“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou
Last night I was in Madison for a Mallards game, I got to throw out one of the “Ceremonial First Pitches”. There was nine or ten of us, three adults and the rest were children. I felt goofy doing this with the children and in a way felt kind of demeaned. There I said it, the Mallards offered and I accepted to throw out the first pitch. I enjoyed watching the kids doing it, some were excited and some didn’t understand why they were doing it. The other two adults were a little nervous but also felt a little goofy. I have thrown out one other “Ceremonial First Pitch” which was at a Montgomery Biscuits game, I enjoyed the entire experience in Montgomery, but not in Madison.
Maya Angelou said, “…people never forget how you made them feel”. In Montgomery, Ross Winkler made me feel like a “Rock Star”. He took an interest in my story giving me a tour of the entire baseball complex. He called me and texted me back after he reached out to me. I never worried if I was suppose to be there or not.
I need to point out that my friend Roger Wilson reaches out to the media outlets and baseball teams that are on my schedule. He has done a terrific job in my behalf. I would not be getting any media exposure if it wasn’t for him. I want to make sure everyone is aware that it is “Baseball Buddha” that is initiating the first contact. Some teams respond and some don’t, I understand that they can’t accommodate every fans desire. I don’t ask if I can throw out the first pitch, my goal, to be honest, is to get a free ticket and get exposure if I am going to finish this trip, I still need to raise some money.
After Roger sent out the email (typical a week before), someone from the Mallards reached out by email and asked if I would be interested in throwing out the first pitch. I responded that I would love to throw out the first pitch and asked what time I should be at the game. I heard nothing back from email, I called and left a message, still nothing. I asked Roger to email them, thinking my email was being “spam” blocked, he didn’t get a response.
Yesterday was the day of the game. It was too late to find another game so I went, on my way over I called again, someone answered I asked for the person who emailed. I told the person who answered who I was, he put me on hold to get the other person. That person told the person who answered to tell me that “if it is regarding throwing out the first pitch, to just come”. I asked about getting into the game and I was told, “just come to the ticket window any one of us can get you a ticket.” I was invited but made to feel like I was an inconvenience. I didn’t like how it all went down, they did have information on me. I was told to show up on the third base area before the second game. When I showed up I saw all these kids and asked what was happening, nobody could tell me. I checked in with one of the interns and was put in line. We walked out, in a line like we were in kindergarten and when our name was called we threw our ball.
Now, I understand that I could have decided not to do it, but part of this journey is to experience the entire fan experience. So as I was standing in line feeling quite goofy, I just told myself to do it, don’t be so self absorbed, etc. I asked the other gentleman, who was representing an airline, about doing this. He kind of chuckled at it all, he told me he was a little nervous. Maybe it was just me, but I wasn’t feeling very good about the whole experience.
“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.” Maya Angelou
I bring all of this up because I have experienced awesome hospitality and jaw dropping “what did you say” hospitality. On April 9th, I went to a Reno Aces game, I was “wowed” by the hospitality. Almost two months later I still talk about that experience. They made me feel great, they made me feel that I was special. I didn’t throw out a first pitch, I paid for my own ticket; but, from the moment I stepped up to the ticket window I was treated with a smile and “enjoy the game”. I walked into the stadium and a beer vendor smiled welcoming me to the game. He, also, had a few practice balls he was giving to kids. Everywhere I went in the stadium I was treated this way. It made a huge impression.
I was recently at a Cincinnati Reds game. I was in their team store before the game that was located in front of the stadium. I was talking to one of the people working the store, he proceeded to tell me that he didn’t even like baseball, that it was a “dumb” game and he liked football. I was shocked. I asked, “Then why are you working for the Reds?” He stated, “it was good money.” I didn’t feel like spending any money with the Reds. I know that others might have taken it differently, but it was how he made me feel, baseball was a “dumb” game and thus I was “dumb” to be attending.
“When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.” Maya Angelou (my favorite one)
To finish on a positive note, I need to say something about the usher that was in my Charlotte interview, that guy was wonderful. He seemed to know, or recognize, everyone. He spoke with you instead of at you. He had his opinions and he wanted to hear yours. I loved watching as some of the fans from previous years came over to say hi to him, he made everyone feel special. I am sure Charlotte is glad they have him. I have experienced a lot going to all these venues and I am not even half way through this journey. Even though, I am sure I will experience much more.
“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” Needed to get a baseball related quote in! R.I.P. Maya Angelou, thank you for being who you were!
Quick note, yesterday was the first time I was unable to get something posted, I didn’t have reception at my brother’s home when I got there after the game and it was past 11 pm. Thanks for reading and supporting me.
If you enjoy this story and you would like to help me complete the “Baseball in America Tour 2014”, which is roughly 265 days, please click on the following link to see how you can help at www.baseballbuddha.com. Follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page! Please share this on your Facebook page and Twitter. I appreciate all the help I can get!