Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day 2010

Most of this is a post I wrote for Father's Day last year. This year's Father's Day is still special for all of the reasons that I wrote about last year, but also for the fact that I'm celebrating my first one as a Dad. My daughter, Quinn, was born this past January, and the last 5 months have been an incredible ride. All that I can say is that I've been told by many people over the years what it feels like to be a Dad, and never understood a single word of it until I saw that little face looking back at me on the day my daughter was born. My heart skips a beat everytime I see her smile at me. Its the greatest feeling in the world. Later today, I'll be taking her to her first Kane County Cougars game, and I can't think of too many things that I've been more excited for in my life. Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there, and if you haven't done so yet -- go call your dad right now and wish him a Happy Father's Day.

****************************** From 2009 ********************************

My Dad has basically had it with baseball. He has always been a Yankees fan, but for the most part refuses to watch a game. As with most kids, my Dad bought me my first glove -- taught me how to catch, how to swing a bat, how to curve up the bill on my hats so I didn't look like a dufus. I do wish he'd have taught me how to pitch, because as a lefty, it seems as if you don't have to be that good to stay employed.

(a shot of my Dad and I while on vacation last summer in Petosky, MI)

DSC_0069.JPGThe modern athlete has taken a toll on his love for the game (and sports in general, truth be told) and the Players strike in 1994 was the final straw. He has not set foot in a Major League Baseball stadium since....although he will take in a Minor League Game on occasion. As with many fans who grew up in the 50's and 60's, my Dad's favorite player is Mickey Mantle, and "the Mick" is the reason he became a Yankees fan. Even though he has sworn off the rituals of being an active fan, he does still read a few books about the game and its history, and surprises me with a story or two about players that he has seen. One of my favorite baseball/Dad memories is watching the movie "61*" with my Dad. It was a fairly well made movie, and for those of you who haven't seen the film, it tells the story Mantle's and Roger Maris' chase of Babe Ruth's single season home run record during the 1961 season (one which many would argue he still has). My Dad actually feels bad today at the thought of how pro-Mantle he was at the time, and says that he remembers my uncle taking a club or a bat to a tree in their backyard any time Maris would homer and Mantle would not. My Dad is the reason that I love the New York Yankees -- even though he isn't as big of a fan as he was when he sat me down to watch Reggie Jackson back in the late 70's, it is still something that means a lot to me because it is something I share with my Dad.

My maternal Grandfather is a HUGE Cardinals fan. My first memories of actually attending a game are of seeing Ozzie Smith and the Cardinals play in the old -- but not oldest -- Busch Stadium. To this day, that is my subconscious measuring stick for any ballpark I visit. He also used to take me to see the Springfield (IL) Redbirds, the AAA team for the St. Louis Cardinals, which has since moved to Louisville, KY and on to Memphis, TN. I used to have a closet full of those plastic batting helmets that he would buy for me and my sister when we'd go to games. He's told me stories about Dizzy Dean and Bob Gibson, and gave me my one real piece of baseball memorabilia -- a commemorative Coke that he bought for me at Game 7 of the 1982 World Series. I still have the Coke, and it has never been opened (I'm told that makes it worth more money, but you couldn't give me enough to part with it). During the 2006 playoffs, I exchanged emails with my Grandfather talking about the games. He has a habit of butchering players' names whether he's saying them or writing them, so it made for some great laughs reading his nicknames for players. When I think of that team, I think of two things -- those emails and Cadillacs. Why Cadillacs? Because he was so excited that they won the Series that he used it as an excuse to go buy a new car.

My paternal Grandfather is sadly no longer with us. He passed away in 1992, and I miss him to this day. He was the kind of man that I didn't always appreciate when I was a kid. He didn't spoil us with toys or anything like that, but I came to realize that of all the men I knew, he may have been one of the finest. He loved to watch baseball -- mostly the Chicago Cubs, although he also rooted for the Yankees. I think the thing that I really learned from him was how to watch a game and appreciate players that were good -- even if you hated the team they played for. I can remember sitting and listening to him talk about Darryl Strawberry. I have always hated the Mets, and aside from his Yankee tenure, have never been a Strawberry fan. But I remember that my Grandfather enjoyed watching him play. I wish I'd have made more of an effort when he was alive to simply stop by his house and sit and watch a game with him, but I'd like to think that he knows that I always think about him when I sit down to watch a game.

I've been told by several people that I'm not a real Yankees fan or a Cardinals fan because I try to root for two teams. I understand why you might think that, but I have to disagree. I feel like my love of the Yankees in some way pays tribute to my Dad and my love for the Cardinals pays the same to my Grandfather. It's a cliché, but baseball has always seemed to be a special thing that a kid shares with his Dad or Granddad.

I've been extremely blessed to have these three men play such a huge role in my life. I've tied everything to baseball for the purposes of this post -- what else would you do when you're writing something on -- but that is just one small and unimportant reason why I'll be thinking about all three of them tomorrow.

I love you, Dad.

I love you Grandpa George.

I love (and miss you) Grandpa Alf.

Thanks for everything. And thank you for reading -- now go call your Dad and wish him a Happy Father's Day.

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