Sometimes, things have a way of working out perfectly.
The often-overlooked Oakland Athletics took on the Tampa Bay Rays, the team with the best record in baseball, in the rubber match of the three-game series. Dallas Braden was Oakland’s starting pitcher, it was Mother’s Day, it was the first game of the Dallas Braden 209 promotion, and Braden’s grandmother, Peggy Lindsey, sat in attendance along with 30 of his closest childhood friends.
As if it was not by chance, but by fate, Dallas Braden threw the 19th perfect game in MLB history in the A’s 4-0 victory over the Rays.
“It’s pretty special. I don’t really know what to think of it yet. It’s still very fresh to me,” Braden said. “It’s some very select company and also if you look at those guys, the body of work that those other 18 individuals put together is something I probably would like to have—a little more than just this one day. There’s definitely more to do.”
While there are still years ahead in the Stockton, Calif. native’s career, it is this day that the majority will remember. There has been only two other perfect games thrown in franchise history—Rube Vickers on October 5, 1907 (five-inning game) and Jim “Catfish” Hunter on May 8, 1968—and now Dallas Braden will join them in the record books.
There lies special meaning behind Mother’s Day for the 26-year-old.
Raised by his mother and Lindsey, he is quick to recognize the impact the women had on his life. Sadly, in 2001, his senior year of high school, Braden’s mother died of melanoma—making this milestone in his career and even more poignant one, given the day.
“When we first finished the game and we were celebrating I saw him hug his grandma, I was tearing up. It’s hard to fight them back. He’s had a lot of things happen to him in his life,” A’s catcher Landon Powell said following the game. “It couldn’t happen to a better person.”
As she hugged him immediately after the game, Braden’s grandmother told him his mother would be so proud—even though she knew he was thinking the same thing. Lindsey saw the symbolism in having her grandson throw the perfect game on Mother’s Day and said, “Leave it to Dal to do something different, huh? If you know Dal, you know that’s his way.”
But this day has also been one that didn’t always bring him much joy in previous years. According to him, the fact that his start fell on Mother’s Day had an affect on him “during the game. Before the game. The night before the game.”
“It hasn’t been a joyous day for me in a while,” Braden added. “But to know that I still get to come out and compete and play a game on that day, that makes it a little better. With my grandma in the stands it makes it a lot better.”
Growing up, the A’s pitcher was not the perfect child. His mischief led him to earn bad grades, which prohibited him from playing baseball during his freshman and junior years of high school. Braden admitted to missing 79 days in an 81-day school quarter—something that naturally did not sit well with his grandmother.
“I was doing pretty much everything in my power to take every opportunity that my mother and grandmother had given me away from myself,” Braden explained. “She wasn’t going to let that happen.”
Braden lived with Lindsey from grade school up until he moved to Sacramento to attend American River College. Today, the pair lives only five blocks away from each other in their beloved Stockton.
The influence Lindsey had and continues to have is clearly a part of the reason that Braden has reached this level in his baseball career. When he was walking the path toward a more dire destination, she steered him toward the road that led to the big leagues.
“My grandmother just made it very clear to me all the sacrifices that my mom had made and that she had made and the life that we lead up to that point was all to get me on a baseball field and to keep me out of jail,” Braden explained. “When she made it very abundantly clear that I was not headed to the baseball field and I was headed to the other place, that’s when I kind of snapped my head around and said, ‘You know what? Yeah, I pretty much got one shot, if I’m gonna have any shot, and I need to jump on it.’”
Following the game, he continued to stress that his historic performance was all for his grandmother. As he spoke during the post-game press conference, she sat with a tissue box in her lap, dabbing at happy tears in between bouts of laughter at her grandson’s words. Throughout the press conference, the charismatic Lindsey was beaming with pride.
“Sacrifices that she’s made in order to get me to this point are countless,” Braden said. “To be able to perform like this in front of her today is a dream come true for me.”
For a game recap, check out Ryan Leong’s article.
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