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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Talking Baseball With My Father

Since it is fathers day, I thought I would be topical and timely today.

My father. Yes, I do look a lot like him.

My father was different. That would be an understatement. Anyone who ever met him or heard about him is fascinated with the things he did. Of course, when you are smack dab in the middle and living it, it isn't always so fascinating. I could write blogs until the day I die and never exhaust the interesting stories about the crazy things my father did.
First and foremost though, my father and I shared a love of a few things that always bonded us. We had a deep love for dogs and really all animals. We both liked to watch tv, lots of tv and mostly comedy shows. But of all our common interests,  sports, and more specifically, baseball, was something we both just loved.
I can't remember a time since I could walk that I wasn't playing baseball. Even when I was 3 or 4 I was able to play catch with adults and one of my fondest memories was playing catch in our big backyard with my father. My father and I never really did much together, but that was one thing we did. Another was watching baseball on tv, and going to baseball games when the Expos were in town. We had season's tickets and we pretty much never missed a game.

When I hear the above video and that theme song, one I heard thousands of times at the game and in the car on the way home, it is just like I am there again.
My dad loved baseball even right up until he died. I sort of lost interest about 10 to 15 years ago,  but he never did. From time to time when I would visit with him, we would still watch it or talk about it. It was a bond that carried us through to the end. We both had very good memories and could jabber on about the history of the game. Of course, he lived a lot of that while I only knew about it. It was interesting to hear his perspective first hand of what it was like to watch old time baseball.

I knew of the Los Angeles Dodgers and eventually went to Dodger Stadium for myself, on a visit to my father. My father knew of the Dodgers when they were in Brooklyn and also when their farm team was the Montreal Royals. He saw all the Dodger greats play in Montreal before they made the major leagues.
As great as this looks, you really cannot imagine how special it is to watch a game at night as the sun goes down at Dodger Stadium.

As I grew a bit older my dad got very busy with work and we went to a lot less games. He then got in trouble and went away for long stretches of time. When he would come back,  the one thing we still had was baseball. I was into horse racing by then, big time,  and had even started training by then. He took an interest in that, but even still, it didn't take long until we started to talk baseball again.
One of my last memories of spending any significant time with my father was just after my parents had divorced. I went to visit him in California, and he lived in Anaheim. My days consisted of golfing every morning, attending as many horse races as I could find..and going to baseball games when I could. I ended up seeing one game at Anaheim stadium and one game at Dodger Stadium. Both games I saw by myself, as my father could not come. Even though he didn't, we still had lots to talk about and it brought up old times when we used to go together. By then, my arm was shot and I could not throw anymore, so we didn't play catch anymore, but we still had the memories to talk over.
You can never take those away. They stay with you for life.
When my mother died and my father was back in our life, we sat 7 days for the Shiva, for which he was there the whole time, and we again talked old times, and baseball was a big part of that. He died a couple of months later, but before he did, we went to dinner 5 days before he had the stroke that would kill him, and at that dinner, while my wife and his talked kids and assorted things, my father and I talked baseball.
I might not be that interested in baseball anymore, but there will always be a part of me, and hence a part of him that will be alive in me when I see a baseball or a baseball diamond. Or a game on tv. That will never die.

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