Programming note: Watch the re-air of Dallas Braden's perfect game Saturday, March 28, at 5 p.m. on NBC Sports California.
If you ask him about his perfect game, Dallas Braden might not use the word "perfect" to describe it leading up to it. He didn’t have a typical “every fifth day” routine a starter would have prior to May 9, 2010. He had a late-night/early morning before the A's would face the Rays.
"For me, the day leading up to the start date, was always a very important one, but in this instance, I essentially took everything that I had been disciplining myself during the entirety of my career, and threw that out the window," Braden told NBC Sports California on Monday. "I got after a little bit the night before. Why? Because it's Mother's Day the next day, and Mother's Day has been an absolutely horrible day for me and my family, really up until May 9, 2010-ish."
Braden despises the holiday as it holds a lot of pain for him. His mother, Jodie, passed away when he was a senior in high school. She did a lot to support his dreams.
"The day before the start day, or the night before the start day, it was a 1 o'clock game, well I was up pretty early that morning before I went to bed -- I'll just say that," Braden added. "So, everything that was supposed to be 'normal' about a start day or that would have been normal about a start day for me was completely gone and out the window. I showed up to the ballpark about an hour before the game started."
His grandmother, Peggy, had beaten Braden to the Coliseum all the way from Stockton, about 70 miles northwest of Oakland.
"Before I had even gotten out of bed [she was there], that's kind of how I was doing that day," Braden said.
But it happened. Inning after inning. No hits occurred. He joked he would have to remove his cleats in order to keep count of what was actually going down.
Braden is humble when talking about his outing that day. He knows he doesn't have a deep pocket filled with specialty pitches. His velocity wouldn't break records, but what he brought more than worked for him that day.
“I didn’t have all of the bells and whistles," Braden said. "For me, I was such a studier of my opponent, a studier of the game because I didn’t have a lot of the tools that we see these major leaguers go out there with today."
Needless to say, when the game was over, Braden was looking for his grandmother.
"I knew after the final out, I knew that she was the only person that I wanted to see," Braden said. "I knew that she was the only one I wanted to make eye contact with. She was the only one I cared about, and I actually kind of got a little nervous and sick to my stomach because I knew right where to look for her in the stands ... she wasn't there. Now I'm kind of panicked."
Braden said he believes there's some footage somewhere of him looking for Peggy.
Off the top of his lungs, Braden was asking where "Gram" was.
"I've never called her grandma, I'd get slapped," Braden said.
Where was she?
"She was on top of the damn dugout," Braden said. "Seventy-plus-year-old woman, hanging out on the top of the third-base dugout, losing her mind because we just experienced something so 'magnitudinal' in our life and again, I was just so focused on making sure that she understood that in a time where it would be OK and accepted if I were to be spending that moment with my teammates, the ones who were responsible for getting us there, she would have understood that."
His teammates, however, knew that moment was for him and "Gram." They watched him with her and knew to stay away. Not with any bad intentions, of course. Because knowing sharing the moment with her was something that Braden wanted her to know that he's never at any point in time stopped thanking her and being appreciative of all of the sacrifices she, and his mother had made for him.
It's a moment that will go down in A's history, but for many reasons.
Braden, now an analyst for NBC Sports California, is approached by new and old Green and Gold fans. It's a responsibility he doesn't take lightly. For fans to relive that is a unique experience for him.
"Oh man, it's a little weird for me," Braden explained.
Braden loves talking about it, to a certain extent. The perfect game is often brought up to him so he enjoys talking about it with fans -- he wants to feel the energy that person has. That means more to him than anything else.
"Very different than watching it on television," he said. "And if we're being totally honest, I've never watched that game -- I don't know that I'll ever watch that game. I've seen at-bats, I've seen moments in the game, but to sit down and watch that game all over again, I don't know if I have that in me."
"Gram" however does. She has no problem reliving it.
"She always jokes about that because anytime that damn game is on, she is all over it and she's sending me text messages and live-updates," Braden said.
He doesn't want her to give any spoilers, of course.
"Fingers crossed," Braden said.