One of the great pieces of Americana is taking in a baseball game. At 16, my first real job was at a new baseball stadium, Banner Island Ballpark, to work for the Stockton Ports, Single A Minor League affiliate for the Oakland Athletics. On a day where the temperature topped 100 degrees, I was working the stands as an usher.
One of my absolute favorite memories came on the Fourth of July. This is traditionally a sold-out game for any minor league team, with a grand fireworks display following the game.
With the Ports losing the game, catcher Kurt Suzuki blasts a center-field home run with two outs to win the game. More than 5,000 fans came to their feet. I stood behind home plate ushering people to their seats. I looked up after hearing the indistinguishable crack of the bat that accompanied a blast to the outfield. The crowd goes into a frenzy, and following the win, one of the greatest displays of fireworks and music began—a moment I will never forget. Suzuki’s blast was a tremendous moment for a special day.
Suzuki now catches for the Oakland A’s and is having success in the major leagues. It is a pleasure to see good people like Kurt Suzuki work hard and achieve their goals. I wish the best to Kurt and all of the Stockton Ports that I saw rise through the ranks to become stars.