Greeting the G.O.A.T.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 – JetBlue Park, Ft. Myers
Spring Training Workout
We had heard that the players would be attending a Players’ Association meeting in the morning so they would be taking the field later than usual. We ended up timing it perfectly, so that we arrived just as the players were starting to take the field. We quickly spotted Jason Varitek among the coaches and special instructors, and heard whispers that Pedro Martinez had been spotted earlier before fans were allowed in. Sure enough, as I was watching the players come out and looking for my favorites, my all-time favorite and one of the Greatest Of All Time came and joined the coaches right in front of where I was standing.
Pedro came out and hugged a bunch of players and coaches, and when the stretching was over and the players dispersed for their various drills, I knew I wanted to watch whatever Pedro was watching. He smiled as fans called out to him while he walked between fields, and he ended up with a group of major league pitchers on Field 5.
When the players took the field for Pitchers’ Fielding Practice, Pedro disappeared into the bullpens that are hidden from sight between the fields. We couldn’t see who was throwing, but we knew whoever it was would be in good hands.
As the final rounds of batting practice took place, we staked out a spot between two of the fields in the hopes of catching some of the players coming in as they finished. The pitching-centric day continued, as we ended up getting autographs from relievers Matt Barnes, Robbie Ross (who smiled when I told him that I enjoyed watching him catch home run balls in the bullpen), and Heath Hembree. We waited in that spot for quite a while as the players came in, knowing that Number 45, as he calls himself, was still out there watching the remaining drills.
When most of the players had finished up, Pedro did come through the area where we were, and he stayed a long time to sign autographs for many people. He was there for more than 45 minutes, and we could tell he was enjoying interacting with the fans. It was near the end that he finally got to me, but it was fun seeing how excited everyone got and just being in the presence of one of the all-time greats. When it was my turn, I told him how we had gone to Cooperstown for his Hall of Fame induction.
After practice, we went back to Siesta Key Beach, stopping on the way at Nokomis Groves for an orange ice cream.