Normally I wouldn’t piggyback on Chappy’s post on the same subject, but today’s gem by Dallas Braden is just too significant on too many levels for me to pass up. The obvious part is that he dons the green and gold. I’ve been a lifelong A’s fan and this is the first perfect game by an Athletic in my lifetime. The only other one was Catfish Hunter’s in 1968. It also helps that Braden has been making a lot of noise in the media as a result of his encounter with Alex Rodriguez. While most baseball traditionalists agreed with Braden’s sentiments, many others were asking, “Who is Dallas Braden?” Even A-Rod dusted off Braden’s objections because he “only has a handful of wins.” I get that, but it doesn’t matter who you are at that point. I was hoping that Braden would have a good season to back up his comments a little bit, but I never could have begun to hope for this. I’m pretty sure everyone in baseball knows who he is now.
What many people don’t know – or at least didn’t before today – is Braden lost his mother to cancer in high school. So, to accomplish this feat on Mother’s Day is an amazing tribute. Though, while she wasn’t at the stadium to witness it today, his grandmother was, and he shared an emotional hug with her in front of the dugout after the game. He also had the support of his usual Stockton contingent, or section 209, which is also the area code of Stockton.
Dallas Braden was never supposed to be a factor in the big leagues. He was a 24th round draft pick of the A’s in 2004. I remember seeing his major league debut in 2007. I thought, who is this guy with the flat bill on his cap? He won his first decision, but finished the season with a 1-8 record. When I moved from the Bay Area to Sacramento in the middle of the season, Braden also was sent down to AAA-Sacramento. He wasn’t exactly dominant, but he did show signs of brilliance, in particular when he struck out 17 batters in a game late that season. Over the next season, he looked like he was going to be mired in the minor leagues for life, but he kept working, and there’s one thing you can say about Braden, he’s all business on the field. As a result, Braden has proved over the course of the last season and a half that he belongs. Today though, he proved more than that.