Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Dad, The Mick, and Father's Day

Happy Father's Day! Today's entry is dedicated to my dad Robert Mark. It has been two years since my father passed away and, even though the pain of his death has eased over time, I still miss him. My father and I were very different people. We disagreed on politics, religion, the economy, and almost every other subject or issue. But the biggest common bond we shared was baseball and the greatest memories I have of my father center around the game. Going to Kansas City A's and Royals games, playing catch, and watching the then dreadful Atlanta Braves on cable television are a part of my life that I will always cherish. In his day my dad was semi pro player and even at age 70 he could step in a batting cage and crush 80 mph pitches both left and right handed.

It wasn't until later in my life that I began to appreciate the stories my dad would tell me about the game. My father was a Yankees fan because when he was growing up Kansas City was one of the Yankees top farm team. Whitey Ford, Hank Bauer, Elston Howard, and Mickey Mantle were some of the Yankee greats that passed through Kansas City on their way to the Bronx. Mantle was his favorite player and my dad would talk about The Mick for hours. As I young boy I heard about Mantle's Triple Crown season, his ability to hit the ball out of sight both left and right handed, the homerun he hit that almost went out of Yankee Stadium, his blazing speed, and how Mantle would have been even greater if not for all of the injuries he suffered. I remember asking my dad once if he had watched Don Larson's perfect game in the World Series and his immediate response was to tell me there would not have been a perfect game if not for Mickey Mantle's great catch early in the game. Even though I never saw Mickey Mantle play in person and barely remember him on television I have a vivid picture in my mind of his career thanks to my dad's stories.

Last summer I took a trip to New York with my son and we went to two games at Yankee Stadium. In many ways my relationship with my son is similar to the one I had with my dad. We have very little in common but we still enjoy watching and talking about baseball. As my son and I sat at Yankee Stadium I told him the Mickey Mantle stories his grandpa had shared with me. We went to the third deck in right field and I showed him where Mantle's homerun almost left the stadium. I pointed to death-valley in left center field and recounted the catch Mantle made that saved Don Larson's perfect game in the World Series. My son, who is a young adult, listened and asked questions and I was able to pass my father's love of baseball and Mickey Mantle on to him. It was almost as if my dad was at the game with us and it was a very special time for me.

This will be the second Father's Day I will not be able to share with my father. But my dad left me with a love for the greatest of all sports and for that I will always be blessed. Happy Father's to all.

Mickey Mantle saves Don Larson's perfect game


Emmychka said...

Good post!

I guess I never saw this side of Grandpa. But I did enjoy watching the funny things happen at his house and him going, "Yeah, if your dad was here he'd be pushing his head into a pillow or trying very hard not to laugh. HE thinks everything is so d**n funny." And he always smiled when he said it. LOL

I love you. Happy Father's Day to an amazing Dad who I am proud to be called his daughter!

Stephanie said...

That was a great post dad!!! I loved watching gramps play baseball, just watching for 5 minutes you could tell right away he was a natural!!! I love you dad, and I'm sorry I can't be there to share fathers day with you!! but I will be there in spirit sharing all of my love!

love youu!!

Jamminsoul said...

What a nice tribute to your father. I feel the loss of a parent, my mother. It's been 16 years since she died and it has gotten easier with time...I guess.

But our parents are never gone. I don't know about you, but I hear my mother talking from my mouth sometimes, and I am even saying some of the things I told her, "I will never say that to my children." My mother is still in the way I fold my towels, and even in the way I HAVE to put the toilet paper on the roll. Funny, sometimes I feel closer to her now than I did when she was alive. Heck, what am I talking about? I AM her!

I like that your children read your blog!

Grateful for today,