Me and Jon Wilhite
No, it was not based on what happened during the game. In fact, at one point in the game I stood up and threw my hat (yes, it was an A's hat) on the ground in disgust. Probably around the same time every other A's fan on the planet did...you know, when Powell dropped Holliday's perfect throw to the plate?
But I digress...
Arriving two hours before game time, I worked my way down to the dugout area. Earlier in the day, much maligned owner of the A's Lew Wolffe flew the entire Wilhite family down to Oakland on his private jet. Class act Mr. Wolffe. You are hereforthwtih absolved of your sin of Fremont as far as I am concerned. From my vantage point, I could see the whole Wilhite clan!
Mr. and Mrs. Wilhite were roaming the dugout area, his brothers, including Mike (who said hello to AN and Nico), were taking in the festivities. There were a throng of reporters around Kurt and Jon in the dugout.
I have to say that only four months out from suffering life threatening injuries, Jon looked and moved amazingly well! He had small scars on his forehead from the halo that supported his head during his recuperation, and a telling scar that ran from halfway up is skull and down this neck. The fact he was not only walking around, but talking, laughing and ultimately able to throw the first pitch was nothing short of miraculous.
Mr. Wilhite came over to the side of the dugout and I was able to converse with him. After talking about Jon for a moment, I told him I was part of the Athletics Nation and proudly had donated to Jon's recovery. Mr. Wilhite was very, very appreciative for all we had done for his son. I asked if later he would bring Jon over.
After a bit, Mr. and Mrs. Wilhite came over, with Jon and Kurt in tow. I was fortunate enough to talk to Jon and Kurt. I now have a very personal and special memento, a ball signed by Kurt and Jon, with their signatures next to each other. Here are several photos of me talking to the guys. It was truly an inspirational day.
Having lived in Hawaii and being an active surfer, meeting Kurt's wife, and being a fan of great people off the field (like Hannahan, Ziggy) Kurt Suzuki has become my favorite player these past couple of years. I appreciate his grit on the field, and his class off the field. To get his autograph has been a two year pursuit, and to get it next to Jon's (as pictured) was a very special occasion for me.
That being said, I would like to make this ball available for auction, right here on AN, 100% of what the highest bid is I will send to Nico to send on the behalf of AN for the Jon Wilhite Recovery Fund.
Besides Wilhite and Suzuki on this ball, there are a few other notable unique things about this ball...
1. I caught it in batting practice at the new Yankees Stadium at the game vs. the A's
2. On the ball are autographs from: Santiago Casilla, Dallas Braden, Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow, Michael Wuertz, Edgar Gonzalez, Scott Hairston, Trevor Cahill, and Dan Giese. Oh, and Phil Coke of the Yankees...don't ask.
Everyone on AN knows I love to collect autographs, and if you don't, suffice to say this is a very important and special ball to me, but with the generosity of Lew today, Kurt's wife who worked tirelessly hawking autographed balls for Jon's recovery fund, I feel particularly moved to do this.
So, please recommend this post so it stays up. Enter your bids on the ball here, and let's let this auction run for 5 days. Sound good? The ball comes in a nice protective ball cube and I will ship it, my expense, wherever it needs to go, or hand deliver here in the bay. Let the bidding begin!
Jon and Kurt talking to me!
Me talking to Jon
That is a serious scar!
It was not the easiest thing for Jon to sign an autograph
Thank you to my awesome girlfriend, Marilyn, for snapping some great shots! And also coming up with the great nickname for MyHair Isatourist of the Los Alamitos Angels of Santa Ana.