07/07/2004 6:39 PM ET
Braves fan wins All-Star contest
Pamela Washburn to toss first pitch in Houston
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- If you've ever wondered whether having a sibling in the clergy has its benefits, just ask Pamela Washburn, whose brother, Father Richard Zivic, has enabled her to realize a dream trip to this year's All-Star Game.
|Pamela Washburn was the grand prize winner in the Ameriquest All-Star Ballot sweepstakes. (Courtesy Pamela Washburn)
Washburn, a native of Conyers, Ga., is the grand prize winner of the Ameriquest All-Star Ballot sweepstakes, which was held in each of the 30 Major League stadiums.
The 47-year-old avid Braves fan will throw out one of two first pitches before the All-Star Game, being held at Houston's Minute Maid Park on July 13. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
She will be accompanied to the event's three-day festivities by her husband and daughters.
"It's exciting," she said. "My family just can't get over it. My daughters can't believe their mom actually won something."
When Washburn received a phone call last week telling her that she had been selected as the winner, she was a bit skeptical herself. Immediately, she, her husband and an electrician who was working at their house thought it was some type of scam.
"I didn't know, because I hadn't filled anything out," she said.
Unbeknownst to Washburn, her brother, while attending a Twins game at the Metrodome, placed her name and information on the sweepstakes entry form that was on the back of every in-stadium All-Star ballot.
"Just a few days before, I had helped him with something, and he said, 'I don't know how I'm ever going to repay you,' " said Washburn. "When I told him that I had won, he said, 'I just totally believe in divine intervention.' "
Unfortunately, Zivic, an avid baseball fan who has visited 28 stadiums, won't be able to accompany his sister to the event. The 51-year-old priest, whose parish is in the Atlanta area, has a prior commitment.
"I'm a baseball fan," said Washburn, "but he's really a diehard fan. I really wanted him to go. He told me just to make sure I got him Roger Clemens' and Sammy Sosa's autographs."
That's a small price to pay, considering he had taken the time to fill out one of the millions of All-Star ballots that were cast.
Washburn, who lives approximately 20 miles east of Turner Field, has not yet attended a Braves game this year, but she has kept up with the team, and is pleased to see Johnny Estrada more than adequately filling the shoes of her favorite player, Javy Lopez.
Estrada is the only Brave selected to play in this year's All-Star Game, and Washburn hopes that she'll be allowed to throw the first pitch to him.
"I really loved Javy," she said. "He was my favorite player, and I was sad to see him go. But Johnny has done a phenomenal job, so I think it would be nice to be able to throw it to him."
Over the years, Washburn has often been joined at Braves games by her husband, Everett; 21-year-old daughter, Nicole; and 18-year-old daughter, Heather. Now, thanks to divine intervention or good fortune, they'll experience a baseball fan's once-in-a-lifetime opportunity together.
"I didn't completely believe this was true until I got all my tickets," said Washburn. "But now that I've got them, I know that this is real, and I still can't believe that I won."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.