Friday, June 13, 2008

Thanks, Dad

I tend to occupy myself with things other than the blog on weekends, so I wanted to take today's entry to say "Happy Father's Day" to dads everywhere. Because dad is, after all, the man who introduced us all to the wonderful game of baseball (and other sports on occasion).

I want to especially thank my own dad.

Growing up, he made sure I never missed a Padres - Mets game at Jack Murphy Stadium, so I could see my idol Darryl Strawberry. I can't remember why he became my favorite player; perhaps it was his last name that I found funny as a 5 year old, or maybe the fact that he was so tall.

Thank you for my 1987 Topps collection. I always knew that when Dad picked me up from preschool we'd stop by Grand City in Brunswick, Maine (I grew up a military kid) to pick up a pack of cards, after which I'd tear through them, asking if each player was "good." Looking back, the answer to 75% of that set is an obvious no, but the memories of it are priceless.

I remember sandlot baseball on an empty lot in Coronado, California, where I imagined I was Strawberry at the plate, and probably Dwight Gooden on the mound (I say probably because I may have thought Strawberry was so elite that he could pitch, too). The area we played in doesn't seem so big when I revisit it as an adult.

I remember all of the card shows, where I've met lots of famous (and some infamous) athletes: Strawberry (pretty sure he called me "buddy"), Gooden, Maury Wills, Greg Maddux, Pete Rose, Joe Pepitone (who cleverly asked me how to spell "Joe", which amused me at the time), Gaylord Perry, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (I worried I'd miss him entering the room; I didn't realize he was 12 feet tall) among countless others.

I remember every other ball game I've been to with him, including Wilson Alvarez's no-hitter in Baltimore.

I've been taught the game of golf and the beauty of gimme puts and mulligans - but not counting them against your score. Because golf is really just about the chance to spend quality time together.

For all of that and so much more, thank you.

So happy Father's Day to every father out there. Let dad kick back, relax, and watch a truly awful match-up - a father's day special, if you will - between the Nationals (26-42) and Mariners (24-42) on Sunday.

He deserves it.

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