FRISCO, Texas – When the Texas Rangers traded for Cliff Lee on July 9, the entire fan base in Dallas-Fort Worth became huge fans of the 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner. After a nine-inning complete game performance against Oakland on Tuesday, he can count FC Dallas starting goalkeeper Kevin Hartman among those fans.
Hartman was part of an FCD contingent of 10 players to take in Tuesday night’s game with the Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Lee struck out a career-high 13 batters, walking none while allowing just one run off five hits in a full nine innings of work.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better game pitched in my life,” Hartman said Wednesday. “It makes for a pretty entertaining, quick game, which for me in baseball is always important. It was really cool to have that opportunity to watch him pitch. It was great for the guys to get out there and have the opportunity to hang out and watch good baseball in what I think is a great ballpark.”
The seasoned keeper admits he isn’t exactly a baseball fan, but after what he saw from Lee, Hartman now wants to exchange jerseys with the new Ranger ace.
“In the sports world and soccer world, we always exchange jerseys. I know that would be one that I would be proud to have,” the Hartman said. “If there’s an opportunity, [I’d like to do that] for sure.”
Lee is 9-4 in 2010 with a 2.40 ERA and 114 strikeouts. Tuesday’s game was his fourth start since coming over from Seattle almost three weeks ago. While Hartman was impressed with how well the veteran southpaw performed, he admitted it wasn’t his first brush with greatness.
“I had a chance to see Tiger [Woods] play a few years ago live. It was a par three and he was like, 12 to 15 feet off the green,” he said. “I was within spitting distance of him and wondered if he was as good as everybody says. He holes out the chip and I realized this guy is at a whole new level. I think any time you’re around players like that [it’s great].”
Hartman also had a similar experience in the soccer world.
“I had a similar experience when Barcelona played against [Club] América at Reliant [Stadium] when Ronaldinho came on at halftime," he said. "The first touch, he leaps over somebody, hits a shot from 40 and bangs it off the crossbar. I was like, gee whiz, this guy is amazing. Any time any sports figure can provide that type of excitement, it really makes any sport more enjoyable.”