Thursday, June 24, 2010

Travel - day #1

San Diego Airport – Thursday, June 24, 2010 – 6:00 a.m. Pacific time

The alarm went off at 4:00 am. No person should ever need to be up so early… at least not me. The airport shuttle arrived on time. No traffic and minimal hassle at security. For future reference, make sure you measure your carry-on luggage carefully. My bag was one inch over the limit and had to be checked - to the tune of $25.00. Thanks United Airlines.

Add the fact that after waiting in a long line I found that Starbucks was out of regular iced tea at 6:30 a.m. It’s been a little rough getting started. Oh well, things can only get better.
For some reason I can’t connect to the airport’s wi-fi…. So I’ll send this note later today.
Right now it’s off to Tampa via Denver! Almost there.

Denver Airport – Thursday, June 24, 2010 – 12:30 p.m. Mountain time

Got a beautiful view of the Grand Canyon and Rocky Mountains from above. There was even snow at the tops of many mountains. Hard to believe summer has arrived there yet.

Denver airport – We arrived 15 minutes early at gate 28 which gave me plenty of time to hoof it to my Tampa connection at gate 48… with an hour to spare. It was lunch time and my mind immediately went to one of my airport favorites – Auntie Anne’s pretzels. So I looked them up on the airport diagram and saw they were located – at gate 25! I was just there and didn’t think I had enough time to make the round trip. There was a cart nearby – the one that gives lifts to folks in need. Well, the driver saw that I was in need of a warm, juicy pretzel… so he offered to drive me there…. and back to the gate. Soon I was enjoying a delicious pretzel thanks to a great guy who has been driving carts at the Denver airport for the last ten years. Thanks for the lift!

We boarded the plane for Tampa on time and the cart pushed the plane away from the gate. But it soon became obvious we weren’t leaving anytime soon. The plane’s engines wouldn’t start and literally needed a jumpstart. The flight attendant explained that while the plane sat idle at the gate it used its available power for air conditioning, etc. And when it came time to start the engines there wasn’t enough juice left. I guess they brought in that pink bunny that plays the drums… because the engines were soon roaring and we set off to the skies. The flight attendant assured us that the engines wouldn’t shut down mid flight. Got to watch part of the movie “How to Slay Your Dragon” – I slept through the first part. (Had a lot of sleep to catch up on!)

Tampa Airport – Thursday, June 24, 2010 – 7:00 p.m. Eastern time

Stepped out of the Tampa airport terminal and the humidity enveloped me. Combined with the 90+ degree heat, it was as good reminder of why I moved from the East Coast to the west.
The shuttle to the hotel in St. Petersburg (3 miles from the stadium) took us across Tampa Bay. No signs of oil – yet.

After checking in to the Comfort Inn I ate a gourmet dinner of Hungry Howie’s pizza. You can’t beat a large pepperoni pizza for just $5.50! Ate half for dinner and put the other half in the fridge (high class room!) and saving it for breakfast tomorrow.

That wraps up day #1 of the tour. I travelled cross country with minimal inconvenience and am ready for a good night’s sleep. Goodnight all! -- end --

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers just confirmed with PFA. I'll throw out the first pitch at Comerica Park on Tuesday, August 10. Game starts at 7:05 p.m.

The Tigers rep writes, "We have a special 'Disability Awareness' group that is scheduled to be here on August 10, and we thought an appearance by you at that time would be very appropriate."

That brings the PFA tour to 11 stadiums across the country this season -- with 10 as yet unndecided.

FYI - I practice daily to try and perfect my pitching ability. I usually go to a neighborhood park and use the ballfield there. Or I have a tarp set up in my garage that serves as a target. Either way, my goal is 100+ pitches each day. So far, so good!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gone to the dogs

As mentioned in my previous post, I attended the Nationals vs. Padres game at Petco Park last Friday. That night they had a big celebrity -- a really big celebrity! -- throw out the first pitch.

The celebrity pitcher was escorted to the mound... took the ball in his mouth... sprinted toward home in full stride... then flipped the ball towards the plate. Quite a unique delivery.

A pitch for awareness? Not really. More like a pitch to promote his latest movie.

The star was a dog -- a really BIG dog -- the great dane who plays the lead character in the upcoming movie "Marmaduke".

Bet his training was ruff!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gary Coleman

Rest in peace, Gary "What you talkin' bout, Willis?" Coleman

Baseball card and logo

When I started the PFA tour idea, I thought I'd get a new business card - then decided a baseball card would be more appropriate. Using the photo from my first pitch at the Padres in May 2008, I got a card made up with the picture on the front and info about the tour on back. I just picked the cards up from the printer this week and am getting them out in circulation.

I also designed a PFA logo and had a jersey, shirts, and a hat made with the logo embroidered on. Just picked up the shirts yesterday - and today they're off to the tailor to have the sleeves removed.

I'll get both the baseball card and logo posted on the PFA website next week.

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Latest Efforts

Went to see the Washington Nationals (Nats) play the San Diego Padres at Petco Park last night. Before the game I caught up with Debbi Taylor of MASN - Mid-Atlantic Sports Network - the network that televises the Nats and Baltimore Orioles games. Back in May 2008 when I threw out the first pitch before a Padres game, Debbi interviewed me live during the MASN game telecast.

Last night Debbi taped another interview with me in the stands - right above the dugout - and we talked about the PFA tour. At the end of the interview she said, "We need to get Tom in DC for a first pitch." She said the interview should air sometime this weekend during a Nats/Padres game telecast.

I gave Debbi a promotional portfolio that she said she would pass along to the appropriate folks in the Nats organization. She was very enthusiastic about the Tour and I hope she can help me out along the way.

After the interview I stayed at the dugout during Nats batting practice, along with all the kids hoping for autographs, until Nats manager Jim Riggleman left the field. I met him briefly at a Nats/Padres game last season and found we had alot in common, as he is a DC area native too - grew up in Rockville, MD. As he left the field I caught his attention with a Rockville reference. I think he remembered me, but he thought I wanted his autograph. I said no, I wanted to give him something. I then passed over several copies of my baseball card. I told him about the Tour, and how I wanted to add the Nationals stadium to my list. Instead of a brush-off, he asked WHEN I wanted to be there. Having done my homework I was able to reference Nats homestands in early July vs. the Mets and the Padres. He said "ok" and walked off with my card in hand.

So I hope that I get an invite pitch at a Nats game - and maybe an Orioles game, too. Will keep you posted.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Disability Awareness Month

October is National Disability Awareness Month. To acknowledge this, the Texas Rangers just invited me to throw out a first pitch before their game on Thursday, September 30, 2010.

That makes 10 teams on board with the tour!