Results tagged ‘ phillies ’

Photo Day at the Phillies (6/1/2013)

On June 1, 2013, we continued our quest to have Kellan see all 30 MLB teams play a game live.  The Brewers were on the “must see” list and they were in Philadelphia, and so were we.

For some reason, we were running a bit late getting to the ballpark.  We arrived before the gates opened, but there was already a healthy-sized crowd there before we arrived:

1-late-early-arrival-at-CBP

The reason for the big crowd:  it was Photo Day!

The Phillies’ website said fans could get photos of their favorite Phillies on field starting at 2:30.  I didn’t know exactly what that meant for the pregame schedule.  The stadium was going to open at 1:30.  Would there be an hour of BP before moving on to the Photo Day festivities?  No.

As we reached the seating bowl, the field was already set up for Photo Day.  I wish I would have taken a picture of it from the concourse, but I just wanted us to get down there onto the field.  Several gates to the field were open along the front row of the foul territory seats on both sides of the diamond.  Fans could walk around pretty much the whole field (with limited exceptions, like in front of the Phillies dugout).  In the outfield, there were two catwalk’esque runways put together on each side – two in LF and two in RF.  The runways ran about half way out into the outfield grass from the warning track and fans could stand out in the OF waiting for the Phils to arrive.

At the beginning, we hung out down the 3B line…

2a-cheesehead-cowpants

…and in front of the Brewers dugout.

A bunch of Phillies ballgirls started circling the field…

2b-ballgirl-autographs-weird-stance

…signing autographs for the kids (or, I guess, adults, too).  Each ballgirl has her own baseball card and they personalize all of their autographs.  Two of the 7 ballgirls we met up with *loved* the name “Kellan.”

Interestingly, while the fans were blocked from going in front of the Phillies dugout, there were no similar restrictions in front of the Brewers dugout.  If a Brewer wanted to come out to the field to run, stretch or throw, he had to walk through the crowd.  It was pretty awesome.  (By the way, this was the exact same situation that they had at Photo Day at Fenway Park in April).

I bought Tim that cheesehead Kellan is wearing in the photo above while I was on a business trip to Milwaukee in 2012.  I figured it would be funny to wear at a Brewers game, and this was our first opportunity.  Guess what?  Everyone loves a fan wearing a cheesehead.  We could hear people commenting on it all around us while the boys were passing it back and forth.

The Brewers liked it too.  Like Tom Gorzelanny who stopped to get this photo with the boys on his way back to the dugout:

3-hey-its-TomGorzelanny

By the way, we were hanging out right here because half of the warning track was blocked off for fans in wheelchairs, but there were none at the time so it was a totally unblocked view of the field.

Brewers coach, Lee Tunnell, liked the cheesehead too…

4-lee-tunnell

…he tossed a baseball to us after playing catch with several Brewers.

We hung out by the dugout a bunch because it was fun watching what was going on in there.   Tim touched (and made me touch) this…

5-hot-tv-camera

…burning hot TV camera.  After touching it, I was surprised it hadn’t spontaneously combusted.  It was firey hot from the sun, which was beating down hard on us.

I wanted to find Yuniesky Betancourt.  I was hoping to get my picture with him because (1) he’s a ex-Mariner, (2) he’s always been very nice to us, and (3) I was wearing my Jose Lopez jersey (who was Yuni’s doubleplay partner and buddy while in Seattle).  But Yuni was nowhere to be found during pre-game festivities.

With no Yuni in sight, Tim posed for a photo by the bullpen with Michael Gonzalez getting interviewed in the background:

6-michael-gonzalez-interview

When it seemed apparent that we wouldn’t find Yuni, we headed toward the outfield.  Kellan was content sitting on my shoulders and didn’t want to get down for any photos.  Tim got a photo in LF with the foul pole behind him:

7-CBP-LF-foul-line

Check out his sweet shirt in that photo – “Cheesehead Cowpants.”  I got him that gem while on a different business trip to Milwaukee…actually, to Racine, Wisc.  Pairing the Cheesehead Cowpants shirt with Tim’s banana shorts is one of my favorite non-Mariners gameday outfits.  It’s pretty hilarious, no?

Here’s a random photo in LF:

8-CBP-LF-warning-track

We headed  over to the RCF warning track below the pizza wedge…

9-below-the-pizza-wedge

…so we could see the players-point-of-view when we’re usually looking down at them from the pizza wedge.

Check out how easy it would be to pick off a homer in CF:

10-easy-pick-off-at-CBP

No jumping required.

While we were out in CF, several Brewers were in the upper (visitors’) bullpen.  The last two to leave were coaches, including Marcus Hanel.  As Hanel walked by…

11-thanks-marcus-hanel

…we said hi to him and he handed us a spare baseball, he had two in his glove and he took the other back to the dugout with him.

Of course, we had to check in with the Mariners on the out of town scoreboard:

12-mariners-on-out-of-scoreboard

Finally, Phillies players started making the rounds.  The “rule” was you weren’t supposed to get individual posed pictures with the players, you know, because they didn’t have time to pose for a picture with everyone.  I think that’s always the rule at all of the ballparks.  Anyway, some of the Phils just walked around saying hi and shaking hands.  Some walked a bit and then randomly stopped to take a photo with one or two fans (Chase Utley).  Others posed for photos with every single fan who wanted a picture.  That’s how it oughta be!

We ran all over from RCF to LF and out the LF catwalk trying to get a bunch of player photos and looking for certain guys.  We missed a lot of guys while looking for other player or because the guy didn’t want to stop for a photo.   Here’s who we met:

First up, right in CF, we met Joe Savery…

13-JoeSavery-JonathanPettibone

…and Jonathan Pettibone.

Right after we got their photos, I saw Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz coming our way from LCF.  We missed some guys (like Antonio Bastardo) trying to make sure we didn’t miss Chooch.  And, happily, we did not miss chooch…

14-CarlosRuiz-CharlieManuel

…or Charlie Manuel.  If you ask me, both Charlie and Tim have hilarious faces in that picture, and eerily similar at that.  If you couldn’t tell, we were out on a walkway in LF when we ran into Charlie.  We stayed out there most of the time and we kept going back because it was less crowded than the warning track.

If you ever go to Photo Day on a blazing hot day, I highly recommend taking squirt bottles.  The players love squirt bottles, and so do other fans, for the most part.  When we asked Justin DeFratus for a picture, he took off his hat and said, “First, you have to squirt me in the face.”

15-spraying-justin-defratus

After DeFratus posed for a picture with Tim, he remarked at what a good deal he and Tim had made.  It was a pretty good deal too.  Tim’s a lucky boy.  Not many people can say they’ve squirted a uniformed major leaguer in the face with a squirt bottle!

While Cole Hamels passed by behind, Ryan Howard posed for a picture from afar as Tim squirted his bottle in the air…

16-RyanHoward-BenRevere

…and Ben Revere sported shiny glasses and one of the straightest bills in the league.

We had a nice Mariners-based chat with both Larry Anderson (a former Mariner)…

17-LarryAnderson-Sarge

…and Gary “Sarge” Mathews, Sr. (who likes to wear fancy hats like Mariners announcer Dave Sims).  L.A. was really very nice.  He chatted with us a minute or two about the Mariners and the beautiful Kingdome.  Sarge claimed that he was wearing hats before Dave Sims.  On twitter, Dave later told me he and Sarge both started wearing hats in 2007.

How about a couple Washingtonians?  Mount Vernon, WA’s Kyle Kendrick…

18-KyleKendrick-HOFRyneSandberg

…and Spokane, WA’s Ryne “HOF” Sandberg.  I asked Kendrick how his family was enjoying the detour around the collapsed bridge in his home town.  Not surprisingly, they were not big fans of it.

Several years ago, three future Major Leaguers playing for the AA Reading Phillies (now the Reading Fightin Phils or the “Fightins”) came to my Reading-Berk Business Softball League game against the R-Phils front office and they heckled us mercilessly. Those players were Kyle Drabek, Mike Zagursky, and current Phillies reliefer Michael Stutes…

19-MichaelStutes-JimmyRollins

…who totally remembered it when I mentioned the softball game to him.  Next to Stutes and Tim, that’s Tim “Spray Man” Cook and 2007 N.L. MVP Jimmy Rollins.  Rollins was riding around on that utility truck behind him in the photo.  He would ride a little bit and then hop up for a few pictures.  We had to chase him all the way down one of the runways before filing meeting up with him on the warning track.  When he saw Tim, he said, “Come on, Spray Man!” and then he squirted Tim three times in the face while I took this photo.  Great memory!

After getting that pic with J-Roll, we wandered around trying to find the best N.L. bullpen catcher, Jesus Tiamo, but to no avail.  So, we headed off to grab some ice cream:

20-cooling-off-with-some-ice-cream

Ice cream in the shady on a hot day is good stuff.

While we ate ice cream we watched the grounds crew take up the four white runways in the outfield.  Soon, it was time for the pitchers to warm up.  When Jesus Tiamo headed out to the bullpen, we wandered down into the pizza wedge and he promptly tossed a ball to Tim…

21-tiamo-and-tiamo

…and another to Kellan.

Thanks, Jesus!

I asked Jesus if he was out on the field for the photo session, but he said he was not.  That’s too bad.  It would have been great to get a photo with him.

Before the game got started, we went to the play area…

22-CBP-play-area-fun

…and then we played some games:

23-games-of-baseball

We were happy to see that Santa Claus…

24-yo-yo-yo-merry-christmas

…was spending his vacation in Philadelphia, and apparently roots for the Phils.

We played enough games to get 20 stamps…

25-twenty-wins-a-bat-or-two

…the exact number you need to win one of these Citizens Bank Park mini-bats.  When the guy realized I had two boys, he through in an extra bonus bat!

Thanks, guy!

The game had just started by this point.  We decided to head to the upper deck to grab some food and sit in the shade.  On our way across Ashburn Alley in CF, Tyler Cloyd induced Ryan Braun…

26-braun-flies-to-revere

…to fly out to Ben Revere in CF to end the top of the first with no score.

Within thirty seconds of taking that last photo, I found a $5 bill on the ground in Ashburn Alley:

27-fivesky-number-1

Hooray!

After circling around to the concourse in LF foul territory we spotted the Phillie Phanatic…

28-phantic-on-the-loose

…riding his ATV down the switch back ramp.  That was kind of amazing because we never see the Phanatic out and about in the stadium.  He’s usually just on the field or on top of the dugouts at the end of the game.

On the upper deck concourse, Tim and Kellan did some fake hitting and base running before we grabbed some food:

29-fun-with-bats

Speaking of food, after buying our hot dogs, I found another $5 bill on the ground!  That raised the my found-money-at-a-ballpark grand total up to $30, all at Citizens Bank Park.

We sat here…

30-citz-sec421

…in section 421 while we ate our lunch:

31-switcheroo-part-2

So, by the way, there was some scoring by this point that I haven’t mentioned.  In the top of the second inning, the Brewers scored two runs on a single to RF and a throwing error by Delmon Young.  That made it 2-0 Brewers.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Phillies got on the board when Brewers’ second baseman Jeff Bianchi couldn’t handle a bases loaded knock by Kevin Frandsen.  The Brewers got out of the jam without giving up any more runs.  2-1 Brewers after four.

The Brewers got that run back pretty quick.  In the top of the fifth, Aoki hit a single followed by a triple by Jean Segura.  3-1 Brewers after five innings.

The Phils got one more run in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Erik Kratz.  Back to a 1-run game, 3-2 Brewers after six.

We were just relaxing.  And having fun with squirt bottles:

33-cooling-off-with-spray-bottle

We were right up at the top of the upper deck seats.  Check out what we could see behind us:

34-lincoln-financial-field-covered-parking

That’s the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot.  I’m not sure when they put in the covered parking.  I’d never noticed it before…but then again, we never park over there.

We decided to hit up the kids’ play area one more time before it closed.  One our walk down to the concourse, I got this shot…

35-interesting-staircase

…of the stairs.  I love how there is one solitary row right about the tunnel.  That’s be a sweet place to sit someday.

Visiting the kids’ play area turned out not to be a great idea.  The kids’ play area is pretty big and parents can only see one side of it at a time from the area below.  The kids went up to play and I sat on the ground in front of the play area taking some notes in my notebook and putting baseballs in baggies.  Tim and Kellan came running by a couple times after going down the big twisty slide.

But then I didn’t see them for a while.  A couple times I heard some crazy kid screams from inside the play area.  They were spaced out over a minute or two.  I grew concerned that it was Kellan and he was stuck inside the play area up top somewhere.  I started walking around the play area and I found this scene on the back side:

36-drama-in-the-playarea

Actually, this wasn’t right when I got there.  There is a steering wheel type toy up there.  When Kellan tried to play with it, a kid a little shorter than Kellan with a mohawk started hitting Kellan and pushing him into the walls (I missed all of that).  He apparently also bit Kellan’s finger (I also missed that).

When I found Kellan, Tim was trying to push Kellan and the other kid apart.  Kellan was screaming and crying.  The mohawk kid ran off to the right.

I had no clue what was going on at this point.  I just knew that Kellan was going ballistic crying.  I asked a Phillies employee (the lady shown in the picture above) if I could go up and get him because he wouldn’t come down.  She said parents couldn’t go up after kids.  A minute later, I saw her up there.  I still had no clue what was happening – if Kellan and that kid were just fighting (i.e., both being bad) or what. Then I saw that lady up there.  My first thought was that she was going to kick Kellan out for fighting with that kid.  But she was up there to find the kid with the Mohawk.  The other kids told her where he went in the play area and she went and kicked him out of there.

She then came back to see if Kellan was okay.  While she was away, two moms came up to me and told me what happened with the kid with the mohawk.  They were both super mad and they mentioned that the mohawk kid’s dad was standing below laughing as he tussled with Kellan.  One said that she wanted to run up there and kick that kid out herself.

Anyway, I was calling up to Kellan and asking him to come down.  He was just standing up there crying and wouldn’t move.  That lady up there couldn’t really get him to move, but she point out to me that he could walk to the right and take the slide down.  I finally got him to walk over there and slide down to me.  He was still crying and screaming when he reached me.  I picked him up and popped him onto my shoulders and the three of us got out of there right away.

As we walked toward home plate through the concourse, Tim told me all about what happened up in the play area and Kellan instantly fell asleep (it was a tiring altercation with the little mohawk kid).

We had a goal of getting some mathematical photos for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, we headed to the RF foul corner, but we were too far away.  So we headed to the SRO area behind the Brewers dugout.

In the top of the eighth inning, Jonathan Lucroy hit a solo homerun that put the Brewers up 4-2.

I’m happy to report that we were able to get both math photos that we needed:

37-yuni-plus-frandsen-equals-kratz

And we got to see our Yuni Betancourt (unfortunately) not hit a homerun:

38-yuni-does-not-go-yard

When Kellan woke up, he started spraying his bottle and eventually hit this cameraman:

39-more-water-please

I told Kellan not to do that, but the cameraman turned around and said, “no, please do!”

In the ninth inning, we ended up heading down into section 129:

40-ninth-inning-seats-at-cbp

Freddy Galvis led off the ninth inning with a solo homerun:

41-galvis-goes-gonzo

The crowd was excited for a Phillies comeback.  Kellan was most excited about how thoroughly he had doused his face with his spray bottle:

42-spray-face

Jimmy Rollins followed with a pinch hit single.  Interestingly, Kyle Kendrick pinch ran for Rollins.  Ben Revere sacrifice bunted Kendrick to second.  Cesar Hernandez followed Revere.  During his at bat, the Brewers picked Kendrick off second base for the second out of the inning.  And, wouldn’t you know it, Hernandez then hit a double off the RCF wall.  Had Kendrick not been picked off, Hernandez’s double would have tied the game.

With a one run lead still intact, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez intentionally walked Dominic Brown and then got Michael Martinez to ground out to end the game.

Brewers win 4-3.

Following the final out, it was super easy to get into the corner spot at the home plate end of the Brewers dugout. We got home plate umpire Tom Hallion’s attention and he bounce-passed a baseball to Tim off of the top of the dugout.

Tim hammed it up when someone took a shot of us…

43-post-game-cooks-tim-with-the-lunging-play

…before heading to the gates.

The game ended at just about 7:00 p.m. and we ended up playing catch…

44-a-little-catch-before-heading-home

…in the parking lot for half an hour before hopping in the car or the ride home.

It was another great day at the ballpark!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

12 Games
17 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers
22 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2
55 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 4, Reds 4,   Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2
9 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field
30 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins
5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Fun Fun Fun As Fish Fry Phils (5/4/2013)

The weekend of May 4-5 was going to be the first weekend of the MLB season during which we did not go to a game. But when we woke up on Saturday morning (May 4, 2013), a tweet was waking from us from Phillies Phan Harrison Tishler: “headed to Philly today?”

After reading Harrison’s tweet, I asked my wife, “Should the boys and I go to the Phillies game today?” “Sure,” she replied.

Game on!

I bought some tickets online and we headed down to Citizens Bank Park. I can’t stand e-tickets so I selected the “will call” delivery option. The website said I could pick up our tickets at a ticket machine on either the 1B or 3B sides of the stadium. After checking in with the Tishler’s at the LF gate, we headed off toward the 3B side of the stadium, did find any ticket machines…

1-running-around-citz

…, so we circled around to the 1B side, picked up our tickets at the 1B will call box, and ended up running around the entire stadium.

Back at the LF gate, we prepared our backpacks for the security check:

2a-back-at-the-gate-with-the-tischlers

That’s Harrison, Tami and Seth Tishler right behind Tim. It was great seeing them for the first time of 2013. Harrison had recently celebrated his Bar Mitzvah and he brought us one of his personalized Phillies-themed “H” baseballs…

2b-HarrisonTishler-BarMitzvah

…, which is now on display on one of Tim’s baseball shelves.

Thanks, Harrison!

When the ballpark opened, Tim, Kellan and I headed into the first row in the LF corner. Right when we arrived in the first row, Bernie the Usher called over to Tim and told him to come over and see him. When he did…

3-thanks-bernie-5-4-2013

…, Bernie set a baseball in Tim’s glove.

Thanks, Bernie!

This was our view during the beginning portion of BP:

4-back-right-here

During our first game at Citizens Bank Park of the season, Erik Kratz tossed us ball to Tim in the LF corner early in BP. This was our second Phillies game of the year, and it was like de ja vu all over again. The funny twist this time is that the ball tipped off of Tim’s glove and landed in the flower bed:

5-erik-kratz-flowers

Tim reached for it with his glove, but it was too far to reach. I reached down for it but Tim wanted to grab it on his own. Tim ended up hopping into the flower bed to grab the ball.

Thanks, Erik!

I like to keep the boys out of the direct sun as much as possible, so we decided to head to the back of the section that straddles the LF foul pole:

6-behind-tischlers

Sometimes when we’re up front in this section, homeruns or long fouls get hit into the back of this section. So I figured we’d wait a bit and see if one would come out way.

No dice.

So we headed out to CF until about 5 minutes before the whole stadium opened:

7-quiet-cf-at-citz

Right before the rest of the stadium opened, the boys played the running-the-bases game:

8-racing-tim-wins

Can you guess who won? Yep, Tim. That jump is his excited/victory pose. [Note: there was another kid around Tim’s age to the far left on the yellow footprints. So Tim wasn’t just celebrating because he beat Kellan.]

When the rest of the stadium opened, we headed down into the pizza wedge. When we got down there, there was a stray baseball at the back of the Phillies bullpen and two groundskeepers working on the mound. In all of my experience at Citizens Bank Park, I’ve seen the two guys who chalk the foul lines give away some stray balls, but all other groundskeepers have said they were not allowed to give away baseball. Knowing these guys almost certainly couldn’t, I pointed out the stray baseball and asked the groundskeepers if they could toss it up.

They were not allowed to, one of them responded. And then they headed out into CF, walked the warning track toward the RF corner, and exited the field through the tunnel under the concourse.

A few minutes later, the same groundskeeper who had said he couldn’t toss up the baseball appeared above the RF seats, walked down the stairs into the pizza wedge, and handed a totally different baseball to Kellan. He apologized for not being able to toss the baseball from the bullpen up to us. It was pretty funny.

Thanks, Groundskeeper!

While we were in LF, Alex Sanabia kept running back-and-forth across the outfield. Early in BP, we said “hi” to him (“Hi, Alex!”) and we exchanged waves. . When we reached the Pizza wedge, Sanabia was hanging out in RCF. When he fielded a ball, Sanabia made a long throw to Tim…

9-thanks-alex-sanabia

…but it sailed high over Tim’s head so I had to catch it for him.

Thanks, Alex!

Tim and Kellan posed with their baseballs from Sanabia and the groundskeeper:

10-boys-with-balls-in-pizza-wedge

Lately, we’ve stayed in the pizza wedge until BP ends. At this game, we decided to switch things up. We headed back over to LF…

11-hanging-in-shade-in-LF

…where Chad Qualls tossed us a baseball…

12-chad-qualls

…and then the boys ate a bunch of snacks:

13-snack-time-at-citz-5-4-2013

After the boys were full of snacks, we decided to head back to the pizza wedge. Kellan popped up onto my shoulders and we walked across the LF seats about 15 rows back from the field…

14-hr-on-fly-diagram-5-4-2013

…when we made the bend toward CF a Marlins batter took a mighty hack and sent a fly ball in our direction. I stopped mid-row and watched the balls flight. It was right in line with us, but seemed like it wasn’t quite going to make it to us. But it kept carrying. With Kellan still on my shoulders, I leaned forward over the row of seats in front of us and reached and made a back-handed catch on the fly.

It was the first time I’d ever caught a batted ball on the fly with one of the boys on my shoulders and it was pretty darn cool. [Note: I have caught a BP homer on the fly while holding Kellan with my right arm…so has my dad.].

When we made it back to the pizza wedge, Kellan crawled around like a dinosaur a bit:

15-dinosaurs

And Tim caught a baseball tossed to him by A.J. Ramos:

16-thanks-AJ-Ramos

Thanks, A.J.!

BP ended way early because it was Little League day and a whole bunch of Little Leaguers got to march around the ballpark on the warning track. As we watched, Tim said he wanted to go find Harrison, but I assured him that Harrison would turn up in the pizza wedge before too long. Meanwhile, former Mariner Miguel Olivo started stretching in CF.

I was right. Harrison and Tami soon showed up. We all camped out in the first row of the pizza wedge. Eventually, Phillies bullpen coach Rich Dubee walked out to the bullpen. He grabbed a bunch of baseballs and tossed one to Harrison and then a bunch to other fans to our right (higher in the pizza wedge seats). Dubee was all out of baseballs, but then he spotted that same baseball sitting on the hose (the one I’d asked the groundskeeper to toss up to us)…

17-thanks-mr-dubee

…and Dubee tossed it to us.

Thanks, Rich!

Meanwhile, back in CF, Olivo wasn’t getting much of a chance to warm up because he was giving high fives to Little Leaguers and posing for photos:

18-miguel-olivo-is-pretty-darn-cool

Soon, Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo made his way to the bullpen. He too ended up grabbing a bunch of baseballs and tossing them into the crowd. He tossed one to Harrison, then another to me and Kellan, and then one to Tim.

That last one that Tim caught was extra special…

19-jesus-tiamo-is-also-very-cool-400

…because it was the 400 baseball that we’ve got at MLB games since Tim’s first game back on 9/12/2006. Jesus ended up signing it for us too!

Double thanks, Jesus!

We watched Cole Hamels and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz…

20-hamels-chooch

…warm up for a few minutes and then we parted ways with the Tishlers and headed off to find some dinner.

The plan was hot dogs for dinner. But at the last minute, Kellan rejected the hot dog concept and opted to get a giant pretzel.

We picked a nice random spot in the RF concourse to eat:

21-dinner-in-support-beams

What was in that plastic bin sitting behind Kellan in that last picture, you ask? Well, a bunch of…

22-bin-full-o-wet-rocks

…rocks, water and sludge, of course!

Tim finished eating before Kellan so he did some dancing to pass the time:

23-party-boy-dance

Usually, we like to get a picture of the first pitch of the game. We missed it at this game, so the third pitch will have to do:

24-third-pitch

This game absolutely flew by. It was amazing. After watching the first batter of the game *live*, we headed to the kids’ play area:

25-play-area-5-4-2013

Cole Hamels blanked the Marlins in the first (despite hitting a batter). Freddy Galvis knocked a single in the Phils’ half of the first, but was left stranded on base. After Galvis’s first inning single, the Phillies would not collect another hit all night. And the Marlins only had four hits in them.

The first three innings blew by in a blink of an eye. Marlins right fielder Marcell Ozuna knocked a solo homer in the top of the second and Chris Valaika followed with a solo blast of his own in the top of the third.

That made it 2-0 Marlins and we finally left the kids’ play area.

We were ready for some ice cream so we went to our go-to ice cream lady:

26-our-citz-ice-cream-lady

Check out this monster chocolate chip cookie sundae:

27-big-ol-helmet-o-ice-cream-5-4-2013

We took it up to our seats (or almost our seats) in section 306…

28-zoinks-ice-cream

…to eat our sundae:

29-this-is-yummy-5-4-2013

I’ve taken hundreds of stadium panoramas over the past several years and this one from section 306 row five might be among the very best looking panoramas:

30-citz-sec306-row5

After devouring our ice cream, the boys wanted to keep on moving. We headed back to the kids’ play area. As the kids were playing, I was amazed to notice that it was only 8:30 and the game was already in the seventh inning!

We decided to switch things up, and head to spot where we had not spent much time. He headed up to the second deck in LF. Check out the view from the SRO area right behind section 243:

33-citz-sec243-SRO

Over Kellan’s objection, a nice usher took our picture with the field behind us…

34-todd-boys-5-4-2013

…and another with the liberty bell:

35-boys-todd-5-4-2013

And I took an extra shot of Tim with my cellphone that turned out pretty cute:

36-tim-and-flags

The boys stood on this little railing a bit…

37-tim-and-kellan-watching-baseball

…and watched the game. But then they decided they should play some fake baseball:

38-tim-and-kellan-playing-fake-baseball

While the usher nearby cracked down on some fans standing in the wrong SRO spots. But, thankfully, he had no problem with Tim and Kellan playing fake baseball in the middle of the cross-aisle.

Heading into the ninth inning, the boys and I headed down to section 129 to make an attempt at an umpire baseball. We had a nice view of Steve Cishek…

39-steve-cishek

…and he pitched to J-Roll…

40-j-roll-5-4-2013

…in the bottom of the ninth. But Kellan was tired and cranky and he didn’t want to sit down. Actually, he did want to sit down, but he wanted to sit on my shoulders, which couldn’t happen in the third row of the seats. So we took off.

We headed down the LF line and watched Chase Utley fly out…

41-chase-utley-flies-to-end-game

…to end the game.

We headed to the gates, but our game experience wasn’t over quite yet. We ended up trudging around in the Phillies parking lot for probably half-an-hour, but we finally found what we were looking for:

42-veterans-stadium-home-plate

The Veterans Stadium home plate marker! That picture earned us some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.

On our way to the car, Tim got a final photo fake catching a baseball at the Veterans Stadium first base marker:

43-out-at-first-at-veterans-stadium

And there you go. Another great game at Citizens Bank Park.

2013 C&S Fan Stats

6 Games

10 Teams – Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins

10 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2

28 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4

5 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park

11 Player Pictures – Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen

2 Autographs – Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Gill and Kate’s Citizens Bank Park Debut and Some Crazy BP (9/22/2012)

On September 22, 2012, the boys and I went to our fourth and final game of the season at Citizens Bank Park.  And it was a special one because we weren’t alone.  We were joined by Colleen and a bunch of sorta-Phillies-fans, Uncle Kevin, Aunt Kimberly, Gill and Kate.

Kevin was raised in Manayunk and (to the extent he cares about baseball) identifies as a Phillies fan.  I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to get these guys out to a Phillies game the past couple seasons.  So we put this game on our calendar at the very beginning of the season.

Colleen decided to skip BP and meet up with her sister and family at their hotel in Center City Philadelphia.  There was an interesting parade going on…

…when we dropped Colleen off along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

I should mention that this was one of those odd 4:05 starts.

We reached the LF gate at Citizens Bank Park in plenty of time to play some catch…

…before the gates opened.  After the literally opened the gates, but before the ballpark was “opened” to the fans, something bizarre happened…

…an usher appeared from the direction of LF or 3B, walked out to the gate and handed a baseball to Kellan.  And then he immediately turned and kept walking toward CF.  That is him at the end of the red arrow walking away from us in the middle picture above.

As I mentioned, it was a bizarre start to the day.  I threw in the green “1” in the picture above because (with VERY little effort on our part) things were about to get historically ridiculous for us.

Things started off normal enough.  We headed to the LF corner when the gates opened.  Tim was by my side and Kellan was relaxing on my shoulders when Steven Lerud spotted Kellan.  Kellan was wearing his glove.  When Lerud fielded a ball on the edge of the warning track, he turned around and asked if Kellan could catch it.  “No,” I explained, “but I can catch it for him.”  And that’s just what happened:

Thanks, Steven!

Things were quite in LF.  Eventually, we headed out to LCF where nothing much happened.  But then the rest of the stadium opened up, and we headed over to the pizza wedge.

Pretty much right when we arrived at the pizza wedge, Rod Nichols (September coaching call-up from the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs) tossed us a baseball:

Nichols is the guy hiding behind the other guy next to the green “3.”   In that picture with the “3,” Tim is catching a baseball that Antonio Bestardo tossed up to him from the warning track.  A great catch by Tim!

Thanks, Rod and Antonio!

There were very few people out in RF, and even fewer after the Phillies cleared the field but Braves had yet to take the field.

Soon enough, Eddie Perez and Alan Butts sauntered out to the bullpen.  I told Tim their first names and he welcomed them to the outfield.  Eddie, who seems to be a really nice guy, waved at both of the boys from the outfield.  Then, as Perez and Butts made their way up the stairs toward the Braves bullpen (the upper bullpen), Perez veered off to his right into the Phillies bullpen:

Perez saw two baseballs sitting on the ground by the Phillies bullpen bench.  He grabbed them both and tossed them both to us!

Thanks and thanks, Eddie!

So, there you go.  The Braves hadn’t even come out for BP yet, and we already had caught six baseballs.  We decided to hit the restroom, get some water, and relax in the shade a bit until the Braves took the field.

While we were hanging out in the shady concourse behind section 102, we made a decision that our next two baseballs (assuming if got two more) would be for Gill and Kate.  In the world of MyGameBalls.com, we don’t “count” baseballs that we give away and I had already literally recorded the six baseballs we’d already caught in the little notebook we carry with us at games.  So we were really hoping we could get at least two more baseballs so we could have one each for Gill and Kate.

And right as BP started, something awesome, and then awkward, and then awesome (again) happened.  Tim Hudson (shown here later in BP)…

…ran across LF toward the bullpen entrance.  We were right in the tip of the pizza wedge.  Until Tim Byrdak tossed Tim a baseball (and then two more) earlier in the season, Tim and I had been on a five year mission to get Tim a baseball from a Major League “Tim.”  And, right at the tippy-top of our most wanted list sat the ultimate Major League Tims:  Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson.  Bot had eluded us.  But on this day, as Tim Hudson approached with a baseball in his glove, I called out, “Hey, Tim!  How about tossing a baseball to another Tim!” as I pointed down to Tim.  As  the green “7” above suggests, it worked!

We were super-excited to get a baseball (a beautiful one that appears to be “game rubbed”) from one of the best Tims in the business.

Thanks, Tim!

But then my thoughts immediately turned back to the decision we had made just a few minutes earlier – the next two baseballs would be for Gill and Kate.  Oh, no!

There was no way we could give up this Tim Hudson baseball.

So, I announced to Tim and Kellan, “Okay, our next two baseballs will be for Gill and Kate!

But then Paul Maholm wandered by and tossed a baseball to Tim…

…, and Tim made a great catch. When I announced, “Okay, there’s one for Gill and Kate.”  Tim replied, “No!  Not this one!”  He was too proud of his catch, and the really liked the nice grass stain on the baseball.

“Okay, our NEXT two baseaballs will be for Gill and Kate!”

But how many more opportunities would we even have!?

Well, luckily, we had at least two more:

Not too long after Tim caught the ball from Paul Maholm, Kris Medlin tossed a baseball to me.  And then Maholm fielded another baseball on the warning track right below us.  Tim called out to him, “Paul, can I have another baseball for my cousin?”  And Maholm obliged.

Thanks, Paul and Kris…from us and Gill and Kate!

So, those two balls don’t appear in our official count on MyGameBalls.com or the Cook & Son Baseball Museum (http://www.cookandsonbats.com/museum/”), but let’s put the “official” count aside and focus on what was in our backpack at the time…at the time, they represented numbers 9 and 10 on the day.

And the day wasn’t over yet.  In fact, it was still early in the Braves portion of BP!

Soon, a Braves lefty hit a homerun that landed in the first row of section 103 and then bounced up into the second row…

…where I scooped it up for our only hit ball of the day.

Okay.  Things were officially ridiculous at this point.  So, with half an hour left in BP, we decided to call it quits.  We  headed back to the water fountain for a refill, got some funny pictures of the boys standing inside steel beams…

…, took a cellphone picture (that one above) and sent it to Colleen to show Gill and Kate, watched some crazy German heritage day dancing (with whips!) in the concourse…

…, and then headed to the “Games of Baseball” for some fun:

So at this point, we had about an hour until the game was scheduled to start.  We decided to use that time to carry out a “Games of Baseball” mission.  When you play each game (of which there are only two this season – a trivia game and a race around the bases), you get stamps in a little booklet that can be traded in for prizes.  The top prize is a baseball string backpack that takes 30 stamps – an entire booklet.  We wanted it bad.

So we spent the next hour going back-and-forth amongst the BBQ smoke…

…from game-to-game-to-game-to-game…and so on.

At around 3:30, half hour until game time, we took a break to watch Roy Halladay warm up a bit:

I took that picture of the two coaches (above to the right) because that is Rod Nichols sitting on the bench.  He had tossed a ball earlier and I had no clue who he was.  I took this picture so I would have something to compare against whatever pictures I might later find of him on google while trying to figure out who the heck he is.

As Roy Halladay stretched in the outfield, our old buddy Jesus Tiamo made his way out to the bullpen and guess what?

He tossed Tim a baseball.

Thanks, Jesus!  You were truly awesome to us this season!

While that baseball goes down officially as our tenth baseball of the day, it was literally our twelfth, which was one more than our personal record at the time.

And then it was right back to the “Games of Baseball”:

It took  right up until game time, but we completed that whole stamp booklet and claimed the top prize!

Along the way, Gill, Kate, Kimberly, Kevin and Colleen arrived.  After I handed over the Medlin and Maholm baseballs to Gill and Kate, they got in on the gaming action too:

And then it was game time.  We reported to our seats, blue tongues and all:

(I should mention that lollipops are also awarded to “Games of Baseball” participants).

Although our seats at this game were in the upper deck, they were pretty awesome:

We were in the first row of section 427.  I liked it a lot; a very nice view of the game.  (By the way, that picture is out of order, it’s from later in the game).

We were late arriving to our seats because it took a long time for us to get all of the “Games of Baseball” stamps that we needed.  The game started while we were trudging through the concourse toward section 427.

Roy Halladay started for the Phillies and was not sharp.  He walked the leadoff batter Michael Bourn to start the game.  Luckily for the Phils, Bourn was caught stealing before Martin Prado hit a single to CF.  Prado was erased on a fielder’s choice grounder by Jason Heyward.  Right as we sat down in our seats, I pulled out my camera and just missed capturing Chipper Jones hitting a first-pitch single to RF.  This would be the last time we would ever see Chipper play and I really wished I would have got that picture.

Anyway, with Chipper on 1B and Heyward on 2B, Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate and jacked a 3-run bomb to RF:

That made it 3-0 Braves and, it turns out, it was a game-winning homer for Freeman.

I really wanted to get some good Chipper Jones pictures.  Here was my best effort for a defensive picture:

In the bottom of the first, Jimmy Rollins hit a grounder right down the line.  Chipper made a nice diving catch, but the ball was just foul.

The Phils would go scoreless in bottom of the first.

The Braves were right back at it in the top of the second.   Again, it started with Halladay issuing a walk to the first batter of the inning, this time Brian McCann.  After back-to-back strike outs, Hallady then gave up a single to Bourn and walked Prado.  That brought the J-Hey Kid to the plate.

And Heyward to this loaded up…

…and took a mighty hack sending the baseball down the RF line into the corner where it was fielded by Domonic Brown…

…, but all three baserunners (McCann, Bourn, and Prado) scored on the play.  Heyward ended up at second.  Hey wouldn’t stay there long.

Six earned runs and 5 outs into the game, Roy Halladay’s day was finished:

Jeremy Horst relieved Halladay…

…and, two pitches later, he gave up an RBI double to Chipper Jones (scoring Heyward).

After two innings, the score was 7-0 Braves.

We had lots of nice cousin time while piled in our seats:

We also did some birding.  Check out this red-tailed hawk that was perched on the light stand on the 1B side of the stadium:

(Special thanks to my uncle, Ed, for helping us identify that bird.  Ed raises falcons and knows a thing or two about birds).

Kellan snuck into this picture of Tim and Kate showing off their missing teeth gaps:

This season, Darin Ruf set a new single-season homerun record (38) for the Reading Phillies.  Ruf was called up to the big squad in September, made his MLB debut on 9/14, and pinch hit for Jeremy Horst in the bottom of the third inning of this game:

(Congrats on the great jersey number, Ruf!)

At the time, Ruf was batting .000 for his MLB career with zero RBI.  Well, we didn’t get to see Ruf’s first MLB hit.  But he did manage to lift a high fly ball to deep CF that was good enough for a sacrifice fly (scoring Kevin Frandsen who had hit a triple) and Ruf’s first MLB RBI.

By the way, in 12 games Ruf would eventually collect 11 hits and 3 HRs by the end of the season.

After three innings, the score stood at 7-1 Braves.  And it was time for us to trudge down the stairs …

…head toward home plate in the upper deck concourse…

…circle around home plate…

…, and pose with a pig…

…on our way to the kids’ play area:

Colleen and Kimberly caught up on their sisterly chit chat while watching the kids play:

I don’t think we have ever seen the play area so packed.  It was pandemonium in there!  And I was proud to see Tim stepping up his big brother game and helping his little bro navigate the crazy labyrinth of kids:

Oh, yeah, Ryan Howard hit a homerun while the kids were playing.  That made the score 7-2 in favor of the Braves.

We couldn’t hang out too long in the play area because it was just way too crazy.

Standard Operating Procedure said next it was time to race…

…up the ramps to the upper deck.  We stopped to get a red-faced cousin photo in front of the big Citizens Bank Park sign on the back of the upper deck seats:

Before heading back toward our seats, I pulled out my camera, zoomed out across eastern south Philadelphia, and snapped a picture of a cool sight – the S.S. United States:

If you click that link above, you can find out all sorts of cool facts about the S.S. United States.  The ship has been docked in south Philadelphia along the Delaware River for years.  Back when I lived in Philadelphia, I always thought it was a little eerie when I would ride my bike up Columbus Boulevard past the ship.

We made it back to our seats in time to watch Chipper Jones strike out to end the top of the sixth:

Kellan got quite excited when the Phillie Phanatic made an appearance on top of the Phils’ dugout:

In the top of the eighth inning, Michael Bourn lead off with a double and then scored on a Jason Heyward single.  Next, we watched our final Chipper Jones…

…at bat that we will ever witness.  It looked like this:

It ended with fielder’s choice to SS.  And here is one of the final pictures I will ever take of Chipper Jones, after he took the field in the bottom of the eighth:

In the bottom of the eighth, Kellan was a little squirmy.  He needed to take a walk.  On our way back to the seats, we spied on Gill, Tim and Kate from below:

With the Braves leading 8-2, Kevin, Kimberly and the kids decided to take off a bit early to beat the crowd.  Before they headed out, I took some random pictures of Kate and Tim…

…and then we all danced liked crazy to our all-time favorite Korean pop song, Psy’s Gangnam Style:

Right before they headed out, we had Kimberly snap a great family picture of us – one of the best of the season:

I’m not sure why he was so excited in this picture…

…, maybe it was because I told him that we were going to head down to section 130 for the ninth inning:

After an unprecedentedly crazy BP, we figured we would make an attempt at getting a post-game umpire baseball.  Kellan gave home plate umpire Jerry Meals a target while the Phillies were still taking their hacks.

When John Mayberry grounded out to end the game, we sprang into action and this was the result:

Here’s what happened.  We were sitting in the fourth or fifth row in section 130.  There were only two people sitting in section 129 (the closest section you can get to the umpire’s tunnel without being in the diamond club).  As Mayberry grounded out, Kellan and I slipped past those two people in the second row and then hopped into the last seat in the first row.  I thought Tim was following me, but when we got to the first row, he was nowhere in sight.  I figured he must have stayed with Colleen.  As Meals approached the umpire’s tunnel, I called out his first name:  “Jerry!”  He looked up and locked eyes with me, pulled out a beautiful rubbed up baseball and tossed it right to me.

Just then, out of nowhere, Tim popped up from below.  He had run straight down the stairs to the dugouts and then squeeze by everyone in the front row until he made it over to us.  He promptly threw up his glove in a “I’ll take one, too, Jerry” motion.  And Jerry obliged (although he bounced his throw on the dugout and it ended up landing under the seats in a plate of food).

Double thanks, Jerry Meals!

By the way, the 13 and 14 in the last picture count the Paul Maholm and Kris Medlin baseballs that we gave to Gill and Kate.  If you check out our entry for this game on MyGameBalls.com, it shows 12 (not 14).  Anyway, it was a crazy, crazy day at the ballpark.

After the umps cleared the field, it was the victorious Braves’ turn to head into the dugout following their on-field celebration.  Pretty much the entire team (except for the relievers) cleared the field by way of the stairs almost right below where we were standing.  As Chipper Jones headed reached the top of the stairs, he balled up his batting gloves and tossed them into the first row.  They were tossed probably 5-7 feet to our left.  I was holding Kellan so I didn’t even make a move for them.  But the guy right next to Tim dove out to his left and intercepted the gloves before they made it to the people standing in the gloves’ direct path.  It was a pretty cool pair of souviners for that guy to take home.

Right after Chipper tossed the gloves, a fan maybe five rows back in the diamond club yelled, “Hey, Chipper” and Chipper half looked up and waved with his glove.  It was clearly nothing more than a “oh, hey, there fans” gesture by Chipper, but the guy took it (completely unreasonably) as a “Hey, throw me that ball and I’ll autograph it for you” gesture.  He immediately chucked a baseball at Chipper.  It barely missed Chipper as he ducked out of the way.  It was sour ending to Chipper’s night, I could see him mouth some non-appreciative words to himself as he ducked into the tunnel below us.  All-in-all, it was a pretty hilarious scene.  The guy’s baseball (which was already autographed by several players) hit some other player(s) and then ricocheted onto the field.  I thought the guards down there would toss it into the dugout never to be seen again.  But they gave it back to the guy while giving him an earful of non-appreciative sentiments.

We took two more pictures on our way out of the ballpark:

Right as we reached the car, the skies opened up and it absolutely poured rain down on us:

Meanwhile, Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate had just exited the subway in Center City and were getting absolutely soaked on the walk to their hotel.

From a historically crazy BP, to all of the “Games of Baseball,” to all the family fun, it was a great day at the ballpark.  Sadly, we would only have one more day at the ballpark in 2012, and it would be the next weekend in Baltimore.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

26/24 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
42 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 9, 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
151 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 10, Umpires 9, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 12, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 6
24 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 11, 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 Park9/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners  Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (3); 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

Two Nights At A Ballpark In Philadelphia (9/8 & 9/9/12)

This is the story of two evenings that the boys and I spent at a ballpark in Philadelphia.  Two nights, 51 outs, and a whole lot of fun.

The story starts in the afternoon on Saturday, September 8, 2012.  Colleen was away for the weekend visiting her folks.  But the boys and I had Phillies tickets.  The Phils were scheduled to take on the Colorado Rockies.

We hopped into the car a little after 2:00 p.m.  Kellan napped a bit and Tim and I played a rousing game of turkey vulture – where we battle to see who can spot more turkey vultures along the drive.

We made it to the LF gate…

…in plenty of time.  In fact, we arrived around 4:00 p.m., and the gates were scheduled to open at 4:35.  We past the time chatting with our Citizens Bank Park pals, the Tischler (Seth, Tami and Harrison.

Generally, I pay no attention at all to weather reports.  But, on this day, the consensus was that the weather wasn’t going to cooperate with the game schedule.  They typically open the first three gates at the LF gate 2.5 hours before a Phillies home game.  But shortly after we arrived, an usher came out and opened the very first gate, which required us to relocate from first in line at the third gate and the Tishlers to relocate from first in line at the second gate.

The usher said he was preparing the first gate because the Phillies were going to open the gate half an hour early…if it started raining.  Essentially, if it started pouring rain on us, they would open the gate so we could take cover in the concourses, but if the rain held off we would simply get to stand outside an open gate for another half hour.

The skies over Center City Philadelphia (behind us to the northwest) looked rather threatening…

…but the sky was blue over Citizens Bank Park (in front of us to the southeast).  Rain usually moves from the southwest to the northeast around Philadelphia (up the coast toward NYC) so I still felt like we or, more precisely, the game could survive the weather.

Oh, yeah, in addition to rain, there was 70 mile per hour wind in the forecast too.  That concerned the Phillies too.

When they finally let us in, at the normal 4:35 gate time, we hustled in to the corner spot by the LF foul pole and found this scene on the field:

No BP.  Sad.

But the Rockies pitchers were out playing catch.  There was only a small gathering of fans out there.  I figured all of the Rockies would toss their warm up balls into the crowd.  There were plenty to go around for the few people out there.

See that white “X” on the foul line down by the corner spot?

Out of the blue, Carlos Torres looked right at me from that “X” and then he tossed his baseball to me and the boys.  We were right in the corner spot at the bottom edge of the section that is open for BP.  To our immediate right, a yellow plastic chain blocked off access to the rest of the stadium.  Torres’s throw landed just out of my reach on the “off limits” side of the yellow chain.  But Bernie the very cool usher saw it all play out and came and grabbed the ball and gave it to Tim.

Thanks, Carlos!  And thanks, Bernie, for the assist!

Harrison had a consecutive game streak of getting a baseball that we wanted to extend.  I didn’t want to hurt his chances of that happening.  So the boys and I relocated to the next section over into leftfield fair territory…

…so Harrison and his folks could be alone in the corner spot (the red arrow above is pointing to Harrison and, oh, by the way, see the young girl in the purple “Rockies” (not actually Rockies) shirt?  Watch for her later in this entry where you can find her wearing Phillies gear.  She is a full-on pre-teen, female ballhawk with Hamplesque focus and determination and she would prove to be Harrison’s main competition the rest of the night, in very entertaining fashion, in my opinion).

Anyway, this was our view of the field after we relocated to the fair side of the foul pole:

And this is Edgmer Escalona a minute or so after he tossed us a baseball that he had in his pocket:

I was pretty amazed that he tossed us this baseball (completely unsolicited) because there were several teenagers to our left wearing (actual) Rockies gear.  But, what can I say, ball players generally love awesome like boys like Tim and Kellan.

Thanks, Edgmer!

Unfortunately, that was it for toss-ups – not just for us, for everyone.  One Rockies pitcher tried unsuccessfully to throw his warm up ball into the RF seats (section 103) from the LF foul line, but his throw hit the wall and rolled back onto the grass where it was left:

Every other Rockies pitcher took his baseball with him back to the dugout.  There was a grand total of two pre-game throwing Rockies toss-ups and both of them were tossed to us.  And that means that Harrison got snubbed.  Sorry, Harrison!

Before heading out to the pizza wedge, I took some photos of the plants that separate the fans from the outfield wall:

I’m not sure why they don’t have one of these in RF too.  They are a great idea because they look nice when they flower and they prevent fans from interfering with questionable homeruns.

Just before 5 o’clock, we took a stroll down Ashburn Alley…

…toward the RF seats.

The RF seats weren’t going to open for another five or ten minutes when we arrived at the RF end of the bullpens.  That’s where we met up again with Harrison:

I told Harrison that I thought I had spotted a baseball in the back corner of the Phillies bullpen.  In the picture above, if it was really a baseball, it would have been right below Tim (about 20 feet below) on the other side of the fence.  When we looked over the fence, we couldn’t see anything.

But when the RF seats opened and we made our way down to the pizza wedge…

…, there it was tucked under the padding on the back/side wall of the bullpen.  It was right behind the home plates .  It must have trickled by one of the catchers while a Phillies pitcher was warming up in the bullpen.

Since we already had two baseballs, we were really hoping that Harrison could manage to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen, or the one on the RF grass.

Remember that one in RF that the Rockies pitcher had  thrown?  Well, it was still there.  There was no one on the field.  We just sat around chatting awhile.

Eventually, a groundskeeper-type guy started walking across RF on the warning track.  When he was still way off, Harrison made his move and hollered to the groundskeeper about the baseball.  The groundskeeper didn’t say a word but started veering slightly into the grass:

It was clear that he was going to toss the baseball to Harrison.  I was happy for him.

But then Harrison started walking closer to RF.  “No, no, no!!,” I thought to myself.

See the girl in the red shirt above?  That’s the same girl who was wearing purple in LF.  Harrison walked down and stood right next to her because she was directly in front of the baseball.  I am positive that the guy would have grabbed the ball and walked down to Harrison closer to CF to toss it to him with zero competition because Harrison is the one who asked the groundskeeper to toss up the baseball.

But when the groundskeeper tossed it up to Harrison (standing next to that girl), it flew too high and went right over both of them into the second row.  And guess who got it in the scramble?

Not Harrison.  Darn.

So Harrison turned his attention back to the baseball tucked under the padding in the bullpen.  Unfortunately, the girl in red had the same plan.  Meanwhile, with the game still two hour away (allegedly), the boys and I headed to the other side of the stadium and grabbed a huge heap of food for dinner:

That thing I got (bottom left above) was called “The Big Leaguer” or the “Major Leaguer” and, oh, boy, it was a lot of food.  It was essentially a Rueben and a burger combined.  Not my healthiest meal ever, but quite tasty.

It was 6:45 by the time we left McFadden’s and headed back out to RF.  The Tishlers were sitting under cover at the back of section 102.  It was raining.  We grabbed some seats with the Tishlers…

…relaxed a bit and shared in some conversation.  This is what was happening on the field:

It wasn’t raining like crazy, but there didn’t appear to be any baseball in our immediate future.

When game time rolled around, the PA announcer announced that the Phillies were putting the Cardinals-Brewers game on the big screen:

We just kept sitting and chatting.  The stadium started filling up a lot more.  Just before 8 o’clock we saw something hilarious…

…an usher was standing and leaning against the SRO counter sleep-standing.  Before I could snap her picture, she sat down slept some more.

We didn’t know if we were going to see any baseball at all that day, but one thing was certain – there would be ice cream:

I should mention, as we sat in those seats under cover for hours, the young girl in the purple/red, was in constant movement circling the bullpen, looking at that baseball against the wall from every angle, and hoping and praying someone would come out and toss it to her.  It was pretty hilarious.  Meanwhile, Harrison was playing it cool waiting for his opportunity to get his hands on that baseball.

At around 8:10 p.m., a charge of excitement circled the stadium when a bunch of groundskeepers entered the field from the RF foul corner:

They headed toward the tarp and started sweeping the water off the sides of the tarp.   I was hopeful there was baseball in the forecast.  Kellan was ready for some Major League action:

When some groundskeepers headed out to the bullpens, Harrison sprang into action in his attempt to get his hands on that baseball in the bullpen.  It was like a chess match with the young girl.  It was a funny situation. Seth, Tim, Kellan and I were Harrison’s pawns as he jockeyed for position along the back wall of the bullpen:

It was a lot of fun, but nothing came of it.  A couple groundskeepers worked on the mound a bit, but they were busy and had no interested in walking to the other end of the bullpen to grab that baseball for Harrison.

The groundskeepers never took the tarp off the field.  The Phillies never made any announcements.  Time just kept ticking by as we made our way later and later into the baseball-less night.

Eventually, the Tischlers decided to call it a night.  They were hoping the game would be postponed and they would be able to re-use the tickets for another night.  Before they left, Tami took a couple pictures of me and to boys:

When they left, we decided to head over to the other side of the stadium to check out the team store.  On our way, we stopped by section 117 and got our picture behind the Phillies dugout…

… and a panorama from the back of the section:

The boys had fun playing around in the team store:

I had never really realized there was an upstairs in the team store that is all kids’ stuff.  And, as a bonus, there was a big Phanatic statue up there:

It was nearly 10:00 p.m. by this time.  We head been inside the stadium for five-and-a-half hours.  Moments after the picture with the Phanatic statue, the PA announcer announced that the game had been postponed due to rain.  It would be played the next day as the second half of a double-admission doubleheader.

The boys and I started to head toward the exits.  As we made our way to the field level concourse, we saw Jesus Tiamo and someone else…maybe Mick Billmeyer, walking out to the bullpen.  I figured we ought to head over there on our way out to see about that baseball that had been sitting in the bullpen all night.  But they were in the bullpen for two minutes at most.  By the time we were circling CF, Tiamo and his colleague were heading back toward the dugout:

I don’t know why, but I decided to head back to the bullpen anyway.  As we reached the concourse behind section 102, an usher told us the seats were closed.  We hung out for a minute.  And then someone in a Phillies uniform popped out of the dugout and walked down the warning track on the RF foul line:

We decided we’d waited around so long already that it couldn’t hurt to wait around for a couple minutes more.  After the guy stopped to chat with that other guy in the blue rain jacket, guess where he walked?  That’s right, right to the Phillies bullpen.

We waved him down and…

…he ran over to the corner and grabbed that elusive baseball and tossed it up to us.

Holy cow.  I couldn’t believe it.

The ball was SOAK and HEAVY.  Tim and Kellan posed victoriously with the ball:

And as they were posing, we heard a yell from below.  I looked down into the bullpen and it was the ballboy.  He had found another, completely dry, baseball on the bullpen bench (or maybe sitting on one of the chairs), and he tossed it up to us too.

Wow.

Thanks, guy!

By the way, the ball has dried out just fine.

And with that, we called it a night.  On the rainy drive home, we discussed whether we should make the trip back to Philadelphia the next day for the make-up of this “game.”  Tim was all for it.  We didn’t have any other plans.

So…..on September 9, 2012, we made our way back down to Philadelphia hoping to see a baseball game.

There was a 1 o’clock game.  Our game was supposed to start at 6 p.m., and the gates were supposed to start at 5 o’clock.

We went to another rain out in 2009 at Nationals Park and it was a nightmare trying to work with the Nationals to figure out how the make-up game would work.  But it was completely different with Phillies.  I called the Phillies in the morning to see if we could exchange our tickets for better seats.  I was hoping for something in the front row in the outfield.  They told us we could exchange tickets at the first base ticket office.  So we planned to arrive around 4:30 p.m. to work out an exchange.

Here is a bad thing about having a double-admission doubleheader – parking.  When we arrived at Citizens Bank Park, the first game had just ended and a huge stream of cars was flooding the exits.  Here is the scene while a parking attendant was trying to create a lane to get us into the parking lot:

It took some work, but he managed to get us into the parking lot.

We were able to exchange our tickets in row 14 of section 104 for two tickets in the first row of section 103.  I was pretty excited about that.  We had never had front row seats at Citizens Bank Park.

We had plenty of time to kill before the gates opened.  Since I knew there would be no BP and no early BP gate opening time for the LF gates, we decided to switch things up and get in line at the 1B gates right by the ticket office.

We past the time by playing catch outside the gates:

They opened up the gates and prepared to let us in just prior to 5 o’clock:

But then they made us wait 10-15 minutes more before they finally let people inside the stadium.

When they did, we headed out to the pizza wedge:

Check out all of the activity on the field:

So we grabbed some seats and relaxed:

Luckily, we had lots of practice sitting in the seats and relaxing from the night before, so we were pretty good at it!

Eventually, someone-or-other (a coach) came moseying on out toward the bullpen…

…and Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo followed not too far behind.

When they made their way into the bullpen, Tiamo came over and tossed a reese’s miniature peanut butter cup up to Tim.  Then he walked over to the bench and rooted around in his equipment bag a bit…

…before he turned around again and tossed probably five baseballs into the stands.  Tim got one, Kellan got one, that same girl from the night before (whose arm you can see as she stands behind Tim in that last picture) got another, plus a few other kids at the other end of the bullpen.

Double thanks, Jesus!

We headed over to the games in the RF concourse and Tim and Kellan showed off their prizes from Tiamo…

…and then they shared the little peanut butter cup.

Then we played a few games…

…and collected a few game stamps.

We headed over by the visitors’ dugout before the game and that is where we were for the singing of the national anthem:

Check out our AWESOME front for seats:

The one and only bad thing about the seats is that we were trapped in the middle of a row sitting next to a mom and dad who had two kids that were obviously of ticket-needing age, but didn’t have seats of their own.  So we were packed in like sardines down there.

But check this out, Kellan was able to eat an ice cream helmet with his fingertips were *in play*:

Tim often times asks for an ice cream cone instead of an ice cream helmet.  I very seldom agree, but I did at this game.  And here is why I very seldom agree to the cone:

Those pictures don’t do it justice.  Tim looked and felt like he had been dipped in a huge bowl of melted ice cream.  While both boys still manage to make a message while eating an ice cream helmet, the ice cream helmets really help cut down on the mess.

The game featured a match-up between Rockies rookie Drew Pomeranz and Phillies rookie Tyler Cloyd.  Both gave up one hit in their respective half of the first inning, but escaped without giving up any runs.  I tried to capture Chase Utley’s first inning single, but I missed it and had to settle for this shot of him retreating to first after taking an aggressive turn toward second:

I did, however, get an action show of Tim:

Meanwhile, Kellan was just chilling and watching some baseball:

The Phillies scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning.  The only action shot I got of it was Dominic Brown swinging and missing en route to a strike out:

Just before Brown’s strikeout, Ty Wiggington hit a double.  Immediately after Brown’s strikeout, Michael Martinez hit a single to CF to score Wiggington.

Soon thereafter, I had to take another panorama from out seats because the sky looked pretty cool:

There was an empty seat right behind us so the boys could stand right on the fence…

…and be right on top of the action.

While standing there, Tim decided he should give Kellan lessons on how to “look cool” while leaning against a fence.  This was Tim’s *coolest* pose:

Cloyd had a rough inning in the top of the third and Rockies came charging back.  Dexter Fowler, Jordan Pacheco and Tyler Colvin loaded the bases with three singles.  The Rockies then took a 2-1 lead on Ramon Hernandez’s 2-RBi single to CF.  Hernandez was followed by Chris Nelson…

…who took a causal stroll around the bags after hitting a 2-Run homerun to LF to make the score 4-1 Rockies.  Check out Chase Ultey in the bottom

Even with great seats, if it is just me and the boys, we’re not going to spend the whole game sitting in one place.  We do a decent job of it when joined by my Colleen or my folks.  But when it is just the three of us, we like to be on the move during a game.  So after three innings in these wonderful front row seats, we took off for the play area:

Once again, Tim did a great job chaperoning Kellan through the big kid playarea.

After the play area, we headed over to the RF concourse and played some more games:

If you get enough stamps in your stamp book (they had out a little paper stamp book when you play your first game of the day), you get to cash the stamps in for a prize.  Tim got enough stamps to get a bunch of Citizens Bank Park pencils and that Phillies megaphone shown above to the right.  And that megaphone would provide a lot of entertainment over the course of the rest of the game.

Next up, we hit Chickie’s & Pete’s…

and got some (seafoodless) “Crab Fries”:

The fries were super salty with the special seasoning, and they were mighty tasty.  We were in line at Chickie’s & Pete’s when Ryan Howard hit 2-unearned-run-RBI single that hit the RF wall right below our seats.  It would have been very exciting had we been sitting in our seats instead of standing in line for fries.

Anyway, Howard was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit into a double.  That ended the inning with the score 4-3 Rockies.

Even though our seats were amazingly awesome, we never returned to them.  You see, the crowd was thin in the RF seats and this was our first and best opportunity ever to sit in section 101 (or, as we call it, the pizza wedge).  Section 101 is really cool because it is a little pizza wedge shaped peninsula between RCF and the Phillies bullpen.

Here is a panoramic view of what it looked like from our seats in row six of the pizza wedge:

Row 6 is only four seats across.  I sat in the first seat in from the aisle, Tim sat in the seats on the fence (on the bullpen) and Kellan primarily sat on my lap, stood next to the fence, or sat in my arms as stood watching the game (including a period of several minutes during which I held Kellan and puffed up my cheeks so he could repeatedly smash my cheeks are hard as he could).

The second half of the game was good for the home team, but it was even more fun for us because we were sitting in the pizza wedge.  The boys took turns (maybe not as much as Kellan would have liked)…

…screaming through the megaphone.

A lot of that megaphone yelling was directed toward Tim’s buddy, Jesus Tiamo:

It was pretty hilarious.  From the home plates in the Phillies bullpen, it is impossible to see anything happening on the field.  The Phillies used seven pitchers in this game and it seemed like Tiamo was constantly warming up the next reliever.

The Phillies scored two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh inning to take a 7-4 lead.  Each time the Phillies scored a run, Tim hopped to his feet and turned back toward Tiamo behind the bullpen plate and megaphoned to him, “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”

The funniest part of the night was when Jimmy Rollins hit a single in the bottom of the seventh.  The hit sent Carlos Ruiz to 3B and Kevin Fransden to 2B.  However, Tim thought Ruiz continued running and scored.  He hopped to his feet and shouted:

TIM:  “JESUS, YOUR TEAM JUST SCORED AGAIN!”

TODD:  “No, they didn’t.  Ruiz stopped at third.”

TIM:  “NEVERMIND, JESUS, HE STOPPED AT THIRD BASE!”

It was pretty hilarious.  And, while you might think it would have annoyed Tiamo (as my wife later suggested), that was far from the case.  It was really amazing.  I am estimating that Jesus waved and smiled at Tim and Kellan at least twenty times.  AT LEAST!

At times, it seemed like he was waving at them between every pitch he caught in the bullpen.

And when Tiamo finished catching Phillipe Aumont in the bottom of the seventh inning (just before the former-Mariner Aumont pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for the Phillies), Tiamo tossed Tim Aumont’s warm up baseball.  And that resulted in another cool moment.  Tiamo’s toss was a high looping lob.  I thought it was going to sail over and out of Tim’s reach so I came in behind him to catch the ball for him.  But Tim reached up as high as he could and our gloves came together in the air, high above Tim’s head, and Tim came down with the ball in an absolute snow-cone catch.  It was pretty awesome!

Tim thanked Jesus and then posed with the ball as Jesus walked back to the bench:

Thanks again and again and again, Jesus!

Here’s something interesting we had never noticed before, the Phillies have a little office refrigerator outside their bullpen bathroom:

During the eighth inning, Jesus warmed up the final Phillies pitcher of the night, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon:

Papelbon was the winning pitcher in the first game of the doubleheader.  So he was gunning for a rare 1 win, 1 save day.  Papelbon gave up a 2-out souble to Dexter Fowler, but otherwise had no trouble shutting the door on the Rockies.

Phillies win 7-4:

As the team celebrated and the few remaining guys in the bullpen headed out to the field to join in the victory celebration, Jesus Tiamo turned back and gave Tim and Kellan a final smile and wave “good-night!”  Jesus and the megaphone definitely made it a unique fun night.

Before we headed for our car, a nice usher that we had chatted with a bit recently took one final picture of us in the pizza wedge:

Fun times.

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

The Nationals, Nationals Park, Shea Stadium, the Cooks & 2008 Converge On Citizens Bank Park (8/25/2012)

For months, we planned to visit Citi Field on August 25, 2012, for our only Astros game of the season.  It was going to be our best opportunity of the season to try to get our hands on one of the Astros 50th Anniversary commemorative baseballs, we had already caught at least one of each of the other five 2012 regular-season commemorative baseballs.

A couple days beforehand, I bought our tickets on stubhub.  The night before, we were all set to head up to Citi Field.

And then I realized something: no one had bought the Phillies-Nationals tickets we had listed on stubhub!  Oye!

I put our Mets-Astros tickets back on stubhub, took a loss when they resold, but avoided the bigger loss that would have resulted from not selling or using the Phillies tickets.  And, just like that, we had a new plan for August 25, 2012:  Nationals-Phillies at Citizens Bank Park!

It was only Kellan’s second Phillies game ever.

We arrived before the games opened.  While in line, we played a little catch, ate some snacks, and hung out with the Tishlers (center)…

…, Tami (mom), Harrison (son), and Seth (dad).

The Tishlers are a fun family that we have run into and spent some time with at several Phillies games this season.  Twelve-year-old Harrison is an up-and-comer on MyGameBalls.com, and Seth brings his glove and likes to get in on BP action as well.

Tim loves hanging out with older kids and he always has a blast hanging out with Harrison.  While waiting in line, Tim whipped out his camera and took a picture of himself and Harrison:

When the gates opened, Tim and I ran over to the LF seats and Kellan enjoyed the ride on my shoulders.  We’ve only ever got one “hit” baseball at Citizens Bank Park, a BP homerun at Kellan’s first Phillies game that bounced around in the seats before I grabbed it.

But almost right off the bat this happened:

Kellan and I were standing at the green dot (he was still on my shoulders).  Tim was standing just to my right, closer to the foul pole.  A Phillies batter hit a homerun directly over our heads.  I turned around watched it hit off the first seat in about row 10 or so.  It ricocheted on a single bounce right to me.  I casually lifted my glove and caught it right in front of my head and Kellan watched on from above.

That was the first hit baseball that I have ever caught with Kellan on my shoulders.  I thought it was pretty cool, but Seth really thought it was great.  He was all smiles and quickly let me know that he thought it was awesome how casually I caught the ball with Kellan up there.

Before going on, I should point out the guy in the last picture who is standing closest to the camera wearing a dark Phillies shirt and his son in the front row (left of the green dot) wearing a Phillies jersey.  About 10 minutes after I took that picture, the guy approached me and asked if I had a blog.  He didn’t seem to know us by name, but he had read our blog and recognized us from our Mariners gear.  He was a nice guy.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember his name.  He introduced us to his son and several other family members.  I think he said that he has been to about 17 MLB stadiums.  The best thing about the interaction was how he asked who we were.  He asked me something like, “Are you the guy who takes his son all over to different MLB stadiums and takes tons of pictures of everything?”  While I don’t know if I am “the” guy, I definitely am “a guy” who does that.

The clouds started to sprinkle the tiniest little bit of rain.  So we headed over to the back of the one foul territory section that is open during the first hour of BP and took cover under the second deck seats.

Shortly after arriving there, a security guard came over and asked if it was the boys’ first Phillies game.  I pointed at Tim and said, “He’s been to lots of Phillies games,” and then pointing to Kellan, “and this is his second Phillies game.”

I didn’t see it yet.  But I had the strong feeling that the guy had a baseball and wanted to give it to a kid experiencing his first game.  We certainly do not meet that criteria and I didn’t want to pretend we did.  When he did, in fact, pull out a baseball, I practically tried to talk him out of giving it to us.  But he also didn’t seem like he wanted to make the effort to find another little kid who might be at his/her first game.  So he gave the baseball to Kellan:

(By the way, that is the same baseball in both pictures).  It was our 109 baseball of the season, setting a new Cook family single-season record.

Even though he didn’t get to make a true baseball rookie’s day like he had originally planned, I’m pretty sure he was happy with his decision to give the baseball to Kellan because Kellan gave him the cutest 2-year-old “Thaaaaaank you!” which gave the guy a chuckle and a huge smile.

Thanks, security guard guy!

Just before the security guard found us, I had opened a bag of cheesy rice cakes, which we refer to as “pirates.”  When the guy handed the baseball to Kellan, his fingers were already a cheesy mess.

Tim and Kellan kept throwing back the pirates like they were going out of style:

Normally, we head out to the pizza wedge when the rest of the stadium opens.  But we decided to head down the LF line to watch the Nationals pitchers warm up because we had heard recently that they were using old commemorative baseballs (Shea Stadium and Nationals Park) from 2008.

Just before the rest of the stadium opened, three of the Nats coaches were hanging out down the LF line, with one of them sitting in the seats:

When we got down there, Tim and Kellan got the most hilarious picture ever with Steve McCatty, the only one coach who was still down there.

We watched the Nats pitchers warm up…

…and it appeared that none of them were using commemorative baseballs.

The highlight (or maybe lowlight?) of our time over on the foul line was that someone hit a foul ball in our direction.  It was going to land several rows below us.  The Tishlers were right there, but they were focused on the Nats pitchers.

I screamed, “HEEEEEEEEADDDDS UPPPPPPPP!!!!!”

It didn’t help.

The ball nailed Seth in the shoulder.

Once the Nats pitchers began to disburse, the boys and I relocated to the pizza wedge.  Two Nats were hanging out in RCF.  One of them fielded a baseball near us and tossed it up to us…

…before walking back to our spot.  It was Tom Gorzelanny (T.G. in the picture above).

Thanks, Tom!

Now, the baseballs the pitchers were using along the LF line were from the pitchers baseball bag.  The baseball that Gorzelanny tossed to us was a batted ball from the BP bucket, and we were very happy to find it was 2008 Shea Stadium final season baseball!

Double thanks, Tom!

I was very happy for us to get one of the 2008 Shea Stadium baseballs because Tim and I went to a Phillies-Mets game during the final month of baseball at Shea Stadium.

I soon overheard someone mention that they had caught a 2008 Nationals Park inaugural season baseball.

Now remember “S.B.” in that picture above?  That’s Sean Burnett.  I had no clue who it was at the time.  But at one point, a nearby fan started chatting with him a little bit and I overheard the fan call him “Sean.”  The second he finished chatting with the fan and turned around to walk back to Gorzelanny, I called out, “Hey, Sean!”  When he turned around, I made a bold move, I asked Burnett if he came across a Nationals Park commemorative baseball during BP if he would toss it up to us.  Without hesitation, Burnett said, “Sure!”

A few minutes later, he caught a fly ball right by us and tossed up to us a beautiful 2008 Nationals Park commemorative baseball!

Thanks, Sean!

Look at these two beauties:

Before long, the Tishlers arrived on the scene.  I got a picture of Tim and Harrison in the tip of the pizza wedge, but Kellan wanted nothing to do with being in the picture:

Harrison had snagged a baseball or two, but no commemoratives.  He really wanted to get one of each of the 2008 commemoratives.  Before too long, someone tossed a Nats Park baseball to Harrison.

As BP progressed, a couple No. 1 overall picks made their way out to CF.  Bryce Harper was only out there for a short time…

…until he had to go take his hacks in the cage.

But Stephen Strasburg spent a bunch of time out there shagging fly balls:

When one of his teammates hit a baseball to the CF warning track, Strasburg ran over, fielded the ball and tossed it up to us.  It was another Nationals Park commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Stephen!

Now, I don’t really remember the timing of this hit.  But at some point during BP, one of the Nationals hit a homerun over the pizza wedge:

It hit the back wall of the Phillies’ bullpen, and rolled out in the grass between the bullpen mound and bullpen plates.  While still focusing on the field in hopes of getting a Shea Stadium baseball, Harrison also set his sights on the homerun baseball waiting in the bullpen.

Toward the end of BP, a Nationals batter hit a homerun directly to us.  We were in the first row of the pizza wedge (section 101).  Kellan was standing in front of me leaning on the railing and Tim was to my right.  The baseball sailed right over Kellan and into my waiting glove.

I turned it over to find that it was another Shea Stadium commemorative.  Tim immediately instructed me to, “Give it to Harrison!  He needs a Shea ball.”

But Harrison said he wanted to get one on his own.  I must admit, I was a bit relieved that Harrison didn’t want that baseball because it was the first BP homer I had ever caught on the fly at Citizens Bank Park.

So we turned our focus back to watching Harrison and hoping he would be able to snag a Shea Stadium baseball of his own.  While we watched, Tim demolished some more cheesy pirates:

Well, some of them, as you can see above, escaped Tim’s mouth and found their way onto the warning track.

Eventually, the Phils cleared the field and, a bit later, Roy Halladay and the bullpen coaching crew headed out to the bullpen:

As Phils bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo (an all-round nice guy by all accounts) walked across RF and approached the warning track by the bullpens, Harrison told Tiamo that there was a left-over BP ball in the bullpen and asked if Tiamo would toss it up to him.  In the picture above to the right, Tiamo is the guy in the middle (wearing No. 81).  He happily obliged Harrison’s request and that baseball ended up being the Shea Stadium commemorative that had evaded Harrison during BP.

I wanted to snap some pictures of Roy Halladay warming up before the boys and I departed the pizza wedge for the play area.   But he took his sweet time getting ready to throw.  After visiting the bullpen mound to grab a baseball from the bag, (shown above), Halladay headed out into CF where he and Erik Kratz (who I had never heard of before at the time) did some stretching while lying on the ground:

Although we are a Rawlings family, I liked the look of Halladay’s Nike glove.  But doesn’t that just seem weird?  A Nike glove?  I am all about Nike shoes, but I am going to keep my Nikes on my feet and continue to let Rawlings outfit my glove hand (and Tim’s and Kellan’s too).

Roy then slowly made his way to the little boys room in the bullpen (and the following shot also includes a better shot of Tiamo):

And then he did a bunch of stretching against the CF wall…

…before finally starting to play catch with Kratz:

We decided it was time for a little gaming.  Last season, the Phils had a speed pitch, a trivia game, and a running the bases (in place) game.  This season, Chickie’s and Pete’s has taken over the speed pitch area and only the trivia and base running games are left.  But Tim has fun with both of them:

The trivia game asks all Phillies trivia.  Tim knows none of the answers and I know very few.  But sometimes we get lucky on them.  The base running game is pretty funny to watch.  Each time we did it, Kellan would run about 5-10 steps and then just stop to watch Tim run.

From there, we headed on to the nacho stand and then the kids play area.  Kellan hadn’t had any real lunch (just snacks) following his nap so I hoped he would eat nachos with me while Tim played in the play area.  That was silly.  He ate 2-3 cheesy chips, but all he wanted to do was play.

I released him first into the little kids portion of the play area:

But he really wanted to go into the big kids play area.  I thought it was too big for him.  But Tim did some excellent big brothering.  He took Kellan up into big playarea and showed him all around.  It was really cute.  I could see Tim showing and explaining stuff to Kellan up there.  They posed for a picture together in one of the spheres:

And they even climbed all the way to the very top so they could ride the big spiraling slide all the way to the bottom:

Kellan had a blast with his brother and the other big kids.  I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable with Kellan going up there alone yet, but he did great with Tim.

The game started while we were walking to the playarea.  Halladay retired the Nationals in order in the top of the first and then Phillies scored two runs on RBI singles by Chase Utley and John Mayberry.

Finally, I decided it was time to head to the seats.  But one our way, we swung by the ice cream spot in the concourse behind 3B.  I always ask for a tray with our ice cream, but for some reason I failed to do so this time.  With an ice cream  helmet in each hand and Kellan on my shoulders, Tim and I began the long walk from the 3B side, around the scoreboard in LF, behind the batters’ eye, and to our seats in section 104 (RF).  It wasn’t overly hot at this game.  In fact, it was somewhat pleasant.  But that didn’t prevent both helmets from melting down and dropping all over my shoes on the walk.  It was pretty crazy, after the game, you could clearly tell that I had held Tim’s chocolate-vanilla twist in my right hand and Kellan’s vanilla helmet in my left hand.

I dropped the boys and the ice cream in our seats in row 14 and then quickly ran 20 feet over to the nearest concession stand to get trays for the boys to use to hold their helmets.  Finally, we were ready to eat ice cream…

…and watch some baseball:

That last picture is from the top of the fifth inning.  In that picture, Roy Halladay is pitching to Kurt Suzuki and Danny Espinosa is leading off first base.  Espinosa and Roger Bernadina had already both hit singles in the inning.

While Suzuki was hitting, Bernadina was over at second behind held closed by Chase Utley:

Suzuki singled to load the bases.  Gio Gonzalez failed to help his own cause.  He put the ball in play, but Bernadina was forced out at home plate.

But rookie Steve Lombardozzi came through for Gonzalez.  He hit a single to CF that scored Espinosa and Suzuki to tie the score at 2-2.  Bryce Harper grounded out to end the inning, but the damage was done.  Halladay’s lead was gone and we had a new ball game.

Just like old times in Philadelphia, look who was patrolling RF:

We didn’t stick around too long in our seats.  The boys needed some real food.  So we got out of there.  At our last Phils game, Tim and I got pizza and sat in the upper deck.  We decided to do that again.  But first we stopped by the RF councourse and played a few more games:

You get 1 or more stamps in a little book depending on how well you do in each game.  The more stamps you collect the better prize you can get when you cash in your stamps.  Tim collected 10 stamps which were good enough for a Citizens Bank Park pencil and this weird “water bottle”:

It was much more “bag” than it was “bottle” but Tim loves it.  We filled it up and headed up to the upper deck in search of pizza.

We got a picture of the boys and the Liberty Pig:

Finally, we grabbed some pizza…

…and found some seats in section 424:

The Phils regained the lead in the bottom of the 6th inning when John Mayberry, Jr. hit a solo homerun to LF.  They tacked on an insurance run in the 8th inning on a sacrifice fly, also hit by Mayberry.

During the late innings, the Phillie Phanatic pumped up the crowd from the top of the Phils’ first base dugout…

…and Kellan was super-excited about it:

As it got to the 8 inning, we decided to walk down to the field level concourse.  We were considering making an attempt at an umpire ball, which is always difficult at Citizens Bank Park, but we weren’t certain.  We figured we’d just go down and check out the situation first.

On our way out of section 424, we had an usher take our picture:

And then we started a long walk down the concourse to the RF corner and then back-and-forth down the switch-back ramps to the field level:

When we finally got down to the field level where the red line turns into a green line, I realized something.  When we sat down in section 424, I had set Tim’s new water bottle down on the ground behind our seats.  I had a sneaking suspicion that I had left it there.  We stopped and checked my backpack.  Nothing.

So we followed the green line (which is a magic line that shows through the seats) up a set up stairs and all the way back to section 424.

This whole walking process took so long that it was already the bottom of the ninth when we retrieved the water bottle.  We grabbed a standing room spot behind the 300-level seats to watch the final three outs of the game.  While Jonathan Papelbon warmed up for the Phils, Tim posed with his new missing tooth hole:

And then Paps got to work.  He struck out Jayson Werth and induced a fly ball out from Roger Bernadina.

The Nats hopes came down to Danny Espinosa:

But on this pitch  (the third pitch of the at bat)…

…, Papelbon struck out Espinosa to record the “W” for the Phillies.

Everyone celebrated:

It was a little weird seeing the final out from the upper deck.  That doesn’t happen too often for us.  Before we headed out of there, we had an usher take one more picture of the three of us…

…as the Phillies celebrated in the background.

Then we slowly made our way to our car.

All around, the whole day was a lot of fun.  I like the slightly less packed Citizens Bank Park of 2012.  Two thumbs up!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

21/19 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
33 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies   4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
113 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins   4, Mets 8, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, 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 2, Braves 1
21 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
11/11 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;   Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field,   Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens   Bank 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

Todd & Tim in Philadelphia: Reprise of a 2-Man Team (6/23/12)

Our plans for Saturday, June 23, 2012 changed several times leading up to the day of the game.  After several years of just me and Tim going to games together, Kellan had been to the last 11 in a row with us.  I was thinking it would be good for Tim to get some one-on-one time and do an old school Tim-and-Dad game.  We were going to go to see the Rockies and Phillies mid-week and then bring Kellan with us again to this weekend game.  Then Tim got sick.  The mid-week game was out and I thought I would just take Kellan to the weekend game.  Then Tim gave his germs to Kellan and started feeling better, although he still had the remnants of a rash that went along with his sickness.  So the final plan was to just take Tim to the weekend game while Kellan stayed home with mommy and rested up and recovered.

So that is what we did.

It was interleague play and the Phillies were hosting the Rays in an afternoon game set to start at 4:05 p.m.  We headed down in time for the gates to open.

We were probably 15-20 people back in one of three lines at the LF gate, but somehow when we stepped down into the LF seats, we were literally the first fans in the OF.  It was pretty strange.  Probably 45 people beat us into the stadium, but I had no clue where they’d all gone.

We ran down to the first row and did two things.  First, I asked Juan Pierre if he could toss a baseball to Tim when he eventually got one.  He said yes.  And he tossed the very next ball he got to us…although, for some reason, he threw it to me instead of Tim.

Second, we got Tim’s picture wearing a Justin Bieber shirt during BP:

He is doing a little “heart” shape with his hands.  Apparently, Justin Bieber does that.  Although, I should note that I only know that from watching Jimmy Fallon’s hilarious parody of Bieber.  Big thanks to Dan Sauvageau in Denver.  He got Tim this shirt for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt while we were in Denver.  But there was no BP the day he gave it to Tim so we didn’t get the picture.  I have carried this shirt to every game since that day and always forgotten to get the picture.  To stop that trend, Tim put the Bieber shirt on at home before leaving for this game so we wouldn’t forget again.  We covered up that shirt within minutes of getting the picture.

Big thanks, Dan!

No knock on Kellan, I love going to games with that little guy.  But, wow, it is so much easier to do BP (and the entire game) with just me and Tim.  For starters, I don’t have to carry Tim at all.

After getting the baseball from Juan Pierre and getting the Bieber picture, we headed out to RCF.  I wanted to see if Michael Stutes was around – frankly, I don’t even know if he is still on the Phils rosters.  I didn’t see him.  Most of the Phils pitchers were still running in RF.

Eventually, Joe Blanton broke off from the pack and walked along the warning track retrieving baseballs that had been hit out there while no one was there to shag them.  There were 2-3 baseballs on the track directly below us.

Blanton grabbed the first and tossed it to a Phillies fan to our right.  Then he grabbed the second ball and threw it in to the bucket.  But the third ball?  He tossed that one up to Tim…

…and Tim gloved it with no problems.

Thanks, Joe!

It was time to find some shade.

We headed to the back of section 140 where some shade was reaching the seats.

At our last game at Citizens Bank Park, we headed over to section 140 and an usher (who I am told is named Bernie) gave Tim a baseball.  Well, as we were a full section away from section 140, I could already tell that the exact same thing was going to happen at this game.

And, sure enough, it did:

Thanks, Bernie!

So, I just got a new camera because my last camera was *almost* destroyed on the GFS Baseball Roadtrip.  Our new camera has a “sweeping” panorama feature.  Here is my first use of the new panorama feature:

Not too shabby.

So we had three baseballs already and tons of time left during BP.  Tim wanted to stay in the shade and I didn’t have Kellan to hold or try to keep him safe.  So I decided to put on Tim’s 10 inch glove…

…and try to catch a homerun on the fly (something I have never done at Citizens Bank Park) while Tim sat in the shade at the back of the section taking pictures:

Tim LOVES taking pictures.  I gave him my old camera to use since I had the new one.  And he snap, snap, snapped pictures…until he finished the job of sending that camera to the junk heap.

I stood in the aisle next to Tim (sitting in the second seat) and ran around trying to catch a homerun.  But nothing came anywhere near us.

When the rest of the stadium opened to the public, we headed over to the pizza wedge:

Nothing came near us during the rest of Phillies BP.

While not much was going on, Tim noticed this camera:

I wondered if it was an MLB Network ballpark cam.

I noticed something interesting when the Phils cleared the field, three of the Phillies pitchers walked into the tunnel in the RF foul corner instead of walking to the dugout:

The transition from Phillies BP to Rays BP was odd.  The Rays were still stretching by the dugout when the Phils headed to the clubhouse.  They just kept stretching and stretching.  There was a lot of dead time before the Rays really started hitting.

Before the Rays started hitting in earnest, a sole batter started hitting.  It was Rays starting pitcher, James Shields…

…and one of his hits rolled to a stop directly below Tim (and directly below the “399” sign on the wall).  There were zero people in the OF shagging baseballs.  I had a feeling that we would end up getting that baseball once the Rays took to the field.

And we did.  Eventually, Hideki Matsui’s interpreter, Roger Kahlon (thanks to Josh Leuke identifying Kahlon for me on Twitter), walked out into RF and tossed a few baseballs back to the bucket.  He didn’t see the baseball all the way out by the dugout.  But I waved at him and pointed and the baseball and Tim.  That did the trick.  He turned and walked toward us…

…and tossed the baseball up to Tim.  Again, Tim made a nice catch.

Thanks, Roger!

After getting that baseball from Kahlon, we decided to resume the picture taking and homerun-catch-attempting.  We moved over to section 103.  Tim sat in the shade toward the back of the section and I stood in the aisle a couple seats down from Tim.

I had one near perfect chance to catch a homerun.  It landed about 15 feet from where I was standing when it was hit.  All I had to do was move down the stairs about 5 rows.  It was hit right to the aisle.  But…

…this guy with no glove standing in the aisle completely boxed me out as I tried to walk past him.  He didn’t realize he was doing it.  The ball was hit to the RF side of the aisle.  He moved to that side right as I was trying to pass him.  He literally pushed me right into the row and made it so I couldn’t pass.  He made no effort to walk down a few rows to make the catch.  While I was trapped in the row, another fan ran over and caught the ball on the fly.

That was my chance.  I didn’t come anyway near another homerun.

Toward the end of BP, we went over to the bullpen again.  Tim and I both noticed this plaque on the wall in the Phillies bullpen:

I’ve never notice that before.  Right after BP ended, Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo grabbed a baseball out of his equipment bag and tossed it up to Tim.  But he tossed it too high and I had to catch it, in Kellan’s tiny glove.  This is what the scene looked like:

As you can see, we also did a little sub-amateur birding in the bullpen.

Thanks, Jesus!

After Tim took a few more pictures, we headed for the upper deck to do some stadium exploring.  The first thing we noticed, right upon exiting the field level seats, is that the speed pitch from past seasons…

…is gone and a Chickie’s and Pete’s is no in the location of the old speed pitch area.  Chickie’s and Pete’s used to be in the concourse above the RF end of the bullpens.  This Chickie’s and Pete’s was not here at the first game we went to this season (neither was the speed pitch).  It’s too bad.  That speed pitch was pretty cool.

Our original post-BP plan involved getting some pizza and heading to the upper deck above the “pizza wedge.”  But then Tim asked if we could pull the old switcheroo – one of his favorite moves of the season – where we get ice cream first and dinner second.  So, we just walked around for the time being.

We headed up to the second deck and got two panoramas from section 206.  The first was using my camera’s sweep panorama function…

…and the second was an old-fashioned stitched panorama:

I like them both, but I prefer the old-fashioned method.

We ended up taking a long, round-about path to our favorite ice cream spot.  We traversed the upper-deck from the RF foul pole to third base.  Along the way, we ran into the Liberty Pig:

We found the other Phanatic pig (shown out of sequence) down by the kids’ play area during the game.

We ended up taking a flight of stairs down to the field level to find Tim’s ice cream.  At the top of the stairway, we stopped to get this panoramic photo of (what I have always considered to be) the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:

While heading down the stairs, we stopped off at the Hall of Fame suite level.  The guys guarding the door let us pop inside to get Tim’s picture with the wall of baseballs:

That wall of baseball runs almost all the way from foul pole to foul pole on the Hall of Fame suite level.  It is a whole lot of baseballs!!!

When we reached the field level, we grabbed Tim’s ice cream helmet, exchanged some tickets to a future game, and then walked to our seats for the start of the game.

Along the way, we stopped to get Tim’s picture with a card board cut out of the Phillie Phanatic:

The top of the first was just about ending when we got to our seats in section 104.  When the Rays took the field in the bottom of the first, Hideki Matsui was stationed almost directly in front of us:

Unfortunately, our seats were in direct sunlight.  I was fine with it, but Tim was not a fan.  He crouched down on the floor beneath our seats to eat his ice cream helmet:

While I watched Hunter Pence at the plate and Juan Pierre swiping second…

…, I knew we had to find somewhere else to sit.  Our seats were awesome.  But they just wouldn’t work for Tim.

I quickly spotted some seats that would work in the upper deck:

After Tim finished his ice cream, we ditched RF.

On our way to the upper deck, we stopped by the kids’ play area.  While we were there, the Rays scored 3 runs on a Ben Zobrist single, Jose Lobaton walk, Jeff Keppinger 2RBI double, Elliot Johnson walk, and James Shields RBI groundout.

After the play area, we headed up the escalator…

…stood in front of some mist-blowing fans in the second deck, and then headed up to the upper deck.

While walking over to section 427, I noticed that the pub in the upper deck has an incredibly apt pun-laden name…

…the High & Inside Pub.

While we were en route to our new seats, Jimmy Rollins hit a 2-run homerun to bring the score to 3-2 Rays.  We couldn’t see the homerun from where we were walking, but we could hear the crowd going crazy for J-Roll.

We ended up sitting in the back row of section 427, right under one of the light stands:

If we moved over a bit to see around the light stand, it looked sort of like this:

Directly behind us, there was a chain linked fence that looks out over the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:

It was pretty nice and relaxing up there in the shady upper-deck.  We kicked back and ate our pizza dinner.  Here was my beverage-eyes view of the game during our dinner:

The upper deck is often times a good spot for action shots.  In the bottom of the fourth, I captured Jimmy Rollins hitting a single to RF and then taking second on the throw to 3B:

Juan Pierre followed J-Roll and I captured him hitting the 17th homerun of his 13-year career:

It was a 3-run jobber that gave the Phils a 5-3 lead.

We were having a great time in the upper deck.  I took a couple self-portraits to capture the moment, but they didn’t turn out too good.  Here is the best of them:

And here is a random shot of BJ Upton at bat:

Tim was using my old camera to take a bunch of ballpark photos.  At one point, he turned around and started shooting photos outside the stadium…

…we saw a cute father-son scene going down out front by the Michael Jack Schmidt statue.  Pretty cool scene.  The funniest part was that this father-son combo were leaving the game in the fourth inning!  But they were obviously have a great time together, so it was pretty cool to spy on their good time for a few seconds.

I got another cool action sequence of James Shields pitching:

So we were having a great time in the upper deck.  The shady seats were really great.  But we couldn’t stay put for too long.  At one point, I noticed that the shadow of the upper-deck was reaching across the field from LF all the way behind home plate.

We stood up and tried to see if we could find ourselves in the shadows on the field.  But we couldn’t.

Then I realized how we could find ourselves in the shadows.  We had to go to the far end of the upper deck out by the LF foul pole.

As we approached the last section, we could already see our shadows out in LF:

Then we got one of my favorite pictures we have ever got at a MLB stadium:

Check out Tim’s shadow on the LF foul pole.  My shadow is in the LF grass just to the right of the shadow of the foul pole.

The view down by the foul pole is pretty good too.  Here is what it looked like while J-Roll grounded out to end the sixth inning:

Before heading back down to the field level, I snapped a picture of Tim with Center City Philadelphia in the background:

And then we headed down the switch-back ramp to the field level.  From the ramp, we stopped and took two panoramas using my new cameras *sweep* function, this one…

…and this one:

After running down the first two parts of the ramp, we stopped on the 200-level and took the big escalator back down to the field level:

We hung out and watched the action from the SRO area for a bit.  We saw Matsui fly out to LF to end the top of the 7th:

The kids’ play area closes at the end of the 7th inning.  So quickly headed over there so Tim could play for about 5 minutes.  And then headed back to the SRO area behind the 3B side.  We wanted to make an attempt at getting an umpire baseball.  It was going to be near impossible because the seats were still packed behind the 3B dugout and, of course, we weren’t even down there.

In the top of the ninth, we ended up finding some nice seats in about the 7th row.  It looked sort of like this as Jonathan Papelbon pitched to BJ Upton:

After retiring Upton, Papelbon gave up a single to Matsui:

Papelbon had not blown a single save opportunity this season…until this game that is.  Starting with a 2-run lead, Papelbon twice had the Rays down to their final strike.  The crowd was on their collective feet.  We were inching down toward the third row where there was a decently clear path to the umpires’ tunnel.  And twice Papelbon gave up RBI singles instead of recording the final out of the game.

The save was blown.  And we were heading to the bottom of the ninth.

The bottom of the ninth did not last long.  Jim Thome…

…pinch hit to lead off the inning.  And he hit a walk off homerun to end it.

I hate when closers blow a save and are then awarded the win minutes later when his team picks him up.  Well, that’s what happened with Papelbon.  He vulture the win from his teammate, Raul Valdez.

I should note that Thome’s homerun was a historic blast.  It was his 609th homerun, bringing him into a tie with Sammy Sosa at seventh on the all-time career homerun list.  Let’s hope Thome passes Sosa, but doesn’t climb any higher on the list (next would be the undisputedly better than Thome, Ken Griffey, Jr.).

But that’s not the sum total of the historic value of the Thome blast.  It was also his 13 career walk-off homerun, breaking a tie with Mickey Mantle and making Thome the undisputed all-time career leader in walk-off homeruns. (Note: Like Griff, Mickey Mantle was also undisputedly better than Jim Thome).

Anyway, we got into pretty decent position for an umpire baseball, decent for a non-Diamond Club attendee at Citizens Bank Park.  But Jim Joyce tossed all of his extra baseballs into the Diamond Club.

But we didn’t leave empty handed.  As the Rays relieves and bullpen staff made their way into the dugout, Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi tossed Tim our final baseball of the day.

Thanks, Scott!

By the way, in an interesting side note: we have been to two Rays games this season.  The Rays lost both of them on walk-off homeruns in the bottom of the 9th.  And Scott Cursi tossed us a ball as he entered the dugout both times.

So, thanks again, Scott!

Before we headed out, we had two different ushers take pictures of us:

It was a great reprise our 2-man team for this game.  Kellan will be back with us for our next game.  But I think I’ll definitely do at least one more *just Tim and Dad* game this season.  We’re a great 2-man team!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

13/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)
17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates
20 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3
75 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

Father-Son Baseball? Yes, Please! (4/14/2012)

It has been a long and busy off-season.  On Saturday, April 14, 2012, Tim and I kicked off our 2012 baseball season with a game between the Mets and Phillies in Philadelphia.  I had been looking forward to this game like crazy.

I had originally planned to take both boys to Baltimore on Saturday, April 7th, but I didn’t realize it was Easter weekend and we had a house full of family.  So we had to wait a whole week to get our first taste of major league baseball for the season.

I’ve been extremely busy at work this off-season.  And our house has been crazy.  Having two boys is awesome.  But it is way harder than having one boy.  Tim and Kellan get along great most of the time.  But they also create non-stop action, tons of brotherly competition, a healthy dose of yelling and chaos, and they require a lot of discipline…or at least a lot of correcting.  Don’t do this, that, or the other thing.  Stop doing this, that, or whatever.

Baseball season provides something that the rest of the year generally does not.  Something I really needed.  Extended periods of father-son time in an environment that Tim and I just really enjoy.  No chaos.  Tim and I have gotten so good at attending games.  We’re an amazing team.  Hardly any discipline is needed.  It is just fun and relaxing days connecting with my boy and sharing our mutual love of baseball.  So let’s get to it.

The morning started with opening day of Tim’s first year of little league (which is the newest chapter of Tim’s life, extremely exciting, and will be up next on this blog).  After opening ceremonies, we hopped in the car, grabbed a happy meal from McD’s…

…and headed toward Philadelphia.  I was loving baseball season within the first fifteen minutes of our drive.  It was a completely unchanged experience despite the six month break.  Tim and I had great conversations the whole ride down, except of course for during the 15 minutes that we spent battling each other to see who could sing the best Gotye “Someone I Used To Know” (Tim’s favorite song).  Tim won!  As my wife will tell you, I’m a horrible singer.  By the way, Tim’s best comment during our drive was his description of what college is:  “college is where there are lots of boys and lots of girls and you find out who you are going to marry.”

We pulled into the stadium – paid our $15 to park.  Pulled on Tim’s new Ichiro jersey…

…and sized up our destination:  Citizens Bank Park!

Bring on the baseball.

We grabbed a spot second in line.  We started up a nice conversation with the guy behind us, another guy excited to be back at the ballpark for another year.  And within a few minutes, a young man approached and asked, “Are you Todd?”

It was a 12-year-old boy named Harrison who was at the ballpark with his father, Seth.  Another father-son having a great day with the sport they love.  Harrison reads our blog and leaves comments from time-to-time under the name “Philadelphia45.”  It was great to get to know Harrison and Seth a little bit.

Tim loves hanging with older kids, and Harrison was no exception.  Here they are hanging out at the gate – timed exactly when Tim blinked (oops):

When the gates opened, we went our separate ways, but we’d meet up again with Harrison and Seth.  Tim and I headed to left field.  We were among the very first people into the seats.  And within a few minutes, a Phillies batter lined a foul ball into the roped off seats down the 3B line.  An usher grabbed it and spotted Tim from a long way off.  He siliently (so Tim didn’t realize it) called us over to the “chain” and handed Tim his very first baseball of 2012:

Thank you, Sir!

We have somewhat of a routine for the BP at Citizens Bank Park.  First, we set up shop right down the line, in the very small piece of foul territory that is open at the beginning of BP.  Here was our view:

There was a Mets player…I think he was a player, although he was wearing shorts and no jersey…hanging out below us.  And I notice something very odd…

…he had a glove with “Todd Helton” embroidered on the thumb.  I asked him why he had a Todd Helton glove and he responded, “Because he gave it to me.”  “Oh, that’s really cool,” I responded.

Soon (as pictured above), Johan Santana showed up and started running from the foul line to CF.  At one point, he was approaching the foul line when a Phillies batter hit a long grounder right to him.  I called out, “Hey, Johan!”  When he looked up, I pointed at Tim and he started to motion like he was going to throw it to Tim.  But Tim was holding his glove in his throwing hand for some reason.  So, Johan pointed…or maybe he nodded…at Tim and then threw the baseball to me.  I handed it over to Tim and we both called out a loud and excited:

Thank you, Johan!!!

Wow, Johan Santana.  That’s a great toss-up.  Very exciting for our first toss-up of the season.  But in retrospect, our next toss-up would be about ten times more exciting.

We hung out in the same spot until they opened the rest of the stadium.  We watched Cliff Lee do some running…

…and we chatted with Harrison and Seth who had joined us shortly after the toss-up from Santana.  They had also caught two baseballs already – one from Michael Stutes who I really want to connect with some day on a toss-up because he once heckled my softball team while he played for the Reading Phillies.

Normally, when the rest of the stadium opens, Tim and I head out to the “pizza wedge” in RCF.  But the Mets have a commemorative baseball this season that I was really hoping we could get from one of the Mets pitchers warming up down the line.  So we relocated (along with Harrison and Seth) to the corner spot down the LF line:

We ended up standing right behind Tim Byrdak.  I was excited.  I have wanted Tim to get a baseball from another “Tim” ever since we got one from umpire Todd Tichnor.  Maybe this would be the day!?

When Mets coach Ricky Bones (I love that name!) walked by, Harrison asked for a picture.  Bones told Harrison to hold on and when he returned about 10 minutes later, Tim was a co-beneficiary of Harrison’s request:

Thanks, Mr. Bones!

And then things got REALLY exciting!  Tim Byrdak and his partner finished up playing catch.  A Mets batter had hit a grounder that rolled to a stop about five feet from Byrdak’s feet.  As he grabbed the ball to throw it in, while pointing at Tim, I shouted out, “Hey, Tim, how about throwing a ball to another Tim!?”

It worked.  Byrdak turned around and tossed the ball at Tim.  Tim has made amazing progress with his catching skills over the last two months, but I was nervous and anxious and excited all at the same time as the ball sailed toward Tim.  What would happen?

Without hesitating, Tim reached out and made a nice one handed grab with his glove.  A clean catch with zero assistance from his dad:

When the ball stuck in Tim’s glove I was ecstatic.  I literally jumped in the air and shouted, “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!”  I was so happy and proud of my no-longer-so-little guy.  All offseason, we’ve been talking about how he’s going to catch a baseball (or baseballs!) on his own this season, and we’ve been talking about trying to get a baseball from a Major League “Tim” for years, and it all came together in one moment and sheer awesomeness.

It was truly perfect and completely made my day.

Some of our hugest “thank yous” ever to Mr. Timothy Christopher Byrdak!

We’ve been fortunate enough to get a nice collection of baseballs at MLB games, but this one definitely ranks right up there at the tippy top of the list as one of the best.

On the natural high of the toss-up from Mr. Byrdak, Tim and I decided to report to the pizza wedge.

Here’s a tip.  When relocating to another section of the ballpark, walk through the seats, not through the concourse.  That’s what we did and…

…Mike Pelfrey rewarded us with a baseball in deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep center field.

Before hitting up the pizza wedge, we visited the Phillies hall of fame area so Tim could grab the different metal baseballs that have finger grips for different types of pitches, and then spit some seeds down…

…into the bushes in the batters’ eye.  And then Tim called Richie Ashburn “saaafe!” in our first MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt picture of the season.

The pizza wedge was dominated by a family a four with two 13-14 year old’ish girls who got some love from the players (as did “mom”), before Mets coach (and former player for numerous MLB teams) Tom Goodwin hooked Tim up with our first pizza wedge ball of the season:

Note: the balls from Pelfey and Goodwin followed the more traditional, point at Tim and throw to Dad method…although, Tim made an attempt at the Pelfrey ball, but it was too high and sailed over his glove and into mine.

There was still more BP, but we were done.  Tim wanted to play some games.  The speed pitch, for some reason, wasn’t open.  But we played the trivia game and the running in place game…

…in the deep LCF concourse.  This season, instead of handing out slips of paper that say you played one of these games, you collect stamps in the little booklet that Tim is holding in the above picture.  I’m not sure what you get when you fill it up with stamps.  We’ll see later in the season.

After some game time, we headed up the steps toward the upper deck.  We got this picture of Tim on the second deck with a view of the bullpens and Ashburn Alley behind/below him:

And then we headed to the back row of section 302 for what we determined must be the farthest seat from home plate:

Yep, make that two pictures checked off the 2012 Photo Scavenger Hunt list!

While up there, of course, I got a panorama from section 302:

And then we headed back down to the second deck for our first father-son picture of the season:

Thank you to a nice usher who snapped the photo.  As my Little Grandma would say, “Jiminy, Tim is gotten huge!”  Remember when he used to look like this?  It is fun looking back at game photos and seeing him grow up before my eyes.

Actually, he’s done some much growing that I was concerned he would be too tall for the kids’ play area.  But fear not…

…plenty of growing still to do before he is shut out of the play area.

Tim was excited after posing for that picture, he told me “I can even come back and play when I am seven!”

The game started while we were at the play area.  Soon, we grabbed some nachos…

…and our seats in section 104:

The Mets were already winning 1-0 on a David Wright homerun to LF.

We spent a lot of the game (we’re mobile so not all of the game) sitting behind this dude…

…named “Duda,” Lucas Duda, and this other dude named….

…Hunter “Ugliest Mechanics In Baseball But Monster Power” Pence.

After nachos, it was time for Tim’s first ice cream helmet of the season.  We took the scenic route to our favorite ice cream lady at Citizens Bank Park…

…that’s the view from Section 242¸by the way.

Most of the teams in Tim’s little league are sponsored by local businesses, but one is sponsored by today’s Phillies starter, Vance Worley (who used to play for the Reading Phillies):

Big thanks to Vance for supporting our league, but this, unfortunately, was not his day.

On this pitch, Vance got Jason Bay to ground into a double play…

…but a run scored making it 2-0 Mets.  Duda was up next and he clubbed a 2-run homer to make it 4-0 Mets.

How about a random shot of British Columbian-born, Gonzaga University-alum Jason Bay:

Guess what?  Tim still likes ice cream hemlets…

…and our lady still makes a huge helmet.

The Phillies have not started strong this season.  And I noticed something…the fans do not seem to believe in them as much as in the last couple years, at least at this point with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both on the DL.  Check out the patch of empty seats with the Phils losing 4-0 in the top of the sixth inning:

I never saw that last season at Citizens Bank Park.

Tim wanted to visit the team store.  On our walk around the stadium, we noticed this nice mosaic art piece in the concourse:

While Tim and I were talking about the little Phanatic in the mosaic, the real Phanatic’s mom showed up on the scene.  I pulled our my camera and it refused to fire when the Phanatic’s mom patted Tim on the head.  Instead, the flash delayed the shutter and it didn’t take a picture until the Phanatic’s mom stuck her hand in my face with an exaggerated “Hi, Dad” wave:

So I got a rare close up of the Phanatic’s mom’s hand!

Shortly thereafter, Tim became the owner of a new stuffed Phanatic:

We stopped by the play area on our way back to RF, but it was just closing down.  Sad news.  So we headed back to the now hardly half-full RF seats.  Between innings, an usher took this shot of me and Tim:

By the way, Tim’s eyes were starting to look puffy because he was battling serious hay fever, which has been a daily battle for the last couple weeks.

The Phillies really did nothing offensively in this game.  Well, next to nothing.  They did get a single on this pitch to Juan Pierre:

If you look closely, you can see the baseball heading toward RF in that picture.

It is almost impossible to get an umpire baseball in Philadelphia (it would be easier if you had seats in the Diamond Club), but it was our first game of the season so, heck, we were up for the challenge.

We relocated to the concourse behind section 130.  For a while, we stood behind the camera man…

…where we saw Ruben Tejada drive in pinch runner Mike Baxter…

…off of Michael Stutes:

And then we watched David Wright…

…and Ike Davis…

…make outs for the Mets.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Tim and I slid into nearly ideal seats for making the umpire ball attempt:

The umpire Alfonso Marquez (shown in the background) would enter a tunnel at the home plate end of the dugout, just to the right of the guy in the light blue Phillies t-shirt in that last picture.

We had a great view of Jimmy Rollins, as he grounded out:

And a great view of Hunter Pence, while he struck out:

There were tons of empty seats in RF as Jon Rauch pitched to the day’s final batter John Mayberry:

Mayberry ended the game in the ideal umpire attempt manner – a high pop up that allowed us to get into position while the umpire had to stay at home plate.

We slid all the way into the second a row and stood at the little railing separating the really nice seats (dugout) from the ridiculously nice seats (Diamond Club).  Tim and I both called out “Alfonso” when he stopped on the grass just short of the warning track to wait for his colleagues.  He heard us call his name and fired an absolutely beautifully rubbed up baseball to us:

And then he left.

We lingered for a bit and then headed toward the LF corner on our way to the exit.  Tim was tossing the umpire ball into his glove over and over while we walked.  I noticed that there were two ballgirls down the LF line and I asked Tim if he wanted to get a picture. He said yes, and then yelled and started running.

I thought he was running to the ballgirls, but he had missed his glove and fired his new umpire ball under some seats and it disappeared.  We couldn’t find it anywhere, but fortunately, a nice fan pointed it out and we retrieved it from a tray of peanuts (or some type of food).

Fifteen seconds later and we would have missed getting this double ballgirl picture, which was taken mere feet from the spot where Tim caught the baseball from Byrdak about 4-and-a-half hours earlier:

A pose with his umpire ball and Citizens Bank Park sign…

…and with the Harry Kalas statute…

…and then we were “outta there!”

It was an incredibly awesome first day being back at the ballpark.  I can’t wait to fold Kellan into the mix for our first 3-guys game next weekend.

I know why Ernie Banks always wanted to *play two* — hip, hip Hooray for Baseball!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

1/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
2/0 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets; Kellan – N/A
1 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1
6 Baseballs – Mets 4, Phillies 1, Umpires 1
1/0 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – N/A
1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A

Kellan Visits CBP (9/5/2011)

Citizens Bank Park is the closest MLB stadium to our house.  But it is also sold out every single game.  Its crowded.  It’s expensive.  It’s not nearly as easy as, say, going to a game in Baltimore or DC.  That’s why it has taken me so long to get Kellan to a Phillies game.  But on September 5, 2011, Labor Day, it finally happened.

Actually, that has been the plan all season.  I bought tickets for this game months ago…before they were sold out, so I got them from the Phillies, instead of paying double in the “secondary market.”

All week, Colleen warned that the weather would be terrible.  But I’m a big believer in ignoring weather reports and assuming things will work out for the best.  When we arrived at the ballpark…

…the weather was perfect.  Warm, but not too hot.  Couldy, but try.  Perfect.

Once the gates opened, we headed to our standard beginning-of-BP-in-Philadelphia spot – the LF corner in foul territory:

At the beginning of BP, only LF and Ashburn Alley are open to fans.  In that last picture, you can see a yellow, plastic chain behind us, blocking us from entering the infield seats.  Section 140 extends from foul to fair territory.  It is the only foul territory open at the beginning of BP, and it is separated (because it is elevated) from the rest of LF.  So it’s the perfect spot for us to hang out.

When we got to this spot, Tommy Hunter was playing catch on the warning track with Braves bullpen catcher Alan Butts.  Hunter was out in LF and Butts was standing right below us with a guy in a khaki shorts and a polo standing with him.  My thought is that the guy in shorts was spotting Butts – i.e., making sure a batted ball didn’t hit Butts.

A month ago, I had no clue who Butts was.  But, as luck would have it, we were just in Atlanta on the GFS Roadtrip, so I knew his first name was Alan.  As one of his throws sailed toward Hanson, I called out, “Hey, Alan!?”  He looked up and said hi.  I asked if we could get the baseball when he and Hanson finished playing catch, and he said “sure thing.”

As we waited for Tommy and Alan to finish playing catch, Alan’s khaki’d spotter walked up the foul line to grab a baseball that had rolled to a stop on the edge of the warning
track:

As he came back to Butts, he wasn’t paying any attention to the batter.  Just then, a Phillies righty launched a ball down the foul line.  Usually, I am all over calling out “HEEEEAAAAADS!” when someone is an jeopardy of getting hit, but I was focused in on the ball.  I didn’t think it would reach me, but I thought we had a good chance at a ground rule double.  We’ll never know if it would have been a ground rule double or not, because it bounced hard off of the warning track and absolutely nailed Alan Butts’s spotter in the back of the head.  He went down hard and was down for a couple minutes.  It was ugly, and I felt bad that I hadn’t realized the situation and warned the guy.

I don’t think Colleen even noticed the situation; she was busy taking pictures of our cute little boys.  Like this one of Kellan (whose hair was going crazy):

Shortly after the spotter got nailed (or maybe just before…I’m not 100% sure of the timing), a BP homer (actually, it must have been just foul) was driller right over us on a
line.  None of the 10 or so fans sitting behind us was paying any attention to BP, I screamed “HEEEEEEEEAAAAADDDSSS UP!!!!!!!”

No one noticed, and it clanked off of one of the seats, bounced into foul territory and started rolling down the steps toward us.  But there was a guy behind us in the seats and I could tell he’d get the ball before it got to us.  Just then, I saw another ball dive into the seats in section 139 (in the LF foul corner).  It ended up coming to a stop right next to
the fence along the field.  I was the only person who saw it.  I pointed it out to an usher and asked if we could go grab it – it was on the other side of the yellow chain, but probably only 10 feet from us.

Instead of letting us go get it, the usher went to retrieve it himself.  Just then, Tim tapped on my back and shoved a baseball in my face:  “Look what that guy gave to me!”  It was the ball that had been hit over us.  The fan behind us grabbed it and gave it to Tim.  Tim handed it to me right as the usher was turning around with the other baseball
in his grasp.

I panicked for a second.  The usher probably wouldn’t give us the baseball if he knew we just got the other baseball (and we didn’t want the other baseball from the fan).  So I
hid the fan ball in my glove and accepted the other ball from the usher.  I’m pretty sure that ball was hit by one of the Phillies, but with all of the confusion with the other ball being hit over us, I’m not certain.  I guess it could have been Tommy Hanson over throw into the crowd, but that doesn’t seem very likely.  For one thing, it wouldn’t make
sense that an overthrow would roll back to the fence along the foul line.

Anyway, I got the ball from the usher and then I turned around and thanked the fan for giving Tim the other baseball.  But then I handed it back to him and asked him to give it to another kid.  He ended up giving it to an older lady that was standing with him…maybe his mom.  And he seemed happy to have it.

Luckily, Alan Butts didn’t see any of this.  When he and Hanson finished playing catch, Tommy started to run off with the baseball.  Alan called to him to toss it back.  When he got it, he tossed it up to us as promised:

Thanks, Alan!

I’m not an NL guy.  But I like Tommy Hanson.  So it is cool to get one of his warm up baseballs.

My wife doesn’t get to Citizens Bank Park much, so I asked her if she wanted to head out to Ashburn Alley to see what there was to see.  She agreed.  But on our way out of section 140, we ran into Harry Kalas!

Out in CF, we checked out the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye.  Then we did the speed pitch and Tim set a new personal best:  32 miles per hour!

We then went around the BBQ area and played the other games:

We were waiting for the rest of the stadium to open so we could head over to the pizza wedge.  We had a lot of time to kill because RF wouldn’t open until 5:35, and it was only 5:00 p.m.  So we decided to dine on dollar hot dogs while sitting among a throng of fans beneath the Richie Ashburn statue:

Tim and I finished our hot dogs while Kellan was still munching on his.  I asked Colleen if it would be okay for me and Tim to run down into the seats in LCF while Kellan finished his food.  She approved.   Tim and I ran across Ashburn Alley and as we took our first step into the seats I saw a homerun ball flying at the seats about ten feet below us and about 10 feet in from the aisle.  We kept running down the stairs as the ball deflected off the seats and bounced right in front of me.  I made the catch right in stride.  And then a guy down below yelled, “You’re right on time!!!”  It was pretty cool.

Moments later, I took a picture of Tim holding the ball…

…and Tim Hudson standing in LCF down below the section.  When I made the catch on that ball, I was standing in the aisle up by the lady in the white shirt and pink hat.
The ball essentially bounced over, around or through all of the fans sitting right there.  We’d come down there because I knew Tim Hudson was there and we wanted to see if we could get a toss-up from him.  But the whole entire section saw me catch that ball, so I felt a little funny about the idea of getting it and then going down and asking Hudson for a ball.  So we just headed back to Colleen and Kellan.

Soon enough, the rest of the stadium opened and we headed toward the pizza wedge.  We didn’t get the corner spot at the tip of the wedge because another father/son beat us there.  Tim and I hung out in the front row and Colleen and Kellan sat directly behind us:

While we were in the pizza wedge, Dan Uggla put on an extreme homerun hitting clinic.  First, he hit a homerun completely over the batters’ eye and into the Phillies Hall of Fame.  I’ve never see that happen before.  Next, he hit a bomb just to the leftfield side of the batters’ eye that landed on Ashburn Alley.  That was just plain ridiculous.

Eventually, a Braves batter hit a homerun that landed in the last row of the pizza wedge (2 rows above and slightly to the right of Colleen as pictured in the last photo).  It bounced down toward us, bounced into the back of Colleen’s seat (between her back and the seat back as she was ducking), and then bounced through the seat next to her (seat number 7 pictured above) where I grabbed it off of the ground.

That was good enough for us.  We skipped out on the rest of BP and headed over to McFadden’s…

…for dinner.

Colleen had never been to the McFadden’s at Citizens Bank Park before.  The bar area was insanely loud and probably would have given Kellan a monster headache.  But around the corner, they have a big dining room that was very mellow and essentially quiet.

We had a nice dinner before heading back out to the field:

The game was already starting when we headed out to the field, but we didn’t go to our seats.  Instead, Tim had requested a visit to the Kids Play Area:

Both boys had a lot of fun in the play area.  While it took a lot of coaxing, Kellan finally did go down the little kids’ slide.  The pitching match-up was Derek Lowe vs. Cliff Lee.  While we were in the play area, Michael Bourn made Lowe the loser when he smacked a grounder down the 3B line for a 2-RBI single.  That was all Cliff Lee would need, but not all he would get, on this night.

We had seats in the upper deck.  So when we left the play area, we walked up the winding ramp.  We stopped on the 200 level for a picture…

…and then we continued racing up the ramp.  Tim always makes me race him up the ramps.  And when he gets tired, he announces that the race is over.  When we reached the bottom of the last leg of the ramp, I got a picture of the boys with the Citizens Bank Park sign behind them:

And then we went and found our seats.  I bought tickets to this game through the Phillies website at the beginning of the season.  I knew they were in the upper deck, but had
no clue where.  Turns out, they were in the very back row of section 424.  It was actually a very nice view of the game:

From up top in section 424, we had a great view of the spots where “His Name Is” Dan Uggla hit his monster BP bombs…

…and we had walked right into the ricocheted BP homer.

And of the pizza wedge where the homer had sailed over us and then bounced back to us:

We don’t sit in the upper deck much, but we were having a great time and the tippy-top of Citizens Bank Park:

See how there is a chain linked fence directly behind our seats?  This is what was on the other side of the fence…

…a massive drop off!

We also had a great view of home plate, as shown here when Ryan Howard drilled a single right back up the box in the bottom of the third inning:

Whenever she joins us at a game, Colleen takes lots of pictures of her three boys – most of which feature Tim making some kooky faces:

At one point in the game, we got some unexpected comic relief.  The Phillies were listing off birthdays and anniversaries on the big screen and then they showed a lady standing in the crowd.  She immediately saw herself on the screen and started doing some fairly provocative and hilarious dancing for the cameras.  Meanwhile, he boyfriend was
kneeling next to her holding a box with a diamond engagement ring.  She was completely oblivious and into her dancing.  He must have said something because she stopped dancing and turned and looked at him.  But she looked at his face, and somehow completely missed that he was holding out the engagement ring.  He essentially lifted it up into her face so she couldn’t miss it…

…and then began the water works.  She started crying like a little baby.  Then she started hugging and kissing him.  So, I think it is safe to conclude that she said, “Yes.”

Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was pitching a masterful game:

And, at least on one play, he received some stellar defensive help by Ryan Howard:

He ran with his back to home plate all the way to the wall and made a very impressive sliding-sliding-away-from-the-field catch.

Derek Lowe wasn’t having as much luck as Lee:

He gave up the third and fourth runs of the night in the bottom of the fourth inning on an 2-RBI single by Shane Victorino.

After Chase Utley hit a triple with one out in the bottom of the fifth…

…Lowe eventually gave up three more runs.  First, Hunter Pence hit a double to score Utley.  Then, Carlos Ruiz hit a score Howard and Pence.  That made the score 7-0 Phillies.
And that was all she wrote for Derek Lowe.

Here is a nice picture I took of Tim, just for the heck of it:

When it was ice cream time, I was holding Kellan.  So Mommy was on ice cream duty.   Colleen sometimes wonders why I get so many ice cream helmets.  She got her answers after she bought Tim this delicious, but incredibly messy, ice cream cone:

Ice cream helmets make a great souvenir AND they catch all of the melting ice cream.  Cones are a delicious ice cream receptacle, but all of the melting ice cream runs down your hands and only your clothes.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Scott Linebrink replaced Derek Lowe and promptly gave up a solo homerun to Ryan Howard…

…; the first and only batter he would face.  That made the score 8-0 Phillies.

The Phillies tacked on a ninth and final run in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI single by Placido Polanco.

We tried to beat the traffic, so we started making our way toward the exit as the game wrapped up.  As we were walking through the upper deck concourse on our way to the ramp, Tim kept asking, “Why are we leaving?  The game is still going!  Why are we leaving!?”  That’s my boy.  I love that attitude.  Bud, unfortunately, we needed to get home
sooner-rather-than later because Tim had just started kindergarten and he needed to rest up for school the next day.  So we sacrificed the last three outs of Cliff Lee’s 9-0 complete game shut out win.

On the way toward the ramp, we got a parting shot of the boys with the scoreboard:

And that’s the story of Kellan’s first Phillies game.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
27/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers,
Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]
21 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3)).
76 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 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, 1 Marlins)
12/4 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; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]
15/9 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; 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]
6 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, Jamie Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells)
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

In Philadelphia With The Folks (6/10/2011)

In mid-June, my folks came to Pennsylvania for a quick visit.  My mom had never been to Citizens Bank Park.  So on June 10, 2011, we headed down to Philadelphia to see the Cubs vs. the Phillies.

My folks love Philadelphia, so before going to the game, we took a quick walk around the Rittenhouse Square area:

Then it was down to the stadium for us.  On the way into the ballpark, Tim wanted to get his picture with this statute of Joe Brown…

…which he has been photographed multiple times in the past.  My dad’s picture of me taking Tim’s picture actually came out looking much better than the picture I took.

A little further down the sidewalk, I gathered my folks together with Tim for this photo outside of the LF gate:

When we entered the ballpark, the Phillies were taking BP and LF was still the only part of the stadium that was open to the public.  My dad hung out a few rows back in section 141 (the first section in homerun territory in left field), while Tim, my mom and I headed to the first row in section 140 (which is in foul territory and was in the shade).

A few minutes later, a ball was hit right down the line and it came to rest in foul territory.  Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick was in LF and he slowly walked over to grab the ball.  When he walked below us, he looked up at me and…

Kendrick:  “Hey, is that a Mariners hat!?”

Todd:  “Yeah!”

Kendrick:  “And that’s a Mariners shirt!?”

Todd:  “Yep.”

(FYI, it was a t-shirt with an intentionally sorta faded original Mariners logo.  Also, at some point during this exchange, Kendrick tossed us the baseball he had just grabbed off of the warning track.  Thanks, Kyle!)

Kendrick:  “Are you from Washington?”

Todd:  “I live there for about 22 years, but live here now.”

Mom:  “I live in Seattle!”

Kendrick:  “I’m from Mount Vernon!”

Todd:  “Cool.  I used to play a lot of baseball in there when I played American Legion ball.”

Todd:  “So, are you a Mariners fan!?”

Kendrick:  (makes a wishy-washing, non-confirming/non-denying gesture)

Todd:  “Well, were you a Mariners fan growing up?”

Kendrick:  “Oh, definitely!”

My, Oh, My!  Great to learn there is a Washingtonian and Mariners fan (I know he’s still a Mariners fan!) on the Phillies.  I now have a newfound appreciation for Mr. Kendrick.

Here is a combination of the Kendrick hanging out in LF and the baseball that he tossed up to us:

After chatting with Kendrick, I headed out to CF to look around.  My mom and Tim stayed put and my dad got this shot of Grandma reading to Tim the give-away book (Phillie Phanatic: The Philadelphia Story) that he received upon entry into the stadium:

On my way back to LF, I stopped in the front row just in front of my dad.  Right then, someone hit a homerun directly in line with me.  But it sailed over my head.  I turned around sure that my dad would catch it.  But he didn’t even see the ball coming and another guy caught the ball about one foot to my dad’s right.

I left the front row and met up with Tim and my mom again to watch the Cubs pitchers warm up along the LF line…

…and then my mom move over to section 141 and joined my dad in the front row.

Not much was going on, so Tim spent some quality time touching the foul pole:

When the Cubs pitchers’ finished throwing, a coach (who I think was Dave Keller)…

…tossed Tim a baseball.

Thanks, Dave!

When the rest of the stadium opened, we headed over to the “pizza slice” in RCF:

Kerry Wood (34) and Jeff “Fighting Irish” Samardzija (29) were both shagging balls in CF…

…I was thinking it would be nice if one of them tossed us a baseball, but James Russell (40) beat them to it.  Russell tossed us a baseball from about 100 feet out into the grass.  I was in the “pizza slice” where you cannot scoot back.  I grabbed the railing and reached up as high as I could and just barely got it before it sailed over me into the bullpen.

Thanks, James!

Meanwhile, my dad was down 2-3 sections toward CF:

A Cub launched a homerun a couple rows back and he scampered up a couple rows and snagged the ball off of the stairs.  My mom took this shot of my dad with is first baseball from Citizen Bank Park:

After BP, three generations of Cook boys tested their canons at the speed pitch…

…and there was no actual speed present.  Actually, it should be noted that Tim heated it up to “28 miles for hour,” an improvement of 2 miles since his last effort.

Next, it was time for a brief play stop in the kids’ play area.  Then, we headed up the ramp…

… for a little tour of the upper deck.

We entered the upper deck at section 312…

…and we thought it was a nice background for a group shot:

Next, Tim wanted to climb up to the very top row.  So we headed to the section right behind home plate and climbed to the top.  After taking in the scenery, we decided to go down a little lower to find an usher to take our picture.  But a fan overheard us and offered to take our picture.  Here is her camera handiwork:

And, what the heck, how about one more group shot from the bottom of the upper deck:

Tim decided to do a statue pose in that last shot.

It was game time.  We reported to our seats in section 138 right as Roy Halladay was delivering the first pitch of the game.

I didn’t take this until late in the game, but here is a panorama from section 138, row 10, seat 8:

The Philadelphia International Airport is southwest of Citizens Bank Park and there is always a steady diet of airplanes traveling from right field toward home plate on their descent toward the airport.  But all of a sudden at the beginning of this game, the airplanes all reversed course…

…Tim had a lot of fun watching airplanes traveling from home plate toward right field on their ascent from the airport.

We also had a lot of fun watching the Phanatic and his friends and family entertain people around the ballpark.  Here is the Phanatic hanging out in the crowd down the third base line:

Note:  it seems like the Phanatic always makes his first appearance during each game right around this same area down the 3B line.

We had never sat so close to a Phillies ballgirl.  Between innings, Tim headed down and got this picture with Maureen:

Before getting Maureen’s autograph and photo, Tim reported to me that every ballgirl whose autograph he’d gotten in the past had signed her name with a little heart.  He was sure that Maureen would adorn her baseball card with a heart too.  But Maureen switched it up and signed her name with a little drawing of a baseball.

Those “friends and family” of the Phanatic included “Lady PhaPha”…

…who did a little dance with the second base umpire, Alan Porter.

Of course, in addition to the non-baseball entertainment, there was a game being played too.  The Phillies took the lead early and led the whole way.

In the first inning, the Phillies scored a single run on a Ryan Howard groundout that scored Shane Victorino.   In the second inning, they added two more on a two run homerun by Dominic Brown.  I believe that this homerun makes Brown the first person whom Tim and I have seen hit a homerun in the minor and Major leagues.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, former-Mariner Raul Ibanez…

…hit a double down the right field line.  But he was stranded on base and the score remained 3-0 Phillies.

Halladay was, as they say, dealing:

Yep, its official, he’s good.

By the way, here was our view of Raul out in left field:

It was official, we were having a good time and the ballpark and Tim highly approved of it:

Although the lead seemed insurmountable given Halladay’s dominance, the Phillies played a little tack-on in the bottom of the seventh…and it is a good thing that they did.  After loading up the bases, Placido Polanco unloaded them with one swing:

Our new friend, James Russell, had to come in to finish off the seventh inning for starter Victor Zambrano:

And that put the Phillies up 7-0.

But then Uncle Charlie decided to that his relievers needed to get some work in.  So Halladay’s day was done with a line of 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K.

The relief corps did not fare as well.  Between Jose Contreras (4 runs) and J.C. Romero (1 run), the Phillies gave back 5 runs in the top of the 8th, and all of a sudden we had a ball game again.  And the “boooooos” were raining down in Citizen Bank Park.

Late in the game, the Phanatic (1B dugout) enlisted the help of his mother (3B dugout) to get the crowd going again:

This has nothing to do with baseball, but I was quite happy with the zoom job my camera did on the moon:

At the end of the game, the Phanatic got some help from this guy in the green shirt and plaid shorts:

He was sitting just across the aisle from us and after a lot of hard work he got the wave going pretty good around the ballpark:

It must have worked because Michael Stutes got a hold and Antonio Bastardo got the save, which of course resulted in a win for both the Phillies and their ace, Roy Halladay.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
12/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)
13/2 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals and Cubs; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles]
7 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2))
38 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs)
5/1 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington; Kellan – Camden Yards]
11/7 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; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

I-95 Doubleheader: Baltimore-to-Philadelphia (5/7/2011)

On September 6, 2010, Tim and I managed a first:  a multi-city doubleheader with a day game at Nationals Park and a night game at Citizens Bank Park.  It was great fun.  Our only regret was that we were able to get one baseball during BP in D.C., but we did not get a baseball at the night cap.

So turning to the 2011, I wanted to do a couple more multi-city doubleheaders.  I originally had three of them on our schedule, but my wife (not wanting Tim to get too exhausted) asked me to scale it back to just one.  So I picked May 7, 2011:  Rays vs. Orioles at 1:05 p.m. followed by Braves vs. Phillies at 7:05 p.m.

We woke up just knowing it was going to be a great day.

We were in the car by 8:30 a.m. and, after drawing a bunch of pictures, Tim ended up napping most of the drive down to Baltimore:

In addition to going to the games, we had an extra task to accomplish in Baltimore.  I had made a bat for a guy named Mike Jasser who reads our blog.  Mike and I had arranged to meet up before the game so we could deliver the bat.

In the parking garage before meeting Mike, I had Tim pose for a picture with Mike’s bat:

Although we had exchanged emails from time-to-time over the past year, I had never met Mike before.  Turns out he’s a cool guy.  We ended up hanging out together (along with several of the Camden Yards regulars) during most of the game and it was a lot of fun.

When we entered the ballpark at 11:00 a.m., the field was set up for BP, but there was practically nothing happening on the field.  A couple Orioles pitchers were warming up down the 1B line so Tim and I grabbed some seats in the first row to watch them.

And Tim busted open a pack of peanut butter crackers.  Tim could easily eat nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and crackers and live a happy life.

There were only 4 Orioles playing catch and another Orioles pitcher (Josh Rupe) was running in the outfield.  When Rupe finished running, he walked over to us, reached out and set a baseball in Tim’s hand.

Thanks, Josh!

Before he could walk away, I declared that I needed to ask Rupe a funny question.  He agreed to listen.

Todd:  We’re in a photo scavenger hunt and I was wondering if you could take a picture of yourself with my camera?

Rupe:  A picture of myself?

Todd:  Yeah.

Rupe:  With your camera?

Todd:  Yeah…

Todd:  In fair territory.

Rupe:  In fair territory?  Sure!

Rupe backed up into fair territory, looked around like he was thinking about something, and then explained, “I’ll face this way so you can see the foul pole and tell that I’m in fair territory!”

Here is Rupe’s handiwork:

As Rupe handed the camera back to me, he said, “If anyone else asks me to do this, I’ll say ‘no’ so you win the scavenger hunt!”

Thanks, again, Josh!

Still, not much was going on.  The day’s starting pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie, was stretching on the warning track in the RF foul corner:

We headed over there to chat with Guthrie.

Todd: “Hey, Jeremy!  I can’t believe that Zack didn’t write about you in his book!”

Guthrie:  “Its disgraceful!  Man, I gave him a baseball on the last day of Yankee Stadium.  And I play catch with him all the time!”

Todd:  “That’s inexcusable!”

A few minutes later, someone hit a ball in the corner right by Guthrie.

Todd:  “Hey, Jeremy.  If you toss that baseball up here to us, I promise I’ll write about you in my book…not that I actually have any plans to write a book or anything.”

Guthrie chuckles, but didn’t toss us the baseball.  Hey, it was worth a shot.

After a bit, Tim and I headed over to LF to say hi to Matt, Avi, Zevi and Mike.  They were all doing their best to catch BP homeruns.  But I’m not a big fan of hanging out too long in homerun territory with Tim during BP – too many hard hit baseballs flying around.  So we headed around the LF foul pole into foul territory where a couple Rays pitchers were playing catch.

As we passed behind the foul pole, Vlad Guerrero launched a homerun about 20 rows over our heads.  Here is a graphical reenactment:

The baseball took a huge bounce down about 10-15 rows.  Then it took a second smaller bounce that found its way into the pocket of my glove.  Hey, a Vlad Guerrero homer is a pretty darn cool baseball to get.  We’ll take it.

Thanks, Vlad (even if you didn’t specifically intend to hit that ball to us)!

Finally, we found our way into foul territory and watch two Rays who we did not recognize play catch.  They warmed up their arms, then played long toss, then one of them pitched to the other, then they switched places and the other guy pitched.  When they finished up¸ the second “catcher,” who ended up being…

…Juan Cruz, tossed us their warm up baseball.

Thanks, Juan!

Three baseballs in hand and the sunny beating down on us, we decided to hit up the kids’ play area.  First, Tim did some pitching:

He actually went to this pitching station a couple times.  His second time on “the mound” he pumped three consecutive strikes into the little strike zone box on the wall.  So he left the cage and gave me a big thumbs up.

Next, he posed with the big yellow bobblehead:

Followed by some bouncing in the bouncy house and some running, climbing and sliding on the fort-thingy:

Finally, he did a little hitting off of the air tee:

The Orioles really have a first class kids’ play area now-a-days.  Good job, O’s!

When we headed back out to the field, the grounds crew was finally ripping down the BP cage and nets.  We walked around the inner-walkway toward LF and found some seats in the shade.  Vlad Guerrero came out to stretch so I figured I should get a picture of him since we caught his BP homer:

Right when the game started, Tim wanted to go back to the kids’ play area.  So we retraced our steps on the inner-walkway.  On the walk, I got this shot of Evan Longoria…

…taking a big hack, which I believe produced a foul ball.

When we reached the play area, Tim got a picture with another big bobblehead…

…and took some hacks in the big kids’ batting cage:

…Tim is a good hitter, but the bats they use in these cages (like the one at Citi Field) are often times too heavy for him to swing.  But he did okay swinging the lightest bat the Orioles provided.

After the kids play area, we met up with Mike Jasser in the RF flag court.  Tim LOVES the flag court.  Here he is hugging a flag pole:

Then he asked where the Mariners flag pole was (in the A.L. West last place position…for now) and, after making a game out of running to the wrong flag over and over, he finally found his way to the Mariners flag and posed for this picture:

While Tim was hugging and bouncing off of flag poles, I saw the Orioles Bird walking by in Eutaw Street.  We ran out and got this picture:

After the picture with the Bird, we were standing around chatting in the flag court when Evan Longoria launched a homerun into the left field seats.  We could see that either Matt or Avi caught the ball.  It looked to me like Matt caught it.

I asked Mike if he wanted to go over and meet Avi, Zevi and Matt.  He did so the three of us started walking to LF around the picnic area in CF.  On the way, I texted Avi and asked if Matt caught the homerun.  As we circled around the picnic area, Avi texted back that HE had caught the ball.  Big congrats to Avi!

Before heading into the seats, we went and bought some nachos.  As we were walking through the concourse, Mike said the funniest line of the day:  “Man, I feel like I’m walking around in one of the blogs that I read.”  And, hey, I guess he was doing just that.

When we got into the seats, I snapped this picture of Avi and his homerun baseball, flanked by Matt (and his glove) and Zevi:

Around this time, B.J. Upton hit a ground rule double into the seats in RCF.  The fan who caught it launched it back onto the field, which prompted several fans sitting about 10 rows behind us to start mentioning loudly that whoever caught the Upton ball was a “real fan” because they tossed it back.  Avi ignored these silly statements and instead took some shots of Tim playing with his mustard dog:

We had a very relaxing time out there in LF.  Most of the scoring in the game was behind us.  So we just relaxed and chatted:

This was the Fox Saturday game and Avi noticed that Fox had put up a green screen behind home plate…

…so Fox could show their own advertisements during the game.

We were sitting right behind breakout star outfielder of the season, Sam Fuld:

During this game, he had a nice diving catch and picked off a homerun that Mike would have been all over had Fuld not made the catch.

Of course, Tim enjoyed a chocolate ice cream helmet while we lounged in LF.  While we were off buying the ice cream, I got this panoramic view of the new and improved Camden Yards concourse:

After finishing his ice cream, Tim asked if we could go get a picture with the Orioles ballgirl down the 3B line.  On our way, we got this panoramic view of Camden Yards from (I think) section 62:

The ballgirl was happy to pose for a picture with Tim:

But Tim was let down when the ballgirl didn’t have an autographed ballgirl card for him (like the Phillies ballgirls).

Before we headed back to LF, a fan asked if we wanted him to take our picture.  Sure, we did:

Right at the end of the game, Avi, Zevi and Matt headed over to the Rays dugout and Mike decided to hit the road a little early.  Before parting ways, we got a picture with Mike…

…in which Tim is posing like he’s too cool for school.

The Rays were winning by a score of 8-1 and it was already past 4:00.  I was hoping to be on the road by 4:00 so we could hopefully catch a little bit of BP in Philadelphia.  We wanted to stay for the entire game, but to make our exit process more efficient, we decided to watch the bottom of the ninth from the tunnel in straight away CF.

Here is what it looked like as we hoped (unsuccessfully) that Vlad Guerrero would make the final out of the game:

After the Orioles scored one last run, Felix Pie made the final out (for an 8-2 Rays win), and Tim and I high tailed it for our car.  Tim played with his little baseball action figures for a bit…

…but then fell asleep for a majority of our drive up I-95, through Wilmington, Delaware, and into Philadelphia.

We made great time until we reached the outskirts of Philadelphia.  Ultimately, we missed batting practice.  If we were going to get a baseball at two stadiums in one day, it would have to be during or after the game.  A tall task for Citizens Bank Park.

Luckily, we had amazing seats.  Here was our view of Citizens Bank Park from Section 131, row 3, seats 17-18:

FYI, seat 18 is on the aisle of the section 132 staircase.

Aside from getting food twice, we stayed in our seats this entire game.  It was a great spot for taking pictures of the action at home plate.  Here are some shots of Jason Heyward…

…and Chipper Jones…

…neither of whom got a hit in their first inning at bats.

Braves pitcher Julio Teheran made his MLB debut at this game.  The first batter he faced in his Major League career was Jimmy Rollins…

…who laced a single down the RF line.

Ryan Howard came looking to drive J-Roll in:

The Braves put on an interest shift:

Instead of shifting the SS to the other side of 2B, they brought chipper Jones all the way from 3B to the 2B position.   But the Braves didn’t need the shift because Howard grounded out to 1B.

Although Howard couldn’t push a run across in the first, the Phils took a 1-0 lead in the second when Pete Orr hit an RBI ground out.

It was time for some dinner.  Tim and I had a thorough discussion our day’s meal plan.  Should we go hot dogs for lunch in Baltimore with nachos for dinner in Philadelphia?  Nachos in Baltimore and hot dogs in Philadelphia?  We for nachos in Baltimore.  So…dinner…what would it be….

…NACHOS!

And after being ridiculed by Avi in Baltimore for wasting some excess cheese, we were sure to finish all of our dinner nacho cheese  with the help of some crackers we brought with us from home.

In the fourth inning, Ryan Howard beat the shift be going way, way over it.  He blasted a homerun over section 101 and into the Phillies bullpen.  Here he is about to score the second Phillies run of the night:

 

Although it may not look like it in this picture…

…the place was rocking, and so was the Liberty Bell.  The bell tolls back-and-forth and lights up all red, white and blue when a Phillie hits a homerun.

So the fifth inning rolled around and it was looking like our attempt to get a baseball at two stadiums in the same day were fading.  Our best opportunity would be to go for an umpire baseball, which is really difficult at Citizens Bank Park.

But with a runner on first and no outs in the top of the fifth inning, Alex Gonzalez strode to the plate.  On the first pitch from Kyle Kendrick, Gonzalez hit a soft foul grounder right to the Braves 3B coach Brian Snitker:

Snitker gave us a baseball last season at PNC Park and that was the only reason that I knew his first name.  It came in handy.  I bounced to my feet, jumped down into the first row, and right as Snitker fielded the foul ball I called out, “Hey, Brian!!!” and I flashed him my glove.

A soft underhand toss later…

…and Tim’s first foul ball of his life (albeit via toss up)…

…made Citizens Bank Park the second stadium at which we’d caught a ball on May 7, 2011.  Mission accomplished.  I was incredibly excited.  As shown in the last picture, Tim was equally excited by the fact that he had just found a quarter on the ground (I didn’t tell him that it was actually our quarter that simply fell out of my pocket) that was facing heads up (backstory:  Colleen told Tim its good luck if you find a penny laying heads up on the ground, and Tim has decided that the rule applies to any and all coins).

We celebrated with a gargantuan Phillies ice cream helmet.  Our special ice cream helmet lady made it so big that when I scooped the top portion and put it in our Orioles helmet from earlier in the day, we both had full ice cream helmets:

Note:  when given the choice, Tim chose to eat his share of the ice cream from the Orioles helmet at this Phillies game.

In the top of the seventh inning, the Phillies brought in reliever Michael Stutes:

 

A couple years ago when my company softball team was playing a game against the “AA” Reading Phillies front office softball team, Stutes and Mike Zagursky heckled my team mercilessly.   This was the first time I’d seen Stutes pitch in the majors.  Now, I can say that I’ve been heckled by two (future) Major Leaguers.

Stutes gave up a hit, but got out of the inning without giving up any runs.  At this point, the score was 3-0 (Victorino had an RBI triple in the fifth to score the third Phillies run) and that ended up being the final score.

In the eighth, I got another picture each of Jason Heyward…

…and Chipper Jones:

Both popped out.  Tim thought the name “Chipper” was hilarious and, following his first at bat, he joked about it for much of this game.

This was a really fun game.  Among other things, Tim and I chatted a lot with two Braves friends from California who sat right behind us.

I asked the guy if Braves fans had gotten over Brooks Conrad’s 2010 post-season errors.  In a tone implying he did not care what other Braves fans thought about it, he answered with a matter of fact:  “I’m not.”

Our seat neighbors were thrilled for Tim when we got the Gonzalez foul ball.  The lady kept saying she wanted to “rent” Tim so they could get a ball too.  But in the end, they didn’t need to rent Tim.  When Ben Francisco grounded out to end the bottom of the eighth, none other than replacement first basemen Brooks Conrad fired the third out ball to the happy Braves fan.  I think it was the first baseball he’d ever got at a game, and he and his girlfriend were quite happy about it.

I turned to the guy, “He must have heard you say that you weren’t over his errors!”

In the ninth inning, the Braves fans were nice enough to take this shot of me and Tim:

[Note: the possessed-looking little girl sitting in front of us and oddly looking back at the camera in this picture stared at Tim for like half of the game.  It was bizarre.  The Braves fans’ theory was that she was jealous of Tim’s stuffed Mustard Hot Dog toy that he was holding for much of the game.]

So, the Phillies own.  We were totally content with the Gonzalez foul ball so we didn’t even make an effort to get an umpire baseball.  However, we did end up getting one more baseball after the game.  We were just standing above the dugout when Brooks Conrad poked his head out of the dugout.  All of the other players were gone.  When I say Conrad, I said, “Hey, Brooksy” like we were buddies.  Brooks nodded, pulled  a baseball out of his pocket, tossed it to me, and then pointed to Tim on my shoulders like “hey, that’s for your boy up there.”

Thanks, Brooks!

Before heading out, I took this picture of us with Tim holding his Gonzalez foul ball and his coveted Mustard Hot Dog:

Another fan saw our self-portrait and offered to take our picture for us.  Here was his effort:

On our slow walk up the stairs, an usher gave Tim a little Phillies Phanatic figurine.  At the top of the stairs, Tim had us stop so I could take some pictures of his Phanatic and each of the four baseball players he brought with us to the game:

It was time to head out.  On our walk to the car, Tim got his picture with a statute of “Mr. Baseball” Connie Mack:

 

And, another picture by our car with the stadium in the background

Two games, two stadiums and over 13 hours after leaving home that morning, we were on our way home once again.  Tim actually started awake chatting with me in the car for about half an hour.   But eventually, he crashed:

It was yet again another awesome day.  You gotta love baseball!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
 
7/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
8/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, and Braves; Kellan – none]
4 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies)
20 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves)
3/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – none]
10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]
*includes Spring Training
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 72 other followers