Craig Albernaz, August 6, 2013
Season: 73-45; Home Games Remaining: 12
Durham Bulls fans, at least this one, live for moments like the one we had in last night’s 2nd inning. We mention catcher Craig Albernaz a lot in this blog. And that’s for several reasons. We pay attention to most of the catchers anyhow. Albernaz been around for parts of five seasons (more than any other Bull). He’s got just about the best throwing arm I’ve ever seen. He’s one of the few Bulls I’ve ever had a chance to have a conversation with. He is often at the center of the Rays’ roster manipulation schemes which leaves him in the dugout but unable to play. Heck, I even met his college coach, Bill Mathews, last spring.
Last night was his night. Those roster manipulations of the Rays had put him on the disabled list for a while. But when Jason Bourgeois was promoted Albernaz came off the DL and was in the game as the designated hitter for the first time in his 8-season career.
At my age, I don’t recognize the hitters walk-up music, but I hope something dramatic was played when he came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 2nd inning. The very first pitch was the pitch he was looking for and you just knew what was going to happen. Sometimes I lose track of the ball as it comes off the bat. This time I didn’t. I could see every moment of its flight until it hit the Bull. Beautiful!
Now came an important few seconds. As Albernaz was coming down the third base path the noise was deafening and we knew, just knew, that the noise was not just about the grand slam, the applause and whistles and cheers were for Albernaz. I’d like to think that he knew it too. We stood for a while and tried to get him to come back out, but couldn’t make it happen.
The Bulls lost the game. But you know something, so what? Watching Durham Bulls Baseball is about — watching the Durham Bulls play baseball. Craig Albernaz gave me, and us all, one of my greatest thrills ever in all the the years I’ve been watching the Bulls.
More video here.