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June 07, 2022 5 min read
As we near Father’s Day, it’s a great time to reflect on fond memories we shared with our fathers and often times those memories include a sporting event. Our team was asked to share their favorite memory of time spent with their dad and ironically, they all involved a trip to the ballpark for a Major League baseball game. We encourage you to share your stories with us on our Facebook page, where we’re giving away an autographed Jim Bunning Perfect Game ball in honor of Father’s Day. The contest runs through June 12, 2022.
We hope you enjoy our stories!
My dad was a first-generation American, who worked seven days a week to provide a better life for his wife and six children. Needless to say, there wasn’t much time or money for him to take my siblings and me to professional sporting events. But every now and then, tickets would fall into his lap, and he would take us. As the fifth of six children, I was on the younger end of the spectrum when we went to games, but I vividly recall my first Phillies game in 1980, the year they won the World Series. I was beyond excited for the game; when we made it inside Veteran’s Stadium, I was in sensory overdrive.
As a young boy, all I wanted to see was a home run. My dad of course knew this, and when the game began, he leaned over and said to me, “Watch out for number 20, he’ll probably hit a home run.” I remember jumping out of my seat and shouting, “Yeah!” with every fly ball, thinking it would be a home run – with most falling ridiculouslyshort of the fence. But then finally, late in the game, it happened. I had never seen a home run before, let alone heard the triumphant roar of a packed Vet Stadium. It was a dream come true, at my first Phillies game! Number 20 did not disappoint that night, and as it turned out more importantly, neither did Dad.
Coming home from school my excitement was growing knowing that my dad would be taking me and my brother to a Phillies game that night. My Dad was a huge Steve Carlton fan. He would always take us at least once a year to see him pitch. As we exited Interstate 95 at Broad Street you could see the beauty that was Veterans Stadium. I know it had its flaws but to a 10-year-old kid, it was heaven. The excitement would build as we ran up the ramps to get to our wonderful yellow seats in the 600 level. Watching Steve Carlton mow down the opposing batters was an awesome thing to watch. Another tradition was grabbing a bag of soft pretzels in the parking lot so we had something to nibble on as I discussed the game with my Dad on the ride home. I miss having the awesome times with my dad.
My Dad took me to our first baseball game on July 25, 1980, and it was a day I won’t forget, for many reasons. As we got to Broad Street, I could literally see the stadium, and see myself sitting in the owner’s box (what a treat from my dad’s golfing buddy and minority owner Robert Hedberg). The plan changed as we were hit by another car full speed on my side of the car. It was a young Navy cadet who just got his weekend leave and was zooming to see his girlfriend. The impact of the crash was something that I still feel today, but the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme was up to the challenge.
The young cadet was so upset, but my dad told him not to be, that he was in the service, as well. I was crying and while my shoulder was killing me, it was more out of just being an 8 yr old shocked at what had happened. The tank held up pretty well, with the exception of the front right quarter panel, which had crushed into the tire. The passenger door didn’t open either. My Dad, a police officer, and the young soldier all worked in tandem to bend the metal away from the tire and off we went to the game.
We arrived mid first inning and I was still crying, as my shoulder continued to bother me. My Dad made me feel special with all the trimmings; pennants, a Phillies hat, hot dogs, coke, and cotton candy. My Dad continued to ask me about going to the ER, but I was determined to make it to the end of the game. Fittingly, 9 innings would not be enough. I sat in excruciating pain through 3 extra innings that day. The Phillies beat the Braves, 5-4, that day, making me a happy camper as we headed to the ER where x-rays confirmed I had a broken collar bone.
My Dad passed away January 19th, 2019, and I would sit through another 12-inning game with a broken collar bone just to enjoy one more game with my Dad. If you’re fortunate to still have your dad around, enjoy each and every minute with him, while you can.
My sports-loving father had three girls. He embraced “girl dad” before it was a thing. He took me to my first sporting event in 1971. I was four years old. It’s a day I’ll never forget. Dodger Stadium was massive, nestled in a palm tree lined hillside with downtown Los Angeles looming large on the other side. It was the coolest place I’d ever seen. I was in awe. I don’t remember a lot about the game itself. I most remember walking on the concourse holding my dad’s hand, an oversized hat bouncing around my little head. In my other hand was my ice cream. Not just any ice cream, but ice cream in a mini-Dodgers helmet. I think I kept that thing for years.
The starters on that team included Wes Parker, Maury Wills, Dick Allen and Bill Buckner. Don Sutton anchored the rotation. Charlie Hough and Hoyt Wilhelm among those in the bullpen. Manny Mota, Bobby Valentine, Joe Ferguson… what a team. Steve Garvey, Ron Cey and Bill Russell were bench players that year, waiting in the wings to become part of a legendary Dodgers infield that later included Davy Lopes, as well.
Throughout my childhood I was fortunate to go to so many games with my dad. Not just Dodgers games, but Rams games, and his company had second row seats to the Lakers. In the 80s, that Lakers team provided quite a thrill, but none that tops the excitement of spending all those times with my dad doing something we both loved. I will forever cherish those memories.
Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!!
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