Boston, Baseball and My Old Man

rays-red-sox-baseballSports have been never a huge thing in my family. If my brother or I wanted to try out for a team, our parents supported us wholeheartedly, but they never pushed to play. Which is really unusual, since both mom and dad were athletes in high school. Of course, my parents are anything but usual and, in a roundabout way, their attitude about sports makes sense. They loved it when they played and wanted us involved only if we also loved it, too. So, they never pushed, just supported.

My father played football, basketball and baseball in high school and was pretty good at all three. And, though he liked football well enough and was a big UNC basketball fan, he loved baseball. Which is something I never knew because he didn’t play a lot with us. When I asked why he didn’t, he shrugged said there just wasn’t time. It’s true; for most of my youth, he was going to school at night to earn an Associate degree in Electronic Engineering and working overtime or whatever odd jobs he could find. It wasn’t until I was a father that understood his sacrifice and why he was willing to make it.

Baseball  (basketball too, but that’s not what this is about) was a point of connection for my father and I. Even when we weren’t getting along that well, we could still talk about it or enjoy watching a game together. Dad was always a Red Sox fan and, of course, so was I. Even in the depths of the curse, we never gave up on them. As a kid, I never found it strange for someone who’d spent a grand total of one week in Boston to be such a Red Sox fan; it was just the way things were. But, as I got older, I began wonder about it and, finally, I asked him why the Red Sox? He said when he was a boy, a couple of former Boston players were his neighbors and, through them, he met several others, including Bobby Doerr. He didn’t say so, but I’m pretty sure Doerr was his favorite player (personally, I was Yaz man). I was floored by the news that he had such a personal connection to the team, but it made sense. A lot of things the old man did seemed like a whim to the rest of us, but he always had a reason.

Of course, this post was brought on by Boston’s win last night which clinched the 2013 World Series and the only thing I’m sorry about is that my dad wasn’t here to see it. He danced his last waltz last year, passing away when the season had barely gotten started. I haven’t watched a baseball game since. As I said, baseball was something I did with my dad and the memories were a bit too much. But, I think I might be ready to pick it back up. Who knows, one of these days, I might even see a game at Fenway.