Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Play ball!

Baseball was introduced to me at an age when I was still too young to form my own opinions, and similar to religion, food preferences and a lot of other life choices, I started off doing what my parents do.  Yes, there was a chance to change allegiance when I was older, as I did with food preferences and some other habits as a teenager, but being a Yankee fan is just part of who I am.  Being a fan of any other team just wouldn't be right.

Being a Yankee fan runs in the family. My dad grew up in the Bronx and worked at the stadium selling beer in the bleachers when he was a teenager. He watched Maris hit 61 home runs in '61 and has Yankee baseball in his blood.

Therefore, it goes with out saying that my earliest memory of a baseball game takes place at Yankee stadium.  Like my dad, who tells a story similar to the one Billy Crystal's character tells in "City Slickers", my memory also happens before the game started but is perhaps a little less romantic.  At the beginning of the national anthem I wondered out loud who "Jose" was (as in "Jose can you see....") and my dad, being the consummate joker, told me that he was a guy that came to the game but couldn't get tickets so he had to watch the game from the flag pole.

So, let it begin.  Play ball.

The rest of the game (or maybe several memories from games in my early childhood blended together) was spent trying to get Reggie Jackson's attention (he would remain my favorite player until Don Mattingly came along) and learning when to cheer and when not to.  My dad taught me how to tell if it was going to be a home run or a long fly ball (watch the outfielders not the ball) and what to do when the PA played the "charge" call. But he taught me much more than just baseball at those games.  He taught me not to flash your money around when ordering peanuts. Along with the rules of baseball he taught me the rules of life.

At home I knew it was summer not because it was sunny and warm out but because the sounds of Phil Rizzuto saying "HOLY COW...." would fill the living room on a regular basis. The game was always on.

When I was older my dad and I went to a game by ourselves and I remember arriving late to the ballpark and being worried about missing the first pitch because we wouldn't be able to find parking. But right as we arrived to the stadium a police office moved his car so we could park on the sidewalk and told us he would keep an eye on the car and we wouldn't have any problems. When does that ever happen!?!  We arrived in time for the first pitch, enjoyed the game and got in the car to go home right as it started to rain. It was a perfectly timed day.

When I moved to Boston to attend college I was forced to pay attention to the Yanks like I never had to before. Defending the Yanks was an everyday necessity. On the bus, at the super market, walking down the street, at the laundry mat and everywhere in between I had to have the stats to back up why the Yanks were better. Why Jeter was better than Nomar. Why the Yanks would win the division. Phone conversations with my dad always included Yankee talk and a game didn't go by (when they were on in Boston) without several calls to or from dad.

And if the stats failed I could always justify being a Yankee fan by saying "I grew up in NY. My dad is from the Bronx and worked at the stadium in the 60s". And that somehow made it all ok. It made it legitimate. The blood line had been passed down and I was a true Yankee fan, not because I chose to be, or was force to be, but because it was who I was.  It is who my dad is, will always be. Huge Yankee fan. Best dad ever.

If you like this story, or just hate Parkinson's Disease, please visit my Team Fox page and help me reach my goal of $5,200.
I hope you continue to join me in laughing at my dad and join the fight against PD!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Camping and Cursing

Back in the day when it was a punishable offense to call your older brother a doody-head, my family embarked on quite a few camping trips.

I learned quite a bit on those trips, but it wasn't until reading an article today that I realized that everyone didn't learn to curse while watching their dad set up a tent in the rain.

This was surprising to me.

My dad had a bit of a curse (no pun intended) when it came to the weather and camping and it turns out it is actually a family curse. It is the kind of curse that turns a nice June day into a gloomy swear-fest at the first sight of a family tent.  A curse that has put a rain cloud above my car while driving to the camp site when the rest of the sky is clear (really, this happened).  The kind of curse that knows whether I will wait to set up the tent to see if the rain clouds will pass (they won't and the heaviest rain will come while I'm setting up) or if I will set the tent up right away while it is only drizzling (again, it will pour as soon as the tent parts are out of the bag).

The first memory I have of this is sitting in the station wagon with my mom and the doody-head while my dad literally wrestled with a soaking wet canvas tent.  Canvas!  Heavy when dry, super-duper heavy when wet.  And this was a tent that came with 10 pounds of poles that were in a bag that my brother and I could have fit into.

At least my tent is now light weight, water proof and only has two poles that are both the same. My dad had to find the 3 pole segments that go together to make a pole.  And each part of the tent needed different pole lengths which meant different pole pieces that made up each completed pole.  It was a like a pole puzzle and we got to watch him struggle and curse as he built our shelter for the night.

Of course, when he was done pitching the tent, the clouds would disperse and the sun would come out.  In fact the first camping memories I have are of learning a few swear words followed by a great rainbow.  It is the first rainbow I ever remember seeing.  The rest of the day was beautiful and I was introduced to the marvel of burs.  After throwing them at each other for a few minutes under the rainbow and getting a kick about how they stuck to our clothes, my brother fell into the bur bush.  The rest of the afternoon was spent grilling and picking burs out of my brother's hair. 

At the end of the sun-filled week, I got a little refresher course in my new vocabulary words as my dad took the tent down in the rain, while we watched (and listened) from the dry comfort of the car.

Camping with the family was always so much fun for everyone....well, I'm guessing my dad could have done with out the ill timed rain storms.
If you like this story, or just hate Parkinson's Disease, please visit my Team Fox page and help me reach my goal of $5,200.
I hope you continue to join me in laughing at my dad and join the fight against PD!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Learning to ride

When teaching someone else a new task, there are standard methods and then there are the more, shall we say, strange methods. My dad started off with the standard method of teaching me to ride a bike: Get me started on training wheels then take the wheels off and let me ride a little while he holds the bike. When he felt I was going well, he would let go without me knowing. Standard, age old method. He did this for my brother and it worked great. Yes, my brother did go half way down the block and land in a bush but it was a soft bush and he was uninjured.

Enter the strange method.

After I passed my first ride as a very surprised solo rider, my dad decided to make a small obstacle course. Large objects where dragged from the garage to the street where I was going to weave in and out of them refining my control. Guaranteeing that I, unlike my brother, would never crash into a bush. I trusted my dad so I mounted my bike and headed toward the first object, a large metal garbage can. Getting around the first object was easy. Turning tightly enough to make it between the garbage can and the second item, a metal step ladder, was a little bit beyond my current riding skill. I don’t remember what the other objects were because I never made it that far having crashed into the ladder. Scraped up and slightly injured, I headed inside with my dad.

I don’t remember completing my training, but know for a fact that dad never set up another obstacle course. I also haven’t crashed in to anything on a bike since, so maybe this was a lesson I couldn’t have done without.

If you like this story, or just hate Parkinson's Disease, please visit my Team Fox page and help me reach my goal of $5,200.
I hope you continue to join me in laughing at my dad and join the fight against PD!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Snowy day.

'A' enjoying the snow from the warmth of the indoors. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

blog-a-thon: starting March 8th...

Last father’s day I decided to blog some stories about my dad from when I was a kid.  It was going to be mostly stories poking fun of my dad in the hopes of also raising money for Parkinson’s disease research.
Father’s day came and went and I haven’t done much of anything.  But things are getting easier on the home front.  ‘A’ is sleeping better (not great, but better) and I have a nice shiny new iPhone. This will enable me to sleep at home and blog on the bus on the way to work.
The plan is to post one silly (or heartfelt) story about my dad a week, starting on his birthday and going for one year.   There will be guest posters from time to time as well, so if you have a story you would like to share please let me know. 
If you like a story, or just hate PD, please visit my Team Fox page and help me reach my goal of $5,200.
I hope you join me in laughing at my dad and join the fight against PD!