Results tagged ‘ Ken Griffey Jr. ’
On the second day of the 2008 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip, we left Cinncinati and headed down to Louisville, Kentucky for a tour of the Louisville Slugger factory. It was awesome. But they don’t allow cameras in the factory, so I don’t have much to share on it. So go check it out for yourself. In addition to the factory, there is an extremely cool Louisville Slugger museum that includes a Babe Ruth bat that has 20+ notches that Ruth carved into it around the Louisville Slugger logo for each homerun Ruth hit with the bat during his record setting 60 homerun 1927 season.
On day three of the roadtrip, we made our way up north to Cleveland, Ohio and…
We had a game on tap between the Cleveland Indians and the Anaheim Angels of Orange County, California.
We parked a block or two away, walked passed one of the worst corporated named sporting venues of all-time, the Quicken Loans Arena, through a nice little court yard festival area…
We walked through the large RF-CF concourse with all of its various concession stands…
Heritage Park has two levels. In the top left picture, Tim is shown standing in the middle of a big circle which is lined with HOF plaques. Above, I have included pictures of some of the Indians HOF plaques. These are some top-of-the-line HOF’ers: Bob Feller, Tris Speaker, Cy Young, Larry Doby, Early Wynn, Nap Lajoie and Earl Averill.
You might have heard of these guys.
Well, on second thought, although he is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, maybe you don’t know Averill. He isn’t quite on the same level as the rest included here. He was voted into the National HOF by the veterans committee in 1975, 34 years after his final season. I included Averill because, as his plaque notes, he is the “Earl of Snohomish.”
That’s Snohomish, Washington. I grew up in Edmonds, Washington, which is in Snohomish County. Like Adam Eaton, Averill went to Snohomish High School, which many, many, many years after Averill graduated would eventually be in the same athletic conference, WesCo Triple-A, as my high school, Edmonds-Woodway High School. More on Snohomish County and my former WesCo Triple-A foes later.
Back to the tour. After Heritage Park, we headed to the upper deck so I could take pictures for this panaramic view:
Next, it was time for lunch…
Then it was game time. This was our view from Section 175, Row M, Seats 3-5 at Progressive Field:
The Angels got on the board first. After singles by future-Mariner Chone Figgins, Erick Aybar and Mark Teixeira, and a fielders choice by “Big Daddy Vladdy” Guererro, the Angels led 2-0.
The top of the Angels order would do most of the damage for the Angels on the day. Figgins was 2-5 with 2 runs scored, Aybar was 2-5 with 1 run, and Teixeira was 2-4 with 1 RBI.
The crowd was pretty low key…
In the bottom of the third, Ryan Garko hit a single…
Soon, it was time for ice cream helmets…
We’d driven to Cleveland in the morning from a camp ground an hour or so west of Columbus, Ohio. Tim hadn’t napped so I knew he would crash at some point during this game. That time came in the 4th or 5th inning.
I took him up to the concourse behind our section to get him out of the sun. He fell asleep sitting on my shoulders and he stayed that way for 3 entire innings.
Fasano would get his redeption by scoring the winning run for the Indians on a sixth inning single by Indians center fielder Grady Sizemore.
Speaking of Sizemore, you know where he grew up? In Everett, Washington. Yep, that’s the county seat of Snohomish County. Sizemore graduated from my WesCo rival, Cascade High School.
Aside from rejuvenating Tim for the rest of the day, something else good came out of Tim’s nap. In that picture above to the left, do you see the large usher in the green shirt and the dark-haired guy sitting under the “PR” in the “Express” sign? Those two chatted the entire Tim I was standing up there. The seated guy had a son (sitting right in front of me in the picture). So the usher mentioned to him that it was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!! I had no clue. The only advertised promotion was an art kit for kids. Tim had never run the bases at a big league field (for that matter, neither had I), so I was extremely excited. The usher told us where to go toward the end of the game to get in line.
After Tim woke up, we went back to our seats for a little bit. I told my dad about it being Kids Run the Bases Day. We decided to make our way over to the RF corner where the line would form. On our way, an usher took a picture of us…
We missed the uneventful ninth inning because we were in a long line snaking up the switch-back walkway from the field level to the upper deck behind the RF concourse. Notably, Jeremy Sowers got the win for the Indians taking his season record to 2-6. His only other win on the season was the Mariners-Indians game we had attended in Seattle back on July 19, 2008.
Anyway, the line finally started moving and we snaked our way under the stadium, and passed a sign that read:
ON THE JOB SAFETY BEGINS HERE
This Department Has Worked 19 Days Without a Lost Time Accident.
ACCIDENTS ARE AVOIDABLE
The “19″ was a red digital light that counts up each day from the last accident.
Anyway, eventually, we made our way out of the tunnels and through an entrance at the side of the visitors’ bullpen…
And much to my delight, since Tim was only two, I got to run with him…
…I gotta admit it, I was at least as excited about it as Tim. It was really cool to be running behind Tim around the same bases we would eventually see Ken Griffey, Jr. circle after his 624th homerun.
After circling the bases, we met up with my dad and got a few more picture before we left the field of play.
We capped off the day at the KOA in Streetsboro, Ohio where my dad helped Tim roast the first smore of his young life:
Last August, I did an entry summarzing The (First Annual) Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Road Trip. The purpose of doing so was to give some background and context for the Second Annual Roadtrip that took me, Tim and my dad through Chicago, Minnesota and Milwaukee in August 2009. Those entries were just a combination of emails I sent to family members while we were on our first roadtrip. Now, its time to do actual game updates for those four games.
After I got off work on August 14, 2008, my dad (Jim), Tim and I packed into the car and drove to Washington, Pennsylvania where we spent the night at a KOA. Over the next five days, we would visit Great American Ball Park in Cinncinati, the Louisville Slugger factory in Kentucky, Progessive Field in Cleveland, PNC Park in Pittsburgh, and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
We woke up on the morning of August 15, 2008, and packed up our stuff to head to Great American Ball Park…
I’d been watching the Reds on TV since Griffey was traded to Cincinnati, so I knew exactly where we had to go for dinner before the game…
Downtown Cinncinati slopes down toward the Ohio River, the Ohio-Kentucky border…
Now, in the grand scheme of all of the new stadiums, I had heard that Great American Ball Park was nothing special. But, you know what, I really liked it. Its no Camden Yards or Safeco Field, but it had a special feel of its own. In fact, I almost felt like it was a Major Leauge size minor league ball park. That’s not meant to be insulting. What I mean is that it sort fo felt *quaint* — maybe it was because we sat in the RF bleachers with the big steam boat nearby in CF and the river behind us. Anyway, I liked it a lot.
As we approached the main entrance of the ballpark, we found a statute of Ted Kluszewski and a big banner thanking Griffey for his 600th homerun…
Sixteen days before this game, Griffey was traded to the Chicago White Sox. We’d planned to sit right behind him in RF.
By the way, I didn’t write an entry about it because Tim wasn’t with me, but after missing seeing Griffey’s 600th homerun in Philadelphia, a buddy from high school and I saw Griff’s 601st homerun at Yankee Stadium during interleague play.
With no Griffey in sight, I was all about seeing Albert Pujols do something special in this game. As we entered the park, Albert was standing right there behind home plate speaking with Edinson Volquez…
…a few minutes later, Volquez walked into the Reds dugout just below me and Tim. All I had on me was a cheap plasticy ball we bought on our way to play catch with on the trip. Anyway, Volquez and some other unidentified Red signed it.
We headed out to the seats in RF to watch some BP. It was pretty packed out there. Tim and I squeezed into the first row and my dad hung back a row or two behind. We were having no luck. Then, on what I think was the final pitch of BP, someone hit a ball off the wall right in front of us. As it bounced off of the wall, all of the Cardinals started to run toward their dugout. But reliever Chris Perez turned around to grab that ball. He grabbed it and started running back toward the field. Then everyone yelled at him. He turned around. The 20-something guy next to us and I both pointed at Tim. Perez fired the ball over to us.
It was the first ball Tim had got this season.
With Tim’s new baseball in hand, we headed to the concourse behind 1B and made our way over the Reds Hall of Fame:
Along the far end of the Reds HOF (closest to the outfield and Ohio River), there is a wall of 4,256 baseballs representing Pete Rose’s record-setting career hit total.
The balls cover the wall the entire way as you ascend three flights of stairs. If you click on that picture to enlarge it, you will see that the balls are all game (or at least BP) used. They are all dirty and scuffed with bat marks. Its an excellent visual representation of Rose’s hit record.
The Reds HOF is packed with jerseys, bats, gloves, and shoes with little descriptions of the Reds Hall of Famers.
I was happy to see a Ken Griffey, Sr. jersey in there. I’m a big proponent of team Halls of Fame. I think the Baseball Hall of Fame should be reserved for the super-elite, best of the best of the best of the best. Some peopel refer to “inner circle” Hall of Famers. To me, the “inner circle” should be the entire Hall of Fame. If a player is borderline, if an “argument” mut be made for a player’s candidacy to the Baseball Hall of Fame. I think that means that player is not a Hall of Famer.
But that doesn’t mean there is no place for such players. If a player can’t make the Baseball Hall of Fame after years on the ballot. No problem, those players can still be remembered forever by the people to whom they were most important in their respective team’s hall of fame. Anyway, those are my two cents.
And anyone lucky enough to make it into the Reds HOF should be very pleased, indeed, this place is spectacular.
Check out this great picture they have on the wall of the members of the Reds HOF:
Like a Safeco Field, they have a fake wall where you can pretend to pick-off homeruns. Unlike Safeco Field, the Reds offer a variety of gloves from past and present. Check out the sweet piece of leather I picked in the picture below:
…they had a little kids club house type area with little lockers with little jerseys they could wear and slides and things to climb. In another area, they had a mock *man cave* full of stuff the ultimate Reds fan my have in his den. Check out this picture of Ken Griffey, Jr. Notice anything odd?
He signed it “George K. Griffey, Jr.” I have never seen him do that before.
Soon, it was game time. I took this panaramic view from our seats in RF.
I bought these tickets literally the second they went on sale…in February or March or 2008…and the best they could give us in RF (where I was hoping Griffey might hit a homerun) was 3 rows from the top of the bleachers.
Then, in the bottom of the first, I got this picture just as Reds rookie Chris Dickerson hit his first career homerun.
The ball landed in the Cardinals bullpen just below the glass partition to the left of the picture.
After Dickerson’s homerun, I tried to zoom in for a picture of Albert Pujols, but this is the best my old camera could do:
…but didn’t find any cream helmets until I made it all the way around to behind home plate. So I ended up doing a full loop of the ballpark. I’m sure the wait made Tim appreciate the ice cream even more:
After we finished our ice cream, we headed back toward home plate because I saw some ballpark artwork I wanted to photograph while I had my hands full of ice cream helmets. Here they are, two big mosaics of the .
Above is the 1869 Red Stockings, which according to Wikipedia were the first “openly professional” baseball team. Below, is the Big Red Machine from the 1970s…including short-time Mariner and father of a future Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey.
Back to the game, in the top of the third, Pujols hit a ground rule double. The first of two doubles and three total hits on the evening. By the end of the third, a bulk of the scoring for the game was done. The Cardinals were winning 4-2. Each team would score only one more run.
Late in the game, I ventured out in search of some pizza and took some more ballpark pictures. Here is Great American Ball Park from foul territory in the LF corner.
Here are two more pictures:
To the right, a view of the extra wide concourse in foul territory down the 3B line. To the left, a picture of the Cardinals bullpen. Directly across the field I have circled in yellow the big open concourse pictured to the right.
After taking that shot of the bullpen, I turned to the right at took two more pictures:
And when we were over there, we ran into a local celebrity, Rosie Red…
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals brought in Chris Perez. He gave up one hit, but struck out two to secure the win for the Cards and the save for himself.
After the game, they shooed us out of the OF seats. He relocated into the infield seats, where I took a couple more random stadium shots…
Tim would fall asleep on my shoulders as we walked back to our hotel.
On June 2, 2008, the stars appeared to be aligning themselves for something wonderful. I’d been watching with anticipation the past month. I saw the possibility. But could it really happen?
Then the day arrived.
Ken Griffey, Jr. and the Cinncinati Reds arrived in Philadelphia. It would be Tim’s first opportunity in his life to see my all-time favorite player. And if Griffey could connect for a homerun, it would be his historic 600th blast. It all seemed too good to be true!
Sadly, it was.
I questioned whether the Reds would sit Griff so he could hit number 600 in Cinncinati. But the Reds had 7 more games before returning to Cinncinati. There was no way he would sit 7 games.
At this point, Tim was not quite 2-and-a-half years old. He really wasn’t good for BP and a full game yet. That was just too much. But, we headed down to Philadelphia early for this one. I wanted to maximize our time in Griff’s presence. But when the Reds took the field for BP, Griff was nowhere to be seen. This wasn’t promising for our chances of seeing number 600.
In fact, it ended up that Griff’s knee was acting up. He was not in the line-up.
Anyway, as I said, Tim wasn’t really a BP guy yet. So we did a little touring around the ballpark before the game…
He pushed his stroller all the way up the winding ramps up to the upper deck in the RF foul corner. I took this shot as we turned the final bend in the ramps. That’s Lincoln Financial Field in the background.
I think this was Tim’ first time ever being in an upper deck of a ballpark. He was a little *iffy* about it. I’m not sure if it was because he was uncomfortable being up so high or if it was because the sun was blazing down in our eyes.
We got some french fries and found a nice spot behind Section 106 at one of the many standing counters ringing the field level at Citizens Bank Park…
Seeing Griff play and getting a chance to witness No. 600 was the entire reason we attended this week-night game. With our hopes and dreams for the night spoiled (he would not even pinch hit), we needed to make the night special in some other way.
So, sitting behind Section 137 at Citizens Bank Park, we started a grand tradition…
…we shared Tim’s first ever ice cream helmet!!!
Do you notice there is an extra spoon in the helmet? This being Tim’s first ice cream helmet, he had not yet realized they were too good to share with his dear old dad.
I’d been watching the Reds pretty regularly for 8 seasons by this point (solely to watch Griff), so I was pretty familiar with their team. While standing down the LF foul line in Section 137, it was a straight shot out to Adam Dunn.
In Griffey’s world, Dunn was to the Reds what Buhner was to the Mariners: Griff’s friend and big Texan power hitting neighbor in the outfield.
That last picture was taken in the bottom of the first inning and the Phils were already getting business started. After Shane Victorino singled with one out, Chase Utley staked the Phillies to a 2-0 lead with a 2-run homerun.
For about an inning and a half, it was as if there was no game being played at all.
After Tim finished his ice cream, we headed over to the home plate area, a little off toward first base, so we could get a peak into the Reds dugout…
Tim loves the kids playset at Citizens Bank Park. In the 18 MLB ballparks Tim and I have visited, I’m pretty sure that it is objectively the best play area…
By the way, for perspective for anyone who hasn’t visited Citizens Bank Park, those steel beams above Tim in that picture are supporting the winding walk way up to the upper deck where Tim was pictured above with Lincoln Financial Field in the background. The play area is just to the outfield side of the main 1B side entrance to Citizen Bank Park.
Back to the game, in the top of the 4th inning, as Tim played in the play area, I watched on the Dads’ flatscreen TV as rookie Jay Bruce (the man who was playing RF in Griffey’s place) hit his third career homerun in this third career game.
We headed back out to the field level for the bottom of the 4th in time to see Pedro Feliz (2-run) and Chris Coste (solo) hit back-to-back homeruns off of Bronson Arroyo…
…Tim cheered on as he ate cotton candy (it was a high calorie night for Cook & Son), as the Phillies took a 5-1 lead.
Late in the game, Tim wanted to play around in the field level concourse. I snapped this picture of him hiding in a steel beam…
…he always enjoys standing in these things at Citizens Bank Park. He enjoys the little things in life.
We also ran into three nice ushers out in the concourse who each gave Tim a little souvenir: a Philly Phanatic figurine, a little wood baseball bat keychain, and a Cole Hamels baseball card that was magically pulled from behind Tim’s ear.
Between a solo shot by Juan “Fireworks” Encarnacion in the fifth and a 2-run double by Dunn in the sixth, the Reds would score three more runs on the night, but Coste’s homerun would be enough for the Phillies. In the bottom of the ninth, Brad Lidge nailed down the save 1-2-3 with two strike outs. On June 2nd, Lidge’s ERA was still only 0.75.
Over the next two days, without Tim, I’d make two more efforts at witnessing Griff’s 600th homerun. But he rode the bench both days. His knee was still bothering him. He pinch hit late in each game and walked twice on a combined 9 pitches. I only saw him swing the bat once between the two games. Both at-bats were incredibly intense. The whole stadium was on its feet. Philadelphia fans can be rude and crude and mean. But I was extremely proud of them at these games. They understood they had the chance to see history and I think a lot of them wanted it to happen despite the fact it would have been terrible for the Phillies in both games. At the end of the final game of the series (the only game I didn’t attend and the only one Griffey played), the entire stadium gave Griffey a standing ovation.
Sadly, he went on to hit his 600th homerun in South Florida before a pathetic and heartless crowd. It should have happened before one of those great sell-out crowds in Philadelphia, but at least his wife and kids were able to be there for the historic blast in Florida.
Hope springs eternal in the month of April. And entereing April 2008, I was hopeful that the Mariners were about to embark on a successful campaign in the AL West. And I was happy to be there at the beginning of it all. For the first weekend of the 2008 season, the Mariners were in Baltimore and that is where we met up with them on April 6, 2008.
As we approached the field for the first time of the season…
Soon after we arrived, the Camden Yards grounds crew removed the tarp from the field…
With no batting practice taking place, we took the opportunity to get a family picture by the LF foul pole:
Then we headed over to our seats in centerfield:
And even better, Felix Hernandez was dealing like crazy on the mound. In his second start of the season, he pitched 8 scoreless innings, gave up only 5 hits, struck out 6 and maintained his flawless 0.00 ERA.
To go along with King Felix’s mastery, Raul Ibanez put together a 3-4 day at the plate including his first homerun of the season to help lead the Mariners offense.
Everything was looking great, and Tim (and I) was having a blast…
…yep, I caught me a knucklehead.
As the innings ticked by and the Mariners marched toward an apparent win, the kids were excited to see the Orioles Bird visit the outfield seats:
But then things turned dark.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Mariners had a 2-0 lead. King Felix had dominated from his 1st pitch to his 97th pitch. But for some reason, soon-to-be-fired Mariners manager, John McLaren pulled Felix and went to the bullpen.
It took Eric O’Flaherty only three batters to get the first two outs, and give up the first Orioles run of the day. O’Flaherty’s fourth-and-final batter-faced, Luke Scott, hit a single. That was all she wrote for O’Flaherty.
With two outs, a runner on first, and a 1-run lead, Mark Lowe entered the game. Another bad decision by McLaren. Lowe’s first batter hit a single sending pinch-runner Adam Jones to third. Lowe then threw a wild pitch and Adam Jones came in to tie the game at 2-2…
We started praying for extra-innings. But one batter later, Luis Hernandez hit another single bringing in the losing run.
Aye, aye, aye…a great day with friends at the ballpark ended in misery…it was a gut-wrenching Mariners loss. Unfortunately, it would be a sign of things to come for the 2008 Mariners.
I am officially excited for 2010! I love that Griffey is coming back. I can’t wait for Tim and I to get more opportunities to see him play. And I’m excited about how Jack Zduriencik is shaking things up to help the Mariners improve again in 2010.
So its officially time to start thinking of 2010. I’ve been scouring team schedules and planning out a great 2010 for me and Tim.
The first order of business: planning The Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010. Last night and today, my dad and I have exchanged a lot of emails on the subject and here is the tentative plan:
6/10 – Angels at A’s
6/11 – Angels at Dodgers
M’s at Padres
M’s at Padres
6/14 – Brewers at Angels
6/15 – Orioles at Giants
The two things I am most excited about here: (1) getting in two Mariners games on the roadtrip and (2) Dodgers Stadium. I am excited about all of the stadiums. But for some reason, I am most excited to get to Dodger Stadium, which I was at for one game in 1994, but have almost no memory of it.
But I have one concern. We only have one game planned for Dodger Stadium, but I want to roam around and see the entire stadium. Is that possible? If we get infield tickets, can we get out to the outfield at all? If we get outfield tickets, can we get into the infield at all? It seems like I’ve read on a number of blogs that there are limitation on what portions of the stadium you can access with different tickets. Any advice about how best to do Dodger Stadium (or any of these five ballparks) would be greatly appreciated!
In middle school and high school, I played first base and left field. When I was stationed at first, I used a Rawlings RFM14 (Wally Joyner signature model). I Iiked it. It was a good glove. In fact, it helped me set a school record for consecutive put outs without an error in 8th grade at old College Place Middle School.
Here, in the only known picture of me during one of my high school baseball games…
Back in 1991, I went to Spring Training. For the final spring training game of the year, the Mariners let me be their bat boy for the day — a Mariners win over the Cubs behind the pitching of Randy Johnson and hitting of Ken Griffey, Jr. That day, the much-loved Harold Reynolds actually used my RFM14 to warm up before the game. So, it was definitely a good glove with a rich history.
Then came 1994 and my playing days were finished. But for some of my lucky friends, there was more organized baseball to be played. A contingent of my best friends went on to play at junior colleges and a couple four-year universities. One of those guys was my good friend since Sherwood Elementary School, Brian “The Amazing Speed” O’Neal. “The Amazing Speed” was a joke nickname in 5th grade. Later on, one of the guys would bestow upon Brian the nickname “Butch,” and for me it has stuck.
Anyway, Butch went on to play college ball in Oregon. He was a pitcher, and later a first basemen. With my playing days behind me, it made sense for me to loan my trusty RFM14 to Butch. And so, I did.
Fast forward 15 years to Monday, December 7, 2009. Butch and I have exchange thed occassional email and we spoke briefly on the phone once this past season. But for the most part, we’ve been out of contact for probably 12-13 years. But on Monday my wife called me at work to inform me, “You received a package in the mail today…from Brian O’Neal!”
Alarms instantly went off in my head. ”Oh, my god,” I thought, “ITS MY GLOVE!”
Although I have never made any effort to retreive my glove or ever really been concerned about getting it back, I’ve never forgot about that glove. It has crossed my mind from time-to-time as the years have passed.
Could this really be the day? I didn’t know why else Butch would be sending me a package.
Colleen asked if she could open the package.
“No way,” I responded! “How big is it?”
“Like a package from Amazon.com,” she replies.
“Hmm…” Now, I’m not so sure.
On the drive home after work, I continue thinking. Brian and I made a bunch of home “movies” — most notably, “The Hound Of The Edmondsville” — when we were…hmm…sophomores, I’d guess. Maybe this Amazon.com sized box was a VHS copy of the “‘Brian & Todd: Come Jam With Us” video we shot at the little kid hoops at Sherwood? That seemed more the size of an Amazon.com box.
Finally, I walk into the house and see the box. “Hey, that seems glove sized,” I though. I shook the box like it was a birthday or Christmas gift. ”Hmmm…that doesn’t seem very glove’ish. And it does sort of have a video cassette’ish sound to it.”
Colleen walked in and I declared to her that “I have two ideas of what this is…otherwise, I have no clue.”
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH:
And, Butch included a note:
That’s just too funny…and thoughtful. I’m sure he figured I had given up on any thought of ever seeing the glove again. So it was very cool of him to take the time (and postage) to send it across the country to me.
Anyway, I was pretty excited to see my old friend again. I did some inspecting and found that the years hadn’t been kind…so, after typing out a quick “thank you” email to Butch, Tim and I headed to “The Baseball Store,” our local Rawlings outlet. I decided the glove could use some new laces, and I figured that it would be fun to do them in dark green, which is the primary color of our high school baseball team.
Here are some photos from the last twenty four hours.
As you can see in the upper left, the sewn connection at the top of the webbing tore off. Hopefully Butch didn’t take a hard liner to the eye due to that. I had to fix that and, as you can see at the bottom right, it now looks much better.
Here are some comparison shots of the back of the glove…
Although Brian’s “fix” was creative, I think mine will hold up a little bit better.
Finally, you can see that my old friend was a little tired and flat from his 15 year journey…
Its good to have my old friend home again.
Let’s take a quick break from the off-season historical updates and get in late-November game update. No, we didn’t find a baseball game to attend. But I thought it would be fun to change the pace for one entry and do a college football game update.
I grew up in Seattle and am a Pac-10 college football fan. In 1999, I started law school at Temple University, which is historically better known as a basketball school thanks to the legendary John Chaney. In fact, during my time at Temple, I never attended a single football game…I’m not sure if anyone else did either. We were pathetic. But four years ago something changed.
In 2006, Temple hired Al Golden, Jr. as its new head football coach. At the time, I didn’t know a thing about Golden. But I soon learned that he is second cousin to my father-in-law, Kevin Gill. Specifically, my wife’s grandma, Regina (Ryan) Gill, was first cousins with Al Golden, Sr. So I decided I better start supporting both my university and my family. Tim and I have attended to 2-4 games per season since 2007.
And “Cousin Al” has worked miracles at Temple. A little background, in 2005, the Owls were 0-11. They haven’t made a bowl game since 1979. And I think their last winning season was 1990. They were kicked out of the Big East due to low attendance — “low” is actually putting it nicely. Their attendance was and still is pathetic. So they spent a season as an independent and then joined the MAC 2 years ago.
They have improved each year under Cousin Al. In 2006, they were 1-11. In 2007, they were 4-8 (4-4 MAC). In 2008, they improved again to 5-7 (4-4 MAC). They could have won as many as 8 last season but finished poorly in 3 games, including one loss on a hail mary pass by Buffalo.
Enter 2009. The Owls started out 0-2 against Villanova and Penn State. Since then, they had won 8 consecutive games entering this week. They were leading the MAC East at a perfect 5-0. They are bowl eligible and could finish as good as 10-2. Plus, they could make it to the MAC championship game.
Simply put, Al Golden was a great hire for Temple.
My father-in-law and some others have wanted to see Cousin Al and his “Golden” Owls. So, we decided to go as a group on November 21, which is also my lovely wife’s birthday. This would be Tim’s first time “tailgating” before a sporting event. The opponet: the Kent State Golden Flashes.
Coming from Pennsyvlania, New Jersey and Virginia, we met up in the parking lot at Lincoln Financial Field. Yep, the Owls play at the Eagles’ stadium. Here was our group:
Left to right: Kimberly (Colleen’s sister), Kate (our neice), Bob (Colleen’s Dad’s uncle and Al Golden Sr.’s first cousin), Ann (Bob’s wife), Colleen, Me, Tim, Kevin (Kimberly’s husband), and Kevin (Colleen’s Dad). Tim is giving a big frown in this picture because he just stepped on an unopened bag of potatoe chips, bounced off of it and fell to the pavement. You know you’re light on your feet when you can step on a bag of potatoe chips without popping the seal!
By the way, you may remember Kevin, Ann and Bob from Tim’s first Mariners game.
Here was our tailgating location:
Ann and Bob are long time New York Giants (booooo!) season holders and they know how to conduct a tailgating party:
The guys next to us were big time tailgaters too. They set up a big flag pole at the side fo their car…
…featuring a Temple flag, Irish flag, and Papal flag. The guy said they put the Pope’s flag up because another tailgating regular also flies a Temple and Irish flag. Anyway, those guys were cool. They let us use their soft temple football, a soccer net and soccer ball, and sidewalk chalk.
I came prepared with baseball equipment:
I couldn’t pass up the chance to get my photo with Hooter too:
…when we finally entered the stadium, the band was configured as an owl’s head on the field:
Kevin took Tim under his wing and taught him some of the ins and outs of football:
The first half was too close for comfort. In fact, Kent State led for much of the first half. And when things went right for Temple, they still didn’t go all-that-right. Like after Temple’s lone TD of the first half, Kent State blocked the PAT kick:
Then, we toured around the stadium a bit. ”The Linc” is a great place. But Football stadiums are no where as cool and wonderful as baseball stadiums. We did find this excellent view of Citizens Bank Park and the Philadelphia skyline from the field level concourse at the NW corner of the stadium:
By the way, you might notice that Kevin, Kimberly and Kate are not in these pictures. They ended up having to leave before the game even started. You see, Kate’s brother Gill was napping in one of the cars during the tailgating. He wasn’t feeling too hot and they decided they better take him home rather than make him sit through the game. So we were a party of six during the game.
Here is a panaramic view I took of the field from the endzone concourse:
Colleen grew up in Fredericksburg, VA. And so did Temple football player Delano Green…
Toward the end of the game, Tim watched a TV show about big ships at sea while Colleen did some coloring:
By the way, this was also Ken Griffey, Jr.’s 40th birthday. Happy Birthday, Griff!
On September 3, 2007, we headed up to NYC to take in a Mariners game in the Bronx. We went with my friend Marc from college. Marc is also from Seattle, but in 2007 he was working in the investment world in NYC. This was the first time I’d seen him since college. And, it was Tim’s first trip to NYC and to “The House That Ruth Built” (and Griffey destroyed).
We came up to NYC for the weekend, and we stayed with another friend from college, Davlynn, who also lived in NYC in 2007. The day before the game, Davlynn took us to the American Museum of Natural History…
…where Tim REALLY enjoyed seeing lots of dinorsaur bones. Trust me. He looks utterly bored in this picture, but he really loved the museum. So, if you find yourself at 79th & Central Park West in Manhatten, check it out.
We also took Tim to Central Park to play a little baseball on a field that we miraculously found to be empty…
Soon, it was time to meet up with Marc and his wife, Angie, and take the 4-train up to the Bronx.
Now, I’m a good baseball fan. So I’m dutifully teaching Tim a healthy disrespect for the pinstriped-team from the Bronx. Upon entering the ballpark, he already had the heebeegeebees from the cramped confines of the ballpark and the overwhelming aroma of corporate greed that would soon bring wall street crashing to the ground:
I assured Tim that there was nothing to worry about. The Mariners would surely destroy the home team. The Mariners would be throwing their young ace, King Felix Hernandez, while the home squad would be trotting out an old goat, a pre-Mitchell Report Roger Clemens. I was ready for a historic Clemens loss, and I would not be dissappointed.
So, as the game began, Tim was cautiously optimistic and ready to see his Mariners put on a show to remember:
“Yes,” I explained, “so mind your P’s and Q’s.”
By the way, not everyone was a fan of the opposition, that is Marc shown behind Tim’s outreached arm. He’s a good Mariners fan.
Now, I wouldn’t lead Tim astray, it WAS a great and historic game. In fact, despite the fact it didn’t feature former-and-future Mariners great Ken Griffey, Jr., this is one of the best games I’ve ever witnessed.
The game started like so many Mariners games do: Ichiro hit a line drive single to right field. So things were already off to a good start. Ichiro extended his hit streak to five games in the five games Tim had attended to date. But that was all the M’s managed in the top of the first.
The bottom of the first was the only bad part of the game. King Felix had some first inning jitters and fell behind by 1 run.
But don’t worry, the M’s came back in the top of the second. Raul Ibanez started off the inning with a single to LCF. Ben Broussard walked. And then Clemens fired a wild pitch to the backstop sending Ibanez to 3B. Finally, Jose Lopez got an infield hit to score Rauuuuuuuuul! And just like that the Mariners had tied it up 1-1.
Tim was happy about this turn of events:
By the way, check out the old water-soaked wood on the bottom of the upper deck (behind/above us). You don’t see that in a modern stadium! Well, really, I think you don’t see that anywhere — not in Boston or on the north side of Chicago, which were much older than this 1970′s re-model job.
The top of the second was just the Mariners warm-up act. They were about to lower the boom on their hosts.
Ichiro led off the top of the third inning with a homerun blast to LCF. Not only did the hit give the Mariners the lead (for good), but it was Ichiro’s 200th hit of the season for the SEVENTH season in a row! Hooray for Ichiro!!! And hooray for us for being there to witness this piece of history.
Meanwhile, King Felix kept mowing down opposing batters.
In the top of the fourth, the Mariners scored three more runs on a single by Adrian Beltre, hit-by-pitch for Jose Lopez, a double by Yuniesky Betancourt, and another single by Ichiro.
By this point, Tim and I were having a great time watching our Mariners dominate:
At some piont in the 4th inning, Roger Clemens hurt his leg falling off the mound awkwardly. In an unprecedented move, Joe Torre brought former Orioles great Mike Mussina into the game in relief. A quick review of Moose’s bio will reveal that this was the ONLY relief appearance of his probably-Hall of Fame career — 537 games, 536 games started.
Here’s the second piece of history involved in the game, this must be one of the most combined career wins that one team has ever had on the mound in one game. I’ve tried to get someone from ESPN.com to research and determine if there has ever been more combined wins by a team in one game, but I haven’t been able to get the answer. After Mussina gave up two more runs, he was replaced by Chris Britton, who ultimately gave way to Kyle “New York’s Finest” Farnsworth. (By the way, I once saw a shirt for sale outside this ballpark that said, “Anybody But Farnsworth.” That gave me a chuckle.)
Anyway, as of September 3, 2007, Roger Clemens had 354 wins (and he would NEVER win again), Mike Mussina had 247 wins, Britton had zero career wins (he is still stuck on zero), and Farnsworth had 27 career wins. All totaled, the Mariners faced off against SIX HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT (628) career wins. What do you think, is that a record? I’ve certainly never heard of a team throwing more career wins in one game.
But all of those career wins were no match for King Felix Hernandez and his (then) 27 career wins. Tim was all like…
The scoreboard showed the happy totals:
After the game, we tired to get a nice family picture, but Tim wasn’t into posing at the time (possibly because we’d just sat in ridiculously hot weather for 3+ hours). But combining the two pictures, you can get a semi-panaramic view of the field:
Thanks to the Mitchell Report and the amazing falling from grace of Mike Piazza’s favorite opposing pitcher, this game proved to be the final loss of Roger Clemens’s former-future-Hall of Fame career. But more importantly:
Last year, I got an awesome email from the Mariners announcing the return of the greatest Mariner of all-time, Ken Griffey, Jr.
Today, I was equally as excited to receive the following email from the M’s:
To read the rest of the article linked to the email, click here.
Thanks, Griff! And welcome back, once more. I can’t wait!
PS – while we’re on the subject to Griffey, I heard throughout the season that he made several sets of white silk ties for his teammates season. But I never saw them on TV. Well, I just found pictures of them on the printing company’s blog. Check them out:
I like ‘em! Way to go, Griff. Bring that sense of humor back our way in the spring.
Five days after Tim’s first Mariners road game, we were back in Seattle visiting my parents and taking in Tim’s second and third home Mariners games…
…I slacked off on the photos, particularly for the second game, so I am doing this as a two-game entry.
As of this point in time, Tim had been to two Mariners games in his life and the Mariners were a perfect 2-0. Unfortunately, I knew that wouldn’t last forever. These two games would prove me right. We would come out of these games with a 2-2 Mariners record in Tim’s games. But, we had a lot of fun nonetheless.
At the first game, we sat in my parents’ seats…
…they have had either full or partial season tickets for about 15 years now. Back in 2007, their seats were behind home plate slightly toward the third base side, and about 30 rows up. They were nice seats.
Both of these games were against the Twins. For the first game, it was me and Tim, plus my parents and Colleen. Tim was under 2 years old so he didn’t need his own ticket or seat.
My folks had a great time passing Tim back and forth during the game, and he had fun sitting on their laps and watching the game:
I used to also take his portable booster seat to games and he spent a little time in it at this game (still eating french fries)…
Unfortuantely, this game got outta hand quick. It was a match up of Horacio Ramirez and Matt Garza. You may recall that just five days ago, Tim and I had seen Ramirez earn his first road victory of the season. Well, this game would be his first home loss of the season. Its unfortunate we had to see this outcome. Just a week later, Ramirez would face off against Garza at the Metrodome and would beat him.
With our M’s trailing in the middle innings, I took Tim to see the Mariners Hall of Fame display in the concourse behind 3B at Safeco Field.
First, we acted like we were picking off a home run:
…I should note, I’m not sure if these bats are game-used or just the models these guys used. I’m guessing the latter because it would seem like a poor decision to display a Griffey game-used bat in this manner (where it could get damaged by a fan). Either way, its cool to see these guys’ bats.
By the seventh inning, the Mariners were trailing 7-1. A lot of the damage was care of Twins center fielder Torii Hunter who was 3-4 with 4 runs scored. It was getting ugly. So, we decided to go track down one of the Mariners best fans of all-time, my best buddy, Paul:
Paulie and I had gone to the game the night before and saw the Mariners beat the Twins. It was one of the few games I’ve been to without Tim since his first game back in September 2006. Unfortunately, it would be the only home Mariners win either of us would witness in 2007, and Tim missed it. But on a positive note, Paul and I enjoyed it a lot!
Anyway, back to this game, the Mariners tried to mount a come back in the 8th, but it was too little too late. And then the Twins piled on 3 more in the top of the 9th to put the dagger in the M’s. The bright spot on the night is that Ichiro was 1-4 to continue his hit streak in the games Tim had attended – 3 whole games, and counting…
August 15, 2007
Tim, my dad and I were right back at it the next day. I got us tickets in the “Hit It Here” Cafe as a late-Father’s Day gift for my dad. Although my dad had ate a meal in the Cafe before, none of us had ever watched a game from the Cafe.
This was a great game until the very end. But it was also the worst photographed game of Tim’s life. In fact, there is not a single picture of Tim and me together at this game, the only game of his life for which that can be said. I think it was because we were in the Cafe, which is much more like being in a restaurant (because you are) than being at a ballpark (probably because it is so quiet in there).
But I did get some great grandfather-grandson shots, like these:
We started out with some delicious nachos…
That last picture gives you somewhat of a feel for the Cafe, but I didn’t get a good picture of what the place really looks like. Here’s the deal:
There are three rows of counter-space seats. We were in the first row where there are two seats for each window. The seats are wooden chairs, not ballpark-style stadium seats. Behind our seats was a row of restaurant-style tables. They are tall tables/seats so the people sitting behind us had a clear line of sight over us. Just above/behind those tables was another counter with another row of tables just behind it, and then one more counter with one last row of tall tables/seats behind it. There is a big vertical rise in the Cafe. In that last picture above, I am standing behind the top counter looking down. You can see the bottom and middle counters, but you can’t see the tables because they are below and hidden by the middle counter.
After the nachos, we took on one mighty piece of chocolate cake with strawberry topping…
Grandpa helped Tim check out the action in the stadium with Grandpa’s binoculars…
As for the actual game, as I said, it was a good one. Jarrod Washburn pitched and gave up only 1 earned run in 7 innings (and 2 runs total). It was 1-1 going into the top of the 8th inning. And it was 2-1 Twins in the top of the 9th when, once again, Torii Hunter did some major damage. He hit a grand slam against Sean Green with two outs in the top of the 9th inning.
Once again, on the positive side, Ichiro was 2-4 with 2 stolen bases, and Raul Ibanez was 2-4 with a home run.
Despite the 6-1 final score, it was a well-played and exciting game until the very end, and it was a fun late-Father’s Day celebration for the Cook & Son Bats crew.