Results tagged ‘ Philadelphia Phillies ’
On Saturday, June 26, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and drove from our home in Pennsylvania to the Canadian Colony of Citizens Bank Park to see the hometown Toronto Blue Jays take on the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.
Due to the G20 Summit being held in the Blue Jays’ customary hometown, the Jays moved this game to their newly conquered southern colony, which is actually situated in the American city of Philadelphia.
This would be our final game of the first half of the 2010 season. We arrived early for BP in hopes of catching at least one baseball to complete a perfect first half of the season. When we rolled into the stadium, a situation was brewing that was ideal for our chances at accomplishing a much bigger goal than getting a baseball at this game. But we’ll get there soon enough.
We entered the stadium through the LF gate and made our way over to section 141 in LF. This was our view at the beginning of BP:
The home team Blue Jays were batting. The rest of the stadium wasn’t open yet. The outfield isn’t our strong suit for BP because I don’t like Tim to be exposed to homerun balls wizzing by his head left and right. Since we were confined to the OF, we hung out near the foul pole where the action was limited.
Tim was feeling like a real big kid because he was sporting the Mariners backpack…
Nothing came too close to us during the beginning of BP. A few balls were hit into the next section over, but we stayed put and didn’t make any effort to run around for HR balls.
Shortly before the rest of the stadium opened, the ideal situation started to unfold. The visiting Phillies pitching corps headed out to RF to do some stretching, running and throwing. Back when this was the Phillies home field, this stretching, running and throwing routine would occur earlier in the day when the rest of the stadium was closed to the fans. You could only watch from all the way across in LF.
But things had changed in the colony of Citizens Bank Park since the Canadians invaded. Within minutes of the Phillies pitchers arriving in RF, the yellow-plastic covered chain was lifted and the fans were allowed into the infield and RF portions of the ballpark.
We hurried over to RF.
en we arrived along the RF line, my favorite pitcher of all-time, Jamie Moyer, was sitting on the ground (next to Roy Halladay, who isn’t too shabby himself) stretching a mere 10-15 feet from us:
In that top right photo, Halladay is looking directly at us. I imagine he was thinking, “Why is this guy taking a picture of me stretching?” But the joke was on him, I was focused on the MAN, Mr. Moyer.
As he was stretching, Tim and I said, “Hi, Jamie!”
No reaction from Moyer.
Then, all of a sudden, Moyer stood up and walked directly, and I mean D-I-R-E-C-T-L-Y, to me. I was confused. Was my favorite pitcher ever coming over to say “hello”?
At the last second before reaching us, Moyer bent down to grab something off of the ground. I looked down over the wall. Directly below us was a baseball glove that was spread wide open and it was holding about 10 baseballs. As Moyer grabbed a baseball, I asked, “Jamie, is there any way we could get our picture with you when you’re done throwing?” (On our pre-season list of 20 goals for 2010, a picture with Jamie Moyer was goal number 14).
No reaction whatsoever from Moyer.
For half a second, I was a little dissappointed. I had hoped Jamie would have at least acknolwedged us. But then I thought about the man he is. First, it is well-documented that he is one of nicest and most generous guys around — for example, see The Moyer Foundation. Second, he is able to continue performing at the Major League level at age 47 because he sticks to a training regimine that keeps him in game condition. So, while I wished my favorite pitcher of all-time could have given us a nod or a quick “hello,” I figured he probably has some hard and set self-imposed policies that he needs to focus on his work during his workout routine and not get distracted by the fans.
Immediately after grabbing a ball from the glove below us, Moyer ran out to shallow RF and started playing catch with Halladay:
…Mike Zagurski. With this BP appearance, Zagurski took the honor of being the first person to ever personally heckle me (and my entire team during an adult recreational softball league game) and then appear on field as a major leaguer during BP.
The heckling came last year while my company softball team was playing the Reading Phillies front office. The game took place during the AA all-star game and Zagurski had a couple days off. He chose to spend some of that time watching some softball. Zagurski and another AA Reading Phillies player heckled our team mercilessly for seven innings. The best part was their persistent taunting of my then 47-year old opposite-field slap-hitting colleague by referring to him as “Ichiro.” I was, in fact, quite happy with the Ichiro reference.
Anyway, Zagurski has once again been called up to the big club and this was the first time we’d ever seen him in Philadelphia.
But our focus was Jamie Moyer. Well, my focus was on Moyer. Tim focused a little bit on the sun beating down on us. He asked to leave the field to get out of the sun. We compromised by having me stand over him and shade him with my body and my large glove over his head. Before striking the compromise, an usher came up and gave Tim a little plastic Phillies Phanatic figurine, which Tim really liked.
As part of the compromise, we agreed we would relocate to the shade right after Moyer and Halladay finished their throwing.
Roy and Jamie took turns pitching to each other:
Without even discussing it, they both all of sudden knew their routine was complete. Halladay all of a sudden ran off to the Phillies dugout. Moyer turned around and threw their warm up ball to “the bucket.” (I guess they had put the Phils bucket out by this time).
I was all set to tell Tim we could head toward the shade when Moyer tossed his ball to the bucket. I figured Jamie would follow Halladay to the dugout.
I figured wrong.
Instead, he turned around and jogged directly back toward us. As he coasted into the wall, Moyer asked “So you guys want to get a picture?”
I could not believe it!
How cool is that?!
I was incredibly happy, and a bit flustered. I reached into my pocket and grabbed my camera. As I pulled it out, I popped the battery pack and had to put it back together. I asked a lady if she could take the picture. She agreed.
She couldn’t figure out my camera (which is incredibly easy). It felt like I was wasting tons of Jamie’s time. I tried to explain it to the lady.
Meanwhile, Jamie quietly chatted with Tim. He playfully tapped Tim on the top of his hat and asked him if he was from Seattle and if he was a big Mariners fan.
I was very happy to learn that the lady got a shot of Tim and Jamie chatting:
She took another picture…
I told Jamie how much I appreciated everything he did for the Mariners. He held out his hand to shake mine.
Did I mention Jamie Moyer is awesome?
As Jamie and I started turning away from each other, several other fans pounced, “Jamie, can you sign this ball, picture, hat, etc., etc.?”
Jamie turned around and ran into the outfield to shag baseballs during the Phils BP, and he was gone. His trip to the foul line wall was exclusively to meet, greet and pose for pictures with us.
This guy is awesome!
A big, huge THANK YOU, Jamie Moyer!!!
After parting ways with Moyer, we headed to RF so Tim could hang out in the shady back row. I stood in the row right in front of Tim. I was hoping I could catch a deep drive.
This was our view from section 105:
The guy in the white shirt who is cut in half toward the right side of that picture was the only thing that stood in front of me and my first clean catch BP homerun of the season. A ball came right to him. I jumped a row to stand right behind him. If he wasn’t there, I had it easy. But I didn’t interfere with him and he made a nice two-handed, bare-handed catch in front of his kids. Nice job, sir.
Soon, we saw Zagurski all the way across the field in deep LF. We decided to head over there. I was thinking it would be pretty cool if we could get a baseball from a guy who had heckled me during a softball game.
Here was our view in foul territory in section 140:
Tim kept entertained by inspecting the foul pole:
After Tim finished his foul pole inspection, we were hanging out in the first row in foul territory. The shade had reached all the way down to the first row, so it was perfect. All of a sudden a Phillies batter hit a long foul looping line drive toward us.
It was a few rows in front of us and 2-3 seats into the section to our right (section 139).
I did a little diagram to illustrate the crazy path the ball took from the bat to my glove:
We started in the first row of section 140 at the “T&T.” I ran across the aisle and into a row of seats. I took this picture about 10 minutes later. I don’t think those two people (who I have X’d out) were sitting in those seats (then again maybe they were), but a couple people were sitting in my path. I couldn’t get to the spot where the ball would land.
I decided to pull up short and hope that it would take a crazy hop toward me, which seemed illogical (in my head it seemed like it would actually hit the seats and bounce back onto the field). Anyway, it took the crazy jump that we needed it to take. It bounced all the way over me.
I ran back to the “2″ when the ball took a second crazy bounce. It jumped off the stairs and zig-zagged to the seats in section 139. It then bounced over me again. I went up to the “3.” The ball clanked off of some seats where people were sitting. I was sure they would grab the baseball, but no one even made an effort for the ball.
As I swiped at the ball with my glove, it kicked off the seats and headed back over to section 139. Finally, I grabbed it on yet another bounce at the “4.”
I handed the ball to Tim and a couple people cheered him for getting a baseball.
Tim proudly posed with his baseball and his Tuxedoed Phanatic:
Still flying high on the joy of our Jamie Moyer encounter (and the “icing on the cake” baseball), we headed to the kids play area so Tim could do some pre-game playing.
As usual, on our way over there, the Citizens Bank Park emergency response team…
After some time in the play area, we started to make our way to our seats. On the way, we stopped at the speed pitch. Tim lit up the radar gun…
I took three throws as well including two strikes into the glove of the fake catcher. I think my fastest pitch was a firey (actually pathetic) 56 miles per hour. Later, my wife would make fun of me for pitching so slowly.
After pitching, we headed to our seats in section 145, row 10, seats 1-2.
We were joined by my friend Greg and his date, both of whom I failed to take a decent picture. Despite the lack of photo evidence, they were great seat mates. Tim had a blast with both of them.
As we reached our seats, the Phanatic was pumping up the crowd in CF:
At the last minute before the game started, Tim and I decided we needed nachos. This required us to walk around the entire field level concourse. As we passed by the bullpens in RCF, Jimmy Rollins stepped into the batters’ box to get the action going in the top of the first…
We had never sat in LF before at Citizens Bank Park. I’m not sure why, but they always have ushers checking tickets for people to get into the LF seats. So we had never even been in the LF seats before other than a couple times passing through during BP.
Behind the LF seats is a restaurant (I guess that’s what you would call it) called Harry the K’s. Hanging above the Harry the K’s seating area, there are three big paintings that I had never seen before. I think I have these in the right order. Closest to the LF foul line, there is this painting of the old-time Phils from the dugout…
…looking out over Connie Mack Stadium a/k/a Shibe Park, the Phillies home from 1927-1970.
In the middle is this picture of a Phillies batter rounding first base…
Finally, closest to LCF is this painting from the cheap seats…
Finally, we got to our seats. This was our view of the closest player, Phillies left fielder and former Mariner Raul Ibanez…
On Cole Hamel’s fourth pitch to the second batter in the home half of the second inning, Blue Jays catcher John Buck got the scoring going with a 2-run homerun right down the LF line. This would be a Blue Jays trend for the day.
Trailing 2-0 in the top of the third inning, Ryan Howard grounded out weakly…
In the third inning, Jays’ slugger Adam Lind duplicated Buck’s blast. After Lind deposited his own homerun in the seats down the LF line, the Jays lead 3-0.
The visiting Phillies went all out on the entertainment front. They brought their mascot, the Phanatic on the roadtrip (as previously noted above). Between innings at one point, the Phanatic and a muscle man tried unsuccessfully to lift a big huge weight. Finally, this strong little boy showed them how it is done:
It was almost time for the visiting Phillies to get in on the scoring. But first, the Jays needed to hit another homerun right down the LF foul line. Their third such homerun of the day came off of the bat of Alex Gonzalez in the bottom of the fourth inning and it scored both Gonzalez and Fred Lewis.
Things were looking good for the hometown Blue Jays. They had a comfortable 5-0 lead going into the top of the sixth inning.
That is when visiting Ryan Howard launched a homerun into the batters’ eye in deep CF. Here is Howard rounding third…
As we sat in our LCF seats in section 145, I had time to look around and see the sights. We weren’t far from Ashburn Alley, but I had never noticed the little directional arrows on the Ashburn Alley street sign…
…a .308 career average to the left and 2,574 career hits to the right. Those are the key numbers that (after never earning more than 41.7% of the writers’ vote in 15 years on the ballot) earned Richie Ashburn a spot in Cooperstown via the 1995 Veterans’ Committee vote.
Late in the game, the Canadian government sent down some of their Royal Canadian Mounted Police (a/k/a Mounties) to watch closely over the visiting Phanatic as he danced on top of the visitors’ dugout…
Late in the game, I noticed “The Heckler” warming up in the visitors bullpen:
The Phillies could not mount a comeback and fell to the Blue Jays 5-1.
it was a great day highlighted by our brief time with Jamie Moyer. I’m still super excited about getting to meet, shake hands, chat, and get a picture with my favorite pitcher of all-time and the most winningest pitcher in Mariners history.
Thanks, again, Jamie Moyer!!!
Due to the impending birth of Tim’s new little brother, Kellan, this would be our last game for almost a month (this is also why I am wearing a bluetooth device in my ear in all of these pictures — so I wouldn’t miss the call if Colleen called during the game). It was a great way to finish off the first half. Hopefully the second half will be as much fun as the first half.
2010 Fan Stats:
16 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
14 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
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)
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)
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:
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:
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:
By 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…
As Tim likes to point out, Halladay made some funny faces while throwing in the outfield:
Soon, Halladay and Pavano reported to the tiered bullpens:
Pavano was looking good too on the upper tier:
We started out with nachos in the SRO area behind the seats in DEEEEEP RCF:
…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…
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:
…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:
In 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…
…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:
Halladay was still looking good in the fifth…
After ice cream, we wandered down the 3B line and between innings ran down and Tim got his picture with Phillies ballgirl, Bridgette…
…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:
The play area was PACKED:
Carl Pavano meanwhile…
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…
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…
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:
Tim had fun laying down in our empty row of seats:
Ryan Howard came to bat for the possible final out…
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…
A few minutes later, Twins bullpen coach and thirty year coaching veteran, Rick Stelmaszek…
Here is Tim showing off both of our prizes:
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:
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:
Citizens 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 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)
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)
Back in March, I did an entry of satellite images of the ball parks we plan to visit in 2010. The first four stadiums I listed in order and for the fourth game I mentioned, “Next, we’ll be sticking closer to home for a very special game at Citizens Bank Park.”
On May 1, 2010, Tim and I attended that very special game, and it turned out to be way more special that I imagined in the first place.
Let’s start with an explanation of why I said it would be special. If you look at our 2010 season goals (or our blog in general), you’ll see that we love Kids Run The Bases days. Coming into 2010, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field (2008), Camden Yards (2009), Rogers Centre (2009), Citi Field (2009-10), Miller Park (2009), and Nationals Park (2009-10).
We’ve never been able to line up a trip to Seattle that coincided with a Kids Run The Bases day. So it is understandable that Tim has not run the bases at Safeco Field.
On the other hand, our failure to run the bases at Citizens Bank Park made no sense. It is, after all, the closest MLB stadium to our house. But in 2009, each of the kids run the bases days was on a business persons special day games. I couldn’t justify taking a day off of work to go to a day game in Philadelphia. So Tim was precluded from running the Citzens Bank Park bases.
I was perplexed at why a kids run the bases promotion would be doubled up with a business persons promotion. I have a colleague whose brother is the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing & Advertising Sales. So, I asked him about this odd situation. His brother had no answer…and life went on.
Fast forward to 2:28 p.m. on January 19, 2010, I’m diligently working away at my desk when I receive an email from my colleague that simply said, “Just for you.“ It was a forward, so I scrolled down and found the following message from the inner-sanctum of Phillies management: “we added a run the bases on a weekend for your friend – may 1st.”
On Friday, April 30, 2010, my colleague called to make sure we were going to the game. His brother had called to remind him that they put this on the schedule for Tim so he hoped we’d be there. Of course! While the schedule said “sponsored by Modell’s Sporting Goods,” as we drove toward Citizens Bank Park we knew this Kids Run The Bases day was really brought to the kids of Philadelphia by Tim Cook.
Thank you, Phillies, for listening to the fans!
So lets get to the actual game. We arrived early for our first ever BP at Citizens Bank Park. A guy in a golf cart met us at our car and drove us to the LF gate. He also gave Tim a little green Citizens Bank pig key chain…which Tim named “Snortle.”
Outside the LF gate, Tim got his picture with a statue of Steve Carlton…
…which by my count makes Carlton the second person with whom Tim has got his picture with the real person and his statute (the first being Michael Jack Schmidt). He also got his picture with Joe Brown’s statue in the parking lot (that was actually after the game).
With Snortle in hand, we headed into the ball park. We had three goals for BP, two of which we would achieve.
First, get our picture with my all-time favorite pitcher, Jamie Moyer. Unfortunately, Moyer was in deep center field where the seats are maybe 15 feet above the field. No way to get a picture with a player there. So we just went out and stood near him.
Right after I took this picture, Tim yelled, “Hi, Jamie Moyer!” Moyer made eye contact with us and gave Tim a nice wave with his glove. Not just a little flip. A legit “hi, how you doing” wave. Very cool.
Soon thereafter, the Phils all started running toward the dugout, which is where we should have been. We might have been able to get Moyer’s attention while at field level. Anyway, I put Tim on my shoulders and we started to make our way toward the Phils’ dugout knowing that Moyer would be long gone by the time we got there.
That is when goal number 2 sealed the deal on not achieving goal number 1. Our second goal was to get a baseball. We’d only ever got one ball in all of our games at Citizens Bank Park. We made no real effort during Phils BP. We were just watching Moyer.
Then, as the Phils started running in and we started making our way toward the RF corner, I saw a Phils player on the field yelling up into the stands. I’d later figure out it was J.C. Romero. There were people lining the first and second rows and we were in row 4. Romero was motioning “up and over” with his finger. But it looked like he was motioning toward the very back of the section. I had no clue what he was doing. But he kept doing it. Finally, I said, “US!?!?!?” He said, “Yeah!” And held up a ball. Tim and I walked up to about row 7 and J.C. Romero lobbed…
…our second baseball ever at Citizens Bank Park directly into my glove. I handed it up to Tim and the crowd was happy to see the Phils reliever find a worthy recipient for the baseball. Our first ball at Citizens Bank Park was from Rockies first base coach (and former Mariner) Glenallen Hill. And we got a ball from Jimmy Rollins in D.C. last season. But this was our first baseball from a Phillie at a Phillies home game.
Thanks, J.C. Romero!
Goal No. 1 – failed. Goal No. 2 – complete.
Third goal, get Frank Catalanotto’s autograph. That might sound like an odd goal, but there is a back story (which we’ll get to).
The Mets were stretching in front of their dugout. We ran over there. I wrote out a quick and to the point sign…
…Tim grabbed the sign and popped up onto my shoulders. Literally within 10 seconds, we were communicating with Frank Catalanotto and arranging to meet in the first row about 30 yards down the 3B line. We got over there and we chatted with Frank, he signed our sign (shown above) as I dug through my backpack, and he posed for a picture with Tim…
That, my friends, is a picture of the first pitch of the first MLB game Tim ever attended back on September 12, 2006. Frank Catalanotto, playing for the Blue Jays, was the batter and he took a called strike from the eventual winning pitcher, Gil Meche.
I told Catalanotto the whole story. He thought it was awesome and he was SUPER COOL to us. It was awesome. For a non-game-related moment, this was one of the coolest and most memorable moments I’ve experienced at a ball park.
I have to give HUGE, HUGE gratitude to my dad for having the forethought to snap this picture while we were celebrating Tim’s first game. I absolutely love that he captured this moment for Tim and I am estactic about the idea of Tim having a picture of his first MLB pitch signed by both the batter and pitcher.
Hmmm….the pitcher. Gil Meche, be on the lookout for these two Mariners fans! Hopefully we can work it out this season.
At this point, the Mets hadn’t even started hitting yet. But it was blistering hot in the seating bowl and we already accomplished all of our BP goals except the Moyer picture, which wasn’t going to happen. So we took refuge in the shade…more specifically, in the kids play area:
…in that upper left picture, see that teenager in the upper tube? That guy works for the Phillies. His job is to control the traffic going down the slide. In the bottom right picture, Tim took “my order” about 2 dozen times and pretended to hand all sorts of food items out of those little holes to me
We went back to the play area several times throughout the day.
After our first play session, we headed toward the concourse behind home plate where I wanted to visit the ticket office. On the way, we got this picture of Tim and a fake Phanatic:
We made our way down to the Phils dugout to see if Moyer was around. He wasn’t. But then Roy Halladay popped out of the dugout and made his way to the bullpen and then the OF grass just outside of the bullpens…
After watching Halladay stretch a little, we went to our seats in section 104:
In those pictures, Tim is standing in the seat directly in front of ours. By the way, although he was a little sweatball, that is water from the water fountain on his shirt. He was having some water fountain difficulties just before these pictures.
Here is the actual view from our seats — Citizens Bank Park section 104, row 14, seats 4-5:
But we started the game in one of the many standing room areas behind the 3B field level seats. We were there to get our first close-up look at “Doc” Halladay. And this is what it looked like:
Then we grabbed an ice cream helmet for Tim and a couple drinks for both of us, and headed to our seats…
Jayson Werth stood almost right in front of us in RF. Here is what our view of the three outfielders looked like from our seats:
I brought my wife’s big fancy camera that takes quick sequence shots so I could get the Halladay shots above. I brought it out again for Raul Ibanez. Although I didn’t get anything too special of Raul, the shots are funny when you look at a bunch of them together…
Although he gave up three hits in the early innings, Halladay was dealing all day:
Early on, Pelfey was matching him pitch-for-pitch. But then came the fourth inning when the Phils offense did some damage.
Chase Utley started it out with a single:
Jayson Werth then hit an RBI single that found a bit of Alex Cora’s glove. Had Cora gloved the bloop single, it probably would have been a triple play because Utley was already around 3B and Howard was just a couple feet from 2B.
With two outs in the inning and a 3-0 score, things got real interesting. Tim had done a great job sitting in the seats for 3.5 innings. So I promised we would go back to the play area right after the third out. I packed up our belongings, including my glove.
Shane Victorino then hit a a three run homerun that I came within inches of getting. Here is another panorama from pre-game:
I was in seat number 4. Seats 1-3 were empty giving me a clear path to the aisle. The homerun landed in row 13 just across the aisle from us. The crowd collectively botched catching the ball and it fell to the ground. There was a girl in the first seat and I sort of dove over her in an effort to grab the loose ball. But as my hand was reaching toward the ball, the guy in the green hat (to the far right in the picture above) reached down and grabbed the ball cleanly by his feet. As I reached for it, I knew that guy would have to bobble it on the bare hand grab for me to have a chance. It was pretty exciting, but I missed out. Who knows what would have happened if I had my glove on my hand.
After the homerun, Tim asked me, “Did you smash your head when you jumped in there?” It was pretty funny. (FYI, as I type this, Chase Utley just hit a homerun off of Johan Santana that landed in Section 104 right around our seats).
After the inning, we headed back to the play area, which was over run by kids. It was kid pandamonium. And eventually Tim came out of the play set holding one shoe in his hand. He claimed that he got in a kid traffic jam in the tubes that de-shoed him. That was enough of the play area for Tim. So we got those nachos pictured above and headed back to our seats.
While we were in the play area, Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez hit a two run triple to bring the score to 8-0 Phillies. Pelfrey was long gone. In the eigth inning, Frank Catalanotto pinch hit for the second Mets pitcher (Raul Valdez)…
The Phanatic was pumping up the crowd…
We watched the top of the 9th inning from the concourse behind the 3B dugout. When the game ended, we made our way down to the first row and we were in a good position to get a ball from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa. Well, as good as you can be without being in the diamond club. But Kulpa gave one ball to a 20-something girl in the diamond club and his line-up card to a guy standing with the girl…and then he was gone.
No problems. It had already been an extra-special day.
I took this panorama as the crowd started to clear out…
A couple Mets approached the far end of the 3B dugout and threw a couple balls into the crowd. But we were all alone at the other end of the dug out (still at the spot from which I took that last panorama).
One of the ball tossers was Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello. For some reason, after throwing two balls into the crowd on the far end of the dugout, he walked down toward us and entered the dugout just below us. At the time, he had nothing in his hands, but a catchers equipment bag over his shoulder.
We were just standing there minding our own business when Racaniello took his first step down into the dugout. Right then, he looked up and saw Tim sitting on my shoulders. He looked at us like, “Hey, I got something for you.” He stopped and dug around in his bag and pulled out…
By the way, that is Tim’s green pig “Snortle” sitting on top of the Racaniello baseball.
It was time to run the bases. We made our way to the RF gate. On the way, I took this panorama from section 142…
Kids were already circling the bases. But we had to stop by the Phillies Wall of Fame, which is blocked off during games so fans don’t heckle the relievers in the bullpen (I guess that is the reason, at least). Here are some famous Phillies from the field and booth:
Then, Tim was off to the races:
The Phillies were great because they didn’t have a mob of workers kicking you out the second your kid crossed home plate (like some teams who will remain nameless). So I had time to take this field level panorama…
Great job, Phillies!
All-in-all, it was a great day at the ballpark and Tim was fast asleep only a few miles into our drive home.
2010 Fan Stats:
7 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
4 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)
13 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)
4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
3 Player Photos (Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
When early September 2008 rolled around, I thought to myself, “Self, Tim has never been to Shea Stadium and it is about to close. Let’s not let that happen without getting Tim up to Queens.”
So, early in the morning on September 7, 2008, Tim and I hopped in the car and made our way up to Manhatten. As is my standard practice, we parked on the upper west side. We then walked with Tim on my shoulders from approximately 84th & Amsterdam to 42nd & Seventh Ave. After a 7-train ride from Times Square station to Willets Point, we arrived at Shea Stadium.
It was a day-night doubleheader. We would attent only the day game. As we made our way up to our seats in Upper Reserve section 10, Row M, the visitors’ dugout (occupied by the Phillies) welcomed us to Shea:
And here was our view of Shea from the upper deck:
At least as I perceived it, Shea always got a bad rap. Particularly, because everyone glorified Yankee Stadium (which to me was utterly unimpressive — particularly when compared to the other “old” ballparks, Wrigley Field and Fenway Park). Anyway, I always liked Shea Stadium. I probably attended 8 games total at Shea between 2000-2008 and I always found it to be a much more pleasant place to watch a ballgame than its neighbor in the Bronx.
Some kind Mets fan agreed to take our picture:
Note how Citi Field appears to be about 2 feet away from Shea beyond the outfield fence. I was both amazed and saddened the following April when Tim and I attended our first game at Citi Field and we discovered that Shea was already demolished and hauled away.
Soon, it was time for the game to begin. The atmosphere in the stadium was electric. The Phillies and Mets are pretty big rivals. Entering the day, the Mets were leading the Phillies atop the N.L. East by two games.
The pitching was an epic battle between two “old goats” — my favorite pitcher of all-time, Jamie Moyer, and future Hall of Famer, Pedro Martinez…
Early on, both old goats were dealing…
In the second inning, Pedro walked Jayson Werth. Former Mariner Greg Dobbs followed with a double, Matt Stairs with a sac fly, and Carlos Ruiz hit a double. And just like that, the Phillies led 2-0.
Two batters Pedro did manage to retire in the second were Ryan Howard and Jamie Moyer…
It was a big snack day for Tim. We started off with some french fries. Then, it was time for a Shea Stadium Mets ice cream helmet:
Here are a couple stadium views from inside the concourses and ramps on our way down to the field level…
Moyer was still pitching a gem.
Since the stadium would soon be history, I wanted to document as much of it as possible. Here is a stadium map that hung inside the concourse behind section 31 in the Loge level:
As you can see, the standing room area is in an inside concourse with a screen in front of it. Back in 2003, I watched almost an entire game from the corresponding standing room area down the LF foul line. Its a nice little spot. Interestingly, that other game I watched from the standing room area was also part of a Sunday doubleheader and it was also a 7 inning, 2 hit, zero earned run win by Jamie Moyer.
Tim and I hung out there a little while so Tim could run around in circles.
Here is a panoramic view of Shea Stadium from the seats closest to the standing room area:
….which I thought was pretty interesting. Seems like most stadiums have ketchup and mustard pumps, not little packets. I wonder if someone bought this ketchup and mustard contraption once the Mets started trying to sell off any-and-everything from Shea Stadium. Actually, if you want one of these, click here.
We saw that there were plenty of empty seats toward the home plate area. This wasn’t a planned doubleheader and it wasn’t a make-up of a game from early in the season. No. This game was supposed to be played the night before. In fact, we had planned to attend the game on September 6th. Anyway, it appeared that some of the people who planned to attend the game on the 6th couldn’t make it on the 7th. And we were the beneficiaries.
I snapped some pictures of the Phillies stellar corps of infielders on our way to our final seats of the day…
…Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmie Rollins each had one hit on the day. But the big hitting star of the day was Greg “The Dobbers” Dobbs who was 2-4 with a 3-run 4th inning homerun off of Pedro Martinez. He also scored 2 runs. After the 4th inning, the Phillies led 6-0.
And here are our final seats of the day in (I believe) section 215:
And it was nice to see Mets first basemen and big-time slugger, Carlos Delgado…
Here is a shot of the Phillies dugout and the Mets logo behind home plate as Shane “The Flying Hawaiian” Victorino approaches the plate:
Moyer lasted 7 innings before Scott Eyre came in and gave up the only two Mets runs in the 8th inning. The Phillies won the game by a final score of 6-2 to move to 1-game back of the Mets. In the nightcap, Johan Santana beat Cole Hamels and the Mets re-took a 2-game lead in the N.L. East, a lead they would build to 3.5 games a few days later and then squander to miss the playoffs completely.
This was the 14th to last game game at Shea Stadium. It was great to add Shea to Tim’s baseball stadium resume. We got one more picture to commemorate the day…
On our way out of Shea Stadium for the final time, I took a picture of the four seating decks above the field level…
Goodbye, Shea Stadium.
We woke up on the morning of August 19, 2008 at home. But the baseball roadtrip wasn’t complete just yet. Tim, my dad and wife relaxed around the house all day while I went back to work. In the evening, Tim, my dad and I headed down to South Philadelphia for the fourth and final game of our first baseball roadrip: the Washington Nationals vs. the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
The entry will be a little light on the pictures because, although it was my dad’s first game at Citizens Bank Park, I’d been there plenty and, following my first game ever at Great American Ball Park and Progressive Field and probably my third game ever at PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park just didn’t seem that special or in need of photographing at this game.
We parked in the Phillies lot to the northwest of the ball park and made our approach…
…we were in for a shock. Veterans Stadium was always at about 50% capacity when I went there and, while Citizens Bank Park always had good crowds, I’d never felt the need to pre-purchase tickets to a Phillies game. Yet, for this Tuesday night game against the Nationals (a team 25 games out of first place), all that was left at the ticket office was standing room tickets and “foul pole” tickets. We made the silly mistake of buying the $24 foul pole tickets rather than the $14 standing room tickets.
Tickets in hand, we entered the park and walked around so my dad could see the lay of the land…
Before heading to our seats behind the RF foul pole, we headed up to the rooftop bleachers walkway where you can get a good elevated view of the ballpark from centerfield…
Then we headed up to our seats. The late afternoon sun was blazing down in our eyes as we headed into our row of seats…
My dad and Tim were sharing a pretzel and were ready for some baseball.
So, how about that foul pole thingy the ticket salesman had mentioned. Here it is, the official “foul pole” obstructed view from Citizens Bank Park section 205, row 10, seat 15:
Well, its not too bad. It could be worst. For instance, if we were sitting in seats 13 or 14 instead of 15-17, we would have had a straight shot at the bulky part of the foul pole.
Here is a closer look of our view of home plate:
Actually, looking at it now, I doesn’t seem too bad. But it was pretty annoying. I was instantly thinking, “why in the world didn’t we go for the standing room tickets?” Really, it didn’t make any sense. That was what Tim and I usually got anyway. I think we got these because my dad wanted to have an actual seat — he’s old fashioned that way.
Anyway, we didn’t stay here long. In fact, I’m not even sure if we were still here when Willie Harris staked the Nationals to a 1-0 lead with a solo home run off of Joe Blanton in the top of the first inning.
I know, however, that we certainly were not in the foul pole seats anymore by the bottom of the second when former Mariner Greg Dobbs hit a sac-fly to score Ryan Howard and even the game at 1-1.
So, if we weren’t in our foul pole seats, where were we? You guessed it, we were in our usual $14 standing room spot.
One our way down to the field level, we swung by and said hi to an old friend who was “hanging out” in the field level 3B concourse…
It was time for an ice cream helmet…
…we went to our usual lady midway down the 3B line. Its as if she doesn’t know how to turn the ice cream machine off. She loads up a single ice cream helmet with enough ice cream to fill two helmets. As you can see, with two ice cream helmets worth of sprinkles topping the chocolate monstrosity, Tim greatly approved.
If you are looking for this uber-generous ice cream lady, go to the Old City Creamery behind section 137…
As happy as Tim was to have a mountain of ice cream, it was too windy for him at our standing counter space in the field level concourse.
So, with the score 4-3 Nationals, we relocated again to our final spot of the night. The standing room area behind section 243 in the LF porch. This spot was great because (i) it wasn’t windy, (ii) the seats behind us were elevated 5-6 feet so we could stand there without bothering the people sitting in the top section, and (iii) there was a big open handicap accessible seating area right in front of us with one one in it.
Of course, Tim wanted to play in that big open area…
…and this provided a very unique experience. The fans in Philadelphia are famous for being…well…not all that nice or polite. But on this night, they’d come to Tim’s aid. Tim was happily playing around in the big open space, not bothering anyone, when an usher who was working the ailse way between sections 243 and 244 came to kick Tim out of that area. She didn’t look happy or nice. She bent over to stearnly address Tim when from all around us we heard, “HEY, LET THE KID PLAY, LADY!!!!!! LET HIM PLAY! LET HIM PLAY! LET HIM PLAY!!”
It was great. The usher was obviously embarrassed by the public attention for trying to rain on a young boy’s parade. I could see a switch go off in her head. She turned to the crowd and yelled something in her defense…I can’t remember what it was. And then she told Tim to “be careful.”
By the end of the night, Tim was literally making her do races back and forth across the length of the handicap area — from section 242 to section 244. She ended up giving him a souvenir Phillies hat (I’ve never actually let him wear it). It was a pretty awesome turn of events prompted by the crowd coming to Tim’s defense.
As a side benefit, since she couldn’t kick Tim out, a couple more kids came to play with him. And she couldn’t kick them out either.
Maybe due to the outpouring of brotherly love flowing from the LF porch area, the Phillies decided to send the entire crowd home happy. Down by one run in the bottom of the seventh, the Phillies tied it up at 4-4 as a result of singles by Pat Burrell and Greg Dobbs followed by a sac-fly by Chris Coste.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Phillies took their first and final lead of the game on a solo home run by Jayson Werth.
Brad Lidge then nailed down the save — his 31st save of the season in 31 save opportunities.
It was official, happiness all around. We celebrated by making that usher take our pitcher in the once-forbidden handicap accessible seating area:
Stay tuned in June for reports from The (Third Annual) Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.
On June 2, 2008, the stars appeared to be aligning themselves for something wonderful. I’d been watching with anticipation the past month. I saw the possibility. But could it really happen?
Then the day arrived.
Ken Griffey, Jr. and the Cinncinati Reds arrived in Philadelphia. It would be Tim’s first opportunity in his life to see my all-time favorite player. And if Griffey could connect for a homerun, it would be his historic 600th blast. It all seemed too good to be true!
Sadly, it was.
I questioned whether the Reds would sit Griff so he could hit number 600 in Cinncinati. But the Reds had 7 more games before returning to Cinncinati. There was no way he would sit 7 games.
At this point, Tim was not quite 2-and-a-half years old. He really wasn’t good for BP and a full game yet. That was just too much. But, we headed down to Philadelphia early for this one. I wanted to maximize our time in Griff’s presence. But when the Reds took the field for BP, Griff was nowhere to be seen. This wasn’t promising for our chances of seeing number 600.
In fact, it ended up that Griff’s knee was acting up. He was not in the line-up.
Anyway, as I said, Tim wasn’t really a BP guy yet. So we did a little touring around the ballpark before the game…
He pushed his stroller all the way up the winding ramps up to the upper deck in the RF foul corner. I took this shot as we turned the final bend in the ramps. That’s Lincoln Financial Field in the background.
I think this was Tim’ first time ever being in an upper deck of a ballpark. He was a little *iffy* about it. I’m not sure if it was because he was uncomfortable being up so high or if it was because the sun was blazing down in our eyes.
We got some french fries and found a nice spot behind Section 106 at one of the many standing counters ringing the field level at Citizens Bank Park…
Seeing Griff play and getting a chance to witness No. 600 was the entire reason we attended this week-night game. With our hopes and dreams for the night spoiled (he would not even pinch hit), we needed to make the night special in some other way.
So, sitting behind Section 137 at Citizens Bank Park, we started a grand tradition…
…we shared Tim’s first ever ice cream helmet!!!
Do you notice there is an extra spoon in the helmet? This being Tim’s first ice cream helmet, he had not yet realized they were too good to share with his dear old dad.
I’d been watching the Reds pretty regularly for 8 seasons by this point (solely to watch Griff), so I was pretty familiar with their team. While standing down the LF foul line in Section 137, it was a straight shot out to Adam Dunn.
In Griffey’s world, Dunn was to the Reds what Buhner was to the Mariners: Griff’s friend and big Texan power hitting neighbor in the outfield.
That last picture was taken in the bottom of the first inning and the Phils were already getting business started. After Shane Victorino singled with one out, Chase Utley staked the Phillies to a 2-0 lead with a 2-run homerun.
For about an inning and a half, it was as if there was no game being played at all.
After Tim finished his ice cream, we headed over to the home plate area, a little off toward first base, so we could get a peak into the Reds dugout…
Tim loves the kids playset at Citizens Bank Park. In the 18 MLB ballparks Tim and I have visited, I’m pretty sure that it is objectively the best play area…
By the way, for perspective for anyone who hasn’t visited Citizens Bank Park, those steel beams above Tim in that picture are supporting the winding walk way up to the upper deck where Tim was pictured above with Lincoln Financial Field in the background. The play area is just to the outfield side of the main 1B side entrance to Citizen Bank Park.
Back to the game, in the top of the 4th inning, as Tim played in the play area, I watched on the Dads’ flatscreen TV as rookie Jay Bruce (the man who was playing RF in Griffey’s place) hit his third career homerun in this third career game.
We headed back out to the field level for the bottom of the 4th in time to see Pedro Feliz (2-run) and Chris Coste (solo) hit back-to-back homeruns off of Bronson Arroyo…
…Tim cheered on as he ate cotton candy (it was a high calorie night for Cook & Son), as the Phillies took a 5-1 lead.
Late in the game, Tim wanted to play around in the field level concourse. I snapped this picture of him hiding in a steel beam…
…he always enjoys standing in these things at Citizens Bank Park. He enjoys the little things in life.
We also ran into three nice ushers out in the concourse who each gave Tim a little souvenir: a Philly Phanatic figurine, a little wood baseball bat keychain, and a Cole Hamels baseball card that was magically pulled from behind Tim’s ear.
Between a solo shot by Juan “Fireworks” Encarnacion in the fifth and a 2-run double by Dunn in the sixth, the Reds would score three more runs on the night, but Coste’s homerun would be enough for the Phillies. In the bottom of the ninth, Brad Lidge nailed down the save 1-2-3 with two strike outs. On June 2nd, Lidge’s ERA was still only 0.75.
Over the next two days, without Tim, I’d make two more efforts at witnessing Griff’s 600th homerun. But he rode the bench both days. His knee was still bothering him. He pinch hit late in each game and walked twice on a combined 9 pitches. I only saw him swing the bat once between the two games. Both at-bats were incredibly intense. The whole stadium was on its feet. Philadelphia fans can be rude and crude and mean. But I was extremely proud of them at these games. They understood they had the chance to see history and I think a lot of them wanted it to happen despite the fact it would have been terrible for the Phillies in both games. At the end of the final game of the series (the only game I didn’t attend and the only one Griffey played), the entire stadium gave Griffey a standing ovation.
Sadly, he went on to hit his 600th homerun in South Florida before a pathetic and heartless crowd. It should have happened before one of those great sell-out crowds in Philadelphia, but at least his wife and kids were able to be there for the historic blast in Florida.
I woke up on May 2, 2008 with no plans except to put in a solid day at work. Soon, my plans would change.
I received a call in the morning. One of my collegues has a brother who is an executive in the Phillies front office. Tim and I would be joining a group of guys later that night in one of the Phillies Hall of Fame Club suites:
Tim and I had never been to the Hall of Fame Club. Citizens Bank Park has two levels of suites. The normal “Suite Level” is just above the field level and is accessed through a “no frills” suite level walk way. You can see that here.
The HOF Club is above the 200-level seating. The “concourse” for the HOF Club isn’t a concourse at all. Instead, its a indoor “Club” with a bar and couches, etc., etc.
For some inexplicable reason, I failed to take pictures of the HOF Club as a whole. But, I did take a picture of a wall of baseballs in the club…
…the wall is pretty cool. However, the balls clearly aren’t game balls or even batting practice balls. They were never used. I think it would be more impressive if the balls were rubbed up with mud and/or scuffed so you knew they’d seen some action on the field below the HOF Club.
I also took a zoomed in picture of the bottom of the bar in the HOF Club…
Anyway, the bat bar is pretty cool. But, again, the bats obviously aren’t used. I think it would be pretty sweet if they’d upgrade the bar with game used bats with scuff marks, pine tar stains, player signatures burned into the barrels, etc., etc. Still, its a cool bar.
So, we made our way into the suite. The Phils were hosting the Giants. The Phils jumped out to a quick lead in the first inning when Jayson Werth singled, stole second, and was driven in on Chase Utley’s 12th homerun of the still young season.
As the Phils were holding down the Giants’ offense, Tim was scarfing down delicious suite food. After a jumbo hot dog main course, Tim moved on to a seemingly never ending dessert course. Here he is showing off our “suite” view of the game and his first “sweet” tasting chocolate covered pretzel:
This may well have been Tim’s first chocolate covered pretzel of his life, but it wasn’t his last of the night. He would have just kept going, so I had to step in and stop him after 2…or maybe 2-and-a-half…pretzels.
He was a happy, sugar filled little boy…
One note about that picture. You’ll notice I am not wearing my usual all-Mariners attire. I opted for the red Rawlings T-shirt and my Reading Phillies hat because I was essentially a guest of the Phillies at this game. There was no way I was dressing Tim up in Phillies garb (actually, I couldn’t if I wanted to he doesn’t own any). But I felt too bad to have us both in all-Mariners gear with no Phillies representation.
Anyway, we were having a great time as the game progressed. We split time between the three rows of seats in the front of our suite and the indoor section of the suite. As I mentioned, Tim was all hopped up on sugar and was full of energy…he was so excited he was literally running laps around the suite — as you can see in this short video clip.
As Tim ran laps of the suite, I spent some time chatting with our bartender. (Oh, yeah, our suite had its own bartender). He was a nice guy. He was a school teacher at a high school in the city. His wife let him work for the Phils part-time in the evenings. He usually worked somewhere else in the stadium. Somewhere with a better view of the game than from behind the bar at the back of the suite. He described his part-time job as getting paid to have season tickets to his favorite team. Nice.
So, after I shut down the chocolate covered pretzels gravy train…
…Tim moved on to big chocolate chip cookies. Yeah, its a tough life for young Timothy.
Each time Pat Burrell strode to the plate, I told our suitemates that he would almost certainly hit a homerun because he always hits a homerun for Tim. But the Giants kept him in the yard each time I made my announcement.
Late in the game, Tim kept graviting toward the bottom corners of the suite seating area. When I headed over to see what was going on, I found Tim…
…in deep conversation (well, “deep” for a 2 year old) with one of the stadium attendants working in the 200-level. He moved back and forth between the bottom corners of the suite chatting up this lady and another lady stationed below the other corner of the suite. Eventually, one of them gave Tim a little plastic Philly Phanatic figurine.
Sadly, like our last night game, Tim started getting mighty tired late in the game. Then something bad happened, Kyle Kendrick and Ryan Madison combined to give up three runs in the top of the seventh and the score was tied. Eventually, we headed into extra innings. Tim just couldn’t make it any longer.
Leading off the top of the tenth, former-Phil Aaron Rowand hit a solo-homerun off of J.C. Romero. That was it for us. With Tim having already reached the point of exhaustion, we headed to our car.
As we made our way to our car, Romero gave up two more hits but retired the Giants without surrendering any more runs. When we reached our car and I was strapping Tim into his car seat, we could hear the crowd chanting “M.V.P.! M.V.P.! M.V.P.!” Chase Utley was up. Soon the crowd erupted. I turned on the radio and learned that Utley had singled with one out. Ryan Howard struck out looking for the Phils’ 26th out of the night.
Then, on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, with 2-outs, a full-count, the Phils trailing by a run, the mighty Pat Burrell fulfilled my prophesy. He hit a 2-run walk off homerun to send the Phillies-faithful (and me and Tim) home happy.
Ah, good times.
Remember Tim’s First MLB Anniversary game on September 12, 2007, we went with our friends Tim and Gabe? Well, on April 11, 2008, Tim and I met up with Tim and Gabe once again and headed down to Citizens Bank Park to see the Phillies take on the Chicago Cubs.
The boys were having a blast before we even reached the stadium:
The seats were awesome. Here was the view…
The Cubs jumped out to an early lead when Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit back-to-back solo homeruns in the first inning.
We did lots of eating all night. First, Tim started off with some hard pretzels we brought from home…
Next, Tim moved on to some candy that Gabe had brought…
Then, the funniest part of the night…
While Tim was making friends with the french fry girl, I made friends with the guy sitting next to me. I had to chat with him and get him to let me try on his glove…
…once I noticed he was sporting a near mint condition Spalding Dwight Gooden signature model glove. The very same glove that I had from elementary school through high school. It is the last non-Rawlings glove I’ve ever owned. After I replaced it with a wonderful little black Rawlings, I surgically altered that Spalding glove. I made it into a Trap-Eze (although it didn’t turn out nearly as good as my Rawlings Randy Johnson RBG10B-turned-Trap-Eze. Unfortunately, I don’t have that mock-Trap-Eze anymore.
In the bottom of the 4th inning, the Phils were still losing 2-0 when Pat Burrell came to bat. I looked over at Tim and proclaimed, “Tim, its Pat Burrell. Maybe he’ll hit a homerun. He always hits a homerun for you.” Next pitch, two-run game tying homerun. A guy behind us leans forward, “You should bring him to games more often!”
Pat “The Bat” would go 2-4 on the night with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored.
Wait, there were more snacks…
It was still 2-2 when hard hitting pitcher Carlos Zambrano…
The Cubs tied it up again in the top of the sixth with a solo homerun by Alfonso Soriano. The Phils took the lead again (for good) in the bottom of the sixth on a double by Pat Burrell and a single by Carlos Ruiz. In fact, that would cap the scoring for the evening.
There was one other fun on-field event that I can’t remember when in the game it happened. As a huge Mariners fan, I love Sweet Lou Piniella. I was hoping that Lou would go crazy and get tossed out of this game so Tim could see the Master at work. It almost happened. Lou stormed the field at some point during the game, but, alas, cooler heads prevailed and he returned to the dugout before getting tossed. Still, it was great to see Lou doing his thing.
At this point in his life, it was difficult for Tim to stay seated for an entire game. (Well, actually, it still is today). At almost 2.5 years of age, Tim was much better at staying in the seats when accompanied by another kid. But still, he got antsy late in this game. So we took to the concourse for some exploring:
But he was really starting to get tired so the four of us headed out a little bit early. So, we missed Brad Lidge nailing down his second save of the season — back when Brad Lidge was unstoppable.
On the way out of the ballpark, Big Tim suggested that we stop by the LF foul corner and pick up some “Schmitters.” At this point in my life, I had never even heard of The Schmitter…
1 servings Kaiser Roll
1 servings Lean Sirloin Tip Beef Steaks
1 servings Genoa Salami
1/2 serving 1000 Island (2 Tbsp)
1 servings Fried Onions
2 servings American Cheese
1 servings Sliced Tomato
brown sandwich steaks and salami. Layer in kaiser roll, cheese, steak,dressing, fried onions, salami, tomato, then more cheese.
Ah, the Schmitter hit the spot.
By the way, Gabe took that picture of Tim and his Schmitter. Moments later, the boys were out…
My parents are two of the luckiest people around. During the regular season, they live at my boyhood home about 15 miles from Safeco Field. During Spring Training, they live at their winter home about 3 miles from the Mariners spring training home — the Peoria Sports Complex.
Before the 2008 season began, Colleen, Tim and I headed to Peoria to meet up with my folks and my Mariners for some Spring Training.
Courtesy of Google Maps, here is an aerial view of the Peoria Sports Complex:
At the top center is the stadium where the Mariners and Padres play their home spring training games. The Mariners spring training fields are below to the left. The two fields to the far left are the Mariners Single-A training fields. The next two fields to the right are the Mariners Double-A and Triple-A fields. Next, is the Mariners secondary Major League field. Above that field is the Mariners administrative building and parking lot. Next to the administrative building to the right is the Mariners primary Major League field. Below the primary field, is a partial field where they do infield drills.
Then on the right side, the Padres have a mirror image of the Mariners training fields.
Spring training is incredibly cool and relaxing. One thing I love is all of the open grass between the training fields. It is a perfect set up that allowed us to watch the Mariners run drills and take BP while my dad and I played a lot of catch:
Those pictures are all taken in the grass between the Mariners Major League fields and the administrative building, which also has a big bullpen set up and indoor batting cages lining the big open grass area. In fact, you can see the bullpens behind my dad and Tim in the top two of the last four-picture set.
In the first day or two of our trip, we just watched the Mariners training. Here is Ichiro watching Raul Ibanez taking BP on the main field:
On our first day there, we ran into Mariners catching prospect Adam Moore who was working out one-on-one with a coach on the secondary Major League field…
…after he finished up, we got his autograph on one of the baseballs Tim had collected earlier in the day and got Tim’s first picture with a professional ballplayer. Finally, at the end of 2009, Moore made the Mariners major league roster. Hopefully we will see a lot of him in 2010.
I really enjoyed watching the Minor Leaguers…
Ah, remember how I mentioned it is relaxing at Spring Training…
…this is an ideal way to spend a morning, relaxing with your family and playing catch with your dad while watching the Mariners prepare for the regular season.
Yep, and then we got more baseballs…
Spring Training is also good for normal bats too…
…that’s a bat that my dad got from a Mariners minor leaguer. No cracks or anything. Just a nice fully-intact bat. Tim and I got two bats from minor leaguers as well, both with small cracks.
Here’s another cool part of Spring Training…
While my dad and I would play catch, Tim would run around with his grandma…
Soon, it was time for some games, so we would head to the main stadium in the afternoons:
Here is a view of the main stadium:
Here is a view of where we sat at most of the games:
When we arrived at Spring Training, they’d already played a bunch of games. And Ichiro was batting .000 (zero hits so far). He was something like 0-20.
His luck would change as soon as we arrived. Actually, he didn’t play in our first game. But in his very first at-bat that Tim and I saw him have in the spring, he got his first hit of the spring…
During one of the games, I took “The Ruthian” challenge:
On this trip, I also was able to achieve a life long dream…
…my first ever Mariners game (or any professional baseball game) on my birthday. I always wished growing up that I could have rounded up a bunch of my friends and gone to a Mariners game on my birthday. But its hard to do when you weren’t born during the baseball season. So this was a real special treat for me. And, as a special gift, Ichiro and Adrian Beltre both hit a homerun for me, and the Mariners got me the win.
For our final spring training game, we sat on the outfield berm…
But we still managed to get a picture that I absolutely love:
BUT WAIT…our pre-season baseball wasn’t finished yet.
Several of my colleagues are big Phillies fans and share the “weekend” ticket package…or maybe its just the “Sunday” ticket package. Whatever. The Phillies had two more pre-season games after breaking camp in Florida. They call it the “On Deck” series. And one of my colleagues gave us their tickets because no one in the group was going to use them.
So, a day or two before opening day, Tim and I headed down to Philadelphia for a freezing cold game against the Blue Jays.
This was our view from our seats in Section 130:
Okay, he wasn’t really saying that. But I LOVE that picture. Hilarious.
It was so cold that we gave up our excellent seats and headed over to the sunny seats in the leftfield porch:
I was fine leaving early. So we made a deal that we’d leave after spending one inning behind the Phils dugout watching Moyer up close. We made our way over there in time to see Pat Burrell step to the plate…
We got a great close-up view of Moyer on the mound:
And with that, we called it a day, and a pre-season, and we went home and waited for our favorite holiday, Mariners opening day.
I mentioned in my last game entry that I’d met with a Senior V.P. of the Phils at the game on September 9, 2007, and he hooked me up with some sweet tickets for a future game. Well, this is that game. It was the Rockies vs. the Phillies on Wednesday, September 12, 2007.
Now, the date of the game was purely fortuitous. The guy from the Phils offered me two different dates, and I picked this one for no particular reason. However, while sitting in our great seats early in the game, I realized it was the one-year anniversary of Tim’s first MLB game. It took me about four seconds to determine that I would take Tim to a game on September 12th every year from now on. And thus was born, Tim’s MLB Annivesary.
(FYI, father’s out there, if you have the opportunity of creating a holiday like this for your son or daughter, I highly recommend it. I love Tim’s MLB anniversary and I look forward to it every season. Its always a special day. And I love the idea that some day Tim will be in college and we’ll coordinate where we are going to meet up on September 12th for his MLB anniversary game.)
Here is the view from Tim’s 1st MLB Annivesary seats…
(By the way, that’s a fixed up version of my first ever ballpark panarama).
For the second game in a row, we were joined by Tim and Gabe Greco:
Our seats were 8 rows behind the Colorado Rockies dugout…
This game was a preview of the 2007 NLDS. And it went about as well for the Phils as did the NLDS. The Phils got absolutely destroyed. But, things started out with a bang for the Phils (in a good way) in the first inning Greg Dobbs and Chase Utley treated us to the first live and in person triple play of any of our lives. It happened so quick (as they always do) I didn’t get any pictures. But I made the following to illustrate the big moment:
Cory Sullivan (who, as you can see, now plays for the Mets) led off the game with a single. A bunt single by Troy Tulowitzki moved Sullivan to second. So Matt Holliday (shown in his 2009 Cardinals uniform) stepped to the plate with two on and no outs. He was ready to do some damage. But it wasn’t in the cards.
With a 0-1 count, Holliday hit a hard liner — SIDE NOTE: as the ball was sailing toward third base, I yelled “TRIPLE PLAY!!!” — to former Mariner Greg Dobbs to retire Holliday (first out). As Sullivan was hung out to dry between 2B-3B, the Dobbers fired the ball to Chase Utley who tagged second base to retire Sullivan (second out), Utley then turn and tagged out Tulowitzki as he was still heading toward 2B (third out). The crowd went CRAZY!!!
Tim was pretty excited too…
I’ll tell you what, it was pretty awesome to witness a triple play. It took me over 30 years to see one. Tim witnessed his first before age 2, and in less than 10 games…not too shabby. Come on, how many people get to see a triple play when still sucking on a pacifier?
By the way, if you’re looking for information on MLB triple plays, look no further than HERE.
People were excited for the Phils to follow-up the triple play with some big hitting. Well, the people were disappointed. The Phils forgot their bats at home on this night. The Phils had a grand total of 4 hits on the night: singles by Chase Utley, Greg Dobbs, Jayson Werth and Chris Coste.
So it was back to the field for the Phils…
…I guess I should mention that Kyle Kendrick was on the mound. He had a solid year in 2007, finishing at 10-4. This wasn’t a performance for him to write home about.
With the great seats and all of the excitement in the stadium following the triple play, Tim was into the game…
…but all he got to see were a bunch of Rockies taking their hacks…
With these great seats, I started thinking there was a chance Tim could come away from the park with another baseball. This was the 8th game of Tim’s life and he’d already snagged 3 baseballs. But he had gone four games without getting one. So it was about time!
Then I spotted our opportunity: former Mariner Glenallen Hill. Tim and I were decked out in Mariners gear. Over the course of a 13-year career, Hill played half of one season (74 games in 1998) for the Mariners. But, nine years later, that didn’t stop me from acting as if Hill had played a hall of fame career for the Mariners.
Hill was coaching 1B for the Rockies. Each inning (after coaching lots and lots of Rockies baserunners), Hill would return to the Rockies dugout and stand right in front of us. After the Rockies infielders warmed up their arms, Todd Helton would toss the infield warm-up ball to Hill. After 3-4 innings with this happening, Hill decided to bestow one of those infield warm-up balls on the two biggest Mariners fans at Citizens Bank Park:
That is Glenallen Hill circled in the background as he coaches first base. Obviously, he didn’t throw the ball to us from 1B. He threw it from the dugout. Somehow, I didn’t take a single picture of Tim with the ball at the game. So, last night I took a picture of the ball Hill gave us sitting in Tim’s glove and I inserted it into that picture.
The Grecos are Phils fans. So we were rooting for the Phils to win. But the Rockies were in the middle of an improbable drive to the post-season and their bats would not be contained. The highlights for the Rockies included: Cory Sullivan 3-4, 3R, 1RBI; Todd Helton 3-4, 3RBI; Troy Tulowitzki 2-3, 2R, 2RBI; Matt Holliday 1-3, HR, 3RBI; and Chris Iannetta 2-3, 1R, 1RBI.
Phils got pummelled 12-0 and were left like a deer in the head lights, sorta like this:
As soon as we hit the car after the game, Tim was conked out asleep: