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No-Hit Wonder Nerland Part Of Historic Giants Victory
As if it wasn't enough to rub elbows with the likes of future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson and defending Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, young Alec Nerland of Escalon picked the perfect day to suit up as a San Francisco Giants bat boy. It was something he's wanted to do for years and everything fell into place for the teen on Friday, July 10 for his appearance at AT&T Park.

What made the one-game stint as a bat boy even more memorable - Nerland was part of history, on hand for the no-hitter pitched by Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez, an 8-0 Giants win over the San Diego Padres.

"It was my first time, it was pretty exciting but pretty weird to see famous people," Alec said of meeting the professional baseball players.

Though he actually is a little younger than the regular bat boy crew at the park, Nerland's uncle, Matt Nerland, works for the organization and was able to get him signed up just a few days shy of his 14th birthday.

Alec arrived at the park about 4 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. game, taken in by the clubhouse manager, who showed him around and introduced him to the regular bat boys who got him to his locker, where a Giants cap and uniform were waiting.

"The regular bat boys showed me what to do," Alec said of getting some on-the-job training. "I got to bring out the bats for the batting practice."

He also was responsible for getting the bats left at home plate if a player got on base during the game and he had to scramble after a few foul balls during the contest as well.

Most 'guest' bat boys, as Alec was, work only a few innings. However, he said they were shorthanded that day and he was able to work the entire game.

Prior to the start of the contest, he was able to share a few moments with Barry Zito in the dugout, talking baseball, and later on played video games with a few other Giants, pointing out all were friendly and made him feel right at home during his one-game stay with the team.

As for some interesting facts: pitcher Randy Johnson is every bit as big as he appears on screen.

"My head was not even up to his chest," Alec said, grinning.

As the game wore on and the Giants piled up the runs, Alec said it started to become apparent to everyone that Sanchez was getting close to making history.

"People just left him alone," Alec explained of what happened in between innings, as the Giants were on offense, looking to give Sanchez even more run support. "He was just sitting there in the dugout, ice on his shoulder, just waiting to go back out."

An unwritten rule in baseball is that no one talks about a no-hitter if it looks as though the pitcher is in the midst of one. It took a great catch against the fence in centerfield by Aaron Rowand with one out in the ninth to help, and only an infield error that allowed a runner to reach first base spoiled a perfect game, but it was a no-hitter, the first in 33 years thrown by a Giants pitcher.

"It was the best experience you can have as a bat boy," Alec said, brimming with memories of a great night at the ballpark.

He has plenty of photos to remember the game, and soon will have a DVD of the historic win. He also has gotten a taste of celebrity, with many people in the community stopping him during Park Fete weekend to let him know they saw him on TV during the game. Video clips also show him running out to join the dogpile at the pitcher's mound when the final out was recorded and the no-hitter was in the history books.

"I've been to playoff games, World Series games and all that," dad Mike Nerland said. "To me, this was the most exciting."

Alec said he wasn't sure what to expect for that Friday night game, since Sanchez had a record of just 2-8 coming in and had a bit of a rocky start to the year.

"Then he comes out of nowhere and throws a no-hitter," Alec said.

A Giants fan ever since he can remember, Alec's room has plenty of Giants memorabilia and now he has a personal connection to the team he follows.

He enjoys watching the games but being part of the action, he said, was "fantastic."

Dad Mike said the entire experience was great, with the team players and officials gracious, making the family feel right at home. They also saw Alec as being an integral part of the win.

"They want him to come back," Mike said of Giants coaches and players. "They think he's a good luck charm."