Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there who taught their sons and daughters the love of baseball.
Baseball and life itself were intertwined for my father and me. There was always a ballgame on the radio, it seemed, accompaniment as we drove just about anywhere or as I played Wiffle ball in the back yard while Dad trimmed the hedges. Other times, we’d sit on the front porch and hear the final and often frustrating innings of another Indians game on WERE, followed by the wrap-up and an old-time episode of “The Shadow.”
Dad taught me the intricacies of keeping score, including making sure I understood that my favorite position, shortstop, was “6.” Dad usually got tickets along the third base line at Indians games so I could learn from the pros. He’d have me watch Luis Aparicio, Rico Petrocelli or whoever the visiting shortstop was as well as Dick Hower and Larry Brown for the Tribe.
Those seats afford Dad a great view of Brooks Robinson, Ken McMullen, Pete Ward and the other third basemen of that era. Dad had played “the hot corner” as a kid, a Pennsylvania boy who dreamed of playing for the Pirates.
From my father I inherited not only a love for the game, but the rather startling (to my kids and wife, anyway) proclivity to yell at the television set while watching a ballgame. My dad groaned and hooted at TV broadcasts (remember, these were the Indians we were watching) and I can’t watch a game without doing the same.
The gift of baseball is one of the most precious gifts any father can hand down to a child, and I’m forever grateful my dad so graciously and lovingly gave it to me.