“Everything happens for a reason. For me to have perseverance, I have to turn negativity into positivity. Heal and go forward. It’s made me stronger, a better player, a better person.” – Center fielder #16 Angel Pagan
It was in the summer of 2012 when I started wearing the wings. Melky Cabrera, the Giants’ newly acquired left fielder, (who would later in the season be suspended for using performance enhancing drugs) was on a hot streak. So hot a streak in fact, that folks were jumping on the Melky bandwagon left and right. A colorful group of fans had even taken to dressing up like classic, white-uniformed Melkmen and sexy Melkmaids, showing up at every game in full garb, commanding the attention of the press and creating quite a name for themselves. Melky was indeed the next big thing, but all the fuss got me wondering — where were the ambassadors for Angel?
Angel Pagan was another recent transplant, a former New York Met who had been traded at the beginning of the season for one of my favorite players, the ever-earnest Andres Torres. The trade was a disappointment to me, and I remained mildly resentful of Angel’s presence in the line up until an article about him appeared in the April issue of the Giants magazine that completely shifted my perspective. A native of Puerto Rico, Pagan had grown up in a neighborhood so rough that most of his childhood friends were either now dead or in jail. An overcomer of great odds and a devoted husband and father, the man was a class act. Over time, I became more and more impressed with his sincerity, positive attitude, boyish enthusiasm, articulateness in interviews, and the way he played with all his heart. A dynamic force on the field and a unifying presence among his teammates, Angel Pagan was fast on his way to becoming my favorite Giant. So why didn’t he have a bigger cheering section, or any cheering section for that matter? Angel needed an angel.
Pieces of the plan came together quickly. The costume shop next to my apartment building provided me with a halo and a set of gorgeous feathery white wings. I bought an orange piece of poster board and carefully created a black-lettered sign that read “Even Angel needs an angel.” I was officially ready to be a one-woman cheering section.
The first time I wore my wings to the ballpark, I felt like a superhero. The angel attire created quite a sensation; some folks even took out their cameras and asked to take pictures with me. Children pointed in my direction and said to their parents, “Look, an angel!” Even Mr. Pagan himself spotted me in my strategically purchased bleacher seats behind his position in center field. After putting his hand on his heart and throwing me a baseball from the field (the first of two that season), he would periodically turn around during the game and wave. The Giants got creamed 14 – 2 that night, but I stayed at that game until the bitter end. This angel was in Heaven.
But the wings and the halo ended up evolving into more than just an inspired outfit. Much like a superhero, the job of angel is not be taken lightly. The famous line told to Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spiderman) comes to mind: “With great power comes great responsibility.” I wanted to be more than just some cute girl with a clever costume. I was no milkmaid; I was an angel.
Now, make no mistake — I’m as human as they come. I’m prone to impatience and procrastination, not necessarily the greatest combination. I’m not a saint, but I do have a great heart. Wearing the wings of an angel, however, certainly calls a girl to the task, at least this girl. Not only did I want to dress like an angel, I wanted to act like one too. So I asked myself, “What exactly would that look like?”
A bearer of good cheer, a positive example, and a light in the world are the central characteristics of angelic embodiment. Equipped with this mindset, I can go to the ballpark and transform a fun day into a sacred experience, while simultaneously showing support for my favorite player. People smile when they see an angel coming, and I love to make people smile. The outfit is not only beautiful, it calls upon me to show up as my greatest self, to adhere to a higher standard. Now that is a ensemble worth wearing.
I haven’t worn the wings to the park as often lately. A few years of open air and hot sun have grayed the original snow-whiteness of the feathers. Besides, I’m a pretty low-key lady, and toting angel wings and a halo isn’t exactly conducive to flying under the radar. Yet even when I don’t wear the wings, I’m still remembered and greeted as “Angel” by my favorite usher and the gals at the Anchor Steam beer stand. I feel so thankful to have made such a positive impression, and that it went deeper than what I was wearing.
A dear friend recently bought me a new set of wings for my birthday, and they are magnificant. I plan to wear them occasionally next season, as Pagan only has 1 year left on his contract with the Giants. But I can still act like an angel without having them on. Most of the angels on Earth don’t wear wings anyway 🙂