Like many of you I found a love for the game of baseball from my dad. I think he had a bat and ball in my hand as soon as I could hold it and throw it. Everyday I would meet him outside when he got home from work with two gloves and a ball. We would play catch, he would throw me pop flys, and even roll me ground balls on a gravel driveway! I couldn’t wait for him to get home everyday so we could do the same thing over and over again, day after day!
My dad grew up a baseball fan as well, my grandfather would take him to Orioles games at Memorial Stadium as a kid. He likes to tell stories all the time about skipping school and going to games during the day, looking at the schedule to get tickets to the day/night double headers, and even buying playoff tickets at the gate the day of the game. He was at Memorial Stadium the day Frank Robinson hit the ball out of the ballpark, the day Tippy Martinez picked off the side, and saw John Denver sing “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” Live during the World Series. No matter how many times he tells these stories they never get old and most of the time I find myself kinda jealous that he got to do all of that!
Growing up we didn’t attend Orioles games at all, he took me out of school one year early with my Uncle and Cousin so we could go to an Orioles game because he got free tickets. As I became a teenager though he ended up getting a partial season plan to the Frederick Keys games, they are a low-level minor league team for the Orioles. We would go 12-15 times a year as a family, a lot of times it would just be my dad, my uncle, and I going to the games. We sat five rows off the field behind the on deck circle on the first base side, the home side. It wasn’t always a great game but it was always a great time together. Watching baseball, talking baseball, thinking what the teams should do on this pitch or that pitch, I learned more from watching those games then I ever did playing it.
Over the years I got older and grew away from the game of baseball, but like I talked about in my first blog post I had a son who was just starting to play. As he grew older and understood the game more we signed up for the Orioles Dugout club, then my youngest daughter signed up for the Dugout Club as well. The Orioles started to win again and my dad started to get back into watching them. This brought our family bond of baseball together even more, three generations of us attending many games together. My son loves to get to the games early for batting practice, he makes it a goal to try to get a ball at every game he goes to. He’s actually been pretty successful at it over the years. Whenever he gets a ball he always gives the first one to my dad to keep in his bar at his house. My dad then takes the ticket from that game and puts it with the ball. One day my wife asked our son why he gives Pap the baseballs, he said “because one day I will get them all back.”
What has been really cool to do together over the past couple years is traveling to other stadiums to watch some games. When the Orioles were playing the Yankees in 2016 we traveled up to see them play. We went up early and visited the 9/11 Memorial together since he had never seen it before. My dad served over 20 years in the Air Force and was in Desert Storm so he has great pride in the military and defending this country, so this was a pretty special to be there with him. The stadium was great, the Yankee’s fans were good to us, and the game was good until the Orioles blew the lead late in the game. As the Orioles season this year was going down hill I decided coming home from a game that I would treat my dad to a couple of baseball games at new stadiums. So I purchased tickets to go back up to New York, this time to Citi Field and see the Braves take on the Mets. I also got us tickets to go see the Braves play the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Next year we plan on traveling to see a couple other stadiums like Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. I am sure those trips will be just as good as the three we have already had.
I could go on and on about this game and that game that we have been to but that may bore many of you. For me though they are very special times together, they are memories that not only have I had with my dad but also with my wife and kids. I’m already excited for next season and as much as I want time to slow down as many of us do I want it to get here so we can create even more memories together. It is pretty special how much the game of baseball can not only bring a father and son together but an entire family.