SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS LEGEND WILL CLARK TAKES THE LEAD
CLAIMING HIS OWN PIECE OF WILSON’S BEARD
BRANDON BELT didn’t “Fear the Beard” during spring training in Scottsdale AZ this February. In fact he got right in BRIAN WILSON’S face. Brandon, without hesitation, put his name where Wilson’s should have been and seemed surprised that Brian had ignored the opportunity to star on his own face.
Brandon Belt was sweet and cordial when I asked him for his autograph on the orange bearded shirt I had worn with one thought in mind, have it signed by the bearded one. This obviously did not happen.
“He wouldn’t sign it? I’ll have to have to talk with him about that.” Brandon said as he placed his signature on my shirt instantly becoming my new “favorite” Giant.
Not an autograph hound I was at the Stadium that day in February just for the pleasure of seeing my boys after almost a year away from northern California. It was the day after my birthday and the night before I had come from Yuma to Scottsdale to celebrate as a guest of the best bay area blues band, the Tommy Castro Band (now re-named the Painkillers). What a wonderful coincidence my favorite band and my favorite ball team both being in the area on my birthday!
The only thing that could make this any better would be to leave with Brian Wilson’s signature right across his face on my favorite “Fear the Beard” shirt. But I wasn’t going to chase him down for it so I just enjoyed the sunshine and the “view”
Chatting it up with Will the Thrill was definitely one of the highlights of the day. I had never met Mr. Clark even though that particular era of the Giants was one I participated in the most. I was not surprised to see that he was an open and friendly man. But his accessibility is one of his most impressive virtues. Leaning on the fence for quite a while charming those who spoke with him. The very personable Dan Ferretti, so kindly supplied me with a baseball after I told Will I had nothing for him to sign. As it turns out Will had absolutely no problem with signing the sleeve of the shirt I had on so- that’s where it all started. After that every player wanted a piece of Wilson!
There were only 30 or so fans that day as this was work outs before all the players arrived. Pretty much only pitchers catchers and a scattered few “invitees” were at the stadium. The small group of fans sat patiently watching and waiting until workouts were over to rise from their seats for an attempt at an autograph.
This was a beautiful spring like Arizona day even Bochy was smiling and acknowledging greetings from the fans. But from what I saw, few of the folks who had made the trip succeeded in meeting their favorite players. Even when the work out was over like Prima Donna’s most disappeared without so much as a glance at the small group in the stands less than 30 ft. away.
Buster Posey signed, but only for the “kids”. That was cool but there were only 3 of them, so I don’t think he gets any special rewards for that.
Eli Whiteside was great to the fans while on the field and out in the parking lot. Signing for all and even though this was a very small crowd, he stayed and signed for everybody. I feel that even though we haven’t seen him on the field yet, his treatment of his fans was heartwarming.
But Brandon Belt really stood out as the sweetest peach in the pie for that young man refused to leave the parking lot until every one of those who had gathered had their autograph, picture or handshake. I mean he turned back to the crowd if there was someone calling who had been left out. I personally saw him pose for several pictures with his fans and he returned the hugs that were given to him. This is a wonderful man who will do well if there is truly a thing called “karma”.
So as not to waste the ball that had been so kindly gifted to me, I decided to make it my 2012 Spring Training Ball and get some signatures on it. My favorite were the guys who had never been asked for their autograph before and I can only pray they will remember these days unlike so many other pro ball players that treat their fans as a nuisance.
For remembering your fans are and always will be an important part of your career.