Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

One Fan's Story of the 2002 Baseball Season

Jerry Feitelberg is a great baseball fan. I’ve known him for the past six years and his passion for the game is unmatched. 2002 was a very trying year for Jerry and his wife Jerilyn and their family, baseball played a role in helping the family overcome major challenges. One night in particular stands out. Take a minute and click below to read a story of life and baseball and tell me what you think. In my opinion, Jerry’s story is why I love the game. Baseball’s impact on everyone associated with it is profound.

Thanks Jerry, you made my day,

Marty LurieIt is now Mid-January and most people are thinking about the football playoffs. Who will be the teams that meet in the Super Bowl? That will be determined soon. Other people are thinking about the hockey or basketball seasons that are going on at this time. Not for me. I am thinking about the greatest game of all-baseball. I am looking forward to spring training and this year I am looking back to the season just past. Baseball in the spring signals a new beginning. It signals a season of hope and every fan believes that his or her team will go all the way and become World Champs as the Anaheim Angels did last year. Who knows? That’s why they play the games. That’s why I love baseball.

The season of 2002 was a very difficult season for me, personally. In mid-March of 2002, my wife was diagnosed with cancer. All thoughts of baseball were put aside while she underwent surgery, then chemotherapy and radiation to rid her body of these cells. Every night after a day’s work, I would come home to comfort her and help her recover from the ill effects of the treatments she was getting to save her life. I would rub her back or get her a drink or some food and if I could I would try to watch the A’s or Giants on TV with the sound off or I would listen to bits and pieces of the game on the car radio on the way home. I was not able to go the park, as one would certainly understand. I read the accounts of the game in the newspaper and my best source was on the net at a web site called written by Marty Lurie.The Daily Dish was just that. A feast for this lover of baseball and all the good stuff that could be found at this site.

As the season progressed, I was concerned that the A’s had great pitching but some serious deficiencies. Catching, second base, left and center field were problems and the A’s were not playing well early in the season. Billy Beane made some moves. John Mabry was a big help and Mark Ellis filled the bill at second base. David Justice got healthy and contributed. The A’s were in a tough division. The Angels, who got off to a bad start, got their act together and started to play well. Seattle, after a record setting year in 2001, was very tough. They would fade later in the season.

For me, all this helped me get through the dark days. We got up early and went for radiation treatment at 7am every morning for 6 weeks and all the time she was getting chemotherapy every 3 weeks and then 4 to 6 days of sickness from the chemo. How much could the body take? The answer is plenty. The patient finished her treatment at the end of July and we looked forward to her recovery. She was still weak from the treatment and the thought of attending a baseball game was still out the question but that was about to change in mid August.

From 1993 to 1998, I had the privilege or working with the A’s medical staff. I served as the team pharmacist for 6 glorious years. During that period of time I met many players, coaches and other people in the A’s organization. One of my favorite activities was to visit the press box and I got to meet some of the people who are involved in the radio broadcasts. One such person is Marty Lurie. Marty and I share a deep love of baseball and all the lore and legends and stories that makeup the rich history of baseball. It was through that friendship that I was able to bring in an advertiser that would sponsor Marty’s program. And, as all baseball fans know, the show is just the best stuff on the air.

The sponsor is Good Neighbor Pharmacy. It is a buying Coop that I belong to and promotes its member pharmacies in a variety of ways. Good Neighbor Pharmacy has been on board for 4 years and the A’s were about to reward the Good Neighbor Pharmacy people with a night in their honor. Little did I know what a night that would be for my wife and me?

I received a call from the Good Neighbor Pharmacy Director, Judy Malmstrom, and she told me about the A’s plans and that the A’s would like to have one of the Good Neighbor Pharmacists throw out the 1st pitch at a game. She said that there was one person that she would ask and that person was I. In Mid-August, I was asked if I would like to throw out the 1st pitch and the date would be September 4th. My heart was pounding. I could not believe this was happening nor did I have any idea what else was in store for me that night. I talked to my wife and she was feeling better. I told the A’s about her condition and they provided us with accommodations to keep her from getting cold or tired.

About this time the A’s got hot and started to win game after game. When I was with the club, we would talk about how every game was the 1st game of a 10 game winning streak. Baseball fans know how difficult the game is. They know the season is a marathon with peaks and valleys. The club goes well and then suddenly the boys are in the middle of a 6 game losing streak. This time the A’s kept on winning. Day after day, a win. Mulder, Hudson, Zito, Lidle, and Koch. All wins and soon the A’s were approaching the American League record for consecutive wins . 16 in a row.Then 17. 18 then 19. The 19th win tied them for the league record. The A’s were going for their 20th win on September 4th 2002.the very night that I was going to throw out the 1st pitch. After the toughest year of my life, the baseball gods cooked up a delicious brew for me. I could not believe what was about to transpire. Not only would I throw out the 1st pitch, the ballpark was sold out and I was going to do this before 55 thousand people. As Bill King would say Holy Toledo!!

As it got closer to the 4th, I realized that I did not want to throw the ball in the dirt. I could not embarrass myself and not throw it the plate. On Labor Day, I went out and threw a few pitches to gauge the distance. 60 feet 6 inches doesn’t sound like a long distance but it seemed like a mile to me. I tried to remember to throw the ball by my ear and get the trajectory down. After about a half hour I had enough and stopped. I didn’t want a sore arm. It was stiff the next day but I knew I would be ready for the 4th.

That day I was excited. The thrill of a lifetime. What person wouldn’t? I wore my A’s cap and T-shirt that the club had given me when I was with them. It was green and gold all the way. I drove home and picked my wife up and we went to the Coliseum. I made sure that she had warm clothing because it can get cold at the Coliseum at night and I did not want her to catch a bug that could weaken her. We got to the park and had dinner in the Bill Rigney press lounge. We went down to the field and met with the A’s staff that would walk us through the procedure. At this point, I was not calm. I was truly stoked. The A’s gave me a green and white windbreaker and prepped me. They have it timed down to the last second. They told me that Roy Steele would announce my name and I would walk to the mound and throw the ball. 55 thousand people. As my name was announced, I heard some cheers from the stands. I was concentrating on throwing the pitch. Should I throw it from the rubber? Should I throw it from the side of the mound? The A’s said do what makes you comfortable. I did. I threw the ball from the side of the mound. Not quite at the top. The catcher, Eric Byrnes, seemed a million miles away. Focus. Concentrate. I threw the ball and I did it. The ball landed in Eric’s glove. No dirt for me. I felt the greatest I had felt in a long time. Eric signed the ball and someone took a picture. My wife had a huge smile on her face. This was therapy for both of us that no amount of money could ever buy. I will never forget that day. September 4th, 2002. It was the only A’s game that I would go to the entire season.

As a footnote, my wife’s recovery is progressing. Life will never be” normal” for her but at the moment she is doing well. I thank all her caregivers especially the nurses and doctors that treated her. I thank the game of baseball for making last year a little easier for me and I thank all my friends and family whose thoughts and prayers got us through the dark days of 2002.

Jerry Feitelberg


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