During the events of Sunday’s FanFest, Sean Davis and I had the great fortune of participating in the annual Blogfest with select members of the Athletics blogosphere.
Situated deep in the underground labyrinth of the Oracle Arena, we engaged in an intimate question and answer session with Manager Bob Melvin, Assistant GM David Forst, and 3rd Base Coach Mike Gallego. Given approximately 15 minutes each per guest, the interviews were conducted in the vision of a mock press conference and we were all treated as true members of the media.
Not just overzealous fans.
The highlight of the experience from a personal standpoint, was interacting with Mr. Gallego and having my rather…tenacious two-part question answered in an entertaining and informative manner by the man himself.
I’ll get to that in a moment.
First and foremost, there was a noticeable difference when it came turn for Gallego to grant us an audience. Speaking solely for myself, it was initially intimidating to glance just a few feet away and have both the manager and the assistant GM at your disposal for any question you may have. To their credit and professionalism, both Melvin and Forst answered each and every question with admirable detail and honestly as if they were in front of the BBWAA.
When Mike Gallego entered the room, he immediately made a crack about the humid temperature and lack of air conditioning in the cramped quarters. Internally this put me at ease, and I settled in for a memorable 15 minute interval of pure baseball knowledge.
Within moments, Gallego had us all transfixed by his memories prior to Game 3 of the 1989 World Series. As any experienced baseball fan can remind you, this happened to be the day that the famed Loma Prieta earthquake struck the Bay Area and brought the series and the city to a halt. Gallego was preparing for the game when the big one hit, and initially thought that the thunderous noise reverberating above was the sound of a thousand fans stomping their feet from the seats. When the realization hit that the echoing noise was in fact an earthquake, he reached into his locker for his most prized possession…his glove.
It was at the climax of this recollection, it become abundantly clear to me that this man was a genuine battle-hardened storyteller. A baseball lifer with enough stories and anecdotes to fill a library.
15 minutes would never be enough.
Unable to mentally formulate a worthy question to Melvin or Forst, I knew I couldn’t pass up another opportunity with Gallego. I couldn’t sit idly and watch a called third strike.
So I mustered up all the courage I had and recited my previously prepared question. It went something like this “Mike, any thoughts on your former teammate Walt Weiss being named Rockies Manager…and can you see yourself managing one day?” My voiced cracked like a prepubescent teen at the junior prom.
Gallego smiled and asked “so you’re really asking me two questions?”
I replied back “more or less.”
Gallego than proceeded to provide a candid answer regarding inquiring on his own behalf for the Colorado job via phone at the onset of the offseason. With his past experience coaching for the Rockies, he felt he could be a prime candidate to take over the club. Unfortunately he was notified by Colorado management that he would be not be interviewed for the job. While it wasn’t the answer he was hoping for, he perked up when he learned that his former double play partner Weiss, would indeed be a candidate. When Weiss was named manager, the two old teammates shared a phone call and laughed about his lack of experience. Written plainly on Gallego’s face, was a sense of a joy and pride that one of his closest friends had reached a prominent goal.
The rest of the sit-down was a blur. For me it was similar to that scene in Old School, where Will Ferrell rattles off that long winded but perfectly logical answer during the debate against James Carville, than can’t remember what happened after he wins. I was there, but I wasn’t really there. Too mesmerized by the fact that one of my favorite players from childhood now knew I existed. From what I can gather, there was something about Yoenis Cespedes‘s considerable shortstop abilities and Brandon Moss‘s childlike query about why the A’s are never able to have walk-off wins on the road.
All in all, it was an incredible experience. Many thanks to the Media Relations & Broadcast Coordinator Adam Loberstein and PR Director Bob Rose for putting the event together and inviting Sean and I. For two guys with aspirations to cover baseball, this was a big deal. I’d also like to extend a special thank you to Bob Melvin, David Forst, and especially Mike Gallego for making it a day to truly remember.