I’ve been a baseball fan since I was in grade school, maybe even before that, but I do remember telling my first grade teacher, Sister Michael, that I had been to a baseball game that previous Sunday and that was why I had a suntan. My love for the game was born early on because of my love for my Dad. I went to Sunday games only with my Dad. On Sundays, Dad and I had special outings. Just the two of us. I had much older sisters and a baby brother so I was at the perfect age for Father-daughter outings. And I remember them like it was yesterday.
I remember the train ride up to Yankee Stadium. We would put two pennies in a small machine at the subway station and out came a small yellow cardboard box with two chicklets tucked inside. One for now and one for the ride home. The ride was always exciting with its blackouts and screechings and rocking and rolling as it chugged along to Yankee Stadium. The seats were some kind of woven plastic and if you knelt on them long enough your knees ended up with a design.
Dressing for a ballgame back then was not with the casual attire you see today. My Dad, like most all the other gentlemen, wore a suit. He only wore casual clothes to work and he would never wear them on a Sunday. He didn’t even own a sport jacket. The only jacket he owned, and one that I was fond of, was an old leather one that he wore all winter long over his work clothes. All the ladies were nicely dressed too and some even wore hats. For me it would have been a dress because I never owned a pair of nice dress pants until I was much older. For playtime I probably did have some sort of denim or corduroy pants, but I don’t remember any of them. Yes, everyone dressed to go to the ballpark.
I remember that we sat way out in the sun. I don’t remember exactly where it was but I remember that it seemed far out and always in the sun. My Dad told me that we sat there because it was the best place to catch a ball. No drinks, no peanuts, no hot dogs, just me and my Dad watching the game and intent on catching that elusive ball that was sure to be hit our way. Some balls were hit way out but they were yards away and then we would just look at each other and say “that was a close one. The next one will be it”.
Yankee Stadium was magnificent back them for me. I was always sad to leave because it was the end of the special day with my Dad. My treat was that downstairs, just outside the Stadium was a Nedicks hot dog small store or maybe it was just a stand. The hot dogs smelled delicious and we would each have one and share their infamous orange drink. And, without fail, Dad never forgot to say “and don’t mention this to your Mother, when we get home”.
We didn’t have a TV back then. I was 12 before we got a TV. But we followed the ups and downs of two teams in the scoreboard printed each day in the Daily News and the Daily Mirror. We followed the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers. I don’t really remember listening to games on the radio except sometimes in summer when we were at my grandmother’s farm. My Mother didn’t care for baseball and my sisters monopolized the radio listening to music or serial programs like The Green Hornet or The Shadow at night. Anyway for me it wasn’t the same and didn’t have the enchantment as sitting far out in the sun with my Dad waiting to catch a ball.
My Dad really was a Dodger fan. He loved those Bums. A few times we did go to Ebbets Field. I don’t remember too much about those games. For me it was the Yankees and Yankee Stadium. However, I felt really bad for my Dad on that awful day when they were lured to California. He vowed to never follow them again. They were traitors as far as has concerned. So we concentrated together on the Yankees. He showed a little interest in the Mets but not with the same Dodger passion.
I’m still a Yankee fan. I read the scoreboard daily in the papers. Get updated scores on my cellphone. Get updates on players from our son, Chuck. All great fun. I have not been to the new stadium. I’m sure I wouldn’t recognize it. But I would love to go back for just one day and sit far out in the sun feel my Dad sitting next to me as we wait together for that baseball that is sure to come our way.
Happy Father’s Day Dad. I love you.
PS, a little side story. When I was little I used to tell my Dad that when I grew up I wanted to marry him. He always answered back that when I grew up I would find a Prince Charming that I would want to marry and would live happily ever after.
As usual, my Dad was right. Happy Father’s Day, Charlie! I love you, too.