore made the catch, but a lady walked into my pitch and totally ruined it.  Booo!

We decided to stop by at this little bouncy house/slide thingy…

…on our way to the very impressive Reds team store:

Two notes: in the upper right picture, that is a game-used Dusty Baker jersey Tim is pointing to with his thumb and in the bottom right picture Tim is throwing a one-seamer on the
baseball seams on the floor of the team store.

Upstairs in the game-used area, we found this cool old Big Red Machine black-and-white photo on the wall…

…which again features Ken Griffey, Sr. (wearing number 30).  Lets see if I can name the rest of the Big Red Machine (from left-to-right):  Pete Rose, Ken Griffey Sr., Joe “Everyone’s Favorite Broadcaster” Morgan, Tony Perez, George Foster, Johnny Bench, Cesar Geronimo, and Dave Concepcion.

After perusing the team store, we headed over to section 126…

…but just for a minute.  We had our sights on ice cream helmets.  So we headed toward the first base side concourse where we had got our ice cream helmets back in 2008.  As we approached the ice cream place, Mr. Redlegs was approaching walking in the opposite direction.  I asked Mr. Redlegs if he could pose for a picture with Tim.   Mr. Redlegs’ handler
shut us down explaining, “we’re in a rush to get somewhere.”  But Mr. Redlegs was having none of it.  He leaned in and gave Tim a big hug:

Awesome!  Thanks, Mr. Redlegs!

The ice cream helmet line was ridiculous.  It was as if every fan at the game was in line.  We were in line for at least a full inning.  But when we got to the front of the line, it was worth the wait.  They had about 6 (maybe 8) toppings, and they were free and unlimited!

We both got twist soft serves.  Tim got smashed up M&M’s with whipped cream and a cherry (which he got specifically to give to me) and I got smashed up Reese’s pieces.  Delicious.

We reported back to our seats (well, our section at least) to eat our ice cream in the hot sun:

Just for kicks, we got this shot of Tim smiling with a belly full of ice cream:

It was still too hot to stay in our seats for too long.  So we headed back to the misting SRO in RCF.  On our way, we noticed that the Reds had a reliever warming up in the bullpen:

As I watched the game from the front of the SRO area, Tim whipped a wet wipe (from ice cream face clean up) around in the sunny mist trying to make rainbows in the mist:

It is pretty interesting watching the game from this SRO area.  Sometimes it looks like you are watching the game on a HD television.  But at other times, it looks like you are watching it through a thick fog (or mist) or a light fog:

That’s our buddy Tony Sipp pitching in those last two pictures.  He gave up a solo homerun to Joey Votto, but still earned a “hold.”

Here is what it looked like in the SRO area behind section 145 when the mist was blowing in the opposite direction:

We were going to stay at a hotel 3.5 hours north in Toledo, Ohio after this game.  So we decided to head over to the SRO areas behind home plate to watch the end of the game.  The plan was to make a quick exit once the game ended.

Here was our view, once again, from the concourse behind section 126 (or so):

With the score at 3-1 Indians, it was still anyone’s game as the Reds pitched to the Indians in the top of the ninth:

While we were in position, I figured I better get a shot looking into the Indians dugout.  Here is what it looked like:

The Reds needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth and they had the heart of their order coming to the plate.  With one out and one on base, Brandon Phillips couldn’t get anything going:

Phillips struck out for the second out of the inning.

Joey Votto batted next and lined a single to leftfield on this inside-out swing:

With the tying runs on base, Scott Rolen came to bat with two outs as the potential winning run.  But he struck out to end the game.

Indians win 3-1.

On our way out the of the ballpark, Tim did a “rounding second” pose on the “statue” base near by the Ted Kluszewski statue:

We also got a couple fake batting poses to try to recreate a picture that we took outside Great American Ball Park in 2008:

Although we missed a lot of the game because of all of the exploring we did around the ballpark, we had a great time.

And the great time didn’t stop just because we had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us.  It was the night of July2nd and people were out in full force lighting off their own fireworks demonstrations.  Tim had a great time watching the fireworks and didn’t fall asleep until after 11:00 p.m., right we pulled up to our hotel.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
15/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians and Reds; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1))
45 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 2 Indians)
7/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park; Kellan – Camden Yards,
Citi Field]
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]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; 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.

Customers Report to Spring Training

I’ve mentioned on here before that there is a Rawlings outlet store in our town.  I’m one of the biggest Rawlings baseball glove advocates in the world.  So, needless to say, I think the Rawlings outlet is just about the best store ever (the Mariners team stores are also excellent).

Tim and I often swing by “the baseball store,” as we call it, on weekends, just for kicks.  And that is where we found ourselves on Sunday, February 13, 2011, as MLB pitchers and catchers began arriving at their respective teams’ spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida.

We weren’t the only ones with the idea.  The place was a buzz with amateur baseballers of all ages.

The trough along the back wall of the store was filled to the brim with an assortment of beautiful gloves of various colors and styles.  Tim gave his mark of approval:

rawlings tim.jpgThis closer view of the trough…

rawlings outlet.jpg…gives a better view of the dark brown and black glove with white lacing that I’ve had my eye on.  I might have picked one up, but the Trap-Eze style was already sold out!  I liked the modified Trap-Eze and one other style, but there is no beating a Trap-Eze.  I decided I should hold out for it to be re-stocked — not that I necessarily need another glove (see below).

When we wandered by one of the bargain glove bins, Tim pulled out this catcher’s glove…

rawlings orioles glove.jpg…and announced, “Look, its an Orioles glove.”

I checked out the “Primo” line of fancy Italian leather gloves:

rawlings primo.jpgThat’s some nice looking leather!  But I don’t need that fancy of a glove.  I think these were in the $300-$400 range.  I’m sure they are outstanding gloves.  But if you know how to treat a glove right, I think you can be just as happy with any of the more modestly priced gloves.  I’ve never spent even $100 on a glove…and I’d put any of my gloves up against the top priced gloves (well, most of my gloves, at least).

Here is the other glove that I really have my eye on:

rawlings training glove.jpgIt is a training glove similar to the “flat” gloves.  This one looks like a normal glove (i.e., it is not flat), but it is really stiff and essentially doesn’t close at all.  By the 2011 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2011, I plan to own this glove and play lots of catch with my dad using it on the trip.

Interestingly, you cannot see anyone but Tim in any of these pictures.  But the place was packed.  People were looking at gloves, trying on gloves, debating gloves (including one dad who wouldn’t even let his son try on the $300 gloves), swinging wood bats, looking at clothing, cleats, batting T’s, baseballs, and catcher’s gear (in fact, Tim asked me to buy him an entire set of catcher’s gear, I did not).  It was great to see that the world is getting back into the swing of things…baseball things, that is.

With all of this talk of Rawlings gloves, why don’t I take the opportunity to share mine??  And how about in chronological order?

Wally Joyner model Rawlings RFM14 (first basemens glove):

Rawlings RFM14.JPGI probably got this glove in 8th or 9th grade, around 1990.  I restrung this glove with green laces in 2010 and featured it in an entry called “The Tale of the Prodigal Glove.”  This glove has the distinction of being my only all-brown leather glove.

Rawlings RBG36B:

Rawlings RBG36B.jpgMy first glove growing up was an old used Rawlings.  I don’t have it anymore.  Aside from the Prodigal Glove, this RBG36B glove was my first “new” Rawlings glove.  It was also my first black glove.  I got this in high school to replace my old Spalding Dwight Gooden signature model glove.  This was my outfield “gamer” in high school and American Legion ball.  It is formed to absolute perfection.  It is also the first glove that I restrung with different colored laces (because I loved Griffey’s black Trap-Eze with brown laces) and the first glove that I installed extra ties between the middle three fingers (see upper right picture).  It sits on my bookshelf in my home office and I almost never use it.  But, of all of my gloves, it is the glove to which I have the strongest sentimental attachment. 

Randy Johnson signature model Rawlings RBG10B (modified Trap-Eze):

Rawlings RBG10B.JPGI wrote an entire blog entry about this glove in 2009:  “Weekend Project:  The Trap-Eze-ification of a Non-Trap-Eze Glove.”  This glove holds an interesting place in my life.  My folks gave me this glove as a gift while I was in college so I could use it for intramural softball — I didn’t want to ruin my RBG36B by using it to catch softballs.  In years of playing softball, it never felt right.  I just couldn’t get it formed to my liking.  Because of this, I really didn’t care for this glove.  And that’s probably why I didn’t mind experimenting with it.  After I turned it into a blue-laced Trap-Eze, it was a whole new glove.  It feels perfect as a Trap-Eze.  It craddles the ball effortlessly.  It went from my least favorite to my most-used glove.  Since the modification, I have taken it to almost every game Tim and I have attended and I now use it as my softball glove.  I absolutely love this glove now.

Rawlings RBG22NC:

Rawlings RBG22NC.JPGIn a new city without any friends (or sons), I found myself at Dick’s Sporting Goods a day after receiving my first paycheck in my first (real) job out of school.  I was looking at gloves, just for kicks, when I found this beauty.  I loved the thatched pocket and grey “Rawlings” stitched on the back of the index finger.  I had no softball/baseball team and no one to play catch with me, but I had a new job and my first paycheck, so I decided that was all the justification I needed to buy myself this glove.  I’ve hardly used it since I bought it and its still not formed to my liking (largely because I let someone else use it and they, lets just say, didn’t treat it in compliance with my standards).  Eventually, I’ll break it in properly in the backyard with Tim (hopefully before Kellan can even play catch).

Rawlings RBG10H:

Rawlings RBG10H.JPGThis glove is absolutely perfect for softball.  I got it to replace my pre-op RBG10B as my everyday softball glove.  I found this beauty in the “blemish” bin at the Rawlings outlet.  I’m not sure why it was in the bin, I cannot find a blemish anywhere on it.  My folks were visiting when I bought this and my Dad bought the same glove at the same time.  Interestingly, they charged him $19.99 for his non-blemished “blemish” glove, and they charged me $12.99 for the same exact thing.  It was the deal of the century because this is a stellar softball glove.  By the way, you can see my Dad’s RBG10B in our GFS Roadtrip entries (see, e.g., here).

Rawlings GG601B:

RawlingsGG601B.JPGThis is my first ever “real” Trap-Eze glove.  I love it.  I bought it a couple years ago at the Rawlings outlet.  I’m very protective of it.  If you ask me to borrow it to play catch in my presence, I will say no (unless, perhaps, you are my dad, brother or Paul Samione).  I have respected (i.e., not restrung) the factory lacing, which is odd for me.  I have not even installed my customary between the finger ties.  I use this glove a lot in the backyard with Tim (or with my Dad when he visits), but I almost never take it to games and I never use it for softball.  Interestingly, this is my only glove that I wear with my fingers slid over one slot to the left (i.e., two fingers in the pinky slot and no finger in the index finger slot).

Rawlings GG12XTCBW:

Rawlings GG12XTCBW.JPGThis is the last glove I have bought - in 2009, I think.  I bought this glove at the Rawlings outleft because I loved the white Trap-Eze lacing and I thought it would be good to have a shorter (infield sized) glove (although I never play infield).  This glove is still very new, but it feels good.  Like the GG601B, I use this primarily around the house.  I did take it to one Mariners game at Fenway on July 4, 2009 –  see here

There you go:  a glimpse into the bustling Rawlings store on the day PItchers & Catchers began reporting to Spring Training and a tour of my person baseball glove collection.  Hope you enjoyed.

Go Mariners!

The Cook & Son Hall Of Fame




underline C&S HOF Logo.jpgThe Cook & Son Hall of Fame was established in 2009 as a way of honoring and thanking certain individuals who, for a variety of baseball-related reasons, are particularly important to Cook & Son.  The Cook & Son Hall of Fame is open to players, coaches, broadcasters, stadium attendants, fans or anyone else who, in the sole and unfettered discretion of Cook & Son, are deemed worthy of enshrinement.

Class of 2009

Phillips C&S HOF Plaque.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jason Phillips

Inaugural Member

Inducted December 21, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

Class of 2010.

Griffey C&S HOF Plaque.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ken Griffey, Jr.

Inducted June 2, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

RRS C&S HOF Plaque.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ryan Rowland-Smith

Inducted June 4, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

Edgar Martinez C&S HOF Plaque.jpg 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edgar Martinez

Inducted December 11, 2010

 

 

 

2010 Mariners Season Finale (10/3/10)

2010 was a long and fun season.  And, on October 3, 2010, we headed down to Safeco Field for the final game of our and the Mariners 2010 season.

The line-up was Tim, Kellan, Colleen, my folks, my buddy Paul, and me.  Although Paul joined us late, the rest of us headed down for non-existent batting practice.

We headed into Safeco Field and found ourselves in the standing room area in center field.  Nothing was going on yet.  So we just hung out for a few minutes.  We were ready for some good old-fashioned Mariners fun:


1 - three boys in CF.JPGSoon, a couple Cook & Son Hall of Famers made their way out to the bullpen:  Jason Phillips to the left…

2 - here come phillips and RRS.JPG…and finale starting pitcher, Ryan Rowland-Smith, to the right.  After a tough season where we never got to see him pitch live, I was excited for the opportunity to watch Ryan close out the 2010 season with a strong final outing.

The Mariners braodcasters do their pregame show from the centerfield standing room area.  After Tim hopped from my shoulders to grandpa’s shoulders, Kellan and I strolled over to watch the broadcasters preparing for their show.  All of a sudden, I saw a familiar face and, before I knew it, Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik…

3 - Zduriencik kisses Kellan.JPG…was kissing Kellan like a campaigning politician.

Despite the terribly disappointing season, I believe in Jack.  I think he has a good vision for the team.  And as GM’s go, Jack is the most visible the Mariners have ever had.  In two seasons, we’ve met him several times — like last season on the streets of Boston.

After saying hello to Jack Z., we watched Ryan Rowland-Smith warm up among a sea of mascots: 

4 - RRS and the mascots.JPGAcross the field from RRS, opposing starter Dallas Braden warmed up for the A’s.

My folks and Tim stayed in the outfield when Colleen, Kellan and I headed toward the Mariners dugout.  As we walked through the seats behind first base, we watched as the Mariners Moose jacked a homerun to win the mascot homerun derby…

5 - Moosebombs.JPG…while Bill Kruger and Brad Adam interviewed Jack Z. (who you can see sitting below the bright light).

I had a goal of getting either Luke French (Kellan’s first pitcher) or Rajai Davis (his first batter) to sign the picture of Kellan’s first pitch.  We hung out behind the Mariners dugout watching for French…

6 - watching some pre-game activities.JPG…but we never found him.  So instead, we just had another fan take our picture.

Eventually, a bunch of Mariners came out and started playing catch and stretching down the 1B line…

7 - mascots and mariners.JPG….you can see them in the background of this picture my parents took of some of the mascots.

When some of the Mariners started playing catch, I gave up on finding Luke French and we headed over by the guys who were playing catch.   Two games ago, Greg Halman had tossed Tim and me his pregame warmup baseball.  That day, we were practically the only people watching the players playing catch.  But on this day, the seats were crowded.  We were about six rows back and the first three rows were packed.  I was hoping we could get one more baseball this season and this was our chance, but there was a lot of competition and the odds weren’t looking good.

As the players started heading back to the dugout a ball or two got tossed to fans in the first row.  Finally, Halman and his partner finished playing catch and Halman ended up with the baseball.  He looked over to the crowd and I yelled, “Hey, Greg!!!!”  I was the only one to call out to him by name and he appreciated it.  He scanned around and found me and then tossed his baseball high over everyone else so they couldn’t intercept it on its way to me and Kellan.

The baseball was just a bit over my head level.  As I reached up to make the easy grab, Colleen yelled “No! NO!!!!”  She was scared I would miss the ball and it would hit Kellan.  It was pretty funny, really.  Her maternal instincts to protect our baby overrode her common sense about my abilities to catch a baseball lobbed to me.

The expression on Kellan’s face in this picture illustrates how difficult the catch was for me:

8 - kellans third baseball.JPGYep, it was pretty routine.  (That’s a yawn, by the way).

Thanks, Greg!

The Mariners cleared out and we never found Luke French.  But when I looked over toward LF, I saw Kellan’s first batter stretching and preparing for the game.  So we headed over there:

9 - watching Rajai Davis.JPGIn that last picture, Rajai Davis is the guy bending down and reaching toward the ground.

As we waited to see if Davis would come over to sign autographs on his way back to the dugout, we watched this guy…

10 - dont catch fair balls.JPG…walk down the fence and explain to everyone in the front row that they will be kicked out of the game if they interfere with a live ball in play.  His message was simple, “Foul grounders are fair game, but catching a fair grounder will get you ejected.

When Davis finished streching, he jogged straight into the A’s dugout.  No first batter autograph for Kellan on this day.  But don’t fret.  We’ll track down Rajai Davis some day.  You can mark my words on that.

Rajai Davis wasn’t the only A’s player walking straight lines, but not all of them were heading to the dugout.  After warming up in the bullpen, Dallas Braden exited the bullpen gate and walked in a laser straight line directly to us.  As I watched him approach, he displayed an odd expressionless face with his harms hanging unnaturally still as he walked…as I said…directly to us.  Confused, I looked at him standing two feet in front of me.  What’s going on here, I thought to myself.

Then Braden extended his arm, opened his glove, nodded to me to reach in and remove…

 

11 - thanks dallas braden.JPG…this baseball from the pocket of his glove.  Although it took me hundreds of games, it took Kellan only two games to get a baseball from a pitcher with a perfect game on his resume.

Thanks, Dallas!

With no first pitch autographs, but two new baseballs in our pockets, we reported to our seats along the first base line.  My mom took a picture of us (Paul was still en route to the ballpark):

12a - family shot at our seats.JPGWe were ready for some Mariners baseball!

At exactly 1:11 p.m., Ryan Rowland-Smith delivered the first pitch of the game…

13 - RRS first pitch and one11.JPG…for ball 1.  However, if you click on that picture to enlarge it, the pitch looks pretty good to me.  Davis ended up leading off the game with a single.  RRS’s body language wasn’t looking good after the single.  He sort of looked like, “Oh, no.  Here we go again.”

Kellan was ready to see some quality Mariners baseball…

15 - kellan over shoulder.JPG…after a 9-0 shut out loss in his MLB debut game.

Despite the early frustrated body language, it seemed like RRS started believing in himself.  And he should have because he had a good day.  After RRS induced a fly out to CF for the first out of the game, Josh Bard threw out Davis trying to steal second.  Then RRS struck out Jack Cust to end the first.

Yep, RRS was looking good…

14 - RRSMotion2.jpg…and he had one scoreless inning in the book.

As each Mariner came to bat for the first time, a picture drawn by a kid was displayed on the big screen.  Here are all nine of the M’s batters:

16 - line up drawn by kids.JPGFranklin Gutierrez took a couple mighty looking hacks in the bottom of the  first…

17 - Guti doesnt go yard.JPG…but both he and the Mariners came up empty handed.

Hey, guess who showed up?  It was Paulie!

19 - Tim and Paul.JPGPaulie, Tim and I had big plans for this game.  We bought tickets to this game at the very beginning of the season figuring that it would probably be Griffey’s final game.  We were hoping to see Griffey’s final homerun and Griff getting carried off the field and into retirement.  Sadly, we were Griffeyless on this day.

The A’s ended up scoring two runs off of RRS.  They got one run in the third when Mark Ellis doubled to score Rajai Davis.  In the fourth, Kurt Suzuki hit a lead off homerun to make it 2-0 A’s.

To this point, the A’s had scored 11 runs to the Mariners zero runs so far in Kellan’s first two games.  It was high time for the Mariners to get on the board for Kellan.

Michael Saunders led off the bottom of the fifth with a single.  Our buddy Greg Halman…

20 - Halman singles.JPG…followed Saunders with a single of his own on this swing.

Two batters and two outs later, Saunders was erased, Halman stood on second base, and Matt Mangini occupied first as Ichiro came to the plate.  In the hands down most exciting moment of Kellan’s young Marienrs fan career, Ichiro lined a double down the RF line on this swing…

21 - Ichiros RBI double.JPG…and Halman and Mangini scored Kellan’s first two Mariners runs ever.  We were all on our feet screaming and cheering.  It was a great moment.

After Ichi’s 2RBI double, the Ichi-Meter was changed to record Ichi’s 213th hit of 2010:

21a - Ichimeter at 213.JPGSo the score was all knotted up at 2-2.  I was excited for the possibility of Kellan witnessing his first Mariners win and RRS finishing off the season with a long-awaited second win of the season.

The excitement was contagious.  Tim and Paul had to practice some fist bumps:

22 - fist bumping practice.JPGAnd of course Tim had to get in some playing-with-Grandma time:

23 - fun with Grandma.JPGWith the Mariners on the board, Kellan sat up and took notice:

24 - colleen and kellan watching some baseball.JPGHe was ready for the possibility of a personally historical moment — his first ever Mariners lead??

My little family bunched together and cheered like crazy for a Mariners rally:

25 - family cheer.JPGI had to get a picture with my big boy and teammate:

26 - Todd and Tim.JPGAnd, of course, we had to celebrate the day with the season’s final ice cream helmet:

27 - last ICH of 2010.JPGUnfortunately, after Ichiro’s double, the rally ceased.  And after five innings, both teams went to their bullpens.

It should be noted that RRS actually had a slightly better line than Dallas Braden.  Both pitched 5 innings and gave up 2 earned runs.  But RRS gave up only 4 hits to Braden’s 5 hits, and he struck out 3 to Braden’s 2.  They both walked 1 batter.

Sadly, the Mariners bullpen turned Braden into a winner-in-absentia.  After Braden left the game knotted 2-2, Mariners reliever Anthony Varvaro promptly gave up a run on two hits in the top of the sixth.  He would pitch only one-third of an inning.

In the 8th inning, Garrett Olson gave up a homerun to Kevin Kouzmanoff.  That made the score 4-2 A’s.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Ichiro notched his 214th and final hit of the 2010 campaign:

28 - Ichiros 214th and final hit.JPGHe then stole his 42nd and final base of the season.   He wound up on third base on a Jose Lopez groundout.  Finally, Ichiro scored his 74th and final run of the season on a Justin Smoak line drive single to left field.

Sadly, Ichiro’s run would be the final Mariners run to be pushed across the plate in 2010.  We lost our 101st game of the season, and 2nd of Kellan’s life, by a final score of 4-3.

Toward the end of the game, I snapped a picture of the Mariners mlb.com beat writer, Jim Street (in the OU hat):

29 - Jim Streets final game.JPGJim was closing out the final game of his career…although I recently read that he is only “semi-retired” so maybe we’ll still see him on mlb.com from time-to-time.

After the game, we got a final family-at-the-ballpark picture…

30 - Final Family Shot of 2010.JPG…and a final TJCs and Paulie picture:

31 - Tim Paul and Todd.jpgIt was so sad that our season was over so soon and that, as we exited the gates at Safeco Field, we would be entering a period of six months without (regular season) Mariners baseball.

I snapped one more panorama for 2010 on our walk to the CF gates:

32 - final panorama of 2010.jpgIn doing so, I noticed that the hand operated scoreboard was already set up for the 2011 home opener:

33 - ready for 2011 home opener.JPGThat was comforting to see.

Tim and I took a couple final pictures on our way out of the stadium:

34 - one last shot in 2010.JPGHe failed to smile in any of them.  But how could I blame him?

It was now officially the off-season.

Bummer.

2010 Fan Stats:

29 Games

20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)


35 - halman and braden finish the season.jpg25 Ice Cream Helmets
(Mariners (3), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

66 Baseballs (15 Mariners, 2 Angels, 5 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

18 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

16 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Jason Phillips, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Bobby Cramer, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

Kellan’s MLB Debut (10/1/10)

October 1, 2010 was a big day, and its going to result in a BIG game report.  Here we go.

The day was finally upon us:  Kellan’s first Mariners game!  In the morning, I laid out our shirts for the day in small, medium and large sizes:


1 - 3 for M's Baseball.JPGFor this extra special game, I decided to don my extra special jersey:  my official Mariners Ryan Rowland-Smith No. 18 jersey.

It was a night game and we had a busy day preparing for it.  In the morning, my mom and I went shopping at a craft store and then, just like I’d done a little more than four years ago, I set up shop in my parents’ garage to paint version 2.0 of the First Gamers Club sign:

2 - painting first gamers club sign.JPGMy mom headed up a project of her own:  creating a picture display for the “2006 First Gamers Club Reunion“:

3 - 2006 first gamers club reunion.JPGOn September 12, 2006, we celebrated the first “First Gamers Club.”  The guests of honor (the “First Gamers”) were Tim, Julie (my cousin Janet’s daughter), Laura (my cousin Daniel’s daughter), and Kasey (our family friends’ grandson).  With the exception of Laura, all of the 2006 First Gamers would be in attendance for the second First Gamers Club celebration.

This time, the guests of honor would be Kellan, Gill and Kate (Kellan’s and Tim’s only first cousins (my sister-in-law Kimberly’s and brother-in-law Kevin’s kids)), and Tyler and Erika (my cousin Janet’s 3-year-old twins).

Thanks to my wonderful parents, Tim’s first game was in Suite 5 at Safeco Field (the Ted Williams suite).   Thanks again to my wonderful parents, Kellan’s first game would also be in Suite 5 at Safeco Field.  Here is Kellan’s extremely cool first game ticket:


Kellan's First Game TicketWe arrived right when the gates opened.  As we slowly made our way from the parking garage, through the suite level concourse and down to the field level, several ushers gave Tim and Kellan some baseball cards, including these two absolute keepers:

griff and felix cardsIt was quite the chore to keep Tim from playing with (and thereby destroying) his Felix and Griffey cards during the game.  He was very excited about them.  I kept them safe and let him play with (and destroy) several less important cards he also received from ushers during BP.

When we made it to the field level, Tim and Colleen headed to the team store where Tim got some cool Mariners athetlic shorts (pictured throughout this entry) and Kellan and I reported directly to the RF foul line to watch BP.

This is the first picture ever of Kellan at Safeco Field (or any MLB stadium):

4 - Welcome to the Bigs kid.JPGWe watched BP from almost the exact same spot from which Tim and I watched BP at his first game.  The only disappointing part of the pre-game events was that the Mariners were already off of the field when we arrived.  So Kellan’s first BP was limited to the visiting Oakland A’s.

When we arrived at the field, my mom, dad and brother had already hung the First Gamers Club sign from our suite:

5 - Second First Gamers Club sign.JPGBy the way, the “M” in “GAMERS” looks different because I painted silver sparkles over the black paint of the “M.”

According to the time coding on my camera, it took exactly 11 minutes until A’s 30-year old, first time September call-up, Bobby Cramer, bestowed upon Kellan the very first MLB baseball of his life:

6 - Kellan's first baseball.JPGHere is a cellphone picture I took so I could immediately show off Kellan’s prize:

Kellan's first baseball cellphone pict.jpgBobby Cramer was very nice.  We chatted a little bit during BP and he agreed to sign Kellan’s first baseball after the conclusion of BP.

After hitting the team store, Tim and Colleen met up with us and Colleen took this picture of her three guys with Kellan’s first baseball:

7 - new game crew.JPGTim was excited for his little brother.  He really loves that little guy.

Then, someone took this excellent family picture of the four of us:

8 - happy baseball family.JPGThat kid in the yellow shirt explained that the Mariners had stamped some of the BP balls with a “CATCH & WIN” stamp.  If you caught one of the stamped baseballs, you could turn it in for an autographed Mariners baseball at a prize table in the concourse behind home plate.  (I guess I should mention that it was Fan Appreciation Night).

Well, Kellan’s first baseball had the stamp.  It is visible in the last couple pictures — it looks like a blue blob on the baseball.  As much as I would like to get an autographed Mariners baseball, there was no way in the world that I was going to trade in Kellan’s first baseball.

Soon, more First Gamers showed up.  In this picture, Tim is jumping for joy (and sporting his new shorts!) as my dad chats up Tyler and Erika: 

9 - hopping happy baseball kids.JPGJulie is in the pink hat just behind Tim.  I got a kick out of the fact that Tim and Julie shared their first game together back in September 2006.  Now, just over four years later, Julie was enjoying her second baseball game while Tim was taking in his EIGHTY-SECOND game!

Eventually, my dad was able to secure a couple baseballs for Julie, Erika and Tyler:

10 - baseballs for the johnsons.JPGI believe that both of those baseballs also came courtesy of Bobby Cramer.

Soon, Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate also made their way down to join us for some BP.  Colleen and Kimberly took this nice “sisters” shot…

11 - sisters.JPG…that features the First Gamers Club sign in the background.

True to his word, the second BP ended, Bobby Cramer ran over and signed Kellan’s first baseball:

12 - autograph from bobby cramer.JPGNote that Bobby is using the Cook & Son tried-and-true baseball glove hat method while signing Kellan’s baseball.  Kellan’s first baseball is pictured below.  I am extremely happy with it.  Bobby did an excellent job with his autograph.  The placement of his autograph and his jersey number (“64″) off-set to the side of the “CATCH & WIN” stamp and a nice grass/dirt smudge easily make it one of the most visually unique and pleasing baseballs in our collection.

Even if Bobby doesn’t turn out to be an all-star player, he can rest assured that he will always be remembered by the Cook family.

Thanks, Bobby!

BP was great fun with all of the kids.  The only regret was that I had not been able to get a baseball for Gill and Kate.  I’d once given Gill a baseball Gil Meche used to do some rehab work at old Yankee Stadium, so they had a real MLB baseball already.  But I was determined that Gill should get one at his first game.  At this point, I wasn’t sure how or if that was going to happen.

Before leaving our BP spot, I had to pose for a picture with Tim in his familiar shoulder riding position and Kellan in his baby bjorn:

13 - walking for three.JPGIn that picture, you can see the “CATCH & WIN” logo on the big screen behind us.

After BP ended, Tim headed up to the suite with his Grandma.  Meanwhile, Kellan, Colleen and I headed over to the Mariners dugout.  I really wanted to get a picture of Kellan with a Mariner at his first game.  I had discussed it with Ryan Rowland-Smith at our last game and he said he’d gladly pose for a picture with us and that we should come over by the dugout.  So that’s what we did.

Kellan took a little power nap:

14 - already tuckered out.JPGAnd he concentrated hard on taking “it” all in while he was awake:

15 - taking in the ballpark experience.JPGWhen Colleen split off from us to go fetch Kellan’s pacifier, a nice fan asked if I wanted him to take our picture.  Hey, why not?  Right?  So here it is:

hanging by M's dugout with KellanNo Mariners were in sight for a long time.  Then, John Wetteland came out and started signing autographs down the foul line.  A couple rookie calls up soon joined him.  We stuck by the dugout looking for RRS.  Eventually, he came out and we locked eyes.  I pointed down the foul line and we both nodded our heads.  But when he went down the line to meet up with us, a throng of fans rushed him for autographs.  Then more players came out and joined the huge autograph session.

We moved down the line a bit and waited for people to clear out from the RRS line.  In this picture, Kellan looks like a pro-autograph hound as RRS signs an autograph for another fan in the background:


16 - how about some player interactions.JPGWe ended up getting pictures with four Mariners:

17 - kellan with pauley RRS olson and sedden.JPGClockwise from top left:  David Pauley, RRS, Chris Seddon, and Garrett Olson.

Olson posed for a picture with us and then saw the little helmet in my hand.  He grabbed the helmet, put it on Kellan’s head, and leaned in for a second picture.  Excellent move, Garrett!

I got a bright idea earlier in the day, I brought Tim’s ice cream helmet from the last game and a metallic-silver pen and got the guys to autograph it:

18 - autographed ice cream helmet.JPGA couple of the autographs are on the far side near the back.  On the bill of the helmet, those autographs are Cook & Son Hall of Famers Jason Phillips and Ryan Rowland-Smith.

Phillips wasn’t autographing down the line.  While the autograph session was going on down the line, he was out in the bullpen and outfield working with starting pitcher Luke French and catcher Josh Bard.  After we got those player pictures above, it was getting close to game time.  We still had not visited the suite yet.  But before heading up, I told Colleen we needed to go out to the bullpen because I wanted to say hi to Jason.

We found Phillips pretty quickly.  He came over to chat and meet Kellan.  And he asked, “Hey, where’s the big guy?”  Yep, Tim has graduated from being our “little boy” to being our “big guy.”

Jason Phillips has been so incredibly cool to Tim and I over the past two seasons.  I definitely don’t want to try to take advantage of the relationship.  But this was Kellan’s first game!  So I had to ask if he could hook Kellan up with his first Mariners baseball.  “Of course,” was Jason’s response.

Thank you, Jason!!!

Faced with a fresh, new-to-the-world Mariners fan, Jason told us a story about when his kid was born and he was just days away from the start of a baseball season.  When we parted ways, we wished each other well for the offseason.  By the way, the baseball Jason gave to Kellan was fresh out of the box.  It is a beautiful clean pearl of a baseball.

Here is a look at Kellan’s first two baseballs:

19 - bobby cramer jose lopez-auto and jason phillips.jpgWait, that’s three baseballs?  To the left, that is Kellan’s absolutely beautiful Bobby Cramer autographed, “CATCH & WIN” stamped first baseball.  The baseball on the right (“107″) is the baseball from Jason Phillips.  (FYI, I internally debated with myself long and hard about whether we should start again at “1″ now that Kellan has joined our little baseball team.  I’m still not convinced I made the right decision, but I decided that we’d just keep on with our existing numbering system under the theory that all of the baseballs are collectively “Cook & Son” team baseballs.  Right or wrong, I’ll live with that decision until the boys are old enough that I’m no longer “cool” and they feel the need to have their own separate numbering system.  Hopefully that’s in the distant future because I love being on my sons’ team.)

Anyway, what about that middle baseball?  We wandered by the prize booth.  I showed them Kellan’s baseball (now autographed by Bobby Cramer) and told them there was no way I was going to give it to them, but that we still would like to get an autographed Mariners baseball.  They put a little red dot inside the “C” in of the “CATCH & WIN” stamp and let me pick a bag from the autographed baseball grab bag.  Truth be told, I like that red dot a lot.  It adds to the story of Kellan’s first baseball and it looks cool.   Anyway, Colleen and I both pointed to the same grab bag, and we ended up pulling the above-pictured Jose Lopez autographed baseball.  We like Jose.  The Jose baseball is definitely a welcome addition to our home.

Okay — it was game time.  We reported to the suite and said our hellos to the gathered crowd of family and friends.

I absolutely love Tim’s “first pitch” picture.  So, in addition to myself, I assigned two other people to photograph Kellan’s first pitch.  One took the shot too early and one took it too late.  Luckily, I took it at just the right time and Kellan is now the proud owner of a framed picture of the first pitch of his first Mariners game.  Here it is:

20 - Kellan's first MLB pitch.JPGIf you cannot tell, the baseball can be seen in the foul grass on the 3B side, just to the right of the circle of dirt around home plate (click to enlarge the picture and you’ll be able to see it).  Just like Tim’s first pitch thrown by Gil Meche, Kellan’s first pitch thrown by Luke French was a called “strike one.”

On the second pitch, Rajai Davis popped out to…

20a - Ichiro in RF.JPG…Ichiro in right field for the first “out” of Kellan’s career as a Mariners fan.

After that second pitch, sadly, it was all downhill for the Mariners.  The next batter hit a homerun and the A’s never looked back.

But lets dwell on the positive.  Here was our beautiful view from Suite 5 at Safeco Field:


20b - safeco suite 5 panorama.jpgWhen you attend a game in a luxury suite, its easy to end up not hanging on every pitch of the game.  There is a lot that goes on in a suite.  And my mom and Colleen did an excellent job snapping pictures of all of the fun.

In no particular order, lets check in on the fun:

21 - people.JPGTop left: my dad with my folks’ closest friends and co-Mariners season ticket holders Lynn and Steve.  And half-hidden behind Lynn in Kasey from the First Gamers Club class of 2006.  Kasey and Tim had a blast together at this game.

Top right: my cousin Annie smiles for a picture with her (and my) uncle Raaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy!  Ray is Julie, Erika and Tyler’s grandpa.

Bottom left:  Annie with her sister (and my cousin) Katie, my Dad, Julie and Kate (my neice).

Bottom right:  My dad, Julie and Kate sans Annie and Katie.

My hope was that the Mariners would win.  Unfortunately, they were facing Trevor Cahill who was looking to cap off a stellar season with his 18th win to go along with is sub-3.0 ERA.  As with all apparent Mariners losses in the making, my second goal was that hopefully at least Ichiro would get a hit.  I was poised with my camera ready to capture the moment:

21a - Ichi-pose.JPGBut he walked in the first and, as shown here,…

21b - ichi grounder to first.JPG…grounded into a fielder’s choice in the third.

Back to the suite pictures.  In the top left photo below, Katie shares a moment with her (and my) cousin Janet:

22 - people.JPGJanet, of course, is Raaaaaaaaaaayyy’s daughter, and Julie, Erika and Tyler’s mother.

Top right:  My dad holds Kellan as uncle Raaaaaaaaaayyy watches on.

Bottom left:  My mom goofs around with Julie.

Bottom right:  Katie holds Kellan as they watch the game from the suite’s top row of seats.

By the way, each of my cousins at this game are children of my mom’s sisters, each of my aunts at this game are those very same sisters of my mom (she has four sisters and two of them were at this game), and each of my uncles at this game are the husbands of the aforementioned aunts and fathers of the aforementioned cousins.

More pictures:

23 - people.JPGTop left:  Lynn, my dad, Kellan, me, and my aunt Carol (wife of Raaaaaaaayyy, mother of Janet, and grandma of Julie, Erika and Tyler).

Top right:  My dad and Steve.

Bottom left:  Kasey (in his grandma’s arms) pats Kellan (in my dad’s arms) on the arm, while Colleen and I smile for the camera.

Bottom right:  Trouble with a capital “T” and “K”.  Left to their own devices, I am certain that Tim and Kasey could get into unruly amounts of mischief.  (And, for good measure, Kate is hiding under the table).

The Mariners love new fans.  They were quick to bestow unto Tim, Kellan, and all of the kids these fancy “first game” certificates:
Seattle Ms 1st game cert-Kellan.jpgOf course, this wasn’t Tim’s first game, so I digitally edited his certificate.

You know what else they have in suites?  Awesome food, and lots of it.  Here, my best buddy, Paul, and I point out (with amazement) part of the spread:

24 - check out that food.JPGAlong the wall off-camera to the right, we also had pizzas, hot dogs, and delicious little mini corndogs.

As the Mariners fell further-and-further behind their opponents, we just kept having fun:

25 - people.JPGTop left and right:  Carol plays with Kellan.  In the photo on the left, my aunt Margaret watches on in the pink jacket.  In a crazy and by all accounts unplanned twist of fate, Carol wore the exact same white sweater and Margaret wore the exact same pink jacket to Tim’s first game.  Here is the photographic evidence.

Bottom left:  Me and Paulie (taken about two seconds before (or possibly after) our “pointing at the food” picture above).

Bottom right:  Tim and one of his favorite people in the whole world, his grandma.

This has been a lot of pictures…well, that’s not even the half of it.  Let’s keep going:


26 - people.JPGTop left:  my mom and Kellan.

Top right:  the kids gather for some First Gamers Club cake!

Bottom left:  I paparazzi-style ambushed my brother Jason as he got up to get more food and/or drink.  Paulie laughs at Jason in the process.  Back in 1998-99, Jason, Paul and I were roommates during the year after I graduated from college and before I moved to Pennsylvania for law school.  Between the three of us, there was a lot of making fun of each other going on in that house.  Good times.

Bottom right:  Janet watches the game with all three of her kids.

Wait.  That was three pictures in a row without Kellan.  Here we go, its Kellan and Lynn on the left…

27 - people.JPG…and Kellan and aunt Kimberly on the right.

And how about some Kellan, mommy and the Safeco Field sign pictures?  We got those too:

28 - Colleen and Kellan.JPGLike at Tim’s first game, the Mariners Moose paid a visit to the suite and posed for pictures with everyone.  Here are just two of the many Moose pictures:

29 - the Moose is Loose.JPGHeck, let’s see a few more:

more moose picts.JPGBy this point, all of these people should look familiar except two of ‘em.  In the top left, Janet’s husband Destry is holding Erika and Tyler.  At the bottom left, Katie and Annie are joined by their dad (and my uncle) Tom in their Moose picture.  By the way, to connect the dots, maybe I should mention that Margaret and Tom are the parents and Katie and Annie are the sisters of my cousin Nathan with whom Tim and I went to a Nationals vs. Mets game on September 6, 2010.

Tim and his cousin Kate are about 9 months apart in age (Tim is older) and they have a great time with each other.  Here, Tim makes silly faces at my camera…

30 - some cousins.JPG…while Kate smiles at someone else’s camera.

Meanwhile, Kate’s big brother and Tim’s cousin, Gill, was having fun sitting with his dad (“uncle Kevin”) and playing with the large stack of baseball cards he’d acquired from various ushers throughout the night:

31 - some baseball cards.JPGGill’s baseball fan loyalty is somewhat up in the air.  While his dad is a moderate Phillies fan (more of an Eagles and Flyers fan) and his (and Tim’s) grandpa is a Yankees fan, I have designs on drafting Gill into a life of indentured Mariners fanitude.

Tim continued having way too much fun, alternatively, with Kasey and his grandma:

32 - tim having fun.JPGAnd aunt Kimberly and uncle Kevin couldn’t say enough about their experience at Safeco Field…

33 - Kmart and Kmart.JPG…where everyone was “so very nice” to them.

With Kellan’s first game not quite going as planned on the field, there was plenty of time to smile at Kellan…

34 - Kellan and Margaret.JPG…or to take “guys” shots with my littlest boy and Paulie…

35 - Paul Kellan and Todd.JPG…and, of course, I had to get a shot with both of my boys…

36 - me my boys and my brother.JPG….with Tim wearing a pair of rabbit ears courtesy of his uncle Jason.

At some point, Gill requested to go to the kids play area.  Lynn, Kasey, Tim and I decided to join them.  I took this shot from a little concourse that joins the 1B side suite level to the RF suite level:

37 - walkway between suites.JPGThe play area was pretty crowded and it was easy to lose sight of the kids in there.  So we didn’t stay too long.  Before we left, I made a suggestion to Kimberly:  if they would like, we could stop by the Mariners bullpen and I could try to get a baseball for Gill and Kate before heading back to the suite.

Things worked out ideally.  As we approached the bullpen, Garrett Olson was warming up, but for some unknown reason, Jason Phillips wasn’t doing the catching.  Instead, Jason was standing behind the catcher just off to the lefthanded batters box side of the plate.  He was standing against the fence to the bullpen.

In the picture below to the left…

38 - hooked up by Jason Phillips.JPG…you can just barely see a little piece of Jason’s blue baseball cap above the green padding right over Gill’s right hand.  As we walked up to the fence, I noticed that Jason was standing right there.  I said hello and he turned around to chat.

Again, I don’t like asking Jason for too much, but these were drastic times.  Gill and Kate were never going to have another first game.  I introduced Jason to everyone, mentioned that they’d flown out to Seattle from the east coast to share their first baseball game with Kellan, and I asked if it was possible for them to get a baseball to mark the occassion.  “No problem,” Jason said, “just let him finish warming up so I can get over to my bag.”  Above to the right, Gill watched through the fence with wide eyes.

Once Garrett finished warming up, Jason headed over to his equipment bag, pulled out a baseball and tossed it over the fence to uncle Kevin who handed it over to Gill who then gladly handed it over to his sister, Kate.

Thanks, again, Jason!

To celebrate Gill and Kate’s first baseball, the three cousins got ice cream helmets and took them back to the suite:

39 - cousins and ice cream helmets.JPGIchiro came to the plate for his final at bat of the night in the 8th inning.  He was still looking to collect his first hit of the night, and his 211th of the season.  And with this swing…

40 - Ichiro hits single in 8th.JPG…he extended his hit streak in games attended by Kellan to one (1) game (and counting).

It was getting late and the action in the suite was quieting down a bit.  The Martelons enjoyed some more “first game” action from the steps in the suite’s seating area:

41 - martelons.JPGThe food service people started cleaning up…

42 - suite from hallway.JPG…while Colleen and Kellan relaxed in a cushy chair:

43 - suite quieting down.JPGOthers, including me and Tim, quietly watched the Mariners offense sputter to the finish line of a 9-0, six hit, shutout loss:

44 - safeco suite 5 panorama.jpgThe brutal loss, however, couldn’t dampen our spirits.  The season was long lost months ago and, while a win would have been great, this night was about family, friends and sharing our five kids’ “first game” experience with one another.  And on that front, the night was a smashing success.

After the game concluded, people slowly said their temporary good-byes (we’re all family, we’d see each other again soon):

45 - packing up.JPGPaulie pointed out the framed shot of our favorite baseball player of all-time hanging on the wall:

46 - paul points out Griff.JPGMonths earlier, I had hoped and expected that Ken Griffey, Jr. would be playing in this game.  Given his retirement, I was at least happy to have him “in” the suite with us.

I didn’t want to leave.  I grabbed my “big guy” and we got a picture as the Safeco Field roof rolled shut:

47 - TJC and tjc in a suite.JPGIn the name of preserving history, I got a picture of the “unhappy” totals:

48 - happy day but unhappy totals.JPGThen we got a picture of our whole family:

49 - 8 Cooks.JPGWe try to get a full family shot at least once a year.  It was great to get this one at Safeco Field (although poor little Kellan was lights out at this point).  Oh, by the way, there is my camera-shy sister-in-law, Alison, between my mom and brother!  (With this picture, I am pretty sure I’ve now included at least one picture of each person who attended the game with us in the suite).

Then, I got yet another panorama from the suite (showing the roof closing)…

50 - safeco suite 5, ted williams suite panorama.jpg…and one more picture of my happy little family (the “PA Cooks”):

51 - 4 Cooks.JPGAside from the final score, it was an almost unbeatable day at the ballpark.

Welcome to the Majors, Kellan!

Ken Griffey, Jr. and Ichiro greeted us in the hallway…

52 - Griff and Ichi see us out.JPG

…as we made our way from the suite to the car.

Why did the night have to end?

2010 Fan Stats:

28 Games

20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)

24 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (2), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

64 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Angels, 4 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

18 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

16 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Jason Phillips, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Bobby Cramer, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

You Win Some and…(8/15/10)

On August 15, 2010, Tim and I woke up in our hotel in Cleveland ready to see the Mariners take another game from the Indians and for Tim to run the bases at Progressive Field.

But first we had to walk around downtown Cleveland a tiny bit to see what the city had to offer.  Just down the street from our hotel was a big park where Tim and I rocked out on some huge guitars…

1 - guitar free.JPG…and then we checked out a really huge “FREE” stamp, which I figured was a reference to the library nearby.

Sitting on the edge of Lake Erie and just down the hill from the park, we found this scene: 

2 - RnR HOF.jpgThat is the Cleveland Browns Stadium (check out the huge windmill to the right of the stadium), some sort of NASA building (the domed thing), and the Rock’N’Roll Hall of Fame.

Okay, that’s enough Cleveland for us, it was time to head to Progressive Field.

We arrived shortly before Gate C opened.  We were about 50 people back in the single line.  After a few minutes, a stadium attendant came up to us and told us to walk up front to start a new line.  So, all of a sudden, we were first in line:


3 - systems check.JPGIt was interesting to witness the stadium workers preparing to open up the gate.  It was like NASA mission control.  The guy standing by us had a walkie-talkie that was *blowing up* with ready checks.

“Team store ready?  “Check!”

“Suite ready”  “Check!”

“Right field ramp ready?”  “Check!”

Finally, all of the checks checked out and we hussled into the stadium to watch our Mariners take some BP.

All of those boxes at the gate?  They were filled with mustard hot dogs…

4 - Mustard Vargas.JPG…several weeks later, Tim still loves that hot dog.  A few minutes after that pictures, young ace-in-training Jason Vargas tossed us a baseball.

Thanks, Vargas!

Tim wasn’t liking the sun beating down in RF, so we headed into the infield to hang out in the shade.

I was just hanging out watching BP and Tim was taking pictures of stuff all over the field.  He loves to take pictures.

At some point, one of our fine Mariners drilled a line drive off of the L-screen and it landed in foul territory…

5 - Rob Nodine.JPG…Mariners trainer Rob Nodine walked over, grabbed the baseball and tossed it up to us.  The baseball had really cool green marks from hitting the L-screen.

Thanks, Rob!

When BP wrapped up, Tim was sitting on my shoulders and we were shooting a video clip as all of our Mariners passed below us into the dugout.  And that is when I got this clip of Alonzo Powell tossing us our third and final baseball of the game:

Thanks, Alonzo!

With BP concluded and half-an-hour or more until game time, we headed up to the second deck in RF so Tim could play in the kids’ play area…

6 - imfamous playarea.JPG…the sight of a major melt down last season shortly before we saw Griffey hit his 624th career homerun.  Hmmm…Tim looks like a giant on that little motorcycle.  He might be too big for this play area.

Before the game started, we headed back down to the field level behind the M’s dugout.  During the national anthem, I got some pictures of our coaching staff including two Major League newcomers, veteran minor league coaches Daren Brown and Roger Hansen…

7 - new management.JPG…along side a couple Mariners coaches who had both thrown us a baseball within the last 24 hours, Alonzo Powell and Lee Tinsley.  By the way, Hansen is the same guy featured in a large scale Ken Griffey, Jr. prank during spring training.  Griff and Hansen go way back.  I think this is Hansen’s first stint in the majors and I hope that Griff gets out to the ballpark (any ballpark) to show his friend some major league support this season.

So, it was game time, and Tim and I found ourselves in the standing room area just behind the last row of seats on the 1B side of home plate.  Yesterday, Ichiro led off the game with a quick single.  Today, he never swung the bat…

8 - 4-for-Ichiro.JPG…and received a four pitch walk to lead off the game.  Unfortunately, he was left on 2B at the end of the inning.

It was lunch time.  Amazingly, Tim did not want nachos.  Instead, all he wanted was a ridiculously huge cup of french fries…

9 - fries time.JPG…that we ate at a table in the 1B side concourse.  While Tim sat and attacked the fries, I nibbled on my fair share of fries while standing next to the table watching Felix Hernandez dominate the Indians.

With the score knotted at zero, Adam Moore grounded out in the second inning:

10 - Adam Moore is No 10.JPGHe’s playing an excellent catcher now-a-days.  But after this game, his batting average dipped to a frighteningly low .159.

The Mariners were doing nothing offensively.

No worries.  Felix Hernandez was still dominating:

11 - King Felix.JPGIchiro was still looking for his 151st hit of the season when he came to bat in the third inning.  No dice.  He grounded out:

12 - Ichiro grounder.JPGIt was time for some ice cream.  We found this place in the 1B side inner concourse (the concourse on the 1B side splits into a two parts – the inside part is open to the field and the outside part is enclosed between concession stands, bathrooms, etc.).

They had ice cream helmets here and some excellent choices of real ice cream flavors…

13 - fancy ice cream.JPG…”Mariner” Moose Tracks, Mint Chocolate Chip, French Vanilla, Chocolate, Superman…and two others that I cannot read.

I got some “Mariner” Moose Tracks and Tim got Superman.  The lady was even kind enough to scoop only blue, yellow and green for Tim (and no extreme hyperness inducing red dye no. 40 ice cream).  Thanks, lady!

Tim enjoyed his Superman ice cream helmet from the handicapped accessible seating right by where we’d previously been standing in the SRO area…

14 - superman ice cream.JPG…I asked if he could sit there and the usher was nice enough to allow it.

Felix, well, he was still dominating:


15 - Felix induces Marson to Groundout 1-3.JPGActually, through four innings, we had a double no-hitter on our hands.

Finally, in the top of the 5th Casey Kotchman broke through with the Mariners first hit of the game, a leadoff double to deep CF.  At this point, our ice cream was gone and Tim was wrapped up in playing with his new mustard hot dog…

16 - fun with mustard.JPG…note that in the bottom center and right pictures, Tim is showing me that the mustard hot dog is eating and spitting sunflower seeds.

While Tim was busy with the mustard hot dog, the Mariners were busy trying to scratch out a run or two for King Felix.  And, despite their best efforts, it wasn’t going too well for the M’s.

With runners on first and second, Michael Saunders attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt…

17 - failed sacrifice for Saunders.JPG…but Indians pitcher Justin Masterson was able to get the lead runner at 3B.

After Chris Woodward walked to load the bases with one out, Ichiro absolutely crushed a line drive…

18 - Ichiro crushes bases loaded line-out.JPG…that Indians first baseman Matt LaPorta snared for the second out.  It had extra bases and 2 RBIs written all over it!  Chone Figgins then laid down another failed bunt for the third out of the inning.

Still, no runs for the Mariners.

Luckily, Felix was still dominating the Indians:

19 - Felix still dominating.JPGSure, he gave up a hit in the fifth and another in the sixth, but he was looking pretty unstoppable.

If the M’s could just scrape out one run, we would have been feeling really good about our chances at seeing a second straight Mariners win.

Tim needed to visit the play area again.  And he tossed some foamy baseballs into this pitching thingy:

20 - all strikes for Tim.JPGSince we were up in the second deck in RF, we figured we better  revisit the spot where we witnessed Ken Griffey, Jr.’s 624th career homerun.  Everything looked beautiful from up there…

21 - Site of No. 624.JPG…except that Griffey was retired and not in attenance.

I noticed that the walkway went out over Gate C (in fact, this walkway is what we tried to take cover under during the rainstorm the day before) and then turned left and headed toward Heritage Park.  So, we followed it.  This was the view from the walkway in almost straight-away CF:

22 - Jake Centerfield bridge panorama.jpgIt was a beautiful day.  We were witnessing an excellent pitchers duel.  We were excited to be at the ballpark:

23 - TJCs on Jake CF bridge.JPGWe decided to go down and visit Heritage Park.  I saw this hanging on the wall, and it looked new to me, so I figured I should share it here…

24 - The Ray Champman Story.JPG…if you click on the picture you can enlarge it so you can read The Ray Chapman Story.

While down there, we spied on the Indians reliever…

25 - Spying on the Indians bullpen.JPG…Masterson lasted only six innings and then Tony Sipp took over for the Tribe.

It was getting into the bottom of the seventh at this point.  We headed to the bleachers in LF.  Felix still had no run support, but he was still looking unhittable.

The first batter in the bottom of the seventh flew out to Franklin Gutierrez.

The second batter grounded out to short stop.

And then things took a disasterous turn.  King Felix induced former Mariner Luis Valbuena to ground to 2B.  But instead of recording the third out of the inning, Chone Figgins booted the ball.

It was nightmare time.  Felix should have been out of the inning.  The Mariners should have been batting in the top of the 8th.  Instead, the Indians proceeded to score SEVEN UNEARNED RUNS.  Six unearned runs were *charged* to Felix, including a grand slam by Travis Hafner.  Then Sean White came in and gave up the final unearned run of the inning — a homerun by Jayson Nix.

Stick a fork in the Mariners.  After a dominating 6.2 inning performance by King Felix, the Mariners were done.

Felix’s line on the day:

6.2 innings, 6 Hits, 6 Runs, 0 Earned Runs, 4 BB, 7K

We headed into the infield for the end of the game.  We found some seats under cover where I got some close-up shots of some Mariners throw-away at bats…including, Russell Branyan…
 26 - Russell Branyan watches a strike.JPG…watching a low pitch en route to a four pitch walk in the top of the 8th.

And Jose Lopez fouling off a pitch…

27 - Jose Lopez fouls.JPG…before hitting a single to RF, which sent Branyan to 2B.  Branyan would go on to score the Mariners only run of the game on an infield single by Franklin Gutierrez.

Tim loves a kids show called “Team Umizoomi,” which has taught him to have “pattern power.”  Tim grabbed my camera and showed off his pattern power with alternating shots of his mustard hot dog and the infield…

28 - Tim's got pattern power.JPG…Pattern Power!

In the eighth, the Indians tacked on two more runs on a homerun by Michael Brantley, who by all indications appears to be the son of former Mariner Mickey Brantley…who happens to be the first person to ever give me a baseball…way back in my youth at the Kingdome.

Like yesterday, we found ourselves sitting in the front row behind home plate in the ninth inning.  It was interesting to watch the home plate cameraman switch camera positions each time a different handed batter came to the plate… 

29 - righty camera lefty camera.JPG…for righties he moved to the left side of home plate and then he switched to the right side when a lefty came to bat.

The game ended with little fan fare.

Once again, a million kids of all age materialized at the umpires’ exit and the home plate umpire ignored everyone.

We headed over to the Mariners dugout to cheer on our non-victorious guys and to pose for a picture:

30 - post-game pre-bases.JPGI guess Tim is posing with his non-existent umpire baseball.

Finally, it was time to line up for Kids Run the Bases!  Exactly 1 year and 363 days ago, Tim, my Dad, and I lined up in this very ballpark for our first ever Kids Run the Bases experience.  We had to go almost to the top of the stadium to find the end of the line…

31 - one tall line.JPG…you can’t really tell in that picture, but the line weaved back and forth up all of those ramps shown in the picture.

I was interested to see something while in line.  When we ran the bases on August 17, 2008, we passed by a sign in the bowels of Progressive Field that notified us that it has been “19″ days since the Indians last “Lost Time Accident.”  I was interested to see how many days they were at now.  My math powers (just like Team Umizoomi) told me that the most days it could possibly be up to was 747 (August 17, 2008 to August 15, 2010 + 19 days = (365 x 2) – 2 + 19 = 747).

The suspense mounted as we wound our way down and down and down into the belly of Progressive Field.  Finally, we reached the bottom.  We turned the final corner and walked into a machine storage / random work stuff area and found the sign:

32 - 365x2-2+19.JPGGood Job, Indians!

Let’s hear it for on-the-job safety!

Finally, we were on the RF foul warning track.  We got some nice person to take our picture by the 325 sign… 

33 - first foul pole reunion.JPGjust like the one my dad took 728 days earlier.  Tim has grown a bit in the past two years.

Then, I had a terrible idea:  I would video Tim’s run around the bases.  I’ve done this a couple times to moderate success.  This time, my filming was a complete failure (well, of the running the bases portion at least, the lead up to the bases is okay).  Here is the evidence:

One cool thing that is hard to tell from this video is that there were several Indians stationed on the field giving kids high fives — one by 1B (not sure who) and one at home plate (manager Manny Acta).

After running, we strolled by the 3B dugout and I got pictures of the fancy dugout seating between the two dugouts and behind home plate (to the left below)…

34 - dugout seating dugout.JPG…and the Indians dugout (right above).

After running the bases and before we could meet up behind the plate, Tim scratched his finger on the metal fence in front of the dugout seating area.  It was a teeny, tiny little scratch, but you would have thought his whole arm was ripped off.  Here he is *gutting out* one last picture from the field…

35 - progressive field with a booboo.JPG…as he holds out his injured pinky to avoid touching anything with it.  When we arrived back at our hotel, we applied a huge adult sized band-aid that really did the trick.

Before leaving the field, I got this panorama from foul territory down the 3B line:

36 - jake LF foul territory panorama.jpgAnd then I walked us back to our hotel with Tim on my shoulders.  On our way back, we (once again) discussed this burnt out building a couple blocks north of the stadium (far left below)…

37- burnt out building.JPG…this rock-with-a-tongue (middle), and I got a picture of us walking (reflection in windows).

Despite the bizzare 7-unearned run inning and the loss following a dominating performance by King Felix, we had a great time at this game and on our entire weekend trip to Cleveland.

2010 Fan Stats:

21 Games

18 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox and Indians; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)

17 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals, Indians)

53 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs)

11 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field)

13 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

9 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

7 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

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