"I like to look down on a field of green and white a summertime land of Oz,
a place to dream. I've never been unhappy in a ballpark."
--Jim Murray, LA Times
"Summertime Land of Oz"
Back in 2010, I dipped my toe into the blogging world with "Don't Blink". Ironically, if you blinked you would have missed it. It was not the right fit for me at the time. Today is the first day of baseball season, hope springs eternal and we all root for teams with winning percentages for this one day only. I am pulling out a post I wrote for "Don't Blink" about baseball and my dad, and added some archived photos. This is a bit longer of a post and more personal in nature than I usually choose to share. I love my dad, I love baseball. One slips away from me a bit more day by day, due to Alzheimer's. The other grows stronger for me day by day, as a connection to my dad. The two are intertwined in my heart and soul. I am so glad my dad got to experience Thing #1's foray into college and minor league baseball before his memory began to fade. I'm sure it helped ease the "pain" of being the only male in a household full of gals for years and years :).
Philadelphia circa 1949
Philadelphia circa 1949
Spring...the season of new beginnings. The heck with daffodils waking and poking thru the ground, I'm focused more on bats coming out of hibernation and poking hits thru the infield. For me, there is nothing that evokes spring better than the sound of a wood bat hitting the rawhide and the smell of fresh grass intertwined with the aroma of popcorn. It has been said that whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball. Those who know yours truly, say the same about moi. When it comes to baseball, I know more than the average Joe. I have more than once caught an unsuspecting man by surprise with my baseball savvy. This is due in part to my above-average 'non-Joe' of a dad...Don.
If there is one constant in my life, a place where I can totally concentrate on the here and now and block out everything else life throws my way, it is a baseball game. Nine innings of total bliss where the clock is obsolete and I am completely honed in and focused. The perfect combination of individualism and team work, the attributes that define America also define it's homegrown sport. Baseball is forever linked in my mind to childhood, a blue transistor radio, and collecting the entire 1971 Phillies starting line up in photos with each fill-up at the local Sunoco station. It is also linked eternally to the sentiment "THOSE BUMS!", which I would hear my dad spit out every time the Phillies blew a game..which apparently was the entire decade of the 1970's!
I find it quite funny, in a cosmic sense, that my dad was "blessed" with a family of three DAUGHTERS! I am talking about a former ballplayer who was never able to play a game of catch, debate the pros and cons of the designated hitter, discuss the art of calling pitches, the beauty of a perfectly timed double play, the folly of a suicide squeeze, teach how to keep an official score card or how to break in a catcher's mitt...to a son. I'm sure he thought the love of the game would be unrequited by his girls. I never played ANY sport. The only thing I could catch was a fire baton...albeit in a minuscule outfit while wearing knee high white boots. My dad should have appreciated the fact that no outfielder could catch a fly ball under similar circumstances with such finesse.
"A Place to Dream"
But come to love the game I did. And the love has been passed down the family tree to all my Things (both son AND daughters). It is probably only within the last couple of years I have been able to identify the reasons WHY I love the game and make the connection to my dad. Dad was a police officer and District Justice. Growing up, his world was black and white with few shades of grey to link the two extremes. You were either wrong, or you were right (I was usually wrong). I have been accused of the same color-blindness by my own kids. In reality, he was a perfect umpire disguised as my dad. The authority and decisiveness he would use to make his calls on my actions might as well have been "You're OUTTA here!" ejections from the game. And just like you never show up an ump by arguing a call...the same went for my dad, lest I be benched indefinitely.
"Can I Have Your Autograph?"
Just like my dad, baseball is a thing of beauty due to it's precise and honest nature. It's a dramatic game, a thinking man's game played out under strict guidelines and confines with clear decisions. Baseball encompasses everything that my dad, and life, does. Crime and punishment, cause and effect, motive and result, ying and yang. If life were only as simple and easy as differentiating between strike or ball, fair or foul, safe or out, black or white. There is an easiness of order that I find comforting. No matter how complex or complicated my life might be at a given moment, I can count on baseball to be a calm oasis and place to re-focus.
"Brother, Sister, Baseball, Bonding"
Things #1 and #3
Funny how sometimes it takes a lifetime to recognize what is obvious and has been under your nose your whole life. My dad is the personification of the game of baseball. Baseball is also known as a sport of fathers and sons. But occasionally, a lucky daughter will sneak into the mix.
Love ya Dad,