Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Big League Interview (3) Grant Balfour

While at Angel Stadium I was hanging out during the Oakland A's batting practice and noticed a few people with some noticeable accents. By noticeable I mean awesome as there were a few Australians in the stands. It turns out that these were ball players from Australia who knew aussie Grant Balfour.

We had a pretty brief encounter as I hung out listening to their conversation (obviously listening not eavesdropping but they didn't seem to mind) about other Australians in the league and a few minor leaguers. It's a pretty small community and nice to know that they had a pretty good handle on all their countrymen in the US trying to make it in the bigs. It was also cool as he leaned in and shared some insider knowledge that hadn't been announced to yet, that he was told earlier in the day that he was going to get the shot as closer after Brian Fuentes' woes on the diamond.

After the guys left Balfour's family was actually there and he chatted with them for a while (I took a few steps away down the wall so they could have family time and didn't listen in). When his parents started to leave I reclaimed my spot on the wall and talked to Balfour myself for a minute.

Since this happened the first time the A's were in town, Balfour saw a ball come his way and started to check out the 50th anniversary logo stamped on the ball. I told him he should snag a few for his family since it's a pretty nice ball and he seemed to like the design. He handed the one he had been checking out to me and it was actually my first 50th anniversary ball (more on that ball later). He offered to get me a better ball since the 50 stamp was "Pretty beat up" as a thanks for the tip on the anniversary ball, but I declined and thanked him for the offer since it was my first 50th anniversary ball.

His family was on the way back so I had Grant autograph a ball for me then asked him the one question I had been dying to know about the former Tampa Bay Ray.

Did you like playing as a visitor in Boston or New York more?
(Insert Australian accent) "Oh New York mate." I probably should have asked him which stadium in general he liked to pitch at because Balfour's stats against the Sox and Yankees especially away aren't anything he'd be overly fond of. At Old Yankee Stadium he posted a 3.00 ERA and had batters hitting .393 against him. At Fenway a 6.75 ERA and .295 average awaited him.

I didn't have a chance to catch up to Grant the second time the A's came to town, but it was nice to share that little moment at the start of the season.


  1. Very cool, and good looking ball. Nice story, thanks for sharing.

  2. Was that on Kendry Morales Bobblehead Night? Balfour was very friendly that day, chit-chatting with everyone.