Now that things are somewhat back to normal, I thought I would do a Fanpost on the experience that Aaron and the family went through leading up to his major league debut.
The wheels, at least my wheels, starting spinning as soon as I saw the news that Julio Teheran was being pushed back a day and Williams Perez was getting pushed up a day and was now lined up on Aaron's normal start day. The wheels started spinning faster when Perez is pulled after only 3 1/3. As I sat and watched Aaron throw arguably his best game as a professional, my head was spinning without a brake. This was all on Tuesday. Things only went faster the next day as the Braves optioned Perez to Gwinnett.
Thursday came and Gwinnett was now in Charlotte. As luck would have it, the Marshall University baseball team had just arrived in Charlotte for a weekend series, so after the game Aaron met up with the Marshall head coach, two assistant coaches and one of his former Marshall teammates who lives in Charlotte. A great way to keep his mind occupied. In the meantime, I get a message from Justin Baker, who is the radio guy for the Mobile BayBears, the AA affiliate for the Diamondbacks. Well, here was his message to me.. "He got the call!!!!!!". My response was "Said who?". The BayBear clubhouse manager had relayed the info to Justin and now my head was about to pop, but I didn't tell Aaron. I did however, buy one-way tickets to Atlanta for Saturday. The head is spinning faster now but the stars are starting to align a little better.
Friday comes and I send Aaron a text about his car insurance. He doesn't reply to me for a couple of hours and when he does he says he's sorry but he was with the pitching coach going over video of the Mets. I ask if that is just in case and Aaron tells me yes and that he is flying to Atlanta on Saturday instead of Columbus, Ohio. My question was "Is that your way of telling me you're pitching against the Mets?" His reply of "I'm not certain yet but I'm going to be there" still didn't help me out much. About 30 minutes later my phone rings and it's Aaron. The words I'd never thought I'd hear came through loud and clear. "I'm pitching against the Mets on Sunday!!!!! After a long pause on my end as I wipe away my tears, I congratulate him as I tell him we had gone ahead and bought our airfare and we would see him Saturday afternoon. His last words were, we can't put it on social media until the Braves announce it. That part really sucked. How do you inform all the people who want to be there for his debut and not expect it to somehow get leaked on social media? Well, anyways.
Saturday comes and my family and I are getting on a plane. Aaron is set to arrive in Atlanta about 11:00 am, go straight to Turner field, get his workout in and leave the field before the media arrives so the cat won't get let out of the bag. Aaron is also told he can't be at the game on Saturday night because it won't be official until after the game Saturday night. By time we land in Atlanta and find this out, we now have to find a place that can hold the now ever expanding list of people coming to town for Sunday. We find a place close by our hotel and Aaron's place to watch the game. There are about 25 of us there and as the night goes on and the place starts getting busy, it is getting harder and harder to keep the secret. About the 7th inning of the Braves game, the announcers start talking about the two possible starters for Sunday's game. Up on the screen a picture of Folty and Aaron come up and our group erupts in applause. The other patrons of the bar look up and see what we are reacting to and I can see a few of them looking up and then looking at Aaron, trying to figure if it was the same guy. Pretty fun stuff for me.
After the game, the post game show is on and then we see it. The Braves sent out the tweet to make it official- RHP Aaron Blair (@A_Blair19) will make his Major League debut for the Braves on Sunday vs. Mets. The bar erupts and my wife and I give Aaron a big bear hug. He's officially a major leaguer!!
Sunday rolls around and there are 55 in our group. Family, friends, former Marshall teammates and their families. California, Nevada, Ohio, West Virginia, New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Arizona. I counted about 15 new Braves jerseys with Blair and 36 on the back. A very proud moment. The game went by very fast and while the overall results weren't spectacular, I believe he showed that he is more than ready going forward.
We are very grateful that the Braves thought so highly of him and have treated him the way that they have. We are really looking forward to the opening of the new stadium next season and while this season doesn't hold great promise, I can see things are moving fast towards better results.