The Red Sox were in the building, but they were outshined by a Giant.
Although there was much anticipation surrounding their return to campus, the highlight of the first annual Pomona-Pitzer Alumni Baseball Game was not the presence of two P-P alumni currently playing professional baseball with Boston’s minor league affiliates (Drew Hedman PO ’09 with the Salem Red Sox and James Kang PZ ’10 with Triple-A Pawtucket).
Instead, San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson was in attendance, signing autographs and watching his former roommate Adam Gardiner PZ ’04 tear it up on the field. Sporting his famous jet-black beard, Wilson chatted with Pomona professor Lorne Foster, who brought the World Series champion to talk to his baseball-themed ID-1 class.
I got a chance to sit down with Wilson after the game in what appears to be one of the first serious interviews Wilson has ever given to a journalist:
TSL: So what did you think of the alumni game?
BW: It’s entertaining, I love it. I know Adam, my friend, was real amped for it for the past few weeks. He’s been training really hard, on a strict diet, lifting weights hard ‘cause he wanted to impress out here.
TSL: Do you think he impressed?
BW: I think he did, he got a base knock the other way, almost threw somebody out at home.
TSL: What’s the best part of being a World Series champion, besides the ring?
BW: Besides the ring? I’d say the parade. It’s what a lot of the past World Series winners have talked about, how the whole city embraces you. You know, 200,000 people were supposed to come out and then 1.2 million people show up in the city of San Francisco, and you have the high-five parties and people are raging… It was a lot of fun, and it lasted a solid week. I had to get out of there, it was a little too crazy for me.
TSL: Where did you go?
BW: I live down here, in Southern California, for the weather. It’s easy to train, I did a lot of traveling.
TSL: So what’s life been like for you since the Series?
BW: It’s the same once the Series ends, you get ready for the next season. Every team’s gonna be gunning for us so you gotta come out in better shape, being that you lose a month of your off-season.
TSL: Have you had a chance to meet any of the current [Pomona-Pitzer] players yet?
BW: I shook a few of the guys’ hands; we haven’t had any really in-depth conversations, just passing by.
TSL: How do you think they looked?
BW: It’s baseball, one of the greatest games we have. It’s fun to watch, it’s fun to play, it’s fun to be a part of it. It doesn’t really matter if you win or lose.
TSL: So what would you say to our team, if you could give them any words of advice?
BW: Gosh, I don’t know how good of an advice-giver I am… you know, as long as you go out there and have fun I don’t think anything else matters. That’s how I approach the game. I mean, I take it serious to an extent, you know, in that I get paid for it, but I’m out there having fun. I mean, you’re going to see me laughing on the mound most of the time.
Although Wilson turned down an invitation to showcase his 100-mph heat in a game of recreational baseball with Pomona students (his contract probably prohibits such activities), his advice was well-taken by the players. After the game, P-P baseball alumni and parents came together for a barbecue social. The young children of some alumni raced around the bases, and a good time was had by all. Coach Frank Pericolosi said that he was pleased with the turnout and hopes to hold another game next year.
And who knows—if Hedman, Kang, or rumored draft pick Nick Frederick PO ’11 ever makes it to the Big Show, they may very well get the chance to meet Wilson again—from the batters’ box.