Royalty Tours USA

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Royalty catches up with Gio Gonzalez at Citi Field in September!

After I saw my first football game of the new season on Sunday September 8th, I returned to Citi Field for baseball during the week of 9/9 as the Mets played the Washington Nationals then they hosted the Miami Marlins.

Gio Gonzalez warming up in bullpen on 9/9
As a result, I got to see my boy Gio Gonzalez of the Nationals not once, not twice but on three different occasions. Monday night after work I stopped off at Taste of Dolly's for some pizza on my way to the game. When I got to Citi Field I saw my pal Sam Citron who greeted me upon arrival at the Rotunda entrance. I proceeded to go up to the field level then I went out to the bullpen area so I could see Gio warm up since he was pitching that night. I saw him working out in the outfield. He was wearing his head phones & listening to music which is part of his pre game pitching routine. In the meantime, I was charging my phone while I kept my eyes on Gio as he was doing stretching exercises. Once I saw him start walking towards the bullpen, I took out my charger & I went down to get his attention before he started throwing off the bullpen mound. When he came in, I yelled out to him. He looked up & said how are you? I told him, I'm great. I didn't want to distract him since he was zoning in on the task on hand. When he was throwing off the bullpen mound & I blurted out to him to throw strikes. When he got done warming up, I yelled out again before he left the bullpen to head back to the dugout. I said go get 'em Gio.

I proceeded to go upstairs behind home plate in section 515 where the rest of the royal court who were on hand were sitting. Among them we had a special guest as Bob Kelly made another appearance after he came to visit the King & I twice in August. It was a pleasant surprise to see him again. He's a Met fan even though he lives in Virginia Beach. He said he goes to some Nationals games. I told him I enjoy going there when I can fit it into my busy schedule. We also had Alan Gimpel, Michael Abrams, Frank Anichiarico, Martin Caamano & Charlie O'Reilly there with us as well.

As for the game we saw, Gio was my main focal point. He was given a two run lead before he even threw a pitch thanks to Denard Span who hit a home run to lead off the game which was followed by a home run by Ryan Zimmerman. Gio gave up a walk to Daniel Murphy after he got the first out as Eric Young Jr. led off popping up to second base. Gio put it in cruise control as he retired the next 17 Mets. In the bottom of the seventh inning, Zach Lutz pinch hit to lead off. He hit a soft bloop that landed barely on the chalk on the foul line behind first base & short right field. It wound up being the only hit Gio gave up as he dominated the Mets, 9-0. His teammates hit five home runs to back his golden left arm. He wound up walking Lutz who stayed in the game in the ninth inning. Gio wound up going the distance throwing 110 pitches to earn his 10th win of the season. He came within inches of throwing a no hitter. Apparently Gio heard me & he followed what I said to do. Did he ever. We almost saw history. So close yet so far.

Gio Gonzalez & I at Citi Field on 9/10
Tuesday night after work I went straight to Citi Field for game two of the four game series with the Nationals. I went down by the tarp by left field to watch batting practice. I noticed Gio was out in the outfield. I went down to the railing & I got his attention. He acknowledged my presence. I knew when batting practice ended he would come over. In the meantime, I met up with a young man named Tony Wong. He likes to collect baseball cards & get autographs. He remembered seeing me back in April when everybody mobbed me when Gio came over to see me. I told him nobody is better than Gio. He was raving about him too.

Gio came by as expected, he came over to me first & he shook my hand. I asked him if he heard me when I saw him in the bullpen. He said he did. I told him how much I hate Zach Lutz for costing him a place in baseball history. As he always does, he downplayed it. I know deep down it definitely hurt him to come so close. I wound up getting a bunch of pictures he took with me signed. In addition, he signed my scorebook from the gem he threw the night before. He also signed my passport books. I asked him about the jersey. He promised he'll get it for me. He told me to meet him further down between the tarp & the dugout. I waited until game time but Gio didn't come back out.

I stopped off at Blue Smoke to get some ribs for dinner before I went upstairs to sit with the royal court in section 515 again. This time I was joined by Manny Morales, Phil Butleman, Alan Gimpel & Al Linderman.
As for the game we saw, the Nationals continued their power surge as they hit three more home runs as they beat the Mets again, 6-3 to keep their playoff hopes alive. Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche & former Met Scott Hairston hit one pinch hitting.

Gio Gonzlez & I at Citi Field on 9/11
Wednesday night after work I went right to Citi Field again. This time I was determined to get the jersey from Gio. Once again I saw him after batting practice. While I was waiting for him, I saw another young man named Joe Ceraulo. He told me his father George works at Citi Field. He was telling me great things about Gio. He said & I quote "he's the nicest man in MLB." I couldn't agree more. He took a picture of Gio & I. I returned the favor by taking a picture of him & Gio. When Gio came over he asked me if I was coming to the game tomorrow meaning Thursday afternoon. I told him I can't, I'm working. He told me he'll get you the jersey he promised me. He told me to meet him again between the tarp & the dugout. Since it was 9/11 it was a horrible day. Gio said he was having a rough day when I asked him how he was doing. The team spent some time at Ground Zero.

Me & Gio Gonzalez on 9/11 with the jersey in my hand
Despite being down most of the day, Gio true to his word this time went into the dugout & a little while later he came out with the jersey for me. He had asked me if I wanted it personalized. Of course, I said yes. I told him to write whenever he wanted to on it. When I got it I opened it up & I read what he wrote. It said & I quote "To Gary, Best Damn "True" Fan any Baseball player could ever ask for!!" Then he signed his name. I couldn't thank him enough for getting it for me. He felt the same way. He greatly appreciates all my support that I've given him since I met him for the first time back in May 2009 in Sacramento. I've been wearing the jersey everyday as a tribute to him. It's a size 44 so it helps me keep my weight off.

Here's the back of the jersey Gonzalez #47
I put it on & I went upstairs to sit with the royal court. Before I did, I stopped off & I bought myself a filet mignon steak sandwich from Pat LaFreida's. It was as good as advertised. I'm glad I treated myself to it.
When I finally got settled in section 515, I was joined by Phil Butleman, David Sack, Tommy & Frank Anichiarico.

What Gio wrote on the jersey he gave me 
As for the game we saw, the Nationals once again shutout the Mets, 3-0. Dan Haren threw six shutout innings and four relievers combined to silent the Mets' bats. Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo homer & Anthony Rendon hit a two run double in the eighth inning to put the game away.

Stay tuned for a special post that I'm going to do that will recap the weekend I had as the Mets played a four game series with the Miami Marlins as I try my best to continue to play catch up.

Thank you for reading & following along.

Yours truly,

Gary Herman

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