Mondays with Mike: Vincent Velasquez is a lucky man, and so am I

June 15, 2015 • Posted in baseball, Mike Knezovich, Mondays with Mike, Uncategorized by

Beth and I went to a White Sox game last Wednesday courtesy of their opponent that night, the Houston Astros. More specifically, courtesy of the kindness of Kevin Goldstein, and old friend who happens to be a bigwig in the Astros front office. (Beth posted about Kevin’s story a couple years ago.)

Vincent's friends and family  were all around us. He pitched five scoreless innings in his debut.

Vincent’s friends and family were all around us. He pitched five scoreless innings in his debut.

The seats were terrific—behind home plate just on the first-base side, and given the source of the tickets, in a section dense with Astros fans. We quickly sensed that these weren’t just any fans—they were on every pitch, cheering strikes and outs every time the Houston pitcher retired a White Sox player. They were polite, joyful, terrific fans. One young guy—who looked like he could be out there playing—would shout “peanut” every time the Astros retired the White Sox and headed to their dugout. Someone asked why “peanut,” and he said, “When we were in high school, he used to call me watermelon head, so I called him peanut head.”

An older man (older as in the neighborhood of my age or thereabouts) and woman watched every pitch, somewhat nervously. They looked like Hispanic versions of the parents of the neighbor kids I grew up with—blue collar types who exuded solid reliability.

Kevin, who lives in Illinois and would normally attend, couldn’t be at the game because he was locked up in a room back in Houston with his colleagues during MLB’s annual draft. I emailed him to thank him for the tickets, and told him that we were sitting with a great group of Houston fans who were really into the game. He immediately wrote back, “Velasquez debut group?”

Aha! I used my magic phone and learned that 23-year-old Vincent Velasquez was making his first major league appearance. I suddenly felt even more lucky to be at that ball game. I got swept up in it all, and at one point, during a break in the action, I walked over to Victor’s father. “Is that your son pitching,” I asked. He said yes. “You must be very proud,” I said, shaking his hand. “He looks like he’s going to be terrific.” He immediately pointed to his right and said, “This is his mother.” She and I shook hands, I said congratulations to her, and took my seat.

Of course, business is business, so I was still pulling for my White Sox. But the feeling in that group transcended loyalty.

Many of the guys on the field that night make millions and millions of dollars. But for Victor and his family, I really don’t think that had anything to do with what they were feeling. And I was privileged to feel a little of it with them.


Bev On June 15, 2015 at 2:25 pm

What a great experience!

Hank On June 15, 2015 at 3:09 pm

Nice blog post. It is truly a testament to your writing that you can get me to read an entire sports story. I believe it may be a first.

Mike On June 15, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Hank, that’s about the best compliment I can imagine (and cleverest). Thanks for reading.

Mark On June 15, 2015 at 8:38 pm


WandaB On June 16, 2015 at 9:00 am

Today’s post reminded me of the days we got off work to attend to “a sick Grandmother” and Hallie B and I would high tail it to the ball game.
Those were the days of Hot dogs and pretzels and beer.
We loved the game and were vociferous fans for both teams. During those freer days we hung over the wall and talked to the players. One time I leaned over so far I almost fell onto the field.
But, I digress. Mike, keep the informative, delightful Monday posts coming.
Hugs all around,


Marilee On June 16, 2015 at 10:19 am

What a beautiful day at the park! You tug at the heart strings, once again!

Benita On June 16, 2015 at 11:40 am

You have the biggest heart in the world. Can’t even think of who comes in second.

Mondays with Mike: A happy new year | Safe & Sound blog On May 2, 2016 at 4:56 pm

[…] stunk on the field, Beth and I managed to have a good time during our many visits to the park. Like the time I posted about when we found ourselves seated with a cheering section for the Houston Astros pitcher that night. […]

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