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A Tale of Three Games

Wilton Veras during batting practice Saturday's game was at 1:15, and we arrived around 10:30. No one was throwing in the bullpen, and batting practice hadn't even started yet. The day was muggy, but so far it was overcast. At 11:15, the fans rushed down by the dugout in the hopes that they would get an autograph. We went straight to our seats, which were behind the left field foul pole, right next to the Red Sox bullpen. The Braves were just starting batting practice, and the Red Sox had yet to take the field. Eventually, they came out and began their warmups. In left field, Brian Rose threw to Derek Lowe. Rheal Cormier threw to John Wasdin. Closer to the infield, Chad Fonville worked with Darren Lewis. After a while, Wilton Veras and Pedro Martinez started warming up on the field. Nomar was nowhere to be seen. He would not play that day, and I wondered if that would put him out of Sunday's game and the All-Star Game as well.

In this picture, Veras looks on as the Braves finish up batting practice. I was impressed with Veras' play during the series. In only 10 games since being called up to replace the injured John Valentin, Veras, who had never played above AA, had hit two home runs, including one Friday night. He would have three hits in Saturday's game and another Sunday as a pinch-hitter. He made nice defensive plays at third base throughout the series, too. He's definitely my favorite third base prospect. I'm sure that in another year or two, he'll fit in nicely as the Red Sox' everyday third baseman.

The Red Sox were still busy taking batting practice when the fans were made to leave the seating area. As batting practice was winding down, Pedro came over to left field and signed autographs for quite a while. Too bad the ushers were checking tickets and not just letting anyone into that section!

Pedro signs autographs

The pitchers who had been throwing in the outfield began to depart, and there were several baseballs lying around. Third base coach Wendell Kim walked by on his way to the bullpen. "Hey W.K.!" I yelled. "How about throwing one up here?" He waved and shrugged and started to leave, but then he came back and asked, "How did you know to call me W.K.?" I told him I had seen his website, W.K.'s Coach's Box. He asked what I thought of it, and I told him I liked it. Next thing I knew, he had tossed me a ball. It's an American League one, and it says, "Fenway Park Edition, All-Star Game '99" on it. Perfect! So following the Sox on the internet has its advantages! If you'd like to see W.K.'s site for yourself, click on the link below:

WK's Coach's Box
You be the Coach • Ask the Sox • Coach's Tip • The Dugout Diary
Duties of a Third Base Coach • Buy W.K.'s Book

Sometime during batting practice, the sun had come out, as if the 90-plus-degree temperature wasn't enough, and by the time the game started, we were already ready to melt. I've been to a lot of baseball games, many in Atlanta, but Saturday's was definitely the hottest I've ever attended.

My view SaturdayOur seats were good, in that they were in the front row, right next to the bullpen. The problem was that we were also directly behind the left field foul pole. My view was completely obstructed, but I just pretended I was at Fenway and leaned.

The pitching matchup was Mark Portugal vs. Tom Glavine. The cynic in me wondered if we had a shot. The game got off to a good start, however, when Mike Stanley hit a solo homer in the second inning. Andruw Jones blasted a solo shot of his own for the Braves in the fourth. Portugal pitched very well for six innings, giving up only six hits. He was matched inning for inning by Glavine, who was holding the Sox to just six hits. My brother and I finished off the gallon of water we had brought, and went for some refills. We joined the fans around us in applauding a cloud which temporarily blocked out the scorching sun. Over in the bullpen, Derek Lowe got up for a cup of water just as the three-year-old girl in the row behind us said she was thirsty. Her mother joked, "Maybe the ballplayer will get you some of his." Lowe looked over. "I do have some gum," he said, and tossed a stick of gum up to the girl. She was thrilled! She asked him for a baseball, and an inning later he gave her one.

The bullpenIn the picture to the right, Tim Wakefield, Bob Wolcott, Rheal Cormier, John Wasdin, bullpen catcher Dana Levangie, and Derek Lowe in the back watch the game. After Portugal was done, Pat Rapp, Rheal Cormier, and newly called-up Rich Garces all entered the game. There were some scary moments, but none allowed any runs to score. After nine full, the score remained a 1-1 tie. Extra innings. Free baseball. Free, very hot baseball. I hoped we could stretch it out long enough to get some shade on our seats, but it didn't matter, as long as we won. The tenth inning passed without incident. In the top of the 11th, Darren Lewis led off with a walk, but the next batter, Damon Buford, erased him on a double play, when a bunt sign was apparently missed. In the bottom of the 11th, John Wasdin came on to pitch. He walked Andruw Jones to lead off the inning. The next batter was pinch-hitter Brian Hunter. He hit a bouncer back to Wasdin, who proceeded to throw the ball off Hunter's batting helmet and into right field. Jones circled with the winning run. Game over. I just sat in my seat, mainly because I was stuck to it. At least my mind was so addled from the sun that I could pretend we had won.

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This page and all photos copyright © 1999-2001 by Kristen D. Cornette.