The Pecan Park Eagle wishes to express thanks to SABR brother Gilbert D. Martinez of the SABR Rogers Hornsby Chapter in Austin for his public story of the trip that he and a friend, Jan Larson, made to Minute Maid Park on the first Astros home game weekend of the 2017 season. We also want to thank Paul Rogers of the SABR Ernie Banks-Bobby Bragan DFW Chapter for bringing this beautiful little story to our awareness so that we could run it here as a column of a beautiful, but unexpected fan experience at the ballpark – and also, how we often don’t realize who may be sitting next to us at random – especially, when we know we’ve been assigned to seats in the other team’s fan section.
We shall let Gilbert tell the story. He does just fine with it:
Jan (Larson) and I had a chance to watch the Astros take on the Royals on Saturday and Sunday (April 8-9, 2017). We saw good pitching performances by Keuchel and McCullers, but a Gregerson meltdown lost the game for the Astros.
I happened to get free tickets in the Royals section (behind visitor’s dugout) thanks to a colleague at school. My colleague’s son-in-law is director of broadcasting for the Royals, and he left us tickets at the players’ will call window. So I figured we would likely be sitting near Royals fans.
Sure enough, a middle-aged couple in Royals gear sat next to us. “You’re going to spot us four or five runs in the first, right?” the guy says to me. I said no; that we had already given those runs up the night before so it was our turn.
It was the start to some friendly banter during the game.
A few innings in, starting pitcher Nate Karns (new to the Royals, formerly with the Nationals, Rays and Mariners) proceeds to throw eight straight balls to start the fifth inning. This prompts a visit from the pitching coach.
So, I lean over to my new Royals friend and say, “Oh, we don’t want you to take this guy out.”
He responds, “He’s my son.”
I said, “Really??!!!” We had a laugh about it, but then Karns’ mother said that watching him pitch was heart-wrenching.
Anyway, the dad shared some stories with me as the game progressed, such as the time Karns (as a Ray) beat the Phillies 1-0 on his home run. http://m.mlb.com/news/article/137827492/nathan-karns-hits-first-career-home-run/
Karns actually pitched very well, but you wouldn’t know it talking to his mom, who apparently thought he struggled. Here is his line from the game: 5.2 innings, 6 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 2 bb, 3 k; you be the judge. I tried assuring her that he actually pitched well and she clarified that by his standards, he usually pitches better. Spoken like a true mom.
Karns was on track for the win, but a two-run homer by Marwin Gonzalez off Travis Wood tied the game in the seventh, and a game-tying homer by (of all hitters) Jake Marisnick saved the game in the bottom of the ninth. Astros won the game on a walk-off walk of Gattis in the bottom of the 12th.
~ Gilbert Martinez
Editor’s Note: Thanks again, Gilbert – and know this too. Anytime you decide to write another baseball story that you think may be interesting to the farther reaches of our not-so-little-anymore SABR world, please drop a direct copy to us here at The Pecan Park Eagle. We are always looking for good material on our widely shared favorite larger world of baseball and we shall be most happy to boost your story’s circulation at our “love of the game” editorial desk, if it is as timely and well written as this terrific piece.
Just drop me a copy at email@example.com
~ Bill McCurdy, Publisher, Editor, Principle Writer, Chief Bottle Washer
Publisher, Editor, Writer
The Pecan Park Eagle