I will admit to Independence Day being among my least favorite of the official holidays. No, I’m not some un-American weirdo, and I do enjoy fireworks. It is the hassle and danger the day brings that always leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I detest going out at night on July 4 because of the drunk drivers.
So what to do? This year I took August, Déla and Ciárán to the Mariners. It was a rare afternoon weekday game, so we would be home in time for dinner. More importantly, we would avoid prime drunk driving time.
We gathered our gear and headed down to Safeco Field. We were fortunate to find street parking close to the stadium arriving a little before the gates opened up. Since it was a holiday, the parking was free - hooray for small victories!
If you follow @Mariners on twitter, you’ll know they have a social media team (obviously, since they have an active Twitter account) and one of the things they do is solicit fan pictures to display on the big screen before the game. I got somebody passing by to get our picture, and I tweeted it with the appropriate tag. What the heck, right?
We then moved over to The Glove, the iconic sculpture that is one of Safeco Field’s more identifying pieces and obvious meeting place. “I’ll pick you up at The Glove” is quite often said. Fortunately the crowd at this entrance was rather light (surprisingly so) and the kids got some good play time here instead of having to stand in line.
We went in and watched what would have been batting practice. Since it was an early afternoon game, there was no batting practice. Instead we got to watch Munenori Kawasaki practice some fielding as well as much of the bullpen warm up on the field.
And our picture wound up on the big screen in Safeco Field. I just happened to look up and see it. I really wish I had my camera ready.
The kids ate lunch, the Mariners did their thing on the field, and then we managed to exhaust our supply of balls getting autographs. It was a massive autograph session, and we managed to get Stephen Pryor, Charlie Furbush, Brandon League, Tom Wilhelmsen, and Steve Delabar.
Then it was time to visit the playground. It’s one of the requirements, especially for Ciárán, if we are to spend a significant amount of time at the ballpark. They ran around for a half hour or so and had a blast.
Then it was time to find our seats. On our way through the stadium we stopped by the bullpen to check it out. We had never been there. Starting pitcher Hector Noesi and catcher Jesus Montero were warming up. We didn’t realize just how close we would be able to get to the players here. This is definitely a place to return to.
Then the national anthem was played. A military color guard was present and unveiled a massive flag on the field. It was very cool. I’m sure it would have looked mightily impressive from where our seats were, but I was moved looking at it from our vantage point.
We finally made our way up to our seats missing part of the first inning. The one thing the kids wanted this trip out the Safeco Field was cotton candy. Luckily a vendor was headed through the stands right as we sat down. I was going to wait for the third inning, but opportunity beckoned.
I’m actually glad the kids had their cotton candy when they did, as it afforded the opportunity to benefit once again from Twitter. I read a tweet from @Mariners that mentioned being one of the first 4 to tweet a picture from within the ballpark would win a prize bag. I immediately turned and shot my kids enjoying their cotton candy and sent it.
And to the other side of me was this…
Our vantage point was great. We were in the second row of the 300 section, right behind home plate. The sun was out (elsewhere in the park) and it felt like the perfect day for some baseball.
And here’s a shot of our vantage point of the bullpen. Our seats were great, really being able to see the action on the field – and close to the family bathroom (and garlic fries stand).
Then at some point (I think it was during the 7th inning) a couple of Safeco Field employees brought me my prize bag of Mariners goodies from my earlier picture entry. It was awesome, as it included a Mariners official batting practice cap, and I was the only one of the 4 of us that attend baseball games without any sort of official headwear. There was a shirt, which I hope doesn’t shrink any as it’s already a bit of a tight fit, a beach towel, bumper sticker, then some of the giveaways from earlier games (such as the Mother’s Day necklace, Salute To Armed Forces Day commemorative coin, and more). It was a great package of stuff, proving that social media pays.
For the 9th inning we headed down to sit in the sun. We were just to the side of the foul post line in left field. I usually like to head down to the lower level in the 9th inning because of navigating through the crowd as the game gets out, as well as trying to stay ahead of traffic.
As expected, we got home with plenty of time to spare for dinner. The kids went to bed on time, we had a friend come over, share some beer and watch some television, and then we went to bed. All in all it was a good celebration of our nation’s birthday. I just wish somebody had brought cake.