Nobody was really surprised to hear about the retirement of Dallas Braden from baseball after not being able to pitch over the last 3 years. His shoulder was completely wrecked, beyond all hope of repair, and Braden had to finally decide that his playing career had come to an end. His retirement last week sent a shockwave, and an outpouring of emotion from fans of the Oakland Athletics, not just for his incredible perfect game on Mother’s Day 2010, but for the pride with which he represented his hometown of Stockton, and the pride with which he donned the green and gold.
Next to his perfect game, Dallas will be most remembered for his run in with Alex Rodriguez, when the now-disgraced third baseman disrespected Braden by prancing across “his” mound. Braden of course expressed his displeasure. As great as that was, nothing will ever top that magical Sunday afternoon.
Everyone has a story of where they were, and who they were with when Braden recorded the 27th out, and for many those stories are special. It seemed appropriate then for some of us here at Swingin’ A’s to share our stories of how we saw Dallas Braden make history on Mother’s Day.
Sean Davis, Staff Writer
As I typically did on Mother’s Day, I went to visit my Mom’s house for the afternoon. We didn’t have extravagant plans, we simply wished to enjoy a day together. About midway through the afternoon though I started to receive a few news alerts on my cell phone from ESPN. Typically I wouldn’t pay much attention to my phone while I was visiting with my Mom, but for some reason I glanced at it this time. I was shocked to see the news that at that point Braden hadn’t allowed a baserunner through the first six innings. With nine outs to go though, I didn’t start to get nervous.
Then another alert came, he was perfect through seven innings now. I thought to myself, “Wow he’s really putting on a good showing for himself against a quality Tampa Bay Rays team.” It was at this point that I decided that I had to turn on the game to see for myself. I was terrified that my turning the game on would be the sole cause of a ground ball seeing its way through the infield, but just in case it wasn’t, I had to see it.
Braden retired the side in order of course, and it was at that point I had to find some way to let my fiance at the time know what was happening. It turned out she was taking an afternoon nap at the time, and therefore wasn’t responding to any calls or texts. I called her mom, desperate to wake her. I refused to tell her why though, for fear of jinxing the entire thing. I simply told her to wake her up, and make her turn on the game immediately.
A soft line drive to first, a frightening sharp line drive to left, and the grounder to Cliff Pennington to seal Braden’s place in history would soon follow. As my Mom and I sat there, riveted, I couldn’t help but feel the emotion building up inside me. The raw emotion of seeing a member of the Athletics do something amazing like that. I still get chills thinking about that moment, and the fact I was able to share it with my own mother will always be special.
Devin Pangaro, Staff Writer
At approximately 1:00 PM PDT on May 9th, 2010 Dallas Braden was completing the last of his warmup pitches in the Oakland Athletics bullpen before taking the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays. Concurrently around 24 miles west in my overpriced and undersized San Francisco apartment, I was preparing to tune in to catch a few innings on television before heading north to San Rafael, California to celebrate Mother’s Day with my family. Not exactly a direct parallel, but stay with me here.
With half an eye on the game I went about wrapping my mother’s gift, and meticulously writing a heartfelt note of appreciation on a cheesy Hallmark card. With a 3:00 PM Marin rendezvous on the horizon, I knew at 2:15 departure was in my future. Not wanting to be tardy, I began to collect my essentials around 2:00 PM, sharing just the briefest of glances at the line score I was shocked that the game was now approaching the fifth inning, and Braden thus far perfect.
Beginning my Sunday drive north shortly thereafter, I faced an important decision as the game reached it’s late stages with perfection still in tact. Glancing nervously at my cellular phone, I made a call to a friend who lived in the shadow of Golden Gate Park, perfectly in the route of my final destination. Said friend though being an avid Giants fan, allowed me passage into his home to watch the climax of the game, as I called my Mother to let her know I was running a bit behind. When the final out was made on a 3-1 chopper of the bat off Gabe Kapler, speared by Cliff Pennington at shortstop and delivered on a seed to the glove of an awaiting Daric Barton at first, I pumped my fist in the air in triumph. My friend offered a simple golf clap, and we watched the celebration and touching embrace between Braden and his beloved grandmother.
In an era of Oakland Athletics baseball where there was little to celebrate, Dallas Braden had provided a day of reprieve for A’s fans everywhere and for that I am forever grateful.
Andrew Brown, Staff Writer