Father and Son and Friend Spring Training 2017 Adventure

17-st-23-14-43-24I got another one of my “big ideas.”

Robert was scheduled to have a doctor’s appointment on Friday, February 24 in preparation for his chemo and radiation treatments  set to begin on Tuesday, February 28.

Why not leave that Friday afternoon, fly to Phoenix and see three Giants spring training games? Take Monday off.


Seemed like the perfect idea. Christine and I discussed it, and I bought the plane tickets. We though we should ask Dr. Chakrabarti but he was out of town until the following Tuesday, so Christine  sent him an email just to be sure. I even consulted with a friend whose husband is a neuro oncologist, and he said he thought it would be fine.

Hold on Bucko!

As I was sitting in the yearbook room on Monday working with the kids on our deadline, I got the call from Christine.

Dr. Chakrabarti said “No flying for three months.”

To say I was devastated would be an understatement. Here was my FB post at the moment. “Devastated. I jumped the gun and planned this trip to Phoenix with Robert to spring training and now the doctor (who is out of town) has communicated and said he shouldn’t fly for three months. I am totally speechless and very sad.”

Then we starting getting creative. The drive was supposedly only 12 hours. We could do that. Maybe rent a nice car. Robert was in. I knew I couldn’t do the drive by myself and I thought that maybe I’d try to find someone by posting it on the “What’s Happening with Robert” FB page. But I decided not to. Didn’t want to force something to happen if it wasn’t the right thing to do.Then out of the blue Larry Finney called and volunteered to drive.

Game on!

I rented a car from Enterprise, supposedly a “premium” one and we planned to leave in the early afternoon. Robert had a doctor’s appointment with the neuro oncologist’s office in the morning and then he was still entertaining the possibility of starting another welding class. We he decided not to start it – too much we all thought – we got an earlier start and were on the road by 2:45 in out super efficient hybrid Ford Fusion. I was hoping for anything but a  Fusion.

I drove first. Way too much traffic in Elk Grove, Stockton, Modesto and Turlock. Then we switched at Laval Rd near the Grapevine after dinner at In ‘N Out. Larry was the iron man as he drove the whole rest of the way and we arrived at Tracey and Dave’s in North Phoenix at about 4:30 a.m.

Day 2: Friday, February 24 – Giants vs. Cincinnati at Scottsdale Stadium

As we drove, we all agreed that we were going to be able to get up and go to the Friday game even though we would be exhausted so I bought us tickets on StubHub as we drove in.

Dave and Tracey Murray – out dear friends from our Northrise connections –  greeted us as we arrived, but by the time we got up they were both up and at work. It as a little touch and go as it took a long time to get Robert up with his crazy sleeping schedule and fatigue from the surgery. But we made it to Scottsdale and into the stadium by game time. Even splurged and got the up close parking across the street from the stadium.


Madison Bumgarner was the starter. How fun to be there for the very first pitch of the 2017 baseball season. As the game unfolded we were behind most of the way, so we left our seats a little early to do some shopping in the Dugout Store. Too bad we missed the three- run walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth by free agent  Chris Marrero to give the Giants the 6-4 win.



Ted’s Hot Dogs in Tempe for dinner. A charcoal-broiled tradition since 1927.

After the game we made the pilgrimage to Ted’s Hot Dogs for Buffalo hot dogs always recommended by Gary.


Day 3: Saturday, February 25 – Visit to the Cubs’ Spring Training Facility at Sloane Park in Mesa; Game 2 – Giants vs. Chicago at Scottsdale Stadium

It was doubly hard as we had to get up even earlier to start today’s adventure. Tracey fixed us an amazing breakfast of French toast and we were on the road before 9. This was one of those days where we had unbelievable plans that could turn out incredibly or turn out to be a complete bust.

The first plan was arranged by my buddy from church Ross Elmendorf. When he went to Casa Roble High School, he played baseball with Manny Parra who went on the have a pretty solid MLB career as a left-hander reliever primarily with the Cincinnati Reds. Last year he sat out after having Tommy John surgery and this year he is trying to make the Chicago Cubs team.  Over about a week of texting with Manny, Ross informed us of the plan. We were to arrive at the Cubs’ facility at Sloane Park in Mesa between 9:30 and 10 and find Vijay under the big “C” sign at the end of the player’s parking lot. What did this all mean and would it be amazing or a total bust.%e2%80%a2-0g4a8504

We found the lot and the ladies at the gate had Vijay come out and he waved us in and gave us our visitor stickers. Our only instructions were to stay on the concrete. We walked over to the back and saw all the players gathered with a guy in American flag shorts doing a flip of in the distance on the field.


Then a bunch of them walked over toward us and Joe Madden, their manager stopped and had an impromptu press conference with the journalists that were there. Even saw Ken Rosenthal the correspondent with Fox Sports

17-sp-training-madden-and-ken-0g4a8536Ken Rosenthal and World Champion Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Madden.


%e2%80%a2-0g4a8525-adj2016 World Champion Kris Bryant

%e2%80%a2-schwarber0g4a8544-cropped2016 World Champion Kyle Schwarber. Probably my best photo.

Robert meeting 2016 World Champion Manager Joe Madden.

On to Scottsdale for the Giants vs. Cubs.

After a while there didn’t seem much to see so we headed over to Scottsdale and the Giant’s game against the Cubs. For this one I splurged and bought tickets on the front row on the right field line.

But before we sat down we connected with Navarre Racz’s sister Kaye who works for he Giants during Spring Training every year. She was also trying to set something up for us. We got up to the second level to meet her and we were able to connect with one of the Giants’ personnel who said he would let us on the field after the game was over and maybe some players would hang around.


Today’s starting line up


Then we went to our seats to see who we could see.


Not sure who this guy is. Most likely a future minor leaguer.2017-02-25-12-33-59Father and son at the ball game.

%e2%80%a2-17-sp-training-nun%cc%83ez-2cr-0g4a8645Eduardo Nuñez Giants’ Third Baseman.

%e2%80%a2-17-spring-training-kelby-0g4a8637-adjGiants’ Utility Infielder Kelby Tomlinson.

2017-02-25-15-30-46Scottsdale Spring Training  Still Life


Giants win again 8-6

17-sp-training-crop2017-02-25-15-59-35We got on the field. Just not much to see.

Next we got to meet Hall of Fame Broadcaster John Miller up in the booth.



After the game which the Giants won, we headed back to Dave and Tracey’s and then had dinner at a great Mexican restaurant, El Encanto, in Cave Hills  off of the Carefree Highway.

Day 4: Sunday, February 26 –  Game 3 – Giants vs. Cincinnati at the Reds/Indians Stadium in Goodyear

Started the day of with some good worship. Larry drove in to Scottsdale to go to a Greek Orthodox Church and I went with Dave and Tracey their church. The pastor believes in keeping churches small and then planting new ones. I think he’s from Oklahoma and has Souther Baptist from Oklahoma roots.


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