A Part of History – Brandon Belt
Like everybody else, I couldn’t go to sleep last night. I think I watched the replay of the final out fifteen times. Then I kept replaying the game in my head.
And what I was thinking when I woke up this morning was just how unbelievable it was to be a part of history.
I’ve been a baseball fan my whole life. And then to be on the field when a guy pitches a perfect game, it’s incredible. It wasn’t just about being IN the game but I found myself watching the game almost like a fan. Seeing Blanco make that play. That’s going to go down as one of the best plays in the history of the game. And I’m there watching it from a few yards away.
In the dugout, we all went about our normal routines. We talked about our at-bats, about the plays on the field. We just didn’t do it around Matt.
Then I did something that I will get grief about for the rest of my career, I’m sure.
It was the seventh or eighth inning, and Matt was up at bat. I was wandering around the dugout, watching the game. Matt was batting. I sat down on the bench. Usually pitchers will put a towel or their jacket on the spot. Maybe something was there and I just didn’t see it.
But suddenly Matt is standing there staring at me. I figured I was doing something wrong. I looked down and realized I was sitting in his spot. Vogelsong was giving me a dirty look, so I got out of there as fast as I could. I think Vogey was ready to kill me. I still can’t believe I did that.
As the game went on, I was as nervous as I’ve ever been on a baseball field. As Matt pitched to the last batter, I was thinking, “Don’t hit it to me. Just strike him out.’’
You’re telling yourself not to freak out: “If it’s hit to someone else and the throw’s in the dirt, don’t panic. Just do what you normally do. Let the game come to you.’’
Then when I caught Arias’s throw to end the game, I put the ball in my pocket for safekeeping – and to make sure it didn’t get knocked to the ground and somebody rolled an ankle on it. I was the second guy to reach Matt after Buster. In the pile, I was kind of squished up against him, so I kind of put my head down on his chest; I didn’t want to get hit in the face. My shoulder was jabbing into Crawford’s nose. It can get pretty rough. You really have to be careful. But in the moment you’re not thinking about anything but how happy you are for Matty.
In the clubhouse, when I was about to give Matt the ball, I thought maybe I could get something out of this. I asked him for a Corvette. It’s probably not going to happen.
Seriously, though, handing him the ball was one of the coolest things. You see stuff like that on TV and you wonder how you’d feel doing that for a teammate. Honestly, it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had playing the game. I was just so happy for him. He deserves this so much. He goes out every game with good stuff and you knew it was just a matter of time before something really special was going to happen. He’s a bulldog. He fights every day.
When I look at someone like Matt and how professional he is, how much he prepares day in and day out, I feel really inspired. You want to live up to the standard he sets. You realize what it takes to be great in this game. It’s not all about talent. It’s all the other stuff. Dedication. Courage. Focus.
I thought later about passing by Matt’s locker before the game. I thought he was asleep. He looked like he had just woken up from a nap. But I’m sure he was getting in the zone. Obviously it worked.
And I still can’t believe I was a part of it.