I wasn’t really planning on going to this game, but I was fortunate enough to come across a ticket the night before and I knew that the drive for one of these cool Mother’s Day balls was going to scream at me until I did break down and go.
Here is the ball I am talking about, in case you are not familiar with it:
— MLB Fan Cave (@MLBFanCave) May 12, 2013
I arrived at the gates around 10:45, again only 15 minutes before gates, but since it was a Sunday (no Batting Practice) I chose to go to gate 14, since that is by far the quietest gate… and quickest to get to the Twins dugout. I ran down to the dugout and…
(The ghostly gate 14.)
…that’s when I saw Tony Oliva who saw me, said hi, then turned away and talked to a security guard by the other end of the dugout. He asked the guard for a pen and signed an autograph on a ball. I figured that it was for the guard, since they often get cool things from players/coaches as a way of saying “thanks.” Tony gives the pen back and then walks back towards me, points and I raise my glove. Pow! A nice strike in my mitt. He signed a ball for me!!! I didn’t even ask him to, he just did it because the man is one of the nicest guys in baseball. I am honored to share my name with him.
I will have a closer look at just the ball later, but can anyone help me out with what Tony wrote above his signature? I think it says, “Good Luck,” but as I do not speak Tony-O, it’s hard to tell. After he tossed it to me he proceeded to converse with me and said that he tossed it to me because, “you had a big smile.” Like I said, a true gem, and a Hall of Famer who was cut down before he could reach 3000 hits. He would have easily reached that number if not for some bad knees (damn you, old-time medicine!).
Shortly after that awesome interaction a magical bag was brought out. This bag is just a normal “game ball bag,” but today it contained one of the prettiest game balls ever used in the MLB, the Pink Mother’s Day balls! here was my sneak peek once it was opened:
I nearly leaped for a ball. I could see how pink they were and immediately wanted one. I waited like a hawk (more like a ballHAWK!).
When Ryan Pressly came in from warming up I decided to try to ask him for just a ball, but secretly hoped he didn’t have one and would reach in the bag and toss me one… AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED!! I flashed my glove, he looked a little panicked and searched for a ball, I looked at the bag, and he opened it and tossed me the prettiest ball in my collection (sorry Target Field commemorative, sorry Robin Ventura signature ball). I knew right away that I wanted to share this ball with my grandma (she lives in a small town about 2.5 hours away, I’ll be seeing her in a couple weeks).
My grandma had breast cancer and is now going strong as a survivor. So when I put all of this together and realized how lucky I was to still have her – corny, but she cheered for me in baseball (even if she didn’t completely understand the game), so it was awesome that the MLB was giving back to people like her. I started choking up a little and I am looking forward to taking a photo with her and the pink ball. Did I mention that she now loves the color pink and I even got her a pink scarf from the Mother’s Day game last year? Surviving a scare like that tends to shift the way you think – you appreciate the giving aspect a whole lot more.
Truly, thank you, Mr. Pressly!
Then a magical thing happened. I talked to Trevor Plouffe and told him about my grandma being a survivor (something he knows all too well, as his mother had to battle breast cancer, as well). He is honestly my favorite current ball-player (explains the blog’s name) and the more my grandma learned about him, he became her favorite, too. He gladly signed a pink ball, and that’s when I was really hit by how special of a day this was; being a ballhawk is fun, but when I can share this with my family – grandma in particular – it will be AMAZING!
How did I get so lucky? The twins really do have a wonderful group of players and coaches, the franchise is set up on individuals like Trevor and Tony, so it’s actually quite easy to share a story like mine. That isn’t taking away how amazing and lucky I am, but it’s totally thanks to great people on the field.
Here is the scoreboard before the game. It scrolled photos of players with their mothers, and I got a shot of Trevor Plouffe with his mom. It was awesome seeing the players kind of freeze during their on-field exercises in order to see a picture of them and their mom.
As I have mentioned before (beat a dead horse?), I have an instagram project to take one photo every day for all of 2013. Here is today’s picture:
And here is a panorama of my view for the game. Even though the Twins lost (6-0), the gorgeous weather made the game rather enjoyable.
After the game I met up with my wife and we went out to eat with my mom and dad. I got to spend some nice time with my mom, so this Mother’s Day was quite a success. I’ll leave out my thanks, as it would be premature at this point, I still have a couple more photos.
Upon returning home I took the following photo:
Not a bad haul; three balls, a scorecard (and game notes), four extra tickets, and three “Chinese take-out” boxes of candy.
And below are close up shots of the balls/autographs.
And now the THANKS.
Thank you Tony Oliva, Ryan Pressly, and Trevor Plouffe. You made my day, and soon you will also make my grandma’s day! I cannot wait to show her what the MLB is doing to help people with a disease she was able to beat. Thank you, MLB and all the sponsors who help donate to breast cancer awareness. I know that there is still a weird issue between $ and awareness, but hopefully that will be ironed out (anyone not in the know, look up Trevor Plouffe/Louisville Slugger pink bat argument). And most importantly, thanks to my mom and all the moms in my lineage that gave me life. I truly would not exist without them.