As you can probably imagine, life around our house is anything but normal. Starting with the line of Arizona Diamondbacks bobble head dolls that greet visitors to “the shrine” as my wife calls it where I have two Chase Field seats, a piece of Bank One Ballpark adorning one wall, and of course second base.
To say my home life revolves around baseball and the Arizona Diamondbacks would be the understatement of the millennium. The problem is that I have imposed this lifestyle not just on myself but on my family as well.
On the one hand it has exposed the kids to a whole new set of experiences that perhaps other kids have not had an opportunity to have. On the other hand, my kids have grown up with a very warped sense of what reality is.
My son Dakota is only 12 years old yet he has been on the playing field several times in a parade as a reward for attending 50 home games per year. When he was just a year old he was in the Diamondbacks bullpen as part of the “Big Daddy’s Bullpen Buddies” program allowing kids to meet players before select games.
He was on the mound with me in 1998 when I threw out the ceremonial first pitch. To him, these are common occurrences and he seems confused when his friends are amazed that he has experienced these events. I try to explain to him that this is not a normal childhood but to him it is all he knows.
When my daughter Mallorie had a friend in high school who idolized Randy Johnson, she spoke to Johnson before a game and asked if he would autograph a baseball with a Happy Birthday message on the ball.
Randy was happy to assist and gave my daughter the ball which she in turn gave as a birthday present. Needless to say the young boy was thrilled and to this day lists that ball as the greatest gift he has received or will ever receive for the rest of his life. To my daughter it was a simple gift.
It should be noted she is also appalled at how Randy Johnson is portrayed by the media. As far as she is concerned he is very approachable and a perfect gentleman and I would have to agree with her.
Last week my youngest daughter came home from school. Her math teacher had offered the class an opportunity to get extra credit. The assignment was to have their picture taken with the math book in a famous place or with a famous person.
I immediately suggested that I had the perfect idea. She should take her math book to the Arizona Diamondbacks FanFest. We could take a picture of her math book in the Diamondbacks clubhouse which as far as I was concerned was the most famous place in the universe.
She agreed and when we went down to the stadium I had not only my two daughters but also an Algebra 2 text book. We entered the stadium and I began suggesting places where we could have pictures taken.
As we walked through the doors to FanFest, we were given vouchers for autographs. Whitney received a Miguel Montero voucher. We walked over to where the autograph station was set up. Whitney didn’t have anything to autograph, all she wanted was a photo of Montero and her with her math book.
I explained that she really should have something signed and suggested having Montero autograph her math book. This didn’t go over too well as she was afraid she would get fined by the school for writing in her book. I was pretty sure they would overlook a player’s autograph but she refused.
Instead I pulled a baseball out of my pocket (hey, who doesn’t have a Major League baseball in their jacket pocket?) and handed it to Whitney. She walked to the table where Montero was sitting. He reached out his hand and took the ball from her and signed his autograph.
As he handed the ball back to Whitney she asked if she could get a picture taken with him and her math book. From the confused look on his face I would guess this was the first time in his career that he has ever been asked to have his picture taken with an Algebra 2 book.
Montero agreed but only after we explained the situation to him several times. Too bad it wasn’t a Spanish textbook; it might have made more sense. I think Miguel was afraid we were going to ask him to do some math problems and he obviously was a little rusty in Algebra 2.
After the Montero episode we walked around the field taking in the activities of FanFest. Suddenly Whitney saw Diamondbacks manager AJ Hinch and General Manager Josh Byrnes waiting to go on stage for a Question and Answer discussion.
She approached them and asked if they would be willing to pose with her and her math book. She explained it was for extra credit. AJ was awesome and congratulated her for taking her education seriously. Josh Byrnes was great. He asked if he could hold the math book.
While we were getting ready for the photo, Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall came by to talk and explain to me why Garcias was being replaced with Macayo’s (I really appreciated the explanation, now I have to remember what we talked about so I can explain it to my wife Trina).
I felt kind of stupid having to excuse myself from Derrick Hall so I could take a picture of the manager and the General Manager with my daughter and her math book. Hall looked on and immediately AJ was trying to explain it was for extra credit. Byrnes was saying that he got to hold the book.
I took the picture and my daughter Whitney thanked these two for their help. It was just a little thing but it will be an experience my daughter will never forget. Since that time we have talked and laughed about the team and the math book.
It had absolutely nothing to do with baseball and Montero, Hinch, Byrnes, and Hall could all have said no and it would have ended there. Instead they were all willing to help a young fan regardless of how absurd the request seemed.
Whitney tolerates baseball, she is the one child I have who could take or leave baseball and she cannot understand why I am so obsessed with this game.
After her experience at FanFest, all she talks about is her experience with the Diamondbacks and how they helped her to get extra credit in her math class. She has become a fan especially to those who took time out of their day to help a fan.
These are the kinds of experiences that keep the fans coming back to Chase Field and help build a younger generation of fans. As for me, this is just another example that I need to explain to my children as to why they are not having a normal childhood and a lot of it is probably my fault.