Stanford grads Jordan Pries and Sam Fuld have crossed paths once before meeting each other in the first inning of the Seattle Mariners' exhibition game with the Oakland Athletics in Mesa, Ariz. on Thursday.
They ran into each other on the streets of Palo Alto during a football weekend last fall. Pries was there for the game and Fuld, with fellow Cardinal grad Michael Taylor, was also there for a class reunion.
"It was excellent," Pries said. "We chatted about baseball. I don't know if he even remembers that."
Fuld remembered all right.
"We were in downtown Palo Alto just walking the streets," Fuld said. "I had never met him before."
It was a win-win situation on Thursday, with Fuld hitting a sacrifice fly to put the A's ahead, 1-0. Pries got his out and Fuld got his RBI.
"It was a lot of fun," Pries said. "He's an established big league ballplayer and a Stanford guy too."
It was a day Pries will never forget. Not only was he in line for his second victory of the spring before the A's rallied for three runs in the ninth, his immediate family was in town, including his uncle Ken, the A's President of Communications and Broadcasting.
Pries is an Alameda native and spent a lot of time at the Oakland Coliseum growing up, sometimes calling his uncle for free tickets.
In addition, Pries was part of Will Ferrell's play-every-position over five games and 10 teams promotion sponsored by HBO.
In the bottom of the second inning, Pries could look over his shoulder and see Ferrell playing second base.
"The whole experience was a dream come true," Pries said. "With my family here and it being the A's."
Pries was certainly aware of Ferrell's presence. He threw a pretty good cutter during the inning and heard the 47-year-old actor yell, "I like that .. bleep!"
"I never would have thought that Will Ferrell would be playing second base behind me," Pries said. "Honestly, I didn't want anything to go that way."
Pries pitched three innings, allowing one run on one hit. He walked one and struck out four.
He already knows he's not a candidate for the Mariners' starting rotation this season and he's taking the opportunity to get to know the guys on the 40-man roster and to show what he can do on the mound.
Pries, drafted in the 30th round in 2011, earned the invitation to his first major-league spring camp after going a combined 10-8 with a 3.86 ERA for Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma last year. He was named the organization's Minor League Co-Starting Pitcher of the Year.
He led all Mariners' minor league pitchers with 154 innings and ranked second with 120 strikeouts.
"The chemistry and attitude here feels right," Pries said. "I'm excited about this year and I want to be ready. I'm forming relationships on and off the field."
Fuld understands Pries' situation. He was a 23rd round pick in 2003 and chose to return to Stanford for his senior year. The Chicago Cubs picked him in the 10th round in 2004.
"Whether he's a Stanford guy or not, you always root for the underdog," Fuld said. "You have to outperform everybody and you can't afford to take your foot off the gas pedal. You just keep doing it, and it's all the more satisfying when you achieve your goal."