June 21, 2009

Baseball and my Dad ...

My father is no sports fan. The furthest thing from it, actually. He's got no time for sports; never has, never will. And that's cool.

Dad grew up in India. Sure, he played some cricket in his day, but he didn't have the New Delhi Nuggets to cheer for, watch on the television every night, and read about in the newspaper the next day. Dad grew up in a different time, a different place.

As young kids in Toronto, my older brother and I were smitten over baseball. We treasured our Blue Jays. Loved them. With every ounce of our being. Dad didn't get it, but he sure as hell supported our passion. Back in the early 90s, we, a family of four, would head down to the SkyDome, 500 level tickets in hand, numerous times a season. Thinking back, one of the most exciting days of the year was when we received a letter in the mail from the Toronto Blue Jays, asking us to select which games we'd be attending that season.

Over the years, we went to a lot of games with Dad. While he never took a liking to the team, or the game, he did love one part of being in attendance in the summertime: the SkyDome. A civil engineer by trade, Dad marveled at the stadium's technology. (Classic immigrant story: Dad's education, from the best institution in India, wasn't recognized in Canada.) Sometimes I wished for the Dome to be closed mid-game, just so he could see the roof in action.

Dad also loved the wave. He'd sit back and watch in amazement as 45,000 fans rose, section by section, when it was their turn.

To this day, what I love about Major League Baseball in the fine city of Toronto is its affordability. A man can take his family of four down to the ball park, feed them, and not have to worry about the next mortgage payment, or the next rent cheque. Unbeknownst to me as an oblivious youth, there were times when Dad's wallet wasn't as fat as it is today. But he never let me or my brother find out. The last thing he was going to do was take baseball away from us. Now, years later, I want him to know just how much I appreciated that.

Thank you, Dad. Thanks for the trips down to the stadium, the program my brother could keep score in, the hot dogs, the nachos, and the soft-serve ice cream cones from the truck after the game. Looking back, I'm sure there were times Dad could have said no to the program, or to the hot dogs, so he could have had a beer. But he never did; he never said no.

It didn't matter to Dad that he could have cared less whether Robbie Alomar, my most-favourite player in the whole wide world, had a good game or not. Or whether the Jays got the win. But I know in my heart that he hoped Alomar would perform, and that the Jays would win. So his boys could ride the subway back up north with a smile on their faces.

Thank you, Dad. You are an inspiration. Every single day. Happy Father's Day.

15 comments:

Meredith said...

Most guys won't tell you this, but I'm a girl so it's all good....

that was beautiful!

Garrett Bauman said...

Thank you for posting that - it brings back a lot of memories for myself, also.

I remember the first game I ever attended, in 1986 at Exhibition Stadium. I was 7 at the time, and one of our neighbours offered to take my brother and I to the game along with his kids. Fortunately for us, we had a good weather day (which I would later find out was rare for the Ex). I don't remember much in particular about the game itself, other than the awe I felt watching Jesse Barfield belt one out to centre that I still firmly believe has not yet landed. But I will never forget the feeling of that day.

That day I became a fan (my brother did not, that's his loss), and would from then on I would beg my father incessently to take me to as many games as possible. To fully appreciate his efforts, you have to understand that we lived in a rural area outside of Waterloo, and he had only recently started his own business, so money was tight and travelling to Toronto more than a few times a year was not an easy thing to do.

But knowing my passion for the team, he indulged as often as he could. He was a casual baseball fan himself, but I don't think he cared for Exhibition Stadium all that much (looking back on it as an adult, I can understand why). And you know, only being able to go to a couple games was probably a good thing. There's a lot of truth to the old saying, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Those three to four games we could attend each season were easily among the most exciting days of my youth.

By the time the Skydome opened, however, it seemed we were suddenly able to go to Toronto much more often. Dad will never cop to that sudden coincidence, but I suspect he was in awe of the dome, and just loved the experience of taking in a game there.

Over the years, as life takes us to our various destinations, I have taken in countless Jays' games, but not very many with Dad. It's been far too long since we last shared that experience. I think that when I visit him today to wish him a Happy Father's Day, I will do so with two tickets in hand for a game during the team's next homestand.

Cheers,
GB

wendy said...

I'm tearing up here! This is an incredibly sweet post.

I'm sure your dad will appreciate reading it.

"Dave Schultz" said...

What a great post, your dad will love it!

QJays said...

I've never lived in Toronto and have never been to a game there yet. Saw a few in the old Kingdome in Seattle with my dad, but I think it's the Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons of Tony Kubek and Don Chevrier that stand out for me. Just great times watching baseball.

LJ said...

Very nice post. Your dad must be quite a man.

When I was working in the lab at a hospital a while back, I remember a volunteer in the ER who was an Indian MD. The irony of the fact that our city was ridiculously underserviced was not lost on anyone. No one could score a family doctor, and here was this MD being an ER gopher along side a bunch of high school students.

Zack said...

" Sure, he played some cricket in his day.. "

He's got my vote...for what I don't know, but that solidified it right there.

showcase29 said...

awesome post bro... I emailed it to pops.

Anonymous said...

great post...

Anonymous said...

awesome .. wow, what a Fathers day gift. Just so perfect. Thanks for the lunch too.
Feel Proud, lucky and blessed.
Let us catch a baseball game before the big trip, with cold beer. CHEERS.

POPS

SL said...

This is where I shed my tough exterior for a few moments and say that was really nice.

deesucksatlife said...

cute...like your fifa game.

alix said...

Awwwww, eyebleaf. This is so gorgeous. It made me tear up. Your pops sounds like a cool dude.

Escaped Lab Rat said...

What is this salty discharge?

eyebleaf said...

Garret, I hope you enjoy the game with your Dad.

Thanks for the comments, my friends. You are all rudeys.