Seemingly every time the Athletics played the Tampa Bay (formerly Devil) Rays over the years, an inordinately large contingent of fans from the 707 would flock to the Coliseum with great pride and excitement to see the games. A few times yours truly was part of that contingent. Well if you haven’t figured it out already, we were there to celebrate Jonny Gomes Day. Hailing from the town of Petaluma (like myself), Jonny Gomes grew up playing baseball for the Casa Grande Gauchos (my alma mater), and for the Santa Rosa Junior College Bear Cubs as well. As I attended Casa Grande, we all knew that Jonny Gomes was a big deal for his baseball skills, and we all followed his journey as he moved on from Casa Grande and was drafted by Tampa Bay.
Our school was not a big school by any stretch of the imagination, my graduating class was probably about 300 students, so someone from within our ranks getting drafted by a Major League team was a big deal, a really big deal. I never knew Jonny, but I know people who played with him, who are friends with him etc… But I still took pride in knowing that someone who walked the same campus I did was moving through the minor leagues.
So you can imagine the excitement everyone felt when he finally made it to the Show. His mammoth power was on display, crushing 474 foot home runs over the Batter’s Eye Restaurant at Tropicana Field, or being the first Devil Ray to hit 3 home runs in a game just to name a couple early accomplishments. Gomes looked as if he was on track to become one of the games most promising power hitters. While it didn’t quite turn out that way, his fire and passion, and the continuing ability to rock the baseball have kept him in the Bigs.
Fast forward to this past offseason when talk began to circulate that he was possibly coming to the A’s, to say the least I was very excited about this. I automatically assumed he was probably a Giants fan growing up, because that just seems to be the way it is around here, but I figured he’d be at least somewhat excited that he was coming to Oakland and playing near his home. Then Susan Slusser wrote that he grew up an A’s fan, and that the 1989 World Series Championship solidified to him that baseball was his destiny. Right then and there, I was sold. This was the highlight of my offseason, after the A’s shipped off almost all their valuable parts, and left many of us A’s fans searching for a reason to get excited, I had my reason. Now every time we hear Glen, Ray, Ken or Vince refer to Jonny Gomes as the “pride of Petaluma” as he walks up to the plate, you all can realize that their words ring true, we are proud of Jonny. He’s our boy (unless you’re a Petaluma Trojan), and we will make sure that he knows it in 2012.
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