Kevin over at BfloBlog wrote a very nice post today about the happiness he felt watching his young son engaged in a hockey game. I don’t have any kids, so naturally my thoughts drifted towards my own father; in particular the memories I have about him surrounding sports.

Some of you may be surprised to hear that I was a rabid Minnesota Twins fan growing up. I slept with a baseball under my pillow for the duration of the 1987 post season. I know how to keep a baseball score sheet. I cried when Tom Brunansky was traded to the Cardinals in 1988. I can rattle off the names, numbers and positions of long ago forgotten Twins (Steve Lombardozzi #4, or Randy Bush #25, anyone?). Although my sports fandom has been dormant for the better part of a decade now, I do have a history of this, and I believe it’s in my blood to enjoy sports. Sports, particularly baseball were lovingly bred into me by my father.

I had the quintessential American baseball experience with my father. Some of my best memories of him are of the nights we rode our bikes downtown to the Metrodome (I know, the Dome. So wrong.) and sat in the cheap seats in the upper deck behind center field. Once as a young child, when I asked if he thought someone would hit a homerun to us, my father replied, “If someone hits a homerun into this section, I’ll take you to Disney Land tomorrow.” I, of course, spent the remainder of the game willing someone to hit me a homerun, to no avail.

My very favorite memory of a baseball game with my father was a game in which the Twins scored 6 runs to come from behind in the ninth inning. The game was at night, I don’t remember the opponent or the year, but I couldn’t have been more than nine-years-old. Just the fact that we stayed in crappy seats through the ninth inning when the Twins were down by five runs, says a lot about our devotion. We rode our bikes to the game, (which is weird considering we had to bike home in the dark), and rather than getting me home and into bed, my Dad took me to Bridgeman’s where we ate a full meal and rehashed the game. It must have been far past my normal bedtime, but I don’t remember being even slightly tired, and I distinctly remember happily humming to myself on the bike ride home. I also remember standing next to my mother (who was sleeping) in their dark bedroom, and telling her all about the game when we got home.

We didn’t just watch the Twins. Many a weekend afternoon were spent with my Dad and my sister watching the Golden Gophers at the University of Minnesota, which is where I learned about baseball played outdoors, with wind, and sunshine, and rain. The Gopher field is also where I first got to sit close enough to learn the hard way to watch out for line drive foul balls. (No, I didn’t get hit, but pretty. damn. close.)

My father died in 1993 when I was 17-years-old. I think a large part of why I lost interest in sports is because it just wasn’t the same without him. I have thought about him so often over the last few months as I have meticulously studied hockey. I swear, one of the most comforting things in the world is the sound of televised sports in the background as I putter around my apartment. My return to the world of sports fandom is probably one more step in the relationship I have with my father; a relationship that did not end when he died.

I’m not sure if he ever watched hockey. I kind of suspect that he didn’t, because I don’t ever remember hockey being on our television. It would have been so fun to reverse the roles, and to teach him about a sport. One of the very best things about my father was his obvious interest in the things that Ellie and I loved. I’m sure I could have made a diehard hockey fan out of him.


10 Responses to “Dad”

  1. 1 Sam October 1, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    #15, Tim Laudner

    I think this might be the first time I’ve ever seen a picture of your dad. Having learned to love sports entirely independent of either of my parents, I’m always touched by stories of fathers and sons/daughters growing up relating to each other through a game. I’m sure you would have had your dad singing the Wild anthem and shrieking “stay in your net!” in the direction of the Gophers’ goalie in no time at all…

  2. 2 Becky October 1, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    It’s a very wonderful telling of your memories.

    Mine are a bit different. I remember being forced to sit in the living room (with my book) to “be sociable”…The Buffalo Sabres were on quite a bit, and I pretty much picked up a lot by osmosis, (and against my will).

    My father never went to a live hockey game – Sabres anyway, he might have gone to the Bisons – the earlier hockey team. Anyway, I remember him being outraged that I spent $30 a ticket to go see the Sabres…”Dad, those aren’t even good tickets”…that was around 2002, and I swore my kids to silence, to never mention to Papa again when we were going to a game, because I didn’t want to hear it!

    He died a few years ago, so if he were so inclined, he could really be outraged at the money I spend on hockey now! But hopefully, he’s just glad we’re having a good time, and that the Sabres rock!

  3. 3 Courtney S.F. October 1, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    I love that picture of you and Big Red. The one of you playing T-ball is also quite good. You should link to this post on Oh For Fun. I think those readers would rather enjoy it.

  4. 4 Schnookie October 2, 2007 at 1:26 am

    Aw, Katebits, this post just made me cry! So, so wonderful — thanks for sharing these beautiful memories! I’m sure your dad would have loved learning about hockey from you.

    I remember my dad (who died at about the same time yours did) would occasionally take us to baseball games — the Mets when we were very young and still living on Long Island, and then the Phillies after we moved to Jersey — just because that was something he thought American families should do. He loathed sports, but I didn’t really realize it at the time. I just remembered being taken to baseball games, and it all seemed kind of random but still fun. In hindsight I find it hilarious that someone who so despised sports felt it was part of his job to take his daughters to ballgames, even though his daughters didn’t much care either.

    (Oh, and I learned to care when I grew up, and it is with no small measure of pride that I boast of my mad baseball scoring skillz. I keep a brilliant scorecard, and in fact have this talent listed on my CV under “Other Skills”.)

  5. 5 Pookie October 2, 2007 at 9:15 am

    I’m not sure I’m supposed to be crying at my desk at 9:15 in the morning, minutes before an important meeting, but this post was just so wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing it. I, too, am sure that your dad would have loved learning about hockey from you!

  6. 6 kms2 October 2, 2007 at 10:34 am

    I’m not sure I’m supposed to be crying at my desk at 9:15 in the morning

    Try 7:33 am. It also doesn’t help that I’m so tired that my eyes are already watery. I don’t like to think of myself as a softie but certain things get me and this post did. Like Pookie said, “Thanks for sharing the story!” (Almost makes me want to immediately pop out babies so I can mold them into fine hockey fans. Almost.)

  7. 7 Mom October 2, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Thanks Kate, Your memories are so precious. I agree that he would have loved sharing in your hockey journey.

  8. 8 Katebits October 2, 2007 at 1:00 pm

    Hee. Sorry I made everybody cry at work. I am always happy to share stories about my Dad.

    Buck up, guys….Hockey is back tomorrow!

  9. 9 Icing October 3, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    That brought tears to my eyes Katebits. Your dramatic writing is every bit as good as your more comedic writing. Good stuff.

  1. 1 Happy Father’s Day! « The Willful Caboose Trackback on June 15, 2008 at 3:28 pm

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