As the title implies I didn’t get Ichiro’s autograph. Sometimes the best laid plans don’t pay off. Or sometimes life is a comedy of errors.
A few years ago, my friend DeeEss called and said he wanted to go to a weekday game. I agreed and got some awesome tickets at a great price.
I used StubHub and was able to get the seats for list price. One thing to remember about the DFW area -it gets very hot in the summer. Hot enough that the Texas Rangers don’t have afternoon games after June or so. You will fry in your seats.
A week day game chases away a lot of the audience and an afternoon game in the heat scares away even more of the crowd. The guy on StubHub was looking to get a little profit. Selling the tickets at face value allowed him to keep whatever discount the Rangers gave him for being a season ticket holder. If his price was higher he might not have sold the tickets at all.
The seats were 20 or 30 feet up the foul line from 3rd base. The seats were in the ‘Commissioner’s Box’ which actually juts onto the field for 2 rows. We were in the first row of the box.
When my friend called, I wasn’t even aware of who the Rangers were playing. My excitement grew when I discovered it was Seattle. I would love an Ichiro autographed ball. And if I could get it for free, it would be even sweeter.
We planned on getting to the ballpark about 2 hours before the start of the game. I wanted to be there for Seattle’s batting practice. I hoped to get Ichiro’s attention while he warmed up or took the field. Our seats were in the perfect location to see the players warm up and stretch.
DeeEss and I planned on meeting somewhere along the way as we live in different parts of the Metroplex. Then we could car pool the rest of the way in to save on gas and parking.
A long time ago, I took Japanese at Continuing Ed. I felt my brain was turning to mush and thought this would be a nice challenge. I knew at Continuing Ed I could take the class without the pressure of tests. It was inexpensive and it met my needs. I also knew at Continuing Ed I would not be forced to read or write Japanese. I just wanted to be able to speak it. Silly but that was my goal. I didn’t want to be fluent but I did want to know more than “Domo Arigoto Mr Roboto”.
So I dusted off my old text book and tried to piece together the phrase, “Good morning, Ichiro. Please could you sign ball. Thank you very much.” Nothing too complicated but I’m sure it would catch his attention. If I got his attention my odds go up of him coming over and signing.
In the past, I’ve had success with this approach with my survival Spanish.
I was nervous about my Japanese. I have a Jersey accent that has been mixed with a Texas accent and I do tend to slur my words on occasion. I even wrote down what I wanted to say and kept it with the balls I was bringing to the park.
I practiced for a good 30 minutes trying to memorize the phrase. I tried to deliver it without sounding like I was reading it. I wanted to sound like I had a clue of what I was saying and with sincerity. Even after my practice, I knew I needed my slip of paper.
The day of the game arrived and I was ready to meet DeeEss. I had my backpack, the balls and a couple of pens, and my translation. I was ready.
I drove to the rendezvous point. I waited. And waited some more. I called and left a message. I waited. DeeEss was stuck in a meeting. After the meeting he called and said he was on his way. Okay, we’ll get to the ball park a little later than I wanted but it still should be good.
After a longer wait than I expected, I called again. He asked where I was. Where I was!?! No, the question was, where was he? So we confirmed where we wanted to meet. We both agreed on that. He said he was there. And I said I was there.
Ruh Ro, Shaggy! I had messed up. I sat parked at the wrong location. ME, who had gotten the great seats. ME, who had practiced his Japanese. ME, who was packed and was ready to go the night before…I was the one at the wrong location. I hate when I do that.
Another delay. Needless to say, we didn’t get to the game as early as hoped. We got to our seats just as batting practice was ending. I was bummed.
We had a good game in front of us. The Rangers won in the 9th with a walk off hit. The crowd roared to life as the Seattle players left the field. Even though Ichiro was only 50 feet from me, he couldn’t hear me shouting my rehearsed Japanese over the applause. Heck, I couldn’t hear myself.
So a swing and miss but a good game and some quality time with an old friend.