Baseball, Wrestling and Seacology
You are probably thinking, what does baseball or wrestling have to do with Seacology? The tale begins a little over one month ago when former development assistant Ellen Kamoe suggested nominating me for the All-Stars Among Us (ASAU) contest. This is a joint promotion by People Magazine and Major League Baseball (MLB). The purpose of ASAU is to find 30 individuals who are helping people and causes around the world, one to represent each Major League Baseball team. The nominations would be culled by the editors of People and representatives from MLB. Three finalists would be selected for each team and there would be a two week period of public voting. I told Ellen I was flattered by the thought but please don't spend more than a few minutes of your time nominating me as I doubt if I would have much of a chance of winning a national contest.
Much to my surprise, out of several thousand nominees throughout the nation I was chosen to be a finalist to represent the Oakland A's. After a few weeks of online voting - 750,000 votes were cast - I was even more surprised to find out that I won and will be representing the Oakland A's at the July 14 All-Star Game in St. Louis. Better yet, President Obama will be throwing out the first pitch there and MLB is tying his appearance to community work and the All-Stars Among Us presentation.
The next thing I know I get a message from the very friendly and very competent Bob Rose, director of media relations for the Oakland Athletics, inviting me to come out to the Coliseum to throw out the first pitch before an A's game. And what a day and night this was. Upon arrival I was interviewed about Seacology by Marty Lurie whose Right Off The Bat radio program is highly regarded throughout baseball. Marty is one of the great baseball raconteurs. I could listen to Marty talk baseball for hours which is why his show is so good. If you're interested, listen to the interview.
Afterward I went down to the dugout where I was interviewed by Robert Baun who does the Extra Innings A's post game radio show. This segment will air after the A's game on July 4. I must admit it was fun hanging out in the dugout and even using the dugout restroom whose door former A's manager Ken Macha kicked in when pitcher Joe Blanton got stuck inside. Bob Rose then presented me with an A's jersey with Seacology and the number one on the back. At least I looked like a real player. Now came the true test. I was led out onto the field to throw the first pitch. I climbed the absurdly high mound. I stared down at my catcher who was Vin Mazzaro, one of the A's hottest pitching prospects. Something is wrong here. The mound is supposed to be only sixty feet six inches away but it appears to be six hundred feet away. Did the groundskeepers measure wrong?
I went into my windup, let the ball go and ... let's just say I have renewed appreciation for any major league pitcher who can throw a strike. My pitch was inside, perhaps a bit low but with the tremendous sinking action who wouldn't have swung at it? Okay so the count is 1-0. I'll get the batter the next time. Perhaps I was just setting the batter up so he would be afraid to crowd the plate on me. Would you be leaning over the plate if you were facing a combination of Rick Ankiel (as a pitcher) and Ryne Duren?
Back in the stands I was seated just a few rows behind the dugout in back of a huge man and his rather small-of-stature companion. I don't know who they are but lots of people are approaching them for their autographs, particularly the big guy. It turns out it is John Cena, five time WWE wrestling champ. His companion is Dylan Postl, a wrestler better known by his ring names - Shortstack, Hornswoggle or Little B**tard. Cena kindly obliges the many fans seeking a photo or an autograph. Can the night get any more unusual?
Perhaps. In between innings I am interviewed on the Colisuem's big screen about the work of Seacology. But the day is still not over. I returned home to find an email waiting for me from the mayor of my home town of Albany, CA. The city council wants to honor me with a proclamation next week. A bizarre ending to a most interesting day. It's off to the All-Star game in a few weeks and I am sure I will have tales to tell when I get back.