Results tagged ‘ Tom Gorzelanny ’

Photo Day at the Phillies (6/1/2013)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…and in front of the Brewers dugout.

A bunch of Phillies ballgirls started circling the field…

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

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

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

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

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

Brewers coach, Lee Tunnell, liked the cheesehead too…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a random photo in LF:

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

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

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

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No jumping required.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…and Jonathan Pettibone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…and another to Kellan.

Thanks, Jesus!

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

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

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…and then we played some games:

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We were happy to see that Santa Claus…

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

We played enough games to get 20 stamps…

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

Thanks, guy!

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

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

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

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Hooray!

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

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

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

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

We sat here…

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…in section 421 while we ate our lunch:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brewers win 4-3.

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

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

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…before heading to the gates.

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

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

It was another great day at the ballpark!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was only Kellan’s second Phillies game ever.

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

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

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

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

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

But almost right off the bat this happened:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, security guard guy!

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

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

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

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

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

We watched the Nats pitchers warm up…

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

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

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

It didn’t help.

The ball nailed Seth in the shoulder.

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

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

Thanks, Tom!

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

Double thanks, Tom!

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Sean!

Look at these two beauties:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Stephen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…before finally starting to play catch with Kratz:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and watch some baseball:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, we grabbed some pizza…

…and found some seats in section 424:

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

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

…and Kellan was super-excited about it:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Nats hopes came down to Danny Espinosa:

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

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

Everyone celebrated:

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

…as the Phillies celebrated in the background.

Then we slowly made our way to our car.

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

2012 C&S Fan Stats

21/19 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners,   Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks,   Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves;   Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets,   Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays,   Pirates, Braves
33 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies   4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2,   Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
113 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins   4, Mets 8, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2,   Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox   6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
21 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2
11/11 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco   Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target   Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park;   Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field,   Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens   Bank Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners   Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole   Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird
7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky   Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn   Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
9 Autographs – Willie   Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner,   Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney

Family Vacation Baseball Sideshow in DC (7/22/12)

In mid-July, we took a family vacation to the Outer Bank in North Carolina.  Lo-and-behold, as we drove home on July 22, 2012, Nationals Park was right on our way and the Nats were playing a day game against the Braves.  The original plan was for the whole family to go to the game, but then Colleen decided to go shopping (for hours-and-hours-and-hours) instead of coming to the game with us.

So, under mildly threatening skies, Colleen dropped me and the boys off at Nationals Park right as the gates opened.  As we walked to the CF gates, Tim added a Nationals Park picture to his fire hydrant photos collection…

…and then posed for a photo with a Marine who (I think) was participating in a toys for tots collection effort.  That photo scored us some points in the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

We headed into the ballpark and down into the LF seats above the visitors bullpen and discovered that the field was not set up for BP…

…and some birds were relaxing in the seats waiting for the game.

A couple Nats were playing catch in RF.  See that red arrow in the picture above?  We decided to head up there because it was completely empty up in the 200-level (compared to maybe 20-30 people hanging out in the field level in RF).

When we arrived, I took this picture of the boys…

…and Kellan made that hilarious face.

Tim looked around and was all like…

…, “Where’s Mateo?”

As you may recall, our last game was also at Nationals Park and we met up with MyGameBalls.com member and MLBlogger, Mateo Fischer, at that game.  So Tim just figured we’d always see Mateo at Nationals games from now on.  But Mateo was nowhere to be found.

But Tom Grozelanny (who was wearing Lance Nix’s old glove) was there:

I had no clue that this guy was Gorzelanny at the time (actually, Mateo identified him for me after the game).  When Gorzelanny and his partner walked out to RF to play catch, we waved at them from our seats in the second row and Gorzelanny gave us a big wave of his own.

When Gorzelanny finished playing catch, he got the ball back from his partner and attempted to throw it to us.  But he completely missed the upper deck.  He then went back to the bag of baseballs and grabbed a second ball.  On his second attempt, he intentionally tossed the ball five rows over our heads.  Since no one else was nearby, we had no problem finding the ball as it trickled back down toward the front row.

Interestingly, Tim, Kellan and I got a ball in exactly the same, two-attempts, second attempt launched over our heads method last September in just about this exact same location.  And guess who the two attempt making player was that time?  The one and the same, Tom Gorzelanny!

Thanks, Tom!

After getting the ball from Gorzelanny, he headed over to LF.  Tommy Hanson was playing long toss at the time…

…and we headed over to the first row by the LF foul pole.  In that picture above, an usher yell  is about to yell at Tim from the field for leaning over the railing to touch the foul pole.  Booo!

The Braves were on an odd schedule on this day.  The pitchers never came out as a big group to warm up along the LF line.  Instead, one pitcher would come out at a time and play catch in LF, about half way between 3B and the outfield wall.  Until 12:05, we couldn’t get into the infield so there was no action anywhere near us.

When they finally opened the rest of the stadium, he headed in and watched Johnny Venters warm up with Alan Butts:

As you can see, they had a bunch of baseballs sitting in the outfield for the pitchers to use to warm up, and several of them were Dodger Stadium commemorative baseballs!

But the weird, one-guy at a time method worked against all fans hoping to get a toss up.  We only watched two sets up pitchers warm up before we left the 3B line.  But every single Braves pitcher dropped his warm up baseball back in the pile *for the next guy* before heading back into the dugout.  I looked back about 10 minutes before the game started and that same group of baseballs was still sitting there.  Not of one of them was missing.

Anyway, while we wanted to get one of those Dodger baseballs, we decided to leave the field level after Chad Durbin and his partner finished playing catch (they had followed Venters).  We headed off in search of pizza.  Amazing, we walked all the way around the stadium and somehow missed the pizza place, which was right at the beginning of our walk.  So we ended up getting our standard (and delicious) Nationals Park nachos:

We ate the nachos in the shady seats by the RF foul pole.  In that picture of Tim, he is questioning why he would put the cap back on his bottle of water after drinking some water.  He just couldn’t fathom why a cap should be reapplied to the top of a water bottle once opened. Sometimes (well, often times), Tim likes to inject fictitious drama into otherwise mundane of situations.

After eating, it was getting close to game time.  But we headed back toward CF to check out the kids play area.  Unfortunately, there was a line at the play area.  We’d have to wait to get in.  So we decided to come back later.  Instead, he headed over to the MASN booth and got some funny pictures:

The MASN booth was also handing out free posters, which doubled nicely as bats.  We took the bats to a little shady nook behind the Red Porch and the boys took a whole bunch of practice hacks with their posters:

We had great seats for the game in section 135, row P (seats 1-2):

And, ever better, they were free!

Even with the great seats, we didn’t stay put too long.  Tim had dippin’ dots (in a cup, no helmet option!) and Kellan had a twist soft serve ice cream helmet.

While they ate their ice cold refreshments, I watched the Nats push four runs across the plate in the bottom of the first inning:

The biggest blow of the first inning was a 2-run homerun by Ryan Zimmerman.  The first also featured singles by Steve Lombardozzi, Mike Morse, and Roger Bernadina, and a double by Danny Espinosa.

Last Nats game we attended, rookie phenom Bryce Harper played CF.  At this game, he shifted over to RF:

You may notice something cool if you enlarge that last picture.  In that picture, you can tell that Harper jams two fingers into her glove’s pinky hole and doesn’t use the index finger hole.  He’s certainly not unique in that, but it is a cool little nuance of the game that I’ve never captured on “film” before.

In the bottom of the first I tried to get a picture of Chipper Jones getting a hit.  He got the hit.  But a fan below us stood up and blocked my view right when Chipper made contact.  So I had to settled for this much less historic and satisfying picture of Brian McCann not getting a hit:

And then it was time to check the situation at the kids’ play area.  This time, it was all clear.  Tim got right in and went to the playing.  Kellan is only two and isn’t allowed (by the Nationals) to go up into the play area yet.  So he had to settle for throwing one of our cloth baseballs…

…off the walls of the net room below the big slide.

After our round of playing ended, we headed back to that little shady nook where the boys ended up playing catch against the wall for a bit:

Tim was doing some great catching.  His catching has improved about 450% over the past six months.  I credit it to going through his first season of T-ball where he finally got to see how much fun it is to play defense.  Before T-ball, all Tim ever wanted to do was hit and hit and hit and hit, and hit some more.  Now he loves to play catch.  I love it.

As we headed back toward the RF foul pole, we were met by an alarming scene.  I couldn’t get my camera out in time to get a head on look, but…

…as we approached the escalator and stairs up to the second deck, a big group of about 20 cops, stadium security, and medics were walking down the stairs and the medics were carrying a fan strapped to a board.  I have no clue what happened.  But it was pretty crazy to see.

We ended up walking all the way around to the team store behind home plate.  But we had to leave the team store quickly because I Ryan Zimmerman came up to bat.  It was the bottom of the fourth inning.  And, oh by the way, Zimmerman had hit his second homerun of the day an inning earlier to give the Nationals a 6-0 lead.  I didn’t want to miss it Zimmerman blasted his third homerun of the day.

He didn’t:

Nope.  He lined out to Jason Heyward to end the fourth inning.

I just ran over to the standing room area in the concourse behind the 3B field level seats to watch Zimmerman.  When Zimmerman lined out, we turned around to head back to the team store and guess what we noticed?  The pizza place we had walked right by without noticing it earlier in the day.

So we grabbed a couple slices of pepperoni and headed back to our new favorite “nook” at Nationals Park to eat our pizza in the shade.  But turns out the Presidents had just raced and they were posing for pictures in our precious nook!  So we wandered a bit further toward RF and enjoyed our pizza at one of the picnic tables in the concourse:

After eating our pizza, we headed over to the RF foul pole.  Kellan has only been to a few Nationals games, but at every one so far Jim Lett has tossed us a warm up baseball between innings at the RF Nationals’ bullpen.  We’d stopped by the bullpen earlier in the game with no luck.  I figured we would give it another shot.

We hung out a bit in the SRO area just behind the field level seats.  Shortly after arriving, Bryce Harper hit a weak grounder up the middle for his only hit of the day…

…and Zimmerman again failed to hit his third homerun of the game.

We ended up hanging out by the foul pole for about 2.5 innings.  The first inning, Jim Lett tossed both warm up balls into the seats in foul territory.

We had a great view of both Bryce Harper…

…and Jason Heyward from our standing room spot behind the Nationals bullpen.

We were only going to make one more attempt before heading back to the play area.  The second time we headed down, Jim Lett passed along his warm-up position to one of the Nats relievers.  He threw one warm up ball into foul territory and kept the other.

But it wasn’t a fruitless attempt.  While the reliever was warming up Harper, I noticed that a stray baseball was sitting on the ground right below me and the boys.  I also noticed Nelson Robledo hanging out down in the bullpen.  I called out, “Hey, Nelson.”  When he turned around, I pointed at the baseball and gave him a “could you toss it up to us, please” look.  He pointed at the reliever (who I really think was Drew Storen) and gave me a “he’ll toss you one of the warm up balls” look.

When Storen (we’ll call him Storen, I really think it was) pocketed the second warm up ball, I called out to Nelson again and pointed at that stray ball again with a “how about now” look.  And he gave me a “hmm…yeah, I got you, man, but not until next inning” look.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Oh, I forgot to mention, shortly before this inter-action with Robledo, Kellan fell fast asleep in my arms.  It was well past his normal nap time.

We hung out for one more inning in the SRO area.  Tim did some birding with the camera on my phone.  We both tried to get a picture of Harper catching this fly ball…

…and only Tim succeeded.

I got Harper grounding weakly again:

He reached first one a throwing error.

Before the start of the next inning, which must have been the eighth inning, Nelson looked for us and then…

…tossed us a baseball from the back of the bullpen.  Kellan was still asleep at the time.  I’m not sure why, but the second I squeeze that baseball in my glove, Kellan’s eyes popped open and he was wide awake.

I shouted out a, “Thanks, Nelson!” (hmm…maybe that is what woke him up…), and Kellan immediately reached out and grabbed the baseball out of my glove while calling out, “Baseball!”

I think it was a nice way for him to wake up from his nap.

We headed back again to our nook to play catch a little more:

A line was already forming in the CF-LF concourse for post-game Kids Run The Bases.

By the way, the Nationals were pounding the Braves 9-2.

Rather than wasting time standing in that line while the game was still on.  No, instead of getting in line, after playing a little catch, we headed here:

We wanted to make a post-game umpire ball attempt and we found some great seats just about 10-11 rows behind the Braves dugout.

We watched Craig Stammen polish off the Braves and…

…then watched home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez unload all of his baseballs to kids in the diamond club seats behind home plate.

No problem there.  Tommy Hanson gave Tim some post game love in the form of this uniquely mis-stamped baseball:

Thanks, Tommy!

Finally, it was time to hop into the still long kids run the bases line:

As we walked toward the field through the Nationals bullpen, we got a behind the scenes look at the view Robledo had when he tossed us that baseball and hour earlier:

Tim and Kellan locked hands and then headed down the warning track…

…towards Kellan’s first kids run the bases experience.

When we reached the track behind first base, the boys were off to the races:

I thought Tim was going to run with Kellan, but the thrill of Major League base paths got to Tim and he turned on his afterburners.  By the time Kellan was 10-15 feet out onto the field…

…Tim was already to second base (behind Teddy and all of those Nats employees).

When Tim was cruising past the short stop hole…

…, Kellan slammed on the breaks and stopped half way between first and second.

I followed Tim with my camera and caught him giving Abe Lincoln a high speed high five as he approached home plate:

I then looked back to the right side of the infield and Kellan was still standing in the same spot.  One of the gals working the infield for the Nats scooped up Kellan and ran him around the bases:

It was pretty funny.  She set him down a bit before home plate and tried to coax him into running the rest of the way.  But he was having none of it.  I think he was enjoying the ride.  So she scooped him up again and they crossed home plate together.

When she set him down at home plate, he ran off toward the warning track at full speed with a big huge smile across his face.  So, despite getting a little overwhelming getting out on that big field all alone, he seemed to enjoy his first kids-get-carried-around-the-bases experience.

Before heading out, I took several odd pictures of the boys, and this was the best one:

As we left the field, there were some Nats employees handing out freeze pops.  The boys loved them:

Moments after leaving the stadium, Colleen scooped us up in our car and we finished our trip home from vacation.  Tim nailed it while we were walking in the concourse and he told me, “This is a great way to end a vacation!”

2012 C&S Fan Stats

15/13 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves
22 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2
1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals
81 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park4/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington; Kellan – Fredbird
3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

Cooks & Martelons in DC (9/18/2011)

Coming into this season, one of my goals was to get Kellan to seven stadiums in 2011: Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium and PNC Park.  We were set to end the season at Safeco Field, and he’d already been to  games at Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, and Yankee Stadium.  As we hit mid-September he had visited all of them but PNC Park and Nationals Park.  While PNC Park was a lot cause, there was still an option for Nationals Park.

I pitched a family trip down to Colleen’s sister’s house in Virginia for the weekend of September 17-18 with an extended-family ballgame on the 18th in DC.  It all fell into place perfectly.

On the morning of September 18, 2011, Tim, Kellan and I hopped into our car and drove north to Nationals Park for BP.  The plan was for Colleen, Kimberly (my sister-in-law), Kevin (brother-in-law), Gill (nephew) and Kate (niece) would join us at game time.

It turned out to be a very special time before the game started.  Although there was no BP to speak of, I soaked up 2.5 great hours in the ballpark with my boys – the first time Tim, Kellan and I had been to a ballpark alone, just us three guys.  Despite there being no BP, we kept busy and found a lot of ways to have fun.

By far the worst part of the day was right when we walked into the ballpark and I tried to take a picture of Tim and Kellan with one of the statues by the CF entrance.  I knew I had forgotten to charge my camera battery, but I was hoping it would have enough juice to last the day.  Not quite.  It was dead and was good for a grand total of zero pictures.  Aye, aye, aye!  I had to rely on my cellphone for pre-game pictures.

We started out in the LF corner.  There were a bunch of Marlins playing catch along the LF foul line.  We made our way down into the first row:

[Note: there wer probably 6 Marlins along the foul line in the picture above and to the left, but they are all hidden behind Kellan's noggin].  There were a couple other fans there just sitting and watching.  The ballpark was completely silent.  I only recognized one Marlin down on the field – Brian Sanches.  So when he finished warming up and ran toward the foul line to return his baseball to the bag, I broke the silence.  “Hey, Brian!” was all it took for Sanches to send his warm up baseball our way.

Thanks, Brian!

When the ball smacked into my glove, the 8-10 other fans in the section were whipped into a minor frenzy.  Despite the fact that they were all at the ballpark 2.5 hours early (which would make you assume they know what goes on during BP), it was as if they never even considered that a player might toss you his baseball if you asked him.  The section was silent no more.  And as Tim, Kellan and I headed back up to the concourse; several more baseballs were sailing into the stands to the happy fans we left behind.

After a quick stop in the red seats in deep LCF (where there was truly nothing happening), we headed to the second deck in RF.  Section 237 to be exact.  Several Nationals pitchers
were warming up down below:

We kept an eye on Stephen Strasburg.  We’d never seen him before and I wanted to check out what all the hype was about, even if just during pre-game throwing.  Next to Strasburg was his Nationals teammate Tom Gorzelanny.  When Tom finished up throwing, I called his name and I flashed him my glove when he looked up.  I could tell he was going to throw us the baseball, but it was also clear that he was concerned about Kellan…who I was holding.   There were absolutely no other fans in our section or the next one over (in foul territory).  Gorzelanny decided to throw the ball into the next section so we could just go pick it up.  But his plan back fired.  The ball hit a seat and took a big ricochet and bounced back down onto the warning track.

Gorzelanny moseyed over and retrieved the ball.  On his second attempt, he decided to throw it over us.  It landed about five rows behind us and bounded right back to me.  I caught it with my glove as I held Kellan in my right arm.  I always think it is particularly awesome getting a toss up to an upper-deck.  This was only our second ever.  Very cool.

Thanks, Tom!

Before heading off to the play area, we decided to watch Strasburg a bit more.  Tim and I sat a couple seats apart from each other so Kellan could run back and forth between us.  While we hung out, Tim took a panorama with my cellphone:

I thought I should document the three guys being at the ballpark alone, so I took this really horrible picture…

…where we completely block out the view of the ballpark.

On our way to the play area, Tim stopped us at the top of the stair way down to the field level so he could get his picture with the Mariners logo on the side of the CF parking garage:

Kellan is way too small for the play area.  So while Tim played like a mad man, Kellan and I hung out in a little screened in room under the play area. Kellan and I played a little catch…

…and, between throws, I wrote down notes about our first two baseballs of the day.

After spending some time in the play area, we decided to get a bite to eat.  We walked from the play area in the deep CF concourse area all the way around the RL foul pole, around home plate, and to a concession stand behind 3B.  We grabbed some peanuts and hot dogs and then went and sat in the corner spot down the LF line:

Four Marlins were playing catch along the foul line.  I only recognized one of the players, Anibal Sanchez, who was the closest Marlin to us.

As we nibbled our food and watched the Marlins warm up, Abe Lincoln moseyed on by us.  I told Tim to stay put, and then I ran a section over toward 3B, handed Kellan over to our 16th President, and snapped this picture (on the left)…

…after Kellan and I returned to the corner spot, Abe headed toward the LF foul pole and Tim announced he wanted his picture with Abe too.  So we ran after him once again and got the picture above on the right.  Note that Tim is still holding his hot dog.

Shortly after we returned to the corner spot once again, Anibal Sanchez and his partner finished playing catch.  Tim was sitting in the second seat and I was standing next to him holding Kellan.  Sanchez turned around and saw us.  He walked over and held the ball out to Kellan.  Kellan gave Anibal as inquisitive look and then reached out and grabbed the baseball.  Kellan then immediately cocked his arm back and threw the ball back in Sanchez’s direction.  Anibal grabbed the ball and handed it to Kellan again.  Again, Kellan cocked his arm back, which prompted Sanchez to jump into an athletic ready position, and tossed the ball back again.  After two more back-and-forths, Anibal grabbed the baseball, handed it to Kellan, and very sweetly said, “You keep it this time,” and then he turned and jogged off toward the dugout.  It was an awesome little interaction.

A few minutes later, some more Marlins started playing catch in the grass just behind 3B.  We slid around there and were soon rewarded with a toss-up from Ricky Nolasco.

Hey, thanks, Anibal and Ricky!

We decided to head back to the play area.  On the way, a kind usher took our picture:

And then Tim requested that I take a picture of this silly face:

As we passed by the statues in LCF, the Presidents were out there.  But after reflecting upon his Abe Lincoln interaction, Kellan decided that the Presidents were way too scary for his liking.  But he did let us get close enough to get this picture of Tim and Teddy:

After Tim hit some whiffleballs….

…Kellan and I played some more catch in the screened in area below the play area, and Tim played like crazy again.

It was getting really close to game time now.  Colleen called and let me know that they were getting really close to the stadium.  We planned to meet them in our seats.  But first, we watched Mike Stanton…

…warm up behind 3B and Marlins starting pitcher, Brad “Aloha, Mr.” Hand…

…warm up in the visitors’ bullpen.

As game time rolled around, we reported to our seats.  Soon enough, Colleen arrived…

…along with Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate.  (Collectively, we’ll call them the “Martelons”).

We had some great seats in section 108:

The best thing about September is that you can get really cheap tickets on stubhub for teams who are long out of the playoff races.  These seats were normally $36/ticket, but I picked them up for $10/ticket (plus all of the ridiculous online fees).

Tim and Kellan had a great time in the seats with their cousins:

The Nationals got on the board first.  In the bottom of the second, Chris Marrero hit a sacrifice fly plating Jonny Gomes for the first run of the game.

Colleen brought her very good, but bulky, camera so our picture quality improved once she arrived.  But her camera is not nearly as convenient as mine.  I didn’t end up taking any action shots until the bottom of the third inning, when I captured Jason Werth as he hit a couple foul balls and then took a called strike three (on this pitch):

A few minutes later, Colleen was standing in the stairway when Kellan decided to get really comfortable with the glass partition separating the stands from the LF foul warning track:

In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Nationals extended their lead to 4-0 on an 2-RBI single by Danny Espinosa followed by an RBI ground rule double by Marrero.

In the top of the fifth, Gaby Sanchez hit a solo homerun to make the score 4-1 Nats.

After the kids watched Thomas Jefferson win his 28th Presidents’ race of the season…

…we took to our feet…

…and made our way back to the kids’ play area:

Actually, everyone else but Kellan and I went to the play area.  I had another idea.  Kellan and I zoomed over to the RF foul pole.  It was an inning break and the Nationals outfielders were playing catch.  We were at the foul pole about 2 minutes total and after Jim Lett tossed us our final baseball of the day (Thanks, Jim!), we made our way back to the play area:

The Martelons had never been to Nationals Park before.  So after we left the play area, we took a little walk around the stadium.

First, we headed up to the second deck in RF where Colleen took this cute picture with me and the kids:

What I think is so funny about that picture is the combination of Kate leaning her head on Tim’s shoulder while Tim is looking up at me and Kellan.  Funny.  Meanwhile, Kellan was trying to rip up a Steven Strasburg baseball card that was inserted into that little magazine he is holding.

When Mike Stanton stepped to the plate, I asked Colleen to take a picture of him hitting a homerun.  Stanton didn’t cooperate.  So Colleen had to settle with taking this awesome picture of Stanton hitting a single:

After we circled around toward first base, an usher took a hilariously disorganized picture of all of us:

We had no real plan.  We were just walking around looking at stuff and taking pictures.  When we passed behind home plate, I got this panorama from the concourse behind section 314:

Kimberly took the kids (minus Kellan) up into the 400 level seats for another picture:

All of this walking around (in my arms) really tuckered out Kellan.  So he took a little nap…

…that lasted for the rest of our walking tour and for a while when we were back in our seats.

When I returned to our seats with Kellan, Colleen and Kimberly took the other kids to get ice cream helmets…or so I thought.  I was shocked when Tim came back with this non-collectible ice cream receptacle:

Yikes!  Oh, well.  Tim still enjoyed his tasty ice cream.

In the top of the seventh, Brett Hayes hit a 2-Run homerun.  That made the score 4-3 Nationals.  But that was as close as the Marlins would get to the Nationals.

There was a comical moment in the top of the eighth inning.  Mike Stanton was at the plate and it looked like he was hit by a pitch.  He ran to first, but the umpires called him back.  I personally had no clue what was going on.  But Jack McKeon came out and went crazy arguing his point.  The McKeon argument was humorous on its own.  But the really hilarious part was Nationals left fielder (and former Mariner) Michael Morse:

Morse was cracking up over McKeon’s antics.  And several times he interrupted his stream of giggling to do an exaggerated “yeeeerrrrrrr outtta here!” hand motion (like he was ejecting McKeon from the game.  Morse was still laughing about McKeon’s antics after Stanton returned to home plate and struck out to end the inning.

Not much else happened in the game.  At the end of the day, the final was a 4-3 win for the Nationals

But, hold up, our day was not over quite yet.  It was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!

We hopped into the long line outside the stadium, where Tim entertained us with some harmonica:

(FYI, Tim loves to play his harmonica, but has no clue how to actually play the harmonica).

I was super excited for Kellan’s first Kids Run the Bases.  He’d never circled Major League bases before, and I couldn’t wait for it.  Colleen took this shot of me and Kellan in foul territory along the first base line:

Sadly, the Nationals have a policy against allowing parents to chaperon their kids around the bases.  That killed the dream.  Kellan is way too young to run around the bases on his own.  He would have ended up in CF with a throng of Nationals employees chasing him.  I was pretty bummed out over this turn of events, but what can you do?

While Kellan watched from the warning track, Kate…

…, Tim…

…, and Gill…

…had a lot of fun on the base paths.

Ah, it was another great day at the ballpark.  It has been an amazing season getting Tim and Kellan’s cousins out to the ballpark with us at both Camden Yards and Nationals Park.  Next year, I’ll figure out a way to get them up to Citizens Bank Park!

As we walked back to our car, Colleen asked Kimberly to take a family picture of us in front of this “The Yards” sign:

I have no clue why she wanted a picture with this “The Yards” sign, but hey, she did, so I’m including it here.

Only three more games for us in the 2011 season and, HOORAY HOORAY, they would all be at Safeco Field!

2011 C&S Fan Stats
30/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)
21/10 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals]
23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).
96 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates)
13/5 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee
Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park]
18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin
Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke,
Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
10/3 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond, Abe Lincoln; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird, Abe Lincoln]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field,
Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star
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