Saturday, December 2, 2023

Ukiah Newlyweds Go Viral After Tying the Knot During the 7th Inning Stretch of Sunday’s Giants Game

Ben and Heidi Waterman got married this Sunday, May 21 at Oracle Park while the Giants faced the Marlins [Photographs provided by wedding photographer Dustin Cantrell]

The San Francisco Giants faced off against the Miami Marlins last Sunday, May 21st, 2023. The Giants pulled off a 7-5 win, but an unforgettable moment in the stands is making rounds online. During the seventh-inning stretch, a pair of lovebirds exchanged wedding vows, took their first kiss, and the bride tossed her marital bouquet into the crowd. 

As it happens, the happy couple hail from none other than Mendocino County. In an email written from their honeymoon getaway in Bodega Bay, Ukiah residents Ben and Heidi Waterman told us their story. 

Heidi and Ben grew up in Redwood Valley going through school together as Calpella Cubs, then Redwood Valley Middle School Mustangs, finally graduating in 2000 from Ukiah High. Four years ago, they began dating on May 21, 2019. Exactly four years later, this Sunday, they married at Oracle Park as the Giants played against the Marlins.

[Photograph provided by wedding photographer Dustin Cantrell]

Ben and Heidi shared a passion for the San Francisco Giants throughout their relationship. Heidi said they, “have nicknames for all the players and watch pretty much every game during their season.” They attend several games a year together, have their favorite players, and “enjoy getting to know their personalities.”

Ben said his father was “a huge role in my love for both baseball and the Giants. Sadly, Ben “lost him to lung cancer almost 13 years ago.” After doctors gave him six months to live, Ben said “the last thing that he and I did together was go to Game 1 of the 2010 World Series.” Marrying his wife in the same place he shared with his dad “was very meaningful for me.”

When Ben proposed to Heidi back in July 2022, they got to work planning their wedding.

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They both describe themselves as private and wanted a few friends and family in attendance. Venues like their backyard and Lake Mendocino were top of the list. 

Things changed quickly when Heidi was on a run at Low Gap Park and when an idea came to her: She suggested that they rent out a private suite at Oracle Park where they would invite friends and family to enjoy the ball game and “slip a vow exchange in during the 7th inning stretch.”

After Heidi bounced it off Ben, he immediately emailed the Giants and got to work making it happen. The private suite evolved into a wedding ceremony far from the quaintness once envisioned at Low Gap Park. Once Heidi and Ben had settled on Oracle Park as the wedding venue of their choice, Ben said, “We soon after decided to go all in and live like rockstars for the day.” 

The night before they got married, Ben and Heidi were celebrating at their hotel’s rooftop lounge where they met Giants pitcher Logan Webb and the team’s former pitcher Shawn Estes. After the wedding, the couple met the wife of Giants’ new relief pitcher Ryan Walker and the team’s shortstop Brandon Crawford’s dad. Ben described meeting the players and their families as “magical as it possibly could have been! Nothing like it!”

Ben and Heidi posed for photographs two hours before their actual ceremony on Sunday. Ben said their photoshoot brought the attention of fans and passersby who were “so happy for us.  We heard over and over that nobody had ever heard of an actual wedding ceremony during a game.”

[Photograph provided by wedding photographer Dustin Cantrell]

The wedding ceremony itself was short, “the timeframe of one commercial break” Ben told us. Heidi’s younger brother officiated the wedding and kept the vows “quick and simple”. Most of the crowd were watching a man on the jumbotron performing “America the Beautiful” which became Heidi’s defacto “walking down the aisle song.”

In the midst of the crowd and the game, Ben “blocked out the cameras and the fans. It also helped that every time I looked at Heidi I felt a sense of calm fall over me.”

Now, two days after Ben and Heidi got married, Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports, and CBS Sports have shared the Ukiah couple’s big day with their national audiences.

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  1. Beautiful setting for a beautiful couple. Wish them all the happiness in the world. What a memorable day. Look forward to buying them both a cocktail at Ukiah Golf Course.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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