Results tagged ‘ phillies ’
My parents are two of the luckiest people around. During the regular season, they live at my boyhood home about 15 miles from Safeco Field. During Spring Training, they live at their winter home about 3 miles from the Mariners spring training home — the Peoria Sports Complex.
Before the 2008 season began, Colleen, Tim and I headed to Peoria to meet up with my folks and my Mariners for some Spring Training.
Courtesy of Google Maps, here is an aerial view of the Peoria Sports Complex:
At the top center is the stadium where the Mariners and Padres play their home spring training games. The Mariners spring training fields are below to the left. The two fields to the far left are the Mariners Single-A training fields. The next two fields to the right are the Mariners Double-A and Triple-A fields. Next, is the Mariners secondary Major League field. Above that field is the Mariners administrative building and parking lot. Next to the administrative building to the right is the Mariners primary Major League field. Below the primary field, is a partial field where they do infield drills.
Then on the right side, the Padres have a mirror image of the Mariners training fields.
Spring training is incredibly cool and relaxing. One thing I love is all of the open grass between the training fields. It is a perfect set up that allowed us to watch the Mariners run drills and take BP while my dad and I played a lot of catch:
Those pictures are all taken in the grass between the Mariners Major League fields and the administrative building, which also has a big bullpen set up and indoor batting cages lining the big open grass area. In fact, you can see the bullpens behind my dad and Tim in the top two of the last four-picture set.
In the first day or two of our trip, we just watched the Mariners training. Here is Ichiro watching Raul Ibanez taking BP on the main field:
On our first day there, we ran into Mariners catching prospect Adam Moore who was working out one-on-one with a coach on the secondary Major League field…
…after he finished up, we got his autograph on one of the baseballs Tim had collected earlier in the day and got Tim’s first picture with a professional ballplayer. Finally, at the end of 2009, Moore made the Mariners major league roster. Hopefully we will see a lot of him in 2010.
I really enjoyed watching the Minor Leaguers…
Ah, remember how I mentioned it is relaxing at Spring Training…
…this is an ideal way to spend a morning, relaxing with your family and playing catch with your dad while watching the Mariners prepare for the regular season.
Yep, and then we got more baseballs…
Spring Training is also good for normal bats too…
…that’s a bat that my dad got from a Mariners minor leaguer. No cracks or anything. Just a nice fully-intact bat. Tim and I got two bats from minor leaguers as well, both with small cracks.
Here’s another cool part of Spring Training…
While my dad and I would play catch, Tim would run around with his grandma…
Soon, it was time for some games, so we would head to the main stadium in the afternoons:
Here is a view of the main stadium:
Here is a view of where we sat at most of the games:
When we arrived at Spring Training, they’d already played a bunch of games. And Ichiro was batting .000 (zero hits so far). He was something like 0-20.
His luck would change as soon as we arrived. Actually, he didn’t play in our first game. But in his very first at-bat that Tim and I saw him have in the spring, he got his first hit of the spring…
During one of the games, I took “The Ruthian” challenge:
On this trip, I also was able to achieve a life long dream…
…my first ever Mariners game (or any professional baseball game) on my birthday. I always wished growing up that I could have rounded up a bunch of my friends and gone to a Mariners game on my birthday. But its hard to do when you weren’t born during the baseball season. So this was a real special treat for me. And, as a special gift, Ichiro and Adrian Beltre both hit a homerun for me, and the Mariners got me the win.
For our final spring training game, we sat on the outfield berm…
But we still managed to get a picture that I absolutely love:
BUT WAIT…our pre-season baseball wasn’t finished yet.
Several of my colleagues are big Phillies fans and share the “weekend” ticket package…or maybe its just the “Sunday” ticket package. Whatever. The Phillies had two more pre-season games after breaking camp in Florida. They call it the “On Deck” series. And one of my colleagues gave us their tickets because no one in the group was going to use them.
So, a day or two before opening day, Tim and I headed down to Philadelphia for a freezing cold game against the Blue Jays.
This was our view from our seats in Section 130:
Okay, he wasn’t really saying that. But I LOVE that picture. Hilarious.
It was so cold that we gave up our excellent seats and headed over to the sunny seats in the leftfield porch:
I was fine leaving early. So we made a deal that we’d leave after spending one inning behind the Phils dugout watching Moyer up close. We made our way over there in time to see Pat Burrell step to the plate…
We got a great close-up view of Moyer on the mound:
And with that, we called it a day, and a pre-season, and we went home and waited for our favorite holiday, Mariners opening day.
I mentioned in my last game entry that I’d met with a Senior V.P. of the Phils at the game on September 9, 2007, and he hooked me up with some sweet tickets for a future game. Well, this is that game. It was the Rockies vs. the Phillies on Wednesday, September 12, 2007.
Now, the date of the game was purely fortuitous. The guy from the Phils offered me two different dates, and I picked this one for no particular reason. However, while sitting in our great seats early in the game, I realized it was the one-year anniversary of Tim’s first MLB game. It took me about four seconds to determine that I would take Tim to a game on September 12th every year from now on. And thus was born, Tim’s MLB Annivesary.
(FYI, father’s out there, if you have the opportunity of creating a holiday like this for your son or daughter, I highly recommend it. I love Tim’s MLB anniversary and I look forward to it every season. Its always a special day. And I love the idea that some day Tim will be in college and we’ll coordinate where we are going to meet up on September 12th for his MLB anniversary game.)
Here is the view from Tim’s 1st MLB Annivesary seats…
(By the way, that’s a fixed up version of my first ever ballpark panarama).
For the second game in a row, we were joined by Tim and Gabe Greco:
Our seats were 8 rows behind the Colorado Rockies dugout…
This game was a preview of the 2007 NLDS. And it went about as well for the Phils as did the NLDS. The Phils got absolutely destroyed. But, things started out with a bang for the Phils (in a good way) in the first inning Greg Dobbs and Chase Utley treated us to the first live and in person triple play of any of our lives. It happened so quick (as they always do) I didn’t get any pictures. But I made the following to illustrate the big moment:
Cory Sullivan (who, as you can see, now plays for the Mets) led off the game with a single. A bunt single by Troy Tulowitzki moved Sullivan to second. So Matt Holliday (shown in his 2009 Cardinals uniform) stepped to the plate with two on and no outs. He was ready to do some damage. But it wasn’t in the cards.
With a 0-1 count, Holliday hit a hard liner — SIDE NOTE: as the ball was sailing toward third base, I yelled “TRIPLE PLAY!!!” — to former Mariner Greg Dobbs to retire Holliday (first out). As Sullivan was hung out to dry between 2B-3B, the Dobbers fired the ball to Chase Utley who tagged second base to retire Sullivan (second out), Utley then turn and tagged out Tulowitzki as he was still heading toward 2B (third out). The crowd went CRAZY!!!
Tim was pretty excited too…
I’ll tell you what, it was pretty awesome to witness a triple play. It took me over 30 years to see one. Tim witnessed his first before age 2, and in less than 10 games…not too shabby. Come on, how many people get to see a triple play when still sucking on a pacifier?
By the way, if you’re looking for information on MLB triple plays, look no further than HERE.
People were excited for the Phils to follow-up the triple play with some big hitting. Well, the people were disappointed. The Phils forgot their bats at home on this night. The Phils had a grand total of 4 hits on the night: singles by Chase Utley, Greg Dobbs, Jayson Werth and Chris Coste.
So it was back to the field for the Phils…
…I guess I should mention that Kyle Kendrick was on the mound. He had a solid year in 2007, finishing at 10-4. This wasn’t a performance for him to write home about.
With the great seats and all of the excitement in the stadium following the triple play, Tim was into the game…
…but all he got to see were a bunch of Rockies taking their hacks…
With these great seats, I started thinking there was a chance Tim could come away from the park with another baseball. This was the 8th game of Tim’s life and he’d already snagged 3 baseballs. But he had gone four games without getting one. So it was about time!
Then I spotted our opportunity: former Mariner Glenallen Hill. Tim and I were decked out in Mariners gear. Over the course of a 13-year career, Hill played half of one season (74 games in 1998) for the Mariners. But, nine years later, that didn’t stop me from acting as if Hill had played a hall of fame career for the Mariners.
Hill was coaching 1B for the Rockies. Each inning (after coaching lots and lots of Rockies baserunners), Hill would return to the Rockies dugout and stand right in front of us. After the Rockies infielders warmed up their arms, Todd Helton would toss the infield warm-up ball to Hill. After 3-4 innings with this happening, Hill decided to bestow one of those infield warm-up balls on the two biggest Mariners fans at Citizens Bank Park:
That is Glenallen Hill circled in the background as he coaches first base. Obviously, he didn’t throw the ball to us from 1B. He threw it from the dugout. Somehow, I didn’t take a single picture of Tim with the ball at the game. So, last night I took a picture of the ball Hill gave us sitting in Tim’s glove and I inserted it into that picture.
The Grecos are Phils fans. So we were rooting for the Phils to win. But the Rockies were in the middle of an improbable drive to the post-season and their bats would not be contained. The highlights for the Rockies included: Cory Sullivan 3-4, 3R, 1RBI; Todd Helton 3-4, 3RBI; Troy Tulowitzki 2-3, 2R, 2RBI; Matt Holliday 1-3, HR, 3RBI; and Chris Iannetta 2-3, 1R, 1RBI.
Phils got pummelled 12-0 and were left like a deer in the head lights, sorta like this:
As soon as we hit the car after the game, Tim was conked out asleep:
On Sunday, September 9, 2007, we gathered in Philadelphia for Tim’s 7th game and Jamie Moyer’s 600th.
All of the Cooks were in attendance:
Ah, how young Tim used to love that pacifier. It’ll make a couple more appearances here on this blog in the future.
Along with us were our friends, the Grecos:
We sat in Section 235, Row 9:
This was our first time ever sitting in the 200-level at Citizens Bank Park. I really liked these seats. Row 9 is actually the last row in that section and directly behind the seats is a concrete wall so we were able to stand up as much as we wanted without blocking anyone’s view behind us. Plus, we were in the shade most (if not all) of the hot day.
Speaking of views, here was our view:
Check out how empty the stadium was on a Sunday afternoon game during pennant race! At this point, the Phils were still six games back. Of course, they would go on to win the East with a record of 89-73 thanks to a historic choke by the New York Mets.
In 2009, after winning the 2008 World Series, Citizens Bank Park never looked this empty. Not even close. The place was constantly packed to the rafters with fans.
Anyway, back to the game. I was excited because this was the first time Tim ever got to see Jamie Moyer pitch…
Moyer cruised through the first five innings pitching shut out ball. It was great, Tim was having a blast…
Meanwhile, the offense was clicking against a struggling Dontrelle Willis. Pat Burrell went 2-4 with 3 RBI and his 215th career home run. Carlos Ruiz went 3-4 with 2 RBI and his 9th career home run. Jimmy Rollins, Tad Iguchi and Aaron Rowand all also had multi-hit games and scored 4 runs between them.
With the game seemingly in hand behind the Phils 8-0 lead, it was time to get some shots of the kids…
And of course we had fun watching the Phillie Phanatic blast hot dogs into the stands with his big, high-powered hot dog gun…
…the sight of a foil-wrapped hot dog spinning around in the air as it descends into the crowd always cracks me up. One of these days I have to glove one of those dogs. That would certainly be memorable.
The wheels fell off for Moyer in the bottom of the sixth. He gave up home runs to Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, and Mike Jacobs, and that was all she wrote for Moyer on this day. But it didn’t matter. He had all of the run support he needed to guide the Phils to the victory.
Tim’s look of concern as the Marlins mounted their too-little-too-late come back…
…soon gave way to a big smile as he witnessed the Phillies bats power Moyer to his 229th career victory.
Yep. It was a good day.
By the way, do you notice how I’m wearing a Phillies T-Shirt in the picture above to the left? I planned to (and in fact did) meet up with the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing, Dave Buck, to talk about the Baseball Log during this game. I work with Dave’s brother and I figured I’d wear a Phils shirt for the occassion. I still wore my Mariners hat, which Dave said he could respect. (Side note: the Marlins sixth inning rally took place when I was off meeting with Dave).
Although nothing came of the meeting with respect to the Baseball Log, Dave hooked us up with extremely awesome tickets (for which I was quite grateful) to an upcoming game against the Rockies, which will be my next entry…coming soon.
So it was June 2007 by the time Tim’s second MLB game rolled around. Tim was about a year and a half old by this point and he was running around on his own and ready to have some fun at the game.
Unfortunately, Tim’s second game wouldn’t feature the Mariners. Instead, I introduced Tim to the National League and two teams competing for the N.L. East crown, the Phillies and the Mets. Tim’s second game would take place at his second MLB stadium, Citizens Bank Park.
At about 70 miles, Citizens Bank Park is the closest MLB stadium to our home in Berks County, Pennsyvlania. Philadelphia is the closest “big city” to our home. But in a year and a half of life, Tim had not yet visited the city where his parents met back in 1999. So, I decided to take him down early to see a tiny bit of the city before the game.
I had bigger plans, but time was running short before the game. So all we did was visit Rittenhouse Square:
I lived about 5 blocks from Rittenhouse Square when my wife and I met, and I’d walk through the Park everyday on my way here or there. Tim loved running around the Park for a short while. And then we were off to South Philadelphia.
We attended this game with a group of people from my office. Tim was a lucky little guy. His second game was also his second game in a suite! We arrived as the game was beginning, said our hellos, and started doing what you do in suites — we started eating tasty food:
Here is a look at the suite:
To the left, that’s a look from the entry way through the suite. To my left as I took that picture is a kitchenette area featuring various drinks, chips, crackers, dips, cheese trays, etc. And against the wall to the left (off camera) is a large flat screen for those who want to watch the game on TV rather than turning 90 degrees to their right and watching it live.
In the picture to the left, do you see the blue sky and clouds painted on the ceiling? The middle section of the ceiling looks like a nice sunny day and it has a picture of the Philly Phanatic skydiving into the suite. The middle picture is Tim pointing up at the Phanatic. He thought it was really cool.
Above to the right is a view of the field from the suite. When I took that picture, I was still standing in the main “suite” part of the suite. In front of me is a standing counter (actually, it also has tall chairs) and on the other side of the counter are three rows of stadium seating for the folks in the suite.
Here is a panaramic view of the field from the bottom of our three rows of stadium seating (featuring Tim in the bottom right corner):
Tim ran around the suite like crazy and provided comic relief for my colleagues. But after a while, he wanted to explore outside the suite. The main level of suites at Citizens Bank Park has its own concourse (just above the main concourse). Its just a big elevated walkway with access to all of the suites, but no concession stands, etc.
Tim and I exited our suite and he started running down the walkway toward home plate and then around toward LF. I took a video of him running and took the following screen shots from the video clip:
To the left is a view of the suite level concourse. This picture is just foul of third base. The suites and the field are to our right. The banners hanging to the left are hanging above the main concourse and are just inside what I consider to be the stadium’s main entrance (between home and 3B).
Above to the right is a view of the main entrance taken right around that hanging Jimmy Rollins banner shown in the picture to the left. Just to the left of the main entrance is McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon. Across the street to the right of the picture you can see the Spectrum, which Pearl Jam is closing down this weekend. Click here for a peak inside the Spectrum and see how Pearl Jam tied the World Series and Seattle-connection, Raul Ibanez, into their recent concert.
Back to the game. We reached the end of the suite level concourse and I found someone to take our picture with All-Time Mariners Career Wins Leader, Jamie Moyer:
In 2006, I’d been hoping all season that Moyer would pitch for the Mariners during Tim’s first game, but sadly he was traded before the trade deadline…and before Tim’s big day at the park. If he had to be traded I was happy he went to Philadelphia where Tim and I would still be able to see him pitch.
After a little roaming around, we returned to the suite and it was time for an important “first” — Tim’s first ice cream at the ballpark (in fact, I think this was also his first ice cream of his life):
As you can see, it wasn’t Tim’s first ice cream helmet (not quite yet). But it started a grand tradition — ice cream at the ballpark — it is a tradition that would just be made better with the introduction of the ice cream helmet on a later date.
Of course, soon after the last picture, I captured another (related) ”first”…
And then there was nothing left to do but get our picture with the field…
The game didn’t go so well for the Phils. They lost 8-3. The star of the game was Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran who went 4-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. Paul LoDuca and David Wright also hit homeruns for the Mets.
Not much good happened on the Phils’ side of the box score. Ryan Howard was 2-4 with a homerun and 2 runs scored. Carlos Ruiz was also 2-4. But J.A. Happ earned the loss in his major league debut, and his only major league action in 2007.
Today was a big day for Tim; a milestone day. Therefore, I have two entries for today. This one is the milestone entry. I’m still working on the entries for our games at the Metrodome, Miller Park and U.S. Cellular Field, but they will all be coming soon.
Before Tim was born, I hand made a hard back, leather bound book for him that I called the “Baseball Log.” I use the Baseball Log to track all of Tim’s baseball adventures. Therefore, coming into this season, I knew that there were only 11 teams that Tim had not yet seen play in person. I made it one of our goals for the season. Today, at age 3-and-a-half, Tim checked the final team, the Royals, off of the list.
On our 30 team quest, we attended 46 games and visited 17 major league stadiums. This entry gives a glimpse into Tim’s journey around the MLB circuit.
Division-by-division, we’ll start by reviewing the dates of Tim’s first game with each team:
A.L. West A.L. Central A.L. East
Mariners (9-12-06) Twins (8-14-07) Blue Jays (9-12-06)
Angles (8-17-08) Indians (7-19-08) Orioles (8-9-07)
Athletics (5-1-09) White Sox (8-27-08) Yankees (9-3-07)
Rangers (5-4-09) Tigers (5-31-09) Rays (4-12-09)
Royals (8-17-09) Red Sox (7-3-09)
N.L. West N.L. Central N.L. East
Rockies (9-12-07) Pirates (9-27-07) Phillies (6-30-07)
Giants (5-2-08) Cardinals (9-27-07) Mets (6-30-07)
Diamondbacks (9-12-08) Cubs (4-11-08) Marlins (9-9-07)
Padres (4-19-09) Reds (6-2-08) Nationals (8-19-08)
Dodgers (5-13-09) Brewers (8-16-09) Braves (5-8-09)
As you can see, we closed out the A.L. West first, followed by the N.L. East. This makes a lot of sense since we are Mariners fans but we live an hour outside of Philadelphia. We then flip-flopped the leagues, and closed out the N.L. West followed by the A.L. East. Finally, on our current road trip, we closed out the N.L. Central on Monday, and the A.L. Central today.
Let’s check out some pictures — all 46 of Tim’s games to date (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game) in order:
Let’s take a closer look at those games. In the following list of games, when a Team Name is in Bold/Italics it denotes the first game in which Tim saw that particular team play in person. When a Team Name is underlined it denotes that team won the game. I figured identifying the game winners is enough, so I didn’t include the scores. However, I am including some game notes — such as homeruns, batting results by our favorite players or all-stars, etc.
1. Blue Jays at Mariners (9-12-06) – Ichiro 1-5, HR (Beltre, Ibanez, Wells), 2 Balls
2. Mets at Phillies (6-30-07) – HR – Howard, Beltran (2)
3. Mariners at Orioles (8-9-07) – Ichiro 3-6; HR – Miguel Tejada, Jose Guillen
4. Twins at Mariners (8-14-07) – Ichiro 1-4
5. Twins at Mariners (8-15-07) – Ichiro 2-4, 2SB; HR – Ibanez, Torii Hunter
6. Mariners at Yankees (9-3-07) – Ichiro 3-5, HR; W – Felix; L – Clemens (final loss)
7. Marlins at Phillies (9-9-07) – Burrell 2-4, HR; Carlos Ruiz 3-4, HR; Rollins 2-5
8. Rockies at Phillies (9-12-07) – Dobbs-Utley 3-Play; HR – M. Holliday; Helton 3-4
9. Cardinals at Pirates (9-27-07) – Pujols 3-5, 2B; Rick Ankiel 3-4, HR, 3RBI
10. Mariners at Orioles (4-6-08) – Ichiro 1-4; Ibanez 3-4, HR
11. Cubs at Phillies (4-11-08) – Pat Burrell 2-4, HR; Alfonso Soriano 1-4, HR
12. Giants at Phillies (5-2-08) – Chase Utley 2-3; Pat Burrell – walk off HR
13. Reds at Phillies (6-2-08) – Chase Utley 3-4, HR, 2RBI; Jay Bruce 2-4, HR
14. Indians at Mariners (7-19-08) – Ichiro 2-4, HR, 2RBI with outfield assist
15. Cardinals at Reds (8-15-08) – Pujols 3-5; Ankiel HR; Chris Dickerson 1st HR
16. Angles at Indians (8-17-08) – F. Gutierrez 3-3, 2RBI; Texiera 2-4; Sizemore 2-5
17. Mets at Pirates (8-18-08) – Adam LaRoche 2-3, HR, 2RBI
18. Nationals at Phillies (8-19-08) – HR – Jayson Werth, Willie Harris; R. Belliard 4-4
19. White Sox at Orioles (8-27-08) – Griffey 0-1, 3BB; HR: Dye, Millar, Huff, Konerko
20. Phillies at Mets (9-7-08) – W – Moyer (243); L – Pedro Martinez; HR – G. Dobbs
21. Reds at Diamondbacks (9-12-08) – Webb – 20th Win, 8IP, 5H, O ER, 2K
22. Rays at Orioles (4-12-09) – HR – Longoria, C. Pena, J. Bartlett, B. Zobrist
23. Padres at Phillies (4-19-09) – Ibanez – 2-4, HR; HR – Rollins, Utley, A. Gonzalez
24. Nationals at Mets (4-25-09) – C. Beltran 3-5, SB; R. Zimmerman 2-5
25. Athletics at Mariners (5-1-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – Gutierrez, Branyan, Holliday
26. Athletics at Mariners (5-2-09) – Ichiro 2-5; HR – Branyan; Giambi 2-4, 2RBI
27. Athletics at Mariners (5-3-09) – Ichiro 2-7; HR – Johjima, M. Sweeney (200)
28. Rangers at Mariners (5-4-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – Gutierrez, Branyan, Young, Davis
29. Rangers at Mariners (5-5-09) – Ichiro 0-2, 2BB; HR – Saltalamacchia, Nelson Cruz
30. Braves at Phillies (5-8-09) – HR – Coste, Werth, Utley; W – Hamels
31. Dodgers at Phillies (5-13-09) – HR – Ibanez, Rollins, Casey Blake, James Loney
32. Phillies at Nationals (5-17-09) – Sergio Escalona – 1st Career Win; Rollins 2-4;
33. Tigers at Orioles (5-31-09) – Curtis Granderson HR; W – Edwin Jackson 8 IP, 2H
34a. Giants at Nationals (6-3-09) – Rainout – R. Johnson sch’d to pitch for 300th Win.
34. Mariners at Orioles (6-10-09) – Ichiro 1-3; Jose Lopez 2HR; W – F. Hernandez
35. Nationals at Orioles (6-28-09) – HR – Dunn (Eutaw St.); Willie Harris 3-4, HR
36. Mariners at Yankees (7-2-09) – Ichiro 2-4; HR – Branyan, Gutierrez; L – Sabbathia
37. Mariners at Red Sox (7-3-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – R. Cedeno, Drew, Kottaras (1st)
38. Mariners at Red Sox (7-4-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – Jason Varitek; S – Aardsma
39. Mariners at Red Sox (7-5-09) – Griffey 1-1; Ichiro 1-5; HR- Ortiz, Pedroia, Ellsbury
40. Cubs at Nationals (7-19-09) – HR – Alfonso Soriano, Adam Dunn, Jake Fox
41. Cardinals at Phillies (7-24-09) – W – Joel Piniero, M. Holliday 4-5; HR – J. Lugo
42. Marlins at Phillies (8-9-09) – Moyer – 2ER, but loss. Victorino ejected from CF.
43. Pirates at Cubs (8-14-09) – Cubs score 10 runs in 2nd inning. HR – Fukudome.
44. Indians at Twins (8-15-09) – HR – Sizemore, Mauer, Choo
45. Astros at Brewers (8-16-09) - HR – Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.
46. Royals at White Sox (8-17-09) - HR – Yuni Betancourt, Jacobs, Pierzynski, Nix.
Ice Cream Helmets & Baseballs
Tim and I have collected a lot of memories as we’ve made the rounds of the MLB. But memories aren’t all we have collected. We’ve also amassed a few MLB baseballs and a bunch of ice cream helmets. Click here for a little article about our baseball collecting. Pictured below are our baseballs and ice cream helmets:
Thanks for joining us for this ride this season. Don’t forget to check out all of our reports from The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Road Trip of 2009, three of which are still to come in the next couple days:
Pirates at Cubs (8-14-09)
- Indians at Twins (8-15-09) – coming soon.
- Astros at Brewers (8-16-09) - coming soon.
- Royals at White Sox (8-17-09) - coming soon.
Tomorrow evening, Tim and I will fly to Chicago where we will meet up with my dad. Its time for The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2009. I figured I’d share the story of our The (original) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2008 so you know the background of this grand tradition.
I only started blogging about our baseball experiences this season. Last season, I had to resort to traditional email updates to keep my wife and other family members up-to-date on our trip status. Below, I have copied and pasted those email updates with just a few of the many pictures that were originally attached to the emails. I hope you enjoy.
This season, our Road Trip will take us from Wrigley to the HHH Metrodome to Miller Park and back to the south side of Chicago for a game at U.S. Cellular Field. The last game of the Road Trip will mark an important milestone and I’m EXTREMELY excited to get this trip under way and rack up some awesome family baseball memories.
So, here is the background I promised:
[AUGUST 15, 2008]
So we are in Washington, PA at our first night KOA. The drive went well
last night. Tim got whiney right at the end when we took a wrong turn and
got lost for a short time. Otherwise, he did great.
He wasn’t too excited to sleep in the cabin at first, but he ended up having
a great night and is really enjoying the campground. He thinks the red
light on the fire alarm on the ceiling of the cabin is a ladybug and he
talked about it at great length last night until 12:30 am when he finally
went to bed.
This morning he did some exploring and then hit some baseballs. Pa and I
played catch in between Tim’s hacks at the tee.
Next, we’re off to Cabela’s in West Virginia so Tim can check out some live
fish and dead animals. Then its on to Cincinnati where we will be in a
hotel. The Reds play the Cardinals tonight and I’m hoping Pujols hits 4
Here are some pictures.
Next update tonight following the game.
[AUGUST 16, 2008]
Here are a ton of pictures from today. We arrived in Cincinnati around
3pm. Hung out at our hotel a bit. Then we hit the streets and walked to
“Skyline Chili” for dinner. I got the 5-ways Chili, Dad got 2 Cheese Coneys
and cheese fries, and Tim got the kid’s cheese coney meal. You might notice
in the pictures, there was some cheese involved. (note, I also got
Then it was off to the game. As per usual, Tim’s cuteness secured him a ball. This time, from Cardinals reliever Chris Perez, who would eventually
earn a save in the game. We also got two autographs. Some dude, and Edison Volquez — a hot, up-and-coming pitcher for the Reds, you might have heard of him, he started the all-star game for the NL this season. [Note: At the time I wrote this, I was under the impression Volquez had been the starter, I'm not sure why. I'm now aware Ben Sheets was the starter...I'm not sure why.]
We then toured the Reds Hall of Fame, which is really cool. There is a lot
to see and do in there. Including a pitching areas where you can pitch and
someone can stick their head in a little window and call balls and strikes.
Eventually, the game started. We had nice outfield seats. The stadium is
nice. Seemed small and cozy. Tim and I had some great ice cream in Reds
helmets. We did a lot of walking around and seeing all the ins-and-outs of
the ball park.
After the game (Cardinals won 5-3), they had a spectacular fireworkds show.
I think it might have been Tim’s first. He loved it. The grande finale was
one of the best i’ve seen.
Then we walked back to the hotel. Tim fell asleep on my shoulders.
[AUGUST 16, 2008]
Hi, Guys. Another great day on the baseball roadtrip. We woke up in
Cincinnati and got showered up. Tim had a fine day of brushing his teeth, started off with some quality morning brushing. After leaving the room and
packing up the car, we headed to the free breakfast in the hotel. It hit
the spot. Then it was just 100 mile drive to Louisville. Note, Cincinnati
has some of the best this-way-to-the-freeway signage I’ve ever seen. There
was a sign “To 75″ just as we exited our hotel and another one every block
for the entire mile or two that we weaved around the city before getting on
Tim did great in the car on the way down, which made the drive nice.
Louisville Slugger was excellent, even though Tim was not. Tim’s theatrics
began during the factory tour because little ones are not allowed to sit on
dad’s shoulders in the factory (although there was nothing low hanging that
would have bonked tim’s head). so, he whined a bunch in the factory. I was
suprised how small the factory is. They essentially make all MLB bats
(about 40% of all bats used in the MLB) on one machine. It cranks them out
at rate of 30 seconds per bat. Minor League bats are made on the other side
of the factory.
The museum was really cool. The best item in there, in my book, was a bat
Babe Ruth used the year he hit 60 homeruns. The Babe carved 21 notches
around the label on the bat, one for each home run he hit with the bat
before it broke. The bat is huge, as you can see in the picture when you
compare it to the guy standing behind it.
There was also a baseball diamon in one room. Tim loved it. They gave
everyone mini-bats and Tim swung, swung, swung and ran, ran, ran (the bases)
in that room. He had another melt down when we finally made him leave the
room. Note, that room has a dugout, and Tim and I got an awesome picture
acting like we are teammates at the top step waiting to hit.
They also have two batting cages in the museum. I took two rounds. One
with Ty Cobbs bat. The heaviest bat ever. Let me tell you, you notice it
at the plate! The second with a Jim Thome bat, which was designed by Edgar
Martinez (the guy running the cage is a huge M’s fan and picked it out for
me because of the Edgar connection). Dad took one round with the Hank Aaron
bat. Again, Tim had a minor meltdown when not allowed to take any hacks in
We all got personalized bats. Tim and mine are with us, but Dad’s is being
mailed to Edmonds. I picked black bats with silver writing to look like
Griff’s bat. I got them personalized to remember the roadtrip.
Next, it was off to Brookville, OH (ten miles outside of Dayton). We’re now
in our cabin at the KOA. Its a great KOA. Tim had an absolute blast. We
arrived around 4:30. Tim played like crazy in the huge boat-shaped sand
box. He played with tons of kids in the playset area. He sat on
crazy-four-wheeler bikes you can rent. He played tons of gold with his new
M’s golf set, even enlisting several neighorhooding campers (kids and
adults) to golf and/or hit baseballs with him.
We capped off the night with Superman Ice cream (except dad has moose
tracks, I think). Then it was more quality tooth brushing. Now, lil’
Timmers is sleeping an Dad is off brushing his teeth.
Oh, I forgot to mention, we BBQ’d at the cabin for dinner. Excellent
BBQ’ing by dad.
Oh, I also forgot a great line from this morning. I was emailing in the
hotel room and Tim said something to Pa. Then, Pa said to Tim, “No, your Pa
has it.” And Tim got this big huge smile on his face like something really
funny just happened and he says to me, “You’re Pa!? You’re Pa!?” It was
Anyway, that’s update no. 3. Please enjoy a ton of pictures below.
[AUGUST 17, 2008]
howdy, folks. so we find ourselves at the end of another great day. we
woke up in Brookville, OH this morning at about 7:30. We got the car all
packed up before Tim finally woke up. By 8am, we were on the road heading
to Cleveland. Tim was, once again, excellent in the car. We pulled into
Cleveland by about 11:30.
The game at Cleveland’s Progessive Field f/k/a Jacob’s Field was great. Our
seats were in foul territory down the third base line. The Indians were
playing the Angels. I never really decided who i would root for, but when
the Indians won, it was alright with me.
Before the game, we toured the field by foot and then Tim and I shared some
nachos while Dad had some red vines. Once the game started, Tim did a nice
job sitting in the seats and allowing us to watch the game. However, by the
fifth, Tim was quite ready for a nap and he decided to take it on my
shoulders. I ended up watching several innings standing at the top of the
section behind the seats while Tim did his best job of tryng to break my
neck supporting him while he napped.
During Tim’s nap, I talked to a robust field attendant and a guy in the last
row. The attendant mentioned that it was “kids run the bases” day and that
kids would start lining up by the 7th inning to run a lap of the bases
following the game. So, after his nap, Tim and I met back up with grandpa
and we went and found the line. After the Indians won the game (and
series), the long line started to snake its way through the bowels of
Progressive Field. (I’m happy to report that it has been 19 days since the
Indians’ last “lost time” on the job accident — or at least so read the
sign beneath the field).
Because Tim’s such a little whipper snapper, they let me run the bases with
him. We had a blast. Here is the picture the Indian’s took for us to
After the game, we collected the kid’s giveaway (they do it after the game
for some reason), an Indians’ art set) and then we called Colleen to
mapquest directions to our next KOA.
We arrived in the Cleveland/Streetsboro KOA around 5pm. Its nice, but not
as happening at the Brookville KOA (which, did we mention, won KOA’s
Presidential Award last year). We played in the kids’ play area, fed fish
from the dock, BBQ’d and made Tim’s first smorse around his first campfire
tonight. Tim had a blast and just finally got to bed.
All in all, it was another excellent day of road tripping. Tomorrow, we’re
off to Pittsburgh. See you then. In the meantime, check out these
[AUGUST 18, 2008]
howdy, folks. so we made it home this evening, but not before taking in
another great game on the roadtrip. we cruised a quick 100 miles into
Pittsburgh, PA this morning for a 12:30 match-up between the Pirates and the
visiting Mets. The teams decided against taking batting practice this
morning so we wondered around the park before the game and ultimately ended
up down the third base line where the Pirates’ pitchers were playing catch
in pairs. the ball catching opportunities were slim, but we capitalized
big-time. first, a Pirate pitcher (possibly someone-or-other Nelson) threw
a ball to Pa. Then, Tim and I got Pa’s ball autographed by Matt Capps (DL).
Next, Pa got our pitcher taken with Matt Capps.
Next, Denny Bautista threw a ball to me and Tim. Then, Tim and I got it
autographed by Sean Burnett (eventual winning pitcher on the day), Tyler
Yates (relief pitcher today (pre-save)), and T.J. Beam. Finally, we capped
off the session with a picture with Mr. Beam.
Next, we walked around the park for a bit. We even visited the first water
fountain Tim ever used (last September). The water fountain is doing well.
We had a bite to eat before the game and Tim konked out on my shoulders, but
let me switch him to a traditional baby-holding position. He slept through
all the nachos!
After his nap, we got some mint chocolate chip ice cream in Pirates’
helmets. While Tim ate his (with sprinkles) sitting under our seats, a nice
camera man found us and broadcast Tim for about 10-15 seconds on the jumbo
tv screen in the park. It was actually our second time getting media
coverage on the day. Earlier, we had our text message about the roadtrip
put up on the scoreboard between the first and second levels.
Our seats in the OF were excellent. But, due to the heat, we eventually
relocated to the handicap accessible seats under the right field seats. It
had an excellent breeze that made the end of the exciting game even better.
After the game, we took a leisurely 250 mile drive back to Reading where
mommy was waiting to greet and hug us.
Its been a truly great baseball roadtrip. Although I have to work in the
day tomorrow, the roadtrip continues tomorrow evening with a Phils vs. Nats
game in Philadelphia. Should be more of the same — fun, fun, fun.
See pictures attached.
[AUGUST 19, 2008]
Well, here is the final update for the big baseball roadtrip. I was back to
work today before taking off early to head down to the Phillies/Nationals
game. It was nice to be back in the car and on the road again after a hard
The Phils pulled out a much needed come from behind win. They never led
until one out in the bottom of the eighth. Then they brought in Brad Lidge
and he sealed the deal.
I didn’t expect a big crowd so I hadn’t pre-ordered tickets. When we
arrived all they had left was obstructed view and standing room tickets. We
opted for obstructed view. And, you know what? You can’t see very well
through a big yellow foul pole.
After a couple innings behind the pole, we hit the bricks. We walked down
to the team store and then got something to eat. Pa and I got “Schmidters”
and Tim got the biggest chocolate soft serve with sprinkles ever to be
served in the mini-Phillies helmet.
Tim started complaining about the wind in the stadium and saying he wanted
to go home. So we put on his sweatshirt and walked some more. Eventually,
we found a landing above the left field seats and below the jumbo screen.
There was a sectioned off handicap area with one on in it. Tim went in and
claimed it as his playground. When a guard came to kick him out, a bunch of
guys yelled at her “LET HIM PLAY!!! LET HIM PLAY!!!” So she caved to the
crowd-pressure. Tim played the rest of the game in there and eventually
made fast friends with his would-be ejector. She ended up giving him a
Phillies hat and trying continuously to get him on the jumbo screen to no
avail. He really entertained in there and by the end of the game, he no
longer wanted to go home.
It was a nice game to end an excellent baseball roadtrip. Here are a few
pictures from tonight.
Thanks for staying tuned,
And that, in a nutshell, was the First Annual Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2008. I asked my dad to come out and take this trip with us because I wanted to go to the Louisville Slugger factory. We built the rest of the trip around that. By the time we got back to the hotel room in Cincinnati after the first game, we decided the trip had to be an annual thing.
Let the Second Installment begin!
On Sunday, August 9, 2009, Tim and I made our way down to Citizens Bank Park to watch the Phillies and, more importantly, Jamie Moyer face off against the Florida Marlins. This wasn’t a game I’d originally planned to attend. However, I ended up buying tickets to all three Dodgers games back in May before finally deciding on attending the Wednesday, May 13, 2009 game. I was told I could exchange my extra tickets for certain games — this seemed like the best trade-in option. I was pleasantly surprised when Cliff Lee joined the Phillies and they shifted the pitching rotation so Jamie Moyer would start this game.
I’m always a little let down if we go to a Phillies game and someone else is pitching. So I was very excited when I learned Moyer would start this game instead of J. Happ.
For possibly the first time ever in Philadelphia, we arrived early to the game! The teams weren’t taking BP, but I was happy to learn that it was Phillies alumni weekend and they were about to start an alumni hitting challenge.
There were three teams of two — here are all of them but except Ricky Bottalico:
Top middle, some dude. They said he was one of the heros of the 1980 World Series team. I reviewed the 1980 line-up and none of the names jumped out at me. So I’m sorry, I have no clue who that is. He hit a few hot line drives that almost had HR distrance but went foul.
Bottom left, Jim Eisenreich. Not too shabby. But nothing to write home about.
Bottom middle, Milt Thompson. He’s the Phillies current hitting coach so you’d want him to blast mammoth bombs…or maybe just hit solid base hits. Okay, i guess he did a good job of the latter. But no mammoth bombs.
Right, Ricky Jordan. The hitting star of the challenge. He hit two bombs to LF. One landed about 8 rows back and bounced all the way passed the cross aisle at the top of the section. The second was caught on the fly by a fan in the first row. These were the only HRs of the hitting challenge.
The team of Ricky and Ricky won the challenge on the strength of the Jordan bombs.
By the way, the Phanatic made a sweet diving catch with hit fish net on a hard liner to right-CF. He got a huge ovation from the fans. Unlike Tommy Lasorda, folks in Philadelphia (including me and Tim) love them some Phillies Phanatic.
We’ve never been to BP in Philadelphia before. So it would nice to *sorta* see BP at Citizens Bank Park. It was the first time we’d ever been able to hang out in the LF seats because they guard it like its made outta solid gold during games.
We had some fun watching the challenge out there:
By the way, check out Tim’s give-away Ryan Howard trucker cap. Not too shabby. He liked it.
Both of the Ricky Jordan HRs came near us, but we didn’t have a play on either.
After the home run challenge, it was time to take a lot of pictures. I decided my main focus would be my main man in Philadelphia, Jamie Moyer.
By the way, during the game, one of my friends and colleagues called my cellphone to inform me that Tim and I were on TV during the pre-game broadcast. Apparently, it was about a 5-second shot of Tim sitting on my shoulders while I took pictures (and/or fidgeted with my wife’s camera). One reader commented on my last entry noting that he also saw us. Too bad I have Directv and therefore almost no Phillies games on TV, otherwise I might have DVR’d the game.
Oh, well. Let’s take a photographic tour of the pre-game rituals of Mr. Moyer.
The game was a 1:35 start. As shown below, at around 12:45, Moyer and catcher Paul Bako were among the only Phillies in the dugout:
Is it just me, or is Moyer watching me and Tim in that first picture? Also, note all of the cool bat knobs in the second picture. I love wood bats.
After a while, Bako made his way toward the bullpen and I took these shots for a panaramic (we were standing at the end of the Phillies dugout at the time):
About 20 seconds later, Moyer started walking the to the bullpen as well. The crowd gave him a lot of nice comments as he made his way. Although the fans in Philadelphia can be rude and ridiculous, I’ve found that they also can be really great. They appreciate someone who done things right. And they showed some love for Moyer as he walked to the bullpen.
I was similarly impressed by Philadelphia’s fans last season when Ken Griffey, Jr. played a four-game set in Philadelphia while sitting on 599 homeruns. I went to three of those games (Tim joined me for one), and the fans were outstanding. Griff pinch hit in two of the games at times when a homerun would have been devastating to the Phillies, and the entire stadium stood for his at bats, and people were really pulling for him to make history.
Anyway, here is Moyer following Bako out to the bullpen:
Bako practiced his squating while Moyer ran some sprints from CF to RF:
After running and stretching, Moyer grabbed two balls out of this glove and popped a squat behind Bako:
I got the feeling he was praying. He sat there for a little while before hopping up to play catch with Bako.
I used this time to take some pictures of the OF wall in RF and CF.
I thought it was interesting that they had all those hoses/cords hanging on the wall under the stands in foul territory. As for the picture to the right, I think Philadelphia has a really interesting CF wall. Very interesting to look at.
Next, Moyer played some long toss with Bako:
The Marlins pitcher, Josh Johnson, was also warming up in the bullpen at this time. I took the picture below because I thought it was interesting how many levels/tiers there are out there:
I count five levels — (i) we’re standing in the RF/CF stands, (ii) then it drops off 15 feet to the phillies bullpen, (iii) then it raises back up probably 12 feet to the visitors’ bullpen, (iv) then it raises up another 10-12 feet to the walkway in Ashburn Alley, and (v) then its up another 20 feet or so to the “roottop bleachers” and upper walkway. Interesting design. I approve.
Soon, it was game time:
Moyer got the loss, but he really pitched well. He gave up 2 earned runs (3 total runs) in five innings. In a lot of Phillies games, that is going to qualify the pitcher for a win. But on this day, the Phillies just could not hit.
After watching Moyer pitch 3 scoreless innings, it was time to check out the play area. Unfortunately, it was closed due to the rain. So, Tim decided he’d like to play some catch.
This is Tim’s new deal since we played catch in the concourse at Yankee Stadium in July. This was a great spot. There were a number of Phillies employees watching us play catch and none of them cared whatsoever. In fact, several of them helped us track down errant throws. The fans and one food concession stand guy really seemed to enjoy watching us play catch. In fact, one lady tried to get her daughter to play with us. But the little girl wasn’t feeling it.
After playing catch for a while, we headed over to the SRO area behind the field level seats down the 1B line. At pretty much every single game we ever attend, Tim asks me to buy him a certain sovenir, but I always say no. But today, I said yes:
Tim loves that finger! And at $9.00 for a piece of foam, he better love it for a long time!
At this point of the game, which I think was the 4th inning or so, the Phillies had a grand total of 1 hit. However, Chase Utley sparked the offense with this mighty hack:
You might notice that the ball is between Utley’s legs. He swung at such a bad pitch that the catcher couldn’t handle it. A few second after this swing, Utley found himself standing on first base courtesy of a passed-ball-swinging-K.
Ryan Howard followed Utley…
…with a laser line drive to the first baseman. Utley was doubled off.
Even the mighty Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul Ibanez couldn’t help the Phils…
…he grounded out to second.
We then went back to play catch a bit more. It was the top of the 5th and the Phils were winning 1-0 on the strength of their one hit. Unfortunately, Moyer gave up three runs (2 earned) in the top of the fifth.
The top of the seventh was a wacky (and for the Phillies) a terrible inning. First, Shane Victorino managed to get thrown out of the game while playing CF. Not a common occurence. I guess he shrugged his shoulders on a called ball. The umpire did not appreciate the gesture.
Jayson Werth replaced Victorno in CF and had a terrible game. Including an error on a soft grounder up the middle with the bases loaded. It went right under his glove and to the warning track before Raul could track it down.
Actually, I’m getting a head of myself a little bit. Before the Werth error, I took three pictures that I combined to make this interesting view:
Note that the pitcher is about to release the ball, the batter is about to hit the ball, and Ryan Howard is helplessly watching as the ball lands 2 rows back in the seats. By the way, when I took the dugout and walking to the bullpen pictures of Moyer, I was standing approximately where the guy in the green shirt and white hat is standing in the picture above (and Tim was sitting on my shoulders).
After Victorino was tossed, the entire crowd booed like crazy on almost every pitch for the rest of the game. It was some of the loudest booing I’ve ever witnessed. If the Phillies pitcher pitched a ball, BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! If a Marlins pitcher pitched a called strike, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! If the Marlins changed pitchers, BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! When the local celebrity told the crowd, “Its gonna be alright” before singing “God Bless America” in the middle of the 7th, BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
It was interesting.
But the Phils were done. They gave up 6 runs in the 7th inning.
Toward the end of the 7th, Marlins star Hanley Ramirez…
hit a double…but not on this swing. This was a foul ball.
By this point, the Phillies were losing 9-1. Pedro Feliz hit a two-run bomb in the bottom of the 7th, but it was clear it would be too little too late. Meanwhile, Tim was struggling to stay awake because he hadn’t really had a nap. So we called it a day in the 8th and didn’t have to suffer through watching the Phillies give up 3 more runs in the top of the ninth.
Tim was asleep by the time we were 100 feet out of the parking lot.
Since this game, the Phillies have announced some news that is exciting to many — Pedro Martinez will start for the Phillies on Wednesday in Chicago — but for others, like myself, it is at the same time quite sad.
To make room for Martinez, the Phillies have announced that Jamie Moyer will be moved to the bullpen.
Today, I read this article in which Moyer is quoted as stating that he is “disheartened” by this news. I join Moyer in this respect. I sincerely hope this isn’t the last start Tim and I get the honor of seeing Moyer make. If it is his last start in a Phillies uniform, I hope he can make another in a Mariners uniform.
Finally, I hope this is premature, but I’d like to thank Jamie for 145 wins and countless good memories.
NEXT UP: Tim and I will be going on the our second annual Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Road Trip from August 14 – August 17th. It is going to be a huge trip with lots of awesome and memorable moments. Be sure to check back in to read about it.
Season Fan Stats:
21 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
17 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals and Marlins– and sort of the Giants)
17 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
18 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)
There was one reason, and one reason alone, that I decided we should go to this game — Albert Pujols. The guy is a monster. I wanted to get our third peak of this future hall of famer. And I was hoping he would go yard for us.
We tend to go to more day games than night games. Many of them have no batting practice. So I decided we’d head down a little early for this game so we could watch some BP and maybe see Pujols put on a display of his skills before the game got started. I was also hoping we’d see Jamie Moyer. I’ve seen him hanging out signing autographs before games with his own sharpie. I was hoping he’d be out so we could try to get a picture with him.
However, none of it was in the cards. Little did I know that thousands of 7-year-old Jonas Brothers fans would be out in force. The Brothers Jonas were playing next door to Citizens Bank Park. They managed to make our 72 mile drive take over 2-and-a-half hours. We completely missed BP. It wasn’t the most pleasant driving experience.
Interestingly, we have NEVER made it to BP at Citizens Bank Park. Never.
Anyway, we were at the park early enough that we didn’t have to hurry to get into the stadium once we parked. The Phils fans have a good time before games. Tailgating is rampant. So we decided to play a little catch in the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot…
I wasn’t too excited to spend a lot of time looking at the directory because I didn’t know what time it was and if we were risking missing Pujols’s first at bat. Tim on the other hand wanted to take a nice, slow, thorough look at this thing. Luckily, it all worked out. We didn’t miss anything.
When we made our way into the field seats by the third base dugout, we found players stretching down the base lines, the Philly Phanatic warming up the crowd, grounds crew people were doing the final prep work on the field, and the announcer was reading the starting line-ups.
Here is what the scene looked like:
And, before long, it was game time. We sorta have a standard game plan at Citizens Bank Park, and it usually starts with watching the first couple innings from the SRO areas behind home plate. At this game, we decided to move a little to the right for the beginning of the game so we could get a good view of Albert. Unfortunately, no first inning fireworks — here is his swing resulting in a ground out to first base:
At the far right, you can see the ball (a blurr) just entering the picture. Sadly, there would be no Pujols HR on this day (although he did get one hit)…and this is the best I could do as far as action shots of Pujols goes. But here are some less interesting “batting stance” shots:
In the bottom of the inning, I was happy to get a chance to see my old buddy, Joel Piniero, on the mound…
…here he is shown with a picture of Chase Utley about to fly out to Ryan Ludwick in CF.
But back to Piniero. Joel was a Mariner from 2000-2006. Joel started out great with the M’s. It seemed he was poised to be a terrific starter for years to come for the Mariners. However, he cooled off. He ended his time as a Mariners with a career record of 58-55.
Anyway, it was great to see Joel in action once again — and he got the win for the Cardinals.
In the top of the second, the Cardinals took the lead 1-0 and Tim asked to go to the play area. I figured it was a good time to go because Pujols had just been up in the first inning and we probably had a while before he was up again. So, as requested, it was play area time:
Tim loves this little marble maze in the picture to the right. Actually, he generally just loves the Phillies play area. By far, it is his favorite of any park we’ve visited.
After playing in the play area for a few minutes, it started to rain a bit. Although it didn’t seem like much, they closed the play area. I told Tim we could go get his ice cream and check out the what is going on in the game.
Before we got ice cream, this is what we found on the field:
No play area. No game. Yep, its time for ice cream.
We headed up to the second deck because I had a brilliant idea that it would be less crowded. In my defense, I had some decent logic here. 90 percent or more of the field level seats are out in the open (in the rain) while much more of the second deck is under cover. So I figured the field level concourse would be packed.
Well, it might have been. But I’m not sure it would be possible to be any more “packed” than the second deck concourse. We got stuck walking through it and it took a while to get out — without ice cream. Check out what it looked like (taken from the third deck):
Now that I see that picture again, I guess that not many of the seats up there are covered. Oh, well.
We finally made it through the third deck to a food stand that *appeared* to have ice cream. By this time, Tim was begging and praying for some ice cream:
Well, they only had ice cream in pint cartons. That’s unacceptable. But they pointed us to “Seasons Pizza” where we could find ice cream helmets. (Referring back to the directory above, we usually get Tim’s ice cream helmet at “Old City Creamery” behind section 137 on the 3B line).
So on we marched on our ice cream buying-and-eating trek that would eventually have us see almost the entire ball park…or so it seemed.
Indeed, Seasons Pizza had ice cream helmets with chocolate sprinkles ($5.00). We bought Tim’s helmet and went up into the stands so he could sit down and enjoy his helmet. We went toward the top of the upper deck so we’d be under cover. There were tons of open seats because everyone was packed into the concourses below.
Here is Tim at the first stop on our ice cream eating tour:
The rain stopped. They started to uncover the field. Here is what it looked like from our first ice cream seats of the day:
Soon, people came for our seats. Tim decided he wanted to go down to the field level. I thought that seemed like a good idea. There are a lot of standing room counters on which tim usually sits to eat his ice cream while I stand and watch the game.
We headed down numerous flights of stairs until we found ourself in the field level concourse. Or, I should say, the still extremely over crowded field level concourse. Number of counter spots available: zero.
So we heaed up to the second deck down the LF line. Not gonna work.
So we headed back to the third deck where there are also lots of standing room counters. Unfortunately, they are out in the open and, consequently, they were soaked. But we eventually found one that was under cover.
The melted ice cream eating resumed:
It looked really cool up there with the sun coming through the rain clouds. The bad part was that they were about to start playing the game again, and we couldn’t see the field.
Instead, this was our view:
So it was on to our third set of ice cream seats — actually another counter, not seats.
This counter was wet too. But luckily I bring lots of extra clothes for Tim — in case he destroys his clothes with chocolate ice cream — so I could wipe down a spot for Tim to sit.
Here was our view from our third and final ice cream spot:
It was a long road to this final ice cream eating spot — but we were happy with our journey and destination. We recorded the moment with a self portrait:
Hey, look at that, the Ryan Howard shift!
Next, we decided to go spend some time in the outfield and by the bullpens. We’ve never really hung out by the bullpen at Citizens Bank Park before. So I thought it would be a nice plan.
On the way down the long ramps in the LF corner, I took some pictures of the front and back of the big scoreboard/video screen in LF…
…then it was time to head to Ashburn Alley in CF…
In the picture to the right, the green walls going down into a big pit are the walls of the bullpens.
Tim loved the statue of Richie Ashburn out there:
Tim kept calling the statue a “Trophy.” He loves trophies! In this picture, he is swinging a fake bat and then running to the base on which Richie is standing. He did that over-and-over-and-over-again.
Here is the view of Ashburn Alley from the Ashburn “Trophy”:
Next, we headed over to the area by the bullpens where we found a steel beam with a two foot high concrete base…
Tim had fun standing inside the groove in the beam, and the concrete base was great for boosting me above all of these fans (top right) standing around “watching” the game. We also had a good view of the bullpens if we scooted a few feet closer to CF:
In the picture to the right, the Phillies’ Andrew Carpenter is warming up (the ball looks like a blur in the middle of the picture) and the Cardinals relievers are milling about up top. Carpenter came in and gave up a HR to Julio Lugo.
I took the picture to the left because I thought it was an interesting view of the outfield wall. You can see the corner of the Phillies’ bullpen in the bottom right of that picture.
In the RF corner of the field level concourse, there are a couple big baseball games and a BBQ stand. I’ve never taken Tim over there because I haven’t wanted to test his patience standing in line for the games. However, at this game, I decided he was ready — and he did great standing in line watching the other kids play the game. Here is the game we played:
The kid in the Utley shirt is standing at the control box. There are two big buttons. One says “pitch” and one says “swing” When you press the pitch button, a door opens up on the pitcher’s hand and a volleyball sized baseball rolls down the board. Then you press swing and try to hit the ball into one of the slots at the top. You get three outs.
Most of the kids got three outs without getting any hits. The first kid we watched who got a hit was a pro at it. He ended up scoring four runs. Tim and I played together and we ended up with two triples and one run scored.
Here is the view of the RF-RCF seats and concourse from the Ballpark Pinball game:
These pictures are the same, but taken on different settings of my camera. The red arrow is pointing toward the top of our standing room beam.
And here is a picture taken from our beam toward the concourse leading to the RF foul pole and the 1B infield concourse:
You can’t tell from this shot, but the concourses at Citizens Bank Park provide a ton of room for standing room viewing of the game. My only complaint is that the concourses are often windy. However, it was nice at this game. Really no noticable wind in the RCF concourse area.
Next, Tim wanted to go up onto an elevated walkway all the way out in deep CF. They call it the “rooftop” for some reason. They have cheap bleachers out there. We took a couple panaramics up there, here is the first which is closer to the small section of bleachers (the bleachers are toward the RF side of the rooftop — and are shown in the first picture in this entry, below the liberty bell):
The rooftop seems like a nice place to hang out and have some drinks and food with friends. There are a bunch of picnic tables with umbrellas for shade up there. But the big brick wall blocks out your view of a huge portion of the outfield. The wall is the backside of the batters eye.
As you’ll see in the next picture, during the game, they fence off the bottom section of the historical time-line and wall of fame area to the left end of the brick wall. My guess is they do that so people don’t stand on the fence and bug the people in the bullpen, which is just below that area.
Here is another picture from the rooftop where you can see the red and blue fence blocking the area above the bullpen. Also, this is taken from deeper CF, toward left a bit, and it provides a much clearer view of the field:
We took this funny picture of ourselves before heading down from the rooftop:
Finally, we headed down to the fancy seats behind the Phillies dugout for the ninth inning. The Cardinals were blowing out the Phils so there were plenty of empty seats and no one checked out tickets when we went down between innings.
This was our view of the Phils hitting in the ninth:
Above, on that swing, Pedro Feliz grounded out. Below, two seconds later, Carlos Ruiz got nailed in the side of the leg. Matt Stairs followed with a fielder’s choice / error by Albert Pujols. Finally, J-Roll and Victorino grounded out to end the game.
At the beginning of the game, they announced that Adrian Johnson was the home plate umpire. They don’t have a separate umpire tunnel at Citizens Bank Park. I wasn’t sure if they would exit through the Phillies dugout or the Cardinals. I figured we’d try the Phillies side. But I figured wrong.
After the final out was recorded, Johnson started walking toward the Cardinals dugout. I yellowed, “Hey, Mr. Johnson, Adrian Johnson!” He stopped and turned around and looked my way for maybe five seconds. He couldn’t figure out who called his name. So he turned around again and left. No umpire ball for Team Cook. Thus, we snapped our family record 7 game streak of getting a ball. Oh, well. It wasn’t a surprise, we’ve got a grand total of 1 ball ever at Citizens Bank Park (from Rockies 1B coach and former Mariner Glenallen Hill) and 1 total ball ever from the Phillies (J-Roll in D.C. in May).
All in all, we had a great time at the ball park — highlighted by our tour of the park looking for a spot for Tim to eat his ice cream.
And, the Jonas Brothers must have let out early. It only took about an hour and a half to get home.
Season Fan Stats:
20 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
16 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers and Cardinals– and sort of the Giants)
16 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (4), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
18 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)
Ken Griffey, Jr. No. 619:
Seattle Mariners No. 5,000:
Watch the video clip here.
Unfortunately, the M’s lost 9-7. But there is still time to beat the Padres twice and take the series.
Meanwhile, in Tampa, Florida, all-time Mariners wins leader, Jamie Moyer…
Way to go, Jamie!
Tim and I have racked up a lot of miles this season taking day-trips on the weekends to MLB games in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and New York. Those trips range between 1.5 to 3 hours one way. What we had not done, however, was take the 10 minute drive to see our local minor league squad, the (AA) Reading Phillies. Today was the day.
Anyone looking for an authentic Minor League experience — a slice of Americana — head on over to Reading, Pennsylvania to check out the R-Phils at First Energy Stadium. And you can’t beat the prices — $8 for a General Admission ticket and free for kids 4-and-under.
I picked this game for several reasons: (i) we didn’t have a MLB game planned for the weekend, (ii) it was Kids Run the Bases day, and (iii) I wanted the Camo R-Phils hat they were giving away to the first 2,500 adults.
Unfortunately, when we entered the stadium, the hats were all gone. So, hatless, we walked through the concourse and to the Coors Light Left Field Deck. Out by the deck, there is a special entrance for partyn deck folks. I noticed that they had TWO hats left. I talked one of the girls into giving me one of them. I like it:
We started the game by picking up some french fries and two dollar-dogs and heading to the trough in left field (that’s what I call it, not sure if it has a real name):
This would be a pretty sweet place to catch a home run. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen one hit to LF while I’ve been in the trough.
Behind the trough there is an elevated picnic area with lots of tables and private boxes.
Here is the view from the trough:
Here is a closer look:
Tim likes the trough because its like a big straight away made for racing. Plus, it conveniently has a “finish line” painted at one end:
Why do you think they painted the yellow line across the floor in the trough? I can’t see that line ever coming into play. You can’t see it from the field. Its out of the sight of any TV cameras. Plus, the ball is either fair or foul when it crosses the top of the fence — it is irrelevant whether a ball lands on the fair or foul side of the line on the deck behind the fence. I think its only real utility is as a finish line for Tim to use for racing me in the trough.
So the whole LF areas is a big deck. What, you ask, is in RF? A little swiming pool (above the Power Ball sign):
Why, you ask, is there a traditional Japanese pagoda on the hill in Reading, PA? The Answer: your guess is as good as mine. There just is.
Here is the scoreboard in CF:
Now, you might be wondering why it is the 10th inning and it still looks like 1:05 in the afternoon. Well, the game from Saturday night was suspended due to rain with a 1-1 tie score. So we had to finish that game (2-1 loss in 11 innings) and wait for crew to prep the field before the regularly scheduled game started.
It was nice to get some bonus baseball, but the delay ultimately proved to be too much for young tired Tim. Plus, it skewed his game schedule like nobody’s business. We ended up getting his ice cream helmet before the game even started — real chocolate ice cream with sprinkles:
This picture shows Tim eating his ice cream “in the shade” as he requested. We were in the back row of the grandstand.
The regularly scheduled Sunday game finally got going at 2:20. I took a couple panoramics of the field:
And Tim did some smiling and pointing:
…and we took more panoramics:
Then we took to our feet and got some action shots — here is Phils top pitching prospect, Kyle Drabek:
. . . and here is some Harrisburg Senators (AA Expos…oops, Nationals) dude getting blown away by a high fastball from Drabek (with one of the R-Phils’ many mascots watching on):
I’d never realized that there is standing room at the top of the grandstand and a walkway that runs behind the pressbox from one side of home plate to the other. Tim liked running back and forth back there. Here is a plaque on the wall by the press box:
As you can see from the plaque, “Broadway” Charlie Wagner played for the Red Sox. He was also Ted Williams’s roommate back in the day. And he was a regular at Reading Phillies games until he passed away in 2006.
How about another action shot?
This is Michael Taylor. The little program guide said that in May Taylor was named Phillies Minor League Player of the Month for the third consecutive month. I looked up Taylor’s stats on MiLB.com from last season and he hit .346 with 19 HR and 88 RBI. So far this season, he is hitting .332 wiith 10 HR and 42 RBI. Not too shabby. Watch for him in a MLB park near you in the future.
Finally, we took in all of the zaney on-field entertainment that you get with minor league baseball:
Now, here is the interesting thing I learned today. Sometimes, it can actually be easier to drive 100+ miles to a game. I really wanted to go to this game because it was Kids Run the Bases day. We love Kids Run the Bases day. However, when we go to Sunday games in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York or D.C., Tim naps in the car on the way to the game. However, with only a 10 minute drive to the park today, we were going with no nap. Add in the extra 2 innings played at the beginning of the day from the rain-suspended game from the night before and the 1/2 hour of field prep between games and it was a long day at the park. Tim was deliriously tired by the 7th inning. So, we missed Kids Run the Bases. Still, it was a great day at Baseballtown.
I’ll leave you with one more picture. Here is a big picture of FirstEnergy Stadium with labels showing the former R-Phils to go on to the Major Leagues since 1967:
Here are some highlights:
1967 – Larry Bowa, Robin Roberts; 1970 – Bob Boone; 1971 – Mike Schmidt; 1980 -Ryne Sandberg; 1981 – Julio Franco; 1995 – Scott Rolen; 1999 – Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell; 2001 – Carlos Silva, Brett Myers; 2002 – Ryan Madson; 2003 – Carlos Ruiz; 2004 – Ryan Howard; 2005 – Cole Hamels.
Not too shabby.