Happy Father’s Day. I know that it’s a day early, but for the real day I’ll be with Dad at a baseball game. Throughout my life, it seems that baseball was always followed closely by Dad, and vice versa.
He’s the one who taught me how to catch. I learned how to hit in our Wiffle ball games in the backyard. When we went to Pirates games as I grew up, he taught me how to keep score. While many of the other kids were more worried with mascots and cotton candy, I learned the value of a double switch or why it’s important to back up a base and stay involved in the play.
Dad always came to my baseball games, but he was never my coach. He preferred to stay in the background, but never hesitated to offer advice if I asked for it.
However, there was that one time in American Legion ball when he yelled at me from the bleachers for taking a called third strike. It was outside, Dad, I swear.
Dad does know what he’s talking about. My mom always jokes that he can’t remember what he had for dinner last night, but he can tell you every detail of the Pirates’ 1979 championship season.
When we’re talking baseball, I know Dad respects a guy when he offers his endorsement of “He’s a good ballplayer.” It could be a Major Leaguer, a semi-pro guy at the local park, or a kid on a high school team. If Dad says he’s a good ballplayer, it’s good enough for me.
That’s what he said a couple years ago about Pirates’ center fielder Nate McLouth. He would invariably hit a home run every time we went to a game and he was in the lineup. He would say, “That guy needs to be in there everyday.”
“Dad,” I would tell him. “He only does this when you come. He needs to buy you season tickets.”
It turns out Dad was right. McLouth is an All-Star candidate and has already surpassed his career high in home runs.
This Father’s Day, we’re heading to Baltimore to see McLouth and the Pirates face the Orioles. We’ve been to Baltimore three other times. When we entered Camden Yards for the first time in the late 1990’s, it was the first time either of us had seen a grass field at a professional game.
Hopefully you all have similar memories with your fathers to share this weekend. I’ll be at a baseball game in Baltimore making some new ones with Dad. I couldn’t have it any other way.