Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 26, 2010



It wasn’t the smoothest start for Harvey Weber and his wife Tricia’s trip, but it ended up just fine — perfect even.

The Reserve natives, and now St. Amant residents, had planned a trip to see two of their own local baseball standouts face off as Oakland, featuring former St. Amant standout Ben Sheets, and Tampa Bay, featuring another former Gator Reid Brignac, were set to begin a three game series on May 7-9.

Weber had his room and plane ticket booked to Tampa already. But that was a problem.

“We were having coffee with Ben’s dad,” said Harvey, who befriended Arnold Sheets upon moving to St. Amant from Reserve in 1999. “I tried to get him to come, and he said, ‘Let me think about it.’ I said I had my plans to go to Tampa already.

“Then he says, ‘But the series isn’t in Tampa.’

The series was, in fact, in Oakland. Undeterred, Weber shifted those plans. He and Tricia would take a 5 and a half hour flight to Oakland.

Was it worth it?

On Friday, Brignac helped push Tampa to a 4-1 win with a pinch-hit RBI double. Then, on Saturday, Sheets earned the win, going 6.1 innings, allowing two runs and striking out eight in one of his better performances of the year to date.

But Sunday brought the real treat, as A’s pitcher Dallas Braden pitched only the 19th perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball.

“How does that happen? It’s so random,” said Weber.

Weber said that by the fourth inning of the game, murmurs in the crowd began. And by the sixth, a full-blown countdown of outs was on.

“There were a lot of 3-2 counts, and the defense made a lot of big time plays behind him to keep it going,” said Weber.

By its conclusion, Harvey and Tricia had wrapped up an unforgettable weekend.

“That was a once in two lifetimes experience,” said Weber.

While perhaps a new Braden fan, the Webers have followed the career of Sheets for over a decade, ever since Sheets’ mother, Betty, directed them to a television in 2000.

“She said, ‘My son’s pitching in the Olympics. Want to see?’” said Weber. “We just followed him from there. We saw him shut out Cuba, 3-0, whichwas unheard of.”

Ten years later, his fandom led him to be in just the right place at the right time to witness something special.

“I just love baseball,” he said. “And this was a trip to remember.”