If you happen to be my boss and you are reading this I want you to know that I actually was sick Thursday. I did not skip work to go to Minute Maid Park for the third game of the Orioles-Astros series. Stop reading now, thanks.
OK, with that out of the way, I'll let everyone else know that I got to Minute Maid Thursday about when the gates opened. I can't recall being that early to a game before. I got there with the hopes of connecting with one of my very favorite Orioles, Dennis Martinez. He is the bullpen coach for the Astros this season. I went to the first two games of the Orioles-Astros series with my wife and I couldn't ask her to get to the game that early. I figured I was lucky that she went at all.
When I got into the park on Thursday I watched a couple of Orioles playing long toss and made my way out to the Astros' bullpen area in rightfield. I figured that Denny would make his way out there at some point and sure enough, about 45 minutes before game time a lone uniformed figure appeared in the home dugout and began walking out towards me.
It was indeed Martinez and he he came my way and told me to hang on as he dropped off his gear. He signed my card as I requested and we talked for a couple of minutes about Houston, my 'Angry Bird' cap (he asked me where I got it) and his second major league appearance, a game late in 1976 that I saw in person at Yankee Stadium. He pitched 6 or so innings in long relief and gave way to Tippy Martinez in extra innings. The O's eventually won.
I'm not much of an autograph collector but I was pretty stoked to get a chance to get a card signed by a favorite player from back in the Orioles heyday and even better, getting to kibbitz a bit with him. He's always been gracious in the times I've seen him at the park and he hasn't changed it appears.
The day was made even better with an solid 3-1 win for the Orioles as J.J. Hardy picked up four hits and four O's pitchers combined to hold the 'Stros in check. Quite a change from the night before when Freddy Garcia and Steve Johnson threw a batting practice session and the Astros hit six dingers.
Oh, here's my cap.