Blake Beavan was introduced to baseball before he was born.When Michele Beavan was three months pregnant with her youngest son, she slid into home during a softball game. She laughs now just thinking about it; how the umpire worked with her husband for the city of Irving, Texas, and how he got mad when he found out. Maybe in some weird way, that's the reason Blake grew up wanting to play in the Major Leagues. Most sane people would say that's asinine, and they're probably right. It's most likely the fact that the family's house was always crawling with love for the game. That love for the game is more than evident in Michele, and no matter the situation, the mother of the Mariners' 23-year-old right-hander has always been there for him -- for matters on and off the field. "She doesn't miss anything that I've ever done," Blake said. "... She's always there if I need her, and she'll always do anything that I want her to." Michele, who has played softball for most of her life, took Blake to his games and tournaments growing up. They went to Cuba; they went to Mexico; they went wherever Blake was playing. And whenever he was playing, she was keeping score.
"I kept all the stats, all his brothers' lives and his life -- every baseball game," she said. "I probably still have every baseball book of every game that the boys played in. I love keeping score; I love keeping stats."Although Blake reminds Michele she can find his stats online these days, she still keeps score when he takes the mound for the Mariners. He might be able to find his stats a tad bit easier these days, but when Blake was in the lower Minor Leagues, they weren't always the easiest to come by on a quick turnaround. So Michele was always there for her son when he called, armed with his ERA, his pitch count, and just like always, anything else he needed. And for a mother as dedicated as Michele, a woman who has missed just one of her son's debuts with a team (when he was with Bakersfield of the California League), it was not even a question whether she was going to be at her son's first Major League game. "We get a call on Saturday, July 2," said Michele, starting a story from the summer of 2011. It's a tale that it is all too obvious she will be able to recite many years from now, without hesitation or the exception of any detail. "We were down at our ranch. We had just finished mowing, it's the middle of July -- you can imagine, it's 105 out there. We were smoking ribs on the grill and having a beer. "I look at my phone, and it's Blake. And it's not the time of day Blake would normally call you. I was like, 'What is he calling for?' And he goes, 'Hi, Mom, what are you all doing?' I was like, 'Well, we're smoking ribs and just finished mowing,' and this and that. And I said, 'What are you doing?' And he said, 'Well, I start tomorrow at 1.'" Michele knows Minor League games don't generally don't start at 1, and she also knew Blake's game was not scheduled that early. It didn't take long for her to connect the dots, and set off a subsequent celebration. And even though they had to take two planes, both of which had mechanical problems, Michele and the family were able to get to Seattle before Blake's first pitch. It's a game she'll never forget, and not just because Blake got the win. If he had been stuck with the loss, she would have been there for him with words of encouragement, just like all those years growing up traveling to far-off tournaments. "She always wishes me good luck before my start and tells me good job," Blake said. "Or even if it's a bad start, good job and get them next time."