When Concord Pastor Willy Vega was invited to attend a recent A’s game by Vice-Mayor Edi Birsan, he was beside himself. Birsan and Pastor Vega had met a few years ago at a Todos Santos Music and Market concert. Birsan was Mayor of Concord at the time. They discovered that they are both from New York and instantly bonded. For this game, the A’s would be hosting the New York Yankees.
“I am a die-hard Yankees fan,” Pastor Vega said. He says he wears a Yankee jacket every day to work. All the Yankee championships are listed on the back. “I said to Edi, ‘Are you serious!’ I had just received a special award by the county for helping so many people.”
Pastor Willy is the Supervisor at the Concord Shelter. He had just been awarded by the county for his work there. He is also the associate pastor at Grace Free Will Baptist Church.
Once his son heard his dad was going to the game, Pastor Willy asked if there was room for one more so he could bring his son. His son was a Yankee fan but had never seen them play live nor ever been to a professional baseball game… yet his name is Yankee.
Yes, his name is actually Yankee. “On his birth certificate his name is, Wilfredo Baby Yankee Vega, Jr.,” Pastor Willy reiterated.
So, on Wednesday evening, June 28, the party of five headed to the A’s vs. Yankees game; Tim Carr who supplied the tickets and is a fellow curmudgeon with Birsan, Birsan’s son, Pastor Willy and Yankee.
At this point the day couldn’t get any better for Pastor Willy and Yankee, could it? It could. As the game began, the stadium appeared to have more Yankee fans in seats than A’s fans.
In the third inning, a foul ball landed a couple of rows in front of them. “I told Edi I would have caught that ball if I had a glove.” Pastor Willy had boasted.
“You know what?” Edi responded. “I’ve got a glove in my bag. I always bring my glove. I am going give it to your son and just maybe he will get lucky enough and catch a ball and make this the best day ever for him.” Edi stated that every time he offers his glove to a kid, the kid catches a foul ball.
Yankee takes the glove. At one of the promotional breaks between innings, the A’s marketing team tosses foam balls from the booth into the audience. Edi’s son decided to take Yankee over near the window so maybe he can catch one of the foam baseballs.
Moments later, Yankee is running back. “What Happened, son?’ Pastor Willy asked.
“Look Dad,” as he revealed a ball from behind his back. “I caught the very first ball.” Yankee was so elated he asked his dad to sign it for bringing him to his first baseball game. Could the day be any more special for Yankee and Pastor Willy?
Still wearing the glove, Yankee moved away from the group to sit in a more open area closer to where the earlier foul ball had landed…as if lightning strikes twice.
In the eighth inning a screaming foul ball rocketed towards them. Yankee leaned over the rows, reached with his glove, and caught it! Everyone was elated.
“I’ve been here a few times, and I have never caught a foul ball!” Edi proclaimed. “I have given it to three kids, and they all caught a foul ball. “
By now the game is well on its way to a Yankee shutout. “How special I thought it would be if my son’s first game was a Yankee shutout and he caught the ball.” Pastor Willy told the group.
“It might be even better,” Tim piped it.
“How could it be better than a no-hitter?” Pastor Willy asked.
Once the game ended, Tim was right. It wasn’t just a no-hitter. This was the game that Yankee Pitcher Domino German threw a perfect game, a feat which hasn’t happened since 2012. In fact, It was only the 24th perfect game in Major League Baseball history and only the fourth thrown from a Yankee.
Thirty days later both Pastor Willy and Yankee still carry the emotional highs of that thrilling day. What did Yankee say of this night?
“I had fun because I was with my dad on my first game. It was almost magical because it wasn’t just a normal game. There were a bunch of cool moments happening. I was with the Mayor, I caught a foul ball (thrown by German), it was a perfect game, my name is Yankee. It was really a fun night,” he answered.
Surely this perfect day when the stars aligned for Yankee and Pastor Willy was remarkable. A turn of events like this can only have one plausible explanation — divine intervention. And for that to happen on this day, God must be a Yankee fan!