I was gonna take the time to put together a heartwarming video featuring all the fans that were at Dallas Braden's perfect game ten years ago saying, "Happy anniversary, Dallas!" but it was in Oakland. A blog will have to do.
Ten years ago, a kid from Stockton, California, the third least literate city in the country, took the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays in Oakland. By now, you know how this day of work went, probably because Dallas himself told you. Twenty-seven up, and 27 down. The 19th perfect game in major league history. Finally, Dallas Braden's name would be in the same sentence as Randy Johnson, Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, Roy Halladay, and Felix Hernandez amogst others.
This day, of course, was about more than just the perfect game. Dallas completed his historic day of work on Mother's Day, having lost his mother during his senior year. His grandmother, who is an absolute SAINT, was in the stands that day and stole the show, embracing Dallas after the final out had been recorded. His grandmother is honestly one of the most loving, caring, and wholesome people that this world has ever seen.
For as much shit as I give Dallas, he actually is incredibly humble about this day. Like, deep, deep down. You have to really reach for it. I've been with him when fans have approached him for his signature. One time that I can recall, a fan was collecting signatures of every perfect game-thrower on the same baseball and Dallas refused to sign his name next to Don Larsen. Didn't feel like he belonged on the same piece of material.
There's also the tradition amongst perfect game-throwers where there's a chain of phone calls made. When Dallas threw his, he received a congratulatory phone call from Mark Buehrle, who had thrown the perfect game previous to his. Who was next in line after Dallas just a few weeks later? None other than Roy Halladay. Dallas said something to the effect of, "Why would he ever want to receive a call from me?" to which I disagreed. I think he regrets not making that phone call. When referencing the legends who have thrown perfect games, Dallas always places a "Mr." before their last name. It's always Mr. Larsen, Mr. Koufax, etc. You'd be hard pressed to find someone who not only loves the game of baseball as much as Dallas, but respects it and its history the very same.
Being that I get to do a podcast with Dallas, sometimes I do forget that he holds a special place in major league history. I'm often reminded of that whenever we interview players in person and the subject comes up. You can see the players' eyes widen when talking about it, specifically pitchers. To add to the Dallas being humble about it aspect, he's never watched it back. I've tried to get him to watch it back with me for content, because I think it would be fascinating to get inside of his fucked up brain on what was the most defining day of his life, although I'm sure he would tell you that it's either his wedding day or the birth of his children.
Speaking of which, this fuckin' guy was on the Spikes Up tour with me down in Florida a year ago when his wife was ready to pop any second. I remember arriving to Fort Myers at 3 in the morning, having to get up at 6am to interview Nelson Cruz. When I woke up, I had a text from Dallas that he had gotten on the next available flight because his second daughter was about to arrive. He stayed until the last possible second to bring baseball content to Starting 9 listeners, and I was blown away by that. If my fictional wife was pregnant, I don't think I'd have the balls to go on the trip at all, never mind hang in until she was in the red zone. That's the type of work ethic that rubs off on you. He's a diehard family man who provides and protects them like I've never seen before, but he is the most dedicated person to his job.
The question that I get about Dallas all the time is, "Is he always like that?" The answer is quite simply, yes. He's a ball of energy that just never stops. And you know what? I need that, as I'm not exactly the same person on camera as I am off. When we're on these tours, it's a lot of late nights, early mornings, hours of travel every day, different hotels every night, energy needing to be up with 5-7 interviews a day, and Dallas has the same energy after six coffees at noon that he would have at 6am after getting three hours of sleep. From busting my balls every podcast to being the number one hype man throughout the entire 2018 postseason run. I feed off that big time.
That's enough ball-washing for one blog. I'm very fortunate to be his co-host, and to have the opportunity to learn from someone who actually has dirt on his spikes. I'd never tell him to his face, but he's helped mold me into being someone who knows the ins and outs of the game better than I ever did before, challenged me to have an even stronger work ethic, provided an excellent example of what's important in life, and has been a living example of what the dangers are of not getting ahead of hair loss in your mid-30's.
So, happy anniversary, Dallas. You absolute baseball-loving lunatic.