Father/Daughter Time!

Xavier Father/Daughter Day at Chase Field

My youngest daughter, Emilee, just started her Freshman year of High School.  Of course, she goes to a different school than her older sister, Jessica.  It didn’t take long for a conflict to arise.

Jessica’s high school, Xavier, hosts an annual Father/Daughter night out at the Diamondbacks.  We’ve attended for the past two years.  This year, it was the same night as Emilee’s school’s largest fund-raiser of the year.  Considering there would be more opportunities to go to a ballgame, we opted for the fundraiser on Saturday night.
Of course, Jessica wanted to go to a game as soon as possible, so she quickly searched the schedule and picked out a couple of options.  The two that matched her criteria were Monday and Wednesday.  No, not because it was the NL West leading Dodgers – but because both were having a fan give-away of a T-Shirt.
I did a quick search on SeatGeek for tickets and found a couple of seats, field level, in Row 1, along the 3rd base line for $40 each.  Score!  If you haven’t used SeatGeek, you should check them out.  A great user interface and they search multiple sources for tickets – not just StubHub.  As it turned out, the tickets I bought were sold through StubHub.
We got to the stadium about 1 hour before the first pitch to see if we could catch any batting practice.  After picking up our nifty T-Shirts at the gate, we saw a “sign making station”.  I wasn’t sure how this worked, but it was a great service.  Several college aged girls will create a sign for you based on what you want to say.  They’ll help with the creative piece and then draw or write it out for you.
T-Shirts and Sign in hand, we took a quick lap around the concourse to check out the sights, sounds and smells.  After grabbing our hot dogs and drinks we headed for our seats.  Jessica was pretty surprised when we kept walking towards the field – she asked “how far are we going?”  When we got to the first row, she was pretty excited – and so was I.  I’ve been close to the field before, but never in Row 1.

As we settled in, the gentleman next to us, Tom, asked if we bought the tickets off StubHub as he clearly knows the drill for his next seat neighbor.  He said the owner of the seats has become disenfranchised with the team and has quit going to the games.  His loss, my gain!

Tom was incredibly friendly and pointed out quite a few tidbits for us while we watched the pre-game festivities.  He said he used to work up in Silicon Valley, is now retired and moved to the Valley in 2005 and he’s been a season-ticket holder ever since.  He came prepared with his own home made, professional looking signs, pens for autographs and ad-hoc sign making, a baseball, glove and who knows what else.  Tom even introduced us to Ernie, the Golden Glover who works the line for foul balls.
Our friend Tom and us on TV
Today was the day the Washington Navy Yard was victimized by a deranged gunman.  Before the National Anthem, we observed a Moment of Silence for the victims of yet another senseless tragedy.
Martin Prado continues his prayer
Chase Field is a cavernous facility.  With the roof closed, it looks like an airplane hangar, but when they pop the top and open the windows, it’s one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever visited.
Great Views!
It didn’t take long for Ernie to scoop up a foul ball down the line from us.  As he raced back toward his seat, he passed dozens of outstretched arms asking for the ball.  He passed them all – until he got to Jessica!   Thanks Ernie!
As the game wore on, Tom made a sign that simply said #HERO and underneath, Forever.  When I asked about it, he said that the 3rd base umpire was Jim Joyce – one of the best umpires in baseball.  Joyce was unfortunately made famous for his blown call in a game in 2010 when Tiger’s pitcher Armando Galarraga was on the verge of a Perfect Game.  He blew a call at 1st base – and immediately after the game, tearfully admitted that he had “cost the kid a perfect game”.
But that’s not why Tom had his #HERO sign out.  You see, it was Joyce who saved the life of a Diamondback’s long-time staffer by giving her CPR after she suffered a seizure then stopped breathing while at Chase Field in 2012.  Joyce, to his credit, does not see himself as a hero.
During the middle of an inning, Joyce came over to say hello to Tom.  As they chatted, Tom asked Jim if he could sign the ball for Jessica because we were out on a Father/Daughter Date – to which he replied – “if I do that right now, I’ll get fined $250”.  But he promised that if we’re still here at the end of the game, he would gladly autograph the ball for Jessica.  Jim said he wasn’t scheduled to be in town at all this year, but his daughter was having meniscus transplant surgery in town this week.
The game was a pitcher’s duel with the D-Backs only grinding out two hits – but fortunately, one of them was Paul Goldschmidt’s league leading 33rd homer of the season – a two run shot to deep right center in the bottom of the first.  That’s all the home team would need to hold off the Dodgers on this day.  The Dodgers sprayed 4 hits and only scored a single run on a base-loaded walk in the 6th.
The Dodgers would threaten again in the 9th, after two singles off of Closer Brad Ziegler to start the inning, but Ziegler was able grab two quick outs, then strike out Matt Kemp to save the day.
As soon as Kemp went down on strikes, Jim Joyce raced back over to us and signed the ball for Jessica!  I’m guessing he had a soft spot in his heart for Father/Daughter on this night.  You’re a good man Mr. Joyce and may your daughter heal quickly.
Jim Joyce #66
As the crowd started to thin, I thanked Tom for great night and asked him who he worked for in Silicon Valley.  His reply, IBM.  I wasn’t surprised.  After talking with him all night, I was actually thinking he was an IBMer.  That’s why I asked him just before we left.  I wanted to validate my suspicion and couldn’t let the opportunity pass.  We chatted briefly and said our goodbyes.
Another great game in the books and more importantly, quality time with my daughter!

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