Yesterday was my dad’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad), and we were all happy that our season ticket package included Sunday afternoon ballgame at which we could celebrate. We started with breakfast where my seven-month old son nearly downed half a pancake, and I enjoyed a veggie omelet with plenty of jalepeno peppers before we headed for the dome.
The rain was a small annoyance, but it’s worth noting that three years from now we probably wouldn’t have had a Sunday afternoon game to watch due to the weather. My family arrived early at the game, as it turned out before the doors opened. It was a bobble head give away day, so there were plenty of people who had been waiting for quite a while in the rain. We went early thinking that we may get our Gary Gaetti bobble heads, but we weren’t counting on it. As it turned out, the doors opened shortly after we arrived, and every member of my family got a Gary Gaetti doll (except for my son, who got a book).
The Gaetti doll was in conjunction with Gary’s induction into the Twins Hall of Fame which was in conjunction with the 20th Anniversary of the 1987 World Series. There was a nice ceremony before the game that included a reenactment of the final out of the 1987 Series, Gaetti to Hrbek, 5-3. It was great to see the ’87 team on the field, and even better to see Herbie and the G-Man together.
As a child, I watched Gaetti closely to try and learn how to play third base. There were a few Twins’ games at the dome where I followed #8 rather than the ball, watching where he would stand in different situations. I suppose it was a good example to follow, though I personally didn’t really catch on at third base (not for lack of knowledge about how to play third, however).
I commented to my wife during the ceremony about the gloves popping in the background. Usually the Twins have music playing during the warm ups, but when Gaetti was making his induction speech the only background noise was the snap of horse hide hitting leather; the loudest of which was coming from the Twins’ bullpen, where Johan Santana was taking his warm up tosses.
Santana, of course, went on to strikeout nearly as many Rangers as my Dad is years old, a great birthday present that I would like to take credit for.
I am still holding out hope that one day I will see a major league no-hitter in person, but those hopes were dashed when Sammy Sosa blooped a single to lead off the fifth inning- yet another reason not to like Sosa, who performed his traditional heel kick on a long foul ball later in the game. I was pleased that he had to turn around and return to the batter’s box, and was hoping he would then strikeout (kick your heels for that), but he ended up getting another hit off of Santana, representing the only two hits allowed in an otherwise perfect performance by the best pitcher in baseball.
Santana struck out each Ranger at least once; got Wilkerson and Saltalamacchia twice each; and made Young, Byrd, and Laird look foolish three times each. It was the kind of performance you expect from a Little League pitcher who turns out to be older than all of the other kids.
It would have been nice to see Santana finish the game, but with today’s environment I suppose seeing him in the eighth was a gift (and I actually would have second-guessed management had Santana showed his face for the ninth with 112 pitches thrown). Nathan had a little bit of trouble closing out the win, but did manage to do so by striking out Michael Young to give the Ranger shortstop the dreaded 0-for-4 with 4 k line.
It was a good enough day to make one forget that this team just scored three runs in three games against one of the worst pitching staffs in the league, and that the post season is a faint hope. None of that really mattered on my father’s birthday, the day that Gary Gaetti was recognized and Johan Santana struck out 17.
Born August 19, 1958
Very appropriate. I had a post of his top games ready to go, but with the events of Sunday I pushed it to tomorrow.
Born August 19, 1949
I, of course, know him as Dad, but he has started a new role in the past few months as “Pop” and he is the kind of guy that seems like he was born to be a grandfather. Happy Birthday, Pop.
Born August 20, 1960
Another member of the ’87 team that was in town this weekend.