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.