Carlos Gomez may have a violence and swagger about his game that rubs some people the wrong way, but he also has a soft spot for his fans. One fan in particular, Jordan Hynum, has developed a friendship with Gomez that got national attention after the two embraced on camera prior to April 27th's contest against the Chicago Cubs. Hynum was moved to tears by the encounter, and the Brewers also invited her back to Miller Park on May 27th, where she was surprised with the opportunity to throw out the first pitch to none other than her hero. I had the opportunity to sit down with Jordan Hynum for a Q and A about her friendship with Gomez and her new-found fame.
When did you start going to Brewer games?
"I started regularly going to Brewer games when I was in 8th grade, so two years ago. My dad and I usually go, but now my mom's interested as well because I got her into it."
How did you get your mom into it?
"Well, she didn't understand the game, so she took me to a game one time just to take me, and I was explaining the strategy. Why the pitcher is now talking to the catcher and why Ron Roenicke is out on the field, so now she's kind of interested now that she knows it's not just hit the ball and run."
How many games have you been to?
Has Gomez always been your favorite player?
"Yeah, he's always been my favorite. That's when I really started getting into the Brewers - when I noticed him."
And what about him or his game appeals to you?
"Well, it was his afro when he first started. (laughs) Because it was so funny and it looked like his hat was going to burst off his head. Then through more research about him he seemed very kind-hearted, and he's proved to me that he is. After that he had his great breakout season (in 2013) and now he's a very good player, and it all just kind of fell into place."
Apparently your meeting on camera was not your first meeting with Gomez, how many times have you met him?
"Yesterday (May 27th) was the fifth time."
Tell me more about your meeting on April 27th, what happened other than what we saw on TV?
"Well, some of it was wrongly reported on TV, he (Gomez) didn't sign my bobble head, I didn't want an autograph when I was down there. I just wanted to say hello. I mean, he's already given me enough, I didn't really want an autograph. The kids in the video you can see standing next to me kept looking at me (and asking) 'Well who do you want an autograph from?' And I was saying that I didn't want an autograph, I just want to say hi to Carlos Gomez. And then he saw me and came over because he remembered me from previous meetings so he came over and gave me a hug and then I started crying. He said 'Why are you crying? It's not the first time I met you, stop crying.' So then he gave me another hug and asked how I'd been, and I said 'Good' and then he signed the kids' stuff that I was standing next to because he saw they were there the whole time and went back off to the field."
So what was going through your mind that led you to be so emotional about meeting Gomez again?
"It's a lot of things. One, I'm just a very emotional person. Two, I think it's very exciting and I was very honored that he, as a huge star, takes the time not only to meet me, but other fans. So I was super happy, overjoyed, and just felt honored."
When did you find out you were on TV?
"I didn't find out until ten minutes later when my phone went off with a text from my boyfriend that said: 'I just saw you on TV, my whole confirmation party did.' And I asked why I was on TV and just thought they caught me walking (through the stadium) or something, and he said 'Yeah my whole family saw you crying!' And I was like 'Oh no, that whole thing was on TV.' Then from there I got millions, well not millions, but lots of text messages before we left the game like 'Oh my gosh you were on TV, you were on TV!' It was funny because when I got the first one from my boyfriend, my parents and I were wondering how we were going to get a copy of this, how are we ever going to find this? And by the time we got home it was all over the Internet, so it wasn't that hard to find. (laughs)"
What was your reaction to knowing millions of people saw you cry on TV?
"First it was a little embarrassing, because most people don't look that attractive when they cry. I got over that pretty quick though, and then I found it more humorous than anything. I was glad that it got caught on camera though because it showed that there are two sides to every story. He had just had that brawl with the Pirates, but he's also nice to his fans, so it showed another side of him."
Did people mostly make fun of you for crying or were they mostly envious that you got to meet Gomez?
"It was mainly envy, a lot of people at school were like 'I bet your father paid Gomez to do that' and I responded (sarcastically) with ' Yeah, he needs ten dollars from my dad to meet me.' Other people said 'He only met you because you said you had cancer,' (Which also isn't true). Most people that mentioned me crying were just kidding around and not trying to hurt me."
How did this second meeting and first pitch come about?
"My dad had emailed the director of communications for the Brewers, and thought it would be cool if we did something for Mother's Day like maybe I could wave or something, I don't know. The Brewers responded that they didn't think they could do something with Gomez but I'd love to take you (to a game) as our guests. So we picked yesterday (May 27th) as our date, and we met the director of communications by the Uecker statue outside. I looked at our tickets and realized that they were row one, it said guests (on the ticket) and we're sitting in the owner (Mark Attanasio)'s seats. The only one who knew I was going to throw out that pitch was my dad, he didn't even tell my mom. So the director takes us down to the field, I got to sit in the dugout and they gave me a jersey before we made it to our seats. My dad was acting kind of strange, and was telling me stop whenever I looked into the dugout. Now I know he didn't want me to see Gomez and spoil the surprise. Then I heard over the announcer 'Tonight Gomez is hosting his number one fan to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.' And I started looking around like 'I don't see a kid.' I was looking for someone from the Make-A-Wish Foundation (to come out) and then I looked up and Gomez was right in front of me. Then I realized it was me and was really nervous."
You had a much better pitch than 50 Cent the other day, were you at all nervous to be up there in front of thousands of people?
"I was very nervous, I was thinking that I didn't want to miss the glove or not get it to the plate. I started walking out and was wondering if I should stand on the mound or the grass, and I turned to Gomez and asked 'Where am I supposed to go?' And he just pointed to home plate, and I say 'Well I know that's where you throw it, but I don't know where to stand.' Obviously he didn't understand the question so I just stood on the grass to play it safe. I didn't hear about 50 Cent's pitch until afterwords when people were telling me I needed to give him throwing lessons. (laughs)"
Have you had any contact with Gomez other than what we've seen on TV?
"When he met me at Wrigley Field for the first time, he had come over because my mom had yelled that I was his biggest fan. We had gone to Wrigley because we figured it was a better chance to meet him with not as many Milwaukee fans. Just as soon as he turned around I started crying, so he felt bad and came over and gave me a game used bat that he personally signed for me as well as his hat which he also signed. He also signed my ball and my softball glove, so that was cool. That was the first time I met him last September. Every game I've gone to since that game I will message him on Twitter and tell him I'm going to the game and tell him what color jersey I'm wearing and every single game he finds me and comes over and cries."
He cries or you cry?
"No I cry (laughs)."
When did Gomez start following you on Twitter?
"After the first meeting at Wrigley he asked me if I had a Twitter, and when I said yes he asked me to tweet a photo of the stuff he gave me to him so he knew it was me, and that he would 'follow' me. I realized how cool that was when I saw that he followed something like 88 people at the time and they were all Major League Baseball players, so it was really cool that he did that."
How many Gomez signed items do you have in your collection now?
"Including the ball from yesterday, the ball from our first meeting, the hat, my glove, and two bats, I have six."
How are you dealing with your new-found fame?
"I'm trying not to seem selfish or [like] a brat, especially on social media. Some of the stuff (about my story) has already been released wrong and they aren't even trying to release it wrong. I can only imagine what happens to celebrities when pictures are taken out of context. So I'm trying to be super polite and answer everyone. I am super careful to check the grammar on my tweets now because I'm afraid people will say something bad about it. I try not to bring it up at school unless someone else brings it up so I don't come off like I'm bragging. If someone else brings it up I'm obviously excited to share it, but I try not to come off like a little brat (laughs)."
The Brewers last feel-good story, Hank the Dog, got his own house at Miller Park - any word on a locker next to Gomez's for you?
"(Laughs) My dad was talking to me about that, he was like 'I'm telling you Jordan, you're the new Hank the Dog, you're going to get a house right next to Hank's in center field and you can come out and wave to Gomez in center field!' He was just kidding of course but I think it's just cool that people recognize me from the big blue bow that I wear to games. People throughout the stadium asked me how my pitch was. That bow has become my trademark, it wasn't supposed to be but it did."
You mentioned some other news outlets getting things wrong in the reporting of your story, is there anything you'd like to clear up?
"Well, Yahoo News said I was 11, which was fun. Other outlets said I was 17, when I'm actually 15 years-old. That was probably the thing I got made fun of for the most was people saying I was 11. The bobblehead meeting (on April 27th) was also not the first time I met Gomez, that's been reported a lot too."
Help me fill this in then, first time was at Wrigley, fourth time was April 27th, and fifth was in May 27th?
"Yeah, that's how I remember because it is his number and it was his bobble head day on April 27th."
And what about the second and third meetings?
"The second time was the next day at Wrigley, we did a whole series, and we had outfield seats. I had told him (Gomez) that. The whole game no one from the Brewers was throwing balls into the stands after they were done warming up, which I thought was weird. But the last time the Brewers warmed up in the outfield he came up as close as you could to hand me a ball in the stands, which was cool. The third time was at Miller Park, at the very end of last season. Gomez said he had a surprise for me that day, he went back into the dugout and came back but said he meant to give me a new brand of hat and shirt that was made custom for him, which he intended to give to me before they went on sale, but they hadn't shipped yet. So I didn't get those because the season ended, but who cares? I've already gotten enough already."
What has been the greatest thing about the last few weeks?
"I think the greatest thing is kind of two thing. One - I think that, it may not even by related to me but I've noticed that there has been more player-fan interactions, not just with me but with other teams, other players and fans. I may not have even sparked it, but it's cool to see. Also, I've heard a lot more stories about players and fans on social media, and I think a lot of players reputations (among fans) have been raised because of it."
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