My family didn’t make it into the city very much, as my parents weren’t fans of crowds and traffic. We watched the ’96 Olympics from the T.V., and I can’t remember ever spending a weekend viewing Atlanta attractions. However, there was one exception: a baseball game.
I grew up hearing my father’s stories of baseball history and his favorite players. The Yankees were his team, and their rich tradition was one I loved to hear him share. From my father I learned of Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak and his help with the war effort. I heard stories of DiMaggio’s undying love for his ex-wife Marilyn Monroe that caused him to lay flowers on her grave every day for years. The baseball players from years ago have stories that just can’t be duplicated.
When my family moved to Georgia 25 or so years ago, my dad needed a team to root for, so we became fans of the Atlanta Braves. To say they were horrible when I was a little girl doesn’t even cut it, but my father always said that anyone could root for a winner. We weren’t going to be fair-weather fans, and we cheered for the Braves when they were in last place. During the summer, our T.V. nights were spent watching baseball on TBS, and the love of baseball even brought us to Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium from time to time.
While my dad loves watching the game, he has his own history playing. He got a taste of his dream when he tried out in Yankee Stadium, but he wasn’t called to pitch for them. The Chicago White Sox had his name. They picked him for their farm team, but when dad threw out his arm, there was nothing more he could do. The fastball was his pitch, and not having the expert medical care that athletes have today, that injury ended his career.
And for years, the closest my dad came to passing on his knowledge was at a few seasons of my sister’s softball games. I spent ten years living my own sports dream as a gymnast, and so my dad cheered on stuck beam series and high-flying double-backs. The season of the fastball and homerun were no longer a part of his personal life.
Until he was given a grandson.
When Caleb walks to the on-deck circle, I know my father gets a little flurry of excitement. He gets to share some of his knowledge of the game with someone who can finally use it. But I have to wonder, as he looks on across the field, if it’s hard to cheer for the Mets after all his years as a die-hard Yankee fan.
Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.
What love of sports does your family carry? And don’t forget to come back tomorrow and link up your own Journeys post on gentleness!