I didn’t really intend on writing anything today, but then I thought to myself I would never have started this blog had it not been for my father.
The only sport I ever really wanted to play growing up was baseball, and my dad gladly fueled my passion. He spent countless hours playing catch and teaching me the game from the time I was old enough to pick up a ball. I would come home from school and anxiously wait with both of our gloves ready to play in the back yard. There were many times I could see it on his face that he was exhausted or not entirely in the mood, but he would always take time out for me no matter what. Even as his age began to catch up with him and his knees didn’t exactly agree with squatting, he would get down in the catcher’s position anyways and let me throw until my arm grew numb.
My Dad was the coach of my baseball team from tee-ball all the way into high school. At the time I took it for granted that he was always there for me, as it was a given he would be on the sidelines coaching my team. Now I am at an age where I have begun to realize how hard that commitment is to make and how just about all of his free time consisted of coaching either my sister or my teams. I think my Dad enjoyed it the most once we were both in high school and he could actually sit back and watch us from the stands. However, he still did plenty of coaching for us, as I took his advice to heart more than any coach I ever had. But he finally didn’t have to deal with the stress of looking after others kids, though I don’t think he minded that either.
The first thing I would do whenever I took the field or stepped out onto the on-deck circle, was look into the crowd to see where my parents were sitting. The support I received from them always meant the world to me and I loved playing in front of them. Plus if I was struggling with anything, I knew I could count on my father to make some sort of subtle tip to help get me straightened out. But now those day’s are behind me. It has me thinking of that quote from Moneyball:
“We’re all told at some point in time that we can no longer play the children’s game, we just don’t… don’t know when that’s gonna be. Some of us are told at eighteen, some of us are told at forty, but we’re all told.”
For me that day came at 18, but that didn’t diminish my love for the game of baseball, not one bit. Most of my time went from practicing to focusing more than ever on the Mets. My Grandfather (Dads side) was raised in the Bronx and was a New York Giants fan. When the Giants fled town that left him with no local team to root for as there was no way he was switching over to the crosstown rival Yankees. He was ecstatic when National League baseball returned to New York when the Mets were formed in 1962. They quickly became my fathers team, as he has grown up alongside the franchise. This is something my father wasted no time in passing down to me from the moment I was born, as the Mets have become part of everyday life for me.
I couldn’t even begin to guess the amount of games we’ve watched together, but if the Mets are on and we’re both home…you know what’s on the TV. It hasn’t been easy watching this team through the years, as I was born just three months after the Mets last won the World Series in 1986. In my 26-years the Mets have made the playoffs only four times, and one of those was in 1988 when I was only a year old. So that gives you an idea of the caliber team we have suffered through together. My mother has had to deal with far too many occasions when speaking to either one of us was out of the questions due to a Mets game result. She has learned over time to not take it personal, I hope.
It hasn’t all been bad, though. My two favorite Mets teams were the 1999 and 2000 bunch, I was in the seventh and eighth grade. I remember staying up late to watch every game down the stretch and into the postseason. I was always going in late to school, or half asleep when I actually made it on time, after watching a late night playoff game with my Dad. Although we never had the pleasure of watching a World Series win together in Shea Stadium, the last game we would ever see there was won by a David Wright walk-off home run. That’s something that will always bring a smile to my face. Knowing my lasting memory of Shea Stadium, where I spent so many summer days in my childhood, ended on that kind of high note with my father by my side.
The last few years we have started a new tradition of making the trek down to Florida in March for Mets spring training action. It’s a unique experience and one that has only grown our baseball bond stronger over the year. But, it really doesn’t matter where we are, as long as we’re watching Mets baseball together.
After writing this and thinking back on so many memories, I realize how much of our relationship is built on sports, and particularly baseball. Every father and son has some sort of special bond that connects them and this is ours. My dream of having my parents sitting in the stands watching me play for the Mets might be long gone, but hopefully one day I’ll be working within the baseball industry, knowing I couldn’t have done it without my father.
Happy Father’s Day!