Results tagged ‘ Ryan Rowland-Smith ’
Last season, I created the Cook & Son Hall of Fame and inducted Mariners bullpen catcher and former big leaguer Jason Phillips as the first member as a way to honor and say thank you to Phillips for being so incredibly nice to me and Tim and making the 2009 season extra special.
In May, I mentioned in a entry about our first Mariners game of the season (and our last game ever seeing Griffey play) that I we had an amazing interaction with Mariners pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith, which followed an amazing interaction that we had with him last September in Toronto. Since that game in Baltimore, I have had plans to induct RRS as the second member of the C&S Hall of Fame, like Phillips based on his going above-and-beyond the call of duty in terms of fan friendliness.
But, in the meantime, my favorite player of all-time (and Tim’s second favorite behind Ichiro), Ken Griffey, Jr. retired. I have known all along that I would induct Griffey into our little Hall of Fame as soon as he retired, as the first player to go into the C&S HOF based on his on-field achievements. So, with his sudden (and personally sad) retirement, Griff jumped RRS in order of induction.
But now it is RRS’s turn.
Without further adieu, Tim and Todd Cook are happy to announce the induction of Ryan Rowland-Smith as the third member of the C&S Hall of Fame, and the second member inducted based on above-and-beyond the call of duty fan friendliness:
Our first encounter with RRS came in August 2007 at Tim’s second career Mariners game and first career road game. It took place at Baltimore’s Camden Yards (at a time when they had no ice cream helmets!) and it was very brief. RRS pitched 1 innng in relief as the Mariners extended their record to 2-0 in Tim’s two Mariners games.
In 2009, Tim hit his stride as a baseball fan. He was finally old enough and had enough energy to go to batting practice and still stay awake for an entire MLB game. By September, we had collected a bunch of baseballs from BP, many tossed up to us by our beloved Mariners.
But there was one problem. All of the baseballs had either been tossed to me or handed to Tim. This made Tim feel downright childish (of course, he was only 3 years old). Late in the season, he started telling me that HE wanted to catch a baseball at game. My thought was that I could get Jason Phillips help us with Tim’s request.
So we headed to Toronoto in late September 2009 with a goal of having Tim catch a baseball in his own glove, most likely thrown by Jason Phillips. But there was no BP! So when I ran into and chatted with Phillips before the game, Tim was off in the kids play area with his mom.
Tim and my wife joined me in the field level seats shortly thereafter and we hung out and watched a bunch of the Mariners pitchers warm up. Enter Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith.
After playing catch with Garrett Olson, RRS set his glove down right by the foul line and headed over to the seats to sign some autographs. I could see that his warm up baseball was in his glove. When he got to us, I asked him if we could get our picture with him. He was extremely nice and was more than happy to pose for this picture:
While setting up that picture, I asked RRS if he would throw the ball in his glove to Tim. He agreed. Now, this next sentence I have re-written about 10 times and just can’t properly convey the feel. But I was struck by RRS’s tone and demeanor during this exchange. He conveyed the feeling that there never could be any doubt about my request, of course Tim had to have that baseball.
In the pictures below, RRS had just retrieved the ball from his glove and thrown it to Tim. But Tim dropped it! RRS picked it up and signed it and handed it back to Tim:
RRS then went on signing. He was still standing right next to us when someone didn’t have a pen. He asked if anyone had a sharpie. At the same time, Tim told me he was sad because he didn’t catch the ball. I handed a pen to RRS and asked him if he would re-throw the ball to Tim so he could try to catch it again.
Of course, he would. He signed the girl’s baseball and then grabbed Tim’s baseball, walked all the way across the warning track, and tossed it to him again. And Tim caught it! It was a great moment made possible by one incredibly nice Aussie.
I should mention that at some point during these exchanges with RRS, I told him that it was excellent that he was No. 18 and I mentioned that I was No. 18 when I played baseball. In fact, I am still to this day No. 18 in my softball league.
He asked me why I liked 18. I didn’t have a good answer. I just do. I think the genesis of it was that I just thought it was a cool looking number on the back of Darryl Strawberry’s jersey back in the day. He didn’t mention why he picked 18, but I later read on his (now inactive) blog that the M’s just gave him the number and he thought it was cool because the best pitcher on a team in Japan is usually No. 18. I have no clue if that is true, but I do note that Diasuke Matsuzaka wears No. 18. (I just found this blog entry on this topic).
Anyway, lets fast forward to March 2010. Spring Training was in full swing. I was busy planning out our 2010 baseball season. One of the topics on my list was to figure out my 2010 game uniform. If you haven’t noticed, I wore essentially the exact same thing to every game in 2009: green cargo shorts, button up M’s jersey, M’s official 2009 game undershirt, and white/blue M’s hat). I was wondering if I should switch it up for 2010. I think I must have been watching an M’s spring training game on MLBNetwork at the time with RRS pitching or maybe I was watching an internet video clip interview of RRS. Whatever I was watching, I got a flat out ridiculous idea.
In my defense, it was probably really late at night and I was probably really tired. But whatever the reason, I typed out the following letter to RRS:
The next day, I went to package up the letter in an envelope and send it off to the Mariners spring training facility in Peoria, Arizona. A little embarrassed, I showed it to my wife and we agreed there was a essentially a 100% chance that I would never hear anything from RRS in response to the letter.
I mailed it off, didn’t tell anyone else about it, and went on living life.
Eventually, we met up with the Mariners in Baltimore for the first time of the 2010 season. It was a damp May day with no BP. So we had a lot of time to kill before the game started. Tim was sitting on my shoulders as we stood in the CF seats just watching the activity around the ballpark.
Soon, RRS came walking from the dugout through CF. He was on his way to the bullpen:
I’d basically forgotten about the letter. Not really forgotten that I sent it, but figured it was a moot point and a done deal. I’d already noticed on TV that the Spring Training jerseys were also being used as the M’s BP jerseys. So weeks earlier when I noticed that fact, I officially gave up any hope (not that I ever actually had any) of my letter bearing fruit.
I had just read on his twitter page (@hyphen18) that he’d buzzed his hair. He was about 100 feet away when I called out, “Hey, Ryan, let’s see the new hair!” Without looking up, he laughed and took off his hat. Then he put his hat back on and looked up at us. Instantly…and I mean instantly (no hesitation whatsoever)…he pointed at us and exclaimed, “Oh, hey, man!“
He changed his course and started walking over to us:
RRS: You wrote me that letter (sizing up a sheet of paper with his fingers), right?
RRS: Sorry, I didn’t get back to you. I didn’t know how to get a hold of you.
[NOTE: If you are a professional baseball player, you should not feel obligated to apologize for not getting in touch with some random dude who asks (literally) for the shirt off of your back! Seriously, RRS is ridiculously nice!]
RRS: So, whats the deal? I mean, do you still want it?
TODD: ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!? Of course, I do! Oh, my gosh. Are you serious!? I sent the letter but never thought there was any chance you would actually say yes! I mean the letter was ridiculous!
RRS: Oh, no. No problem, man.
[NOTE: This conversation had a very similar vibe to the “could you throw Tim that baseball” discussion. The vibe was almost like, “Hey, you asked for my jersey, of course I’m gonna give it to you. Why would you ever doubt it?”].
RRS: Okay. Well, where are you going to be?
TODD: (not really understanding the question) I don’t know, here? Wherever you need me to be?
RRS: Will you be in Seattle at all?
TODD: Yeah, but not until the very end of the season. We’re coming in for the last series of the season to be there in case Griff retires.
[NOTE: I really wanted to be at his final game, and this actually ended up being the last time we saw Griff play].
RRS: Why don’t we meet up there? I only have one of them. So I can’t give it to you or I won’t have one. But if we’re in Seattle I can just get a new one.
TODD: Oh, yeah. I noticed they are your BP jerseys.
RRS: Yeah. So I need it for BP. But I can just get a new one if we’re in Seattle.
We chatted a little more, but I can’t really remember what exactly we said.
About half an hour later…
After this game, I was estatic. WOW! Ryan Rowland-Smith said he would give me his jersey! I mean, that’s ridiculous. I couldn’t wait! Ah, I wasn’t going to be in Seattle until the end of the season!
I decided I should make this as easy as possible for RRS. Ideally, I wanted to get it straight from him at the ballpark. But that could be complicated. So I sent him another letter thanking him for being so incredibly nice and generous and awesome. I included a stamped return envelope (a big one) in case he just wanted to mail the jersey. I also gave him a list of all of the Mariners games we would be in attendance for over the rest of the season.
Within one week from mailing that letter, my wife called me at work to let me know that I got a big envelope with my own writing on it. I couldn’t wait to get home that night!
Care to guess what was in that package? Yep, my new official Ryan Rowland-Smith AUTOGRAPHED spring training / batting practice jersey…
The jersey, by the way, is HUGE! Size 52! RRS is 6’3″ and I am a mere 5’11”. He needs a lot more fabric to cover his frame! If untucked, the jersey is like a dress on me.
Here are some screen shots of RRS wearing the jersey during spring training 2010:
I’ve had the jersey about a week and a half now and I still cannot believe it. Who has ever thought of writing to a professional baseball player and asking for his jersey? And who has ever heard of it ACTUALLY WORKING!?
By the way, the jersey has a few small scuffs on the bottom on one side. I think its cool that it shows some actual “wear-and-tear.” When I opened it, my wife asked, “Is it all sweaty and dirty smelling?” The Answer: No. It was washed and (as my wife and I have referred to it) “Mariner fresh” smelling!
THANK YOU, RYAN ROWLAND-SMITH! (And not just for the jersey, but for being such a down-to-earth, genuine, nice guy). Best of luck to you for a long and successful career, hopefully all with the Mariners!
In a C&S Hall of Fame first, Ryan Rowland-Smith has issued a brief (140 characters or less) induction acceptance speech via his twitter page:
“Thank you Cook and Son for my induction into their hall of fame! http://alturl.com/753w enjoy the jersey.”
Why don’t I just show you it? Here you go:
A very kind gesture, but all the thanks go to RRS. And a big congratulations for a strong outing yesterday — see the box score here. Hopefully this outing (five innings, 4 hits and 1 earned run) proves to be the first building block to a successful final four months of the season.
I wanted to maximize our time with the Mariners so we headed down to Baltimore in time for batting practice. Unfortunately, it started raining as we neared Baltimore. As we entered the centerfield seats, we found the tarp covering the field. No batting pratice.
It was about 5:20 at the time. Because we did not have “season ticket” tickets, we were stuck in CF until 5:30. So we couldn’t go over to the third base foul line where Ichiro was running sprints in the outfield and a couple of Mariners were playing catch.
After about 2 minutes in the seats, Jesus Colome came out to centerfield to grab two baseballs that were sitting out there in the grass. There were a bunch of O’s fans in the first 2 rows of the seats and we were hanging back in about the 10th row. Colome saw us and yelled to get our attention. He then proceeded to throw one of the baseballs nowhere near us. Seriously, while looking me straight in the eye, he managed to throw the ball about 30 feet to our left and about 7 rows below us. One of the O’s fans grabbed it as it ricocheted off some seats. Colome yelled, “Sorry!” and patted himself on the chest as if to say, “my bad.”
About 2 minutes later, something incredibly cool happened. I’m going to save the complete story for later, but here is the abbreviated version.
Ryan Rowland-Smith came walking through the outfield on his way to the bullpen…
…in that picture, Tim and I were standing at the “T&T” (Tim was on my shoulders) and I noticed Rowland-Smith as he was walking at the “RRS.” The yellow line shows the route he was intending to walk to the Mariners bullpen.
Background Fact No. 2: Over the off-season, I wrote a letter to RRS to (among other things) thank him for being so kind to us in Toronto, and I included with the letter the picture my wife snapped of us with RRS.
Background Fact No. 3: I follow RRS on Twitter where it had recently been implied that he buzzed his hair. Check him out @hyphen18.
So, as he approached the OF wall, I yelled out, “Hey, Ryan, let’s see the new hair!”
He laughed and (without looking over) took off his hat to show me his buzz-cut. Then, as he went through the door in the OF gate, he looked over at me and…
I was thinking, “Wow, RRS really likes seeing Mariners fans on the road!” But as he approached, he said, “You wrote me that letter, right?”
To put it mildly, I couldn’t believe it! I wrote him a letter months earlier about an interaction in Toronto and IMMEDIATELY upon seeing us in Baltimore (totally out of context), he recognized us and came right over to chat.
Here he is standing below us…
…and, to once again put it mildly, he came over to chat about something incredibly, amazingly, ridiculously awesome. That’s what I’ll save for later. For now, I will just note that we made plans to meet up later in the season about something I asked him in my letter. Also, I must note that RRS is officially one of the most fan-friendly, coolest dudes ever to wear a major league baseball uniform…hands down.
After chatting with RRS, we waited five more minutes for the rest of the stadium to open (by which point Ichiro was gone), and then we headed over toward the Mariners dugout. And guess who we ran into…
…you got it: Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith. Although Tim looks sorta “ho-hum’ish” in this picture, its not because he wasn’t happy to get his picture with RRS. It was because he was standing on top of a wet brick wall and he was scared he was going to fall off. RRS is holding him from behind to keep him steady.
We chatted for another minute or two with RRS. And he noticed the T-Shirt I was wearing under my jersey. It was a special shirt that Griffey made for his Mariners teammates during spring training. You can read about it (and how my mom got her hands on one of them during spring training) in our entry Griffey the Prankster. I told RRS that I had my mom send to shirt to me so I could wear it to this game to see if I could manage to get my picture with Griff. However, due to the SleepGate scandal (that had just broken the day before), RRS didn’t think Griff would be out on the field at all before the game.
A few minutes later, I saw Ichiro pop out of the M’s dugout with a bat and walk over to the O’s dugout/clubhouse entrance. So we headed over to the O’s dugout and confirmed with an usher that the M’s would be taking BP in cages back by the O’s clubhouse.
We said hi to most of the guys as they headed over to take BP…
Adam Moore said hi to us too:
Here is Figgy and a coach, Sweeney and M’s PR guy Tim Hevly (they were talking about SleepGate!)…
…Don Wakamatsu said hello to us, and Ken Griffey, Jr. did too. Unfortunately, that’s the best picture I got of Griff. As he approached, he saw my T-shirt and he said something to me that I couldn’t understand…something odd like, “Oh, so that’s what’s going on here.” In response, I mentioned that he’d given the shirt to my mom at spring training and asked if we could get a picture. He responded as if it was a possibility, but said he had to go hit first. Of course, by the time he finished batting, there were 50 people standing by the dugout. By that point, we decided there was no chance Griff would stop on his way back to the M’s clubhouse so we left to get something to eat.
After our nachos, we headed over to the bullpen to watch Cliff Lee warm up. Here he is on his walk to the bullpen:
By the way, our buddy Jason Phillips is in that blurry picture and he is the guy seated closest to Tim in the picture to the right. It was nice seeing him again. We exchanged a few words several times throughout the day. Its good to have him in the M’s bullpen again this season.
We continued sitting by the bullpen during the first inning, but then it started raining again. We took refuge under cover over by where we’d eaten our nachos. And I got some pictures of Griffey batting in the third inning…
And I got some pictures of Ichiro, also batting in the third inning…
I took tons of pictures (using my wife’s camera with a sequence feature) of Cliff Lee:
We got some random defensive shots:
I had to get Tim out of the standing room area pretty quick. It was covered with huge puddles and Tim wanted to jump in every single one. I was envisioning his little toes freezing later in the game inside wet socks.
So, we headed out to the concourse and got an ice cream helmet and a hot chocolate. We grabbed some ice cream seats in section 10 down the 1B foul line:
Pictured at the back of the photo is a guy named Avi who we met before the game. In addition to going to tons of O’s games, Avi reads our blog (and writes one of his own). Thanks, Avi! It was great meeting you.
Here is the view from our ice cream seats in section 10:
Ryan Langerhans broke the scoreless tie with a lead off homerun in the fifth. Later in the inning, the M’s scored again when Chone Figgins drew a bases loaded walk.
Here is a shot of Griff hitting in the sixth inning:
From our ice cream seats, we had a great view of Ichiro in RF. In these pictures, Ichi is playing catch between innings with Franklin Gutierrez.
Here is Tim after finishing off his ice cream and hot chocolate:
He absolutely loved the hot chocolate.
As we sat in section 10, I noticed the same guy catch two foul balls straight behind home plate. I decided he should go over there. However, when we arrived behind home plate, we noticed that the ushers were essentially taking the night off. Although there were ushers all around, they were letting people stand in the aisle and sit anywhere they wanted. So, after an usher took our picture…
And when we got home, I noticed that we’d been on TV while we were sitting in the third row behind Franklin Gutierrez:
We’d been sitting in the third row, but between innings Tim would stand in the first row above the dugout…so I snapped this picture of him:
Here was the view from the first row:
Ichiro hit another single in the 9th inning…
It was raining very lightly, so Tim wore my glove has a mask/umbrella…
I mentioned already we didn’t get a third out ball. Oddly, however, we did get a second out ball! Here Tim is with his first ever game used ball (well, it is possible that one of the umpire balls he’s gotten has been game used, but we *know* this one was used in the game):
With one out in the bottom of the ninth and Brandon League pitching, Matt Wieters grounded out to Ryan Langerhans at first base. Langerhans tagged Wieters for the 26th out of the game and then threw the ball around the horn. Somehow, the around the horn attempt failed. I’m not sure what happened. I think that Figgins threw the ball in the dirt to Jose Lopez and it got wet or dirty. For whatever reason, Lopez rolled the ball into foul territory. It ultimately came to rest right in front of us.
We were the only people in the first row behind the Mariners dugout. We were wearing all Mariners gear. Tim’s a cute kid. The ball was directly in front of us. It seemed almost like we were guaranteed to get the ball. And we did. An unidentified Mariner reached over the railing/netting and grabbed the ball off of the warning track, turned around and flipped it right to me.
Maybe two minute later, the Mariners won the game by a final score of 5-1. And Ichi victoriously ran off of the soggy field after high fiving his teammates:
Our friend, MLBlogger, and Baseball Collector extraordinaire, Zack Hample, was at the game. We’d spent some time with him during pre-game and then met up again after the game. As the Mariners bullpen headed to the dugout, Jesus Colome flipped a ball to Zack and John Wetteland bestowed a second baseball on me and Tim.
Moments later, Zack’s buddy Brandon captured this photo of me, Tim, and Zack:
re-make of a picture we got moments after we met Zack in person for the first time last season — at the memorable Randy Johnson 300th win rainout “game.” After this photo, Tim and I walked to our parking garage with Zack and Brandon (on their way to their hotel).
It was a great first Mariners game of the season that included (i) a much needed Mariners win, (ii) Cliff Lee’s first win as a Mariner (and his first since the 2009 World Series), (iii) two memorable meetings with Ryan Rowland-Smith, (iv) fun interactions with several players about the Griffey prank shirt, (v) meeting up with some cool MLBloggers, and (vi) Tim’s first game-used baseball.
I already cannot wait to see the Mariners again…next month in San Diego on the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010! See you there, Mariners!
2010 Fan Stats:
8 Teams (Mariners, Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
5 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (2), Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)
15 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)
4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
4 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith, Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
Due to Mother’s Day, we will be home both days this weekend with our special little lady. No games for Todd and Tim. Our next game action will be during the week next week when the Mariners visit Baltimore. For the time being, I figured I would share a non-game story from tonight.
One of my standing tasks at our house is getting Tim ready for and tucked into bed. We’re not big pre-bed story reading people. Tonight, however, Tim asked me to read him a story. So after a vigorous teeth brushing, Tim climbed into his bed ready for a story.
But before he could pick a book, something on his night stand caught his eye…
…it was the two baseballs we got last weekend at the Phillies/Mets game in Philadelphia.
The four most important baseballs we got last year reside on Tim’s dresser and the rest of our 2009 baseballs are on a shelf in my home office. A couple weeks ago, we had our first 11 baseballs of 2010 sitting loose on a table-top in our family room. Tim asked if we could put them in his room. While the two we got last week are on his night stand, the other 11 are now lined up across his dresser:
Our plan to read a story went out the door when Tim noticed the small “55” written inside the MLB logo on one of the baseballs on his night stand. He’d asked me to put those baseballs on his night stand and, once they were in place, he lined them up so they face his pillow.
Tonight, he asked me about the “55” and the other numbers written on some of the other balls on his dresser. What followed was a 20 minute walk down memory lane as we took several of the balls out of their cases to inspect them, played bare-handed catch from two feet apart, and discussed the games where we got the baseballs and the players who gave and/or autographed them for us.
We talked about the differences in the colors of the baseballs and how some baseballs — like our autographed Felix Hernandez baseball — look “dirty” because the players like it how it feels better in their hand that way.
We talked about our Willie Bloomquist baseball and how we got it the same night that Tim got his 30 Teams Trophy (also shown above on the night stand). Tim remembered that it was a rainy night at the ballpark that night. But he didn’t remember that was the same game at which he met Alex for the first time. Since meeting Alex in Chicago, Tim and I have run into Alex (and Joe, who Tim thinks are brothers) at Citi Field twice, including at the game in which we got the baseball to the far right on his dresser.
We talked about the numbers written inside the MLB logo and how they correspond to the order in which we caught them at Tim’s MLB games.
We talked about the ripped leather in a big scuff mark below the MLB logo on Tim’s 50th baseball and how it probably happened when the baseball was hit into the seats during BP and scraped across the pavement in the field level seating area at Nationals Park.
We talked about the umpires who have given us baseballs after games and, notably, how Tim had dropped the baseball that Bruce Dreckman gave him recently at Citi Field, and how another umpire picked it up and gave it back to Tim.
As we chatted, we tossed the various baseballs back-and-forth to each other. So many moments in life are forgotten forever. And that’s one of the reasons I love getting a baseball at a game. It gives us something tangible to hold onto and help tie us back into the memories of our days at the ballpark. Tonight, it was a great way to get ready for bed. It definitely beat reading one of Tim’s books for the 700th time.
Tim and I have had all of our baseballs from 2009 laying around unorganized and our ice cream helmets in a similarly disheveled state. So, I decided to get organized.
The four most important baseballs of the season are in Tim’s room on his dresser with his 30-MLB team milestone trophy, his Mariners Mr. Potatohead, and his miniature Ken Griffey, Jr. glove:
Those baseballs include:
- Willie Bloomquist/Royals ball (U.S. Cellular Field) – from Tim’s 30th MLB team milestone game (8/17/09).
- Felix Hernandez/Erik Bedard (Fenway Park) warm up ball signed by Felix Hernandez (7/4/09).
- Jason Phillips autographed ball (Yankee Stadium) – trade for A-Rod photoball for M’s pink backpack (7/2/09).
- Ryan Rowland-Smith’s autographed warm-up ball (Rogers Centre) — Tim’s first ball he caught himself (9/26/09).
NOTE: Honorable Mention Most Important Baseballs Awards go to the HHH Metrodome ball that we caught at the Metrodome (8/15/09) and the ball Jason Phillips threw to us on top of the Green Monster at Fenway (7/5/09).
The rest of our 2009 baseballs are now all in baseball cubes displayed on a bookshelf on which they fit perfectly:
As you can see, on the bottom shelf we have our ice cream helmet collection. Most piles are all the same team (e.g., the big Mariners and Phillies piles). But a couple teams are hidden beneath other teams (e.g., the Pirates and the other New York team). Eventually, I’ll need to figure out a better way to display our helmets.
FYI, the balls on the helmet shelf are mostly from my youth. I lost track of how many balls I caught growing up in the Kingdome. Eventually, I ended up playing home run derby with most of them (something me and my friends played constantly during the summers) and lost them in the woods beyond the outfield fence at Madrona Elementary School (which is a great place to play home run derby). Anyway, the end balls in the back row are from last season, the other nine are my only remaining Kingdome balls. You can see on one of them I wrote “Julio Franco” in red in really poor, youthful handwriting. It was back when he played for the Rangers, probably from 1989 or 1990. The ball to the right of the Franco ball was from Kirby Puckett.
While I’m at it, I might as well share one more picture:
These are balls from 2006-08. On the top shelf:
1. Tim’s first ball ever – from Davis Romero (Blue Jays) at his first game ever, and first game (obviously) at Safeco Field (9/12/06).
3. Tim’s third ball ever – from Brandon Morrow at his third game ever, second Mariners game, and first game at Camden Yards (8/9/07)
4. Tim’s fourth ball ever – from Glenallen Hill at Tim’s 1st MLB Anniversary, our only ball ever at Citizens Bank Park (9/12/07)
FYI, we gave Tim’s second baseball to my cousin’s daughter who shared her first game ever with Tim (as we will see in a forthcoming entry – ETA next week).
The rest of the baseballs are spring training balls from 2008. The top left ball is autographed by Adam Moore and the top right ball is autographed by Jose Vidro – both during spring training 2008.
Interstingly, this post now shows every baseball Tim and I have ever caught together except one, which we got during our first baseball roadtrip in 2008 and got autographed by some Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers. What the heck, lets show it too:
This ball is autographed by T.J. Beam, Tyler Yates, and Sean Burnett of the 2008 Pirates.
So, there you go, our entire Major League baseball collection and Major League ice cream helmet collections in one blog entry.
It took some coaxing, but about a month ago I finally got my lovely wife, Colleen, to agree to a late-season family trip to the Great White North. It would be our first trip ever to Toronto, our first game outside of the United States, and our first game ever at Rogers Centre.
It would also be our final Mariners game of the season, and a re-match of Tim’s first game ever.
To the right is a picture of our first close-up view of Rogers Centre. Behind the stadium, you can see the CN Tower, which I am told is the tallest free-standing structure in the world.
Let’s get to the game.
We drove north from Pennsylvania the night before and stayed about 88 miles from Toronto, right down the street from Niagara Falls. I didn’t know when, if ever, we’d get back to Toronto, so I wanted to get there early for all of BP.
We arrived before the stadium opened, grabbed our tickets at will call, and chatted with some nice Canadians in line. Much to our delight, the Canucks informed us that it was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!! YES! I was psyched.
The stadium opened at 11:00 a.m. I hustled in to see what I could see, and Colleen took this picture as she and Tim approached the field level seats:
Here is the view from the 1B field level seats — essentially our first view of the field upon entering the stadium:
I took some random pictures:
To the left, big cushy seats along the front row (and Tim standing at the far end of them). To the right, the M’s batting helmets, gloves and shin guards. Check out the shag-carpet looking field turf.
We looked into the dugout to see if any Mariners were in there…
After a bit, Tim and Colleen went up to the 200 level to a kids area (that didn’t impress Colleen). I decided to stay on the field level and explore a bit more.
Then, some Blue Jays came out to play catch — a bunch of them. I decided to go over and see them.
First a little background. Do you recall that I’ve had a bunch of interactions this season with Mariners bullpen catcher (and former big leaguer) Jason Phillips? Jason has been extremely cool to me and Tim. Well, the Blue Jays just called up Jason’s younger brother, Kyle, for his first action in the major leagues.
I was thinking it would be really cool to get a ball from a pair of brothers at the same game. So I decided to see if Kyle Phillips was over there. But I couldn’t find him. I noticed that Jays pitcher Brian Tallet was about 2 feet from the first row playing catch down the LF line:
I was now on the opposite side of the infield. I decided to walk around the OF concourse and head over to the Mariners bullpen.
When I got there, this is what I saw:
To the left, bullpen coach John Wetteland is at the top left about to exit the bullpen door. I have been debating with myself over the identity of the stretching Mariner at the bottom and to the right. At first, I thought it was Garrett Olson. But then I saw Garrett Olson out in RF later and I didn’t think he was the same guy. I decided the stretching guy was rookie catcher Adam Moore — a guy I’m following closely. But after returning home and examining all of my numerous pictures, I again think it is Garrett Olson.
Whichever one it is, the guy was cool. He was down there stretching and I was up above just standing around observing my surroundings. He turned around and looked up and saw me wearing my Mariners jersey. He yelled, “Hey, there!” up to me. We chatted for a minute or two. We discussed that the Jays were throwing a lefty and Ken Griffey, Jr. would not be in the line up — a familiar scenario for me this season.
After chatting for a couple minutes, he yelled “hold on a minute” and he ran over to the wall (up where Wetteland is pictured). He opened the bullpen baseball bag and pulled out a ball and threw it up to me.
“Thanks, mystery Mariner!” (probably Garrett Olson)
After chatting with probably-Garrett-Olson, I headed back over to the seats along the 1B line and I watched some more stretching:
Eventually, Chris Jakubauskas came out to the field behind 1B (below at left side)…
…I yelled down to him, “Hey, Chris, need someone to play catch?” He laughed and kept stretching. Eventually, Brandon Morrow (top middle) ran out to stretch and play catch with Jakubauskas. In the bottom left picture, Morrow threw one by Jak and all the way to the LF wall.
After Jak returned with the ball, they played catch for a few more minutes and then Morrow tossed their warm-up ball to me.
Then, Jason Phillips made an appearance:
Jason walked out to the RF foul line to play catch with someone-or-other, I can’t remember who. I was watching some other M’s play catch. When I looked left, Jason was walking out from the dugout. He looked my way and raised his hand in the air above his head as if to say, “You again, you’re everywhere!”
He immediately set down his bag (that big bag behind him in the picture) and walked over to chat. He gave me a hand shake and we chatted for several minutes. I asked him about his brother and he said Kyle would be catching that day and he was excited to watch his brother play.
I mentioned to Jason that I was at the Mariners first game ever at Shea Stadium when “some dude wearing glasses hit a home run against my Mariners.” Jason responded, “Yep, that was me. Hit it to center off of Ryan Franklin. And Franklin was mad at me about it.”
I also gave Jason a card with our blog address on it. Hey, in case you’re reading this, Jason, THANKS! You’ve really made this seasona lot of fun and very memorable for me and Tim. Looking forward to seeing you in 2010 if you stick with the M’s!
While all of this was going on, Colleen took a couple shots of Adam Moore stretching and running…
…as shown on the right, Adam Moore is the first ball player Tim ever met, and his first autograph. It was at spring training in 2008. I’ve been following him ever since and hoping he’d get called up to the big club. Hopefully he’s here to stay.
Oh, yeah. So I guess you could tell, Colleen and Tim met up with me again after the play area. Tim was ready to catch his first ball ever…
Yeah, Tim has got a bunch of baseballs at games. But they’ve all been either (i) thrown to me or (ii) handed to Tim. Tim had been telling me at games recently that he wanted to catch a ball himself. I was hoping it would happen.
By the way, in that last picture, do you see a baseball in the black glove sitting on the ground by the foul line to Tim’s left? That ball is also shown here:
Back to that ball in the glove. That was Ryan Rowland-Smith’s glove. After he and Olson finished tossing, Ryan headed over to the RF corner where someone who appeared to be a Rogers Centre regular had a whole bunch of glossy pictures set out on the wall. Rowland-Smith headed over and autographed one for her. Then he worked his way down the wall in our direction signing for everyone.
When he reached us, I asked if we could get our picture with him — “of course” was his response:
As we were getting ready for this picture, I asked, “After this picture, do you think you could throw that ball in your glove into my son’s glove?” “Oh, definitely, no problem” was Ryan’s response. It was funny. He almost said it like it was a foregone conclusion.
After the picture, Ryan headed over to his glove and grabbed the ball. I stood Tim up on the wall and Ryan tossed it to him…
In the top left, Ryan had just thrown the ball to Tim, but Tim missed it. Ryan is chuckling and coming over to grab the ball off of the ground. In the top right and bottom left corners, Ryan is autographing the ball for us. He then handed it back to us and went on signing.
But the story isn’t over. We were still standing right next to Ryan and he was still signing. A couple seconds later, someone handed him a ball to sign, but didn’t have a pen. Ryan asked, “Does anyone have a sharpie?” At the same time, Tim said something to me about being sad that he missed the ball when Ryan threw it to him.
I handed a sharpie to Rowland-Smith and said, “I have one. By the way, do you think you could re-throw that ball to my son so he can try to actually catch it.” “Of course, no problem,” Ryan said with another chuckle.
Ryan then took the ball all the way across the warning track. I was thinking, “Oh, my gosh. How’s Tim gonna catch this from that far!” In the bottom middle of the picture above, the red arrow shows the flight path of the ball as Tim squeezes it safely in his glove.
Tim (and I) was so excited about his big catch:
By the way, today (9-29) I asked Tim who threw the baseball that he caught. He thought about it for minute and first said, “Jason Phillips.” Then he thought harder and he came up with a new answer, “Smith Roll.” Hey, that’s not too far off. “Ryan Rowland-Smith” is probably a hard name for a 3-year-old to remember.
An extra big, huge thank you to Ryan Rowland-Smith. He was so extremely nice. He really came off like he is one of the nicest guys around. His demeanor just exuded niceness.
At this point of pre-game, I realized we had caught three baseballs — tying our single game record — and we hadn’t even got a ball from Jason Philips. There was a great chance of breaking our record, despite no BP.
But for the time being, it was getting close to game time. Most of the players had left the field. So Tim and I decided to go on a stadium tour while Colleen went to find our seats.
I started with a panaramic from the RF corner where we’d celebrated Tim’s big catch:
Notice that big blue double railing down the middle? I think that has something to do with helping handicapped patrons down the stairs, which is nice. But it kept fustrating me because you can’t get passed it without walking up to the concourse.
Here is a shot from foul territory in LF:
That “low headroom” sign is on that same support beam all the way around the stadium. Behind home plate, it is a good sign because the headroom is very low. But where it is pictured above, it is about 30 feet above the aisle below.
Here is a picture standing in front of the batters eye…
Then we headed up to the 500 level (we’ll have to come back to explore the 200-300-400 levels). Here is a panaramic view from roughly behind home plate in the 500 level:
Here is are a couple views of the seats and roof support beams in the 500 level:
…check out how they have railings between every row of seating. They only have that in the 500 level (as far as I could tell). I guess it is so people don’t fall down the incredibly steep steps. It makes it hard to walk through the narrow rows quickly.
Here is a view from a little more than half way up the 500 level in RF foul territory…
And, here is a panaramic view from the back row of the same section…
…notice anything? Yep, that’s right. The seats are ABOVE THE LIGHTS!!! Not quite as good as the seats half way up the section. Here you’re going to miss anything that happens at home plate or in RF or LF. But, hey, its a unique view and you could chalk it up as an odd experience if you are ever forced to sit here.
Here is another view from further out in RF — in homerun territory. It would be quite a blast if a home run ever made it up here:
In the top right and bottom left, you can see a crane contraption that is holding up the foul pole.
Bottom right, its just a picture of the big screen — featuring Franklin Gutierrez.
And that was our tour. We headed to our seats in RF for the game to start. This was our view from the first row in section 104:
So, at the beginning of each game at Yankee Stadium, the entire RF bleachers section chants each Yankees players name until they wave at the RF bleachers. At Rogers Centre, this guy is in charge of the roll call:
Back to our seats. Check out how awesome these are — the M’s bullpen bench was elevated above the OF wall just a coule feet from us:
John Wetteland then yelled to Vernon: “Can I have a baseball?” Others followed with, “Can I have your bat?,” “Can I have your glove?,” and “Can I have your cleats?”
And that wasn’t all the fun they had. The entire M’s bullpen then waged an all out every-man-for-himself pumpkin seed flicking war. Seeds were flying everywhere for about 15 minutes. David Aardsma and Jason Vargas both took seeds to the face. Some of those guys could flick a seed 30 feet on a line. It was pretty impressive, and hilarious. Everyone in the crowd was watching them closely and getting a kick out of it, including this guy:
Then we were interrupted with some baseball. I can’t remember who hit this ball, but a Mariner hit a ball to deep right CF. I thought it was extra bases all the way. But the Jays’ right fielder, Jose Bautista, tracked it down and made an amazing catch just below us before smashing into the hard plexiglass wall at full speed. It seemed like he was down for a minute or two after the catch.
Here is a screen shot from the highlight on mlb.com. This is just before he smashes into the wall — the red arrow is pointing to me, you can’t really see Tim in the seat next to me (the empty looking seat), and then Colleen is in the pink:
Tim didn’t want to leave the team store because it had a field on the ground. Most of it was painted, but the bases and home plate were glass and you could see a real game-used home plate and bases under each piece of glass.
Tim took a lot of swings at fake balls and ran a lot of bases in the team store. I was okay with it because I could see the game while I stood by the guard at the home plate pictured above to the right.
While I was standing there, Ichiro was kicked out of the game for the first time in his career and Adam Moore hit his first extra base hit (2B) and collected his first RBI of his career. It was cool to be there for that.
Eventually, we left the team store and I walked all the way around the stadium while holding Tim in my arms…
After Ichiro was booted for arguing balls and strikes, Bill Hall took his place in RF.
As we walked around the concourse, Tim fell asleep. I headed back to our seats and handed Tim off to Colleen. Unfortunately, it was very difficult to sit next to Colleen while she held Tim like this because Tim’s legs were in the way:
Bottom left, Moore on second thanks to Wilson’s hit. Bottom right, Matt Tuiasosopo hitting, I believe, a sacrifice fly scoring Moore.
Hey, how have I not shown you the roof yet –here it is:
Bottom right, David Aarsdma half-heartedly warming up – he never entered the game. Bottom left, the bullpen baseball bag.
I usually try to come away from each game with one baseball. At many games, we get none. But I generally don’t set any goals other than trying to get one ball. Although we already had three at this game, I still wanted one more. I needed a Jason Phillips ball. You see, we’d now seen the Mariners play at six stadiums this season and Phillips had given us at least one ball at each stadium this season (in order, Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (2), Fenway Park (2), Progressive Field, and Safeco Field).
But when the game ended, I still had not got one from Jason and I thought my window of opportunity had closed. I saw him pack up his bag on the other side of he bullpen before handing it to Miguel Batista to carry to the dugout. Meanwhile, David Aardsma zipped up the bullpen baseball bag and started walking to the dugout.
As Jason walked by below me, I called out, “Hey, Jason!” He looked up and pointed at me as if to say, “OH, YEAH!” He then jogged into the OF and caught up with Aardsma. When he went for the baseball bag, Aardsma played keep away for a second. Then Phillips pointed over toward me and said something to the D.A. Aardsma relented and let him have the bag. Jason opened it up, grabbed a ball, turned toward me and threw a long strike into my glove.
“THANK YOU, JASON PHILLIPS!”
Next, it was Kids Run the Bases time!
We got into a long line that snaked its way through the bowels of the Rogers Centre under the RF seats. Here are a couple behind the scenes areas we saw:
The top pictures show wires coming out from under the seats, presumably to power the large screens on the OF wall. The bottom pictures show the back of the OF wall from under the field level OF seats. It looked like the video screen sections of the OF wall were on rollers and could be moved around (for example, to reconfigure the stadium for a Buffalo Bills game).
Here is another interesting shot, a hole in the wall looking into the Mariners bullpen:
In case you missed the video of Tim running from my last post — click here to view it.
Unlike the other teams where we have run the bases, the Blue Jays didn’t kick us off of the field immediately upon Tim finishing running the bases — so we were able to get a nice family picture….
…and some other random shots hanging out on the field:
Tim thought that silly face he is making in the picture by the dugout was hilarious.
Finally, we got one more picture from the main concourse before leaving the Rogers Centre:
Season Fan Stats:
31 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun (Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)
12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, “Jacobs” Field, and Rogers Centre)
25 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
26 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
32 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
6 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry)
5 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)