I don't care who you are. If that closing scene of "Field of Dreams" doesn't tug at your heartstrings, you might want to check for a pulse.
Since before forever ago, fathers and sons engaging in a game of ball-smacking-leather has been as much a part of the romance that is baseball as a freshly cut lawn or a mustard-stained shirt. Ours is a sport passed down from one generation to the next, be it a father showing his son how to properly throw a knuckler or explaining the infield-fly rule to him under a spectacularly sunny sky.
There have been many stories right here on Athletics Nation of "my first game with Dad." Some of their fathers are no longer with them, including those who have lost their dads in the last year. But the memories endure.
My own father, who will turn 80 in January, worked long hours to support his family of eight, so games of catch were far and few between. But the man more than made up for it by piling us into his station wagon and making the short jaunt to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. While I have many of my own stories to tell (and have told), I think my oldest sister paints a better picture of him here:
"I remember one game; it was July, freezing cold as usual. I think it was the top of the 9th and we were losing like 10-0. Dad wanted to leave and started up the stairs. I sat there (all I had for warmth was a crocheted poncho mom made) and I was shivering so badly but I wouldn't leave. Dad stood at the top of stairs calling me a "stubborn woman" and saying he was going to leave. But he got himself a cup of coffee as the bottom of the 9th started. Still yelling down at me. And then I looked up and saw his back. He was leaving without me! So I went after him. I don’t know why he couldn’t have waited for one more out."
"Another time Dad told me he was going to take me and my girlfriends to the game, but he had to go into work first. Yeah, I had turned all my friends into A’s fans. But it seemed like Dad was taking forever to come home and I stood at the front window saying over and over, ‘He’s not coming, he’s not coming.’ And then Mom would call out from the kitchen, ‘He’ll be here! Did he say he was going to be here?’ ‘Yes’. ‘Has he ever not shown?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then he’ll be here!’ And sure enough he drove up and I started jumping up and down and hugged him when he got inside and he’s there wondering what the heck is going on. He had that look on his face like, ‘What?’ And I kept telling him over and over, ‘You made it!’ Of course in the car he told jokes to my friends all the way to the game and I sat there kicking myself for not taking BART."
Here's to my Dad, and for all the times he waited while we chased down autographs, for "taking one for the team" by going out for a smoke so the A's could stage another late-inning comeback, and for making my sisters mad by giving up in the first inning, calling every opposing pitcher "Cy Young" and every A's batter "rally killer." You are as fair-weathered as any fan I know, and I love you for it.
My Dad with Joe Rudi at the Hall-of-Fame in 1988.
I invite the sons and daughters of AN to give a shout-out to their dads today.