Price family provides golden touch for Goldy
Grayson and his brother tap bat of D-backs slugger, who then hits two HRs
PHOENIX -- After he finished taking his swings in the batting cage on May 17, D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was walking back to the dugout when he saw 9-year-old Grayson Price standing on the field with his family.
"He saw Grayson's name on the back of the jersey he was wearing and just came up and said, 'Hi, Grayson,'" recalled Justin Price, Grayson's father. "My wife and I were just amazed that he came over and talked to the boys. He took some pictures with them. He was just so personable. It was amazing, really."
What Goldschmidt did not know at the time was what the previous few months had been like for Grayson.
On Feb. 28, Grayson had been celebrating his birthday when he suffered a seizure that caused him to fall and hit his head. Taken to the hospital to rule out a concussion, the family received jarring news: A tumor was discovered in Grayson's brain.
Almost exactly a month later, Grayson underwent surgery to remove the tumor, and after it failed to get enough of the tumor, he underwent another one two days later.
All of this caused him to miss the D-backs' home opener on March 31, and not being there for home openers is something Grayson is not accustomed to. It was just the second one he had missed in his life since attending his first one just two months after being born.
A friend of the family wrote the D-backs about Grayson's ordeal, and the team invited Grayson and his family to attend the May 17 game against the Dodgers. They were given seats right behind the D-backs' dugout and field passes for batting practice.
"He's a superstar," Justin Price said of Goldschmidt. "But you wouldn't know by the way he treated us."
Grayson met a number of players that day, with third baseman Martin Prado giving him his wristbands.
"I walked over there and started talking to him," Goldschmidt said. "There were other guys there and we were just hanging out and talking. He got some autographs and seemed like he was having a good time. We were playing the Dodgers that night and we hadn't played well against them all year, so I was thinking we need to do something a little different. So I asked him and his brother if they would rub my bat for good luck."
Goldschmidt smiled as he recalled how unsure the brothers seemed when it came to touching his bat.
"They kind of gave it a light tap and were kind of shy about it, and I was like, 'No, we really need this win tonight so c'mon,'" Goldschmidt said.
Goldschmidt then said goodbye and headed for the clubhouse to get ready for the game.
"I've been there for a lot of D-backs moments -- the [Mark] McGwire batting-practice ball that went through the window and playoffs games, but this was by far the most memorable thing ever for me," Justin Price said.
It would become even more so.
The D-backs went on to beat the Dodgers, 18-7, that night, and in each of his final two at-bats in the game, Goldschmidt homered.
Afterward, as he wrapped up a postgame on-field interview, Goldschmidt looked up into the stands and waved to the Price boys as he headed to the clubhouse.
It was there that Goldschmidt realized just how special a night it really was.
"The funny thing, and I guess I can tell it now, was that it was my batting-practice bat that they rubbed, it wasn't my game bat," Goldschmidt said.
But when he got to the clubhouse after the game, Goldschmidt remembered that he broke his game bat when he doubled in the sixth inning. After that he had to use his batting-practice bat.
"So the two home runs were the first two times I had used that batting-practice bat in a game," Goldschmidt said. "I didn't realize that it was the actual bat that they rubbed until after the game when I came in and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, that was the actual bat they rubbed.' It's just a cool story, so I shared it with the guys around the clubhouse. It just seemed fitting because I don't break a bat that often, so it was pretty cool."
Justin Price, who served two tours of duty in Iraq for the Army National Guard, has been a diehard D-backs fan since the club's first season in 1998. He said that the way his family was treated made him even more proud of his allegiance.
"I wrote a thank you email to [team president/CEO] Derrick Hall and he responded during a game from his iPhone to me," said Price. "Just the whole organization top to bottom is first class. They didn't have to do anything for us. It was incredible what they did."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.