|My First Pitch|
The last remnants of autumn sunlight filtered down upon the playing field at Bank One Ballpark. It was a beautiful September evening for the last regular season game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres. The ballpark roof had just opened; the cheers of the crowd were beginning to subside. Forty-eight thousand fans were now settling into their seats waiting for what promised to be a memorable end to the Diamondbacks inaugural season. The pre-game festivities were in mid-stride. Along the base paths and in the outfield, the starting players were going through their final warm-ups before the game started. As game time approached, I quietly stood near the on-deck circle with my family. The children gazed about taking in all of the sights and sounds of this historic game. None of us could have imagined we would be standing here on the field as the grounds crew put the finishing touches on the baselines and batters boxes. Nor could I have anticipated the events that were about to occur.
It was time for the game to get underway. Jeff Golner handed me the baseball as Jeff Munn, the public address announcer, bellowed my name. I took the five-ounce ball and held it in my hand. I rotated it over and over feeling each of the 108 stitches that held the cover in place. I could here the cheers from my friends and family as I began my slow walk from home plate to the pitcher's mound. I knew the distance by heart, I had replayed this march over and over in my mind. As I looked up, I could see my name written upon the JumboTron along with live video of my approach to the mound. On each side of me were my children, Tiffany (8) on my right, Mallorie (12) and Dakota (1) on my left. During my walk, I could hear the public address announcer retelling my story to the watching fans. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my wife Trina with my daughters Ashley (15) and Whitney (4) standing with her. Each of them held a camera to document my throw from the mound.
I stood at the base of the pitcher's mound and looked into the stands. All around me people were watching intently, waiting for my throw to the plate. The sights of this ballpark had become so familiar to me over the course of the past 81 games and yet it all seemed so new. It's funny how different your perception is from this vantage point. The swimming pool in right-center field seemed so far away from here. The scoreboard and JumboTron was so much bigger than I had imagined. The retractable roof, which had become such an important icon of the ballpark, framed the twilight Arizona sky. I still get chills each time I hear the music they play as it is opening. Bank One Ballpark had become my oasis far removed from the everyday sights and sounds I had become accustomed. I stood engulfed in the panoramic view from the playing field. Damian Miller, catcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, came out of the dugout and ran to the plate. "I was about to throw the ceremonial first pitch of the last game of the inaugural season!" The realization of that statement had still not completely registered.
In the brief instant before I threw the ball, my mind was filled with the thoughts of all that I had experienced with this baseball franchise. I became unaware of what was around me, focused on the memories of the past three years. Everything was so clear as if I were replaying a favorite movie. I recounted each of these memories, savoring them one-by-one.
Awarding the Franchise
Thursday March 9, 1995 was a very special day for me; it was my thirty-third birthday. This birthday was to take on a special meaning for me. My wife had planned a quiet evening and family dinner, followed by the annual unwrapping of gifts, but something much more profound was happening in Florida. In the late afternoon, Major League Baseball was scheduled to announce the two expansion teams that would begin play in 1998. Being a life-long baseball fan, I was very interested in this announcement. As the time for the press conference approached, I was still stuck at work. I had hoped to be home to see the announcement, but here I was in the office. My wife Trina paged me the instant the press conference began. I quickly called home where she was watching as the new teams were unveiled. Phoenix Arizona had been awarded a franchise to be called the Arizona Diamondbacks. I intently listened as she described the team's logo and colors. The excitement was overwhelming. I had lived my whole life in a small town in Idaho. Other than the short-season Pioneer League affiliate, I had never had the opportunity to see what a professional baseball team could mean to a city. Now a franchise was being created in my own backyard. My kids immediately knew their father would no longer be a Chicago Cubs fan. That evening after work, Trina and I went to America West Arena where she bought me a shirt to commemorate the new team. She joked she could only afford to give me a T-shirt for my birthday, Jerry Colangelo could give me a franchise.
Introduction of the Franchise
With the events of March 9 barely a memory, Mr. Colangelo had scheduled a special celebration at America West Arena where he would introduce the franchise to the city. At that time, fans could begin reserving a spot to purchase season tickets. Trina and I had always had an understanding. If we ever lived in a city that had a baseball team, I would get season tickets. So that Saturday morning, we took the children and went to share in the excitement this city was feeling for baseball. Although rain was forecast, people didn't seem to mind. I stood in line for an hour before I was able to secure my name on the list for season tickets. The first step had been taken. I now had an Arizona Diamondbacks hat, a baseball, and my name on the season ticket list. All that was needed now were players and a place to play.
The Three-Year Wait
The building of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the building the Bank One Ballpark paralleled each other over the course of the next three years. As ground was cleared for the stadium and foundations were set, the team built its own foundation by naming Buck Showalter as it manager. This was followed by the placement of the cornerstones to the ballpark's foundation. With the team, this was signaled by the signing of Travis Lee. I eagerly watched all that happened around the Arizona Diamondbacks. When their first minor league affiliate, the Lethbridge Black Diamonds, took the field, they played their first game on my daughter Tiffany's sixth birthday - June 24, 1996. At every turn, my life became more intertwined with the Diamondbacks. Each month brought more news of the building of the franchise and each month my excitement and anticipation grew.
The response for purchasing Arizona Diamondbacks season tickets was overwhelming. The number of requests quickly outnumbered the amount of available seats. It was determined that a lottery system would be established so that everyone had an equal chance to purchase seats. I eagerly awaited the arrival of my lottery numbers. When the letter finally came, I tore it open to see my numbers - 36,733 and 36,734. Although these numbers seemed high, I was confident that I would be able to get the seats I wanted. Once numbers were established, the Diamondbacks began calling a block of people per week. By late July, I had chosen my seats for Bank One Ballpark. For the inaugural season, I would be sitting in Section 107, Row 29, Seats 15 and 16. This was over the visitor's bullpen. I thought this would give the children the opportunity to see a different team each time they went to the game. Perhaps they would even be able to catch a foul ball hit into our section. With my tickets secured and the ballpark on schedule for completion in March of 1998, all that was lacking were players.
Expansion Draft Day
On November 18, 1997, I took a day of vacation. This was the day I had been waiting for the past two and a half years. The Expansion Draft had arrived and finally the Arizona Diamondbacks would have a team. A celebration had been planned for the Phoenix Civic Plaza and I didn't want to miss a thing. My friend George Taylor and I went downtown early so that we would be assured a seat to view the draft. We planned to spend the entire day there. We selected our seats then went to experience all the activities around us. Sitting behind us were reporters from various newspapers in Japan. They were there to cover the draft and in particular Shigetoshi Hasegawa. All day, we diligently marked our expansion draft cards with each successive pick. We would provide the Japanese reporters with whatever tidbits of knowledge we knew about each pick. It was amazing how international baseball had become. We were from two completely different worlds and yet when we spoke of baseball, we each understood what the other was saying. It was a long day filled with many emotions as we heard each new Diamondback selected. We stayed throughout and listened intently as the post draft trades were announced. By midnight, it was time to go. We now had names and faces for the players we anticipated seeing when the inaugural season began.
The next major milestone the Arizona Diamondbacks accomplished was on February 27, 1998. This signified the first Spring Training game in the history of the franchise. The game took place in Tucson Arizona at the newly created Tucson Electric Park, spring home of the Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox. The park was appropriately named as the air was electrified with excitement for the Diamondbacks. Playing in front of a sell-out crowd of 11,298, the Diamondbacks put on quite a show. The team trailed the White Sox for the entire game until the ninth inning. With their last at-bats, Kelly Stinnett was hit by a pitch putting him on first base. The Diamondbacks then went to work moving the base runner into scoring position. With Stinnett on first, Hensley Meulens hit a single allowing Kelly to reach third. With runners on first and third, Edwin Diaz hit a fly ball to shallow left field. Stinnett tagged and rushed for home. The ball came to the plate but not before Kelly scored, winning the game 6-5. The crowd could not have asked for a more exciting game. Even though the temperatures were in the mid-forties at game time, no one seemed to mind. Baseball had arrived in Arizona, it warmed the heart just thinking about what that meant.
Welcome to BOB
March 29, 1998 marked a day I had been waiting to come for nearly three years. Bank One Ballpark was now complete, its structure prominent in the Phoenix skyline. With only two days before opening day, it was time for the stadium's dress rehearsal. The Arizona Diamondbacks were to complete their Spring Training schedule with a game against the Chicago White Sox in Bank One Ballpark. As a season ticket holder, this game was included for us to attend. Trina and I were very excited. This would mark the first time we would see an Arizona Diamondbacks game in the new ballpark. It was cold and raining in Phoenix that day, but with the roof closed, the game was very comfortable. Everything was so new and so exciting. The team seemed nervous and unfamiliar with their surroundings. It was a fun experience being at the opening of a new stadium. Even though the White Sox won the game 3-0, the 49,198 fans in attendance had gotten their money's worth. The ballpark was magnificent and provided a first-class experience to the fans young and old alike. I could not possibly imagine anything that would compare to this night. Little did I know I would only have to wait two days before being proven wrong.
The stage was set. After three years of waiting, March 31, 1998 had finally arrived. The opening day of the 1998 Major League regular season was upon us. More importantly, the beginning of a magical season was about to unfold. The anticipation for this day had been tremendous. There are a few moments in each person's life that are defined as monumental. For me, this was one of those moments. As the gates to Bank One Ballpark opened, there was excitement in the air. For tonight's game I had brought Trina and our son Dakota. Dakota was nearly a year old, some say to young to comprehend this night, but his eyes showed an understanding that what he was witnessing was historic. Dakota and I gazed about the ballpark identifying all we could, showing each other what we had found. From the fireworks above the stadium to the opening of the roof, we saw it all. The bases were lowered from the roof, and flags were brought in via parachute. By game time, the crowd had risen to a frenzy riding this emotional tidal wave that baseball had brought to Phoenix. I can play each moment of opening night in my mind and still feel the magic it brought to me and to my family. As Andy Benes threw the first pitch from the mound, camera flashes lit the stadium as stars in the nighttime sky. It was an incredible evening as Travis Lee collected the first hit in Diamondbacks history, the first stolen base, the first run batted in, and the first home run. Although the Diamondbacks lost to the Colorado Rockies 9-2, it mattered little. The memories gained this night would overshadow the outcome, making baseball fans from even the most ardent opponents.
Over the course of the first week of the season, the Arizona Diamondbacks struggled losing five games in a row. This did not seem to matter to the fans as Bank One Ballpark was at near sell-out levels for each game. With the final game of the first home stand being played on April 5, 1998, it seemed as though the San Francisco Giants would sweep the Diamondbacks. My daughter Mallorie and I were to attend the game tonight. There was a promotional giveaway tonight for the first 10,000 fans. They would receive a schedule key chain. Unfortunately, Mallorie was late getting ready which caused us to miss this giveaway. This would end up being the one promotional item we did not get this year. The game promised to be memorable. Andy Benes was pitching his second game of the year. During the fifth inning, I witnessed the strangest play of the entire season. With Barry Bonds on third, J.T. Snow hit a line drive back at Benes which hit is foot and ricocheted to Jay Bell at shortstop. Bell threw the ball to Travis Lee for the out at first allowing Bonds to score. Travis threw the ball around the infield with everyone thinking the play was over. Matt Williams noticed that the ball had never hit the ground and Bonds did not tag third. When Matt received the ball he stepped on third base making this a double play ending the inning. Scoring of the play went 1-6-3-5, the most roundabout double play the Diamondbacks would have all year. Diamondbacks pitchers held the Giants to seven hits and won the game 3-2. This would be the first regular season win in franchise history.
Beanie Baby Day
June 14, 1998 brought another first for me at Bank One Ballpark. By this time in the season, the team and the fans had begun to feel comfortable together. Although the Diamondbacks struggled on the field, their fans were still committed to them. Attendance for the Arizona Diamondbacks home games had surpassed 1.4 million and each of the previous two games against the St. Louis Cardinals this weekend was a sell-out. Mark McGuire had put on a hitting display during batting practice that would be second to none. On Friday night, he would hit a ball out of one of the windows on the North side of Bank One Ballpark. Saturday, he hit the JumboTron with such force that it caused $2,000 worth of damage. No one knew what to expect for today's game. Besides the play of Mark McGuire and his teammates, there was one other factor which made today's game different, it was Hissy the Beanie Baby day. For 6,500 children 15 years of age and younger, it meant they would go home with a small stuffed animal. For 6,500 parents, it meant getting their kids in line early enough to obtain this promotional giveaway.
I had survived the crowds for Opening Day; I had seen the sell-out crowds at the two previous day's games; but nothing prepared me for this Sunday afternoon game. Wanting to see batting practice, I took my four-year-old daughter Whitney with me to the park early Sunday morning. When we arrived at the stadium three hours early, there were already crowds of children and adults alike. It was a mad house as people waited for the ballpark doors to open. I can safely say that at one point as the crowds pressed against the doors that I feared for my life. I had never seen people this aggressive for a stuffed toy. After what seemed an eternity, we finally filed into the gates and to our seats. As I passed the ushers at the doorway, I noticed their dwindling supply of Beanie Babies. A look of terror was in their eyes, much like the feelings a lone gazelle on the Serengeti plains must feel as they see a pride of lions approaching from all sides. Although I was fascinated to see how they were going to handle the ugly crowds when the Beanie Babies were gone, I felt it much safer to take my chances dodging home runs in the outfield bleachers. Almost as an afterthought, the Diamondbacks lost the game 2-0. Willie Blair pitched a great game giving up only two runs on eight hits and striking McGuire out three times and walking him once. The score didn't matter to my daughter, she had her Hissy and that was all that mattered to her.
The All-Star Game
As the All-Star break arrived, it marked the halfway point to the regular season. The Diamondbacks had struggled, but during June they had put together their best month to date. They were starting to play as a team and seemed much more relaxed on the field. With each game before the All-Star break, I took my kids to the ballpark and had them vote for their favorite players. When the All-Star teams were announced, Devon White was elected to represent the Arizona Diamondbacks. Devon had quietly been producing numbers worthy of his selection. He had patrolled center field with a vengeance. When a fly ball was hit there, it could almost be classified as an automatic out. Offensively, he was leading or near the top of most categories including home runs, runs batted in, and stolen bases. During the All-Star game, Devon went 3-3 with a run scored. Had the National League won the game, it is highly likely Devon would have been the Most Valuable Player.
Travis Lee also represented the Diamondbacks during the MCI All-Star Hitting Challenge. He was teamed with George Brett and Tim McGraw. They won the event with a score of 370-210 beating the team of Kevin Costner, Ben Grieve, and Dave Kingman. The Arizona Diamondbacks should be proud to be represented by these two players. They are positive role models who showed what can be accomplished through hard work.
Beanie Baby Night II
In the middle of August, I was attending the Montreal Expos series at Bank One Ballpark. During the game, I was keeping score as I always do when the Public Address announcer recounted upcoming events for the Milwaukee Brewers series starting the last week of August. He announced that August 27 would be Sly the Fox Beanie Baby day for the first 10,000 kids ages 15 and under. My blood ran cold, all the color left my face and I noticed the pencil in my hand begin to quiver. After the June 14 game, the mere mention of the word Beanie Baby would cause me to wake screaming from a dead sleep. For those who have never experienced this phenomenon, surviving a Beanie Baby giveaway can best be equated to surviving a prisoner of war camp. Of course, this announcement had the opposite affect on Mallorie my twelve-year-old daughter. Plans were quickly amassed with the children and it became apparent that I did not have enough seats to take everyone to the game. Calls were made to the ticket office and tickets were purchased. This would be the first game our whole family would attend.
As August 27, 1998 arrived, plans were finalized as to how we would accomplish our quest for Sly the Fox. There could not have been more planning done for the invasion of Normandy during World War II than there was for Beanie Baby day at Bank One Ballpark. As Trina and the kids made plans of attack, I sat in the corner reliving the carnage of Beanie Baby Sunday. Although never actually having been in the military, I feel I know how those soldiers felt who suffered from battle fatigue. We picked up the children from school, some getting out a little early. It should be noted that the Arizona school system is quite sympathetic when allowing students to leave class if you mention the words Beanie Baby and Arizona Diamondbacks in the same sentence. I must give the Diamondbacks credit, this second giveaway was much better than the first. It was well organized and each usher was accompanied by a security guard. The looks of terror were gone from their faces, replaced with smiles of gratitude. Having the entire family at the game was a tremendous experience for all of us. Each family member had identified something special at Bank One Ballpark. Going to this game together allowed each of us to share our experiences. It was the highlight of the season for us.
Fan Appreciation Weekend
As the regular season began to wind down, the Arizona Diamondbacks planned a spectacular end to this inaugural season. The last home stand between the Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres would be Fan Appreciation Weekend. The Diamondbacks would hold a special celebration each night to commemorate the season. They would be giving away many valuable prizes to say thank-you to their loyal fans. The weekend would end with Fan Appreciation Day on Sunday September 27, 1998. At the end of this game, a raffle would be held with the players and coaches giving the fans the shirts off of their backs. It was an enormous success. The excitement in the stands was very high. Friday night fans brought banners and were led down onto the field to walk around the warning track in the outfield to show off their banners and let the players know how much they appreciated the team. The team responded by winning the first two games of the three game series. It was an incredible end to a fantastic season.
Around the Horn
For many years, 1998 will be remembered as perhaps the greatest season Major League Baseball has ever seen. The inclusion of the expansion teams in Phoenix and Tampa Bay were the major story coming into the season but became merely footnotes to the other accomplishments made during the year. How appropriate that as baseball began it renaissance, I was able to be a part of it and experience the magic as it happened. At each juncture, the Arizona Diamondbacks were connected with these magical moments.
Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa put on a display of home run hitting than has never before been seen and will perhaps never be seen again. Each of these hitters played at Bank One Ballpark during the season allowing fans to see first hand why these players are the best in the game. From Mark McGuire's towering shot out of the stadium to Sammy Sosa's first career grand slam, these players provided excitement to eager fans. During inter-league play, the Arizona fans were able to see such superstars as Ken Griffey Jr. the home run champion and Juan Gonzalez the RBI champion of the American League. Although the Diamondbacks did not play the New York Yankees, there were several players and coaches previously associated with this team which set an American League record with 114 victories led by pitcher David Wells who threw a perfect game early in the season. Kerry Wood, the Chicago Cubs rookie sensation, came to Bank One Ballpark and struck out thirteen Diamondbacks hitters. This brought his two game total to 33 after fanning 20 in his previous start against the Houston Astros and set a Major League record. Watching Cal Ripken Jr. remove himself from the starting line up in Baltimore ending his consecutive games streak at 2,632 games brought a tear to my eye. His dedication to the game may never be matched.
These accomplishments accompanied by the many others brought baseball back to the forefront of the American public's consciousness. Each game brought new experiences. There is nothing better than being at a ball game and enjoying first-hand the accomplishments of the players and teams.
Thoughts from the Bleachers
Throughout the course of this inaugural season, this team and this franchise has grown and learned from their mistakes. As the year started, the team was made up of 25 individuals. Each of them doing the best job they could, but they lacked one thing: team chemistry. As the first home stand showed, nine individual efforts cannot guarantee a successful outcome. It was only when the players became better aquatinted and understood each other's strengths and weaknesses that they began to win. Over the course of the season wins were hard fought and in some cases far between; but the team consistently tried to work together. Each month showed improvement from the 7-19 record in April to the 12-11 record in September. The team began to think and act as a group rather than a collection of individuals.
There were many things that stood out over the course of this season. The resilience of Travis Lee fighting adversity and making his mark on this franchise. He has carried himself with dignity and has the makings of a perennial all-star player. Devon White showed why he was so important last year to the Florida Marlins. He set the record this year for an expansion player by hitting 22 home runs and stealing 22 bases. Andy Fox showed his adaptability for playing anywhere he was asked. Starting at six different positions, Andy made it look easy. All year we as a family watched, hoping he would be given the opportunity to play all nine positions. David Dellucci, fighting back after not making the opening day roster to become a valuable asset in left field and to lead the National League in triples. His nightly diving catches always brought the fans to their feet. His work ethic and dedication were impressive to watch. Andy Benes who tied the record for most wins by an Expansion team pitcher with fourteen. His work off the field was as impressive as his game performance, providing countless hours of his time for charity work for the community. Matt Williams for being a role model and foregoing an opportunity to win a world championship so that he could be close to his children.
I feel as though I have gotten to know each of these players personally. I have spent the summer watching as they go about their jobs, each polished and professional. They have taken time from their schedules to talk with the people and sign autographs for the children. As a parent I appreciate their efforts, as a baseball fan I applaud it. The only regret I have from this magical season is that it must end.
When the season began, I had planned on attending several of the Diamondback home games. I assumed there would be days I could not go or would not. I had never anticipated attending every ball game at Bank One Ballpark. With each game, there was something new. Whether it was a player from another team I had not yet seen, or the curiosity of what was new at the stadium, I kept coming back game after game. I had started out keeping score at opening night and over the course of the season went through three score books. Baseball became a part of me and my personality. My kids joked that if it wasn't on the JumboTron then dad didn't know it existed. I do not feel I was obsessed, though my wife may debate that, but rather enthused. I had an opportunity to share as a franchise rose from the desert and brought the national pastime to our community. Along the way I met people from all around the world. I sat next to people from Japan to Globe. I became aquatinted with the ushers and concessionaires on a first name basis and learned more about baseball and Bank One Ballpark than I could ever have dreamed. It has given me an appreciation of what I have. As I sit in my seats for the final time for the 1998 season, I will reflect on all I have seen this summer and project ahead to what the future will hold. If this year was any indication, this team is going to be good.
The memories of the season had washed over me, the season nearly complete. One game remained and it was about to begin. With Damian Miller crouched down behind the plate, I began my wind-up. From my left hand the ball flew towards the plate. Damian reached up and effortlessly snagged the ball from the air. It was high, but catchable. My fears of throwing the ball in the dirt were unfounded. It was not the perfect pitch I had envisioned, but not bad none the less. As the ball snapped into the catcher's glove, I could hear the crowd cheer. I looked up and waved to everyone in the stands before walking to the plate. Damian Miller met me half way and shook my hand thanking me for throwing out the first pitch. I asked him to sign the ball to document my once in a lifetime experience. Beside home plate stood Rich Dozer, president of the Diamondbacks. He shook my hand and presented me with two gifts. First an autographed baseball from the entire Diamondbacks team. Second the schedule key chain promotional giveaway from April 5. Mallorie sighed greatly now that we possessed the long lost key chain. The emotions were overwhelming. To follow a team from inception through their inaugural season and then be rewarded such as this was inconceivable. My gratitude to the team and to the organization is beyond measure. Like that, my moment was over. I looked down and my children were all gazing up at me smiling, their eyes glistening. They have given me a gift I could never repay. I had thought I would feel a moment of sadness as this experience came to an end. Instead, I felt the joy and love my family felt for me. Regardless of the outcome of the baseball game, I will always remember that moment.
The Meaning of Life
I have had time to reflect what throwing out the first pitch meant to me and it has made me philosophical about the game of baseball. There are few things as timeless as our national pastime. Little has changed in the game that I started playing when I was a small boy. As a child I struggled to learn the rules and become proficient in the skills necessary to be a successful baseball player. I dreamt of playing Major League Baseball as every kid does. After years of playing the game I loved, I knew I would never realize my dream. But rather than dwell on my lost innocence, I focused my energy on other endeavors. I now have a successful career, a beautiful wife and five adoring children. I have all that I could possibly ask for. I know the experience of throwing out the first pitch was much more profound for me than anyone one else in attendance. I will replay the pitch and the events leading up to it over and over in my mind for the rest of my life.
There are not many people who can say they stood before a sell-out crowd at a Major League Baseball game and threw out the first pitch. Especially if the pitch was the last game of the inaugural season of a franchise, I am very honored that the Arizona Diamondbacks allowed me that opportunity. Hearing the crowd cheer as I threw the ball was a wonderful experience. But when I listened with my heart, the cheers and the love from my wife and children drowned out 48,390 screaming fans. I would not trade the experiences and memories I have of this season for anything. I have been able to share my love of baseball with my children and hopefully I have helped them to know their father a little better. My family will be lifetime baseball fans because of the magical summer we spent at Bank One Ballpark. These 81 games erased all the negativity associated with modern day baseball. This season was not about labor relations, revenue sharing, free agency or stadium issues. This was about the traditional rite of passage where one generation passes their knowledge of baseball to another. It is about young children anxiously waiting for their favorite player to sign their baseball cards, for cheering on the rookies just starting or seeing the veterans give their all one last year. Mostly, this game to me has been about escaping the daily problems and stress each of us face to spend a few short hours reliving the dreams we had and sharing them with our children.
In many ways, life imitates baseball. Success cannot always be measured in wins and losses but rather how well we maximize our opportunities to achieve our goals. Regardless of how unobtainable these goals seem they are within our grasp with hard work and perseverance. Baseball can be a comforting force in life. It provides eternal hope each spring as fans intently watch their teams begin the season. It takes us through the dog days of summer and bridges our lives from summer to fall. Along the way we ride a roller coaster of emotions as the team wins and loses. At times, the outcome of the season is disappointing, but we stand by the team and give them our support. Unexpected and exciting events occur over the course of 162 games and sometimes, good things happen, even if you are just a guy from section 107.