As we close in on Father's Day this June, many fathers and sons will be enjoying the day by taking in the grand ole' game of baseball.
A Sunday afternoon of fun in the sun. The smell of hot dogs, popcorn, and roasted peanuts fill the air. A soda or beer to quench your thirst—all while hoping that your day will be made complete with your favorite team winning in dramatic fashion.
As a child, I lost my mother at the age of eight, so my father had to teach me many things on his own.
The one thing that he taught me and which bonded us together was baseball.
I can remember being as young as four or five and him pitching to me in our backyard. As we grew older together, always by each other's side, he coached me on every team that I played on till I was 13.
All through this time my father kept the game fun, but stressed a will to succeed and win. As I grew older and further apart from him, as all children do, we always had baseball.
I continued to play through college and up till the age of 24, when injuries took a toll on my body. Up to that last at-bat or play, my father was there.
For every pitch, every play, he never missed a game. This was not only because of me, but for my teammates that he coached. He just loved the game.
After my playing days, I disappeared from life. I gave in to many temptations that I'm not proud of today. Common, through it all, was my father's love and faith in me and our baseball bond.
My father grew up loving the New York Giants, imitating Johnny Mize, and going through life believing Willie Mays was a God of some sort. Now, he liked my favorite team.
We discuss the rumors of the offseason. We watch all games together and question every move made throughout the nine innings, like two school boys arguing over strikes and balls.
My father is slowly turning into the typical "win now" fan of New York area. I'm the one that enjoys all 30 teams and respect them all.
We are a baseball ying-yang, creating the perfect pre and post-game environment with our different, but similar take on the sport.
We both know any team can win on any given day. That's what keeps us watching—the unpredictability of the sport.
My father, now 74, is passing the love of the game to my 13-year-old nephew, continuing to make it to all of his games and not missing an inning, regardless of distance to a game or the heat of the summer.
Right where he left off with me.
The game makes him feel like a child again and brings back memories only he knows.
I do know one thing—I love this game of baseball, not because of the time of year it's played or the way it makes me feel or the shock waves it can send through your body at any given moment.
I love the game because it's my father and it brought my father and me together as one.
I love him more than life.
I know that when he's gone from this earth, baseball will always be here to remind me of him.
That will always bring joy to every inning, pitch, swing, or play I watch.
Thank you, Dad.