All A's

Braden's soul-stirring story of baseball card from MLB debut

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A professional baseball player's MLB debut is one of the most memorable moments of his life, and Dallas Braden certainly won't forget the first time he took a big league mound as a member of the Athletics.

But the former Oakland pitcher and current A's broadcaster also has a special keepsake to commemorate the day thanks to a very giving fan -- and the item holds even more sentimental value than meets the eye.

"You’re taking in everything in the ballpark, and it's a lot, and you’re always talking about wanting to take mementos from that day," Braden told NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil on the latest episode of "All A's."

Braden made his MLB debut April 24, 2007, at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, pitching six innings of three-hit ball in the A's 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Fast forward to about 2012, Braden estimates, and he was lucky enough to meet A's fan Seth Livingston at a card show.

"This collector comes up, shows me this card," Braden continued. "I’m looking at this card, and it’s called a Diamond Debut ticket, and it is an actual ticket, a game ticket, from that game, from that day, my big league debut."

Wild, right? But Braden's story gets even more unbelievable. Braden's mother, Jodie Atwood, died of cancer during his senior year of high school, and he lived with his grandmother, Peggy Lindsey, after that. His grandma was in attendance that day in 2007, and beside her was an empty seat.

"I look at this card, and I can see it says Row 31, Section C, Seat 3 -- and I got a weird brain -- and I go, that was right next to my grandma -- the seat directly next to my grandma, which was unoccupied at the game."

Braden told Livingston the story and even offered him money for the card, but the fan gifted it to the former pitcher for free.

"And obviously, your grandma was sitting in that seat, and your mother was not there, physically, but that's the seat ..." Brazil told Braden, his voice trailing off as he pointed up, implying that's the seat his mother would have sat in.

"That's the vibe," Braden said.

It's one of those moments that gives you goosebumps, and Braden is no stranger to them. He pitched the 19th perfect game in MLB history on Mother's Day just over three years after his debut, and his grandmother Peggy greeted him on the field with a hug seen -- and felt -- across the sports world.

And now, in 2023, Braden still has the reminder of his big debut, and the fact that his mother has been alongside him the entire time.

"You feel like you've got somebody watching," Braden said.

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