I consider myself lucky on this up coming Father's Day. Why? Because of my dad.
He took me to my first baseball game, taught me how to throw, catch, hit, what to do in certain situations, just to name a few. He also coached and he did all of this while he was in the Navy.
He did what I think every father should do for their kids and that's encourage them to do better and try their hardest.
Oh yea, there were some times when he got frustrated with me and my teenage attitude, but, he never gave up on me or tuned me out. Looking back, it's almost like he had a Jedi's sense on when to let things go and when to reel me back in.
The love of baseball is one thing he handed down to me; it is that love that has stuck with me all these years.
Even with Interleague play (blech!), I still like to sit down and watch a game on TV or, when possible, actually go to a game, even if it's by myself. Something about the smell of the peanuts and popcorn and beer and nachos that bring me back to being a kid and going to Padres games with my dad. We always sat on the third base side, field level, in the row right next to the Padres bullpen at Jack Murphy (yes, I still call it Jack Murphy).
One year, 1987 to be exact, we even flew up to Oakland to see the A's so I could see Mark McGwire play. It was the game before the All-Star game that year and the A's were playing the Brewers. I got to see McGwire hit two home runs that day. One of them hit about 15-20 feet away from me.
Thanks to my dad, I will always have that memory.
In the late 70's, when he was in the Navy and stationed up in the San Francisco area, he took me to a Padres-Giants game at Candlestick Park. I think John Montefusco pitched that day. As a kid, it was just an amazing experience being in a different ball park up in San Francisco. I don't even remember who won, but I just know I had a great time being there with my dad.
Most of my baseball memories with my dad are in San Diego. We never had season tickets, but, with the way the Padres played in the 70's and early 80's, tickets weren't hard to come by.
One time, I even got to hang out at Gene Tenace's house around Christmas in '83 or '84 (can't quite remember exactly). My dad's girlfriend's neighbor happened to be Gene Tenace and we were all invited over to his place.
Man, that was awesome!
His '82 World Series trophy was sitting on top of his TV, which now that I think about it, is hilarious. He gave me a tour of his trophy room (which was incredible), where I got to see all the stuff from his days with the A's when they went to all those World Series in the 70's and then he gave me a ball signed by all of the Pirates. He answered any question I had and was a really nice person.
I never would have had that incredible experience if it wasn't for my dad.
All of those experiences are really just the tip of the iceberg for everything that my dad was willing to do for me when it came to baseball.
It wasn't always baseball though.
We had season tickets for the Chargers in '85, went to Clippers games before they moved to L.A., went to the movies every weekend, and he would sometimes sneak me into bars so I could see him play music.
Nothing can or ever will take those memories from me.
So, on this Father's Day, I say thank you to my dad for always being there for me and for handing off your love of baseball and sports in general, to me. I only hope that I can be half as good with my kids as you were to me.
I love you dad and don't worry, I will call this weekend.
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