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.
He grew up a Kansas City A’s fan and rightfully so … Roger Maris’ son practiced on my Dad’s little league team which sometimes had guest coaching appearances by Bob Cerv — Kansas City A’s and NY Yankees Outfielder late 50’s early 60’s. This is also Rick Sutcliffe’s little league team. I’d like to say that my Dad and Sutcliffe were old drinking buddies but I don’t think my Dad could keep up with Sut at the bar.
When it came to my Dad and I having a catch he never taught me how to throw a curve ball. He said I was too young and he didn’t want me screwing up my arm. That however did not stop him from throwing breaking balls at me and my brother. Some nights he had a pretty good hook going and a decent tailing fastball in the backyard. So it was no surprise that my brother wound up playing catcher throughout his little league career and I was one of the better shortstops in the league all due to my Dad throwing way too much heat to his sons at a very young age. I’d say our hand eye coordination was tested early.
If you were to dig through my Dad’s closet for Royals memorabilia you’d find a couple very old and yellowed Royals promotional hats that he’s still never thrown out and a small box with KC Star clippings from the 1980 and 1985 World series and at the bottom of the box are a couple ticket stubs from the ’85 series. My parents were married in 1982 and if you asked my Mom where they went for their honeymoon she’d say that they went to a Royals game. The day after they were married the Royals were in town and so my Dad being a season ticket holder at the time would not miss the chance to go to a Sunday May game against the Boston Red Sox. The next day they drove to Colorado for their second honeymoon.
I haven’t been out to the K yet this year with my Dad. He gave up his season tickets a long time ago and is content to watch the games from his living room. He still loves to go especially when we sit close enough and he recognizes some old third or first base coach for the opposing team. He’ll think of some random game in the 80’s and shout something down as the coach jogs off the field and more often than not he’ll get a smile or a nod acknowledging his knack to recall 80’s baseball history.
My Dad and I are very similar in some ways, and very different in others. We look alike, have similar manerisms, and are both always right (which can lead to problems when arguing with each other). However, we have very different interests and hobbies. Mainly, I love sports. He does not. While most fathers get upset when their son decides not to play the sport of their dreams, the most dissapointed I ever saw my Dad was when I quit taking piano lessons. I attend at least 20 Royals games a year. He watches Glee. Last year I went to Minnesota for a Royals series. He went to Nebraska for an art & painting camp.
Despite this, my father always did everything he could to help further my interest and participation in sports, including baseball. Growing up in Columbus, Ohio (though I was still George Brett for Halloween one year), he went to every single Little League game of mine. Anytime I wanted to play catch, he would happily go in the yard with me and toss the ball around. At least once a year we’d make the trek down to Cincinnatti to catch a Reds game, and I’d always fall asleep on the two hour drive home. At the time I didn’t think anything of this, since most fathers did these things with their children. However, as I got older, I began to realize how much effort he put in to these activities just for me, since he would rather watch paint dry than attend a baseball game. He showed me that being a loving father meant wanting your child to succeed in whatever area they choose, and doing everything you can to back that up. He never tried to steer me away from sports to do things that interested him (well, except for the failed piano experiment), and in fact encouraged me to play as many sports as possible.
Now that I’m an adult, I’ll ask him a few times a year if he wants to go to a Royals game just the two of us, but he always comes up with a creative excuse for why he can’t attend. I don’t have any children of my own, but have started to brainwash my three nephews in Iowa into being Royals fans. Once a year I will take them to a game at The K when they are in town.
Who always comes with me though? My dad.
My love for baseball began in southwest Missouri growing up on a farm as achild. We didn’t have the luxury of watching every game on Fox Sports. We hadan am radio that had the Royals games on it every day. These were some of thebest days of my life. Listening to the heroics of Otis, White, Wilson, Mayberry,Gura, Splitt, the Quiz, and my favorite George Brett, seemed like yesterday whenI realize that it has been thirty years ago. As these memories keep popping intomy head I realize two constants from them. Those constants are my love for theRoyals and the person who made all of this possible, my dad.
My dad was always working on the farm but no matter what had to be doneit could always wait until we listened to the game, played catch or took somebatting practice. I could not begin to tell you all of the times he would be in thefield all day, come home to play ball and then after we went to bed he had to goback to the field until midnight. It wasn’t until years later when I realized whathe sacrificed to make sure we knew that my sister and I were the most importantthings in his life. He never once said, “Not today” or “I can’t play catch rightnow”. He played anytime I ever asked him to no matter what had to be done onthe farm. They weren’t those quick games of catch either. We would play forhours at a time. He would always make me feel like it was game 7 of the World Series.
He taught me how to love baseball and to hate the Yankees which are stillaccurate to this day. The most important thing he ever taught me is something Ididn’t ever realize until the last few years when my kids started school. It wasn’thow to dive in the hole and come up firing. It wasn’t how to throw a curve orturning two. It wasn’t how to appreciate the sound of a mitt popping with afastball. He did teach me all of those but the most important thing he ever taughtme was how to be a dad!
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!