From the professional level, to public park leagues, to back yards, to couches and televisions, fathers (biological, chosen, or father-figures) and their children spend the summer months playing, discussing, watching, studying, and sharing the game of baseball with one another. While love for baseball flows from generation-to-generation across many different paths, we wanted to take some time on this Father’s Day to share stories from contributors on baseball and their dads.
I have been lucky to get to go to a game with each of my dad and my grandpas. The game I went with to with my dad was my first MLB game. I’ll never forget the sight of Fenway as I walked out of the concourse side by side with my dad, the Green Monster looming over us. It was a totally different way to watch a ballgame, but at the same time it was a bit similar in that it was just me and my dad, talking baseball and watching a game like we had countless times before (and since) in the family room.
I went to an Indians-Red Sox game with one of my grandpas on dollar hot dog night. Watching baseball, hearing about the Indians team of the 90’s and munching on hot dogs made it a great night; seeing Manny Ramirez hit the game winning homer in the top of the 9th made it even better. My other grandpa and I went to a Red Sox game in late summer 2013. We are both Red Sox fans, so the charged atmosphere in Fenway that summer made it a unique experience for the both of us. We both appreciated watching the Red Sox while they were on a type of run that both of us hadn’t seen before.
It added something to each of those games, games that I wouldn’t remember otherwise, to get to watch them with my dad or grandpa. All three of these men have passed down their love of the game to me, and I have yet to find a way to top watching baseball at the ballpark with one of the three men I look up to the most.
When I was 19 years old, I played a card game called MLB Showdown. Officially licensed by MLB, Showdown replicated a full game of baseball, pitch by pitch. In its final year of existence, it held regional tournaments where the winner would earn season tickets to a team of their choice. I won the tournament, and I chose the Oakland A’s. I was 20 years old, and though I grew up in Giants territory, my Dad was always an A’s fan. This was 2005, so the tickets would be for 2006. When the tickets came, I had to choose who to take to Opening Day. I decided to take my Dad. For me, it was a no-brainer — Pops had always taken me to games growing up, and I like going to ballgames with Dad, so we decided to do it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it meant a lot to my Dad. When my Dad came back from the food stand with two beers, intending to finally share a beer with his son at the game, I realized that the game meant more than just Baseball. It became a turning point for when we were both adults now instead of one adult and one kid. He’d been looking forward to this moment a long time. That year, the A’s went on a miracle run to the ALCS on the backs of Frank Thomas, Nick Swisher, and Dan Haren. We bought postseason tickets, and I drove the hour down from Davis, CA (where I had transferred to college) for each game that was in Oakland. It was my last year at home, and my first as something close to an equal to my Dad. I’m expecting my first child now, a little girl due in October, and I’m only hoping that I can provide the same sort of experience with her one day.
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Baseball ensured that we spent time with one another. Baseball was how we experienced and expressed our emotions together. I didn’t need my dad to tell me how he felt about me because I could see it. I could see it in the trips to the ball park. I could see it every time he played catch with me after work even before he could get his tie off. I could see it every time we stayed up late into the night (on a school night) together watching a game. Baseball allowed two guys who were never good at expressing how they felt about one another to know exactly how the other person felt.
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