Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, took batting practice with the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night prior to their game with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Jarrett, who decided not to qualify after his team changed motors during ...
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, took batting practice with the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night prior to their game with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Jarrett, who decided not to qualify after his team changed motors during practice, spoke about the experience prior to Friday's qualifying session.
DALE JARRETT --88-- UPS Taurus
HOW WAS BATTING PRACTICE? "It was a great time. Everybody with the Giants organization was very nice to us and very accommodating. They made us feel like a part of everything for an entire day. They let us come in and disrupt what they normally do, but it was fun. I got to take batting practice with the pitchers and we had a great time. They made me feel like a part of the team for awhile."
YOU'VE THROWN OUT THE FIRST PITCH BEFORE AT MAJOR LEAGUE GAMES, BUT WAS THIS YOUR FIRST BATTING PRACTICE EXPERIENCE? "Yeah, that was the first time I've ever taken batting practice. It looked like the first time I'd ever thrown out the first pitch, too, when I threw it in the dirt, but I haven't swung a bat in I don't know when. Zach (Dale's son) doesn't pitch much to me, I pitch to him. He never lets me have the bat, but it was totally different. The pitching coach was well in front of the mound and he was throwing it in there pretty hard. I don't know what the actual speed would have been, but it seemed pretty fast. That gave me a greater appreciation once again for what those guys do."
YOU'RE A BIG SPORTS FAN, SO IT HAD TO BE A THRILL JUST TO BE AT SUCH A NEW PARK LIKE PAC BELL. "It was just incredible to be able to go in the clubhouse and be in the lockerroom with the guys to see how they live and everything they have in there. And then to go into the dugout and see all of that. What a great park. I'm sure a lot of money went into that place, but it seemed to be very fan friendly and I was just in awe standing there."
YOU GOT TO MEET WILLIE MAYS TOO? "I got to meet Willie Mays and what a thrill. I don't know how old he is, but I grew up watching him play. He has to be in his seventies, but when we shook hands, he just about broke my hand. I like to think I've got a pretty strong grip, but this man is just incredible. He was very nice. We talked about racing. He keeps up with it a little bit and new enough about it to talk about the things going on, so it was just incredible to think I was standing there having a normal conversation with a guy that has done everything in his sport."
WAS THAT ONE OF THOSE TIMES WHERE YOU ASKED FOR AN AUTOGRAPH INSTEAD OF GIVING ONE? "I didn't ask anybody for one, although I did ask one of the guys from the Giants staff if he could help me out. I told him that I didn't want to go over and ask Mr. Bonds for anything, but if he happened to get two spare autographs, it would be appreciated. And he came by later on with two baseballs. Willie Mays gave us three autographed baseballs, so everyone was very accommodating. We signed a lot of autographs while we were in the lockerroom too. They were bringing over baseballs for me to sign and I even signed one bat, so it was pretty cool to see that these guys were a little bit interested in what I do too. I'm not one to go get autographs, but I was glad they were able to capture that for me."
YOU'VE DECIDED NOT TO QUALIFY. WHAT HAPPENED IN PRACTICE? "We had an oil pump problem this morning. The spring came out and we thought everything was gonna be OK. We got it all cleaned up and cranked it back up, but then we looked in the filter and it had started to knock the bearings out of it apparently. We had to change engines. This track has changed and with me not having made a full lap, we decided to sit tight and get ready for practice in the morning. With me having to go to the back and with all of the pits being together now, there was no reason to go out and take a chance of something happening.