By now I'm sure you've heard the amazing story that happened in these parts yesterday: Oakland A's pitcher Dallas Braden pitched a perfect game, only the 19th player ever to do so in Major League baseball. We were listening to it on the radio as we drove to Golden Gate Park.
What makes it even more special is that it could not have happened for a nicer guy, in better circumstances. He is from Stockton, an are in the East Bay that is about an hour's drive from Oakland. He grew up there. It's not a easy place to live; there is poverty, there's intense heat, and there's crime. But there are also many families, dogs, neighborhood stores, and parks. It took a huge hit when the housing market crashed, and another when the job market followed. There a re a lot of unemployed folks there now, many who have already lost their homes. Dallas Braden could have moved away, but he didn't. He stayed, and he organizes things like food drives to help people in the community. And yesterday, for the first time, they had a "209 Special" at the Oakland Coliseum: 209 is the area code for Stockton. Anyone from Stockton who came to the game got 1/2-price tickets and was seated in section 209 to cheer on their hometown guy.
Mother's Day has been difficult for Braden; his own mom passed away from cancer while he was in high school. His grandmother took over from there, and she was at the game yesterday. After he pitched the no-hitter, he ran over to her, kissed his mother's wedding ring (which he wears on a chain around his neck), and held his grandmother while they both cried. Then he looked at her and said "Let's go eat!"
How can you not love a guy like that?
You may also have heard some tragic news from Friday, when a rock climber in Yosemite fell 300 feet and died. Unfortunately, he did not die instantly.
My husband and our friend often travel to Yosemite to climb Well, our friend went this weekend, and he was the second person on the scene after the climber fell. He performed CPR until the rangers and a nurse arrived, but they were unable to sane the man, whose name is Brian Ellis. He is from Santa Monica, CA (near L.A) and was 35 years old. Apparently he was rappelling down the cliff when the knot he'd tied slipped through the carabiner, which led to his fall.
Our friend was scoping out the area he wanted to climb when he heard a scream and a crash. Brian was still conscious when he arrived, but barely. I won't go into details, but obviously there was massive trauma, and our friend and the others had to move him from where he'd fallen onto flat ground. There was a lot of blood, and our friend is pretty traumatized. And my husband is trying to help him any way he can.
I can only send out prayers for everyone involved. For Brian's family, especially his mom, and his friends. For all the people who tried to help. For our friend, and his wife and their kids. Everyone in he climbing community has been touched by this, of course. I understand that this Saturday there will be a vigil near where it happened.
It kind of puts things into perspective, too. It's harder to get upset by little things when we remember that we are so fragile. Whether it's a huge tragedy, like 911, or a smaller one, like this one, or a triumph tinged with sadness, like Dallas Braden's perfect game. I suppose we can get caught up in the what-ifs and the worries, but we can also remember to love, to hug, to sit quietly, and to laugh or cry, whichever feels right.
Rest in peace, Brian.