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"That's The Way I Remember It" by Dale Ruiz""A Spring Training Adventure To See Garth Brooks"



As a new fan of Garth's,(hey, it was Chris Gaines fault!), imagine my surprise when it was confirmed that Garth Brooks was going to be spring training with the NY Mets at White Stadium just 20 minutes away from my town! And not only that, I was already scheduled for vacation time the last week of February while my husband was away with a youth camp. Was this the ultimate vacation for one falling into my lap or what!? I couldn't believe my good fortune! But reality always has a way of putting a damper on any best laid plans. Mine came in the form of coming down with a sudden case of the flu, resulting in my calling in sick from Wal-mart for the very first time ever in 7 years, followed by a severe case of depression trying to bounce back on my own strength. I was so out of it even the thought of meeting Garth seemed trivial, if you can conceive of that! Yet, with all I've learned about the man, his music, his message, and his life, in just a very short time he has had an effect for good in my life like no other. So, with the encouragement of my good friend Diane, who crash-coursed me on all things Garth when I met her on the Chris Gaines Hollywood and Vine Forum, I knew I couldn't pass up this kind of opportunity. No way! The week Garth arrived I decided to take my 9 yr. old son Michael to the field, on my first day off, which happened to be President's Day, no school, Feb. 21st. We both slept in however as I was still getting my strength back. I called the stadium before we left. They said to come right away as the gates close at 1pm. When we got there we pretty much stayed close to the gate and watched other Mets players walk by, only some who were kind enough to sign some autographs. Apparently Garth was way out on the field with a long line of fans and it would be hours before he made it out to us. Time was running out for me and my son as I had to get him to his Little League practice in a few hours. Still, we waited, and it wasn't a total loss. Michael managed to snag Mike Piazza on his way out and he signed his ball! He was happy! Soon after that we got kicked out to the parking lot and waited a little longer. But it was a no go seeing Garth that day. But no worry. I had Wednesday off and then a whole week's vacation to come back all I wanted! At this point it's finally sinking in. I'm going to meet Garth one way or another! As Wed. approached I wondered what I really wanted to say to Garth when I did meet him. Only one thing kept driving me: To let him know how much his doing Chris Gaines means to me. Wed. morning I set out early, determined I was gonna spot Garth as soon as I got there and not lose site of him so I could figure out what the routine is and not miss out this time. With my good binoculars finding Garth in a flash was a cinch. Otherwise, just follow the crowd! We watched him do stretches and running, and we followed him from field to field alot this day. It seems he went all over the place more than anybody. Almost right away I noticed Garth's unusual habit of sticking out his tongue and flicking his right hand across it. Later I realized he did this when he was involved with throwing and catching the ball. He likes to spit alot too. Some thought this was funny. It was hard keeping up but as he went the crowds would part and the children would be right there and he would reassure them he'd catch them later after he was done working. (Some he even stopped and crouched down to eye to eye.) And work Garth did! Throwing , catching, and ALOT of hitting. It seems this was the coaches day to pick on Garth. He received alot of batting tips and worked so hard that he had to have a bandage put on his hand. Then they worked him some more! Don't ask me though if Garth was any good. I'm clueless, as I've never been sports inclined! Finally the time came to line up for Garth's autograph. We were told by his assistant where to go, and as we walked we followed Garth along the fence. He was signing things as he went. I could have stayed and followed him all day but that line was getting very long so I broke free to get in place. One man yelled out to him that he wanted him to sign his Bible and that he prays for Garth every night! Garth said he'd be glad to later but maybe his name shouldn't be put there (he was trying to be humble). The man said everybody's name needs to be in there! Along the way I met a girl named Terrie from Melborne and we ended up in line together. She filled me in what to expect as she had been there already. She was there to get her Chris Gaines CD signed too. And I gave her some Chris promo goodies I had snagged from work and ebay. Soon I found out she is also from the Garthbox. It was such sweetness meeting her right before my very first Garth moment. She helped ease my mind and we enjoyed our conversation. But ultimately, all I could think of was how much I wanted Garth to know how much Chris Gaines means to me. We waited over an hour. Not bad. The guy ahead of me whipped out his cell phone and handed it to Garth to say 'hello' to his loved one! Of course, Garth can't say no! And then it was MY turn! Garth led me away looking very strangely at me. This I did not expect! I wished I knew what he was thinking. Neither was I ready for what he said: "You look familiar to me." It was not a question but a statement. I told him "Me? No, this is my first time coming to see you." I remember saying it twice, so he must have repeated it. Then he asked me where I was from. I told him Port Salerno, a small town near Stuart. Anyway, I took it from there telling him "Thank-you for doing Chris Gaines." I had handed him my limited edition holographic CD to be signed, which he had already started doing with his own pen. I asked him if he could sign for Chris too and gave him my gold pen I brought. He said yes, he was going to do that on the other side. He was already planning on it! LOL! I mumbled his saying "You gotta believe" and thanked him for coming here. I then asked if he would sign my Wal-mart Double Live All Access Pass (from when he released the album and did the first satellite concert exclusive to Wal-mart shoppers.) I had the privilege of telling him how I work for Wal-mart and that this pass had meant nothing to me until Chris Gaines. (I'm telling you folks, I was in the dark about Garth.) And that now it meant everything to me. I hope he knows it's not just because he signed it. Also I brought a Garth/Chris promo tag I hang in my car. He kindly signed the Chris side without my asking! I think he tried to ask me if I got it with Chris Gaines but I misunderstood, I was so determined to have the last word. As he signed I noticed how gentle he is with his hands in everything he touches. He treated my things I brought to him as being special. He seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. Then it was time for a photo which Terrie snapped for me. This part I don't remember at all. Yet when I got my pictures back, there I am with Garth! As I was leaving Garth said he thought 'Driftin' Away' would be the next song. I agreed it was good, but told him it was 'Unsigned Letter ' that did it for me. He said something about that one being for the fan in the movie. I said I knew that, but that it's the one that got me in! I emphasized as I walked away that "Chris gets me right here" and patted my heart. I hope he felt my love even a fraction of the way I have felt his through Chris' music. Terrie was after me and she got a BIG hug from Garth for the homemade cookies she brought him! We took a few more pictures and saved one exposure to get one of Garth's truck. After that we hugged goodbye promising to post each other on the Garthbox. I left so happy at my good fortune getting to tell Garth how I feel. Yet, I couldn't stop thinking about the intense way he looked at me and that he said I looked familiar. I had read numerous times about his near perfect memory of the names and faces of people he meets. So what was that all about? I chalked it up to the rough workout the trainers had given him, but later two different people, Diane and a fellow associate, said I should have told him "Yes! In your dreams!" What I really wish I had said is "It is I who feels like I've known you forever!". By telling me that though, I felt honored that little 'plain Jane' me was 'recognized' by Garth. But I also think I honored him by having him sign Chris's name in gold.(In the confusion all of Garth's signatures ended up in black.) I had wanted them all in gold, but now Chris' signature is that much more special to me! But none of this compares to the joy Chris', and now Garth's music, has brought to my life. And meeting Diane on the Vine. I had hoped to tell him about her, but it was not to be yet...




On the next visit...Sunday, Feb. 27th,
After saying our goodbyes to Daddy's leaving us for the week, we headed off this beautiful Sunday to try and get Michael's Mets ball signed by Garth. I had made sure I bought some from the stand in advance so I could also get one signed for Diane's son. We found Garth almost right away, working out with the rest of the team as last time I was there. It was a relief that this day he didn't move from field to field as much, which was good because my son lost interest fast in watching the players practice, and settled into a long bout with the Gameboy he had brought. Soon he was complaining of the hot sun too. Besides, he really would rather see Garth in an actual game. Oh well, I guess that means no taking him out of school to come see Garth later in the week. Either today he gets his ball signed or that's it! Later, as luck would have it, a Mets field worker came by giving out balls used for practice that day. Michael really wanted THAT ball signed now more than the other. It made the waiting easier. I settled in with my binoculars watching everything Garth did and the reaction he brought to all even near him. I was determined to really see if all I had recently come to know about this man were true. I watched his movements, his facial expressions, his relationship to the other Mets players, the way he would walk up to people and their glowing reaction to him. One little boy watching him from the fence was approached by Garth seemingly out of the blue and he looked him straight in the eye and told him, "I'll always remember you buddy!" It was as if no one else was there but the two of them for that brief moment. A brief moment that was 'timeless'. At one point I heard Sandy and the girls were there. I later snapped a cute picture of the two oldest girls as they walked by holding hands. Even though it was taken of them from behind it showed their closeness and the back of their shirts said 100% huggable. No wonder Garth was in such a laughing mood that day with his girls there! And he was enjoying his practicing too. He really seemed to fit in with the other players as just one of the guys. I heard a few people comment that they were surprised he was out there as a real Mets player. Garth was the one working the hardest, setting an example for all to see that you can go the extra mile and smile while you are doing it! Now, I had heard Garth might not sign autographs today because his family was there and he had a team meeting to go to. But when Garth started walking away from practice my son's boredom suddenly turned to desperation to get Garth to sign not his ball but a Limited Edition Chris Gaines CD I had also brought! He really does enjoy it when I play Chris in the car, which is practically nonstop! I couldn't believe this was the same son who never even got this excited over Santa Claus! I could barely keep up with him but I urged him on in the packed crowd. We followed Garth from behind at such a close range that we could reach out and touch him. All the while my son keeps shouting "Garth! Garth!" I heard Garth say "Michael, I got ya buddy", though I am not sure if it was my Michael he was referring to. There were many people talking to him at one time. When we got to the gated area by the batting cages, only the children were let through to Garth, Michael included! I lost sight of him and Garth but I knew he was in the safest hands. Many minutes later he came out to show me his Chris Gaines CD and ball signed by Garth! He was so happy! And Garth had said he liked his Pepsi hat. (It's actually made out of Pepsi cans). Michael told him he liked Chris Gaines and he was also wearing the Chris button I had given him to show Garth our support of Chris. I asked him if Garth had looked him in the eye and when he said "yes" I told him to never forget that as someday it will be very special to him that Garth did that. Well, mission accomplished! Maybe tomorrow would again be MY lucky day. With Dad out of town it was up to me to drop Michael off at school every morning, so this day, Monday, Feb. 28th, I did some errands then headed right off to the stadium for another adventure. This was gonna be some vacation what with Dad gone doing his thing, my son in school, and me with all the time in the world to spend seeing Garth! I couldn't get over that ME, the new fan, was sent Garth almost to her back door! I really needed this at this time in my life too. And it seemed to be all coming to ME ever since Chris Gaines and all things Garth came into my life, especially my good friend Diane. Now, this day I hoped to give Garth my letter I had written to him, and one from Diane too. But when I got out to the field Garth was nowhere to be found! Some of the players were already out practicing but not Garth. I ended up following some other fans into the stadium itself. Of course! Garth was in there getting ready to play a scrimmage game! This should be fun! I settled into a seat taking all things Garth in, watching everything like a hawk! And listening too. People everywhere were talking about Garth and how good he is with his fans and that he holds babies and is such a great guy. Of course, some of us already know that! But seeing and hearing it as it is happening is something I will never forget. Garth's presence was obviously making quite an impact on every area of the field and stadium he had been, and on every single human being there. It was so cool to me to witness this right there in my community, and this was all happening without the backup of a Garth concert. This was Garth living out his beliefs in the real world and more than ever I began to feel part of the greatest team in there ever was. His music has affected so many people, as it has only recently my own, but I saw how he as a person drives it home, with everything he does and says. And it seems to come so naturally to him too! And he was adding quite a bit of fun to the game too. We all watched Garth up at bat(he got huge cheers for even the littlest attempts, while the other guys got basically ignored) and he played first base alot and left field. Garth was always right there, ready to do anything expected of him, and sometimes he would go off doing extra exercising and practicing, so he also took it very seriously too. At one point when I was watching him with my binoculars I heard the coach shout "Garth!". He jumped up from the dugout ready to follow orders, though at the time he had been distracted by another player next to him. It was so cute, the look on his face, like a kid caught not paying attention in class! Some time later Terrie showed up and we enjoyed watching the rest of the practice game together. She is such sweet company. I wasn't interested in hanging out with a crowd of fans. I wanted to enjoy just being around Garth. Seeing Terrie again was a joy. At one point she pointed to the stands behind the dugout wondering who the blonde was. Sure enough! With my binoculars I could see it was Sandy with the girls funning around like they owned the place! Soon she and the girls made their way down the bottom of the stands to wave goodbye to Daddy as he walked by on the field. Word went around they were on their way to the beach, as they had on their bathing suits. Garth however kept fight on working.Terrie and I began to worry if we would get to see Garth later as it was getting close to 1 p.m. and we were warned the gates would close to the field then. But no one seemed to know where Garth would be signing that day. So we decided to risk leaving the game and headed back to the field entrance to check things out. The gate to the club house was right there and we were reassured Garth would be out soon to sign.But as hours slipped by, so did our hopes for another autograph that day. And to top it off, there was no available bathroom to the public and we weren't allowed back into the Stadium either. I went to the ticket booth to inquire of available tickets and a bathroom. The male attendant asked me if I was there for Garth. I said,"Yes, it was Chris Gaines fault!" And I showed him my Garth/Chris tag. He said "Are they the same person?" I said, "Yes! Very much so!" As I walked away smiling he was shaking his head in disbelief. It was quite funny. I got back in line with Terrie determined to hold it in all day with no bathroom or not. Garth does it all the time, but I don't! Anyway, they opened the gate for a pregnant wife of one of the Mets players so she could use the bathroom, but not us! At one point the male attendant said we were making Garth out to be bigger than he really was, just an ordinary guy. Terrie and I looked at each other and both said, "Garth? Ordinary? No way!" As time slipped by Garth seemed to be getting busier out on the Stadium field. Word drifted to us that Sports Illustrated was there and he was being interviewed as he worked out in the clubhouse. And then next he came out to hit and pitch in the batting cages, which also had a mob of fans waiting too. Some fans were getting real tired of waiting for Garth, but I think he is worth waiting for. One lady who was in an electric wheel chair said she knew Garth from his performing before he was famous and that she had told him he was going to be getting all the music awards he eventually did earn. But as time passed she finally left, perturbed that Garth was keeping her waiting that long. In fact, almost the whole line seemed to dwindle. I wish I had gone over to watch Garth in the batting cages. There was also a gentlemen who was there everyday, telling us many stories of people he had met. I think he had been some kind of baseball coach. He said about Garth that he doesn't think he's ever met anyone quite like him. All the comments about Garth were like that. He has an effect on everybody that goes beyond the average acquaintance. We didn't dare leave our place in line to walk the short distance over to watch it. But it was getting very obvious Garth was gonna be very busy this day, and I had to leave to take my son to his own practice. I had to leave Terrie and hoped I'd see her again later. I don't think she snagged an autogragh either that day. But it didn't matter. I had spent the day with the biggest selling solo male artist in history who Chris had made so real to me as a friend that it seems I have him known forever. Still, I had a mission left to do: to tell him about Diane, give him her message, and our letters, and get an autographed ball for her son and a Chris Gaines autograph for David from the Garthbox. This journey with Garth seemed to be taking on a life of it's own...




Leap Year...
On this day, Feb.29th, I was really 'up' for seeing Garth again and I had a very important mission to accomplish. David, from the Garthbox had emailed me the night before asking me if I could get Garth's autogragh, but that he wouldn't be greedy thinking he could get Chris Gaines too. Now, David was very special to me as he was the first to encourage me on the the Garthbox and with Chris Gaines. I really wanted to make his dream come true so I told him he could dream bigger than that! And Diane wanted me to tell Garth she needs peace of mind, though at the time I wondered why. (Think Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz) But a friend lays it out for another friend, so it was quite clear to me this day was gonna be more for their benefit than mine. At least, THAT was the plan. While sitting in the stadium yesterday I thought of Diane constantly, as if she was there with me. We had been talking about rainbows and butterflies recently because of a Valentine's poem she had written for the Vine. They are also very prominent as a theme in the Christian retreats I have been involved in. I had seen a little yellow butterfly flutter right by Garth as he was at the dugout locker and I at that moment had just been thinking of Diane and how close we are because of Garth, though we have never met. I had our letters ready to give him still, and I knew I had to let him know about us meeting on the Vine. This morning as I was dropping Michael off at school I had seen a jogger passing the school with a shirt that said in bold letters on the back, "Keep It Real". I though, those are some powerful words. But then I saw them again on the same T-shirt a few minutes later while waiting at the gate at the stadium! I walked ahead to see the front of the shirt and if I remember it was advertising some kind of developement with Paradise in it's name. But those words, "Keep It Real", kept nudging me all day. They seemed so much like Garth!... Garth seemed in true form this day, and it was getting very obvious that he had established a very close relationship with some of the other players, especially Ventura. They are huggy-huggy! There was one player that Garth patted his heart for as the guy approached him. I love when Garth does that! You know he really means it! When Garth SINGS and does that, the song seems to penetrate my very soul. Garth seemed much more relaxed and very much in control of his environment. At one point a player was hurt as he slammed into 3rd base in practice. It seemed he was unconscious, but Garth kept his distance and let the guys who handle these things take over. The player ended up being alright, and Garth just kept doing what he does best: being humble in the middle of all the constant attention he was getting, and being the perfect example of how to use it for the greatest good for every soul there. I tell you, his presence is felt all over the place. It's that genuine love he has for all people coming through so naturally to him. It sucks you in with no chance of escape. Funny, but that's exactly what I deduced about Chris Gaines from his music... Watching Garth, I saw my Chris even more. When practice was ending I went in search of the area set up for Garth to give autographs that day. I plopped on the ground in some shade,breathing in the fresh air. There I met a nice young teenager who had all of Garth's Cd's with her. I gave her a Chris Gaines promo pin, which she proudly put on for Garth, and Give the Gift of Music card. We ended up in line together and I asked to see the things she had brought to give Garth. There was a glass angel to hang in his truck, with a nice business sized sentiment card she had taped to the package. That card thanked him for changing her life and being there for her, and it made me tear up, it was so beautiful. And she was still so young. She said she lived just over 'there', past the stadium. What good fortune for her too! She said he really likes it when fans bring him Chris' CD to sign. I took out the sky blue envelope with Diane's and my letters and looked at what I had written in gold on the front in big letters, "You Gotta Believe" and in thinking about it I added on the back with the same pen "Keeping It Real". Also I had put lots of rainbow and love stickers all over it: Love One Another, God is Love, Love is Eternal, Walk in Love, A Rainbow is a sign that everything is going as planned. I'm beginning to think those words were more for my own benefit than Garth's. As we waited Garth came over finally and he started taking the families with children first. This should have been a sign that time was running out for the rest of us but we were enjoying watching Garth pick up all those babies! His assistant today was MaryLou. She was the most cheerful of all Garth's assistants, and she was eating it up being a part of helping Garth and the families connect for pictures. She never seemed far away when Garth was around. Her smiling face gave her away! I took alot of pictures of Garth with the children, but hoped for more as we got closer. At one point a young assistant asked me to hold some cold waters and sports drinks so he could jump the fence. There were too many fans where Garth was, so he had no choice. When he gave the drinks I had held to MaryLou, I realized they were for Garth! Someone told a story about how a fan had said loud enough for Garth to hear that it's obvious who he favors, (the kids), and that Garth, very sternly and calmly told him to his face that if he had a problem with that he could end it right now. I assume he meant autograghing, not fighting! I had decided to spend all day watching Garth autogragh, so I called my daughter on my cell phone asking her to pick Michael up from school. She had just tried to call me to offer to take him rollerskating. What's funny is Thunderskate is right accross the street from the stadium. Oh goody! No hurry today! Oh,Oh! Suddenly we are following Garth accross the field toward the exit. He reassures us along the way he will take care of us. Many fans are putting there arms around him and enjoying the total access he is giving them. Some of the attendants are clueless though. They don't understand the love-relationship Garth has with his fans. I remembered reading that Garth says not to look at him but at the people. It is such a beautiful sight that I just walked along taking it all in being that close to Garth where he is absolutely the most fearless: smack dab in the middle of all his adoring fans. I wished I could hear everything that was being said, but some things are private, you know? As we all gathered at the gate to get another chance with Garth before he leaves, the attendant warns us we must cool it. We were pressed close trying to get near, but I think the attendant was panicking needlessly. He was the one feeling the pushing and shoving, not Garth, who was totally in control. As the people all huddled around him I saw him look each one dead in the eye, and I swear, I could see time stand still for a brief instant frozen in another place, another time. It was like finding out for the first time that Santa Claus was real! It was almost sacred to behold! And then I noticed the evidence of how much Garth gives of himself. Up close I saw the salt from his sweat on his ears and hat, and the peeling of sunburn too, which showed off his laugh lines around his eyes even more. Under his hat, whenever he took it off, you could see how white it was against all that sunburn. But I saw him wearing them proudly, as his badge of honor serving the people he loves so much. I have seen Christian love like that demonstrated at the retreats I've been to, but never out in the real world among so many people and with such authority as Garth seems to be blessed with. When he walks, you can feel it. No wonder Garth doesn't need bodyguards, what with all that heavenly strength shining through him. The male attendant tried to convince him that the hot sun was gonna be too much for him and that maybe he should think about giving it up. I couldn't hear all of Garth's reply, but I saw it! He told the guy he simply stretches his head to the sky and that usually does it, as he is demonstrating HOW he does it I realize I have seen him do this looking up and stretching alot on the field, and that I myself have been doing it too when I am looking up thanking the Lord for bringing Garth here. Amazing! This seems to encourage Garth to be there for us even more! He tells Sandy on a cell phone that he is gonna be alittle late and he repeats her order for hamburgers to bring home! He tells her he is sorry and that he loves her. Then he dives back into that pit of love with us as if it is the most important thing in the world to him. And he lets us know he loves us by things he says; "Thanks for hanging in there with me buddy"; "Thanks for taking care of me"; "Thanks for believing in me"; "Thanks for waiting". Of course we keep reassuring him it is US who thank HIM for staying. And he is still going the extra mile letting pictures be taken too! Some may have gotten mad about this as they wanted their turn, but it is wonderful watching him indulge us that way! One lady who had her picture taken with Garth was ecstatic when Garth insisted her husband get in the picture too. She said," With BOTH the men I love!? My life is complete!" I said, "It's only just beginning!" At this point it was almost my turn but I got pushed into the attendant and I apologized that I would never push him and that others had pushed ahead of me. He seemed so frazzled. Too bad he wasn't seeing what I was seeing. To him, this was just work. To Garth, it was just pure pleasure. I encouraged the girl I had met to be bold, that Garth would want her to be first before us adults. But she was so patient. When she handed him the angel he held it up to the sun and thanked her for being so sweet. Some fans had copies of the silver cover of Country Weekly with "IT'S OVER" across his beautiful photo on the cover, and I wondered if it made him a little uncomfortable signing something that seems to be a slap in the face. But most had brought their favorite Garth cd's. Signing his own music seemed to bring him the most pleasure. Before MaryLou left, I decided to give her our letters to Garth in case my chance ran out. She put the envelope in his pile. I promptly forgot about them as Soon I was right in front of Garth, but someone else tried to catch him from his side. He apologized to him and told him to hang in there. He would take care of him. Then, he turned back to me. I held the ball and a Lost in You Cd and told him they were for two friends Chris Gaines had given me. I gave him the baseball first and told him it was for Diane's son Christopher with a 'ph'. As he was signing it I told him I met Diane on the Chris Gaines Hollywood and Vine Forum and that she is my best friend ever. He says he is happy for me. And I remember to tell him that Diane says she needs peace of mind. At this he gives his little Garth laugh like he knows exactly what I am talking about! Then I give him the Lost in You Cd for David and asked him to sign for Chris too. He says, Sure, I can do that. Again, he is so gentle with his hands as he touches his own music. No one loves it as much as he. I'm thinking how much this is gonna mean to David. I was so confident that the Lord was going to let this happen just for him! As much as David has encouraged me, now it was my turn to return the favor as the 'new' fan whose ride is just beginning. And I am very grateful I got invited by Garth on that Chris Gaines NBC Special. I wouldn't want to miss this again for the world! Anyway, suddenly Garth leans over and gives me the warmest hug and tells me "Good to see you again." And I tell him thanks and that Diane and David are helping me to live the dream. He says he is glad for me, And next thing I know I am floating to my car, exhausted and thirsty. I call Diane and crash in bed. How must Garth be feeling after working in the hot sun too? Anyway, Mission accomplished! I lay in bed with sweet thoughts of Garth with the people he loves, and I realize I see something I will never ever forget. I went to bed that night with peace of mind. And I realize I have seen something I will never forget.

Next Day: March 1st: After the excitement of meeting Garth again yesterday and having been exposed to too much sun, I was glad this next day Garth was to be in the stadium participating in a scrimmage game. I wondered if he survived all that sun too. I saw that he was indeed there, and noticed whenever he took his hat off now, the whole top of his head was very white,while his face was very tan. He'll be needing to keep wearing that hat long after spring training, unless he gets some sun up there too! I chose a seat somewhat in the shade, directly across from home plate. This would be a good spot to get some closer photos of Garth up to bat. I was still on cloud 9 that I had been able to represent my friends to Garth the day before, and spent much of the day reflecting on all things Garth that I had experienced in such a short time in my life. I figured this day would be no less special! As usual, I spent many moments watching him closely with my binoculars. The closeness he had established with the other players, especially Ventura, was very obvious when Ventura grabbed Garth with a big bearhug from behind. It was touching watching them, and the way Garth waited for him to follow him to the locker room. It was also this day when I started feeling vaguely aware that I was getting uncomfortable watching Garth so much, especially when he would be squinting his eyes toward the stands. Did he feel stared at? And I thought about Sandy, if she walked by and saw me would it bother her? I decided I already knew what to expect from Garth at this point, and I settled in to watch the game. When Garth came up to bat a photographer appeared suddenly in front of me and he eyed me strangely. Was he trying to figure if I would let him cut in front of me for a photo? He didn't try, and we both got pictures. But then he comes over to me saying he is a reporter for the Tribune. And he started asking me questions about why I was there. I told him it was Chris Gaines fault and he seemed totally perplexed! He backed away, then came back asking me my name and age, and was I there to see Garth or the game. I told him Garth, and he said he was looking to take photos of some real Garth fans. I said 'OH, okay." And I sat up in my seat for a picture. But instead he backed away from me again as if I might bite him or something! Guess he wanted a Garth fanatic, but truth is it's Chris that gets me hyper. Maybe I should have told him more about Chris Gaines, then maybe it would have been good publicity for Garth's movie. But I think all this guy really wanted was a freaky fan, so I'm glad I didn't qualify! I may be a stray dog who just wandered in, but I have as much right to Garth as anybody, even if I don't get petted much! When one man near me spotted Garth in the dugout he said to his party "hey, there's Garth Brooks! He sure looks different without his cowboy hat!" and all I could think was, "He looks the same to me!" While the guys had been practicing warming up on the field in the stadium, the speakers in the stands suddenly came to life with what else? Garth tunes! Seeing Garth in his element with his music blaring for all to hear while he does his thing was a wake up call that Garth's presence there couldn't be denied. It truly permeated the place! This was almost as good as church! The songs simply drove it home even more. I wrote them down as they played because I never wanted to forget the experience of being 'serenaded' by Garth's music with the man right there!: #1,"Ain't Going Down Till The Sun Comes Up", #2,"Friends in Low Places", #3,"Callin' Baton Rouge", #4, "The River", #5, "Much too Young to Feel This Damn Old", which got cut off half way through. What was odd, at some points the piped stadium announcements went over the speakers too, but Garth's songs were louder! They just seemed so ALIVE. It was awesome! I didn't know it, but Terrie was at the game too! When she spotted me she came over to watch with me. There was a couple behind us, and the woman commented that she just didn't understand why Garth Brooks was even there. Terrie turned around and kindly explained about Touch'em All and what a great guy Garth is. The woman apologized for criticizing him, and was visibly touched now by his presence at the game. I told her she didn't have to feel bad, because she didn't know. I'm glad Terrie was able to enlighten her! Then Terrie pulled out of her bag an article about Garth's involvement with the Mets from the Florida Today newspaper. I devoured it, as it showed Garth's true influence in all aspects on the team and how he has brought good to the Mets' team moral in general. Diane kindly has posted the link on this site if you care to read it. Terrie gave me some paper so I could write it down. I wanted to make sure I had a word for word copy in case I couldn't find it later. I was writing furiously, oblivious to the game, unless Garth was up to bat! When I was almost finished, we got kicked out of the stadium, and headed out to the gate hoping for autographs. There was already quite alot of people waiting. We got in line, but I had already decided to not wait for autographs that day after all the sun I had endured the day before. While Terrie waited, I wrote down the remainder of the article. Suddenly, I heard someone playing a Garth song on his guitar while standing in line , and some of the fans started singing 'Friends in Low Places'! Then they did 'Workin' On A Full House!' This was such a touching moment being serenaded by other fans. I just drank it in, realizing how much of these songs Garth really lives out in the real world. And to hear a guitar being used right there for what the good Lord gave us Garth music for. It truly bonded us. Many Bible verses came to my mind, especially Garth's favorite, that through God all things are possible. I had witnessed Garth doing the impossible for seemingly just one man, having the ability to touch every life there and quite possibly the whole world with his music also. And he did it one-on-one, like his song "The Change." I realized that he really knew what that song is all about and what it really takes to believe that someday "We Shall Be Free". And with the friends Chris and Garth have given me, I know I am a part of the solution now. Garth got delivered practically to my backyard. But Garth is the one who opened my eyes to just how BIG my backyard really is! I said goodbye to Terrie and never looked back. I was being propelled out into the real world truly inspired that even I can make a difference for this world. There would be no saying goodbye to Garth, 'cause like I've known all along: this ride is only just beginning! Maybe I would see Garth one more time tomorrow, but it was not to be. Terrie emailed me that the whole stadium would be closed for the next two days, and then the first game Friday. I was not sad at all. Garth already taught me what I really needed to know. I have tickets to two games, so I will tell you highlights of them also, but just be aware, as you may have noticed I am not sports wise! For details on the actual game plays you need to go elsewhere! I can only tell it to you through my eyes, as well as my heart, where it remains always, just as I remember it...


The Game
I had my sister Lauri order tickets to two home games, a Saturday night game vs. the Montreal Expos, and the following Friday afternoon game vs. the Detroit Tigers. I bought 3 tickets for both games, my sister bought one for the latter. On the day of the first game, March 11th, my son's Little League game was rained out and it was still raining when it was time to leave for the Stadium. I called first to make sure it wasn't cancelled. They said not yet! As we drove I95 to Port ST. Lucie it continued raining up until the Port St. Lucie exit. As we approached it the sky was clearing and I declared it sure looked like a rainbow had to be forming somewhere! They are quite common in the big Florida skies. As we parked we were just glad that the rain had stopped even though it looked like more rain coming. As we walked through the parking lot we spotted it! A rainbow was indeed forming! Directly over the Stadium! It was faint, but it was there! We went straight to the merchandise booth so I could get some G. Brooks official Mets shirts, one for me, and one for Diane. My husband decided to get one too, though he is a diehard Braves fan. My son wanted a hat. I also bought a Spring Training program guide from a vendor. In it Garth was listed as an Outfielder and all his music awards were listed as well. Our seats were behind the dugout and we didn't get to see Garth until he was called out in front of it by the Mayor of Port St. Lucie, who proceeded to present to Garth the keys to the city for his good example and work he has done for our community. As far as I'm concerned Garth can have the keys to the whole world. He knows how to use them, I'm sure! It was a short and simple presentation, I had heard, as to not let him outshine the rest of the team. Sorry, but I don't think there are any on the rest of the team who shine like Garth, though after spending time spring training with him I'm sure they've much improved! If anything they were grateful to let him have some of the spotlight for awhile. Piazza said as much. The only other time we saw Garth was when he finally came up to bat at the bottom of the 8th. There was a guy originally from NY who had been cheering "We want Garth!We want Garth." The couple in front of us was not too pleased as this guy had a LOUD voice and had been making other comments about the other players skills. But it was all in fun, and soon a few of us joined him in cheering for Garth to make an appearance. There was a lady with a few members of her family who came down from NY to see Garth play, sitting directly behind us. I showed them my picture taken with Garth. The lady insisted Garth's concerts are the thing to see. I told her it was Chris Gaines who got me into him, and I gave her a 'Give the Gift of Music' Chris card. She let me know that she didn't like Chris' music that much. Well, I got Chris, she's got her memories, so I guess it works out for both of us. When Garth finally came up to bat everyone cheered of course! He grounded out at the bottom of the 8th. The Mets won, 4-2! During the game it did indeed rain a couple of times, but not enough to cancel. We didn't see Garth hardly at all, yet it was a good family night out. We didn't stay for autographs, and though he was also hungry, my son was so tired he crashed into bed as soon as we got home. Friday, March 17th. I was really looking forward to this one! My sister and I were going ahead of my son and husband who were going to get out early from school and work in order to meet us there. Plus our tickets were situated close to first base, which meant we would have a better view of the players in the Mets dugout. I also hoped to get a family photo with Garth. My sister picked me up and we listened to 'Sevens' on the way. Wouldn't you know this day the Stadium also played a few songs from Sevens. "Two Pina Coladas" was one. And of course "Do What Ya Gotta Do", which was also repeated while Garth was getting warmed up to bat. Before the game we went to the merchandise booth, as I promised a friend of Diane's that I would try and get her a G. Brooks shirt also. They also had children's sizes this time so I bought one for Michael. Jerome and I were already wearing ours that day, and I told Diane to wear hers too for us, even though she couldn't be there. I also got two ball holders for Michael's Garth and Piazza signed balls, and an 8by10 signed player photo of Garth. Today it was very hot in the sun, and there were a few very rowdy people in our area. Watching Garth in the dugout, my sister commented on his smile. I don't think there is anyone who can outsmile that man.But despite the sun and the loud fans, I came with my family to see Garth play, and this time we were not disappointed. Garth was placed in the left outfield in the 6th inning and held that position for the rest of the game. He also came up to bat 3 times. First, he struck out. The second time a pop-up. The third, a ground out. I'm sure he had a few more hits in there. I just don't recall. Also he caught a pop-up to left field, but only after two others were intercepted by other players when both times the ball was coming directly to Garth. We booed both times. It was Garth's ball and we wanted to see him catch it! Not fair! During the game my son was entertaining the guy sitting next to him with announcer comments he had picked up from all the video games he plays. He's a natural! And a good ball player. You never know, he could have a future in baseball. I'm just glad he got to see Garth and how he handles the environment with humility. Without that your skills don't really mean much. Despite all Garth's efforts, the Mets lost to the Tigers 1-2. Oh well. It was time to go find out where Garth was going to give autographs. When we got to the gate there was already a huge line of people. None of my family was willing to wait it out for Garth, and they insisted I already had my fair share of Garth autographs. The night before I had written Garth a check for 'Touch'em All' and stuck it in a note card, as well as a cash donation from another associate at work who gave it with joy when I shared my excitement with her about Garth's charity for children. I promised her I'd give it directly to Garth, so I had to a least get it to Mary Lou to give him. I had talked to her earlier that night. She said his Dad and brothers were there and she didn't know where he'd be signing that day. I went back to the gate and gave it to a male attendant to give to her. He said he'd just go right ahead and give it to Garth's brother and off he went with it. Success! In the note I had thanked Garth for coming to my 'backyard' and showing me how big my backyard really is. I haven't been the same since I met Garth. And just think, it's ALL Chris Gaines fault!!! I have put an album together of my photos and info about Garth Spring Training and Touch'em All for the people at work to see. I get teased everyday but it sure is a joy to be able to keep my Garth moments alive through sharing with others. Like I've been saying all along, for me, this ride has only just begun! It helps when you've been saddled up with a Fresh Horse! Thanks Garth and Chris!



TO E-MAIL DALE RUIZ: CLICK HERE


GARTH PHOTO'S

TO VIEW PAGE 1 PHOTO'S CLICK HERE

TO VIEW PAGE 2 PHOTO'S CLICK HERE

TO VIEW PAGE 3 PHOTO'S CLICK HERE

TO GO BACK TO GARTH BROOKS INFO AND QUOTES: CLICK HERE



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