As I alluded to in yesterday's game preview, I've made a few trips to Seattle in the last six years or so. Since the Yanks are in the Emerald City this weekend and yesterday I posted about my meeting with Mickey Mantle, I suppose now's as a good a time as any to tell you about another encounter I had with a member of the 500 home run club. And this one I actually remember.
In April 2003, not yet a year out of college and just a few months into to my first "real" job, I went on my first business trip, accompanying the company owner and vice president to a conference at Seattle's Four Seasons Olympic Hotel (now the Fairmont Olympic).
As with every medical conference I attend, it covers at least one day of a weekend: convenient for physicians with patients to see and professional schedules to keep, inconvenient for a 22 year-old with friends to see and social schedules to keep.
As the conference adjourned for lunch on Saturday afternoon, I was invited by the owner and VP to join them for lunch. Since they signed the checks and knew how to eat and drink well, I jumped at the chance to tag along.
We went down to Shuckers, the oyster bar on the hotel's lower level, and one of Seattle's top seafood joints. It was early in the day, so the place wasn't very busy. The three of us were seated along the back wall, two tables away from a large corner booth.
As we perused the menus, a large group entered from the 4th Avenue entrance. They were seated at the corner booth, just a few feet from us. I glanced up from the menu, and noticed some familiar faces: Freddy Garcia, Einar Diaz, Carlos Guillen, Esteban Yan, maybe Francisco Cordero too. And tucked away in the corner of the booth, shielded from autograph seekers on all sides, was Alex Rodriguez.
The Rangers were in town for a weekend season, and the $250 million dollar man was taking some of his current and former teammates out for lunch apparently - at least I assume he picked up the tab.
We finished our lunch well before they did and had to return to our meetings. I did notice a few autograph and picture seekers managed to weasel their way towards A-Rod; I however was not one of them. Besides, I doubt A-Rod would have held me like The Mick did - it would have been a little weird at 22 years old rather than 22 weeks old. But I will be able to tell my grandkids that I had lunch with Alex Rodriguez - sort of.
Bolstered by his lunch, A-Rod knocked one out of Safeco that night before leaving after an HBP. Carlos Guillen went 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles and a pair of runs scored. Esteban Yan, it would seem, overdid it on the oysters though, surrending three hits, a walk, and two earned runs in two innings of mop-up work.