May 3, 2012

No-no? Yes!

The “thought” entered my mind in the third inning. I know it was early, but when I looked up and saw the zeros, I thought about the possibility that Jered Weaver could throw a no-hitter.

When the fifth inning rolled around, the game didn’t feel like a typical game and I began to hope.

After six innings, people in my section began to talk in code, not wanting to say the words “no hitter” – but it was clear what was on their minds. I began to contact friends via my cell phone to make sure they were watching Jered throwing a “gem.”  I don't really believe in jinxes and such, but when it comes to baseball, I play along just for the fun and tradition of it.

I began to think about how blessed Cheryl and I were to be in the stadium.

Bo, who is a die-hard Angels fan who goes way back and sits to my left one row in front of me – turned and looked at me. We didn’t say a word to one another, but we were sharing the same thought. I thought about fellow 514 Fanatics John and Linda, who sit to Bo’s left, who don’t miss a lot of games – but took last night off to celebrate their anniversary. I thought about Ann and John, who usually accommodate them to every game.

I thought about my dad and how I wished he was still alive because I wanted to call him.

I thought about a post I had written last year about Jered Weaver that I titled “You should have been there.” It was something I had written after Jered had recorded his sixth win of the season to put him at 6-0. I had written it because a mere 37,115 fans showed up that night.

Whenever Jered takes the mound – it should be must-see theatre. He’s that special and I’ve been thinking and saying that ever since he began his career with the Angels. The 27,288 fans who were lucky enough to be at Angels Stadium last night know what I’m talking about.

I still don’t understand why the stadium isn’t packed every single time Jered takes the mound. I’m not begrudging people who can’t go for whatever reason; but for those who could and choose not to, I don’t get it.

The game rolled on and Weaver continued to make magic.

I watched. I listened to Terry Smith and Mark Langston call the game beautifully on the radio. I focused. I prayed. I kept an eye on his pitch count and I shot glances at the bullpen even though I knew I wouldn’t see anyone warming up.

I was soaking it all in. Sometimes when I’m at a game, it’s all a blur. There are conversations and distractions and things that happen around me that make me miss a play or two and when the night is over, I sometimes feel like I wasn’t even there.

That wasn’t the case last night. Jered was in the zone and so was this fan.

Cheryl was wearing her “We BeWeave” shirt. I had on my 2011 Weaver all-star shirt and a Dirtbag hat. We always wear something with Weaver’s name on it when he takes the mound. It’s our tradition.

When the 8th inning rolled around I was as nervous. Could it be? Is this really happening? I had to make sure some of my buddies were watching and sent them messages again to make sure.

With every inning, the crowd got a little louder and a buzz was definitely in the air.

By the time the 9th inning came along, the crowd was ready to celebrate. Everyone wanted to see it happen. Fans stood on their feet. Fists were clinched and the air was thick with anticipation. Yes, this was really happening. It could happen. Oh yes… please, let it happen.

The crowd reacted to every pitch; cheering loudly when Jered threw a strike and booing when the umpire Mark Carlson called ball on any pitch fans were certain was a strike.

Then it happened. Jered threw his 121st pitch of the night to Alexi Casilla, who hit a line drive to right field. Torii Hunter began to run back towards the wall. I held my breath. A moment of doubt entered, but it didn’t last. After all, that was Torii Hunter running that ball down. When Hunter reached up and hauled the ball in, the stadium went nuts. I went nuts. Cheryl was snapping photos left and right – we both let out a scream. It was madness. It was pandemonium. It was awesome.

That’s what pure unbridled joy feels like. It was fun. It was magical. It was baseball.

Angel Nation’s favorite son had cemented himself in the history books and enhanced his legacy and legend as a player.

The overwhelming consensus among fans everywhere was that it couldn't happen to a more deserving guy. It was cool on so many levels. It was heart-warming to see him embrace his wife and his mom and dad. His dad never misses a home game and the whole family was treated to something that most can only dream about.

How fitting was it that Torii Hunter hauled in the last out? How wonderful that it happened in Anaheim before fans who adore Jered?

Oh boy that was fun.

Cheryl and I go to a lot of games. Yes, we’re fanatical about the Angels. We know that every time we go to the stadium the impossible is possible. Magic can happen on any given night and that’s exactly what happened last night.


  1. Bob in section 514May 03, 2012

    Great post, James. And what a privilege to say that I witnessed that masterpiece in person. I only wish that my son, Stephen would have been able to attend the game with me. A video of Weaver's gem should be required viewing for every young pitcher in the country as he proved that you don't need 95 MPH heat to have a dominating performance vs. major league hitters. Great job, Weav!

  2. This was the single most amazing thing I have ever seen at the ballpark. My husband and I bought tickets on a whim after Monday's game - we try to go to one game a homestand - and I can't tell you how happy I am we did. Weaver is our Ace and Hometown Hero and every sense of the terms!