My Favorite Baseball Memory - 4/10/2012

I originally posted this is 2010, but with baseball swirling all around me at the season's start, this memory came back and I thought it was worth sharing again.

June 01, 2010, 22:45

I told Leigh when baseball season started that I was through caring about the sport. I said, "Why should I care about those multi-millionaires. They don't care about me." Well, two months into the season, I'm hooked all over again. I'd still rather watch my sons play, but I find myself watching inning after inning on television at home and in hotel rooms. I guess I just love the game. I throw with my sons almost every day I'm home. I love the smell of the grass and of my old leather glove. I love hearing the ball as it whacks my glove harder every year as the boys grow. I love that summer sun on my face after a North Country winter. It has come full circle. My dad used to catch me many an evening after working so hard all day. As I got older and faster, he'd misjudge a curve's break or knuckleball's dance and take one on the shin. He kept trying though. I'm seeing it now as my reflexes have slowed a bit. I'm getting my shins bruised here and there. 

One of my best moments involves baseball and my dad. I was a sophomore pitching on varsity for Northern Adirondack against Mount Assumption Institute (now called Seton Catholic) in a home game in Ellenburg Depot in a battle for first place. Around here, Plattsburgh was the 'big city' to us. MAI was from Plattsburgh. We'd gotten used to the teams from Plattsburgh making fun of the smell of cow manure from the farms around our baseball field. It made us want to beat them that much more. We'd been reading about their tough pitching and stout lineup in the local paper. I was nervous because our other pitcher, a senior, had hurt his ankle in the previous game. I was it. My dad didn't go to a lot of games. He was tied to the farm. The cows needed to be milked at six in the morning and four in the afternoon. The game started at 4:15. I looked over in the stands while I was warming up, and there he was. Looking back, I think he knew the pressure I was feeling and that I needed him there. The cows, for once, would have to wait. I started shaky, giving up three runs in the first inning. However, as the game went on, I settled down, shutting them out for the rest of the game. We won by a run. The guys I'd been hearing about all season went quietly, and I felt euphoria after the final out. After celebrating with my teammates on the field, I found Dad in the crowd. I didn't care who saw it. I hugged him and kissed him on the cheek and thanked him for being there. He may have been embarrassed a little and worried that I'd be teased for my show of affection. He said, "They're going to think you're a daddy's boy." I answered, "I am."