As San Francisco Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez tossed the team’s first no-hitter in 34 years, and 30,000 fans at AT&T Park screamed in ecstasy, I sat in a Palo Alto parking lot, listening to history on the car radio with mixed emotions. I was happy, but also distraught. That’s because five hours earlier, I had given away my tickets to the game.
That week in July, I had driven 800 miles from Arizona to California. And twice that week, I had already driven the 50 miles from San Jose to San Francisco to catch two games. So when Friday rolled around, after all that previous driving that week, I just couldn’t stomach driving up to the city again for a third game — and to see a guy with a 5.30 ERA to boot.
So my brother found a friend to take the tickets off my hands. And when he did, I actually joked, “What’s Sanchez going to do? Throw a no-hitter?” And then I said: “Watch him give up 4 runs in the first, and I’ll be glad I didn’t make the drive up.”
That evening, I stayed in the San Jose area. My wife dragged me to a tech party, and every half an hour, I “watched” the game with MLB.com’s real-time pitch-by-pitch application on my BlackBerry. When Sanchez tossed three no-hit innings, I texted my brother, half-joking that Sanchez was throwing a no-hitter. Then the 6th inning, seventh inning and eighth inning came, and still no hits. By that time, I had stopped being social at the party, and just stared at my BlackBerry. Thank goodness I had a drink in my hands.
By the 9th inning, I ditched the party and scrambled to the parking lot to hear the rest of the game on our car radio. As Sanchez mowed them down in the 9th, I was ecstatic it was happening, but was also overwhelmed with an intense feeling of remorse because I could have been there.
I have been in the stands for many of the Giants’ memorable moments at AT&T Park: J.T Snow hitting a pinch-hit three-run homer in the 9th inning to temporarily tie the game during the 2000 playoffs against the Mets, Bonds’ hitting his 500th home run, and the Giants clinching the National League Championship Series against St. Louis in 2002. It’s a great feeling when you’re screaming at the top of your lungs and high-fiving complete strangers.
I have never seen a no-hitter before.
Later that evening when we got home, I caught the replay of the game on TV, and during the post-game celebration, an excited Giants announcer Duane Kuiper said something like: “You come to the ballpark, you never know what you will see.”
I turned to my wife and said, “You don’t go to the ballpark, and you don’t know what you will miss!”
It will be a while before I give away tickets to a game again.