Well that was a great way to start our first homestand. In Midland the fans take part in one of the oldest Minor League traditions called ‘pass the hat’. It’s where a player homers and the fans hold up dollars and stadium employees collect it and give it to the player after the game. They can also pass the hat if a pitcher strikes out the side 1-2-3, but the only guys to do that last season were Graham Godfrey and Andrew Carignan, and let’s just be honest, chicks dig the long ball. Fact.
So now that you’re familiar with what passing the hat is you’ll understand why it’s worthy of this entry’s title. Our home opener had a capacity crowd and it was Thirsty Thursday. I came up in the 6th inning with the bases juiced, and we were losing at that point. I knew I was going to get something good to hit and it was probably going to be early in the count so I ambushed the pitcher and put a liner into the bullpen. It doesn’t matter how much it goes out by, just as long as it goes out.
As I was rounding the bases I saw so many people holding up money I started to estimate how much I was going to get. Good thing I’m terrible with numbers because the tipsy crowd was way more generous than I estimated. I actually set a record for most money collected after a home run. If you’re wondering how much money I accumulated, that has to remain anonymous for tax purposes. Just know that a good portion of it went to a worthy cause.
My dad [ed. note: former AL All-Star Jesse Barfield] came to town for a few days during the homestand. It’s always great to see him. I hadn’t seen him since Christmas. He pointed out a few small things in my swing and sure enough the very next day I went 4-5 with a HR, 2 2B and 6 RBI. That’s no coincidence. There’s a reason Alex Rodriguez nicknamed him the Hit Doctor. He’s that good. If he was with me the whole season I would have to confidence to hit .600 with 60 homers. Obviously those are Nintendo numbers but confidence is key. It was really great to see him.
It was the first time for a lot of the guys to deal with the Midland wind. It was blowing in so hard from right field one game that I was playing 20 feet behind the infield. Even with 30 mph+ wind I was still having to dive for balls in front of me. I swear the wind would shift every half inning. It was tough. Definitely something you have to see to believe.
The wind would blow hitters around the batter’s box. It felt like I was standing in a wave pool up there at times. Anybody who has been in one of those knows how hard it can be to keep from swaying one direction or the other. Imagine that while trying to hit with the wind blowing dust in your eyes. It’s a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it.
Now we are on the road in San Antonio. Last season these guys really put a hurting on us, but we are 2-0 here so far so maybe the tables have turned. Last season it was cause for a minor celebration whenever we beat San Antonio, even at home, but this season it just seems like another ballgame. That’s the kind of squad we have. The fact that they were the 2011 Minor League Baseball Club of the year doesn’t mean squat now. This is 2012.
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