Posts Tagged Bobby Witt Jr

The Boys of Summer – Adventures at Spring Training – Arizona Fun in February – Part 3

Our final day was the Royals at the Guardians so we were going to see Bobby Witt, Jr again.  Rick was decked out in his Indians attire as were many Cleveland fans.  We headed over to the practice fields but it was harder to get to see the players since the closest that fans could get was at chain-linked fence at left field.  I had to squint to see who was batting.   According to Andy and Rick, two older guys that we met, they used to have the practice fields very open to fans but it changed after COVID.  We saw Josh Naylor bat and then go over to the right field fence to take pictures with fans.   Figures.  We were on the wrong side!  A little boy next to me belted out, “Stephen Kwan!”  The leadoff player headed our way!  After the boys got his autograph, I timidly asked for a picture with him and he obliged. 

The Goodyear Park was our favorite of the three ballparks.   The parking was free and they permitted purses in as well as sealed bottled water.  When I was leaving the restroom, our usher was in there and she said, “It will be very sunny in the seats you are in and you’re going to need sunscreen.”   I was glad she said something but unfortunately, I didn’t have sunscreen with me.   She pointed to a dispenser adjacent to the restroom door.   Complimentary sunscreen!   I coated my nose with it and headed out.  The guys from the practice field, Andy and Rick, were on the concourse on the lookout for us.  “We’re going to show you where you can get player pictures and autographs.”   The area was the rail between first base and right field.  I got my picture made and my Lotta Sports T-shirt autographed by several players including Jose Ramirez, Josh Naylor, his brother Bo and a few pitchers.   I was a kid in a candy store!    When Josh Bell came out to warm up, the fans went crazy yelling for his autograph – me included!   A guy next to me said, “Forget it.  He doesn’t sign.”  Well, guess who came over and signed!?!  Josh Bell!  He was bigger than life!  During the game, Cleveland’s David Fry was brought in to pitch hit.  A voice boomed from a few rows behind us, “Hit it to Colleyville!”  That’s where Fry was from and also home of Bobby Witt, Jr. as well as a town away from where we lived in Grapevine, Texas.  Unfortunately, the former Indians players were scalped in their game getting beat 12 – 6 by the Royals. 

We headed back to Tempe to meet up with Michele for dinner.   We had asked him what kind of foods he liked and he responded anything but Thai.  He loved sushi so Rick found a seafood restaurant in Tempe that had several sushi dishes.  Michele was amazing with the chopsticks!   We had a real nice dinner and we discovered our waiter had played baseball.  I think he told us it was in high school but he got injured pitching so he didn’t get to play after that.   After dinner, I asked Michele to sign my T-shirt.  “It’s all Cleveland players!”  “Well, I just started it!  They’ll be more!”  We both laughed and he signed it. 

We dropped Michele off his hotel and wished him the very best.  The next day he was leaving for Taiwan to play in the World Baseball Classic!  Little did he realize, that Taiwan would not be his only destination in the WBC journey or did he….

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The Boys of Summer – Adventures at Spring Training – Arizona Fun in February – Part 2

The following morning Michele posted that his “Nonna” (grandmother on his mother’s side) had passed away.  Sadness filled my heart for him since he was thousands of miles away from home and unable to grieve with his family in Venezuela.  Rick and I headed out to Surprise where the Kansas City Royals were hosting the Milwaukee Brewers.  We had a little time to kill before the game started so we headed over to the practice fields where I was hoping to see Bobby Witt Jr. in batting practice.  We were very lucky that we met a guy named Gerald and his dad who were regulars at all the Royals spring training games. They showed us exactly where the KC practice fields were.  When we got over there, I still wasn’t seeing any of the players that I wanted to see namely Bobby Witt Jr. so went up to a guy who looked like he knew what was going on.  It turned out he really did know – he was J.J. Picollo, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Royals!  I introduced myself and did a capsule version of how I knew Witt, Jr’s dad from when I worked the Texas Ranger charters when I was with Delta.  JJ didn’t think Bobby Sr. was at spring training yet.  About that time, Gerald ran up and said, “Bobby Witt Jr. is taking BP (batting practice) over there!” 

As we watched BP, a group of fans congregated at the fence rail near the gate leading out.  At one point, I saw JJ talking to
Witt, Jr.  After Bobby’s group finished, they proceeded along the fence line.  The fans only wanted autographs and pictures of one player – Bobby Witt, Jr.!  We patiently waited while he progressed towards the gate out where we were.  Finally, he got to us and I quickly explained my connection to his dad.  “No, my dad won’t be here until next month.”  He kind of chuckled because I guess this was new for him having somebody not want his autograph or picture!   “Oh well …” I responded with disappointment in my voice.  “Could I please get a picture with you anyway?” so then he really laughed. 

By now it was almost game time so we headed over to the ballpark.   The starters for both teams were to play almost half the game and then be replaced by minor leaguers.  We saw some of our former Mudcats in the Brewers dugout.   A young lady in sunglasses sat down next to us.   I looked over at the very attractive gal.  She smiled and said, “Do you remember me?”   I laughed and said,  “I know you…  don’t I?”   She laughed and removed the shades.  It was Hedbert Perez’s girlfriend who had attended many Mudcats games both home and away.   Hedbert batted in the fifth inning.  “BAM!!” as the bat connected with the ball.   The rocket was launched!!!  Homerun!!!   As we were standing up cheering and yelling, I turned around to congratulate her and she wasn’t there!!   Hedbert crossed the plate all smiles.   The Brewers won big over Kansas City 10 to 4! 

The Team Italy special fundraiser dinner was at Tomaso’s restaurant in Scottsdale.   We had looked into supporting the fundraiser and were going to surprise Michele.   Well, the surprise was on us with the price tag to attend – five hundred dollars a plate!!   Instead, I reserved a table in the main dining room.  We got all dressed up in our nice clothes.   It was a beautiful small restaurant and it had been years since I saw tablecloths and linen napkins at an eating establishment!   We were sitting there looking over the menu and all of the sudden the whole team Italy started streaming through the main restaurant in a line of blue suits all going to the private dining room.   Every once in a while, a person that was eating in the main dining room would get up and take pictures.  I had my camera ready and knew the minute Michele came in because he was so tall he towered over most of the team.  I slowly positioned to get a picture and he stopped!!  “Don’t stop!  I don’t want to get you in trouble!”  He laughed and proceeded to the back.  It was one of the best, if not the best, meals I’ve ever had!   I had the five-layer lasagna and a very good salad.  For dessert I could not turn down the temptation of the caramel cheesecake.   It was amazing!  Meanwhile Team Italy players had started to trickle out with some coming out for a breather or to use the restroom.  When Michele came out, we were already finished with dessert and they still hadn’t gotten to their main course!!   Their dinner was being done by numerous courses and I was thankful I wouldn’t be digesting dinner at 11PM which was 2AM my time!!

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