It all began July 9th, 2010 at the Blueclaws baseball field in Lakewood, New Jersey. I knew I was going to a church outing with my family, but I didn’t know that I would meet my future husband. Our church always had seats in the picnic area, which is down the third base line (great place to catch foul balls, by the way). On that summer night in 2010, the Blueclaws were playing the Delmarva Shorebirds (Baltimore Orioles affiliate). Sitting in the bullpen was number 35, Brian Parker, who kept catching my eye throughout the game. The Shorebirds actually won that night, but looking back now, I was the big winner. After the game, he dropped the corniest pick-up line before he headed for the showers: ‘So….what is there to do around here?”. Despite his lack of game (sorry honey, I love you), I still found him interesting and funny. He would prove to keep me laughing for years to come. We exchanged phone numbers and met up later that night to go out to a club in Seaside. It was at Hemingways that I actually got to know him better and we shared a couple drinks called ‘trash cans’ (sounds delicious, I know). It was an amazing night of dancing, talking, and dancing some more. Side Note: He was surprisingly a really good dancer! After that night I wasn’t really sure if I would ever see number 35 again.
The very next day, the Shorebirds had another game against the Blueclaws and I felt inclined to go and watch some baseball. Needless to say, I had ulterior motives showing up to this game! We continued to talk and exchange text messages, but I was pretty bummed when he had to leave on the bus to play his next series on the road. Day after day, we talked on the phone quite a bit, and his personality starting drawing me in. The Shorebirds came back to play the Blueclaws again that August during Brian’s birthday week. This is when he actually came over to my house and met my parents for the first time. He brought some of his baseball buddies with him, which my mom secretly loved. We celebrated his birthday with a cake and once again, he got on the bus to go away. At this point, we were both clearly interested in one another and some feelings had started to grow. In September 2010, I travelled to Maryland to visit him on two separate occasions. We went to the beach in Ocean City and a couple different bars while I was there. I had a blast. Part of me was actually falling for this guy, and the other part was convinced it was just a summer fling. During that off season, he went back to Oregon to live with his father and grandparents. We continued to talk constantly, and used Skype all the time. He made me happy, he made me laugh…he made me relax.
In January 2011, I took a flight out west to see Brian and meet his family. I wasn’t sure what to expect – I had never travelled further west than Pennsylvania! Looking back on it now, it was pretty audacious of me to fly out there alone to meet a man that I was falling in love with. Even my friend Melissa thought I was crazy and was worried about me going! While in Oregon and Idaho, I met his mother, father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and dogs. His grandparents were so incredibly sweet and welcoming to me. The lifestyle out in the country is a little different than what I am used to, but I found it to be a relaxing week. At the end of the trip, I uttered those three words that one can never take back. Yup, I was the first one to say it. I could tell he was hesitant to echo my words, but he did and it was a big relief for me. I cried while saying my goodbyes at the airport and wondered when I would actually be able to see him again.
Some months went by, and during this time Brian was released from the Orioles organization and picked up by an independent baseball team in Chicago. He flew out to Chicago in April and played with the Rockford Riverhawks for a few months. I had planned a trip to drive out there and surprise him for his birthday in August, but he left the Riverhawks before this could happen. After playing in Chicago, he had the choice to either go back home to Oregon, or come to New Jersey and live with me. It was something we talked about, and we made the huge step in the summer of 2011 to move in together. We got a small place in Bayonne, NJ, close to where I work. Brian worked any side job he could to make ends meet. He mowed lawns for an entire summer all over the state, and even worked overnight concierge at the same time. Aside from his other traits, he proved to be a hard worker and willing to do anything to live comfortably. During the 2011-2012 season, Brian started playing with the Newark Bears, a local NJ independent baseball team in the CanAm League. He did well, and ended up playing with them for another two seasons after that. I went to as many games as I could, which was quite a few considering how close the stadium was to our apartment. I learned so much about baseball during this time, and grew fond of the game. It was great to see him play and fulfill his passion for the game. It was rewarding to get to see him play and cheer him on – and I met some interesting people along the way!
After a year of living in our first apartment, we moved to a bigger apartment in downtown Bayonne. This apartment allowed pets, so we planned to get a dog down the road. In November 2012, we were blessed with a beautiful blue nose pitbull that we named Sadie. We both started to excel in our jobs and became more confident and comfortable living together. We started talking about getting married and having kids, but I never realized how fast time was flying by.
Fast forward to July 11th, 2014 – a date that I will never forget. The Delmarva Shorebirds just happened to be playing the Lakewood Blueclaws at the same stadium we originally met in. Ironic, yes, but I wasn’t prepared for what everyone had planned. It was arranged that I would throw out the first pitch of the game, along with some older Italian men (it was Italian Heritage Night). It was pretty comical, and I was so focused on just making the pitch to home plate. Everyone from my church (about 100 people) were there, along with about 6,000 other baseball fans. I was the last one to throw out the first pitch, and I was so focused on throwing the ball that I didn’t realize who the catcher was. After I threw the ball, which was a perfect strike, I got the surprise of my life. I was facing the announcer on the field when he said ‘there’s somebody you might know.’ By the time I turned around, Brian was walking towards me from home plate and took his catcher’s mask off. How could I not know it was him the whole time? Easily, with all the catcher’s gear and the sun shining perfectly in my eyes. And of course I didn’t suspect that Brian would be behind home plate. He gave me a quick kiss and got down on one knee, in full baseball uniform. Don’t ask me what he said; I was so overwhelmed with emotion and in shock! He pulled the ring out of his back pocket and proposed to me right in the middle of the field – the same field we first made eye contact four years prior. Of course I said yes, even though I had no idea what he said or asked! My family and friends played a big role in this day too; there were so many cover-ups and plans leading up to the day of the proposal. My mom played the biggest role in helping Brian make this a reality – and I couldn’t thank her more for helping to make this one of the most magical days of my life. I couldn’t dream of anything like this happening to me, but I couldn’t be happier. Now, it’s time to start planning a wedding!
Follow me on my journey of engagement, up until the day of my wedding! First on the to do list is finding a venue and picking a date. Keep posted for future blogs about my search for the perfect wedding venue! Much love <3