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!

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