The last thing you probably want to read about is baseball, even though today was the last day of the Major League season. Believe me. I get it. Whenever baseball fans talk about their game, they get this punch-drunk tone in their voice.
It’s enough to make you roll your eyes and say, “Oh, grow up, would you?”
But we can’t grow up. If we could, we still wouldn’t because that would be the end. And I’m not ready for the end. Not yet.
I once knew an eighty-four-year-old man with dementia. He lived in a nursing home. Every afternoon, his daughter would play a VHS video tape of the 1963 World Series. And each time he watched, it was the first time.
I interviewed him. I doubt he knew I was even standing beside him. I will never forget when he held my hand and said, “This is our game, isn’t it, Benny?”
“My name’s not Benny,” I said.
But he was too emotional to care. And I never forgot that.
My childhood was
baseball heavy. I went to games before I even knew how the game was played. I was barely old enough to hold my bladder. But there was my father, talking to me about relief pitching, and three-hundred hitters.
He wore a ball cap. He was lean. Redheaded. When the sun hit his fair skin he would burn, and his freckles would get darker. He would keep score on a scorecard with a pencil—back when people still did that. And he cussed more freely at games since my mother wasn’t around.
In elementary school, he baptized me in red dirt by teaching me to slide into second base, feet-first. And I still remember my first home run. I was seven.
It might have been the greatest day of my father’s life. It was the fourth inning. Jason Davenport was pitching. My father stood by the dugout,…