The Lasting Impression of Perfection: An Epilogue for Dallas Braden
By Sean Davis
Nobody was really surprised to hear about the retirement of Dallas Braden from baseball after not being able to pitch over the last 3 years. His shoulder was completely wrecked, beyond all hope of repair, and Braden had to finally decide that his playing career had come to an end. His retirement last week sent a shockwave, and an outpouring of emotion from fans of the Oakland Athletics, not just for his incredible perfect game on Mother’s Day 2010, but for the pride with which he represented his hometown of Stockton, and the pride with which he donned the green and gold.
March 11, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Dallas Braden (51) protects the bullpen during the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Next to his perfect game, Dallas will be most remembered for his run in with Alex Rodriguez, when the now-disgraced third baseman disrespected Braden by prancing across “his” mound. Braden of course expressed his displeasure. As great as that was, nothing will ever top that magical Sunday afternoon.
Everyone has a story of where they were, and who they were with when Braden recorded the 27th out, and for many those stories are special. It seemed appropriate then for some of us here at Swingin’ A’s to share our stories of how we saw Dallas Braden make history on Mother’s Day.
Sean Davis, Staff Writer
As I typically did on Mother’s Day, I went to visit my Mom’s house for the afternoon. We didn’t have extravagant plans, we simply wished to enjoy a day together. About midway through the afternoon though I started to receive a few news alerts on my cell phone from ESPN. Typically I wouldn’t pay much attention to my phone while I was visiting with my Mom, but for some reason I glanced at it this time. I was shocked to see the news that at that point Braden hadn’t allowed a baserunner through the first six innings. With nine outs to go though, I didn’t start to get nervous.
Then another alert came, he was perfect through seven innings now. I thought to myself, “Wow he’s really putting on a good showing for himself against a quality Tampa Bay Rays team.” It was at this point that I decided that I had to turn on the game to see for myself. I was terrified that my turning the game on would be the sole cause of a ground ball seeing its way through the infield, but just in case it wasn’t, I had to see it.
Braden retired the side in order of course, and it was at that point I had to find some way to let my fiance at the time know what was happening. It turned out she was taking an afternoon nap at the time, and therefore wasn’t responding to any calls or texts. I called her mom, desperate to wake her. I refused to tell her why though, for fear of jinxing the entire thing. I simply told her to wake her up, and make her turn on the game immediately.
A soft line drive to first, a frightening sharp line drive to left, and the grounder to Cliff Pennington to seal Braden’s place in history would soon follow. As my Mom and I sat there, riveted, I couldn’t help but feel the emotion building up inside me. The raw emotion of seeing a member of the Athletics do something amazing like that. I still get chills thinking about that moment, and the fact I was able to share it with my own mother will always be special.
Devin Pangaro, Staff Writer
At approximately 1:00 PM PDT on May 9th, 2010 Dallas Braden was completing the last of his warmup pitches in the Oakland Athletics bullpen before taking the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays. Concurrently around 24 miles west in my overpriced and undersized San Francisco apartment, I was preparing to tune in to catch a few innings on television before heading north to San Rafael, California to celebrate Mother’s Day with my family. Not exactly a direct parallel, but stay with me here.
With half an eye on the game I went about wrapping my mother’s gift, and meticulously writing a heartfelt note of appreciation on a cheesy Hallmark card. With a 3:00 PM Marin rendezvous on the horizon, I knew at 2:15 departure was in my future. Not wanting to be tardy, I began to collect my essentials around 2:00 PM, sharing just the briefest of glances at the line score I was shocked that the game was now approaching the fifth inning, and Braden thus far perfect.
Beginning my Sunday drive north shortly thereafter, I faced an important decision as the game reached it’s late stages with perfection still in tact. Glancing nervously at my cellular phone, I made a call to a friend who lived in the shadow of Golden Gate Park, perfectly in the route of my final destination. Said friend though being an avid Giants fan, allowed me passage into his home to watch the climax of the game, as I called my Mother to let her know I was running a bit behind. When the final out was made on a 3-1 chopper of the bat off Gabe Kapler, speared by Cliff Pennington at shortstop and delivered on a seed to the glove of an awaiting Daric Barton at first, I pumped my fist in the air in triumph. My friend offered a simple golf clap, and we watched the celebration and touching embrace between Braden and his beloved grandmother.
In an era of Oakland Athletics baseball where there was little to celebrate, Dallas Braden had provided a day of reprieve for A’s fans everywhere and for that I am forever grateful.
Andrew Brown, Staff Writer
Dallas Braden retiring was a disappointing yet unsurprising revelation last week. He had too many injuries to fight back from. Braden will be known for many things ranging from his fan-friendly personality to his epic verbal battle with New York Yankees third basemen Alex Rodriguez and the unwritten rules of baseball. Obviously the moment in Braden’s career that will stand out in history forever was his perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday April 22, Mother’s Day, in 2010.
I didn’t get a chance to watch the game that day. The Friday of that weekend a couple of friends and I decided to go to southern California. My friends at the time went to Sacramento State with me though they resided in San Bernardino and Ontario so going back there was a regular occurrence. On the way back to Sacramento I remember losing signal for an hour or so somewhere around Bakersfield. When the reception returned I had a mass load of texts and updates saying Braden had thrown eight perfect innings. I obviously lost my mind. I opened up the MLB At Bat app on my phone and listened to the final inning on the radio. Certainly one of the top moments of my A’s fan hood is celebrating in the front seat of a cramped Honda Civic. Unforgettable. Seeing the images and watching the recording of the game was great. But that moment in the middle of nowhere on I5 I will never forget.
Nick Avila, Staff Writer
May 9, 2010. On this day, one of my favorite teams, boasting players like Kevin Kouzmanoff and Eric Patterson, was perfect in every sense. It all lie on the left arm of Dallas Braden. An arm that was eventually worn down, that forced an early retirement; it’s crazy thinking back to it now, it seems like so long ago. It was just another day at my house, a Sunday afternoon day A’s game positioned me on my couch. I remember watching the game and as everything unfolded, I remember calling my dad in from the grill outside, where he was making my mom a Mother’s Day meal, in the 6th inning, specifically yelling, “something’s happening”, cautiously trying to keep from uttering that word that many, including me find so ghastly in times like this. Ahh, superstition at it’s finest. Every pitch was working: the change-up, the fastball and the curve. It didn’t matter. Braden was the man, and that’s how I’ll remember him and I’ll always appreciate him for bringing some history, and respect, to Oakland.
Everyone has a story of how they saw Dallas Braden achieve perfection. As Devin said, this day gave the Athletics and their fans something to be proud of during a time when there was little to hang our hats on. Braden’s time on HIS mound may have been rather brief, but the impact of his contribution will be felt from the 510 to the 209. We thank Dallas Braden for making being a part of the Athletics something to be proud of once again. Whether he devotes his time and energy to bettering his hometown, or if he goes and does more television work with MLB Network, he’ll always bring the same passion and energy that made him an awesome presence on the mound. We wish Dallas all the best.