I would first like to express my gratitude for having been invited to, what I now consider my favorite golf event ever.
I would like to tell you a short story that came to mind right after we flew into the Oakland Airport. Danny and I where driving and started talking baseball when all of a sudden I looked up and saw the ball park where I had spent a brief but memorable 2 months with the Oakland A’s. At that time, I was injured and not on the playing rooster, but it didn’t matter; I was in uniform and in the big leagues. As we drove towards Green Valley, that first day came to mind and this is how it went.
One early afternoon, in Oakland, I headed to the ballpark, 3 hours before I needed to, because like I said, it was my first day in the big leagues and the excitement was overwhelming. It was in 1981; so maybe you would remember the A’s coined phrase “Billy Ball”. That’s correct; my manager was Billy Martin at the time. He made things interesting, I never knew what to expect, good or bad and it certainly kept me on my toes.
Any way, it got better, we were playing the Baltimore Orioles, my brother Rick was catching. After batting practice the media people got Rick and I together for some questions, and photos. What a proud moment for me, standing next to Rick Dempsey, who I considered one of the best catchers ever!
After that, I went to the bullpen and warmed up the starting pitcher for that game and then returned to the dugout. The game started and it didn’t take but one minute until I had 3 coaches yelling at me because I stood up in the middle of a pitch in front of Billy and if that wasn’t enough, then came the 30 second death stare from Billy himself. I slipped through 6 more innings until this, Tom Underwood hit my brother with a pitch and Rick charged the mound. Big team fight, lasted a long time but no one got hurt. Nonetheless, it was a very strange situation to be in.
When the brawl ended, I managed to make it through to the end of the game without anything bad happening. We won the game and when we where in the locker room, Billy was in a good mood so he decided to yell at me for a while with regards to Rick and the fight. He liked Rick, they where “two pea’s in a pod”. Any way, after getting my butt chewed out for a while, I got a shower and headed for a cab. But my day wasn’t over; I exited the stadium through the wrong door and found myself surrounded by 500 fans wanting an autograph. I signed every thing you can imagine, baseballs to beer mugs, even a few body parts (nothing bad), and they had no idea who I was, but I didn’t care. That went on for 2 hours and was a perfect way to end a perfect day!
Now, back to the present, Danny and I were pulling into Green Valley C.C. 28 years later. Much to my surprise, my first day in the big leagues started all over again. From the moment we arrived, 'till the minute we left, the experience was nothing less than perfect.
The course, staff, members and even the house we stayed in, couldn’t have been any better. You treated us like Kings.
Thanks to your “Famous Five Scramble Team” for the opportunity and all the people that came out to watch and support the event. In our opinion, there isn’t a finer group of people than the folks at Green Valley. Also, a big “Thanks” to Gil Walker for all his hard work & effort to make this event a success.
Every person there thanked us for coming, but let me make this clear; the real “thanks” is to all of you, for having us. It will be something we’ll never forget. Thank you for giving me one more day in the “Big Leagues”.
BTW, you’ll never guess by the way I hit the ball at Green Valley that I would have won a big event a week later. It wasn’t only for distance it was also for accuracy. Go figure! It will be on Fox Sports, September 20th and 27th. The name of the show is “Big Shots, Titans at the Tee”. It must have been one of the 100 golf tips I got from the members of Green Valley.
With sincerest gratitude,