Monday, July 26, 2010

Meeting Keith Hernandez

The other week I had the opportunity to meet the player I most tried to emulate as a baseball player, Keith Hernandez. It's not a wild tail of chasing him down or bumping into him unexpectedly, but it was still a pretty cool encounter from my perspective.

I was boarding a flight to San Francisco on the day before the All Star game when I look behind me in line and see Keith Hernandez. I was traveling with some other people and one of my travel partners turned to me and giddily asked, "Is that Keith Hernandez?" I confirmed his suspicion and took my seat in the first row of coach, while Keith rightfully sat in first class.

I wasn't about to cross the dreaded first class curtain to go talk to him during the flight. That'd be a little too creepy. Plus he was sitting by the window so I'd have to talk over the person sitting on the aisle. I was hoping that I'd be able to catch him as we exited the plane and just say hello, but when the flight landed Keith was long gone before it was my row's turn to exit.

I thought I'd lost my chance. So I headed towards the baggage claim and was trying to determine which of the dozen baggage claims would have my bag when I turned around and saw Keith sitting and just checking his BlackBerry. I went up to him fully expecting to be ignored or brushed off for bothering my childhood hero, but I had to do it anyway.

I simply went up to him and said "Mr. Hernandez, just wanted to let you know that you're the reason I played first base growing up. I'm a huge fan and love what you, Gary and Ron do on the broadcast." I extended my hand and Keith did something unexpected. He smiled, shook my hand and responded, "Why thank you for very much for saying so. I appreciate it."

I wished him well on his trip and we exchanged cordial goodbyes. Keith was very accommodating to this fanboy and it's not every day you get to meet one of your favorite baseball players of all time. As I shared this story with others, everyone asked me why I didn't share my blog with him or get a picture to post on Mets Lifer. Maybe I should have, but it was cool just the same.

And I'm happy I didn't make a fool of myself. I should have worn my Mets retired #17 t-shirt though...