One of the greatest bonds anyone will ever encounter in life is the one found between father and son. As a kid you always look up to your father and want to emulate him in almost every way, you walk like he does, you talk like he does, and you show interest in the same things he does. It is how many of us become the men we are today, and it is also the how many of use got into sports.
I can remember as a young kid my dad taking me out back and teaching me how to the throw a baseball. As i got older he showed me how to throw a fastball, and a changeup. One pitch he would never show me how to throw was a curveball, he would always tell me to wait until my arm was strong enough to handle the strain it puts on it. To this day I still only know how to throw a half assed curveball, apparently my arm never got strong enough. It would be through those day’s and night’s that my love for Baseball came to be. When I was 7 years old my dad enrolled me into a coach pitch league, and chauffeured me to every practice and every game without ever once complaining. I was never a fan of the coach pitch league, I was a pitcher and the coach was stealing my job, and to this day I don’t understand the point of it.
After some turbulent years that saw many high’s and low’s I once again found myself playing little league baseball. I was finally old enough to pitch, and I loved every second of it. Around this time a young pitcher by the name of Kerry Wood had made a splash in the Majors and I wanted to be just like him. One night prior to a game I took a bunch of spiraled note paper and labeled them with giant K’s. The next day I handed the stack of papers to my father and asked him to hang them on the fance when I got a strikeout. Unfortunately for me I was not blessed with Kid K’s arm and only struck out maybe 2 or 3 batters, but when I looked over at the fence I could see my K’s hanging and flapping in the breeze.
My fondest memories of my dad happened in the summer of 1998. My dad was once again going through some things in life, and had moved to Chicago. My mom agreed to let me go up there and stay with him while I was on summer vacation and I will never forget those times. It was during this time that I attended my first game at Wrigley Field, and can remember the sheer awe the went through me when I saw the magnitude of the stadium. The Cubs were playing the Pittsburgh Pirates and my dad could only afford Standing Room Only tickets, but that didn’t matter to me, I was at Wrigley Field where the big guys played. Even though he was a giant White Sox fan my Dad never complained about going to Wrigley and watching the rival Cubs. I think deep down just seeing me happy was enough to squash any Cub hatred he had on that day. For any fan of Baseball alive in 1998 we all remember the Summer of Sammy. As an 11 year old child in Chicago watching Sammy Sosa hit blast after blast, I thought this is what heaven is really about. Up until the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, my favorite sports memory was Slammin Sammy hitting 20 home runs in the month of June and being in Chicago watching it all.
His love for the Chicago White Sox brought out the little kid in him again. I can remember sitting in my room watching TV and hearing my dad yell at the top of his lungs “YOOOOOOUUUUU CAAAANNNNNN PUT IT ON THE BOARD….YES!.” To this day whenever I hear Ken “Hawk” Harrelson make that call I get a sly little grin on my face, and think back on those times. The happiest I had ever seen my dad when it came to sports was when the Sox clinched the Central Division in 2000, and as I type this right now I’m looking at the framed picture of Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas celebrating in the Locker Room, that the Chicago Sun Times had printed the following day. It was these small little things that my dad passed on to me, and when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup I wanted to do the same exact thing.
My dad died in April of 2004. The official results say that he died due to a heart attack but I believe different. His life was plagued with never living up the hype his parents put on him and he fell into the world of drugs. Even though he was by all accounts a drug addict he never once let me or my brother down, and would give us the shirt off his back if we needed it. Towards the end he started making amends with the people in his life, and was finally set with peace of mind. It is because of this that I believe that my Dad finally got the peace he was looking for, and watched his son’s grow up, so he finally gave up one war that was raging inside of him. He died knowing that he had righted all his wrongs and that his Son’s were being taken care of. The one thing my dad did not get to see was his favorite sports team win a Championship. The year after he died the Chicago White Sox won the World Series, and just last week the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. While I know he wasn’t here to celebrate, I’m sure he was causing one hell of a ruckus wherever he may be.
To all the fathers out there I wish you a very Happy Fathers Day. To my own father I want to say I love you, and although I know I’m no longer the blond hair blue eyed angel that you put on a pedestal when I was a kid, I hope you are proud of the person I have become today. It is through you that I learned some of the finer qualities I display in my every day life, and it was also through you that I found my love of sports. For that I want to thank you and want to let you know that while you are gone, you will never ever be forgotten.