Baseball is an integral part of my life, and I have my father to thank for that. As I peer back through more than half a century of memories to my childhood, baseball and my father are fused.
Dad taught me to throw, to catch (two hands, Danny!), to grip the bat and swing (meet the ball!), and to field. He taught me to keep score (the shortstop is 6, he comes after the third baseman, 5). And by example he taught me to yell at the television set as if we somehow could will the Indians not to be terrible through most of the 60s and 70s and beyond.
He drove grounders my way tirelessly and spent hours catching my Little League heaters. He drove me to countless practices and ballgames, When I played well, he’d smile and be content. And when I didn’t, he’d tell me to shake it off. There’d always be another day.
Those other days stopped coming for Dad 20 years ago when he died of cancer. But he stays with me, through good days and bad, and my thoughts are never far from him whenever I hear the crack of the bat.