Rafael Furcal playing for my hometown
Rafael Furcal may be past his prime at the age of 36, but the 13-year veteran made me smile and remember why I enjoy baseball last week. I went to watch a Jacksonville Suns’ home game; they are my hometown team and who I have gone to see whenever I need to watch baseball. I may not always know the players but the experience is great.
So I went to a Thirsty Thursday with some friends. The beers were a dollar so it was pretty packed. The only prospect I knew on the Suns’ roster was left-handed pitcher Andrew Heaney. The Suns are the Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins.
Heaney wasn’t pitching, but upon walking up the stairs to see the field, I noticed the starting lineups. We had arrived around the second inning so I checked the board to see if I knew any names. Low and behold, listed as the second baseman for the Suns was “Rafael Furcal”. I knew he had signed with Miami in the off-season but did not know he was rehabbing in my hometown.
The great thing about Furcal isn’t that I’m a Marlins fan. In fact it’s just the opposite; I have been a Braves’ fan since I was a kid. That’s how I got to follow Furcal back when he came up with Atlanta. He was an all-star shortstop who I thought would be a Brave for life. Little did I know how big a deal free agency was.
After the career that Furcal had with the Braves, it was hard not to feel upset when he left in 2006 and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite the fact that he was on another team, I still liked Furcal. He was a good player who didn’t get into much trouble and had a cannon for an arm.
When I saw Rafael Furcal on the field in Jacksonville, it was awesome. I don’t recall having ever seen him play in person, so it was something special for me. He was playing second base and in a Marlins’ uniform technically, but he was playing for my team again – the Suns. Jacksonville has a large Atlanta fan base as well, which was evident in the support and cheers I heard for Furcal all night long.
I was hoping to see Furcal get a hit. He got one in the middle of the game. The problem was that I was on a beer run and only saw the tail end of him sliding into second base to beat out a throw from the outfield. I was a little upset, but at least there was a replay I could watch. After all that hype I built up for myself to see Furcal play, I missed his only hit of the game.
The Suns ended the game with a loss, and it was one of hundreds of games for Rafael Furcal that he will not remember. I’ll remember it for a long time though. I’ve been to a lot of baseball games over the years, but few have something memorable happen like seeing a favorite player from your childhood for the first time. The bad thing is that something like that doesn’t happen very often, but the fact that it doesn’t happen very often is what makes it so special and memorable to begin with. Man I love baseball.