Results tagged ‘ MLB Anniversary ’

Tim’s Sixth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2012)

September 12th is one of the best and most joyous holidays on the calendar.  The holiday dates back to 2006 and marks a wonderful occasion – Tim’s in-person introduction to Major League Baseball and our Seattle Mariners.  This is the story of Tim’s Sixth MLB Anniversary!

A little background is in order before we jump into the day’s events.

On September 12, 2006, we celebrated Tim’s first MLB game.  It was a wonderful Mariners victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

On September 12, 2007, by total dumb luck, we ended up at Citizens Bank Park to witness the Colorado Rockies absolutely wallop the Philadelphia Phillies 10-0.  When I realized during the game that it was the first anniversary of Tim’s MLB debut, I decided right then and there that I would make every effort within my control to take Tim to a Major League Baseball game on September 12th every single year.

And every single year since 2006, September 12th has been an awesome day for us.

On September 12, 2008, we visited Arizona with my folks and saw Brandon Webb win his 20th game of the season over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

On September 12, 2009, we were thrilled to see the Orioles beat the Yankees in New York.

On September 12, 2010, we were in Washington, D.C. to watch the Marlins beat the home team Washington Nationals with Tim’s Poppy.

On September 12, 2011, we headed down to Baltimore and had a great time watching the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles.

I originally had a couple additional goals for Tim’s MLB Anniversary that have fallen by the wayside over the last couple seasons.  First, I wanted to see two different teams play every season on September 12 (i.e., no repeat teams) until we could see the Mariners play again on Tim’s MLB Anniversary.  Along the same lines, I wanted to visit a different stadium every year on Tim’s MLB Anniversary, at least until we could make it back to Safeco Field for another anniversary game.

Last season, our no-repeat-teams goal fell apart when we saw our second MLB Anniversary game featuring the Baltimore Orioles.  This year, our no-repeat-stadiums goal was thrown on the scrap heap, too.

Planning was very difficult this year.  September 12 was a Wednesday.  I originally wanted to head up to Toronto to see the Mariners in a rematch of Tim’s MLB Debut game.  But that wasn’t going to work for a mid-week game.

Our second plan was to head to Queens to see the Mets take on the visiting Nationals.  That game would have preserved our no-repeat-stadiums goal and it was our plan for a long time.  But in July or August, I got news that I had a very important business appointment scheduled for the early afternoon on September 12th in Philadelphia.  With traffic, we live about 1.5 hours from Philadelphia.  Tim would be in school until 3:10.  Going to NY was out of the question.

Next, I thought about the Phillies…but their game was scheduled to start at 4 p.m.  That was a no go, as well.

So, I looked back to Baltimore, site of Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary, and found that the Orioles would be playing the Rays on September 12, 2012 at 7:05 p.m.  It was an exact rematch of last season’s MLB Anniversary game.  It would obliterate all of our secondary stadium/teams goals.  But with a little help from Colleen, I figured we should be able to make it to the game, and that was the only goal that really mattered.  BP would be out of the question.  But at least we should be able to make it for the game.  So that was the plan.

Here is what had to happen to make it happen:

Colleen and Kellan picked Tim up from school at 3:10 and immediately hopped on the road down to Philadelphia.  I was detained until around 4:30.  When I freed up, I called Colleen to find they were still stuck in traffic.  I hopped in my car and drove across Center City Philadelphia.  Colleen and the boys reached Philadelphia while I was still stuck in traffic.  I met up with Colleen and the boys at 30th Street Station in West Philadelphia.

The boys then hopped into my car and we hit I-95 South toward Baltimore.  My GPS told me we were going to arrive at Camden Yards around 6:30.  But traffic crawled coming out of Philadelphia.  We broke out of the traffic around the Delaware state line.  By that time, my GPS said we would arrive at the stadium around 7:10 – five minutes after game time.

Traffic was non-existent in Delaware and Maryland and we picked up a few minutes.  After the boys spent around 4 hours in the car, we arrived at the Camden Yards parking lot right next to the Ravens stadium.

Avi Miller purchased our tickets while we were still in the car and very kindly came and met us at the gate to save us some time getting into the ballpark.

Thanks, Avi!

The game actually started while we were still parking our car and B.J. Upton hit a leadoff homerun to put the Rays up 1-0 while we were walking toward the stadium.

So we missed a few batters, whatever, we were at the ballpark for some MLB Anniversary baseball action!

So, each of the last two seasons, we had exactly one game per season at which we didn’t get a baseball.  I don’t really worry about having a *streak* of getting a ball at each game – in fact, I have no clue what our current *streak* is – but I’ve had a goal of trying to complete a full-season getting at least one baseball at each game we attend.  After this game, we would only have two more games this season.  With no BP or other pre-game festivities, this would be our greatest challenge of the season.

During the home half of the first, we hung out behind home plate just in case an Oriole wanted to hit us a real game foul ball (something my boys have never caught and I haven’t caught since, probably, 1995).  We hung out in the ideal spot:

We had no luck, but the Orioles did.  On the strength of singles by Nate McLouth, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Wilson Betemit, the Orioles scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

By the way, this was a huge game for the Orioles.  They were one game back in the east behind the first place Yankees who were facing the struggling Red Sox in Boston.

After the end of the first, we decided to head down the 1B line cross-aisle to say hi to Avi, and then go grab some pizza.  While we were chatting with Avi, Carlos Pena led off the top of the second inning and smacked a foul ball directly to where Tim is standing in that last picture!  Aye…we would have had a great shot of catching it had we stayed put.

Oh, well.

It was pizza time.  The outfield was totally packed.  Instead of going in search of some pizza seats, the boys dined at Jim Palmer’s feet:

While we were hanging out with Jim, I noticed there were a couple other news statues out there – like Cal Ripkin, Jr.:

We decided that our best shot at getting a baseball at this game was to hang out in the new SRO area behind the visitors’ bullpen:

Here was our view for large chunks of this game:

Essentially, we split time during this game between the bullpen SRO area and the kids’ play area.  It was time to hit the kids’ play area.  Before heading over there, Tim wanted to check out the new statues.  First he played catcher for Eddie Murray:

And here is a look at the whole Ripkin statue:

And then we headed down Eutaw Street…

…toward the play area.  We cut through the cross-aisle behind the RCF seats…

…and then the flag court so we could watch a few seconds of the game on the way to the bouncy house:

The new bouncy house this season is great, except for one pesky thing.  It is bigger and better for the kids.  But the old bouncy house had a big loosely-knit net wall on one side that was great for taking pictures of the kids bouncing inside.  The new one has a tight-knit net on all sides and it is impossible to get a good action shot of the boys bouncing inside.

The boys always enjoy getting a picture with the big Oriole bird bobbleheads…

…and the pig:

After playing in the play area, we planned to get ice cream helmets.  There is an ice cream stand in the concourse down the 3B line.  I figured we would get some helmets there and then head back to the bullpen area to eat ‘em.  But as we passed behind home plate, we ran into our friend and Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl.  When I mentioned that we were on our way to grab some ice cream, he reached into his backpack and pulled out two little cups of carvel ice cream and handed them over.  That was pretty odd…, but, hey, thanks, Matt!

We headed out to LF and grabbed some ice cream seats in the cross aisle:

And then we headed back to the kids’ play area again:

I’ve gotten ahead of myself here.  I should mention that the Rays scored a second run in the bottom of the third.  For most of this game, the score was tied 2-2.

Late in the game, we headed back to the bullpen SRO.  Tim spotted a HUGE bug on the front wall of the visitors’ bullpen:

Alex Cobb had started the game for the Rays and pitched 4.2 innings.  After Cobb, the Rays cycled in a new pitcher pretty much each inning.  Jake McGee in the fifth-sixth, Wade Davis in the seventh, and Joel Peralta in the eighth.

Rays bullpen catcher, and all-around nice guy, Scott Cursi was warming up pitchers all night below us:

Well, that’s not completely accurate.  Cursi didn’t’ catch each of the pitchers.  Some of them he just watched and consulted with another Rays catcher.  Anyway, the game was still tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth.  The Orioles brought in closer Jim Johnson.  Meanwhile, Cursi was warming up Kyle Farnsworth in the Rays’ bullpen.

Johnson had a rough inning.  After retiring the first batter, he gave up a single to Jeff Keppinger.  Joe Madden sent Rich Thompson in to pinch-run for Keppinger.  After Ben Zobrist flew out to CF, Thompson stole second.

Around this time, I realized that once we made it to the bottom of the ninth, the Orioles could win it on one swing with a walk off homerun.  So I decided we would head to home plate once the game moved to the bottom of the ninth to see if we could get into position to go for an umpire baseball.

With two outs, Evan Longoria then hit a soft grounder down the 3B line that was ruled an infield hit.  As Thompson broke hard for third, Manny Machado charged the ball hard, scooped it up in his bare hand and made a hard fake throw toward first.  Thompson bit on Machado’s fake throw and rounded third hard.  Machado instantly spun and threw behind Thompson to Orioles short stop J.J. Hardy.  One throw later, Matt Wieters tagged out Thompson as he headed back toward 3B.

And that ended the top of the ninth inning.

I was all set to head toward home plate as Scott Cursi took the final warm up pitch from Kyle Farnsworth.  Farnsworth headed toward the CF gate to enter the game and Cursi headed toward the bullpen bench.  Before we left to walk toward home, I called out Cursi’s name.  He looked up and tossed us Farnsworth’s warm up baseball.  We shouted “THANKS!” and then started to turn toward home plate, but Cursi yelled for to us to stop.  We looked back, and he pulled another baseball (an absolutely pristine Camden Yards 20th Anniversary commemorative baseball) out of his back pocket and tossed it to us too.

Thanks, Scott!

I must say that Scott Cursi has been amazingly cool to us this season.  We saw the Rays play in five games and he tossed us SEVEN baseballs and spent a little time chatting with us in Seattle.

Thanks again, Scott!

Moments after Cursi tossed us those baseballs, we ended up sliding into a row of seats right behind home plate:

After making the key fake throw to help bring the top of the ninth to a close, Machado led off the bottom of the ninth and smacked a single into LF.  He then took second on a sacrifice bunt by Robert Andino.

Usually, September crowds at Camden Yards are tiny and lifeless.  This year was different.  The Yankees had already lost to the Red Sox by this time so they were only half a game ahead of the Orioles.  In other words, if Machado could touch home plate the Orioles would pull into a first-place tie with the Yankees.

The crowd was standing at attention, ready to erupt at a moment’s notice:

Right about this time, Avi (somewhere in the stadium) sent out the following tweet:

And, I was sort of a fortune teller.  No, Adam Jones didn’t come to the plate in the ninth and the Rays hadn’t taken the lead, but Nate McLouth hit a single to RF for a walk-off win.

The place was going crazy:  Orioles win!  Orioles win!  Orioles win!

As all of the craziness was going down, Tim, Kellan and I hustled down the stairs toward the umpires’ tunnel where (like Thompson an inning earlier) we got totally faked out by a bit of misdirection.

The home plate umpire is the only umpire who carries baseballs during a game (obviously).  At this game, Marvin Hudson was the home plate umpire.  When the first umpire ducked into the umpires’ tunnel, he handed out two baseballs on the other side of the tunnel.  As he passed us, we called out, “Mr. Hudson!” and the umpire just walked right by us.  We called his name one more time and then I realized something looked odd.  He didn’t have baseball pouches on his hips or a face mask like a home plate umpire always carries off the field.  Then, the umpire turned around and, looking at us, pointed behind him.  We turned around and looked back toward and the field and the other three umpires.  Right then, Marvin Hudson reached out and handed a beautiful rubbed up commemorative baseball to Tim:

Thanks, Marvin!

I still have no clue who the first umpire was or why he had two baseballs.  I’ve never seen a non-home plate umpire hand out baseballs after a game.  Very odd.

Anyway, the whole stadium was partying for their now *first place* Orioles and Nate McLouth was, predictably, the recipient of a congratulatory pie to the face:

We got a celebratory MLB Anniversary picture before heading toward the gates:

On our way to the gate, Tim got his picture with this guy:

We have no clue what that guy is all about, but we see him all over the place in Baltimore and he’s a cool looking dude.  So, naturally, Tim wanted a picture with him.

Now, I’d still never paid Avi for our tickets.  So we ended up meeting up with him outside of the LF gate.  After I handed over a tiny bit of money (because O’s tickets are incredibly cheap…and I hope that remains the case next season), we played a whole bunch of catch with Avi:

We had a blast playing catch with Avi after the game.  It was the perfect end to another great MLB Anniversary game.

As we finally started to head toward our car, I told Tim got give me a big “six” with his fingers for one final Sixth MLB Anniversary picture and he delivered possibly the most awkward looking “six” possible:

This one was difficult from a planning and execution standpoint, but September 12th always delivers great times.  I can’t wait to see where September 12th takes us next season for Tim’s Seventh MLB Anniversary!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

24/22 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 1
22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park,   Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

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

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

No fun.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Jak!

Tim promptly declared that this baseball was for Shelly:

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

Thanks, J.P.!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cruz - “BLAH, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”

Todd – (confused) What!?

Cruz – “BLEE, BLAH, BLAHHHH!”

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

Cruz – “BLEE, CAH, BLAHHHH!”

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

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

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

Todd – “Oh, okay!”

And then he threw me a strike.

Thanks (and sorry), Juan!

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Rick!

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

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

Nice!  Thanks, Scott!

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

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

Thanks, Jim!

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

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

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

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

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

And then he played like a mad man:

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

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

…and our awesome $5.00 tickets from stubhub:

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

I mean, check this out:

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

Here’s an interesting picture:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Scott!

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

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

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

199!

Holy cow, I thought, this might actually happen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YES!

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

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

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

Mission accomplished, baseball gods!

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

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

…and third basemen Russ Canzler:

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

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

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

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

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

Tim said his respects to Babe Ruth…

…and then we called it a night.

It had been an amazing…

…Fifth MLB Anniversary for Tim.

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

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

Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary (9/12/2010)

On Sunday, September 12, 2010, Tim and I headed out of the house early in the morning en route to Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary game.  I had debated in my head for months about which game we would attend.  It was between Marlins @ Nationals or Phillies @ Mets.  We’re more interested in the Phillies and Mets.  But we already saw the Phillies on Tim’s First Anniversary.  So, we hopped in the car and headed south to Washington, D.C. for a date with the Marlins, Nationals, and Tim’s “Poppy” (his materal grandfather, who I call Kevin).

In addition to all the excitement surrounding it being Tim’s MLB Anniversary game, we had the opportunity to do something special at this game.  If we could manage to get two baseballs at this game, Tim and I would hit the 100 baseball mark on the fourth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball (which was given to Tim by Blue Jays September call-up, Davis Romero).

It was a drizzly morning.  We arrived right as the gates opened (2.5 hours before game time), but there was no batting practice.  When we arrived, there was no action on the field at all.  But a Marlins pitcher was throwing in the bullpen out in LF.

I had no clue who he was.  But I noticed he had his name stitched on his glove, so I zoomed in…

2 - alex sanabia.JPG…to find out it was Alex Sanabia.

As we watched Sanabia throwing under the supervision of his pitching coach, Poppy arrived.  In addition to the three of us, there were a few other people (maybe 5 or so) watching Sanabia pitch.

When Sanabia finished up, he walked under us and I called out, “Hey, Alex, any chance you could toss up that baseball for my son (pointing at Tim).”

And just like that, Tim has baseball number 99 in his hands:

3 - 99th baseball.JPG

Thanks, Alex!

After a while, some Nationals gathered around the bullpen in RF.  We took Poppy, who was visiting Nationals Park for the first time, over to RF to look down into the Nats bullpen.  But then some Marlins came out.  Given the options, I thought it would be a lot better to get number 100 from a Marlin.  So we headed back over to LF.

We couldn’t go into the infield seats until 12:00 o’clock.  So we just hung out in the outfield and watched…

4 - scouting number 100.JPG…I had no clue who any of the Marlins were down there.   Finally, the ushers waved us toward the infield.  We were free to roam wherever we wanted to in the stadium.

We made our way to the LF foul line where we stood behind a pitcher who we’d never heard of before (despite the fact we’d actually seen him pitch two innings against the Phillies the weekend before).  I used my zoom to figure out…

5 - hello jay buente.JPG…that it was Jay Buente.

Poppy wandered off to find a hot dog for lunch while Tim and I watched the action on the field.  Finally, Buente and his partner finished up and Buente started walking toward the baseball bag.  There were literally zero other fans along the foul line with us.  As Buente passed right in front of us, I recycled my question to Alex Sanabia, “Hey, Jay, any chance my son could get that baseball?”

Buente took 1-2 more steps toward the bag and then took a sharp left turn and walked the baseball over and handed it to Tim.  I was quick to ask if he’d hang out for two seconds to get his picture with Tim…

6 - 100th baseball.JPG…and Buente was happy to do so.

100 Thank yous, Jay Buente!

Sweet!!

After Buente walked away, Tim turned toward me and held the ball high over his head and yelled with excitement, “We have 100 baseballs!”

Wow – that’s cool!

We were just about to go meet up with Poppy when Marlins pitcher Brian Sanches wandered by.  We got Sanches to autograph a spare baseball we had in our bag (FYI, when fans insist on giving baseballs to Tim (meaning, I cannot talk them into giving it to another kid), we use them for autographs.  This ball was from Cleveland.).

Then Sanches, who seemed to be an incredibly nice and genuine guy, posed for a picture with Tim:  

7 - brian sanches.JPGThanks, Brian!

Finally, we met up with Poppy.  I had a hot dog, but Tim wasn’t hungry.  After eating, it was time to walk around the stadium with Poppy.  First, we stopped in LF to get our picture with a guy in a Cowboys jersey for the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt.

Next, we headed into the upper deck to check out the Capitol Builiding and Washington Monument.  We got a photo of Poppy, Tim and the Capitol building:

9 - poppy tim capitol.JPGThen we looked down over the seats and into the field:

8 - sosa and veras.JPGThose two guys in LF in the picture to the left above are Jose Veras and Jorge Sosa.  I yelled down “JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORGGGGGEEE!!”

Sosa looked up and I flashed my glove at him.

Jorge was holding a baseball and he reared back and cocked his arm like he was going to give it a mighty toss up to me.  Then he stopped and made an exaggrated “oh, my arm is hurt” look and pointed to his arm.  Then he gave a big chuckled and went along on his way.  I’ve always thought it would be cool to catch a baseball in the upper deck and this was the closest we’ve ever come to doing it.

Oh, well, on with the stadium tour.  We walked around to the RF side and gazed upon the river (just like we’d done the weekend before with my cousin, Nathan).  Out in the distance, Poppy pointed out Fort McNair…


10 - poppy and fort mcnair.JPG…where a young Poppy just back to the States after a tour in Vietnam met a young Grammy (Tim’s maternal grandma).  The story goes that Poppy was to be reassigned to Texas to finish out the final year of his military commitment.  After a tour in southeast Asia, Poppy wasn’t too excited to spend another year away from his home in the northeast.  So he headed to the Pentagon to meet with some military big wigs and request a change of assignment to be closer to his home in New Jersey.  The officer in charge couldn’t get him to New Jersey, but he offered to change Poppy’s assignment to a job in Washington, D.C.  Poppy jumped at the opportunity, and Grammy (who worked for the officer) was in charge of typing up Poppy’s change of assignment orders.

Eventually, Poppy would begin courting Grammy.  They’d marry.  Have a daughter.  Have another daughter.  Have both daughters move away to Philadelphia where the younger daughter would meet and eventually marry a guy who had just moved to Philadelphia from Seattle.  The younger daughter and the guy from Seattle would have a kid.  They’d take the kid to his first baseball game on September 12, 2006.  Poppy would also attend the kid’s first game.  And fourth years later, Poppy, the guy from Seattle, and the kid would go to another baseball game on September 12, 2010, where Poppy would point out the building where the whole the whole story began.  And then they would all go buy some more hot dogs and nachos, and then report to their seats in CF.

Here was their view:

11 - nats park section 143 row A seats 5-7 panorama.jpgFor the second week in a row, we had front row seats in the OF.  This time, it was in section 143.

Once again, Nyjer Morgan was playing CF for the Nationals…

12 - nyjer morgan still not suspended.JPG…because he was still appealing his two suspensions.  Eventually, he’d prevail on one of his suspensions, I believe.

This is what it looked like as we watched the game:

13 - hanging with poppy.JPGAlthough it looks a little gloomy, the weather was actually ideal for us.  No rain at all and none of the brutal sun that chased us from our seats by the fourth inning the week before.

Tim ate some extremely unimpressive nachos…

14 - nachos.JPG…he still liked them despite their relative unimpressiveness to other nachos Tim had enjoyed this season.  In the picture above to the right, he is pretending that the chip is his mouth wide open.  Four year olds are easily entertained.

There was some more unusual entertainment early in the game…

15 - squirrel.JPG…a squirrel ran across the outfield.  Eventually, he’d run up and down the chain link fence in front of the Nationals bullpen.  They should have chased that squirrel down and taken him away in handcuffs for running on the field during the game.

Hey, there was a game played too.

Mike “The Beast” Stanton was in the house.  And he brought a big bat with him…

16 - Mike Stanton bomb number 1.JPG…on this swing, Stanton crushed a homerun DEEEEEP into the leftfield stands.  That put the Marlins up 1-0.  Later in the inning, Emilio Bonafacio hit an RBI single to make it 2-0.

Then things got a little interesting.  Bonafacio stole second.  Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann tried to pick Bonafacio off of second, but threw the ball high and behind second baseman Adam Kennedy.  Kennedy should have caught the ball, but it tipped off of his glove and scooted into shallow RF.

Bonafacio took off for third with blazing speed.  Meanwhile, Kennedy jogged after the loose ball like he was bored and had nothing better to do.  Bonafacio had his afterburners on.  I shouted, “HE’S GONNA SCORE!!!”  And that is just what he did.  He scored from second base on a failed pick-off move and Kennedy’s laziness in chasing the ball.  This is what Kennedy looked like as he hung his head in shame:

17 - adam kennedy post bonehead play.JPGThe Marlins led 3-0.  But the Nats were about to get in on the action.  In the bottom of the second, Ivan Rodriguez came to the plate with the bases loaded.  On this swing…

18 - pudge hit.JPG…he hit a single to left field scoring Adam Dunn and Mike Morse.

Mike Stanton was not pleased that the Nats had closed the gap to 3-2.  In the top of the third inning, Stanton flexed his muscles again on this pitch…

19 - Mike Stanton bomb number 2.JPG…another deep homerun to left field.  This one was a 2-run job staking the Marlins to a 5-2 lead in the top of the third.

Starting in the bottom of the third, the Nats would score one run an inning for the next three innings.  And the Marlins scored a single run in the fourth.  None of those runs were particularly exciting or notable, other than the fact that one of them was credited to future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez (on a weak grounder to 2B in the bottom of the fourth inning).

So that made the score 6-5 Marlins after five innings.

In the middle innings, Tim enjoyed an anniversary ice cream helmet…

20 - nats anniversary ice cream helmet.JPG…choloate with sprinkles, of course.

And, we cheered on everyone’s favorite running President, Teddy Roosevelt…

21 - presidents race.JPG…but he came in a distant fourth place in the 4-man Presidents race.

Yeah, we were having fun.  It was a great day:

22 - dudes.JPGThe outfield seats were practically empty.  I was hoping a homerun would come our way.  When Adam Dunn would bat, I camped out in the stairway with room to run in every direction…

23 - adam dunn positioning.JPG…above to the left is my view of Big Adam Dunn during his at bats.  To the right, my view of Tim and Poppy (and some guy who stood the whole game a couple seats away).

Of course, no homeruns came anywhere near us.

In the sixth inning, Tim wanted to go to the kids play area.  That’s when the drama began.  Tim was so excited he was running up and down the outfield stairs as Poppy and I followed him.  On his way up the stairs, Tim tripped and smacked both shins on the edge of a concrete stair and his forehead right on the top of the next stair up.

He went crazy with the water works.

It was legitimate water works.  He had scrapes on both knees and over his left eye.

Tim no longer wanted to go to the play area.  He wanted to go to the first aid office and get some bandaids.  So that’s what we did.  He was still huff’n and puff’n.

As we walked to the office, I snapped this picture of our new buddy, Brian Sanches…

Sanches to Pudge.jpg…pitching to Pudge Rodriguez.  Sanches would strike out Pudge, Willie Harris and Ian Desmond in the bottom of the sixth inning.  He’d also qualify for his first win of the season.

The people in the first aid office had just the thing to cure Tim’s blues.  In addition to some bandaids, they gave him a plastic cup with a metalic silver Nationals “W” on one side and a metalic silver picture of Nationals Park on the opposite side.  Between the bandaids and the cup…

blue and metalic silver nats cup.jpg…Tim started to feel a lot better.

We grabbed some seats around 1B just in time to see Adam Dunn bat again.  He hit this foul ball…

24 - Dunn fouls.JPG…and then eventually drew a walk.  No homeruns for Big Dunn on this day.

Here was our view from the seats we found in section 133:

25 - nats section 133 panorama.jpgWe were still in these seats in the top of the 8th when Hanley Ramirez struck out looking to end the inning…

26 - Hanley Ramirez disagrees.JPG…and then stood at the plate with his hand on his hip and feet crossed talking to umpire Wally Bell for what seemed like forever.

Heading into the top of the ninth, we decided to swing around to the 3B side to go for an umpire ball.  But as we walked through the concourse behind 1B and about to duck into the closed off tunnel behind the fancy clubs and restaurants behind home plate, I noticed that the guard watching the entrance to the fancy seats directly behind home plate was leaning far over a railing watching something in the seats.

We decided to walk in there like we belonged and see what would happen.  With Tim on my shoulders I breezed right by the usher and into the fancy seats.  Right as we got into the seats, someone hit a pop foul ball about 10 feet away from us.  As people were going for the ball, Tim and I took some seats undetected.  Interestingly, there was a ticket in the drink holder where we sat down so we were golden incase someone came and asked to see our ticket.

This was our view from section 124:

27 - nats section 124 panorama.jpgWith all of the commotion from the foul ball, I didn’t even realize that I had no clue where Poppy was.  I called his cellphone and discovered that another usher stopped him as he walked into the fancy seats behind us.  I guess that foul ball really helped us out.  Anyway, it was the ninth inning and Poppy told us to enjoy the fancy seats and he’d meet up with us after the game.

Thanks, Poppy!

Mike Stanton was up again in the ninth…

28 - Stanton no third homerun.JPG…but failed to hit his third homerun of the day.  He would have to settle for 3-4 day with 2HR and 3RBI.

Now, the “fancy” seats behind home plate are segregated between the “fancy” seats, the “really fancy” seats, the “ridiculously fancy” seats, and the “outrageously fancy seats.”  We were in the “really fancy seats.”

However, I realized we could still go for an umpire baseball if we could get into the “ridiculously fancy” seats (or, heaven forbid, the “outrageously fancy” seats) at the end of the game.  Actually, if we could get into the “outrageously fancy” seats, an umpire baseball would be almost guaranteed.  But we had no fanciful thoughts about making it into the “outrageously fancy” seats.

We headed over to the far side of section 119, where this was our view:

30 - nats section 119 panorama.jpgThose stairs to the left lead down into the “ridiculously fancy” seats.  An usher sits right at the bottom of the stairs, to keep people with mere “really fancy” seats out, no doubt.  I figured we could probably get down there and sweet talk her, if need be, right at the end of the game so Tim could ask for an umpire ball in the “ridiculously fancy” seats.

First, Tim did some kung fu:

29 - Kung Fu baseball fan.JPGAfter Ian Desmond grounded out to end the game, things went even better than we could planned.  We rushed down the stairs.  The usher at the bottom of the stairs stood up and walked toward the field.  As she made her way to the field, she opened a gate to the “outrageously fancy” seats.

All of a sudden we found ourselves in the IDEAL spot.  In that kung fu picture above, there is a little kid wearing a bright blue shirt in the first row at the far left side of the picture.  That is where we were standing when home plate umpire Wally Bell walked off of the field.

Essentially, when a kid stands in that spot with no other kids present as the umpire comes off the field, that kid is going to get an umpire baseball.  It is close to guaranteed.

And when Wally Bell set this baseball (baseball no. 101) in Tim’s glove…

31 - No. 101 courtesy of Wally Bell.JPG…we had officially embarked on a new journey:  the journey to baseball no. 200.

Thanks, Wally Bell!

Okay, so the game was over and it was time to go meet up with Poppy.  We had to exit the seats and make our way around the concourse toward CF.  But we were in the first row of the fanciest seats at Nationals Park.  We had to get a picture: 

32 - Lexus Club concourse behind home plate.JPGAnd, how do people in those seats leave the field of play?  They exit through the uber-fancy Lexus Club.

Sounds good to us!

It was dark in there.  These were the best pictures I could get of the bar and the area behind the bar:

33 - Nats Lexus club.JPGThat bar (above to the right) is directly inside the glass doors directly behind home plate at Nationals Park.  The picure above to the left is taken from the 1B side of the Lexus Club.  To the left and behind those big panels that spell “NATIONALS” is restaurant-style seating.

To the far 1B side of the club there is a wall of windows.  In the windows closer to the field you can watch the Nationals take BP in the underground cages…

34 - Nats batting cage and interview room.JPG…as you walk toward the back of the club (away from the field), there are more windows that peer in on the interview room.

It was pretty sweet in there.  One cool thing that I tired unsuccessfully to photograph was a hallway with pictures of a whole bunch of U.S. Presidents throwing out first pitches at MLB games.  Sadly, the lighting in there was so weird (and we needed to get back to Poppy so I rushed and) none of my pictures came out.

Anyway, we headed back out of the field, circled the concourse, met up with Poppy, and went and got in line for KIDS RUN THE BASES!

YES!

This was Poppy’s first Kids Run The Bases and only the second MLB field he’d ever walked on before (the first being Camden Yards where he once attended a wedding).

Poppy stood in for me in our traditional Kids Run The Bases right field distance marker picture:

35 - poppy and the OF wall.JPGNote:  both Tim and Poppy are standing in fair territory.  Excellent.

Running the bases, as always, was awesome:

36 - 4th anniversary bases 1st and 2nd.JPGAnd, amazingly, I actually got a decent picture of Tim at each base:

37 - 4th anniversary bases 3rd and home.JPGBefore heading out, we got a picture of Tim by the “Nationals Park” sign on the rock wall behind home plate…

38 - nationals park sign behind home plate.JPG…we’d just been in those blue seats right on the other side of the rock wall.

A nice fan took a picture of the three of us on the field to mark the occassion:

39 - Poppy and TJCs.JPGYes, coming to Nationals Park for Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary was the right call.

40 - anniversary battle scar.JPGUnquestionably.

We got our 100th baseball.

Spent some great quality time with Poppy.

Visited the Lexus Club.

Ran the Bases.

Other than maybe “not bashing your head on a concrete step,” what more can you ask for in a day at the ballpark?  Not much.

It was another great MLB anniversary.

Thanks, MLB!

2010 Fan Stats:

25 Games

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

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

58 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 8 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

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

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

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

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

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

Tim’s Second MLB Anniversary (9/12/08)

On September 12, 2008, my mom, dad, Tim and I headed to Chase Field for Tim’s Second MLB Anniverary.  Here was our first view of the stadium as we approached from the parking garage:

1 - chase field.jpgWe were going to see the Arizona Diamondbacks face off against the Cincinnati Reds.  Early in the season, I picked this game for Tim’s baseball anniversary game for three reasons (i) if we cannot make it to Safeco Field for Tim’s anniversary, I plan to take Tim to a different stadium each year on his MLB anniversary game, (ii) the Mariners were on the road, and (iii) I wanted Tim to see Griffey.  As I said, we planned this early in the season.  By the time this game rolled around, Griffey had been playing for the White Sox for more than a month.

Oh, well.  Still, it was a great game.  Brandon Webb pitched for the Diamondbacks and if he could earn the win, he would become the NL’s first 20-game winner of the season.

My folks took a picture of me and Tim in front of these big bats in front of the stadium entrance:

2 - chase field bats.jpgAs the security lady checked my bag, Tim was itching to enter the first domed stadium of his life…

3 - let us in.jpg…I’m not counting Safeco Field as “domed” because the roof is really just a canopy, its always open-air at Safeco Field.

We entered the stadium in the LF foul corner and made our way around the concourse toward the third base side.  I was happy to see a Randy Johnson poster as we made our way around the concourse: 

4 - into chase field.jpgActually, I wanted to go to the game the next day too so Tim could see Randy pitch, but Tim and I took a long nap and my folks let us sleep right through the beginning of the game.  Its okay because Randy got a no decision after pitching 6 innings of 1-run baseball.

Anyway, I love domes.  I have to, I grew up in the Kingdome.  But here is a bad thing about domes…

4a - dark concourses.jpg…dark and boring concourses, no natural light.

The grounds crew was readying the field as we made our way into the field level seats.  Here is a panoramic view of Chase Field as we crossed behind the 1B dugout:

5 - chase 3B field panarama.jpgI liked Chase Field, but it did seem quite dark to me with the roof closed.  By the way, I’m not sure why the roof was closed.  It was beautiful outside and not so hot that we needed protection from the heat.

Before the game, we toured around the park a little bit…

6 - check out chase.jpg…here, we’re looking down at a special group seating area behind the RF fence.

This picture says it all…

7 - amazed by the dome.jpg…Tim was impressed by his first domed stadium.  The Kingdome must be in his blood.

Eventually, the game started.  And I must apologize, I did a really poor job photographing it.  (Of course, in my defense, I didn’t have an MLBlog at the time…or even know that MLBlogs existed).

Our seats were in section 111, row 7.  But Tim and I watched the first couple innings from the first row of section 111.  We were stationed right behind the ballgirl (or ball lady) down the RF foul line.  We discussed it with her before the game and she agreed that she would give Tim a foul ball if or when she got one.  Sadly, not one single foul grounder was hit down the 1B line.  It ended up being the first time in his 2.5 years that Tim did not get a baseball on September 12th.

Eventually, someone came to claim our seats so we met up with my follks in row 7.

The game was a pitchers dual between Webb and Aaron Harang.  By the sixth inning, there were a couple hits recorded on the scoreboard, but no runs.

Of course, Tim got an ice cream helmet…

8 - diamonback ice cream helmet time.jpg…and an ample amount of chocolate ice cream on his face.

By the way, the Diamondbacks ice cream helmet is different than all of the other ice cream helmets Tim and I have collected to date.  Here are some photos showing a comparison with the holy grail of ice cream helmets, a Mariners helmet from Safeco Field:

8a - dbacks helmet comparison.JPGHopefully the difference is decipherable in these pictures.  The Diamondbacks helmet is longer than other helmets.  Generally, ice cream helmets can be stacked on top of each other.  The Diamondbacks helmet can sit on top of a stack of helmets, but other helmets do not fit over the Diamondbacks helmet.

Back to the game.  As the fancy scoreboard in CF showed…

9 - chase field scoreboard.jpg…the Diamondbacks broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth inning.  The run was unearned due to an error by Aaron Harang who was also pitching a gem.  With one out, David Eckstein hit a weak grounder to Harang and Harang threw the ball into right field.  Eckstein made it all the way to third.  He then scored on a single by Chris Young.

In the middle of the game, Tim got a little restless in the seats so my dad took him to the kids play area, which is behind the seats in the upper deck out in left field.  Tim had lots of fun sliding and generally monkeying around:

10 - chase kids play area.jpgAmazingly, I took zero action shots at this game.  So here is a random picture of us enjoying the game…

11 - 3 cook guys in arizona.jpg…I have no clue why I’m wearing my sunglasses indoors in that picture.  And here are some more pictures:

12 - lap lounging.jpgAfter seven innings of an excellent pitchers dual, the Reds relievers entered the game in the bottom of the eighth and promptly stunk it up.  After giving up a lead off triple to the pinch-hitting Jeff Salazar and striking out Stephen Drew, the Reds relievers walked three consecutive batters.  The final walk scored Salazar making the game 2-0 in favor of the Diamondbacks.  Mark Reynolds then struck out.  Chad Tracy then strode to the plate and promptly watched the first pitch sail to the back stop.  Another run scored on the wild pitch.  Tracy then struck out.  For the Reds, it wasn’t the most impressive way of striking out the side.

Next it was the Diamonbacks relievers turn to pitch terribly.  After 8 innings of scoreless baseball by Brandon Webb, the Diamonbacks bullpen gave up four singles in the bottom of the ninth.  But, alas, they were unable to blow Brandon Webb’s stellar performance.  The 3-2 victory was Webb’s 20th of 2008.  It was the first (and only) time Webb has won 20 in a season, and he was the only NL pitcher to accomplish that task in 2008.

After the game, we stuck around for fireworks.  After a bunch of waiting…

13 - waiting for fireworks.jpg…they opened the roof and the show began…

14 - chase field fireworks.jpg…it was fine, but not all that impressive compared to the excellent fire works show we’d seen the prior month in Cincinnati.  Part of the problem was that the fireworks were shot off the top of a building (I think a parking garage) across the street from Chase Field and they barely made it above the framing of the roof.

Nevertheless, despite no Griffey, no catching a baseball, and not overly impressive fireworks display, we had an excellent time spending Tim’s Second MLB Anniversary with my folks in Arizona.

For see the rest of Tim’s MLB Anniversary games (through 2009), follow the links below:

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