Kevin Kouzmanoff and Me
So much of my fanhood is based around Kevin Kouzmanoff. It’s pretty crazy, actually. It was amazing to enjoy having a player here so much that he just made Padres baseball for me. Every day that there was a game, I was excited about the whole team, but especially about Kouz. I loved cheering for him, whether it was here in my living room or at Petco Park. Whenever the lineups were announced, I usually memorized the whole thing, but especially where Kouz was.
My first memory of Kouz was watching a game on Easter 2007. I don’t remember the exact details, but he hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the tenth to win the game 2-1 for the Padres. I wasn’t sure who this dude was, but I was happy that he got the walk-off for us. This was the time when Kouz was going through a horrible slump in the beginning of his rookie season. It was awful, but he pulled out of it eventually.
Anyways, I remember going outside to tell my mom about some guy named Kouzmanoff who hit a walk-off. It seems unbelievable to me that I didn’t really know who he was before that game, but I was a very young Padres fan.
Which brings me to another thing that I’ve been really proud to share with Kouz: our “rookie” seasons. We had both had some major league experience in late 2006, but it was really the beginning for both of us in 2007. I had gone to a game in August 2006 and fallen in love with Padres baseball. 2007 was really my rookie season as a Padres fan. Kouz got some time in September 2006, hitting a grand slam on the first pitch he saw in the majors. He was then traded to the Padres in the offseason, and his rookie season began here in San Diego in 2007. I’ve always been really proud to say that Kouz and I were both rookies in 2007 :)
I went to a game on May 25, 2007, where Kouz hit a grand slam. It was so amazing! I don’t really remember it that well, but I know it was really, really cool to see. Kouz seems to like to hit grand slams :)
Now, the day I fell in love with Kevin Kouzmanoff was September 21, 2007. I was at the game with my sister and two friends for my birthday celebration. We arrived at the park early, before the gates opened. So we were kind of hanging out around the gate that’s under the Western Metal Supply building when a Padres player walked towards us from the inside of the gate. I didn’t know who he was right away, but as soon as I could see his face. I realized that it was Kevin Kouzmanoff!
He rolled a ball under the gate and then stood there expectantly. We all quickly dug out paper and pens and handed them to him through the gate. We seriously didn’t say anything to him because we were so awestruck! All we could say was, “THANK YOU!!!” After he signed for us, he walked away.
We were so shocked that a baseball player had actually come up to us and signed autographs…for us!!! We were the only ones in the area at that time, so he just signed for us and for this one lady who randomly walked by. It was so amazing! I was so touched by his kindness that he became my favorite player right there.
During the game he did very, very well, and we cheered hard for him. It was a frustrating game in the end (we lost like 2-1 in 13 innings), but Kouz had a great game, and he gained four very grateful fans that night.
The amazing thing was, I had really wanted to meet Kouz and was thinking about it in the week before we went. I think I might have even prayed about it! All I really remember is that I thought it would be really cool if I got to meet Kouz at the game, and we did!
Well, we didn’t technically “meet” him since we didn’t say a word to him. After that night, I determined that someday I would meet him, as in shake his hand and tell him my name and maybe talk a while with him. It never happened. So, I still have that desire, but it will obviously have to wait for a while.
In June 2008, I discovered that a local car dealership was going to have Kevin Kouzmanoff and Tony Clark signing autographs on a Saturday morning. I was super excited, ’cause I really wanted to talk to Kouz. I’ve always had a problem talking to baseball players besides “thank you,” so I really wanted to say something more worthwhile.
Earlier that week, Kouz hurt his back, and so he didn’t play all week. The night before the signing was Kevin Kouzmanoff Koozie night. I think the Padres lost, though, and of course, Kouz wasn’t playing on his big night.
So going to the signing, which was probably ten minutes away from my house, I thought, well, I’ll ask him how his back is. I’m sure that everyone was going to ask him that, but hey, it’s something to talk about, right?
Naturally, nothing happened. The weather that day was insane. It was like over 100 degrees, and the autograph session was outside. Thankfully, Kouz was under a canopy, but still. It was hot!
When we got up to Kouz, he had all these papers with a picture of him and a place to sign. I asked him to sign it to me, which was really cool :) Once he signed to me, I went and stood right next to him ’cause I wanted to get a picture with him. But first, he signed for the rest of my siblings. So it was a little awkward just standing right next to him. I was close enough to see the little hairs on his bald head.
So then I got a picture with him, which was a little blurry because my mom was nervous, but it’s still very, very cool. I’m very thankful that I was able to get a picture with him. Then the rest of my siblings came around him and we got a picture there. As we left, he said, “See you soon.”
I just love this guy. It’s really amazing to see how much a person that you hold up to a hero status affects your life. I got a pack of 2008 Padres baseball cards a couple years ago. Each one of them had a printed autograph of the player. Kouz’s was very interesting to me. His K’s were written very uniquely, and I changed the way I wrote my first name to that unique K. I still use it to this day and probably will for the rest of my life.
The number five has become something really big for me. I use 5′s all the time, in everything that needs a number, essentially. I don’t believe in “lucky” numbers, but 5 is definitely my FAVORITE number all-time. If I need to make multiple copies of something, I’ll make five. If I make a username and it needs a number in it, it’ll be 5. I LOVE the number 5!!!!!
Of course, I love third base and the name Kevin and any of Kouz interviews or articles about him or videos or anything. I just love this guy, and though I’m very sad that he’s no longer in San Diego, I’m so glad that I can still cheer for him just up the road.
For some reason I’ve always thought that Oakland was out-of-state or something, but it’s really not that far. It’s only seven hours away from my house :)
I love you, Kouz, and I miss you like crazy, but thank you so much for the fun and memories of the past three years. It’s been a blast cheering for you and I hope that you have continued success in Oakland. And who knows? Maybe your career will someday bring you back to San Diego. Thanks for everything, man. Thanks for keeping me laughing and keeping me close to Padres baseball. Thank you for giving me a reason to cheer and to be excited about Padres baseball even when things weren’t going so great. I miss you!!!!
GO PADRES!!! GO KOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO