My D-backs Yard Sale Heath Bell Moment

One of the activities I most look forward to at FanFest is the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation Yard Sale. You never quite know what you might find when you get there. The yard sale has grown in popularity with each year of its existence.

I remember in 2007 the Arizona Diamondbacks changed from their purple and teal color scheme to the new Sedona Red, Sonoran Sand, and Black colors. That year the yard sale was filled with items displaying the old colors.

Heath Bell Autographed BaseballAmong those items in the yard sale were dishes from the Arizona Baseball Club all in purple and teal. I could not believe my good fortune. My wife had been crying for our entire marriage that she didn’t have a good set of china. Imagine her surprise when I came home with a service for 8 of perhaps the most amazing china in the world. I remember seeing the tears of joy roll down her cheeks as I excitedly explained how we could now have Thanksgiving dinner on real Diamondbacks china. Oddly enough, it seems the only time we use the good dishes is when I am the one who sets the table.

Last year’s yard sale included just about anything that had Justin Upton’s name on it from jerseys to signs to bats to baseballs to locker plates it was all on clearance. For those who still were fans of the former right fielder it was like Christmas morning. So this year I was curious to see who would be on the markdown tables.

We arrived at FanFest early. Not as early as some fans who had camped out at 4:30 AM for the 11:00 AM gate opening. As a Diamondbacks Season Ticket Holder we had the opportunity to get in an hour before the general public. Even with that head start, by the time I made it to the field level I could see the yard sale was already packed.

People were running from table to table grabbing items throwing them in shopping bags. It was the baseball equivalent to the day after Christmas sale at the mall without the ugly sweaters. As I walked into the gated area that was the yard sale I couldn’t help but feel a little like being thrown into an Ultimate Fighting Challenge cage match. If someone were to come at me with a chair I was running for the exit.

Within the first 15 minutes things were becoming rather picked over. I was there more for the curiosity than to actually buy something. Along one side was a table filled with autographed baseballs. Next to the table was a list of players who had autographed balls along with a price list.

I looked over the list and a few names stuck out. Justin Upton balls were listed at $50 and from the looks of things they had plenty of inventory. Luis Gonzalez balls were likewise listed for $50 with just a few remaining. Max Scherzer balls were sold out within five minutes of opening. The list of players and former players was like a who’s who of broken dreams.

As I stared at the list one name jumped out at me. I walked along the table trying to find the box containing autographed baseballs that I was looking for. I made three passes back and forth unable to find what I was looking for. Finally I asked the friendly gentleman behind the table for assistance.

“Can you please tell me where I can find the Heath Bell autographed baseballs?” I asked. It was suddenly as if time had stopped and it felt as though every eye at FanFest were suddenly staring at me.

“Did you say Heath Bell?” the gentleman asked as if I had just asked for proof that Sasquatch existed.

“Yeah, I am looking for a Heath Bell autographed baseball.” I repeated.

He reached behind the table and pulled out a box and blew off the dust. “We don’t get a lot of call for Heath Bell autographed baseballs”, he said. Well he was only with the team for a year so he didn’t get a lot of chance to become a fan favorite. “Do you mind me asking why you want a Heath Bell baseball?”

I took a deep breath and once again repeated my now infamous Heath Bell Experience. As I got to the end of my story I turned around and saw I had somehow gathered quite a crowd. From the back I heard someone say, “Wait, that was you?” I am not sure why there is always someone that responds with that question.

Yeah that was me. I was the idiot that tried to be funny, got caught, and I am the one that is living proof that if you say something stupid someone is going to find out about it and call you out.

“Now that you told me that story, I have to ask why would you want a Heath Bell autographed baseball?” the gentleman asked.

Well, it’s kind of complicated to explain but I want it to remind me that no matter how anonymous you think Social Media and the Internet are; someone is always listening. It’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and not take ownership for what you write but that’s not how I was raised. If I did something wrong I’ll admit it.

As a result of that one stupid comment on Twitter I learned a valuable life lesson. It also gave me an opportunity to meet an amazing person and learn what it is like from the other side. I’ll never have the opportunities that Heath Bell had. I’ll likely never meet those people who said bad things about me and confront them the way Heath did.

I took the baseball and paid for it. When I got home I placed it on my desk next to my monitor to remind me of the lessons Heath Bell taught me. His time as an Arizona Diamondback may not have lasted very long but it’s a year I will never forget and for that I am very grateful.

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