STOCKTON, Calif. -- Peggy Lindsey walked into a local bookstore recently to buy a few copies of Sports Illustrated--the issue with her grandson, A's pitcher Dallas Braden, on the cover.
"You're the grandma!" a customer exclaimed.
"Yeah, I'm the grandma."
Lindsey has become a celebrity in her hometown since Braden pitched the 19th perfect game in major league history. It happened on Mother's Day with Lindsey, who helped raise him, in the stands.
The day after Braden's 4-0 domination of Tampa Bay, a television reporter showed up at her door and stuck a microphone in her face. Then she flew to Texas to appear live with Braden on the "The Early Show" on CBS. On Friday night, Lindsey threw out the first pitch at the Coliseum as part of the A's weeklong celebration of Braden's masterpiece.
"It's all been fun," Lindsey said. "The only thing I didn't like was the 'Early Show.' The lights were bright. I couldn't see the camera."
Lindsey, who raised Braden after his mother, Jodie Atwood, died of skin cancer, was well-known in Stockton athletic circles long before the perfect game. She ran the Little League snack bar, attended Braden's Pop Warner football games and rarely missed one of his starts for Stagg High.
Known to family friends as "The Gran," Lindsey lived with Braden and Atwood and served as the bad cop for the sometimes wayward teenager, who was twice booted off his high school team for cutting class and other transgressions. (Braden has no siblings, and his father isn't involved in his life.)
"His mom let him do what he wanted. I was the one who always said, 'Where is he? What's he doing?' " Lindsey recalled. "Between the two of us, it balanced out."
Lindsey also was the central player in the make-or-break moment in Braden's career.
At the time of Atwood's death, in May 2001, he was living in the Stockton motel that Lindsey managed -- a Quality Inn abutting the southbound lanes of Interstate 5.
Braden had just graduated from Stagg and was registered at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. Depressed and lost, he wanted nothing to do with school, with baseball, with anything.
"I don't want to go to college in Stockton," he told Lindsey. "Every time I turn a corner, I see my mom."
So Lindsey picked up the phone and called the baseball office at American River College in Sacramento.
"It was the middle of the day, and this woman says her grandson is interested in American River," recalled head coach Doug Jumelet, an assistant at the time.
"We get a lot of calls like that from parents and even grandparents. But she says he's a left-handed pitcher, and that gets me a little interested. And then she says he'd been drafted by the Atlanta Braves, and that makes me perk up."
The Braves never signed Braden, who eventually enrolled at American River. After two years, he transferred to Texas Tech.
"It was hard on Peggy--she would have rather he been (in Stockton)," said Julie Swanson, a longtime family friend. "But she knew the best thing for Dallas was to give him a little shove."
In 2004, Braden was drafted in the 24th round by the A's. He spent three years in their minor league system. When the call to the majors finally came, Braden and Lindsey flew together to Baltimore for his debut: six innings, one run and a victory.
Lindsey has attended games in Boston and New York and never misses his starts at the Coliseum. On Mother's Day, she was joined by four carloads of friends for a pregame tailgate, then took her seat in Section 121.
It wasn't until the seventh inning that she first thought about a no-hitter. ("I didn't even know what a perfect game was," she said.)
In the eighth, she started crying.
With two down in the ninth, she walked through the stands and took a seat on top of the dugout.
After the final out, Lindsey was escorted onto the field and embraced her grandson.
"I've seen where, since the perfect game, Dallas has talked about how he would have been pumping gas if not for his grandmother, and he's telling the truth," Jumelet said.
"She took control of his life after his mom died and said, 'I'm not giving up on you.' If not for her, I don't know what would have happened to him."