Friday, October 29, 2004

He'd Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Now that the shouting is over and everyone has had a chance to either gloat or tell people to shut up already about the curse, I thought I'd finally blog about the World Series.

As I've sai in comments elsewhere, if you're a baseball fan, and not a Yankees or Cards fan, you HAD to be happy with the outcome of this series. This was baseball history. I grew up a baseball fan, and to a lesser extent, a fan of the red sox. no, they weren't my team, but they were the only AL team I'd root for. ee, for me, it's about the game.

My father instilled in me a love of baseball. He started perhaps, for his own mental health, a bit too early -- a mistake I plan to repeat. When I was but 4 or 5, he would take me to Eugene Emeralds games. They were back then a Phillies farm team. He had seasons tickets.

By the middle of the second, I'd be ready for pop, candy, and popcorn. He'd trek to the concessions stand, sacrifice a half an inning getting me treats. By the end of the fourth I was ready to go home. The fact that I was never abused as a child is a testament to my father's longsuffering.

As was the fact that he perservered, and eventually won me over. He coached my sister's little league softball team. He announced my high school's games. He weatched games with me on TV, and when we could go, he especially loved watching the game in person. Not being athletic, I never played, but he taught me to watch. He taught me that there was more to see than the battery. He taught me the subtle nuances of fielder positioning based on inning, score, runners, hitter, and count.

In baseball, and in life, my father was teacher, supporter, example, and especially, friend. In fact he was my best friend. As close as my other dear friends are, none has ever been the source of love, acceptance, and support htat my father was. In July of 2001, I stepped into his RV to find him dead. It was the worst day of my life.

So there I sat all this past week, watching the Boston Red sox win the world Series. God, who thought they'd ever utter those words? I sat there with a pregnant wife, who thanks to my enthusiasm and this Series is now a baseball fan herself, and who carries a future fan. We watched, hearts in mouths, game by game, inning by inning, past all the false alarms raised by the cards, as the Sox strode inexorably towards their goal. Trhilled, wanting to believe our eyes, but not trusting our hearts, for fear they'd break if it wasn't true. and then it happened. A short hopper to the mound, a cautious pitcher carrying the ball halfway to first to avoid another Bill Buckner moment, an underhanded toss, and it was over. The words generations of Red sox fans, hell, BASEBALL fans, have waited so long to utter: The Red Sox are World Champions!

And then it dawned on me. My father never ever in his life saw the Red Sox win the Series. And as much as he loved this sport, he dearly would have loved this week. As much as I love my wife, the one person in this world I wanted to be there wasn't. Not over the phone, not in the same room. And so, for a moment, the joy was tempered with sadness, and yes, I admit shedding tears. But they did not drown out the joy. I continued to celebrate, but now I celebrate for my father too. He would have been cheering just as loudly.