Once a month for nearly six years now, Galt Police Chief Tod Sockman has walked into the same pharmacy to pick up medicine for his daughter.
After a few years of seeing him every month, the pharmacist who helped him noticed he didn’t need to go to that location any longer, as the U.C. Davis pharmacy was out of Sockman’s way and the medication was now available at another pharmacy.
Curious as to why he decided to remain a customer, Molly Cavagnaro asked him, and Sockman told her that he enjoyed doing business there because of Cavagnaro’s friendliness.
The next time Sockman stopped in, Cavagnaro asked him something that would turn into a rare opportunity for any baseball fan, the chance to be a San Francisco Giants ‘ball dude’ during a game.
Sockman accepted her invitation last year (Cavagnaro’s mom had been the first-ever ‘ball dudette’ in Major League Baseball history and she has also been a ball dudette for the Giants), and on July 18 he was invited back for his second time as a ball dude on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day during the Giants-Mets game at Oracle Park.
“It was incredible. It was an amazing honor. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Sockman said of the first opportunity, which happened during a Giants game against the Dodgers. “This year, it’s law enforcement appreciation night. Of course, what a huge honor.”
Ball dudes and dudettes are responsible for scooping up foul balls and throwing them to fans during games.
During the July 18 game, Sockman was positioned on the right field side of the field and noticed that the bullpen catchers were scooping up the majority of the balls hit in that direction.
The crowd, however, wanted him to have more fielding opportunities and they eventually had their way, he said.
“I was totally into it, there were a lot of balls hit my way but the bullpen catchers were catching all the balls. A great moment at the game was, the fans in the stands were chanting, ‘let the ball dude get it!’ You get a chance to talk to the fans in the stands; everybody’s so friendly, so nice.”
To be on the field for the pregame ceremony that honored recent fallen officers pulled at his emotions, something that doesn’t happen too often, he says, but which was unavoidable in that moment.
“To be there on the field, to honor the fallen officers, while it’s sad, it’s also a celebration. Officer O’Sullivan’s family was there and Officer Corona’s family and department were there. To be on the field to be able to honor them just moves you.”
Sockman noted that the Giants staff was welcoming and friendly from his first step into the stadium to the final out and that he feels lucky to have turned a “once-in-a-lifetime experience into a twice-in-a-lifetime” experience.
“You just smile the entire time you’re there. It’s amazing. My goal was to let no ball get past me. Nothing got past me.”