Results tagged ‘ Minnesota Twins ’

Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip – Game 3, Twins at Tigers (5/26/2013)

On May 26, 2013, we woke up in Windsor, Ontario. We had one more baseball game scheduled for the 2013 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip, and it was waiting across the river from us, back at Comerica Park.

The game was scheduled for a 1:08 p.m. start time. We decided to do breakfast back in the good ol’ U.S. of A. so we hopped in the car, motored through the Tunnel to U.S.A. and crossed the border for the final time on our trip:

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We had no clue what we would do for breakfast. We thought maybe we would pass a nice looking restaurant on our way to the stadium. I wasn’t sure how the morning would go if we didn’t get to eat anything until the ballpark opened around 11:30. But we were there before we knew it and didn’t find any breakfast. Oh, well…we’d figure something out…

We parked in the stadium lot directly across the street from the batters’ eye. Tim caught some pop flies…

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…before we set out to see the ballpark.

Because we were running late the day before, we hadn’t gotten a chance for my dad to see the outside of the ballpark. We headed to the LF corner and circled around toward the 3B side. Here are some sights along the way:

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From top right and moving in the shape of a “W”: (1) Tim and my dad are standing just outside of the LF gate with Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions) behind them; (2) walking down the street from LF toward the home plate end of the ballpark, we walked by the ferris wheel; (3) circling around the corner just passed the ferris wheel, Tim and my dad in front of a fancy tiger door; (4) a little further down the side walk, Tim and Kellan posed with a fancy tile Tiger “D”; and (5) just passed the players’ entrance, Tim posed with a plaque for Ty Cobb the “Greatest Tiger of All, A Genius in Spikes.”

As we kept walking, we circled the next corner and found ourselves outside the coolest ballpark gate in all of Major League Baseball:

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This gate is so big and bold and awesome that it is pretty much impossible to get all of the awesomeness into one picture, so here are some more:

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Hey, guess what!? See those windows below the two tigers in the photo above to the right? Well, inside those windows is a diner…

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…where we were able to feast on pancakes and bacon! Hooray! Isn’t it great when things work out?

After breakfast, we headed to the coolest gate in all of baseball and set our stuff down first in line. And then we played catch a whole bunch. Eventually, I started throwing pop flies to Tim and this was the result:

In case that doesn’t make sense, I was throwing pop flies over the Comerica Park sign to Tim our by the big tiger. It was actually quite difficult to throw the ball straight up and over that sign and still make it land out where Tim was standing.

Once the crowd got too big for us to continue playing catch, we hung out by the gate. Tim passed time by climbing on these support bars…

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…while Kellan sat with my dad and looked at pictures on his cellphone.

Upon entering the stadium, the boys both collected their give-away Tigers baseball cards sets, and then we headed down to the field. We were the first people entering the 1B foul territory seats. As we walked down the aisle, there were 4-5 Twins coaches sitting on the wall. I was sure they would walk away as they saw *the fans* approaching, but they stayed put. Tim, Kellan and I walked up behind them and I asked them collectively, “Any Twins coaches interested in getting a picture with some Mariners fans!?”
The closest coach to us was Rick Anderson:

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And he was, indeed, interested in meeting and getting a picture with some Mariners fans. We chatted for a minute or two. He grew up in Everett, Washington, just north of where I grew up and my folks live, and he went to Mariner High School and used to play sports against Edmonds High School and Woodway High School back in the day. My freshman year, Edmonds and Woodway combined to create the world famous Edmonds-Woodway High School!!!

Rick was a nice dude. And, as we parted ways, he handed us one of the two baseballs he was holding.

Thanks, Rick!

After we chatted with Rick, the other coaches started to disperse. One of the Twins’ bullpen catchers started to head toward the dugout. On his way, he tossed two baseballs into the crowd, one to us and one to my dad.

Thanks, unknown bullpen catcher guy!

The field was not set up for BP, which was no surprise. There were no Twins out playing catch. But several sets of Tigers were playing catch on the 3B side. So we headed over there.

Because Prince Fielder had spent all those years in Milwaukee, we brought Tim’s cheese head with us. Prince wasn’t out on the field, but Tim decided to put on the cheesehead when we headed to Tigers side.

As this picture shows…

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…, a some Tigers were playing catch in LF and there was a random stray ball sitting in shallow LF.

As a Tigers coach, Mike Rojas, walked in from the bullpen toward the dugout holding his fungo bat, I called out to him and pointed at the ball in LF. He walked over to it, shouted “CHEESEHEAD!” and gave Tim perfect bounce pass.

Tim caught the ball and admired its *different* logo:

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Turns out it was a AAA International League baseball…

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…, the second minor league baseball we have snagged at a Major League ballpark.

Sundays at Comerica Park are kids days. That means kids run the bases after the game, and kids ride the rides for free. It was time for some rides. We headed over to the ferris wheel:

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We got there just in time. There was a short line, and two minutes later is what 3-4 times as long.

Here are some random view from the ferris wheel:

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Pretty cool how the “Tigers” sign pops over the upper deck from the top of the ferris wheel?

All of us Cook boys had fun on there:

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When we got off of the ferris wheel, we took a quick stroll through the “Beer Hall”…

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…just to see what it looked like in there.  At the entrance way of the ferris wheel area there is a fountain with a big baseball on top of it. And Kellan loved it:

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Like the day before, we headed over to Twins bullpen to watch the pitchers warm up. While standing around of there, they kept showing this cool graphic on the big screen:

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Today’s Twins battery was Mike Pelfrey…

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…and Ryan Doumit.

Hey, check out the cool hat the police officer guarding the bullpen was wearing:

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And check out Ryan Doumit’s fancy finger nail stickers:

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(I think those are stickers).

By the way, I should mention that Pelfrey was going up against Max Scherzer and his perfect 6-0 record. So he had a tall task before him.

While we were over at the bullpen, Kellan fell asleep on my shoulders…

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…and he was sleeping hard.

The game was about to start. Tim wanted to get some ice cream so he and my dad headed over to the Big Cat food court. Kellan and I headed to the cross-aisle so I could lean against the back wall while Kellan slept on my shoulders.

Kellan slept hard through the top of the first and the first out of the bottom of the first. But then the stadium exploded when Torii Hunter hit a solo homerun…

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…and Tim was rudely awakened.

Since Kellan was awake, we decided to go join Tim and my dad for the ice cream:

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And then it was time for Kellan’s first ride on the tiger-go-round:

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(Somehow, Kellan and Tim were nowhere near each other on the tiger-go-round and I was with Kellan, so I didn’t get any decent pictures of Tim on the tiger-go-round).

Our seats at this game were at the back of the bleachers in deep RCF, and we ended up sitting in those seats for a grant total of zero seconds. After ice cream, I asked my dad if he wanted to check out the SRO area in the cross-aisle where Kellan and I had spent a lot of time the day before, and he was interested. So this is where we spent a bunch of time during this game:

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Hey, check out the drink holder that guy had to tote around the ballpark? Talk about awkward to carry!

Here’s what our view of home plate looked like:

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By the way, the Tigers crowd booed Mauer like crazy every time he came to bat at both of our games in Detroit.

Tim is possibly the most skilled friend maker in the entire world. He is never shies away from talking to other kids of any age. So he had a great time chatting up this little guy standing next to us:

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He kid’s mom was thrilled that we came and stood next to them. Apparently, the boy wasn’t doing well standing there with his parents, but he started having a great time when Tim started chatting with him. They talked about their respective little league teams and, you know, other kid stuff.

Remember that ball the fan gave to Tim two games (and days) ago in Toronto? Remember we gave it to my dad? Well, my dad ended up giving it to this kid. And he was excited to have it.

We were standing in the cross aisle just above the perfect spot for trying to get a third out ball from the Twins. With two outs in the bottom of one inning, I mentioned to Tim that he should get in position to run down to the bottom when the inning ended to try to get a third out ball. He misunderstood what I was saying and just cruised down the steps. He settled in here:

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And he was essentially all alone in absolutely the best possible spot when Justin Morneau ended the inning at first base. But, sadly, Morneau walked right at Tim and then tossed the ball to a bunch of adults a little a few rows back and a couple seats over from Tim:

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Oh, well.

Tim only made that one attempt, and then we went off to explore the upper deck a bit. For some reason, my dad, Tim and Kellan walked the upper deck holding hands like this:

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We popped into the seating area just in time to watch Torii Hunter at bat:

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And then it was time for lunch. We headed back to the Big Cat court. Hot dogs were on the menu. Tim and Kellan feasted on standard hot dogs…

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…and I had an extremely tasty Chicago Dog.

After lunch, we headed back to the SRO in the cross-aisle:

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I took that panorama during the seventh inning streak, which means I have missed some scoring. By this point, the score as 6-1 Tigers, which ended up being the final score. The scoring high light came in the bottom of the sixth inning when pinch-hitter Avisail hit a bases loaded, 2-out, 3 run triple.
Here’s something I really like about Comerica Park’s new scoreboard:

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The “Tigers” sign at the top of the scoreboard is an HD (well, I’m just guessing that it’s HD) screen so they can play video clips on the word “TIGERS.” That tiger above to the right isn’t new, I thought threw it in as an extra bonus.

I’m throwing this in as a bonus too:

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“Cowboy” Joe West! He’s not the most beloved figure in baseball, but (1) I find him entertaining, (2) he’s never done anything (that I can recall) to hurt the Mariners unfairly, and (3) he’s been really nice to us. So I like him.

While hanging out in the cross-aisle, I took the opportunity to take an extreme close-up of Tim:

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We ended the game behind the plate…

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…but did not come away with an umpire ball.

The game ended in a somewhat frustrating fashion. Kellan, who is a super nice, lovable and usually easy going boy, is still in his “terrible twos.” Sometimes he can pitch a big old fit for no reason. And that’s just what he did at the end of the game. That’s no telling what started it, but he screamed and cried for a while, starting right before the game ended and it continued while we got in line for kids’ run the bases.

By the way, here is where we got in line…

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…and he had to walk all the way around the inside of the stadium to the LF, and then exit the stadium, so we could enter a tunnel under the RF bleachers before finally entering the field in the RF corner¸ very near where we started standing in line here.

While Kellan continued to cry and whine and carry on, Tim made friends with another local kid:

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They chatted all the way around the stadium.

The thing that finally calmed Kellan down was when I spoke to Colleen on the phone and she told me to tell him that she wanted him to run *really fast* around the bases. When he heard that, he settled down and was like “okay, I gotta get ready to run really fast for mommy!”

After entering the field down the RF line, I got a picture of the boys by this Comerica Park sign:

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And then I started filming with my camera. I planned to film Kellan running around the bases, but, incredibly, (not realizing I already had the video running) I turned *off* the video right when Kellan hit first base and I turned it back *on* right after he touched home plate.

Aye, aye, aye…

Luckily, my dad got a couple pictures as we neared home plate…

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…and I took one of the boys from behind on my cellphone as Kellan and Tim were approaching the plate.

After running the bases, we got a group picture…

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…and couple more photos:

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We had a long drive ahead of us. We would be driving back into Pennsylvania, but not all the way to our house. But we didn’t let that stop us from taking a quick side trip on the way out of town:

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When we were in Canada, I told Tim we would go to a Tim Horton’s, but we totally forgot to do so. Luckily, I remembered this just before we passed what ended up being the last Tim Horton’s I saw on our trip. Check out what we got:

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Timbits!

Tim was in Tim heaven!

And then we drove until around 11pm…

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…when we got to our hotel in DuBois, PA (a very nice, new Fairfield Inn) the boys both woke up and were wide awake again. As Tim looked at his new Tigers baseball cards (a very nice set), Kellan took a late night bath.

When it hit midnight, it was officially my dad’s birthday! We were still all wide awake, so I decided we should give my dad a birthday gift that we’d had packed away in our luggage all weekend:

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When he opened it, the gift appeared simply to be a commemorative 2013 All-Star Game ball, but he soon realized that there was a baseball ticket tucked into the display case with the ball.

The ticket was for the subway series (Mets vs. Yankees) at Citi Field, and game time was less than twenty hours away…so we had to head to bed!

Bonus birthday roadtrip baseball to come! (Oh, did I mention that, after crossing the Jays and Tigers off the list on this trip, the only teams my dad had never seen play a home game were the Mets and Rangers?)

2013 C&S Fan Stats

10 Games

15 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers

18 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4

45 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1

8 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park

16 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson

5 Autographs – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Sixth Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip – Game 2, Twins at Tigers (5/25/2013)

On the morning of May 25, 2013, the boys and I woke up early in London, Ontario and headed down to our hotel lobby to find some breakfast as my dad caught up on his sleep. Our hotel (the London Suites, or something like that) had a restaurant called “Smoke and Bones” built into the building and they can a nice breakfast buffet. We enjoyed a big, filling breakfast.

Our Tigers/Twins game in Detroit didn’t start until 4:05 in the afternoon,*we though* the ballpark wouldn’t open until 2:30, and we only had a two hour drive so we were not in a rush to get going in the morning. We probably dilly-dallied a bit too long. In fact, I know we did. But we finally got on the road around 11:00 a.m.

It was a nice flat and relatively straight drive…

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…down from London to Windsor, Ontario.

Windsor is directly across the river from Detroit. Before we realize our cellphones wouldn’t work in Canada, we decided to get a hotel room in Windsor for the night. When we pulled into the Riverside Inn around 1:15pm…

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…my dad ran inside to check in and I realized that my phone could hook up to the hotel’s wireless connection from the car so I took that photo above to the left of Tim and Kellan and sent it to Colleen, and then we chatted back and forth over instant message briefly before my dad returned to the car.

The lady at the front desk recommended that we take the “tunnel bus” to the ball game. So, after running our stuff up to our nice room, we headed to the bus station right behind the hotel:

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This proved to be a terrible idea. After my dad threw down a bunch of cash to buy round trip tickets to Detroit, we headed out to the sidewalk to wait for the bus. We’d just missed a bus. The next bus wasn’t until 2:00 p.m. It was supposed to drop us off about 6 blocks from the stadium. I figured there was a chance this would work out and we’d get there on time. But when a bus employee appeared and started asking him about it. When we realized that the entire bus (which was going to be packed) would have to pass through customs at the border before we could head to the ballpark, I suggested that we eat the bus tickets and hop in my car.

So that’s what we did. After a 4-5 block drive, we headed through the “Tunnel to the U.S.A.” and found ourselves at the border crossing at 2:10 p.m.:

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From the point I took that photo, it took about 10 minutes to get through customs, but then it was a very quick drive to Comerica Park. As we approached the stadium parking lots, it was still a few minutes before the standard 2:30 gate opening time. When we drove by and saw people inside the ballpark, I figured that they must have been season ticket holders that got in a few minutes early. But then we realized that the gates were already open. Oh, no! We were missing out on our stadium time!

We parked and hustled into the ballpark.

Turns out the gate timing issue was these guys’ fault:

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In case you can’t tell, those guys on the newly upgraded scoreboard are the 1968 World Champion Tigers. For some reason, the Tigers were celebrating the 45th Anniversary of their championship season and, as a result, they had unknown-to-us opened the gates at 2:00 p.m., half an hour early.

The stadium was already pretty packed (for BP standards). Tim Kellan and I immediately headed to RCF in hopes of finding an open corner spot. My dad, who had never been to Comerica before, hung out down the RF line and took some photos of his 30th MLB ballpark (or, possibly, his 31st if he’s been to old Yankee Stadium):

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By the way, I should not that, as of this game, the only current MLB ballparks that my dad had not yet visited were Citi Field, Marlins Park (but he’s been to SunLife Stadium), Minute Maid Park (but his first game ever was at the Astrodome), and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (guess what state we’re going to next season!).

My dad spotted us with his camera…

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…and we had successfully found an open corner spot…but it was pretty cramped quarters out there, at least in the first row.

Here is what it looked like from out spot:

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I could not recognize a single Twins player out there. Everyone was wearing pullovers over their BP jerseys. Luckily, one single ball was hit directly into the corner right below us, and that guy picture above to the right walking away from us on the warning track toss it up to us. I have no clue who it was. But…

Thanks, mystery Twin!

The nice thing about our little corner spot is that (provided that we hugged the brick wall behind us) we were in (or at least half in) the shade:

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Eventually, my dad came over and found us. And very soon after he arrived, the Twins fled the field. BP ended way early because there was an on field ceremony to honor the 1968 team, which was fairly pointless in light of the long and informative discussion they had with the 1968 team on the big screen. Really, compared to the discussion they had streaming on the scoreboard, the on field ceremony was pretty boring.

We headed up to the upper level in deep RCF and tried to get some lunch at The Jungle restaurant…

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…but it was completely full and it didn’t look like anyone was about to head out.

We decided to head over to the Big Cat food court (where the Tiger-Go-Round is located) to grab some lunch. On the way, the boys and I got pictures with an old-school looking Mickey Mouse…

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…and a Tiger pig.

We also saw the new’ish Ernie Harwell statue…

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…and posed with a fake statue liberty.

Finally, we grabbed some lunch and then walked back to the Pepsi Porch (second deck in RF) and grabbed a picnic table for lunch:

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While we were eating, Kellan debuted an awesome new dance move:

After finishing our late lunch, we headed down to the seats in RCF, just above the visitors’ bullpen, and watched Joe Mauer and P.J. Walters warm up for the game, first in the outfield grass…

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…and then in the bullpen:

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See that guy leaning against the CF wall two pictures above (and to the left)? That is the Twins’ bullpen catcher. He was stretching out/loosening his back muscles by leaning against a baseball and rolling it across his back against the wall.

In the last photo above (also to the left), Wilkin Ramirez is standing in the batters’ box giving Walters the feel of pitching to a live batter. A couple pitches into the “at bat,” I called down, “Swing away, Wilkin!”

It would have been pretty sweet to see him launch a fly ball out of the stadium over the 3B line upper deck!

As the stadium PA announcer introduced Jose Feliciano to play the national anthem…

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…, all of the players on the field turned toward us…

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…and I realized that we were standing right below the flag.

After the anthem, we headed to our seats in section 141, row 12:

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As the game was about to start, my dad took the opportunity to document some of the scenes around the ballpark:

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We were rooting for the Tigers at this game because they had former Mariner Doug Fister on the mound. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for Joe Mauer to jump all over Fister. With one out in the top of the first, Mauer launched a deep drive to RF:

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And after gathering to take a look at it, Crew Chief Joe “Cowboy” West confirmed the homerun call.

Once again, Kellan wasn’t in a sitting mood at the beginning of the game. My dad and Tim stayed in our seats while Kellan and I took a little walk in the beautiful Comerica Park cross aisle. As we walked toward home plate, Fister fought a losing battle with Josh Willingham:

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Willingham drew 1-out walk. We grabbed a prime standing-room spot in the cross aisle behind home plate just in time to watch Fister’s tough first inning continue against Justin Morneau:

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Morneau hit an RBI double to make the score 2-0 Twins with only 1 out in the first.

By the way, Kellan was on my shoulders as we walked (and stood) in the cross aisle. Sometimes Kellan gets squirmy and is only satisfied if I continue walking around when he’s on my shoulders. But, to my surprise and delight, Kellan was happy as a clam sitting up there on my shoulders behind home plate. So I decided to just hang out there for a while. Here was our view:

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Two batters after Morneau, Chris Parmalee hit an RBI single (scoring Morneau) to cap off the scoring in the top of the first.

After the first inning, the score was 3-0 Twins. It was really too bad because Fister ended up pitching 7 innings and not giving up another run the rest of the day…but the Tigers (spoiler alert) only managed to score 2 runs all day. Tough luck for Mr. Fister.

I was satisfied to just stay put in our SRO spot all day, but we had to get out of there quick when we saw this guy…

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…walking in the cross aisle behind the 3B dugout. That’s Paws the Tigers’ mascot. In the photo above to the left, I tried to take a *selfie* of the three of us with my cellphone, but I completely missed Kellan and missed most of myself. Paws saw how terrible my picture came out and he grabbed my phone and handed it to his escort, who took the photo above on the right. I like how Kellan is just chilling up there looking at Paws, which is much better than what he did last year (cried) every time he saw a mascot up close.

On a funny follow-up note, for the rest of the day Kellan kept asking about the “lion.” I told him over and over that Paws is a tiger, but he just kept calling him a lion.
Like the previous night, when we initially left Tim and my dad at our seats, Kellan and I promised to come back with ice cream. So Kellan and I set off to find some ice cream.
We headed to the concession stand in the LF concourse. But we couldn’t see any ice cream helmets (or ice cream) in the stand. So we walked the concourse toward home plate until we found a fan assistance office. The fan assistance staff explained that there were ice cream helmets out in the food court encircling the tiger-go-round (and while at the fan assistance office, I picked up “First Game at Comerica Park” certificates for Kellan and my dad).

The ice cream place was all the way around the other side of the stadium from our seats. I handed Kellan’s ice cream up to him and carried Tim’s ice cream back to our seats:

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Kellan ate his ice cream on the walk back. After I took him down so he could sit in his seat and eat his ice cream, a lady sitting behind me leaned forward and said, “I apologize, but I have to get this ice cream for you” and then she took a napkin and cleaned a huge piece of ice cream out of the back of my hair. Kellan and deposited the ice cream into my hair and somehow I had no clue it was there.
Anyway, while the boys ate their ice cream, Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera…

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…did not hit a homerun.

Guess what Kellan and I did after he finished eating his ice cream (or, I mean, after I finished eating his ice cream)? We went right back to our same SRO spot behind the 1B side of home plate. It was the perfect spot to catch a foul ball (which we didn’t) and Kellan was into hanging out there (and not so into sitting in the seats) so I figured let’s go for it!

For most of the rest of the game, Kellan and I stood between two college-aged gals on our left (who kept giggling about how cute Kellan was sitting on my shoulders) and two 40-50 year old men on our right (one of whom thought we were the ideal example of why baseball is the best sport for fathers and sons). At one point, as Kellan was all relaxed and just lounging up on my shoulders, I could hear the guy next to me telling his friend who awesome it was that I had brought Kellan to the game and we were just hanging out watching the game together. Two seconds later, the guy asked if I had a camera and told me that I just couldn’t miss getting a photo of this…

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…moment. After he took the picture, he handed my phone back to me and said, “I may need a copy of that one myself!”

It is a pretty cute picture. And it great to capture these moments when my lil’ guy can rest up there on my shoulders. It’s so sad that Tim is too big to do that now. They grow up so fast!

By the way, here’s a picture of the general scene:

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The guy in the ChiSox jacket is the one who took our picture, the Cubs guy is his buddy who was standing right next to me and Kellan in that empty spot between him and the girl in the orange jacket. That girl is one of the “college-aged” girls I mentioned before (hmm…maybe not college, but young 20s nonetheless), I’m not sure where her friend was at this point.

While Kellan and I were standing there watching the game, Tim and my dad toured all over the ballpark. First they went up to the upper deck where my dad snapped a few photos out past the foul pole:

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By one of the “D” stores (team stores), my dad got this great shot of Tim “hitting” against Fister:

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They got some pictures with the ferris wheel in the background…

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…some pictures above/behind the big Tiger statues and the tiger-go-round…

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…and a shot of Tim by a big Tiger coin-collector…

31-penny-tiger

…, which was just inside the main gate by the Ernie Harwell statue.

The Tigers made the game interesting by scoring a pair of runs in the middle innings while Fister kept the Twins locked in at 3 runs. In the fifth inning, Andy Dirks singled with two outs and then scored on an RBI double by Torii Hunter.

In the sixth inning, Jhonny Peralta took a leisurely trot around the bases…

32-tiger-homer

…after hitting a solo homerun with two outs. But that was all the scoring the Tigers had in them. The score after 6 innings (and after 9) was 3-2 Twins.

In the ninth inning, Kellan and I started the slow process of getting into position to make an attempt for a post-game umpire baseball. Here was our view as we first started our trek down to the tunnel:

33-approaching-ump-tunnel

We ended up doing some birding during the ninth inning. Here are my bird shots:

34-birding-by-daddy

And here are 4 of Kellan’s first birding attempts:

35-birding-by-kellan

Eventually, he successfully captured a bird on *film*:

36-successful-birding-by-kellan

In the bottom of the ninth, this was our view:

37-fancy-obstructed-view

We were in a near perfect spot for an umpire ball, but that metal box is pretty poorly placed.

After the game, home plate umpire Andy Fletcher didn’t toss any baseballs into the crowd. When he walked by us, I could see two baseballs in his pouch, but they stayed there. On his walk out, he motioned to someone up higher in the stands behind home plate. I had a feeling he was going to come back to chat with someone so we stayed put. In a few minutes, he did come back. As he was standing right below us I asked if he could toss one of the baseballs in his pouch up to us, but he said (1) he only had a couple left, (2) was meeting up with a friend, and (3) had promised them to his friend’s kids. And that’s just what happened. He ended up chatting with a guy for a while and giving the two baseballs to the guy’s kids. Oh, well.

Kellan and I then met up with Tim and my dad out by our seats. It is super easy to meet up with your loved ones when you are in the U.S. and have working cellphones. Before heading to the exits, we got a great group picture:

38-grandfather-father-sons-at-comerica

On our way out of the ballpark, we found a second Tigers Mickey Mouse:

39-second-tigers-mickey

We exited via the CF gate so we had to walk all the way around the stadium to get to our car. On our way by the 3B gate, I got a couple photos of Tim and my dad:

40-tim-dad-outside-tigers

And then we headed back to Windsor, Canada for the night. We ended up playing catch for a while in the park across the street from our hotel…

41-windor-detroit-pop-flies

…before going out to a late dinner at “The Keg.” Note, in that picture above to the right, Tim is catching a pop fly and that is our hotel in the background. In that picture above to the left, that is Detroit in the background across the river. Detroit was incredibly loud all night because there was an electronic music festival going on over there, and it literally shook us over in Windsor.

All-in-all, the second day of the Roadtrip was a smashing success.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

9 Games

15 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers

16 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 2

42 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 1

8 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park

14 Player Pictures – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen

5 Autographs – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

2012 Cook GFS Game 1 – Blue Jays vs. Twins (5/12/12)

The 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip is extra special for several reasons.  First, it is the Fifth Anniversary of the GFS Roadtrip.  Second, we have expanded the GFS roster to include Kellan. And, finally, by checking off Busch Stadium (Cardinals), Kauffman Stadium (Royals), and Coors Field (Rockies), Tim and I would finally have seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game – we had already seen all 30 teams play a road game.

I wanted the Mariners to be involved in the game when we saw our final team play a home game.  During the offseason, I decided it would happen in Colorado when the Mariners visited the Rockies in May.

The Roadtrip kicked off on May 12, 2012.  We started in Minnesota.  It is the first city we have visited on two separate roadtrips.  We went to the H.H.H. Metrodome during its final season in 2009.  And now we were back to check out Target Field.

But first, we had to get to Minnesota…

…and this will officially be Kellan’s final “infant on lap” trip.  He’s getting to be huge these days.  But we have a nice flight nonetheless and were greeted by my dad at the gate.  His flight had landed about half an hour before ours.

After a brief rest in our hotel room, we took to the streets of Minneapolis on foot – destination Target Field:

We arrived before the gates opened.  The crowd at the RF (Kirby Puckett) gate was getting big already.  We got some pictures with a couple statues (Kirby and Kent Hrbek)…

…and then headed around the stadium to the shaded Tony Oliva gate.

Our first inside view of Target Field was from the left field corner and the Twins were taking BP:

The Blue Jays were already stretching by the dugout.  Soon, they started to walk down the foul line to play catch.  Luis Perez…

…gave us a smile as he walked by so I asked if he’d pose for a picture with Tim and Kellan.  He said he would after he played catch.  I asked, “Ah, then, could we get your warm up ball when you’re done too!?”  He said yes and then headed off to play catch.

But then he must have decided he didn’t want to forget about us, because he walked back over to us a minute later and handed Kellan our first ever baseball at Target Field.

Thanks, Luis!

One of our big goals of this game was to get Rajai Davis to sign Kellan’s first MLB pitch picture.  We soon spotted him playing catch just behind third base.  Unfortunately, he was on the field side instead of the foul line side.  Anyway, Kellan and I went over there on the off chance we could hook up with Davis:

In the picture above to the left, Rajai is all the way out in CF playing long toss.  While we were watching Davis play long toss, the on-field security guard to the right grabbed a ball that had been hit against that protective screen and he walked over and handed it to Kellan.

Thanks, Security Guard!

That was it for BP as far as baseballs go.

And we never got any closer to Davis.  He drifted off into CF after finishing playing long toss.

Kellan and I headed back toward the corner spot where Tim and my dad were still waiting on Perez to finish playing catch and come back for a picture…

…, but it was too hot and sunny and Tim surrendered to the sun.  He was going to burst into flames if he waited any longer for Perez.  So, sadly, we did not get a picture with a Blue Jay.

Instead, we headed toward home plate.  We noticed that they let you down into the dugout seats (inside the Moat) during BP.  Here is a panorama from within the moat:

Next, we grabbed some water for the boys.  And then Tim and grandpa headed off to the team store and Kellan and I headed to the shady spot in RF.  On the way, he fell asleep:

Tim and grandpa met up with us and we hung out here for the rest of BP:

Once BP ended, we headed up to the upper deck in the outfield to check out the stadium.  An usher was kind enough to take a nice picture of us:

That picture was taken here:

Tim can be temperamental about getting his picture taken sometime…probably because he’s been photographed  about 100,000 times in six years.  Anyway, I wanted to get our Target Field bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, but for some reason Tim was adamant that he didn’t want to be in it – just Kellan.  So, this was “take 1” of the bonus picture:

Here is what it looks like from the front row of the section just below the CF Target Field sign:

While we were up there, we found a couple of the statues from past all-star games and Tim did funny poses with both:

As we continued to circle around to LF, Tim and I headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium.  Check out how steep the steps are in the LF upper deck seats:

Here is what it looks like from the back row up there:

Behind 2B, they had a softball homerun hitting contest set up.  Two fans faced off against the hardest hitting mascot ever:

The mascot blasted 6 bombs on 7 swings, including one that hit the back wall of the upper deck.

Then we found another all-star statue.  I think this one might be for this season:

After that picture, Tim declared he was extremely hungry.  Instead of nachos, he wanted pizza.  We walked and walked and walked before we found pizza, but finally found it.  And we also found the most awesome food item in the history of Major League Baseball…

The NACHO HELMET!

For the record, our nacho lady only filled ours half way, which was plenty for me and Kellan, but every other  nacho helmet I saw all day was overflowing the top of the helmet.  We ate our nachos in our seats in the last row (row 10) of section 141:

I really liked these seats.  They were great.

Joe Mauer, P.J. Walters and (I’m guessing) the Twins pitching coach headed in from the bullpen for the game to start:

These three dudes were all set for the first pitch of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip:

And this was it:

We were desperately needing a water refill, which required me and Kellan to walk all the way behind home plate to find a water fountain.  On the way, we saw Jose Baustita bat up close:

All game long, the concourses were absolutely packed:

For the first 3.5 innings, it was a scoreless pitchers’ duel between P.J. Walters and Drew Hutchinson (two guys I had never heard of before this game).  To that point, this foul ball by Joe Mauer was one of the offensive highlights of the so-far uneventful game:

Eventually, Kellan needed to get moving.  We headed to Target Plaza so he could stretch his travel-weary legs:

After running around for a while in Target Plaza, we headed upstairs in CF.  At the deepest part of CF, this is what the concourse looks like:

While I took some pictures, Kellan worked his arm muscles and abs:

Then we took a look at the bullpens:

And deep LF:

And straight away LF:

Then it was time for another leg workout.  Kellan ran up and down this ramp from the field level to the upper deck about 3-4 times:

At the top of the ramp, Kellan wanted a solo picture posing with the Twins pig:

And then it was more running.  He ran a lot!

Eventually, we headed back to our seats through the field level concourse.  I took a picture from the concourse behind the odd seats in deep RCF:

They are tucked under the upper deck seats.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Hutchinson loaded the bases and then walked in the first run of the game for a 1-0 Twins lead.

Before sitting down again, Kellan and I grabbed some two-toned dipping dots helmets:

Those are some sweeeeeeet helmets.  I love ‘em.  These are our first two-tone helmets.

You can see this in some of the panoramas, but I figured I should take a picture of the “have’s” seating on the fancy side of the moat:

On the last game of the 2011 GFS Roadtrip, Johnny Damon hit a ball off the top of the RCF wall at the Trop.  They called it a homerun.  I could tell with my unaided eyes that it had hit the bar on the top of the fence and bounced back onto the field without leaving the ballpark.  They reviewed it.  And eventually Damon was told to head back out to second base.

In the top of the sixth inning of this game, Jose Bautista became the second player in as many GFS Roadtrip games to hit a disputed shot to the wall:

With my unaided eye, I could tell it bounced in the bushes above the OF wall and it should be a homerun.  I was right.  After stopping for a few minutes at 2B, Jose was told to finish his trip around the bases:

The boys were growing restless and I still needed to tour around the upper deck in the infield.  We decided to make it a four-man trip.  First, we headed to a little hallway on the second deck on the 1B side where Tim got his picture with a model:

And then we headed all the wall down the RF line in the upper deck – where the usher told me to reposition myself to take these pictures (I must have been blocking the view of some people in a downtown building because there was nobody (and no seats) behind me):

Then we walked around the upper deck:

There were a lot of people in the concourse up there too.  Unluckily, as you circle around home plate, there is an elevated walkway so you can stay out of the concourse.

Circling around home plate, I asked an usher to take our picture…

…and he warmed me that the sun would blast us in the face in the photo.

As we walked, I continued to take photos of the field…

…and of my boys and dad:

As we walked, we saw an awesome play.   Someone hit a foul pop up behind 3B.  The Jays short stop Yunel Escobar rushed back to make the play, but he bobbled the ball up into the air and Jays left fielder Jose Bautista swooped in to snatch it out of the air for the rare 6-7 put out:

Tim and I climbed to the highest seats in LF for this picture:

And at the bottom of that section, I snapped this cute picture of Tim, Kellan and my dad:

As we headed back to the RF corner to head down to the lower level, Joe Mauer launched a deep drive.  It was the craziest I have ever heard a crowd go for a double:

We headed back to our seats, but then I realized I never went up into the RF bleachers.  So Tim and I headed over there.  On the way, we took this picture of the worst SRO area ever:

All you can see is the right fielder and a TV screen.  On the plus side, it is completely shaded (under the  RF bleachers).

The connection between the RF seats and the CF seats makes for some crazy angles at Target Field.  I wish I had done a better job photographing it.  But I did get this awesome picture of two lone seats at the top of a mini-flight of steps:

Then we *scaled* the RF bleachers.  It was like rock climbing, I would imagine.  At the top I got this panorama:

And this photo of nervous-from-the-height Tim:

Here are some fun angles that make it look like the bullpen is at the bottom of a hole:

And then it was time to slowly walk back down the steep steps:

Approaching the stairs down to Target Plaza, I got this picture of the plaza…

…and one of Tim in front of the Twins Live set.

Late in the game, Bautista was on first base and I was just sure something was about to happen.  I was right, they tried to pick him off first unsuccessfully:

It was dark now and the ballpark signs looked great – check it out:

The Blue Jays had pulled ahead to a 2-1 lead, and they held on to win the game, which pleased Tim.  He had declared the Blue Jays to be his team to win early in the game.

After the game, I had an usher take a family shot of us…

…and it took Tim a few minutes to realize I had duped him into posing for a Target Field bonus picture.  Haha!!

On our way out of the stadium, Tim (in quite possibly his oldest looking picture ever) showed his respects for the Great Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist (#18):

So there you go.  One game down on the Roadtrip.  Another great night and another great stadium.  In the morning, we would drive to St. Louis for a couple games between the Cardinals and Cubs at Busch Stadium.  It would prove to be a super long drive, but well worth it.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

5/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
9/8 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins
6 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2
25 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1
3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2
5/4 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak

 

Target Field Tour

I just spend a week in Minneapolis.  I wanted to tour Target Field, but I was incredibly busy all week and the chances didn’t look good.  One evening, just before my trip through the Metrodome, I headed over to Target Field just to check it out in daylight.

It was looking good:

1 - Target Field exterior 1B side.JPG
See those windows below the Target Field sign in that picture above to the right?  Remember those windows for a minute.

I peaked through Gate 29 and I could see workers taking a plastic cover off of the field:

a2 - Target Field from Gate 29 removing winter cover panorama.jpgI definitely wanted to get in there to see what Target Field is all about.

I finally got my chance just before leaving Minneapolis.  When I arrived at the box office to purchase a tour ticket, there were two guys and a dog sitting in chairs next to their tent:

2 - Twins Single Game Tickets Line 2011.JPGThey were first in line for single game tickets, which were going on sale the next day.

See that lady in the red jacket above?  She was on my tour.  We chatted a bit.  She was very nice and she gave me a run for my money for the title of most pictures taken on the tour…but I still think I got her on it.

My tour ticket looked like a game ticket and was beautiful:

2a - Target Field tour ticket.jpgForty people met up outside of Gate 29.  Two tour guides divided us into groups of 20 and then the groups headed off in different directions.  Our tour guide was named Dick, and he was awesome.

The first thing we did was hop in an elevator right next to Gate 29 and the team store.  We went up a couple floors and headed to our first stop — the Metropolitan Club:

3 - Metropolitan Club.JPGRemember all of those windows in the picture above?  Well, the Metropolitan Club (as show here) is inside those windows.  The Metropolitan Club is a special club for season ticket holders and their guests.  There is a bar and a big buffet is served before each game.

Target Field is chock full of history.  Everywhere you go, there are pictures, paintings and display cases showcasing the Twins and Minnesota’s baseball history.  And almost everything is named after a Twin, a Minnesotan, or a Minnesotan lankmark.

Inside the Metropolitan Club, the Twins have a series of photographs of all-time baseball greats, like the picture of Babe Ruth above playing in Minnesota on the old “barnstormer” tours.  The sign next to the picture says, “Babe Ruth made an appearance at Nicollet Park during an exhibition game in September 1935.”  The picture above to the left is of old Metropolitan Stadium and it covers the entire wall behind the host’s station at the Metropolitan Club entrance.

Here is a panorama of Target Field through the Metropolitan Club windows:

a3 - Target Field metropolitan club panorama.jpg

For $5 extra, season ticket holders can watch the game from the two rows of seats outside of the Metropolitan Club.

Next, we exited the Metropolitan Club walked down a hallway with pictures of all 30 current MLB stadiums, and our next stop was the Johnny Blanchard party suite:

4 - Target Field Johnny Blanchard suite.JPGThere are about 7 of these suites on this level.  I think that Dick said they cost about $100 per person (assuming you fill the suite to capacity, which I think was something like 30 people).  This picture is not very good.  The suite was big, modern and very nice.  It has a really big kitchen area with a full-sized refrigerator.

Each of the party suites is named after a current/former MLB player who was born in Minnesota.  I cannot remember all of them, but Roger Maris and Paul Molitor were two of them.

Here is a panorama of Target Field from inside the Johnny Blanchard suite:

b - Target Field Johnny Blanchard suite panorama.jpgWorkers were actively preparing Target Field for opening day.  There were a couple visible signs of it being winter in Minnesota.  Most notably, the dugouts were enclosed within wood walls:

5 - Target Field visitors dugout covered in wood.JPGIn the LF foul corner, the Twins have each of their retired numbers in red or blue circles:

6 - Target Field retired numbers.JPG42 is Jackie Robinson, 34 is Kirby Puckett, 14 is Kent Hrbek, 6 is Tony Oliva, 29 is Rod Carew, and 3 is Harmon Killebrew.  Dick informed us that 28 will soon be added to the list for Hall of Famer-elect Bert Blyleven.

Here are some shots of the Twins big screens:

7 - Target Field big screens.JPGThe big one over the upper deck seats in left field is huge.  Dick said that if you placed the Timberwolves basketball court in the middle of the big screen, you would have three feet of extra screen space on all four sides of the court.  It looks pretty nice.

Last season, the big scoreboard was the only big screen at Target Field.  Apparently, people in LF complained because they couldn’t see it (particularly from the lower deck), so they just recently put up a smaller big screen above the upper deck seats in RF.  Dick said the RF screen is 1/4 the size of the main scoreboard screen.

After we left the Johnny Blanchard suite, we entered a hallway leading to the Legends Club.  The hallway was full of memorabilia and informative pictures, diagrams, etc., about Target Field.  One wall told all about the construction of Target Field with tons of pictures of the entire process.  For example, there are pictures of the 41 miles of heating tubes below the field at Target Field.  The tubes are set to a temperature during the winter that allows the grass to go dormant, but prevents a hard freeze from setting in.

There was also a display case all about the first game at Target Field.  It had all of the bases, the pitching rubber, pictures of the umpires, important baseballs, scorecards, etc.  My favorite thing in the display case was this:

8 - Target Field First Homerun Catcher.JPGIt is the first homerun ball ever hit at Target Field along with a picture of A.J. Nitzschke, the lucky Twins fan who caught the Jason Kubel homerun.  Behind the picture of A.J. is a short letter A.J. wrote describing the big day.  This seems like a great touch to me.  The Twins clearly understand that the fans are what allows professional baseball to exist, and therefore they made space to celebrate an important fan experience from opening day right along with the on field stuff.

In an interesting side note, Dick mentioned that the Twins offered A.J. an autographed game-used Jason Kubel bat in exchange for the first Target Field homerun baseball.  However, A.J. is apparently a big Joe Mauer fan so he requested an autographed Mauer bat.  Mauer and the Twins were happy to make A.J.’s request happen.  Not only did he get the autographed Mauer bat, he got to meet both Mauer and Kubel.  (Maybe the Marlins should take some notes from the Twins).

Just behind the opening night display case is the architect’s model of Target Field:

9 - Target Field replica.JPGThe model is really cool becuase, in additional to all of the components of the field itself, it shows how all of the roadways/trains pass under Target Field.

Next, we headed into the Legends Club.  I took this picture of the front desk at the Legends Club because I loved the huge picture behind the desk:

11 - Target Field big bat knobs picture.JPGThe Legends Club wraps from the 1B side to the 3B side.  Here is the 1B side of the Legends Club all set up for some event (there are 22 spaces that companies/individuals can rent out for functions at Target Field):

10 - Target Field Legends Club 3B side.JPGBy the way, that is our tour guide Dick in that last picture.

And here is a panoramic view of Target Field from the 1B side of the Legends Club:

c - Target Field legends club 1b side panorama.jpgJust past the Legends Club seating area (two pictures above) is the Kirby Puckett Lounge.  The lounge has several display cases full of Kirby memorabilia.  Its amazing stuff, including his 1991 World Series ring and his Hall of Fame ring:

12 - Kirby Puckett Lounge.JPGPictured above to the right is a bar with Kirby’s signature on the base of the bar and his image burned/etched (not sure which) into the wooden wall behind the bar.  By the way, in addition to his rings, the Kirby Puckett Lounge features several game jerseys, cleats, bats, a gold glove award, pictures, magazine covers, etc., etc., etc.  Much of the stuff is on loan to the Twins from the Puckett family.

Next, we headed to the press box (print media):


13 - Target Field Press Box.JPGHere is a panoramic view of Target Field from the press box:

d - Target Field press box panorama.jpgAnd next door, I got this panoramic view of Target Field from the TV box:

e - Target Field TV booth panorama.jpgHere is a view into the 3B-side of the Legends Club:

14 - Target Field Legends Club 3B side.JPGBehind home plate (and the press boxes), there is a “Call Wall” with famous TV/radio calls from Twins history:

f - Target Field call wall panorama.jpgThe Call Wall looks across the hallway toward the “573” Lounge:

15 - Targe Field 573 Lounge.JPGThis lounge is named in recognition of Harmon Killebrew’s 573 career homeruns and it featuers a Killebrew-based display case including the bat he used for his final career homerun and the baseball (also with a notation of who caught it — I think it was caught be a reliever in the bullpen).  Interestingly, Killebrew hit his final homerun as a Kansas City Royal playing against the Twins in Minnesota.

Next, we headed up the stairs in the 573 Lounge and entered the private suite level.  At the top of the stairs was a cool panoramic painting of Target Field:


g - Target Field painting panorama.jpgHere is a view down the private suite hallway toward the 1B side:

16 - Target Field suite level hallway.JPGEach of the private suites is named after a lake in Minnesota — here is a look at the “Norway Lake Suite”:

17 - Target Field private suites.JPGAs you can see, the suites are really nice and clean looking.  Here is a panoramic view of Target Field from the Norway Lake suite:

h - Target Field Norway Lake Suite panorama.jpgFrom the suite level hallway, we could see down into the Legends Club Rod Carew Lounge:

18 - Rod Carew Lounge.JPGThe suite level hallway is lined with paintings and pictures.  In one section of the hallway, there were pictures of each of the Twins to have won batting titles.  Further down the hallway toward LF, there are painting of each person who has served as the Twins manager over the years — a surprisingly small group of people.  Here are the paintings of the last two managers — Tom “T.K.” Kelley and Ron Gardenhire:

19 - Target Field Tom Kelly and Ron Gardenhire paintings.JPGWe went into suite 54 (not sure what its “lake” name was) almost directly across the hall from the Gardenhire painting.  Here was the view of Target Field from suite 54:

i - Target Field Suite 54 panorama.jpgAnd here is a closer look at the Twins “Minnie and Paul” logo out in center field:

20 - Target Field Minnie and Paul Sign.JPGA little further down the hallway there was a big painting on the wall of a wobbly-looking Target Field:

22 - Target Field funky painting.JPGAcross the hallway from that wobbly painting, there are two huge party suites.  Here is one of them:

23 - Target Field jumbo party suites.JPGThe suites have big cushy seats and come complete with overhead heaters:

21 - Target Field suite seating and heaters.JPGHere is a panorama of Target Field from the huge party suites:

j - Target Field jumbo suite panorama.jpgI like the yellow-orange rock they used throughout the field.  Behind home plate, there is a very nice looking “Welcome to Target Field” on the yellow-orange rock:

24 - Welcome to Target Field sign.JPGWe didn’t venture out into the outfield during the tour, so this is the best look I got of the bullpens:

25 - Target Field bullpens.JPGNext, we visited the “Skyline Deck,” which (true to its name) has an excellent view of the Minneapolis skyline.  Here is a panoramic view of Target Field from the concourse directly behind Section T of the Skyline Deck:

k - Target Field Skyline Deck concourse panorama.jpgWe took a tour of Chase Field when we were in Arizona for Spring Training and our guide hyperventilated if you walked 3 feet away from the tour group, and we were never allowed down into the actual rows of seats.  So, not wanting to ruffle Dick’s feathers, I asked politely if I could run down to the first row to take some pictures.  He was absolutely fine with it.  He just told me to catch up with the tour and he led the rest of the people away (toward the LF foul pole) as I ran down to the first row.

So, thanks to Dick, here is a panorama of Target Field from the first row of Section T of the Skyline Deck:

l - Target Field Skyline Deck front row panorama.jpgAfter a few minutes down in the first row, I ran over to the foul pole to catch up with the group.  Before hopping onto an elevator with the group, I got this panorama of Target Field from the concourse in the LF foul corner:

m- Target Field Left Field corner panorama.jpgMoments later, I was high above the field on the Budweiser Roof Deck.  As shown in this panorama, we were literally *above* the foul pole:



n - Target Field bud party deck panorama.jpgThat last panorama cut off a lot of the field.  Its hard to get a good panorama when you are shooting from up high and trying to wrap around a corner.  So I ran around the roof deck looking for the best spot to capture a good picture of the view from up there.  My second attempt was from the top of a couple standing room risers:

o - Target Field bud party deck risers panorama.jpgMy final attempt was probably the best view (although it cuts off the LF seats).  Here is a panorama from the *foulest* front corner of the roof deck:

p - Target Field bud party deck LF foul corner panorama.jpgWhile in that *foulest* corner, I turned around and good a shot of the lighting tucked into the wing-looking upper deck “roof”:

26 - Target Field lighting.JPGIt would probably make more sense if it was game time and everything was set up, but here is a shot of the bar area on the roof deck:

27 - Target Field Bud party deck.JPGBy the way, the roof deck is totally separated from everything else.  To get to any other level or seating section, you have to take an elevator down from the roof deck.  Also, you can only get up to the roof deck if you have special roof deck tickets.

From high atop the roof deck, we took the elevator all the way down to the bowels of target field.  We walked around from LF toward the visitors’ clubhouse on the 3B side.

En route to the clubhouse, we stopped to take a look at “Keg Room No. 5.”  Check it out:

28 - Target Field Keg Room No. 5.JPGApparently Twins personnel were always carting around kegs through the Metrodome concourses, which wasn’t ideal for fans walking the concourse.  So, at Target Field, they now have (I think) 8 “keg rooms.”  See the yellow arrow above the keg room?  Instead of taking kegs to each of the beer stands, all of the kegs are in the keg rooms and there are 14.8 miles of “beer pipes” twisting their way through Target Field delivering crisp, cold beer straight from the keg rooms to your plastic beer cup.

Next up, the visitors’ clubhouse.  Here are three pictures:

29 - Target Field visitors clubhouse and batting cage.JPGIn the top picture, that is the main clubhouse area with the player lockers and couches in the middle.  As photographed in that picture, the field is to the right of the clubhouse.  Directly to the right of where I was standing when I took the top picture, is the little kitchen area shown above to the left.  Finally, just down the hallway from the clubhouse (on the way to the dugout) is the single batting cage shown above to the right.

They took us into the visitors dugout, which (as mentioned above) was encased in a wood cover:

30 - Target Field enclosed visitors bullpen.JPGLet me explain the yellow and green arrows.  First, the bottom left picture is the view from the 3B side of the dugout (where the players enter the dugout) toward the homeplate side.  There are little spaces between the wood cover and the railings in the dugout.  The picture above to the right is looking toward home plate through the front-homeplate side space in the dugout cover.  Essentially, I just stuck my camera through the hole in the dugout and snapped a picture without knowing what it would look like.

I did the same thing on the 3B-side of the dugout (at the green arrow in the top right picture above), but I took a couple totally blind photos that I was able to piece together to make this half-way decent panorama:
q - Target Field visitors dugout panorama.jpgNext, we headed to the Champion’s Club, directly behind home plate under the fancy seats.  Here are a couple photos of what it looked like in there:

31 - Target Field Champions Club.JPGIn that middle photo, that is a sports radio broadcast that was taking place from a studio in the back corner of the Champion’s Club.

The Champion’s Club essentially goes from dugout-to-dugout and it has several entrances to the super-luxury seats behind home plate.  On the far 1B-side of the Champion’s Club, there is a window where people can watch the Twins take hacks in their two batting cages:

32 - Target Field Champions Club view of Twins batting cages.JPGI’m not sure if Dick was going to take us out into the seats (which were still partially covered in snow), but I didn’t wait around to ask.  I tested the door and when it was unlocked, I bolted for the seats.  (By the way, Dick later brought just a handful of people out into the seats.  He absolutely didn’t care that I was already out there taking pictures).

Here is a panorama of Target Field from (approximately) row B of Section 7 of the Champion’s Club:

r - Target Field Champions Club section 7 panorama2.jpgI took a couple photos of myself on the tour so I’d have proof that I was actually at Target Field.  Here is the least terrible of my self-photos:

33 - TJC at Target Field.JPGHere is another Champion’s Club panorama, this one from row A of Section 10 (with my arm and camera wrapped around the protective screen so we don’t have to look through the net):

u - Target Field Champions Club section 10 panorama2.jpgBefore heading back into the Champion’s Club, I ran up to the walkway behind the Champion’s Club seating and took this panorama of Target Field from behind Row M of Section 9:

v - Target Field Champions Club section 9 back row panorama.jpgOur tour was winding down.  It was a great tour that lasted almost two hours.  On our way out of the Champion’s Club, we stopped to look at the 1987 and 1991 World Series trophies.  They are in the entrance way to the Champion’s Club, which had really odd lighting that made my pictures look terrible.  But it was cool to see the trophies, along with three world series rings.

Dick took us back up an elevator on the 1B side and we ended up right where we began the tour.  Before heading out, I ran over to the seats and took a couple more panoramas.

Here is a panorama of Target Field from the concourse directly behind section 103:

w - Target Field section 103 concourse panorama.jpgI ran down to the RF corner and took this panorama of Target Field from the top of a pile of snow behind section 141:

x - Target Field section 141 concourse panorama.jpgFinally, my tour was complete after I took this final Target Field panorama from the concourse behind section 101:

y - Target Field section 101 concourse panorama.jpgBottom line:  Target Field is beautiful.  The Twins did a great job designing the stadium and filling it with loads of Minnesota baseball history.  If you’re in Minnesota and the Twins are playing, definitely stop by Target Field for a game.  If they are not in town, stop by anyway and grab a tour.  You’ll love it.

m

(Mad Max) Beyond Metrodome

As a result of growing up at the Kingdome, I’m a big fan of domes.  Sure, I’d rather play ball at Safeco Field.  I recognize it is objectively better than every domed stadium out there.  But a domed stadium gives me a great sense of nostaglia for my long lost Kingdome.

In my book, the H.H.H. Metrodome was a first class domed baseball stadium.  As you entered Minneapolis from some-or-other direction, the Metrodome’s bubbly white roof welcomed you to the city:

1 - Welcome to Metrodomeapolis.JPGWalking in downtown Minneapolis, the Metrodome’s roof loomed large from blocks away; like an alien mothership in a movie hovering over a defenseless city below:

2 - mound of marshmellow roof.JPGWhen the Twins celebrated their final season at the Metrodome, the multipurpose venue was the inspiration for my favorite commemorative baseball:

26 - Twins at Metrodome.JPG[By the way, what’s up with there being no equally beautiful (or even an ugly) 1977-1999 Kingdome commemorative baseball?]

My dad, Tim and I visited the Metrodome on the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2009.  Tim and I trudged all over that place and it was awesome.

Last November, I visited Minneapolis and enjoyed an outstanding view of the Metrodome (now displaying the name “Mall of America Field”):

3 - glorious from the air.JPG

Then on December 12, 2010, a massive snow strom resulted in the Metrodome roof collapsing and snow crashing down to the football field below:

The Twins were already relocated to Targe Field for the 2010 season, but the Vikings still called the Metrodome home at the time of the roof collapse.  The collapse took the dome out of commission for the rest of the football season.

Last week, I found myself in Minneapolis once again.  The once mighty dome was no longer visible from across town like it had been last November.  So, I decided to walk over to the dome and see what it looked like.

I found that it looks drastically different these days:

4 - deflated metrodome.jpgI walked all the way around the outside and peered through the glass doors.  The entry ways include two sets of glass doors.  Across the concourse floor, a third set of glass doors closes off the concourse from the seating area.

As my camera and I peered through the layers of glass, the view was terrible but I could clearly see the roof hanging down into the middle of the dome:

5 - peering through three glass doors.JPGThat white stuff is the roof, and you can see two orange streamers hanging from the roof.

Oddly, I could also hear music inside the dome.  I figured there must be workers in there working on the roof.  And then, all of a sudden, a shadowy figure streaked across the windows inside the concourse

What the what-what?

The shadowy figure was clearly a person…on rollerblades…skating in the field level concourse.

I was thoroughly confused.

I was about half way around the dome at this point and I decided to keep walking and see if I could find an entry point into the dome.  When I was two-thirds the way around, I found it.  One of the doors at Gate D was open, and there was a big sign on either side of the door that simply said “Rollerblade.”

I walked through the open door and through the revolving inside door.  I was now *inside* the collapsed Metrodome.  I saw a little kid down the concourse to the right playing around by what looked like a concession stand.  To the left, there was a makeshift barrier keeping me from entering the main area of the concourse and there was a table further blocking my access.  I could see a guy standing about 150 feet down the concourse to my left, far behind the table blocking my way.  He had to notice me, but he didn’t look my way at all.

I decided to squeaze past the table blocking my way and walk down to the guy.  When I reached him, there were several younger guys (20s’ish) sitting around with him.

Todd: “What’s going on here?”

Younger guy:  “Rollerdome!  Rollerblading!”

Todd:  “So anyone can rollerblade?”

Younger guy:  “Yep.”

Todd:  “Do you have rollerblades for rent?”

Younger guy:  “Yep.”

Todd:  “Well, I’m in if it will get me in to look at the dome.”

Older guy:  “It will but you can’t stop at the windows to look down into the stadium because that’s a high speed area.  You can stop on the opposite side of the concourse and look across.”

I was told Rollerdome doesn’t start until 5:00 p.m (check out their website).  I had about half-an-hour to wait.  I really just wanted to see into the dome.  So I asked if I could go look in the window into the stadium now.  The younger guy said sure.   After I peered into the first window, he asked me if I wanted to see something really cool.  Of course, I said “yes.”  Eventually, he took me all the way around the field level concourse so I could take pictures looking into the field area.

Before sharing those pictures, let’s look at a couple pictures for context:

Metrodome concessions.JPGThis is a map I got of the Metrodome concession stands when we visited the dome in 2009.  I approached the dome from Seventh Street.  Essentially, it leads right into Gate G. I then circled the dome clockwise.  The picture above looking through the windows is at Gate A.  I saw the first rollerblader through the windows at Gate C and then I entered through Gate D.

At our game in 2009, we sat in Section 100 in left field.  On our self-guided tour around the stadium, I took this picture from section 224; high above and behind home plate:


6 - Metrodome Behind Home Top.JPGI took this picture at the top of the upper deck.  Note a couple things that I have circled (from top to bottom) — (i) a huge speaker hanging directly behind home plate high above the second deck, (ii) a large American flag hanging above the second deck and the scoreboard above sections 100 and 200 in left field, and (iii) our seats in section 100 in left field.

Here is another picture from our trip in 2009:

7 - view of left field with explanatory circles.JPGAgain, this picture shows our seats and the American flag above sections 100 and 200.  The other yellow circles show the entrance ways to the seating area.  Those entrance ways lead to the field level concourse.  I took all of the following pictures (well, the following post-collapse pictures) through these field level entrance ways.

Another pre-collapse picture:

7b - view toward home pre-collapse.JPGAgain, that is the same speaker circled up top.  I’ve also circled the Twins dugout on the 3B line and more field level entrance ways to the field.  The fifth (counting from either direction) circled entrance way is section 122, just to the left of 122 is section 121.

Finally, (last pre-collapse picture for now), here is a look toward the baggy:

7c - view toward baggy pre-collapse.JPGThose circles (once again) are field level entrance ways (which were locked so you didn’t fall to the field).  The big square is a party suite or something like that.

Okay, let’s get to the present day photos.   The first photo is looking into the stadium through section 121:

8 - from collapsed section 121.JPGIn the foreground, you’ll see the “really cool” thing my guide offered to show me; the home plate area had been emptied out and it is a big pool of water.  The roof is so low that you can hardly see any of the upper deck.  Finally, note how far the big American flag has dropped; its now below the upper deck hanging just above section 100 (again, our seats from 2009 are circled).

Here is a view from section 122, more directly behind home plate:

9 - from collapsed section 122.JPGAgain, home plate is a big pool of water.  In this picture, I’ve circled the spot out in CF where a Twins pitcher tossed a baseball to Tim and me in 2009 (the commemorative baseball pictured above to be exact).  I didn’t circle it in that last picture, but just above the folded sections of seats, check out the lights hanging below the upper deck.

Here is a shot looking in through section 125:

10 - from section 125.JPGHanging down right in the middle of that picture is the speaker that is circled in the two pre-collapse pictures above.  The two orange signs way out across the field is the big party suite that I enclosed in a yellow box in the pre-collapse picture above.

Here is a shot from a little further toward 3B:

11 - 3b side post-collapse.JPGIn case you cannot tell, those cement highway dividers are connected to roof by big metal lines.  I guess the purpose is to keep the roof from blowing up and down in the wind.  Check out how low that speaker is hanging.

Even further down the 3B line (into the outfield foul territory), you can see a big circle roped off on the playing field:

12 - foul LF collapse splash zone.JPGMy guide told me that circle is where the big splash of snow came crashing down onto the field in the famous collapse video (above).  Above the circle, you can see some torn parts of the roof hanging down, along with some yellow ropes (or something).

In the LF foul corner, I took this shot looking down at the top of a speaker that used to hang high above the surface of the playing field:

13 - looking down on speaker.JPGYou cannot really tell in that last picture, but the speakers were really dusty.

Here is another picture from the LF foul corner where you can see the big party suite above the baggy (or where the baggy used to be):

14- LF foul corner post-collapse.JPGIn that last picture, check out all of the sunlight streaming through the ripped roof and lighting up the outfield seats.

More LF corner — right along the foul line, still in foul territory:

15 - LF corner.JPGIn the next picture, we are behind section 100 and you can see the big American flag hanging down above section 100, a lot of rips hanging down above the snow splash zone, some lights dangling below the upper deck, and tons of stacks of something-or-other across the field by the 1B dugout:

16 - from collapsed section 100.JPGHere we are in LCF:

17 - LCF post-collapse.JPGHere is the view from CF, in the last section before the stands stop and the RF seats are folded up behind the baggy:

18 - CF post-collapse.JPGHere is a side-by-side comparison shot looking into the same window in 2009 and 2011:

19 - RF pre-post-collapse comparison.JPGAlthough the picture to the right is zoomed in further than the picture on the left, its a good comparision to show how far down the roof is hanging.  Note that the entire upper deck is hidden behind the sagging roof in the picture to the right.  Also, check out how the lights are at the very top of the picture to the left, high above the second deck, but they are hanging below the second deck in the picture to the right.

Here’s a look in through the RF corner in foul territory…

20 - RF post-collapse.JPG…with the Twins dugout in the distance.

Here’s a close up looking into the Twins dugout with more speakers hanging down:

21 - view of Twins dugout.JPGMore of the same:

22 - from RF foul corner post-collapse.JPGThe last two pictures look out toward left field…

23 - view toward LF.JPG…and show a mess of roof rips, danglings streamers, speakers and lights, and the big American flag hanging low above section 100:

24 - more toward LF.JPGFinally, a view from above shows a much different picture than what I saw from above in November 2010:

26 - inverse dome from above.JPGI did not catch his name, but a big huge THANK YOU to the guy from Rollerdome who so kindly led me around the Metrodome.  It was a one-of-a-kind experience that I will never forget.  If you’re in Minneapolis, go check out Rollerdome.

Thanks, Ma! Thanks, Grandma! (7/22/10)

Our new son Kellan’s due date was July 18th.  The closest major league ball park to our home is about 70 miles away.  Obviously, I didn’t want to miss Kellan’s birth.  Therefore, we scheduled zero MLB games for July 2010.

But you know what?  My mom ended up coming on July 2nd to help us and to be with Tim when Kellan was born.  My dad joined us the day after Kellan was born and was also great to have around.  But my mom ended up spending the entire month of July with us and she was amazing.

Although it was impossible to thank her enough, we figured we needed to try.  And, like us, she’s a big baseball fan.  We decided we should take her to Camden Yards for her first time.

We arrived early and hung out with the Camden Yards regulars outside the CF gate…

1 - arrived in Balt.JPGWe’re usually cheap seats guys at Camden Yards.  But my mom deserved the best.  Our new friend, Avi Miller…

2 - the Avi Hookup.JPG…used his season ticket holder status to secure us some amazing seats.

With the tickets in hand and time to spare before the gates opened, we decided to walk around the stadium so my mom could check the place out.

My mom liked the party area in CF…

3 - CF group party areas and BP.JPG…and we all liked that we could see BP going on inside.

Outside the 3B side of the stadium, we stopped on a patch of grass so Tim and I could play a little catch:

4 - catching outside camden.JPGHe’s getting better and better at catching the ball.  He’s finally using two hands.

We got a few pictures of my mom and Tim in Schaefer Circle.  Here are the best parts of those pictures combined together:

5 - Tim Grandma outside camden.JPGNext, we headed out to the far end of the warehoue (RF side) to get a picture with another Camden Yards sign:

6 - Tim Gma Warehouse Sign.JPGFor the first time this season, we entered the stadium through the RF gate:

7 - camden LF gate panorama.jpgThe Warehouse ends right at the CF gate.  But on the RF side, the warehouse runs another 100-200 feet passed the RF gate.  So fans don’t have to walk all the way around the warehouse to get to the RF gate, there is a passage…

8 - warehouse shortcut.JPG…under the warehouse.

The tickets Avi helped us buy included the magic phrase — “Season Ticket Plan” — that allowed us to get into the main stadium right when the gates opened.  Without those words on our tickets, we’d have to stay out in RF for the first half hour of BP.

The early access paid off quick.  As we approached home plate, we saw probable 2011 Hall of Fame inductee Bert Blyleven signing an autograph.  We ran over and chatted him up and then got this picture:

9 - circle me bert.JPGThanks, Bert!  You’ve been circled!

Bert was pretty cool.  He asked Tim if he was a Mariners fan.  I noticed Bert’s BEAUTIFUL Twins world series ring.  I complimented him on it.  He held it up for Tim, “do you think you’ll get one of these some day?”  I mentioned that if he does, hopefully it will say “Mariners” on it.  Bert held it up for Tim again, “This is a Mariners ring, it has a big ‘M’ on it!”

Hopefully some day I will get to see an actual Mariners world series ring.

After Bert took off, we turned around and watched the field.

Despite what it looks like in the following picture, the O’s were still hitting and this was our view:

9a - camden section 38 row 3 panorama.jpgNext to the two guys in the Morneau jerseys, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer was chatting with another O’s TV guy.  When there was a break in their conversation, I asked Jim for a picture.  He gladly obliged:

10 - HOF jim palmer.JPGAfter we left Jim, a bunch of autograph guys pounced on him.  He signed for none of them.  He was there just for our picture.

Thanks, Jim!

Speaking of Jims, we also got a big “hello” and wave from slugger Jim Thome who was waiting to get into the batting cage.

As the Twins prepared to start hitting, we headed down the LF line.  We had plans, we were hoping to quickly get our hands on a nice Target Field commemorative baseball and then head to the Camden Club for a nice dinner.

We weren’t the only people in the northeastern portion of the United States hoping to snag a Target Field baseball.  Our Citi Field friends, Joe Faraguna and Alex K, were in the house, as well as some other guys from MyGameBalls.com (including new 1000 baseball man, Greg Barasch – congrats, Greg, it was nice meeting you).

My mom snapped this picture of me and Alex…

11 - Alex 3d Stadium 3d State.JPG…because Alex joined an exclusive club — he joined Nick “The Happy Youngster” Yohonek as the second member of MLBlogs/MyGameBalls.com whom Tim and I have run into at three different stadiums in three different states.  By the way, we first met Alex at U.S. Cellular Field and we have run into each other twice at Citi Field.

After this big Twins reliever…

12 - Jose Mijares.JPG…Jose Mijares finished playing catch, he pointed at us (Tim was on my shoulders) from about 150 feet out in LCF.  I pointed at myself, “Us?”, I still couldn’t tell if he really meant us.  He then threw the ball directly to the guy next to us.  I could have easily caught it, but it would have looked like I was totally reaching in front of and robbing the guy (an adult without a kid).  So I let it go.

But Mijares was having none of it.  He pointed a big forceful finger at the guy — POINT, POINT! — and then he pointed his big finger up at Tim — POINT, POINT!

The meaning was clear: “that ball is for that little kid, dude, give it to him now!!!”

The guy couldn’t disobey Mijares’ finger:

13 - nice Target Field Commemorative.JPG

It was a beautiful commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Jose!

After I visited LF to grab a look at Alex’s roster (confirming the ball giver was Mijares) and watching some out of control guy absolutely mug Joe on a BP homer (LF is definitely no place for Tim quite yet), we headed toward the Camden Club.

As we passed by first base, I saw Orlando Hudson taking grounders at 2B:

14 - Yo O-Dogg.JPGI absolutely love watching Harold Reynolds interview Hudson.  He’s got a great personality.  I shouted out a big, “Yo, O-Dogg!”  And Hudson turned around and gave us a big shout and a full armed wave.

Unless you are a “member,” you cannot make reservations at the Camden Club.  You can still eat there, you just can’t reserve a spot.  Nevertheless, I was happy that we were able to grab what appeared to be the last table with a window: 

14a - cc set up.JPGTim enjoyed blowing bubbles in his ice water.  And we all enjoyed out food, a lot:

15 - Camden Club Grub.JPGTop Left – Tim had chicken tenders and fries (in the bottom right he is lining up some french fries for an unprecedented simultaneous honey mustard and ketchup double dip)

Top Right – my mom had the “Bases Loaded,” which includes crab soup, a mini-Boog’s BBQ sandwich, a mini-crab cake, and a slider.  I talked her into it because Maryland is famous for its crabs and she likes the little suckers.  She loved the meal.

Bottom Left – I had a tasty bison burger with fries.

By the time we finished eating, Denard Span had led off the game for the Twins:

16 - span from above.JPGWe reported to our ridiculously awesome seats in section 36, row 20, seats 8-10 (10 being the aisle seat).  This was our view:

16a - camden section 36 row 10 seat 1 panorama.jpgThe match-up was Carl Pavano vs. Kevin Millwood.

After Joe Mauer doubled and Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer walked, the Twins won the game in the top of the first inning on a 3-run double by Delmon Young.

Pavano would shut the O’s down in the first.  And, for the rest of the game too for that matter.  He was just as impressive as he was on Phathers’ Day in Philadelphia.

The Twins featured some unimpressive play as well.  Specifically Nick Punto’s base running blunder in the top of the second inning.  After singling to start the inning, Punto was still on first with one out when Denard Span flew out routinely to centerfielder (and former Mariner) Adam Jones.

The usual rule is to go half way on such a fly out.  But, perhaps, Punto was feeling unusual.  He decided to go all the way to 2B and then wait on the bag for Jones to catch the ball.  It was almost as if he was tagging up to run back to first.  It did not work out so well.

He was doubled off with massive ease.  Here is Nick with egg on his face after his huge blunder:

17 - punto post bad baserunning.JPGI suspect that first base coach, Jerry White, was thinking “are you kidding me, Nick” in that picture.

In the third, I tried to get a picture of Orlando Hudson connecting for a base hit…

18 - O-Dogg grounds out.JPG…instead he grounded out to 2B.

In the middle of the third, Tim wanted to go to the kids play area, which had been revamped since our last game in Baltmore.

This batting tee cage was new:

19 - Os batting tee.JPGSo was this pitching cage…

20 - speed pitch and new play set.JPG…and this wooden playset.

The old and trusty bouncy house, however, was still there and going strong:

21 - bouncing.JPGOn our way back to the seats, Tim and I grabbed some ice cream helmets (for him and my mom) and a funnel cake (for me).  I prefer ice cream.

Carl Pavano was still dealing…

22 - markakis fouls.JPG…here to Nick Markakis in the bottom of the sixth.

Despite a tray full of sweets in his lap, Tim was tuned into the game:

23 - funnel cake and ICH.JPGBetween the bottom of the sixth and top of the seventh, I took Tim to the restroom.  While we were in there, we could hear the stadium erupt.  Something big was going on, but we weren’t sure what.

When we headed back to our seats, we tracked down the Bird so Tim could give him five:

24 - fiving the bird.JPGWhen we got back to our seats, my mom explained that J.J. Hardy had led off the seventh with a single and then should have been thrown out going back to first base.  The replays quite clearly showed that Hardy was out going back to first, but that wasn’t how first base umpire Gary Darling saw it.

The eruption we’d heard from the restroom was Ty Wigginton and the crowd going crazy when Hardy was called safe.  Wigginton was tossed from the game.

After Hardy scored the 5th Twins run of the night on a single by Drew Butera, the crowd went crazy.  As the teams changed sides, someone was jawing in the O’s dugout  Home plate umpire Bill Hohn was having none of it.  He yelled at the folks in the dugout.

O’s manager Juan Samuel then stormed out of the dugout…

25 - confrontation.JPG…and was booted from the game after throwing a nasty tantrum, capped off by a toss of his cap into the infield.

Jason Kubel couldn’t help the Twins tack on any more runs…

26 - kubel.JPG…in the top of the seventh.

It was time for the seventh inning stretch.  We all stood to sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”  I looked up at the big screen, and Tim and I were front and center on the screen.  I took this shot…

27 - TJCs on big screen.JPG…but failed to zoom in.

It must have been in the 8th inning when this 15-seconds-of-fame seeking fan ran onto the field and spent a while there…

28 - trespasser.JPG…he ran back-and-forth and back-and-forth.  He jumped into the crowd and then came back.  It was the longest fan on the field run I have ever witnessed.   Eventually he stopped running after the still incredibly angry home plate umpire Bill Hohn came out to yell at the kid.  The kid was eventually apprehended.

It kept getting hotter and hotter throughout the game.

Tim had to relax on Grandma’s lap:


29 - snuggling with grandma.JPGTim and his grandma found some papers and fanned each other to beat the heat:

31 - fanning grandma.JPGIn the ninth inning, Tim and I relocated to the third row behind home plate to go for an umpire ball after the game.  I took a shot of the Twins dugout…

32 - twins dugout.JPG…featuring A.L. MVP Joe Mauer in the foreground.

We had an unbeatable view of the ninth inning match-up beteen Pavano and Miguel Tejada…

33 - pavano vs tejada.JPG…Pavano won the battle on a ground out to 3B.

Several batters later, Jake Fox grounded out to 3B for the final out of the inning.

Tim hopped up and hung his open-gloved arm over the wall into the umpire tunnel.  We were hoping that Bill Hohn would find the bottom of Tim’s glove.  But it was a crazy and tense scene behind home plate.

First, the grounds crew couldn’t get the gate opened up to the umpires’ tunnel.  So all four umps had to stand there waiting.  A couple fans had some choice words for Mr. Hohn.  He was not a happy camper and had some choice words of his own for the unruly fans.

A couple seconds later, Hohn became the angriest person to ever give Tim a baseball at a MLB game…

34 - umprie bill hohn baseball.JPGThanks, Mr. Hohn!

Before heading toward the car, we got a picture of the three of us behind home plate:

35 - TJCs and Gma Camden Yards.JPGOn the way to the car, we stopped in Eutaw Street…

36 - ball markers.JPG…to check out a few of the homerun markers, including the Griffey markers.

It was a great night at the ballpark and a fun way to say “thanks” to my mom and Tim’s grandma for helping out so much as we prepared for Kellan’s birth and then as we started adjusting to being a family of four.

Thanks, Ma!  Thanks, Grandma!

2010 Fan Stats:

18 Games

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

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

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

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

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

Phathers’ Day in Philadelphia (6/20/10)

I really wanted to go to a Twins game this season so we could try to get one of those fancy “Target Field” commemorative baseballs.  We had tickets to the Friday, June 18th game, but it was too soon after our return from the roadtrip.  Finally, I found $12/ticket SRO tickets on Stubhub to the Sunday, June 20, 2010 game.

I didn’t realize (I am generally terrible at tracking “holidays”), but June 20th was fathers’ day.  What better way to spend fathers’ day than at a ballgame with your son, right?

Upon entering the stadium, we discovered there was no BP.  The The quest for a Target Field baseball was not looking good.   We headed to the LF foul corner in hopes of getting a toss up from one of the several Twins playing catch in LF.

The quest was looking a little better when we got the corner spot down the 3B line.  Perfect.  It looked like this:

1 - citz bank section 138 row 1 panorama.jpgBut the Twins weren’t in the toss-up mood.  Also, I could tell that none of them were using Target Field baseballs. 

Oh, well.

It was already hot, and Tim hates the sun, so we took off and headed over to the kids’ play area.

When we got to the play area, Tim modeled the Phillies “sarge” hat give away:

2 - sarge hat.JPGThen, like he tends to do, he set up his shop…


3 - buy something.JPG…where Tim will sell you almost anything (french fries, bananas, whatever) through those little holes in the plexi-glass.

Tim’s last MLB kids’ play area was at the Oakland Colesium where the play area is rather blah’ish.  But there is no blah in Philadelphia.  Check it out:

4 - fun time in phila.JPGBy the way, in the bottom right, Tim’s left hand is giving a thumbs up, but his right hand is actually pointing (with his thumb) at the little metal ball that he successfully maneuvered to the middle of the puzzle.

After some playtime, we headed out to RCF to watch Roy Halladay warm up…

5 - halladay vs pavano.JPG…Carl “The ‘Stache” Pavano was also warming up (in the middle picture ‘Stache is rubbing up his warm up baseball with some warning track dirt).

As Tim likes to point out, Halladay made some funny faces while throwing in the outfield:

6 - OF tossing.JPGAs we watched Halladay in the OF, some Twins player (I’m guessing a rookie reliever) walked by with a Monkey back pack…

7 - monkey pack.JPGExcellent, guy.  We loved it!

Soon, Halladay and Pavano reported to the tiered bullpens:

8 - halladay and pavano bullpen.JPGHalladay was looking strong:

9 - halladay motion.JPGActually, you should see it for yourself:

Pavano was looking good too on the upper tier:

10 - pavanostache.JPGHalladay finished up first and headed to the dugout:

11 - halladay ready.JPGWe headed up to the upper deck in deep RCF…

12 - citz pen from above.JPG…where we continued to watch Pavano warm up from above:

13 - pavano penwork.JPGIn all of Tim’s games at Citizens Bank Park, we’ve never hung out in the upper deck in RF.  Today, was the day.

We started out with nachos in the SRO area behind the seats in DEEEEEP RCF:

14 - nachos behind SRO Upper RCF.JPGThat is where we were in the top of the first when Joe Mauer hit this single…

15 - Joe Mauer singles off Roy Halladay.JPG…off of Roy Halladay.  Orlanda “O-Dog” Hudson had stolen second during this at bat and he scored easily on Mauer’s single to stake the Twins to a 1-0 lead.  That score would hold up until the fifth inning.

After the first, we aimlessly walked back and forth a bit in the OF concourse.  I took this random shot of the concourse…

16 - Citz Upper RF corner concourse.JPG…where the upper deck bends from fair to foul territory.

Eventually, Tim and I headed up into the upper deck seats in section 301, the deepest part of the ballpark.  This was the view from almost the very top of the stadium:

17 - citz bank section 301 panorama.jpgWhile up there, I took a shot of Tim…

18 - TJCs in Citz RCF Upper Deck.JPG…and then one of the “Fan Photos” camera people took a picture of both of us.  In that picture, I am wearing Tim’s hat on top of my hat.  While we were eating nachos, Tim took off his hat and I put it on top of mine for safe keeping.  However, after taking these pictures, I looked at Tim and became alarmed.  “Oh, no!  Where did your hat go, Tim,” I asked?  “Its on top of your head, silly daddy,” Tim replied.  I’m pretty sure I was wearing double hats for about 15-20 minutes.

Next, we decided to head to the lower level to cool off in the covered concourses and get an ice cream helmet.  Here are some (out of order views) from our walk from RF to home plate and over to 3B in the concourse:

19 - concourse funny faces and siren.JPGIn the left picture, that big photo of Roy Halladay hangs in the concourse just inside of the 1B enterance from Pattison Avenue.  The middle picture shows a John Deere mini-truck with flashing sirens, something we see wizzing through the concourse almost every time we visit Citizens Bank Park.  To the right, the photo of Brad Lidge and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz hangs in the concourse behind home plate.

Finally we made it to the Old City Creamery down the 3B line.  If you are ever in Philadelphia and want the BIGGEST and most sprinkle covered ice cream helmet of all time, make sure that THIS LADY…

20 - Philadelphias best ice cream lady.JPG…around the side corner register at the 3B Old City Creamery makes your helmet.  She always goes crazy with the ice cream and just as crazy with the sprinkles — here is Exhibit 1.  And it was more of the same on this day:


20 - makeshift ice cream seats.JPGAs Tim ate his ice cream helmet (and I knelt next to him helping him), we had possibly the most unique view of the game that we’ve ever had at a big league ball park:

21 - view around old lady.JPGHalladay was looking good as usual.  But so was Pavano:

22 - Pavano working on No-No in 4th 6-20-10.JPGIn fact, the moustached one had a no hitter going into the fourth inning, until he came up against Placido “Here’s One For The Fathers” Polanco, who ripped a single on this one-handed swing:

23 - Placido Palanco singles in 4th 6-20-10.JPGChase Utley followed with a single of his own…

24 - Chase Utley fouls before single in 4th 6-20-10.JPG…but not on this swing.  But it didn’t matter.  Pavano stranded Polanco and Utley on 2B and 1B, respectively.

Halladay was still looking good in the fifth…

25 - Roy Halladay delivers a pitch.JPG…but that did not stop Denard Span from cranking a solo homerun to bring the score to 2-0 Twins.

After ice cream, we wandered down the 3B line and between innings ran down and Tim got his picture with Phillies ballgirl, Bridgette…

26 - Tim and Bridgette ballgirl.JPG…who also gave Tim an autographed ballgirl baseball card.  Tim was pretty bashful about getting his picture with the ballgirl, but after I pointed out how she’d run onto the field to get stray foul balls, he thought it was pretty awesome.  Now, he wants to get his picture with the ballgirls all the time.

After his first ballgirl picture, Tim requested a trip back to the play area.  While we were on our way through the concourse heading over to the play area, Phillies back-up short stop Wilson Valdez poked a solo homerun of his own:

27 - Wilson Valdez scores on homer.JPGBut his run was all the Phils could manage in the bottom of the fifth.  The score was 2-1 Twins.

The play area was PACKED:

28 - back to crowded playarea.JPGIn the sixth inning, the Twins tacked on another run on a single by Jason Kubel.  The run was unearned.

Carl Pavano meanwhile…

29 - Pavano still dealing.JPG…just kept on dealing.

In the top of the 8th, Justin Morneau hit a solo shot to take the score to 4-1 Twins.

That was the score when Shane Victorino grounded out weakly…

30 - Shane Victorino grounds out on a low pitch 6-20-10.JPG…to first base in the bottom of the 8th inning.

Its never a good thing for a team when the opposing starter gets an at bat in the 9th inning, and that is just what happened at this game.  Halladay’s relief, Chad Durbin retired Pavano…

31 - Pavano bats in the 9th 6-20-10.JPG…on a ground out to short stop.

Now, earlier in the game while Tim was eating his ice cream helmet, we got to talking to three guys.  A dad and his teenaged (or maybe young twenties) sons.  It was the usual discussion, they were admiring our Mariners jerseys and telling us they love Griffey.  Out of nowhere, a lady came up to us and handed over 4 tickets to the section immediately behind the 3B dugout.  The lady’s father was in a wheelchair and couldn’t get down to the seats so they were going to hang out in the handicapped area.

The other guys took three of them and said thanks.  I grabbed the fourth ticket knowing we’d never sit there.  But the ticket came in handy in the ninth inning.  They almost always check tickets in the fancy areas at Citizens Bank Park and this ticket would get us down there to try to get an umpire ball at the end of the game.

In the ninth inning, we headed down.  They checked our ticket and waved us down into the fancy seats.  We grabbed some seats in row 11 of section 130.  This was our view for the bottom of the ninth inning:

32 - citz bank section 130 row 11 panorama.jpgNot too shabby.

Tim had fun laying down in our empty row of seats:

33 - Tim lounges in the seats.JPGChase Utley couldn’t do anything for the Phillies cause…

34 - Chase Utley about to ground out in 9th 6-20-10.JPG…he grounded out for the second out of the inning.

Ryan Howard came to bat for the possible final out…

35 - Ryan Howard sets up in 9th 6-20-10.JPG…but he extended the game with a single:

36 - Ryan Howard singles in 9th 6-20-10.JPGHoward’s single was too little too late.  Carl Pavano got Werth to pop out to short LF to finish off a complete game victory.  Both Pavano and Halladay moved to 8-6 on the season.

On Werth’s swing, Tim and I scurried down to the first row as close to the umpires’ tunnel as we could get, but the home plate umpire never looked our way.

It was looking like a zero baseball day (and a zero Target Field baseball season) for us.  But as the Twins players and coaches streamed into the dugout, we noticed a guy throwing ball after ball after ball into the crowd.  It was Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra

37 - Joe Vavra Twins Batting Coach.JPG…and with only one baseball left in his hands, Vavra tossed Tim our first (and only) baseball of the day, which turned out to be our first (and most likely only) Target Field commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Joe!

A few minutes later, Twins bullpen coach and thirty year coaching veteran, Rick Stelmaszek

38 - Rick Stelmaszek bullpen coach.JPG…tossed me his official blue MLB Father’s Day wrist band.

Here is Tim showing off both of our prizes:

39 - goodies from Vavra and Stelmaszek.JPGBeing a father-son team like we are, Tim and I were pretty excited about getting the fathers’ day wrist band.  I’m pretty sure that Stelmaszek picked us out because he saw a boy and his dad together.

Thanks, Rick!

It was time to head out.  On the way to our car, Tim just had to get his picture (once again) with the statue of Steve Carlton:

40 - sitting under lefty.JPGTim is a sucker for a statue.  Can’t get enough of ‘em.

On our way our of the parking lot, well, while waiting for the cars to finally get moving, I snapped a panorama of the sports complex parking lots:

41 - citizens bank parking lot panorama.jpgCitizens Bank Park, obviously, is to the far left.  In the middle (far in the back) is the Eagles’ home, Lincoln Fnancial Field.  And to the far right is the Spectrum.  You can’t see it, but behind the Spectrum is the Wachovia Center (I think they still call it that — it was formerly the Core States Center and First Union Center).

And that’s all she wrote.  It was a good fathers’ day.  We drove home and spent the rest of it with my lovely wife and Tim’s lovely mommy, Colleen.

2010 Fan Stats:

16 Games

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

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


42 - ball and wrist band.JPG35 Baseball
s (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 1 Twins)

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

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)

A Pair of Losses to the Twins (Aug. 14-15, 2007)

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…
1a - welcome to safeco field.jpg…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…


1b - grandparents season tickets.jpg…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:


1c - serious game watchers.jpgHe especially liked eating Grandpa’s french fries.

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)…


1d - babybooster at safeco.jpg…and he spent some time sitting with me too…


1e - clowing around at safeco.jpgUnfortuantely, 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:



1f - teamwork.jpgThen, Tim checked out some lumber used by Mariners greats including the great, Ken Griffey, Jr…


1g - special lumber.jpg

…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:


1h - paulie in RF bleachers.jpgPaulie was sitting in the LF bleachers with some friends from work.  We stopped by the LF bleachers so Paul could say “hi” to Tim and Colleen.

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:


2a - welcome to the HIHC.jpgAs you can see to the left, Tim is checking out the menu.  The tickets in the “Hit It Here” Cafe come with something like a $18 food credit.  So, we had some eating to do!

We started out with some delicious nachos…


2b - a windo with a view.jpg…the carnage of which is shown behind Tim in the picture above.

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…


2c - monster chocolate and strawberry cake.jpg…this thing was huge and ridiculously good.

Grandpa helped Tim check out the action in the stadium with Grandpa’s binoculars…


2d - scopic safeco in binoculars.jpg…here is what our view looked like:


2e - view from HIHC.jpgAnd here is Adrian Beltre taking a hack:


2f - beltre batting.jpgAnd, sadly, that is all of the “decent” photos that I took at this game.

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.

Meeting the Metrodome (8-15-09)

August 15, 2009 – Road Trip Day 2:

Last season, we designed our baseball road trip around my desire to visit the Louisville Slugger factory.  This year, the primary focus was to take part in the final season of the beautiful Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.  Today was the day, and the Metrodome did not disappoint.

We started the day at Wisconsin Dells KOA — which by the way is one happening KOA.  We rose early and walked a couple laps of the KOA camp grounds…
1 - good morning from Wis Dells.jpg…then my dad and Tim played some catch while I re-packed for the next leg of the drive.


2 - Metrodome or Bust.jpgSoon, it was time to jump into the car and drive 3.5 hours out to the Twin Cities for some Twins baseball.

If you like water parks, you really gotta check out Wis Dells.  There are huge water parks on every block.  There was some crazy looking stuff.  So check it out.

A large portion of our drive was in Wisconsin.  When I think Wisconsin, I think cheese.  And the billboards of Wisconsin didn’t let cheese stray far from my mind.  We spotted billboards to every type of cheese based establishment you’d ever want to visit.  Unfortunately, we visited none.

We had a funny moment as we drove through Saint Paul.  I make mix CDs from iTunes for our road trips, and many of our weekend game excursions.  I made two volumes for this trip and we were listening to volume 2 as we drove into Saint Paul.  The radio in our rental car blared Queen’s “We Are The Champions.”  Then Tim yelled, “WE ARE THE MARINERS!  Let’s sing it!  Let’s sing it!”  So we did,

We are the Mariners, my friends.  And, we’ll keeping on hitting until the end.  We are the Mariners, We are the Mariners.  No time for losers because WE ARE THE MARINERS…of Seattle…of Seattle!”

The game was a 3:10 start.  We rolled into the bigger Twin City at about 12:30 and quickly found a reasonably priced ($10) parking garage across the street from the Metrodome.  We parked in the closest parking space to the Dome.

We then climbed the stairs and exited the parking garage out of a set of doors leading to a pedestrian-only street (at least it was pedestrian-only at the time) between the garage and the Metrodome.  This is what it looked like:

3 - metrodome catch.jpg

Tim and I used the time leading up to the 1:10 opening of the stadium to play some catch on the street while my dad explored around the perimeter of the HHHM.

We then met up and got our pictures by this sign…

4 - home of the twins.jpg…on our way to Gate B where we entered the Dome.

A few minutes later, we were inside the first true “Dome” of Tim’s life, and mine and my dad’s first true “Dome” since the King of all Domes, the Kingdome:

5 - made it to the metrodome.jpg

Look at Tim checking out the Dome with wonder and amazement.  For those of you who weren’t raised in a dome, you might not understand.  But there is something awe inspiring being in such a huge building.  The Kingdome was just about the coolest place in the world.  It was huge.  There were fireworks going off inside.  And it was the place where I fell in love with baseball and the Mariners.

I have no affiliation to the Twins (although my great grandma Lillian Hoffman was from Worthington, Minn.), but I’ve long been a Twins sympathizer.  Some of it had to do with Kirby Puckett — for whom I named my dog, Kirby.  But a lot more of that had to do with the fact the Twins play in this beautiful Kingdome’ish facility. 

All this is to say that it strangly felt like a homecoming entering the Metrodome for the first time.  And I was ten times as excited to be there than I was excited to be at the objectively far superior Wrigley Field the day before.

We arrived for the beginning of BP because we really wanted to try to get one of the extremely cool looking HHH Metrodome commemorative baseballs that I’ve seen on tons of MLBlogs all season.  The Twins were hitting when we entered, and we took our place in CF:

6 - CF seats.jpg

We stood all by ourselves at the CF corner seats highlighted by the red arrow above.  There were two Twins players in CF shagging balls.  I had the feeling they were pitchers, but I have no clue who they were.  But, apparently, it didn’t matter:

7 - hhh metrodome commemorative ball.jpg

This was our 20th ball of the season — an all-time season best for me and Tim (or for me alone before Tim was born) and it was our first ever commemorative ball.

Tim got super-excited when I handed him the ball.  He held it out to a crowd of adults who were all cheering him on for getting the ball and yelled, “I GOT A BASEBALL!”  He then ran to the incredibly steep Metrodome stairs (much steeper than the Kingdome’s stairs) and started running up the stairs holding the ball behind his back.  The following scene transpired as I ran after him:

[METRODOME – Interior – Early Evening]

Todd – “Tim, where are you going!!!!?”

Tim – “I got to show my baseball to Grandpa!”

Todd – “But Grandpa is down there! (pointing back to the field)”

Tim – “Ohh!” (turning to run down the incredibly steep stairs)

Todd – “Hold on to the seats!  You’re gonna fall down!”

Tim – (ignores his father and runs to his grandpa)

Tim – “Grandpa, I GOT A BASEBALL!!”

Grandpa – “Cool!”

Stadium Attendant – (Takes picture of me, Tim and the baseball)

Carlos Gomez – (throws ball to a little girl standing next to my dad)

Dad – (catches the little girl’s baseball)

Stadium Attendant – “Give that ball to that girl.”

Dad – (gives baseball to little girl)

Carlos Gomez – (throws baseball to my dad)

Dad – “Look, Tim!  Another ball!”

Tim – (takes ball and gives it to me and starts running up the stairs)

Todd – “Where you going!!!!!!?”

Tim – “LET’S GO PLAY CATCH!!!” (in a tone implying that I’ve been forcing him not to play catch all this time).

Todd – (chases Tim)

Carlos Gomez – (throws his batting gloves to my dad)

Dad – (gives one of the batting gloves to the little girl and pockets the other)

[END SCENE]

The scene on the field:

8 - gomez gloves TJCs ball.jpg

The red arrow: Carlos Gomez.

The glove and ball:  courtesy of Carlos Gomez.

The guy cirlced by Todd (not by Bert):  unknown Twin who threw the ball to me and Tim.

(By the way, Gomez made a ridiculous home run robbing catch during BP just to the RF side of the 408 sign.  He was on a full sprint and his body was half above the fence as he caught it.  He got a huge ovation from the small BP crowd.)

After the scene above, Tim and I played some catch in the concourse behind the RF baggy:

11 - inside metrodome catch and dropoff.jpg

It was pretty crowed in the concourse, at least for playing catch, but we managed to play some quality catch for a few minutes.  Check out the picture on the right, those doors are chained and locked shut.  On the other side of the door is the beginning of a stairway that leads down into the seats at Vikings games.  However, at Twins games, they lead to big drop off into the outfield and/or the seats folded up behind the baggy.

Speaking of the baggy and the folded seats, after playing catch, we went into the seats in CF closest to the baggy.  This was the view:

9 - metrodome cf ball panaramic.jpg

This is the view to my left, check it out:

10 - balls on cup holders.jpg

In the picture to the right, notice anything interesting?  There are four baseballs resting on the backs of the folded chairs.  They are all perched on the drink holders on the backs of the seats.  Note: the smaller ball-looking-object toward the bottom left of the picture is a balled-up foil hot dog wrapper, not a baseball.

Tim sat in the seats in this CF section and looked at some baseball cards an usher gave him.  The Indians were hitting now and someone hit a ball to an Indian named “Lewis” — I have no clue who that is — and I yelled, “Hey, Lewis!” to see if he’d be interested in throwing a ball up to our high vantage point.  He wasn’t interested.  But the funny part of the story is that Tim shouted, “No, Dad, we already got a baseball!  Leave them alone, they’re concentrating!”  So after a few more minutes, we left the Indians to their concentrating and we headed to the upper deck to see if it was less crowded.  Tim still had catch-playing on his mind.  However, the upper deck concourse was even busier than the lower concourse.  So, we decided to get some dinner.

We ordered nachos, a hot dog, a gigantic diet coke, and a bottle of water.  Normally I bring a little infant “sippy cup” for Tim to drink water out of during games.  But I’d forgot it in the car.  I bought the water solely for the purpose of having a re-sealable water holding receptacle for Tim’s water.  However, and this is my biggest complaint about the Metrodome, the kind Mid-western lady wouldn’t give us the cap.  I told her it was the sole reason I purchased the water.  She apologized, but said it was “League Policy” that they cannot give out caps with bottled drinks.  That’s a new one on me.  How about you?

Here is the spot we found for eating our food:

12 - hot dogs and nachos.jpg

This was the view:

13 - metrodome RF foul upper panaramic.jpg

My dad tracked us down and ate with us.  But soon, it was time for me to go off and explore and photograph the stadium.  I asked my dad if Tim could stay with him.  He said yes, but Tim wanted to come explore the stadium with me.

Here we go –

With Tim on my shoulders, we started off by walking up the stairs and toward home plate.  Our first stop was the infield *big screen* (the Metrodome has two screens).  I have never seen this before, but the screen is literally two feet behind the back row of seats, and you can easily touch it.  Here it is up close:

14 - big screen close up.jpg

Cool, huh?  Each red, blue and green dot is a little light that feels like a little bump.

Here is the view from the top of the dome behind home plate:

15 - metrodome plate upperback panaramic.jpg

Here are a couple Dome-loving Cooks in this same spot:

16 - we love this place.jpg

While behind home plate, I noticed some stuff that looked a lot like Kingdome stuff:

17 - kingdome de ja vu.jpg

What’s the opposite of *state-of-the-art*?  History-of-the-art?

Next, we continued on our journey and headed toward the LF corner.  On our way, we noticed this:

18 - upper deck obstruction.jpg

Support beams ringing row 26 of the Metrodome upper deck.  The Kingdome didn’t have support beams.  Instead, if my knowledge serves me, it had high tension cables that ran across the roof and down the sides.  They were built into the building, you couldn’t see them.  But they kept the whole thing tight and in place without support beams — and without the obstructed views that result from beams in stadiums.

Now, check this out in the picture to the right.  The seats directly behind the beam are missing the “seats.”  They’re just backs and arm rests.  Obviously, you cannot buy those non-seats.  However, one row back from the beam, the seats are seats.  I had to probe further.

This is what I determined, the Twins have apparently concluded that the following is an unacceptably obstructed view:

19 - officially unacceptable obstructed view.jpg

That’s a good call by the Twins.  That view just won’t do.

However, apparently this view will do — and apparently, it is worth $22 (the general cost of an infield upperdeck seat according to http://www.twins.mlb.com):

20 - 22 dollar obstructed view.jpg

Hmmm…it does provide a decent view of third base and LF-CF.  But I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this view also is unacceptable — of course, the Yankees will probably side with the Twins on this one.

In the Twins defense, I’m not sure if they have an obstructed view decreased price.  However, is there any price you would pay for that view?  You can’t see the infield!!!

This wasn’t the only odd seating situation I found in the upper deck.  Take a ganders at this:

21 - duct work seating.jpgThe red arrows are pointing to the same seat.  To the left, notice that you risk a concussion getting to this seat.  I had to duck not to smash my head (and Tim’s) on that huge pipe above the seats.  To the right, notice that the lucky Twins fan who sits in this seat has to look around the duct work to watch the game.  In fact, if he or she decides to relax a bit and actually sit back in his or her seats, his or her head will be behind the duct.  Doh!

On with the tour, LF foul territory:

22 - metrodome LF foul upper panaramic.jpg

Left field, monster bomb territory:

23 - metrodome RF HR upper panaramic.jpg

Here is the main scoreboard and big screen — with a little more protection and a warning, but still easily accessible to the crowd:

24 - danger zone seating.jpg

Here is the view from deep Left CF:

25 - metrodome cf upper panaramic.jpg

On TV, I’ve always thought the big retired number pictures were on a white wall at the top of the Metrodome.  They are not.  Instead, huge portraits of Kirby Puckett (34), Harman Killebrew (3), Rod Carew (29), Kent Hrbek (14), Tony Oliva (6), and Jackie Robinson (42) hang from big sheets of white canvas that are also hanging from the Metrodome roof.

Oddly, these things stop about 4-5 feet above the seats so you can see and/or walk up behind the curtains, which is a little spooky:

26 - behind the curtain.jpg

As we walked along the bottom of the curtain, Tim would punch the sand bags shown in the bottom right picture.

Here is a view from RF:

27 - metrodome RF upper hr panaramic.jpg

A very similar picture from a little further foul:

28 - metrodome rf long foul upper panaramic.jpg

Finally, we headed back to the home plate area and got one more panaramic from the first row of the upper deck:

29 - metrodome plate upperfront panaramic.jpg

I should note that, if you buy tickets in the home run porch (LF), the Twins don’t let you into the field seats in the infield area.

So, our touring was complete, and it was time to head to our seats in section 100, row 9 of the home run porch:

30 - home run porch.jpg

Top left, Tim and grandpa hanging out watching the first inning.  Top right, Tim has fun making faces.  Bottom left, Choo stood about 30 feet from us in LF.  Bottom right, some dudes wearing man-eating fish helmets.

Here was our view from our seats (featuring our Metrdome ball):

31 - metrodome sec. 100 ball panaramic.jpg

In the second inning, Tim and I went to get ice cream helmets.  Oddly, he decided he wanted a cone.  But then, due to no nap all day, he fell asleep before we reached our seats again…

32 - sleepy ice cream.jpg

…so I handed off the cone to my dad.

Here is the game from the ice cream helmet point of view:

34 - ice cream helmets view.jpg

After my dad finished Tim’s cone, Tim did some sleeping on Grandpa’s shoulder:

33 - grandpas shoulder.jpg

Then he came back to my shoulder until he woke up…

35 - sleepy time at metrodome.jpg

In the picture to the right, Tim asks me in a still grogy voice, “Where’s my ice cream cone?”  So, we headed back to section 131 (or so) to get more ice cream.

Along the way, I took a picture of a *luxury* suite:

36 - luxury cell.jpg

The suites open to the main concourse, which is certainly odd, and they seemed like they were only about 8′ x 8′ — not too impressive.

Before getting the ice cream, we stepped into one of the entry ways to the infield seats and took some action photos:

38 - metrodome action.jpg

The worst part about the Metrodome is that it was really hard to get action photos to come out clear.  Most of my shots were extremely blury.  However, in the top right, here are a few decent photos.

In the top left, that stolen base was negated by a foul tip.  At top right, Choo takes a cut at a pitch.  Bottom left, my dad’s new favorite Twin, Carlos Gomez, fires a ball back to the infield.  Bottom right, Grady Sizemore does the same as Gomez.

This time around, Tim decided on the ice cream helmet…

37 - chocolate hot fudge helmet.jpg…after after I explained that he could get hot fudge topping in a helmet, but not on a cone.  He was happy with his choice.

Hey, have you heard its hard to see fly balls in the Metrodome roof?  It is.  Here is why:

39 - metrodome roof.jpg

It appears to be a two-layer roof.   The natural light filters through the roof.  When it is sunny outside, the roof it brighter white.  Once it started getting darker outside, the roof was noticably darker.

Here is my favorite action shot of the day…

40 - unknown single.jpg

I’m not sure who the hitter is, but this swing resulted in a single to LF.

We were all rooting for the Twins.  However, it wasn’t their night.  They ultimately lost the contest to the Indians.

Here is our official baseball road trip group shot:

41 - 3 satisfied customers.jpg

After the game, it was on to Hixton, Wisconsin for another night at a KOA.  It was a lot of driving to get this Metrodome game in, but it was well worth it.  We were three completely satisfied customers (well, aside from the invocation of the alleged “League Policy” against giving customers caps for their bottled drinks).

Next up, the Astros and Brewers in Milwaukee’s Miller Park.

Season Fan Stats:

23 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
9 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and HHH Metrodome)
20 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs,
Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals Marlins, and Pirates– and sort of the Giants)
19 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins and Cubs)
20 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins) 
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
 
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry) 
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

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