I’ve never met anyone who loved the game of baseball more than you did. You loved it so much you that you would sit at the dining room table for hours playing APBA baseball, a board game I never could understand the allure of. It looked so unbelievably boring! But not to you. I can still see you sitting in your chair in the living room, eyes glued to the game on tv. On game nights, dinners were served in front of the television so you wouldn’t miss out on any of the action. And yet, you inexplicably decided to go to bed in the middle of the 2004 World Series! I later realized you were listening to it on the radio but I still remember running upstairs so excited to tell you that they’d finally broken the curse!
When we were little, I remember spending a few weekends outside in the side yard where you would teach Sean and me everything you knew about baseball. Growing up in our house, it didn’t matter that I was a girl – I had to learn how to play baseball. We learned how to play every position at first, until you decided what we were best at – Sean a catcher and shortstop (and everywhere else!) and me a pitcher and shortstop. You bought me this baseball, the most colorful ball I’d ever seen. It had all the different pitching grips stenciled on. Curveball, change-up, fastball, I learned to throw them all – some admittedly better than others. I’m still disappointed you wouldn’t teach me how to throw a spitball like Amanda Whurlitzer in The Bad News Bears though!
You always seemed so proud that your daughter was the only girl in little league for those first few years. The boys on the other teams would always tease me, insisting that girls couldn’t play baseball. You told me they’d stop laughing at me once I’d struck them out. And you were right! I loved everything about baseball. Most of all though, I loved sharing it with you. We may have disagreed about a lot of things but baseball was never one of them.
I stopped playing baseball after little league. The high school told me I wouldn’t be able to play with the boys since “softball was the same and I could play with the girls.” Anyone who has ever played baseball knows the two aren’t the same but it didn’t seem worth the fight. I gave softball a try for two years, mainly to be with my friends, but I never loved it so I quit playing. Instead I focused on soccer, another sport you loved, although not quite as passionately.
I still love baseball, just as much as I did back then. But in all the years since you’ve been gone, I haven’t been able to make it through watching more than one inning before the pain of missing you becomes too much. So I stopped watching altogether. But I’m making an exception this year. On April 12th, exactly 10 years since you left us, the Red Sox and the Yankees are playing at Fenway Park. You spent my childhood telling me stories about all the greatest players from those teams – Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Dom & Joe DiMaggio, etc. This seems like a good way to celebrate you. I know you’ll be watching it, too. See what you can do about getting the Sox a win, huh?
I love you, Daddy. I miss you every single day. You are my sunshine, forever and always.