theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

July 3, 2013

A funny thing happened at the ol' ball game

Randy Mitchell Special Correspondent
www.theadanews.com

Ada —

I would like to let everyone know about a baseball game my family and I attend every year. It is Dirk Nowitzki’s Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game held at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas, every summer. The most recent game was held Saturday, June 29.

It is always tons of fun and proceeds go to the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation and the Heroes Foundation. The Dirk Nowitzki Foundation provides education, health and well being for children around the world,while the Heroes Foundation allows disadvantaged youth to participate in the foundation’s select baseball program. 

If you’re looking to get autographs, this is a great event to attend. Ticket prices are not very high and the fact that proceeds go to charity makes it even more special.

Now, I also have selfish reasons for attending. I am from Dallas and have been a Mavericks' fan from the beginning. My kids are Mavericks 'fans as well. We do cheer for the Thunder, but only when they are not playing the Mavs. My son Felix, who resembles Dirk Nowitzki a bit, is a huge Mavs fan and his favorite player is, no big surprise, Dirk Nowitzki.

He has tried many times to meet him and get his autograph, only to come up just short each time. This time would be different. Felix, on crutches after an ankle sprain he suffered while playing basketball, stood in a corner near the home team’s dugout. For more than an hour in the sun and the heat, he waited. Dirk signed on the other side of the stadium, but Felix waited. Eventually, Dirk came over to our side of the stadium and began signing for people — at the opposite end from Felix of a massive throng of people who had gathered. Felix waited. For nearly another hour, he suffered.

He would either be the last of the fans Dirk would sign for, or Dirk would have to stop because it was almost game time. I sat back watching Dirk get closer and closer. I also watched the seconds on the clock tick away as game time approached.

“Would this end in tragedy the way it always has for Felix the last seven years he has tried for Dirk’s autograph?” I thought to myself. I didn’t want to see my son crushed again. Dirk signed faster and faster for each fan who was fortunate enough to be along the rail.

He was getting so close, but the time was slipping away. Felix waited. With his awesome 8x10 photo of Dirk Nowitzki, Felix waited.

Just as the announcer came over the speakers to begin the game, Dirk said hello to Felix and signed his photo. Felix was the last and Dirk handed him the pen he had just signed hundreds of autographs with. He told Felix to keep it and then went to play the game. Felix walked back to our seats in a kind of trance and sat down. All was right with the world and Felix was floating on a cloud.

I encourage everyone to attend this game at least once. There are many other celebrities who play in the game, as well. There are baseball players, basketball players, football players, movie and television personalities and more.

A funny thing did happen prior to my son getting Dirk’s autograph, though. Let me start by saying Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban is very nice to fans. If he has time, he’s always there willing to sign and pose for photographs. He signed for Felix and my daughter Tiffany at the game. He also stopped for a photo-op. Afterwards, I said thank you and left him alone to be on his way. Just then, a man standing next to me yelled out, “Hey Mark! Remember when I met you nine years ago at the old Reunion Arena?”

Embarrassed, I quickly walked away so it wouldn’t look like I was with “that guy.” It’s just common sense that a man who meets hundreds of people a day wouldn’t remember everyone. Probably not even close. When I say “that guy,” I mean there is always at least one person in each group of autograph seekers who doesn’t get it. Turns out Mark didn’t remember the guy and the man left embarrassed.

Anyway, the game was great fun. Dirk’s team, the Blue Sox, built a large lead of 9-0 in the second but went on to lose to the Gray Sox, 19-11. One thing though, during a trivia game  announced over the loud speakers, the announcer asked everyone in the crowd if they knew the year the Mavericks beat the Miami Heat to win the NBA Championship. Everyone shouted, “2011.” Once the crowd quieted down, I jumped up and yelled, “2014.” This was met with much applause.