Results tagged ‘ Luke French ’

Spring Training VI: Practice Pictures

After a brief detour through the Metrodome, its back to Spring Training.  We still have a few more reports to go from the desert.  This one has no real *story* per se, its just a bunch of pictures.  It does, however, have a theme:  practice.  We took a bunch of nice pictures of Mariners doing the hard work of preparing for the 2011 season and its time to share them.

Each morning, the entire Mariners major league camp would report to practice field M3 for a big stretching routine:

1 - pitcher stretching.JPGYou can always expect to see the guys playing a lot of catch at Spring Training:

2 - Ichiro throwing.JPGAbove, Ichiro is playing catch with…hmm…probably Milton Bradley on practice field M1.

The Mariners coaching staff hits hours of fungo to the Mariners infielders during Spring Training.  Here, Justin Smoak gloves a grounder on the first day of full team workouts on M2:

3 - Justin Smoak grounder.JPGJosh Wilson got into the action right next to Smoak:

4 - Josh Wilson grounder.JPGAcross the diamond, Chone Figgins — back at his native third base — got hand cuffed by this grounder, but made the play:

5 - Chone Figgins handcuffed by grounder.JPGBetween fields M1 and M2, there is a little half field (infield only).  Here, Dustin Ackley practices taking grounders at second base on the short field:

6 - Dustin Ackley grounder.JPGThe pitchers spend a lot of time re-learning how to field their position during Spring Training.  Here, big Michael Pineda practices his pick off move as a bunch of his colleagues watch:

7 - Pineda drills.JPGThis next picture is hilarious to me.  This was the first day of full squad workouts and the coach (cannot remember which one) said, “First grounder of the season!” and then hit this ball to King Felix Hernandez a/k/a Larry Bernandez:

8 - Felix first grounder of 2011.JPGThe look on Felix’s face is priceless.  FYI, despite his surprised look, he did catch the ball.

Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips was working the fungo a bunch the week we were in Peoria.  Here is an action fungo shot of Jason on M4:

9 - Jason Phillips fungo.JPGErik Bedard has been a pleasant surprise this Spring.  He is flat out pitching like a stud and finally looking like he might live up to the original hype.  Here he is getting in his work in the mega-bullpen between M3 and M4:

10 - Erik Bedard bullpen.JPGThree or four mounds over from Bedard, King Felix was strutting his Cy Young-stuff:

11 - Felix Hernandez bullpen.JPGIn a little strip of random grass between M2 and M7 (the half field), Ichiro, Dustin Ackley and a couple other guys played a little pepper:

12 - Ichiro and Ackley pepper.JPGSomeone peppered a hot one Ichiro’s way and Ichi had to make an acrobatic catch at close range:

13 - catching pepper.JPGWhat makes this next picture cool was unintentional and hard to decipher.  However, if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see that I captured two balls in the air — Figgy gunned a ball to Justin Smoak that appears in the upper lefthand corner of the photo and Brendan Ryan his underhanding a second baseball to 2B:

14 - smoak and two balls in air.JPGAs I said, lots of pitcher fielding practice.  Here, Jason Vargas, Luke French and Brandon League handle hot shots back up the box:

15 - vargas french league.JPGAnd here is another hilarious picture of King Felix fielding his position — he did not catch this one:

16 - Larry Bernandez.JPGBut Ichiro caught this one (during outfielder practice on M5):

17 - Ichiro catch.JPGYou can get so close to your favorite players during Spring Training that its almost ridiculous.  Here, Tim played in the warning track dirt just behind Ichiro waiting his turn at the plate:

18 - Ichiro stretch pre-batting.JPGOne day, the guys all came out to practice and the outfielders reported to M6.  Ichiro was all set to play catch with Milton Bradley when he realized he’d forgot his glove in the clubhouse.  Ichiro’s interpreter, Anthony Suzuki, bolted off to the clubhouse and came cruising back with Ichiro’s glove:

19 - Anthony Suzuki glove retriever.JPGMichael Saunders tracks this ball in the birght Arizona sun during outfielders practice on M6:

20 - Saunders ranging.JPGMore pitcher fielding practice — Erik Bedard doesn’t show the best form while snaring this grounder from the short stop position:

21 - Bedard grounders by short.JPGOne last group of photos, all of Ichiro.  I took the picture of Ichiro in the top left (below)…

22 - Ichiro up close.JPG

…Tim took the other three from close range.

So there you go, a look behind the scenes at Spring Training practice.   For my money, practice is where the fun is at Spring Training.

Spring Training IV: Player Pictures

A great thing about Spring Training is that its much easier to meet, chat and get your photo with players on your favorite team.  We love to get pictures with Mariners, and that was a major goal during our recent trip to Peoria.  So, let’s take a look at what we got.

At Mariners Spring Training the best spot for getting your picture with a Mariner is in the long strip of grass leading from the batting cages behind the Mariners administrative office to practice field M3.  There is a roped off strip down the length of the grassy area where the players walk out to the practice fields.  That is where we got most of the following pictures.

First up, we ran into Adam Moore:


1 - Adam Moore ST2011.JPGAt Tim’s first Spring Training in 2008, Adam Moore was the first professional baseball player with whom Tim ever got his picture.  So it was cool to have a little “reunion” picture in 2011.

Moments later, it was Garrett Olson’s turn to pose with Tim:

2 - Garrett Olson ST2011.JPGGarrett is a good guy.

The Mariners have two superstars — Ichiro and Felix Hernandez.  We’ve wanted to get a picture with Ichiro for a long time.  But its almost impossible.  Felix, however, is another story.  We got our picture with him in 2009 at Fenway Park.  Tim was happy to meet up with Felix again in Peoria:

3 - Felix Hernandez ST2011.JPGBy the way, this is as close as we got to a “picture with Ichiro”:

ichisan ST2011.jpgBefore this trip, neither Tim nor I had ever got our picture with a major league manager.  Well, new Mariners manager Eric Wedge was all over the place at Spring Training.  And he was happy to lean in real close and smile big for this picture with Tim:

4 - Eric Wedge ST2011.JPGNote:  In that picture, Tim is looking at me (taking this same picture on my camera) and Wedge is looking at my mom.  This was a common problem during Spring Training.  We got a bunch of pictures where one person is looking at one camera and the other is looking at another camera.  Oh, well.

Our first baseball of spring training came from Mariners reliever, Chris Seddon.  Moments later, Chris was posing for a picture with me and Tim:

5 - Chris Seddon ST2011.JPGIt was actually quite funny.  We took a first picture with Chris and me standing up straight behind Tim.  Then Chris suggested that we get down on Tim’s level, which resulted in the picture above.  Personally, I get a chuckle out of it each time I look at Seddon leaning with his hands on his knees and smiling for the camera.  Seddon also took time out to say hello to the King of Camden Yards, Avi Miller:

Thanks, Chris!

Moments later, David “The D.A.” Aardsma rolled by on his flatbed golf cart and posed for a picture with Tim:

6 - David Aardsma ST2011.JPGD.A. had surgery recently and was on crutched at the beginning of our trip.  However, by the end of our trip he was off the crutches and hobbling around under his own power.  At the end of the trip, we also got DA to sign a baseball for us:

 

ST6 - Jason Phillips (David Aardsma auto).JPG

Thanks, DA!

I was quite excited to get this picture of Tim with Mariners phenom, Michael Pineda:

7 - Michael Pineda ST2011.JPGBefore this trip, I’d never seen Pineda in person.  Let me tell you, you cannot miss him.  He is HUGE!  If he wasn’t crouched down with Tim in this picture, his knees would probably be at Tim’s head level!  (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but he is huge).  Pineda also signed this baseball for us:

STFAN1 - Michael Pineda auto.jpgThanks, Michael!

Former and new Mariner Miguel Olivo was extremely nice to Tim:

8 - Miguel Olivo ST2011.JPGAfter signing a baseball for us, Miguel crouched down and started chatting with Tim.  He tried to shake Tim’s hand, but Tim was holding a fist full of authentic Arizona rocks.  Instead of a handshake, Miguel was treated to a look at the rocks Tim had collected during catcher’s BP.  Here is a look at the baseball Miguel signed for us:

ST1 - Chris Seddon (Miguel Olivo autograph).JPGFor our first foray into the 2011 MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt competition, Tim got this picture with Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik:

9 - Jack Zduriencik ST2011.JPGJack is great.  He’s extremely nice and accessible.

He always gets excited when I mention we live in Pennsylvania, where he was raised.  The first time (of many) we saw Jack on this trip, it was just barely drizzling.  Jack was passing by us when he asked me “did you bring this [the rain] with you?”  This is a common question that anyone from Seattle gets asked whenever they are in another state and it starts raining.  I personally have had to answer this question about 40,000 times in my life.  I responded, “Not me, we just flew in from Pennsylvania.”  Jack was already past me (driving a golf cart) when he heard this and he immediately stopped and came back to ask me where we live in Pennsylvania.

Another top Mariners executive (and minority owner) was usually hanging around the fields during our trip.  It was Howard Lincoln, Mariners Chairman, CEO, minority owner, and representative of the Mariners corporate majority owner, Nintendo.  This picture of Tim and Howard Lincoln is another MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt picture:

10a - Howard Lincoln ST2011.JPGNote:  In this picture, Tim is standing on the back of a golf cart.  If you click to enlarge the picture, you can see a tag hanging over the steering wheel that says, “Jack Z.”  Yep, that was the golf cart Jack was driving when he asked if we brought the rain with us.

As already shown in our recent entry, we had a great interaction and got several pictures with…

10 - Milton Bradley ST2011.JPG…Milton Bradley.

The day we got the Milton Bradley bat was crazy.  Its the same day we got the Luke French autograph (featured in our last entry).  It was the same day as the Howard Lincoln picture.  And it was the same day as the next six player pictures.

First up at the end of the daily workout session, Franklin Gutierrez a/k/a “Death to Flying Things”:

11 - Franklin Gutierrez ST2011.jpgA day or two later, Franklin flew back to Seattle to see a doctor about some mysterious stomach issues he has had since last season.  Franklin also signed a baseball for us:

STFAN2 - Franklin Gutierrez auto.JPGThanks, Franklin!

Next up, Mainers firstbaseman, Justin Smoak:

12 - Justin Smoak ST2011.JPGIf Smoak lives up to his potential, the Cliff Lee trade will end up being a great deal for the Mariners.  So, we’re really pulling for Smoak to find his stroke at the major league level.

This was as good as we could do with respect to getting our picture with top Mariners prospect Dustin Ackley:

13 - Dustin Ackley ST2011.JPGAckley signed this baseball for us but then had to run:

ST4 - easter egg (Dustin Ackley auto).JPGThanks, Dustin!

We also didn’t get a traditional, posed picture with Mariners outfield prospect, Greg Halman:

14 - Greg Halman ST2011.JPGHalman was great.  He really liked Kellan.  He called him “cutie.”  It was pretty funny.  By the way, that ball Halman is signing was thrown to us by Halman earlier in the day.

Thanks, Greg!

We had a nice chat with local Seattle product and all around good guy, Matt Tuisasosopo:

15 - Matt Tuiasosopo ST2011.JPGTui was extremely outgoing and fan friendly all week.  He even chatted up Tim from third base one day during infield drills.

Tim was right with us during these last five pictures, but he didn’t want to get in any of the pictures.  I was bummed about it because we’d still never had a picture with both Tim and Kellan and a player — every picture has either been one or the other.

That all changed when Ryan Langerhans passed by us.  Tim asked Ryan to sign our Greg Halman baseball and then all of us posed for this picture:

16 - Ryan Langerhans ST2011.JPGHere is a look at that baseball:

ST3 - Greg Halman (Halman, Tuiasosopo, Langerhans and Smoak autos).jpgUpper right:  Greg Halman 56, Matt Tuiasosopo 27

Lower left:  Justin Smoak 17

Lower right:  Ryan Langerhans

Thanks, guys!

At Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex’s main stadium, Tim got this picture with Greg Zaun:

17 - Greg Zaun ST2011.JPGIt’s Tim’s first picture with a Padre.  See that baseball Zaun is holding?  The first 400 kids at Fan Fest got a little back pack with Mariners and Padres baseball cards, a baseball, a sharpie and some other stuff in it.  The baseball wasn’t a ROMLB.  It was some random brand with an advertisement for a baseball card shop on it.  It wasn’t a great baseball for autographs, but Tim ended up having a bunch of people sign it.  Actually, its unfortunate he didn’t use our spare ball that a fan gave Tim a couple days earlier for all of those autographs.  Oh, well, Tim was quite happy to collect a bunch of autographs on his door prize baseball.

As shown in our last entry, Kellan got his picture taken with his first pitcher, Luke French:
18 - Luke French ST2011.JPGLuke also signed Tim’s door prize baseball.

Thanks again, Luke!

Our final picture with a Mariner was this group shot with the Mariner Moose, also at Fan Fest:

19 - The Moose ST2011.JPGAs you can see, Spring Training was excellent in terms of getting pictures with Mariners.  We didn’t get our picture with Ichiro, but we knew that was a long shot, even at Spring Training.  Other than Ichiro, the only player who I really wanted to get a picture with, but failed to do so, was Mariners pitcher, Jason Vargas.  But maybe we can track him down during the regular season.  We will see.

Spring Training III: Luke French

Last October 1st, we took Kellan to his first game.  The Mariners took on the Athletics and I snapped this photo…

20 - Kellan's first MLB pitch.JPG…of Luke French delivering the first pitch of Kellan’s MLB life to Rajai Davis.  It was a strike.

Last season, Tim and I tracked down his “first batter,” Frank Catalanotto, and got him to sign Tim’s “first pitch” picture:

6 - first pitch with catalanotto.jpgWe’ve still never tracked down Tim’s first pitcher, the recently retired Gil Meche.  But I was hoping that we would be able to get both Luke French and Rajai Davis to sign Kellan’s first pitch picture during Spring Training.  Unfortunately, Davis was traded to Toronto and is in Florida for Spring Training.

Therefore, our number one goal for Spring Training was to get an autograph from and photo with Luke French.

We kept an eye on Luke from the first day of our Spring Training trip…

1 - luke french warm ups.JPG…but Kellan was at my parents’ place napping so we didn’t try to meet up with French that day.

Still, we kept an eye on Kellan’s first pitcher that day as he threw a session in the Mariners huge bullpen (its about 10 pitchers mounds wide):

2 - french in megabullpen.JPGI feel bad for this, but French made a hilarious face as he delivered this pitch:

3 - award winning pitching funny face.JPGA couple days later (the same day Milton Bradley gave Kellan his bat), we were still looking to connect with French.  In fact, tracking down and getting a picture/autograph with French was the sole goal of the day before we planned on leaving the Peoria Sports Complex early to go on a tour of Chase Field.

As the Mariners made their way out of the clubhouse, they were all business.  I didn’t see French as he made his way out to the practice fields.  But it didn’t matter because all of the players were telling fans they couldn’t sign autographs until after practice.

Once we headed out of the field, Luke was there…

4 - french behind hand shakers.JPG…and he was preparing to warm up with his fellow pitchers just like every other day:

5 - french ready to play catch.JPGBy the way, Colleen took the last two pictures, and the next one.  She found Luke getting his work in on one of the fields instead of in the bullpen:

6 - french getting work in.JPGAs Tim and I shifted around from field-to-field, I let Tim take control of my camera.  He took a ton of interesting pictures, including the next two pictures.

As I mentioned in the Milton Bradley entry, my mom, Colleen and Kellan hung out watching live BP on the main field during most of this practice session.  After getting in his work, French grabbed a bucket and sat down (about 25 feet in front of my mom, Colleen and Kellan) to watch live BP on the M3 practice field:

7 - french on bucket.JPGRight after (or maybe just before) taking this picture, Tim yelled, “Hey, look, its the number of Christmas!”  That gave me a chuckle.

After a while, French hopped up from his perch and milled around a little bit behind home plate.  As Tim snapped this picture, Luke was exuding a strong “I’m about the leave” vibe:

8 - french outta here.JPGA few seconds after Tim took that picture, I watched as French started walking behind home plate and around to the first base side.  I looked at my mom…

9 - oh no kellan is sleeping.JPG…who was holding a sound asleep Kellan, and said, “Where’s French going?  Is he going in?”

There was no time to wait for her thoughts, I grabbed Kellan’s picture (which I had in a protective portfolio folder) and scurried around home plate and toward the other end of the complex.

This aerial photo shows my path in yellow and French’s path in red:

9b - there goes french.jpgI was trailing behind French and he must have heard footsteps because he turned around and stopped in his tracks and waited for me to catch up.  I asked Luke if he could sign something for me, and he said “no problem.”

I felt a little weird with the portfolio in hand because Spring Training is chalk full of sports memorabilia dealers who carry big notebooks full of baseball cards and glossy photos and collect autographs to take back to their shops to sell.  I showed Luke the picture and explained that it was the first pitch of my son’s first game.  And I flipped through the portfolio to show him that it was empty except for this picture — i.e., I was not just a random dealer looking to make a buck.  It seemed like he appreciated that.

Luke happily signed the picture for me.  I thanked him profusely and explained that I was sad that Kellan was asleep in the bleachers because I had wanted to get his picture with Luke.  I told him we would try to catch up with him again by the end of the week.  He said okay and we parted ways.

I ran back over to M3 and “showed” Kellan his newly improved “first pitch” picture:

10 - first pitcher autograph.JPGHe was quite literally speechless.

By the end of the week, we’d still never run into French again.  It was Saturday, and the Mariners/Padres fan fest was our last opportunity to track down French during Spring Training.

Fan Fest, which will get its own entry soon enough, featured a bunch of games for kids in the concourses of the Peoria Sports Complex main stadium and a work out by both teams on the field.  The Padres went first.

Around 11:00 a.m., we knew the Mariners would show up soon so my mom, dad, Colleen, Tim, Kellan and I gathered together down the 1B line in hopes of getting a picture with Ichiro (a still as of yet unfulfilled goal) as he entered the stadium through the players entrance in the rightfield corner.

Eventually, the Mariners arrived en mass.  While I didn’t see Ichiro anywhere (at least at first), I saw Luke French front and center:

11 - french and company arrive at fan fest.JPGHe’s the player closest to the camera with his glove on his left hip in that last picture.  The guys were down the line about 20 feet from the end of the seats in foul territory.  Several of the Mariners ventured on the field to chat with some of the Padres.

None of the fans around us made any attempt to chat with or lure any of the Mariners over toward the stands.  I thought, “what the heck,” and I called out, “Hey, Luke!”  I figured that with a crowd of his teammates all around, French would probably appreciate it if someone singled him out.  He did.

He turned and looked at me like, “Huh, what’s up?”  I gave him a big “hey, come over here” wave.  Three seconds later, Kellan’s first pitcher was standing next to us along the foul line.

I asked if he’d pose for a picture with my son and, when he said yes, I handed Kellan over to him.  I explained that we’d met earlier in the week and he’d delivered the first pitch of Kellan’s MLB career.  Luke remembered our first encounter and he was happy to meet Kellan and pose for pictures:
12 - Kellan and Luke.JPGHe must have thought the paparazzi were descending on him because my mom and Colleen both pulled out their cameras and we attacked the photo opportunity from three angles:

13 - french and cook.JPGMission Accomplished!

Thanks, Luke!  And best of luck in 2011!

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)

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 5: Mariners at Padres (6/13/10)

On June 13, 2010, two factors [incredibly awesome seats + extremely relaxed stadium staff during Kids Run The Bases] combined to result in one of the longest, more picture laden game reports that we have ever produced.  Here it goes.

We woke up at the KOA in Chula Vista and hit the local Denny’s for breakfast.  Then we came back, got ready for the Mariners game at Petco Park and used the spare time we had before the game to play in the KOA’s play area:

1 - morning fun at KOA playset.JPGIt was an afternoon game, so it was still morning when we got to the park.  I know an extremely cool guy named Al who lived most of his life in our area in PA, but now lives in San Diego.  Back in November 2009, he mentioned that he has the ability to get incredibly awesome seats at Padres games and offered to get them for us for this game.  I was unsure if it would actually happen so I bought cheap outfield tickets before the season started to be sure we had tickets.

Al was planning to join us for at least part of the game so we arranged to meet him at the stadium.  But we arrived about 45 minutes before him.  So we used the cheap outfield tickets to head inside for BP.  After Tim collected his Padres batting helmet giveaway, we headed in and found there was no BP today.  Even worse was the fact that Tim couldn’t play in the Beach because it was closed.  There was a “breakfast in the park” event on the warning track and I guess they didn’t want loud kids right next to the people who were literally eating breakfast at tables on the warning track.

Only two Mariners were on the field when we arrived.

Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith was doing his running and stretching routine in LF…

2 - RRS getting a sweat on.JPG…and Ichiro was stretching and playing catch with his interpreter in shallow LF:

3 - Ichiro warms up.JPGSoon, Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman came out to play some catch.  While they were playing, I noticed that my Dad had wondered off.  I wasn’t sure where he had gone.  When Figgins and Kotchman finished playing catch…

4 - figgy kotch and dads baseball.jpg…Kotchman walked back to the dugout.  As I watched him approach the dugout, I saw that my Dad was the only person standing directly above the dugout — and he was wearing a Mariners shirt.  Kotchman rewarded him with the his and Figgins’ warm up baseball.

Tim and I headed over to the dugout to hang out with my Dad.  The stadium was empty and it was a cool “morning in the park” type atomosphere.  People were quietly getting ready for a day of baseball.  At one point, a guy started mowing the infield:


5 - petco lawn care.JPGThe Padres helmets came with number stickers.  I put “18″ on the back of Tim’s helmet.  When we were standing behind the dugout with my Dad, Tim asked me to put a “5″ on the bill of his helmet.  Then he told me to put a “1″ in front of the “5.”  I did…

5a - Ichiro 15.JPG…and then Tim said, “5-1 just like Ichiro!”  He was a little bummed out when I told him that we’d really done “15″ — Milton Bradley — not Ichiro’s “51.”  A second later, Al called us and we left the stadium and met him out front.  Because we’d be entering the stadium again on new tickets, I told Tim he would get another helmet and we could put Ichiro’s “51″ on it.

We headed out the exit in LF and then we circled…

6 - rounding petco park.JPG…around to the main entrance by home plate.  Inside the main entrance, there is a big, cool, rock waterfall wall:

7 - petco waterfall wall.JPGMy Dad, Tim, Al and I headed to our seats, which were in the 18th row directly behind home plate.  They were amazing seats.  A bunch of Mariners pitchers were playing catch down the 3B line, so Tim and I headed over there while my Dad and Al hung out chatting in our seats.

We stayed in the same place and watched a couple different sets of M’s pitchers play catch.   First, Jason Vargas (foreground below) and Luke French (background below) played right in front of us.  At one point, French threw a low and inside (for a righty) pitch that Vargas couldn’t handle…

8 - french vargas.jpg…it trickled right by Vargas and into my glove.  I immediately scooped it up and tossed it back to Vargas — he needed the ball and I couldn’t stand in the way of my team’s pitchers getting their work in.  When I tossed the ball back to Vargas, I asked if we could get the ball back when they were finished.  He said, “Maybe.”  Unfortunately, the maybe turned into a “no” because Vargas and French got into a deep discussion about grips on the ball (see inset picture) and they kept handing the ball back and forth as they walked back to the dugout.

Next, David Aardsma and Brandon League started stretching right in front of us.  The D.A. gave Tim a smile and a little wave…

9 - aardsma waves league stretches.JPG…which Tim thought was pretty cool.  After playing some warm up catch, League started pitching to Aardsma with the D.A. crouched on the foul line.  Early on, a pitch trickled by the D.A. and I scooped it up.  As I tossed it back to Aardsma, I asked if we could get it back after they finished playing catch.  He gave me a more definitive answer than Vargas, “Yeah.”

As we waited for League and Aardsma to wrap up, former All-Star Chad Cordero walked by and was happy to sign an autograph and pose for a picture with Tim:

10 - tim and chad cordero.JPGTim was working on another All-Star ballot while we watched the pitchers warming up.  League was still pitching to Aardsma.  Eventually, Tim asked me if I would pick him up.  For the first time, I took off my glove (set it on the wall) and bent down to pick up Tim.

WHHHHHHHIZZZZZZ BAAAAAANGGGGGGGG!!!

The hard tossing Brandon League uncorked a wild and blazing fast ball past Aardsma.  From the corner of my eye, I saw it skip off the outer edge of the warning track.  As I lifted Tim up, the ball violently hit the very top of the padded wall…at literally the top inch of the wall.   People shreaked as they thought the ball was going to smash me and Tim.  Had the wall been an inch shorter, it would have slammed into my side.   And it would have really hurt, I could tell.  An usher came to ask us if we were alright.  Luckily, the wall was just high enough and the ball bounced back onto the grass on the 3B side of Aardsma.

Soon, League and Aardsma switched positions and League was crouched on the foul line catching the D.A.

The day before, Ryan Rowland-Smith had told us that he has daily discussions with Cliff Lee about pitching.  Today, we watched first hand as…

11 - RRS working with Cliff Lee.JPG…RRS worked with (and learned from) Lee.

Eventually, Aardsma snuck a pitch by League and, for the third time, I scooped the ball up off of the warning track and threw the ball back.  This time, I asked League if we could get the ball when they were finished.  Instead of making us wait to find out the answer, he walked over and grabbed his wild pitch ball that had almost taken me out, and he tossed the baseball to me.

Thanks, Brandon!

Soon thereafter, Lee and RRS headed over to RF so RRS could do some work off of the mound in the M’s bullpen.  We decided to head over there as well.  Actually, we didn’t know they’d gone over there.  We just saw action in the M’s bullpen and figured we should see what was happening.

When we got over there, Lee was chatting up a Padre in the OF grass right next to the bullpen and RRS was pitching to Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips:

12 - CS HOFs RRS and Phillips with autos.jpgBetween pitches, Phillips saw us and said hi.  After RRS finished his work, Jason came over to the fence and chatted with us a bit.  It was nice to chat with him.  As we were splitting up, I asked if I could get his picture with RRS and he asked if we wanted a baseball.  So, after he hooked us up with a ball — our ninth overall from Phillips and our 7th stadium getting a ball from him — he went to grab Ryan.  But Ryan was busy talking to Rick Adair.  When RRS was finished, he said hi to us and I asked if I could get his picture with Phillips.  So, he grabbed Jason and they posed for the picture above.

Ryan knows that Jason is a Cook & Son Hall of Famer because he saw it on our blog, so he understood why I wanted their picture together.  But I have no clue if Jason knows about the C&S Hall of Fame.  I guess I should ask him later this season.

After the picture, Tim and I started heading back to our seats and Tim tapped me on the leg and quietly asked, “Can I ask Jason Phillips something?”  (FYI, Tim pretty regularly asks me extremely quietly if he can ask people questions).  We headed back over to the bullpen and I got Jason’s attention and said, “The little guy has something he wants to tell you.”  Tim yelled out, “My favorite baseball players are the MARINERS!”  That gave Jason a big smile.

Then we headed to our seats.  Check this out:

13 - Tim 51.jpgIn that picture, I am sitting in my seat (Section 101, Row 18, Seat 1) and Tim is standing next to the row in front of us (wearing his new helmet with Ichiro’s “51″ on the front and side).

Here was the view:

13a - petco section 101 row 18 seat 1.jpgSo you want to hear something crazy?  We literally just left the bullpen where we were talking to Jason Phillips and we arrived at our seats where we discovered we were sitting right next to Jason’s family.  Prodded by a very nice and talkative federal employee, we all started chatting.  I ended going over and sitting right in front of Mr. Phillips for a bit and discussing our many run-ins with his son.  He told us an interesting piece of trivia that I did not know:  Jason Phillips hit the 5,000th homerun in Mets franchise history off of Randy Wolf of the Phillies.  (FYI, Ken Griffey, Jr. achieved the same accomplishment for the Mariners in 2009).

The reason the whole discussion started in our section is because Jason’s dad was wearing some huge rings and the federal employee asked him what they were.  Here is a look at one of the rings:

14 - Tim the World Champion 51.JPGJason’s dad is on a softball team that has won the world championship twice in the last couple years.  And these were some huge and legit looking rings.  Two seconds after this picture, Tim asked Jason’s dad if he could have this ring.

By the way, this wasn’t the only championship ring in our immediate vicinity.  This ring was sitting on a finger two rows behind us on the opposite side of the stairs…

18 - a stranger among us.JPG…and it belonged to a Yankees scout (whose work failed to prevent the Mariners from soon taking 2 of 3 against the Yankees in the Bronx).

 You might have noticed in the panorama a couple pictures above that there were military people standing at each position on the field.  Sundays at Petco Park are military appreciation days.  There were a bunch of military people on the field before the game…

15 - military day.JPG…and a whole bunch more sitting in the upper deck down the 1B line.

This meant that the Padres were also wearing their camoflague jerseys…

16 - padres camo jersey.JPG…which I am showing off in this picture because I think the contrast in the first kid’s face and Heath Bell’s face is hilarious.  That kid gunned the ceremonial first pitch to the backstop…and the throw would have been behind a left handed batter.

Soon, the game was underway.  Ichiro led off with a walk…

17 - Ichiro walks in 1st 6-13-10.JPG…check out that view!  Unfortunately, as is happening way too much this season, Figgy erased Ichiro…

19 - Figgy GIDP in 1st 6-13-10.JPG…by grounding into a double play.

This view of home plate was so great, I could hardly stop myself from taking pictures of every at bat.

I cannot thank Al enough for hooking us up with these seats.  It was a joy to watch King Felix dominate the Padres from this amazing view:

20 - Felix baffles Eckstein in 1st 6-13-10.JPGBy the way, that is David Eckstein about to pop out to lead off the bottom of the first.  He would go 0-4 with 2 Ks against King Felix.

The only downside about these seats was that they were right out in the open beneath the hot sun.  No shade at all.  Tim is a big fan of shade, and not so much of the sun.  But we cooled the boy off with an ice cream helmet…

21 - ice cream time 6-13-10.JPG…early in the game.  By the way, that is Jason Phillips dad three down from Tim wearing the royal blue hat and about to pop some seeds in his mouth.  He was decked out in Blue Jays gear to support his other son, Kyle Phillips.  And that is Al sitting right next to Tim.

The last time I saw King Felix hit in interleague play, he hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana.  Today, he was all about sacrifice bunting…

22 - sacrificial felix.JPG…like this successful sacrifice in the top of the third.  Unfortuantely, this sacrifice ultimately did not produce any runs because Ichiro…

23 - Ichiro grounds out in 3rd 6-13-10.JPG…followed with a groundout for the final out of the top of the third inning.

 Leading off the bottom of the third, Scott Hairston got the first Padres hit of the day off of King Felix, and then something crazy and horrible followed.

Tony Gwynn, Jr. hit this pitch on a low line to CF (see how Gutierrez is already reading the ball to be a little off toward LF)…

24 - tony gwynn jr quadruple part 1.JPG…but the ball was low and must have knuckled.  I could see right off the bat that Guti was having trouble figuring out how far the ball would travel.  The ball was coming down quick…

25 - tony gwynn jr quadruple part 2.JPG…and at the last minute, Gutierrez swooped in to try to snar it.  But it fell a tiny bit short and rolled all the way to the wall.  Gwynn was off to the races and he did not stop until he had a stand up “quadruple.”

I don’t think that I have ever witnessed a professional “inside the park homerun” before, Tim definitely had not.  After witnessing this one, I think they should be called “quadruples” because they are a whole lot more like triples than they are homeruns.  They’re fundamentally different than homeruns.  Pretty exicting.  I just wish the Mariners could have had a “do over” because Gutierrez catches everything and given a second chance, I know he would have caught this one too.

 All of sudden, we were losing 2-0 despite the fact that Felix Hernandez was generally dominating the Padres.  We needed some offense, and Milton Bradley was happy to provide it…

26 - Milton Bradley post HR celebration.JPG…in the form of a traditional 2-run homerun in the top of the fourth.  The score was now tied 2-2, much better.

Soon, Tim needed some relief from the sun.  So we took a walk in the shady concourse that turned into a tour of the remaining part of Petco Park that I didn’t see the day before.  We headed up to the upper deck in RF… 

27 - exploring petco.JPG…where it looked like this:

27a - petco RF upper deck panorama.jpgThen we headed to the top of the upper deck in deep RCF:

28 - petco RCF upper deck back panorama.jpgFrom up there, we could look down on the Park in the Park…

28a - petco PITP from RF.JPG…the bleachers…

29 - petco bleachers from RF.JPG…and the Beach:

30 - petco beach from RF.JPGBy the way, check out the kids sitting digging in the sand with their backs turned to the field.  Not a bright idea.  Hopefully no kid ever gets (or has already gotten) tagged by a homerun into the Beach.

On our way back over to foul territory, a nice fan took our picture (with Ichiro batting in the background):

31 - TJCs petco RF ichiro.JPGWe noticed a weird little flag court area in the RF foul upper deck area where the Padres have flag depicting the league standings…

32 - petco hidden standings flags.JPG…I describe it as “weird” because from most places in the stadium these flags range from very hard to see to impossible to see.  In fact, I never noticed them until walking by them…for the second time.

Even from above, Felix looked dominant:

33 - felix from above 6-13-10.JPGWe decided to go up to the top of the RF foul seats behind the military guys.  Here was the view:

33a - petco RF foul upper military view panorama.jpg…and a very, very similar view (from just across the aisle and down a little bit from the last panorama:

33b - petco RF foul upper end military view panorama.jpgTim did his best attempt at standing at attention when this kind Marine officer (at least I’m guessing he is an officer, he appeared to be in charge of the rest of them) agreed to pose for a picture with Tim:

34 - Tim and Zamora.JPGSometimes Tim is a little shy.  Just before these pictures, he walked down the stairs whispering “thank you” to the Marines.  I am positive that none of them heard him.

As we made our way down the walkway ramps to the field level, I took this shot showing the interesting architecture of Petco Park:

35 - petco architecture.JPGAt the very bottom in RF (it seemed like it was even lower than the field level), the concourse was full of military stuff.  Like this huge model aircraft carrier:

36 - petco aircraft carrier RF lower concourse.JPGBy the time we returned to our seats, Al had taken off.  So it was just the three of us roadtrippers when an ausher took this picture of us as Felix warms up in the background…

37 - 7th inning stretch at petco.JPG…with the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh.

After our stadium tour, Tim did a much better job staying cooling in the seats.  He did some fake running poses…

39 - petco seat fun.JPG…and exploded a bunch of peanut shells.  See that funny straw hat on the lady sitting in front of Tim in the top right picture?  That old lady was unintentionally hilarious.  She was a Padres fan and her husband was a Mariners fan who used to live in Seattle.  At random times throughout the day, she would aggressively mutter “hit it over the fence!  hit it over the fence!” at her Padres batters and she would sound disgusted if the Mariners did anything good.

Luckily, the Mariners gave her a few more opportunities to sound disgusted.

Going into the top of the 8th inning, the score was still 2-2.  The Padres starter, Clayton Richard, had gone 7 innings giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs, but they lifted him for Luke Gregerson in the 8th.

Gregerson started off by giving up an infield single to Chone Figgins.  Two batters later, Jose Lopez smacked this ball…

40 - jose lopez go ahead double in 8th 6-13-10.JPG…for a line drive double down the 3B line.  Chone touched home to grab a 3-2 lead for the Mariners.

Although nothing more came of it, it was fun to see Milton Bradley talk home plate umpire Angel Hernandez into a hit by pitch later in the inning…

41 - bradley works a HBP.JPG…the Padres weren’t too happy with the call, but Hernandez wasn’t persuaded to reconsider his call.

In the top of the 9th, the Mariners were still leading 3-2 when Joe Thatcher took the hill for the Padres.  Thatcher promptly surrendered a single to Mariners catcher Rob Johnson.  It was Rob’s third hit of the day and I later learned that it was only the second 3-hit day of his career.  Interestingly, we were also present for his only other 3-hit game last season.

Felix Herandez came to the plate next and sacrificed his favorite catcher over to second base.

That brought Ichiro to the plate.  Ichiro and the Mariners were looking for a little insurance for their slim 1-run lead.  Ichiro started by bunting the first pitch foul…

42 - ichiro foul bunt in 9th 6-13-10.JPG…next he watched a ball and foul tipped a stike…

43 - ichiro watches one 6-13-10.JPG…then with a count of 1-2, Ichiro got his pitch and played a little game of switcheroo with Johnson…

44 - ichiro insurance in 9th 6-13-10.JPG…Ichiro took Rob’s spot at second and Rob took Ichiro’s at home.  And just like that the Mariners had a 4-2 lead.

Tim and I like to try to get a ball from the umpire after a game.  But in the first four games of the roadtrip we hadn’t even tried.  Since we were already sitting so close to the umpires’ tunnel at this game, we figured we might as well give it a shot.

The umpires’ tunnel at Petco Park is at the home plate side of the visitors’ dugout.  In the bottom of the ninth, with Felix back on the mound gunning for a complete game, we headed over to try to stand in the cross aisle right behind the tunnel.  An usher saw us and suggested that we sit in some of the open seats nearby.  He pointed out some seats that he had in mind.

I asked him if it would be okay to go a little closer to the umpires’ tunnel.  He said, “Oh, you want to try to get a ball after the game?  Sure!”  And he let us take these seats right above the tunnel:

45 - Felix goes 26 outs.JPGIn that picture, Felix Hernandez is about to walk down into the dugout.  He got the first batter in the bottom of the ninth, but then surrendered a single to Adrian Gonzalez.  When Scott Hairston hit an infield grounder, everyone in the stadium thought it was a game ending double play.  But Hairston beat it out and Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu decided to pull Felix and put in David Aardsma.

Felix was upset about not getting to finish the game.  But on his fourth pitch, the D.A. induced a pop fly by Nick Hundley and the scoreboard showed the happy totals:

46 - happy totals from petco 6-13-10.JPGAfter the almost double play, the usher came by to give us some advice on getting a ball from the umpire.  He was very nice.  But with the pop fly out, we had plenty of time to get into the corner spot right at the back of the dugout and side of the umpire tunnel.

Angel Hernandez walked off and walked right over to Tim and handed him this baseball…

47 - Cowboy Joe West and Tim.JPG…5 seconds later, 3B umpire “Cowboy” Joe West walked by and grabbed the baseball back from Tim and started walking into the tunnel with the baseball.  He then turned back around and brought the ball back to Tim.  He was very amused by his little prank.  And we used the opportunity to give Joe West some high fives and then get this awesome picture (above left) of Tim and West.

I had wanted real bad to get a picture of Tim with an umpire for the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt.  It seemed to me like it was the hardest picture in the competition to get.  The umpires generally don’t linger on the field after games.  They take off quick.  So the fact that West decided to play a fast one on Tim and take his baseball back was the perfect opportunity.

Thank you, Joe West!  And thank you, Angel Hernandez, too!

Our day at the ballpark wasn’t finished just yet.  It was Kids Run The Bases time!

The line started deep in the Park in the Park…

48 - like a parade.JPG…while waiting to get back into the stadium, the Marines marched by and the crowd gave them a long ovation as they filed by.  Tim was up on my shoulders and asked, “Is this a parade?”

We entered the field through a ramp next to the bleachers and beach:

49 - petco RTB approach.JPGThe line took a while to finally get into the field.  But finally we made it!  And it was awesome.  Some stadiums have strict policies and strict ushers enforcing them during Kids Run The Bases.  Our first sign of the relaxed attitude was that an usher agreed to take this picture of us kneeling in front of the “400″ foot sign:

50 - TJCs and petco 400.JPGNormally during Kids Run The Bases, we have to ask other fans to take our pictures because the ushers just say, “Keep moving, keep moving.”

We stopped right by the usher who took that picture so I could get a shot of Tim with the field behind him…

51 - Time the OF umpire.JPG…after I took those pictures, he told me he was standing like an umpire.

We always try to get our picture by the RF foul pole and OF fence distance marker.  This turned out being one of my favorite pictures ever…

52 - Tim makes the catch.JPG…first I told Tim to stand next to the “322″ like he was playing outfield.  Then I told him to jump against the wall like he was trying to catch a baseball.  I absolutely love that jumping picture.  Check that out, he’s hanging in the air!

The relaxed usher attitude carried over to the bullpen.  Tim played a little catcher…

53 - Tim mans the bullpen plate.JPG…by the way, we seemed to be the only people running around taking fun pictures on our walk to home plate.  Sure, some people were taking pictures with the field behind them.  But I didn’t see anyone else snapping pictures by the wall or in the bullpen.  They missed out on some great photo opportunities!

Thanks, Padres!

Here is another random shot with the field behind Tim…

54 - Tim and petco.JPG…and then I opened up this box and checked out the bullpen phone…

55 - Tim in petco bullpen.JPG…and Tim sat on the bullpen bench.

The Padres did a great job with the actual run too.  They spaced the kids out really well.  When we walked up, I must have looked like I wanted to follow Tim (which I did) because the 1B usher said to me, “Go for it!”  So I followed Tim with my camera ablazing… 

56 - tim runs the bases petco.JPG…along the way, Tim gave the Friar a high speed high five.

My dad stayed in the seats behind the 3B dugout where he got this video on his camera:

After the run, the ushers were still pretty relaxed.  I got our standard “with the dugout” picture…

57 - TJCs and Petco 3B dugout.JPG…then an usher let my Dad hop down onto the field to get this picture with us…

58 - 3 Cooks at Petco.JPG…and I transferred Tim over to my Dad’s shoulder to get this picture by the “336″ sign in LF:

59 - Tim and Grandpa 336.JPGBy the way, see those two windows behind the LF fence?  Those go into the Padres team store.  There is a door from the team store into a little triangle standing area just behind the fence where fans can watch the game from field level through the chain link OF fence.

After that last picture, we headed out to our car…

60 - goodbye petco.JPG…and said our good-byes to Petco Park.  It was a great two game set in San Diego.

We stayed at the Chula Vista KOA again.  After the game, we took a little dip in the pool…

62 - post game swim and mexican food.JPG…and then went to dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant in a little strip mall.  It wasn’t an impressive place from the outside, but the food was delicious and the people were extremely nice.  So, if you’re in Chula Vista, be sure to check out Casa Del Taco.

2010 Fan Stats:

13 Games

14 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres and Nationals)


61 - SD ICH and baseballs 6-13-10.JPG12 Ice Cream Helmets
(Orioles (3), Phillies, Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)

32 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 1 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres)

8 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park)

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

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)

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