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Ballpark Memory

Ken Griffey Jr Day at Safeco (and the greatest catch I have ever seen)

August 6, 2018

What: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Seattle Mariners

Angels v Mariners Box Score

When: August 7, 2016

Sometimes it just about being with friends

Attending all of these games have a common theme of sharing the experience with another person – parent, son, wife or group of people.  One weekend in August of 2016 was all about friendship.  A couple of days on the lake and an afternoon at Safeco were spent with some the best people in my life.

When my friend, Norm, called me up to invite me to join him and his friends at his home on Bainbridge Island it only took me a few seconds to say yes.

Next was convincing my occasional  travel partner, Will, to come along. He, too, only took a moment to say yes.

A random perusal of the Seattle Mariners schedule showed that they not only had a game that weekend  – but it was Ken Griffey, Jr. weekend.  Plans were in motion for a historic few days.

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I had the opportunity to see a good friend, travel with one of the best people I have ever met AND see The Kid one last time.

First, Norm.

Norm and I met when I lived in Seattle. He was my wife’s boss.  Once I moved back to Tucson, we began meeting every March in Las Vegas for the first two days of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. In addition to the tournament, Norm’s other getaway is Boys Weekend at his home on Bainbridge Island. This year, I was in. I couldn’t wait.

Next, Will.

Will and I have been friends for over 10 years. Our relationship has evolved from talking about our mutual love of running to traveling for running to simply hanging out. We have journeyed from Boston to St. George (Utah) to Los Angeles for marathons. I am very fortunate to have a friend like Will. Very fortunate. Few people in this world are as kind as Will. This time, we would be simply be checking out Bainbridge together.

 

Bainbridge Island

After a quick train ride from the airport and a seafood lunch at Pike Place Market, Will and I took the ferry across the Sound to Bainbridge. This ride is one of my favorite things to do in Seattle. Always a beautiful site regardless of the weather. We spent a couple of days lounging at Norm’s house, dropping crab pots, eating copious amounts of smoked meats and getting killed in the Pickle Ball Tournament.  An early morning alarm on Sunday and quick cab ride to the ferry started us on our way to Downtown Seattle. Next stop – Safeco Field

You can’t talk about ferry without a picture from the Bainbridge Ferry.

Aside: On our cab ride from the house to the ferry, the driver offered us some pot. It seemed strange at first, but he explained that ever since Washington legalized marijuana people were buying it on their vacation.  Once these people realized they couldn’t take it with them on the plane they did one of two things. First, they either smoke it all in a hurry or they dispose of it by giving it to their cabbie. The cabbie who then pays it forward to his other passengers.

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View from Norm’s house

Mariners – Angels, Safeco Field

First of all, it was so crowded. As part of the Jr. Weekend, the give away was a replica throwback Griffey jersey. So many people. Fans were lined up around the block for a few hours prior to the gates opening. I have been to Mariner playoff games and never had I seen it so crowded. Admittedly, the jersey was cool.

 

Walking around the concourse, we found the new statue honoring long-time Mariner broadcaster, Dave Niehaus. Pretty darn cool.

If you are wondering why people revere him, listen to his call from Game 5 of the 1995 Playoffs.

During the pregame warmups, the traditional Seattle climate of rain rolled in causing the field’s moveable roof to come out to protect the field. Luckily, sun finally came out which allowed the roof to retract. Even though I see this type of roof at almost every Diamondback game, the Mariner “Car Port” is always cool to watch in use. (For more information on this cool contraption see my previous Mariners post).

One of the cool features of the weekend was this cool video featuring Seattle musician Macklemore.

GP can ya’ Feel Me?

Following the video, we finally had our opportunity to see the man himself. As part of honoring Seattle Black Sports History Month, Seattle icon, The Glove was the deliverer of the First Pitch. Gary Payton is a huge person in the area so it was really cool to see both him and Jr on the same field.

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As a surprise, Jr came out to catch the First Pitch from Payton. Walking to the mound to sounds of Naughty by Nature, it was 1994 all over again.

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Obligatory Photo Op

WTF! The most incredible catch I have ever seen in person.

Bases loaded. 2 outs. Deep ball to Centerfield. But never underestimate Mike Trout. Ever.

Post Script

Griffey’s children went to school at the University of Arizona in my home of Tucson.

One late night while driving from San Antonio to Tucson with my friend, Tim (another incredible person in my life), I learned that Jr’s kids lived next door to a mutual friend of ours. At that moment, Tim decided it would become his life’s mission to obtain a signed ball from Jr. The plan would be I would give him a ball to place of the front step of Jr’s house. We knew that Jr’s daughter was graduating from the UA shortly and he would be in town for sure. The house was going up for sale, so this was our one chance. ONE FINAL CHANCE.

I provided Tim with an official Rob Manfred MLB Game Ball. Here he is placing it on the door step of the Mariner Hall of Famer.

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And then we waited. And waited. And waited. No news. Our friend, Teresa, kept tabs on her neighbor in anticipation of a signed ball showing up on her door step. Graduation weekend came . . . and went. Unfortunately, nothing happened. Moving trucks arrived and Griffey’s left. It was worth a try, but Tim became very jaded by the whole process.

 

 

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Awesome Souvenirs, Ballpark Memory

Oakland A’s v. Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park (Must Be In The Front Row)

September 21, 2016

When: June 8, 2016 at Miller Park

Box Score:  A’s v. Brewers June 8, 2016

Who: Me, Amanda and Mac

What:

This past April, my 96 year-old grandmother, Mayme, passed away.  Instead of holding the funeral right away, the family decided to wait until June so everyone could travel to Chippewa Fall, Wisconsin for a family reunion.  Two summers ago, we made a similar trip to Chippewa to bury my mom after she passed away.  During that visit, we snuck in a Twins game to add some smiles to an otherwise sad weekend.  So, this time, I decided we should fly into Milwaukee and drive the four hours to Chippewa Falls before eventually moving on to St. Paul for the flight home.  Two reasons. One, we didn’t want to replicate our previous (very sad) trip.  Two, The Brew Crew!

Our trip ended up featuring a ball game, 8 foot tall sausages, Secret Sauce, a surprise serenade, some serious knitting, sweet gear and lots of Cheese Curds.

Milwaukee

A short history lesson before delving into our game . . .

 

In case you weren’t aware, the Green Bay Packers are a bit popular in the region.  It took us approximately 8 seconds to find our first cheese head.

We decided to check out Downtown Milwaukee prior to the game.  Those things we are wearing are called jackets.  At the moment this picture was taken, there was a temperature difference between this spot and Tucson of approximately 60 degrees.  Not a typo.  You’re not reading it wrong. A 60 degree difference.  Crazy.

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Awesome Souvenirs, Ballpark Memory

Houston Astros at Chicago Cubs (Wrigley Field)

July 24, 2016

 

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When:  August 14, 1990 at Wrigley Field

Box Score:      Astros at Cubs August 14, 1990

Who:  Mom and me

Why Wrigley Field 

Although I was born outside of Chicago, I spent my childhood growing up in West Germany.  Without any ties to the United States, I began following Chicago sports teams.  My connection to “home” came from reading box scores in the Stars and Stripes and collecting baseball cards hoping to get any Cub.  For the record – my first Cubs card.

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Why this trip mattered

Growing up, it was always me and my mom.  My parents split up when I was 9.  Because of his work, my dad always lived a long ways away.  After the divorce, my mom worked full-time, went to college full-time, learned to drive and was the parent full-time.  She did a lot. I was always loved and taken care of by her.  When she finally began to realize some of her career goals, she wanted to treat us to a trip that we weren’t able to take previously.  It meant the world for her that she could put together a trip like this one.  Sure, it was a blast.  But, I was more proud that she had accomplished what she had set out to do.  Her road wasn’t always easy, but she sure made it happen.  Simply amazing.

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Ballpark Memory

Twin Cities Trifecta – Minnesota Twins Stadium Hat Trick

July 10, 2016

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The Minnesota Twins have had three homes during their Major League lifetime.  They began in the suburban city of Bloomington at Metropolitan Stadium.  Then came a move to downtown Minneapolis and the Metrodome.  Finally, they moved across downtown to Target Field. Last year, I completed the hat trick of visiting all three locations.  It has been an evolution of stadiums.  From the original multi-use outdoor suburban park to the indoor artificial turf stadium to a brand new “baseball only” outdoor stadium helping to revitalize the edges of downtown – it is a microcosm of how stadiums have developed.  Here is a synopsis of my visits.

Target Field August 15, 2014

This was not a planned trip to see a game.  We were flying up to the area in to bury my mom who had recently passed away.  She had been cremated and I was carrying her to the final resting spot in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.  We arrived the day before in MSP and by chance there was a Twins game the night before the funeral.  Even though we had had a long day and a long night/weekend ahead, we felt we deserved the chance to enjoy something during a pretty challenging time.  Oh yeah, that afternoon we also found out that someone broke into our home back in Arizona.  What a day.  So we grabbed some tickets on Stub Hub and headed to Target Field. In summary, it is really nice.  Awesome location and just a good place to see a game.  We liked seeing the statues around the outside.

Target Field

Target Field

Most memorable moment

As I said earlier, I was carrying my mom’s ashes with me while we traveled.  In Phoenix, as we entered the Security line,  the TSA agent asked Amanda, Mac and me how many were in our traveling party.  So Mac told him – “Four.”  Gosh, we all burst out laughing because 1) It was true and 2) my mom would have thought it was hilarious.

Photographic Evidence of the Game

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Awesome Souvenirs, Ballpark Memory

Boston Red Sox at Chicago White Sox (Old Comiskey Park)

June 30, 2016

 

When:  June 17, 1979 at Comiskey Park

Box Score:

June 17, 1979 Box Score

Who:  Me and my Dad

What:

Road trip from Eau Claire, WI to San Antonio, TX.  School had just ended for me, so my dad drove up from his home in San Antonio to pick me up so we could go back to Texas together.  My dad and I used to take little trips together.  Just a guys weekend or overnighter.  However, once my parents divorced those trips weren’t really possible any more.  So this opportunity to spend time with my dad was a really big deal for me.  Our drive was to include a game in Chicago while also stopping in Memphis to see the home of Elvis Presley, Graceland.

Why this game?

Tom Poquette, of course!  TP was the only big league player ever to come out of Eau Claire, WI.  This season we saw him play, TP was at the peak of his career.  Coming off an All-Rookie campaign with the Kansas City Royals, he had been traded to the Red Sox at the beginning of the 1979 season.  So naturally my dad and I scheduled our trip with two goals: see Tom Poquette play and to try to meet him afterward.  Oh yeah, we would also see Hall of Famer’s such as Carlton Fisk and Jim Rice.

The Day

At that time, the neighborhood surrounding Comiskey Park was not exactly known for its warm and inviting citizenry.  I remember pulling into a “parking area” where the first price was $10.  Then there was an “optional” upgrade cost of another $10 for which the individual in the parking lot promised he wouldn’t throw a concrete block through the car window.  Obviously, we chose the upgraded parking fee.

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Welcome to Comiskey Park!

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Awesome Souvenirs, Ballpark Memory, Mac's McFarlanes

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Seattle Mariners (Family, Backwards Caps and Memories of a Dome)

May 14, 2016

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What:  LAA of Anaheim at Seattle Mariners

When:  April 7, 2015

Box Score: Angels – Mariners

Who:  Amanda, Mac, Amanda’s Sister Anna, Her Husband Kevin, Their Kids Jolene and Cecilia, Amanda’s Parents Ross and Patty, and Me!

Why This Game Mattered:  We had all traveled to Seattle for the wedding of Amanda’s cousin.  Since we it was Opening Week for the season, we were able to add to our ballpark list.  The special bonus was that our family was able to join us for a great night at the ballpark.  We really enjoyed sharing this night with our family.  It made it even more fun and special.

Originally, writing this blog was to reflect on not just the games but the people we shared the game with that day.  This game truly matches that mission.  Safeco was great, game was fun, but the most important thing was being there with our family.

At the end of the day, our memories consist of who we were with and how we felt surrounded by the people we love.

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Mac was excited to take his cousins to their first Major League game.  They enjoyed copious amounts of cotton candy, pizza, ice cream, new caps, a sweet M’s blanket and quality bonding time!  Definitely a night to remember during a great trip to the Emerald City.

Also, Mandy and I lived in Seattle back in the early 2000’s before returning to Tucson to start a family.  This trip was enjoyable to share with Mac a place we had lived before him.  Seattle was where we lived when we got engaged and married.

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Then (2000) and Now (2015) Lincoln Park, Seattle

Beautiful Night for a Game

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Awesome Souvenirs, Ballpark Memory, Bobble Head Collection

2016 Journey of MLB Games

May 1, 2016

This is an ongoing post which will chronicle the Major League Baseball games and events that we have attended during the 2016 season.

May 28

Diamondbacks v Padres (Just glad to be there)

Padre Ticket

It had been a long month for us to wait and see another game.  Mac and I were also very grateful just to be there since Mac had spent the beginning of the week in the ICU for a form of pneumonia.  This was our second baseball game of the week as we had celebrated getting out of the PICU by attending the last home game of the NCAA-bound UA Wildcats.  Tonight’s game was a success in that the Diamondbacks actually won with us in attendance and Paul Goldschmidt broke out of a slump with multiple hits and runs.  Plus, we saw Greinke pitch (again).  Final score was 8-7 but the Dbacks were originally up 8-1 prior to some 9th Inning rallying from the Padres.

Once the Dbacks jumped out to an early advantage, the evening segued into some other areas of interest for us.

Now this first topic is of utmost importance for any baseball game  . . .

Dessert

In our prior post, Mac and I were very disappointed in not being able to have a Churro Dog.  Now, why would be disappointed?  This dessert, in its second year, is amazing.  To avoid any possible disappointment, we headed to the Churro Stand early on in the game.

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Yes!  We were in luck.  As seen in the picture above, this is a chocolate glazed donut hugging a churro that is topped with frozen yogurt, whipped cream, caramel and chocolate sauce.  And, yes, it is even better than it sounds.  We don’t get one every game, but we sure love it when we do.

When choosing our dessert at the game there are pretty much three choices, but we now rotate only between two items.  Originally, our rotation consisted of the Churro Dog, Cold Stone Creamery and TCBY Yogurt.  The yogurt comes in the plastic batting helmet. Last season, we would go through this order for the season.  However, Chase Field has switched frozen yogurt vendors replacing TCBY with something called ZoYo.  Not a good change as far as we are concerned.  So now we alternate between Cold Stone and the Dog.

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A Young Speilberg

Since the game was uneventful, Mac decided to start videoing some of the action.  For that game action, check out Jake Lamb’s run scoring single.

One of the cool aspects of a retractable dome is the actual retracting part.  We were fortunate to watch it open at the beginning of the game since the night was so nice.

More importantly, Mac discovered the Slow Motion feature.  I present to you the Swayze . . .

Giveaway of the Night

It was the very popular Arizona Diamondback Pool Bag.  Very nice gift for the beginning of summer and the swim season.

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Wil Myers

One of our family’s running jokes is that Amanda has to point out to us that Wil Myers is playing in a game.  This goes back to our visit to Camden Yards where both me and Mac had no idea Wil was playing until the 7th inning.  So, we were very excited to missing player batting Second in this game.

Who’s that in the on-deck circle? Who? I don’t know.

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Selfie of the Game

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One last picture from our UA game earlier in the week . . .

We were so happy to be out of the hospital.  I think it shows!

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April 30

Diamondbacks v Rockies (Here we go again . . . )

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Awesome Souvenirs

Meet Alan: Memories of an 86 Year-Old New York Baseball Fan

April 25, 2016

Alan has been a close friend of my wife’s parents for 30 years.  A native resident of New Jersey, Alan grew up just outside New York City.  Born in 1930, Alan was introduced to baseball at an early age by his father.  It is a passion he has carried ever since.  Recently over lunch, Alan spoke about some of his memories.  I have summarized some of what we talked about.  Without a doubt, his baseball experience dwarfs anything I will ever know.

During his childhood, New York had three teams:  Yankees, Giants and Dodgers.  Alan also followed the local Newark Bears, the AAA club for the Yankees.  Even though they followed all the teams, Alan and his family were primarily Giants fans.

Favorite Players:  Mel Ott, Joe DiMaggio, Red Ruffing

Alan named three players as his favorites.  First, Red Ruffing of the Yankees.  Why Red?  The answer is simple: Alan and Red shared the same birthday!  Plus, as Alan said, it didn’t hurt the guy was a future Hall of Famer either.

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The player Alan really loved to watch was Mel Ott, the great Giant.  What originally drew him to Ott?  It was the very unique way the Giant would hold his bat while hitting.  As demonstrated below, Ott was fun to watch bat.

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First Game:  Babe Ruth Braves

Yeah, this is pretty cool.  After the 1934 season, Babe Ruth left New York for Boston with the hope of becoming their manager.  He had wanted to manage the Yankees, but he did not get along with the owner who refused to give Ruth this opportunity.  Unfortunately, Ruth was misled in his move to Boston.  Again, he did not get the chance to skipper a big league club.

The Braves played a three game set in New York against the Giants.  Ruth only played in the first game.  Alan’s dad took him to the game because he wanted his son to see the greatest player ever play in a game.  Seriously, how cool is this?  Babe Ruth (as a National Leaguer, too)!  Alan doesn’t remember very much about the actual game, but he did recall that the Polo Grounds were packed full of people like them anxious to see the Babe.

April 23, 1935 Box Score

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Favorite Team:  NY Giants and 1937 Yankees

As I indicated above, Alan was a Giants fan.  However, his favorite team was the 1937 Yankees.  At lunch, Alan recited the starting line-up of this squad –  FROM 80 YEARS AGO!  Just amazing.  The only hesitancy came with naming the Second Baseman, but his initial recall of Tony Lazzeri was correct.  Someday, that is going to be me naming off the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers lineup from the World Series.

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First Game Remembered:  Joe DiMaggio Rookie

While his memory of the Ruth game is somewhat fuzzy, Alan is very specific about the first time he saw Joe DiMaggio play as a rookie.  He says that Joltin Joe is easily the best player he has ever seen.

 

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Awesome Souvenirs, Ballpark Memory, Mac's McFarlanes

St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals (Nationals Park) & The Racing Presidents

February 13, 2016

IMAG0184When:  April 17, 2014

Who:  Amanda, Mac and Me

Why:  A trip to Washington, D.C. was planned as a surprise for Mac during his Spring Break.  His love for history, presidents and baseball made this city perfect for him.  In addition to all sites of the city, we wanted to see one of his favorite baseball teams in action.  Mac has always been a Nationals fan but now they also had his second favorite player – Bryce Harper.  This was going to be a big deal.  In addition to Bryce, there was one other HUGE reason to see the Nationals play at home.  Racing Presidents.

Box Score: St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals April 17, 2014

First, the game.

The game itself was pretty non-descript.  Adam Wainwright threw a complete game shut-out for the Cardinals (who won 8-0).  Actually, it was a fairly boring game.  Again, it was a very cold night.  Having learned our lesson at the Orioles game the previous day, we brought blankets and warmer clothes.  this went much better!

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Even bundled up, cold got to us by the end of the game!

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The stadium was also really nice.  Not quite like Target Field, but very similar.

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Bobble Head Collection, Quick Pitch

Quick Pitch: Show and Tell (Chris Snyder goes to Kindergarten)

February 12, 2016

In an another post,

You Never Forget Your First . . . Figurine

I talked about Mac getting his first bobble head.  It was a Chris Snyder “catcher in action” figure.  Needless to say, Mac was engrossed by it.  He studied it, played with it and analyzed it quite a bit.  There wasn’t a detail on it that Mac didn’t commit to memory.

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So, when it came time for the school year to start, Mac needed an item for Show and Tell.  This was not a difficult choice for him.  It was time for Chris Snyder to go to Kindergarten.

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It was important for Mac to explain the nuances of the figure.

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Here is Mac breaking down the bobble in even more detail for his classmates.

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Not another picture, Dad!

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