MLB has recently branded Father’s Day with jerseys and caps to commemorate the Holiday. Baseball was the first hobby I can remember sharing with my dad. He brought baseball cards home after work and practiced with me despite having just worked a full day as a mechanic. I read the box scores each morning when he brought the paper home from his coffee run. When I started playing Little League he brought a folding chair and sat on one of the baselines with the other fathers. He was a far cry from today’s “Little League” parents who argue with umpires and criticize the play on the field. Ironically my dad, who could be a curmudgeon, cheered for both teams to play well despite the score or any affiliations. He loved his family and would do anything for my mom and I.
Unfortunately my dad passed away on July 5, 2005. He fought lung cancer for over 2 years, but the tumor was inoperable. The experimental chemotherapy that followed a surgery attempt to remove the tumor sapped him of his fiery personality and ran his body down. When my dad could not sleep he would come into my room and watch the West Coast games on MLB Extra Innings, recognizing the voices of Vin Scully and Dave Valle as New Yorkers decades after they left the Big Apple. He was on the edge of his seat as the Red Sox came back from 0-3 to defeat the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series. Growing up a Brooklyn Dodgers fan he was on the wrong side of numerous Yankee Dodgers World Series results. He had a sense of how Red Sox fans felt after playing second fiddle to the Yankees for all those years.
The first ballpark I visited, Shea Stadium, was with my dad in 1989. We arrived before the gates opened at my insistence. He encouraged me to cheer on the Mets despite the Giants 5-0 lead. We would go to one or two games a year throughout the early 1990’s. Our last trip to Shea Stadium was in July 2001, a Mets 4-3 win vs. the Phillies on a Robin Ventura walk off home run. Throughout my ballpark travels whenever I see a father and a son I think of him.
Baseball has been a constant in my life since making that first trip to Shea Stadium. I have shared the game with two children, Reaghan 14 and Griffin 4, making great memories along the way. I think a lot of what still draws me to Baseball is the connection I had with my dad and hope to create a similar connection with my children. The players have changed, but the game remains the same. Happy Father’s Day from Ballpark Nerd!