I grew up in a small suburb just outside of Philadelphia. My family enjoyed baseball but they weren't rabid fans. We cheered for the home team and watched some of the game's best play. There were far more bad seasons then good and only one great one... 1980 was the year that our team, the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series. I was nine years old the night they won, I remember that I was awake past my bedtime when Tug McGraw struck out the last batter to bring the Phillies and Philadelphia fans their first ever World Series title.
What happened next is maybe one of my most found memories of my Dad. He erupted, ran to the kitchen and then outside. My father, a man that didn't show a lot of excitement normally, stood outside of my home banging pots together as if the act was going to save the world. I was confused for a moment but when I walked outside to figure out what was happening, I realized that my dad wasn't the only one abusing cookware. There was a symphony of pots clanging, it's a sound that I never imagined existed before that moment and it filled the night air as if the noise was playing over a stadium loudspeaker. The celebration seemed to go on forever and it felt like joy channeled through pots and pans.
As the years passed I stopped watching and following baseball, I'd lost the passion for the game and I never really considered going back to it, until 2008. Now I know what you are thinking... that I jumped back on the bandwagon but my return to baseball didn't have anything to do with my wanting to watch Major League Baseball. I started watching again for my son, Cole.
Cole has been playing baseball since he was four (he's eleven now), we could see since he was two years old that he may have an talent for the game. Kelly asked me to sign him up early even though I wanted to wait until he was five. She said, "he's so good at it... we should let him play" - and she was right!
Sometime in 2008, about four years after Cole began playing baseball I noticed that he sometimes, despite his natural ability, looked a bit lost. Then it hit me, "we don't watch baseball, how would he know?". So I turned on the television and you know what I saw... the Philadelphia Phillies were a really good baseball team - I honestly didn't know. Initially we watched so he could see situations and understand the flow of a game better. Initially.
Three years later Cole and I watch baseball together a lot, we go to the Phillies games when we can and share the game in a way that may defy understanding unless you're a father or a son. It turns out that it's not the game that I loved as a child, it was watching it with my dad.
We've seen some amazing baseball together but I've most enjoyed watching him play. Cole is a five time all-star in our town, an amazing outfielder, a wonderful middle infielder and he plays in a way that any fan would appreciate. I've never had to remind Cole of a game or a practice, he doesn't complain about the heat in the summer or the cold and rain in the fall. He constantly turns down offers to play other sports so that he can play as much baseball as he can squeeze in. He's a fantastic player and an even more amazing son.
I'm telling you about all of this because baseball deserves for me to...
The other night we left Cole's practice and rushed home to watch the last 2011 regular season Phillies game together. The girls had the living room television when we arrived so we went upstairs to my room and turned on the game. The Phillies were down 3-1 when we turned on the TV. I told Cole that I had a good feeling that they'd find a way to win since they were playing to set the franchise record for wins in a season (102). Cole moved close to me and put his head on my chest like he did when he was much younger. We laid there together and watched as the game went into extra innings, it reminded me of how we'd nap together when he was a baby.
It's been said a million times before but bears repeating, there is something magical about baseball. I'm going to post this now and then go to the field to watch Cole play this afternoon. When we get home tonight our entire family will watch the Phillies play game one of the NL Division Series against the Cardinals. Hopefully in a few weeks, I'll bang some pots together with my son.
Writing this really got my sentimental juices flowing... so I grabbed some last minute tickets and Cole and I are going to the game tonight. I'll try to post some pictures later. Let's go Phillies!