As I wrote our Happy Birthday post the other day, I realized that I didn’t have any Story Time posts last year with the exception of the All-Star Game posts. Then at work today I was swapping stories with a coworker about our respective trips to Lambeau Field in Wisconsin. I’ve never written this one down so I hope it’s as good as I think it is. It’s about the time I met Barry Sanders after the Season Opener between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions
Since there was nothing going on last night and the Dodgers and Phillies don’t play until later tonight, there’s not a whole lot to talk about. Except Pacman Jones, but he’s an idiot, so I don’t want to talk about him. How hard is it to not get arrested?
Anyway, this went over well last time, so I figured I would throw another one of these up here. This was probably my greatest and most random brush with fame ever. It happened on Father’s Day weekend in Cincinnati in 2005. I was home from my freshman year up at Mizzou and I gave my Dad a trip to the Great American Ballpark to see the Reds-Braves series. Nevermind that he drove and paid for gas and food and a hotel room, but I came up with the idea, so that counts.
Right before the trip, I came to find out that my Dad had graduated from Grad School at Ohio University with the Reds General Manager at the time, Dan O’Brien. During the Sunday game, he invited us up to a suite to watch the game, which we accepted. I think he was surprised when he saw me draped in Braves gear. I think he was expecting a Reds fan. Anyway, the suite we sat in was directly next to the Braves’ TBS broadcast team of Don Sutton and Pete Van Wieren. I took a few pictures and continued to watch the game.
In about the 6th inning, I noticed a little activity in the Braves booth. In walks the greatest hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky. I think I sat speechless for a couple minutes, before pointing out the Great One to my mother.
He was there to promote a prostate cancer foundation. I took more pictures. At this point, Mr. O’Brien had to leave when someone pulled a hamstring running to first and he had to check on the extent of the injury.
It was almost a forgone conclusion when Ken Griffey Jr. hit a three run homer to put the Red on top 11-8. They would hold on for the victory. This is when things got weird.
After the game, I stepped out into the hallway in search of a bathroom. I found one and entered, thinking everything was normal. It’s a small restroom, since it’s only for the suite level, so there are only three urinals. Two of them on either side are taken. By Don Sutton and Wayne Gretzky.
At this point, I wasn’t sure what to do. It’s a universal man-rule that you don’t speak to another man in a the bathroom unless you already know one another. I did not know either Don Sutton or Wayne Gretzky. I stepped up between them. I couldn’t look at them, obviously, that would be another egregious man-rule violation. I was nervous. I didn’t want to do anything embarrassing, I was in the presence of a 300 game winner in baseball and the most dominant athlete is his sport of all time.
Mr. Sutton finished his business and exited. Mr. Gretzky finished and went to wash his hands. I did the same. This was my chance.
I was looking at Gretzky in the reflection in the mirror and I said, “Mr. Gretzky, nice to meet you.”
This was dumb. We hadn’t met, up until this point, I’m not sure he realized I was there. He probably still didn’t realize I was there. He replied with something like, “Oh, uh, yeah hey, nice to meet you too.”
This would be the normal part where two people having just met for the first time would shake hands. I was currently washing mine and he was drying his, so there was just an awkward pause. I began to realize that I was an idiot. He had already realized that I was an idiot. He left.
I looked at myself in the mirror, not quite sure what had just transpired. Surely it hadn’t happened. It had. I wasn’t real sure what to do, so I just stood. Eventually, when someone else entered the bathroom, I snapped back to my senses and left. Neither Gretzky or Sutton were anywhere to be found. I can only assume that was a good thing.
So that’s my Wayne Gretzky bathroom story and now it has been immortalized on the internet for all to read. If you have any funny/embarrassing brushes with fame, feel free to share in the comments. Maybe next time, I’ll relay the time I talked with Jose Molina and Ervin Santana during my time as an intern in Seattle. I know you’ll all be anxious for that.
Today wasn’t exactly a marquee day in sports. (I know, pennant races, but they’ll be there tomorrow too.) So instead of talking about tonight’s Louisville-K State clash, I’m going to relay a personal story from my time in Australia. Plus, it’s my birthday and I like this story even better than the kiss-cam story.
In the Summer of 2006, my parents and I got to take a trip to Australia for about 10 days. We got to go to Melbourne, Sydney, and Cairns, which I would highly recommend to anyone.
When we first got to Melbourne, we went to our hotel, which was a short walk from the Melbourne Cricket Ground. During check-in, the guy at the front desk told us our reservation had been lost due to “the big match on Thursday.” I wasn’t aware of any “big match on Thursday” so I asked him.
“The football match, at the MCG, Australia-Greece,” he said. At the time, Greece were the current European Champions, making this quite a tantalizing matchup.
I wondered aloud how hard it would be to get tickets and the front desk attendee said, “No chance, mate. Match has been sold out for three months.” (more…)