I’d like to thank everyone who submitted entries into our Father’s Day Promotion. As a result, our five winners will receive a free copy of the 1985 World Series on DVD from A&E Home Entertainment.
The winning readers are:
- Shane England
- Nick Amey
- Matthew McLaughlin
- Tyson Beshore
- Zachary Dinges
Their “Fathers and Baseball” Stories are below:
My father always harnessed my love for the Royals, so much so that I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t a fan. It was like I was born into fandom, which makes all the memories shared that much more heartfelt. In the summer of 1994, when Griffey Jr. was on a torrid home run pace, I, a 14 year old at the time, wanted to go to the Mariners/Royals game. My dad had quarter to half-dollar sized blisters on his arms from poison ivy, but he took my brother and me to that game in sweltering heat with no complaints. And guess who let me stay all nine innings of a rain-delayed frost bite of a September game later that year? That’s right, my father weathered the storm. As Mom and brother warmed in the ole minivan, we caught Denny on the stadium concourse radio saying there must be less than 300 left in the stands. That was how we watched Royals games: all 9 innings, and sometimes, if we were lucky, more.
The Royals would send two players to a local bank each year. My dad would take us every year. From Gerald Perry to Jim Eisenreich to Pat Tabler, I have several random cards autographed to this day from those events; they sit in a dusty cigar box in a drawer next to me as I type, with some old pictures of my father for good measure. One year, Frank White was a guest. I remember my father, knowing a close friend that went to Kauffman’s famousRoyals Baseball Academy with White, conversing with Frank for nearly 30 minutes. My brother and I stood in awe: our father could talk baseball with one of the legends.
Of all the stories I have about my father, I submit one of high comedy for some good laughs. The last game I attended with my father:
We had “old GA” seats. A mad storm was brewing right around game-time, but no delay had been announced, so everyone was still seated. Once the PA released the rain delay information, everyone scurried for cover, with my family ending up on the edge of a large mob of fans in the walkway, just barely under the left field pier. My father left to use the restroom (my brother and I were almost adults by this time) and soon after he left it began to savagely pour down rain. My brother and I started to get soaked by the sideways rain, so we had to make a rash decision: run for it. We ran for the bathroom. With a little luck we ended up on the edge of a large mob of fans again, but this time on the dry side of Mother Nature. Dad was nowhere to be found; but, we were dry, so we stayed put.
This group of fans had realized that the guy manning the beer cart across the way had ran for cover himself, leaving the immaculate beer cart: a)full of beer and b)vacant as Tropicana field. One by one, a fan would run 50 feet to the beer cart, grab a cup, fill it up, and race back to the arid restroom. It was like watching those cup stacking competitions, except with an element of actual excitement. When each fan would make it to the cart, we would all cheer loudly as they filled their beer. The cart sat next to a fence, hidden from the concession attendants. After about 20 people raided the cart, the cups were gone and the soaked raiders continued. Without cups, they would arrive at the unattended cart, open mouth, let the golden hops flow down their throats for several seconds, and then race back to dry freedom. There was a feeling that this game of beer tag was of more significance than whether the real game would be played or not. It was rather “Pine Tar Game”-esque.
As the commotion got louder and louder, the Royals ushers that were in the building behind the fence began to understand what was happening. When a fleet-footed beer raider would race to the cart, like George Brett from the dugout on that fateful day in 1983, an usher would emerge from the building, rush to the fence, and try to scare the thief off, with absolutely no success. This was obscenely humorous.
After the rain absconded, we departed the dingy restroom and went about our ways. An attendant was once again restored at the helm of a now empty beer cart. My brother and I were wet, not thoroughly soaked, but highly amused. We went on a search for our father and found him completely dry, underneath the awning of a concession stand, happily sipping on a brew. This was one of the last memories I have of our father as a stout, bearded, happy, and healthy man, before the lymphoma took hold, and I am damn proud of it. The game was played, we dried out, Carlos Febles jacked a homerun into our section, and I think we won, but those pre-game images ring so true in my mind that they bleed through the actual outcome of the ball game, and deservedly so.
Over the years I’ve spent going to Royals games and little league games and minor league games with my Dad I’ve slowly discovered his passion for baseball and how much he actually follows the sport – past, present, and future. A few years ago I would have never asked my Dad what he thought about out minor league system or any potential young guns I should be looking out for. The truth of the matter is I didn’t know he tracked the Royals that closely and I never asked so he never said anything about it. He doesn’t willingly volunteer the information but if you want to talk about Royals prospects then you’ll soon realize that this man does know what he’s talking about giving his audience the opportunity to store these prospective tidbits and use during friendly Royals conversations at the bar, water cooler, or in the stands. I would listen closely to his thoughts on the rotation and then find myself surprising my friends as we each offered up our own analysis. It didn’t take long for my friends to see right through me and realize that I was just spewing out the memorized information that I had gotten from my Dad. Now my buddies just go straight to the source and my Dad is always happy to talk Royals baseball.
I have seemingly deleted Zach’s story, as it was sent separate from the answers. Apologies to Zach, and if I manage to retrieve it I will add it to this entry.
Thanks again to all who entered!