As I’m sitting in the hot Michigan sun, watching my son play his third baseball game of the day, I can’t help but think of my father. To this day sports always remind me of him, and how can it be any other way, when he is the person who introduced me to the world of sports.
I recall nights when my younger siblings would be in bed and my mother would be off somewhere else in the house (probably happy to have a few minutes of quiet after spending all day with four kids). My father would let me stay up past my bedtime to watch a boxing match with him. Now I can honestly say that in those early years boxing, and any other sport, did not interest me. I stayed up not for the match, or baseball game but for those few moments I had my dad all to myself. He really loved and enjoyed watching sports, you could see it in his face. I remember before every boxing match he would ask me who I thought the winner would be and we always bet a nickel. Each time we bet we would always shake on it by shaking with our pinkie fingers. I remember whenever I would win I would jump up and down and make my dad go get my nickel. Funny though, I don’t believe I ever truly paid-up. if I was the one who lost, my father would always give me the nickel back.
Around the age of eight my father took me to my first baseball game. We watched the Chicago Cubs play, I can still picture just how large that stadium seemed to me at the time. The excitement of the crowd, the vendors running back and forth selling all sorts of edible goodies, all of the noises and the smells. It was a bit overwhelming and exciting both at the same time. We took our seats and I recall looking out at the crowd in amazement, never having seen so many people in one place.
Once the game started it with an incredibly magical moment for that eight-year-old girl who got to spend the day with her father at the ballpark. A few innings in my dad ordered hot dogs and drinks. I could not believe my luck, hotdog AND a soda! Mom would never have allowed this. Cotton candy and my own box of cracker jacks (since there were no siblings around there was no one to fight with over the prize…it was all mine). The afternoon seemed to fly by in a whirlwind of food, drinks, people. The sounds of baseball; the crack of the bat, the baseball smacking into a glove, the crowd cheering and booing, the music.
After the game as we headed out of the stadium, with a bit of an upset tummy (which I will not mention to mom). I remember looking back through the rushing crowds and thinking “this was the coolest experience”, as I placed my little hand in my fathers.
I have my own family now and when my son was born my husband and I took our eight months old son, along with my father to his very first Chicago Cubs baseball game. Taking my son to his first baseball game meant a lot to me. But it meant even more that my father was there to share in it, to hold his little hand.