Typically bachelor parties are known for their 'what happens at the party, stays at the party' antics. However, when we held a party for my younger brother a week and a half ago, several moments were decent enough to be made public, and even some were broadcast on live tv. As one Percell Fantasy Baseball League owner put it, "It's not every bachelor party where they televise the end."
Perhaps it was just a fitting end to a perfect night. A Rockies winner and the post game show fades to black on a clip of JT waving a poster that reads "Getting Married, Game Over". It's hard to show Tracy Ringolsby up when it comes to cowboy hats, but I think JT did it.
Rewind to the start of the party, the night really got going as the gates of Coors Field opened two hours before the game and stadium attendants admitted members of JT's bachelor party as the first entrants to the park. Immediately the crew spread out across the left field pavilion to watch batting practice and eagerly await any baseballs that might come soaring over the fence.
I myself am familiar with the art of netting a few souvenirs on such occasion as batting practice. In order to snag a ball off a bat in B.P. you have to find yourself in just the right place at the right time. However, yours odds of grabbing a ball are much more increased if you can strike a cord with a player who has one handy. If you spend much time around the ball park, you'll hear kids begging for balls in no time flat. Whining as such typically isn't well rewarded. However, if you call a player by their first name, they're much more receptive. Typically they tune out all the 'hey you!' and 'yo mister!' screams. Also, if you can throw in something else that let's them know that you know who they are, you're even more likely to be on the receiving end of a take-home treasure.
I positioned myself in straight away centerfield and was wearing an oversized orange foam cowboy hat, awaiting to gift it to JT when he arrived. While I knew that I was less likely to field a batted ball here, I was much more likely to get a ball from a player I knew. I had my eye on Eric Young Jr. who was taking some practice fielding fly balls in the vicinity, as we go way back. Ok, so I follow him on twitter, but it's still a connection.
As I was waiting and watching, I spotted Ubaldo Jimenez shagging flys. When a ball carried him closer to the fence, I hollered 'Hey Ubaldo, Crush the Beans Baby!". Recognizing that a true fan was standing behind him, he turned to toss the ball. Though being a bit caught off guard by the giant orange foam cowboy hat on my head, he did a double take and drifted the ball slightly over my head into no mans land. As I awkwardly climbed over the rows of bleachers, another fan cutting across the bleachers beat me to it. A missed opportunity, but I thanked Ubaldo none the less and encouraged him to keep crushing the beans.
Just as the Rockies were ending their hitting session EY Jr found himself up against the centerfield wall. As several of us hollered EY's nickname, he obliged and toss the ball right to me. Success, and a near pearl even - a rarity for a B.P. ball. Shortly thereafter JT showed and I was able to shed the ridiculous hat. We also gave him a shirt and some rather clever signs to hold up.
I then moved to left field to take in some of the Dodgers BP and found myself behind Tony Gwynn Jr., an out-of-town favorite amongst Rockies fans who recall his part in the magic that led the Rockies to the 2007 postseason. Tony was fielding balls from a coach wielding a fungo bat. I patiently waited and watched as he practiced, until a stray ball from the hitter taking cuts in the cage would find his glove. Then I called out to him "Hey Tony! Love ya baby!". Not begging and pleading after each ball as though it were the last one coming, I tried to build rapport with Tony to where eventually he would feel obligated to divy out a collectors item.
As he continued to practice, more and more joined in in calling for a ball from Tony. Eventually the time came that he felt the need to acknowledge the fans. He scanned back and forth through the crowd as though he were looking for someone in particular, and then he tossed the ball right to me. Perhaps he mistook my dark blue and red Troy Tulowitzki All-Star Jersey for a Dodgers jersey, or perhaps he recognized that I was the first to chat him up. Regardless, I was +2 in the ball category.
Jay and I decided that we ought to go chase autographs, seeking Dodgers coach Don Mattingly in particular, Jay, Regan, and I moved around behind the Dodgers dugout. As we waited for the skipper, we stood chatting and soaking up what is perhaps the purest form of baseball - batting practice. Sure maybe it's work for some, maybe some players are in the cage trying to tune their swing at times, and some might be trying to get a leg up by getting a few extra reps in the field, but really this is when true ballplayers are out having fun - just playing. In fact Don Mattingly was out fielding baseballs himself.
As we stood there, I noticed a sharp dressed man poke his head out of the dugout and quickly scan the crowd. I said aloud to Jay, "Is that Steve Lyons?" And rather than address me, he just bellowed, "Yo Psycho!". Steve had had a stupid smirk on his face to begin with, but he added a bit of surprise to his demeanor at the fact that someone had recognized him, and perhaps knew a bit about who he really was. At first he gave us a solid thumbs up, but then his smirk turned into a devilish grin, and as it he did, he began to itch the ridge of his nose until he had bent back all but the middle most of his fingers. And then he smirked again and ducked back into the dugout before we could respond with our hoots and hollers. A true class act - giving us exactly what we wanted, or perhaps deserved. Later on we moved around the side of the dugout, and just before he went on air for his pregame show he came over and signed the ball Tony had given to me, smirking all the while.
After hope was lost on getting a signature from Mattingly, we made our way around to the Rockies side of the field, hoping to get a few posters signed that we had made for JT to hold. Eventually JT joined us. Bachelor parties have a bad rap for including risque entertainment by ladies. To take the place of that sort of thing, we got ROOT Sports' sideline reporter Alanna Rizzo to sign JT's giant hat.
We collected a few more signatures, including getting Dinger to give his sign of approval on the union. JT also acquired a souvenir ball for himself from Ty 'Wiggles' Wigginton when he smothered it with his hand-me-down first baseman's mitt after the ball was batted to the ground, a la an NHL hockey goaltender.
Appropriately, a bag pipe led the presentation of the colors before the National Anthem.
And then we all took our seats and enjoyed the game. Surely the bride didn't make an appearance - or did she?
The key part to any successful bachelor party is of course, a happy bachelor.
Kudos to Bo Knows team owner, Regan Slater, for organizing the event, thanks to Pioneer Skies team owner, John Percell, on being a good sport, many congratulations to the happy couple, and here's to hoping that being a newlywed detracts from any extra attention JT might otherwise give to managing his PFBL team.
A few additional highlights:
Me on the post game show holding up my "The Chosen Juan" sign for that night's starting pitcher, Juan Nicasio.
Seven of ten Percell Fanatasy Baseball owners made it to the wedding: (left to right) Colorado Tumbleweed owner Jeff Percell, Normal Baseball Inc owner Jay Percell, Bo Knows owner Regan Slater, KC Comebacks owner Matt Percell (Little Big Matt), Pioneer Skies owner John "JT" Percell, Left Outs owner Jerry Percell, and One Bad Pitch owner Matt McAlexander.