I grew up in a baseball family. The youngest of four siblings and the only girl, my childhood/teen spring and summer days were spent at the ballpark watching my brothers play and my dad manage Little League ball. I was bound to either love or hate the sport.
My dad (RIP) was a great Little League manager. He won far more games and seasons in his lifetime than he lost, and even took his 1978 All-Star Team to a state championship. What a year that was. The memories are still so clear in my mind of the team's winning ways, rooting them on, enjoying the pizza parties afterward. I still keep in touch with a couple of the players; in fact, the catcher and the slugger from that team helped bear my dad to his final resting place last September.
My dad was undoubtedly the biggest Red Sox fan there ever was. He fell in love with the team as a 12-year old boy in 1946 when Ted Williams was in his prime, and he followed them the rest of his life, whether they had a winning or losing season. Dad was not a boisterous fan; no, when Dad watched a game he would sit way back in his chair, hands resting, folded almost up on his chest, taking in every pitch and play. He didn't cheer loudly, but if the manager made a decision he disagreed with, well, he'd voice his opinion on that!
In 2000, Dad had the great privilege of going to Fenway Park in Boston to see the Red Sox play, courtesy of a very good friend of his. It was certainly the trip of a lifetime for him. Then in 2004, Dad finally got to celebrate Boston winning the World Series. Unfortunately it was at the expense of St. Louis! But Cardinals fan that I am, I couldn't help being thrilled for Dad. And to this day, I am a Red Sox fan too, for Dad's sake.
One thing my dad wished he could do was go watch his team play in Spring Training. He never got to do that. But this Spring, my dear husband is taking me and the boys to Jupiter, FL, to watch the Cards in Spring Training. I think I'm almost as excited as my dad would have been! We'll see three games, all of them in seats close enough to catch a foul-ball or two. It should be a wonderful trip with yet more baseball memories to talk about in years to come. Dad would be so happy for us.
I was bound to love or hate baseball. Well, I love it. I love that I live in a baseball town and that I can listen to Mike Shannon call the Cardinals games on the radio almost everyday from April through (hopefully!) October. And I love my dad for giving me baseball. Thanks Dad, this Spring Training is for you!