Look for the ridiculous in everything and you will find it.Jules Renard
There is a meme out there I recently saw that said, “I do not have a fake social media personality, I am genuinely this ridiculous in real life”. I am not sure if there has ever been a more perfect description of who I am, and the adventures I have encountered throughout my life.
This past week lived up to that as I fell ass backward into getting my haircut by Fernando Abad, a pitcher for the Tacoma Rainiers who has spent time in the Major Leagues over the past decade with the Oakland A’s, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, and most recently the Baltimore Orioles.
The story starts innocently enough, I was in my usual spot in the first base camera well of Sutter Health Park in Sacramento on a Tuesday night talking with those around me, and somehow the topic of hair came up. I noticed Tacoma pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon without his cap on and was so jealous of the well-cut high fade, and his brown shaggy locks that bounced on his head and framed his face perfectly. I never took advantage of my beautiful hair until it was starting to get too late, so I am enjoying it now before its gone. Vanity is not lost on me.
The next day I was scrolling through Instagram stories when I ran across Fernando’s story that showed him giving a haircut to fellow teammate Erick Mejia. Jokingly I replied, “I’m looking for a new barber”, never even expecting him to see it, he replied that he was available. In response I said, “Only if you can do it like Poncedeleon”, to which he replied, “Of course”. Completely in shock I told him that I thought he was just joking, and I left it at that. The day went on without another thought on the matter when Fernando messaged me a few hours later and said, “I’m serious, when you’re at the stadium tomorrow I’ll cut it”.
“Oh My God! listen to this…” or “Dude, let me tell you..” is quite often how I greet my friends; in this case it was, “Something crazy may be going down”. Fernando and I worked out the details and settled on 4pm on that upcoming Friday.
I arrived at the ballpark around a quarter to four so that I could drop off my equipment and just settle in. I was a bit nervous, and excited because I was still in a bit of shock that it was going down. I messaged Fernando and told him that I arrived and went to meet him outside of the clubhouse. A little after four we met for the first time, and he asked that I come back a little after five because he had to go do team warmups, so I went back to the press box to grab something to eat. A little after five I sent him a message to let him know that I was on my way, and then when I arrived at the clubhouse, I let him know as well. I waited around for about 10-15 minutes and started to feel a little awkward.
The closer it got to game time I threw in the towel and called it a day. I admit that I was a little disappointed as I felt flaked on, because there was a story in here that I wanted to share, but it is what it is. I recognize that my own desire to get a haircut was selfish and not based on actually needing one since it had not even been two weeks since my last, so I dejectedly returned to the press box to prepare for the game myself.
Once the game started, I did what I always do and set up in the photo well adjacent to the visitor’s dugout taking pictures of baseball and looking for a story. It was then that the baseball gods decided this was the story that needed to be written.
Fernando had come out of the clubhouse and into the dugout about halfway through the game and bee lined to me where he asked where I had been. I told him that I was out there but didn’t see him, but not to worry about it. He then insisted that if I still wanted the haircut, we could do it right after the game. I gave him another chance to back out by saying that it would be late, and he probably had to get back for the night, but he said not to worry as it would only be about 15-20 minutes, and the haircut was back on.
The Rainiers would win 2-0 in a game that was scoreless after the third, and Erick Mejia had knocked in the go ahead run in the second with a line drive to right that scored Brian O’Keefe, and then in the third Sam Haggerty would walk but score on two wild pitches by Tristan Beck. When the game ended, I started to make my way around the infield and up along the third base side toward the clubhouse. It was a fireworks night, so the fans stayed in their seats, players brought their families and girlfriends on the field to watch the show, and as I reached the warning track I took a few moments to enjoy the bright lights exploding over the Sacramento skyline.
Fernando was ready for me and met me at the clubhouse door. We walked past the post-game spread and into the locker room bathroom area where to my surprise had already been set up to look like a barber shop. Laid out on the sink where clippers, razors, various barber looking ointments, neck paper and hair products; to top it off, folded over the chair was an actual barber cape. I took my seat with a chuckle to myself as he put the neck paper on and fastened the cape.
While Fernando cut my hair, we had a chance to make some small talk about his time playing for the River Cats in 2019, but how we never met back then, and I also learned that he had been cutting hair for twenty years. His uncle is a barber back in the Dominican Republic and took Fernando under his wing as a teenager. Fernando was proud of his family, and of his own skills to which he uses to cut most of his Rainier’s teammates hair.
Erick Mejia who had just gotten his haircut earlier in the week stepped in to watch what was going on, and the two of them made sure teach me the proper usage of “si-mon” a term of agreement, and “a huevo” which basically means “Fuck yeah”. What else could be said? I was getting my hair done by Fernando Abad, and talking with bronze medalist Erick Mejia, when in walks Roenis Elias, and Billy Hamilton to join the party, a huevo!
The moment of truth came when Daniel Poncedeleon walked into the bathroom to quite literally check out his own hair, so as he walked out, I called out to him and asked him what he thought. Like a little fangirl I said that I loved his hair which is what got me in this spot to begin with. He laughed and said thank you, then gave me a once over, and said, “Nice, now you got flow”. I was dead.
My hair was finally done, and its honestly the best haircut I have ever had in my life; I already have an appointment for a touch up the next time Tacoma rolls through Sacramento. I have gotten so many compliments since that day, that I cannot rave enough about how good of a job he did. We said our goodbyes and I left the clubhouse and walked out to the parking lot.
I have lived my life for just the experience, “fuck it” has often been my final thought before jumping headlong into something, and while I do not recommend that, you can’t deny that this sure has been an experience. While this has all been fun and games, I want to point out that Fernando did not take any payment for the haircut so I wanted to pay it forward; and in doing so I donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northern California in Fernando’s name so that they can continue to provide housing to families in need while their children are treated for serious illness or injury. To learn more or to donate, please visit https://rmhcnc.org