On Monday, back when Felix Hernandez still allowed base runners, a 3-year-old boy and his father watched the ace during a bullpen session. When Hernandez finished throwing, he looked at them, smiled and walked their way.

After greeting the two, Hernandez handed Perry Jones IV his baseball.

"I can't believe what just happened," Perry Jones III said to the child. "He is the best pitcher in baseball."

The star they call King Felix grinned and walked away. It was an appetizer of a moment compared to the awe Hernandez would inspire two days later, but it was as genuinely Felix as a 12-strikeout perfect game.

"It was the most gracious thing," the father said. "It's one of those moments in your life when you know something special happened. It was such a genuine thing, and I know that he connected with little Perry."

It seems like an appropriate story to tell right now because, in our own way, we all feel connected to Hernandez. His perfect game against Tampa Bay, the first in Mariners history, made sports real and joyous again in a city that has suffered too much in athletics, especially since 2008. The feat was sports at its finest, from its unifying quality to its I'll-remember-where-I-was-when historic importance.