CHICAGO -- Morgan Chmara joked with her cousin Megan in the right-field bleachers that they were destined to be the recipients of one of the Chicago White Sox's many home runs on Friday night.
Danks swore that as he approached the batter’s box, a vision came to him -- he was going to hit a home run. It was some vision, because he had zero major-league home runs in his career up to then and had never hit a walk-off home run at any level.
One pitch later, Danks and Chmara were proven both correct and became linked in a story both will be telling for the rest of their lives.
Athletics reliever Pat Neshek delivered a first-pitch fastball. Looking to jump on the first pitch and hoping for a fastball, the left-handed-hitting Danks connected wood perfectly with ball, and the ball skyrocketed, leaving no doubt where it was headed.
Chmara’s ticket was supposed to put her in the second row of section 105, but she had moved up about nine rows to sit with the rest of her party. When Danks’ shot flew in her direction, she jumped to her feet like nearly everyone in her section. All attempts to catch the ball on the fly were unsuccessful, and somehow Chmara found the ball resting at her feet and snatched it up.
“Everyone went crazy, and I just picked it up,” Chmara said with a laugh.
As Chmara was clutching her prize possession, Danks was jogging around the bases not exactly knowing what or how to feel.
“Oh, man,” Danks said with an endless grin in the clubhouse afterward. “I didn’t know what to do. I’ve seen so many people do it. This being my first I didn’t know what to feel. I just felt really happy.”
Danks’ happiness was shared with all of his teammates moments later. After stepping on third base and approaching home plate, Danks took off his helmet, skipped, threw his helmet around his back toward the dugout, continued to run into a gauntlet of his teammates and finally reached the plate where everyone jumped on him in celebration. Someone -- Danks couldn’t say whom -- hit him in the face with a shaving-cream pie.
White Sox manager Robin Ventura watched it all from a safe distance.
“If you’re going to hit it, that’s a good way to hit one, especially it being his first,” Ventura said. “I know he’s excited to be able to contribute in that kind of way. He was filling in for guys who were hurt. Now he gets a shot to really do something -- win a game. Any guy who does that, it’s exciting, but your first home run, he probably won’t sleep a whole lot tonight.”
Chmara, who was visiting from Toronto, was ecstatic to retrieve the home run, but her day was made even more exciting when she heard what the significance was to Danks. She was gladly willing to give him the ball.
“That’s really cool, too,” Danks said of receiving the ball. “I wouldn’t have been sad if I didn’t. The feeling is 10 times greater. But to get it back it pretty cool.”
All Chmara asked for in return were two signed balls. As Danks signed the second ball, he said, “My hand is still shaking.”
A White Sox’s security guard took the signed ball, delivered it to Chmara in the reception area and she was told by a reporter what Danks had said about his hand still shaking. Chmara’s eyes lit up and she smiled.
“Oh, my gosh,” Chmara said. “I think that’s exciting. I’m glad to be a part of it. Good for him. Congratulations, that’s awesome.”