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Sentimental Memories of a True Fan

 
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dodgerblue6



Joined: 10 Aug 2005
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Location: San Diego CA - deep in the heart of SoCal

PostPosted: Wed 10/24/07 4:51 pm    Post subject: Sentimental Memories of a True Fan Reply with quote

When I think of the World Series, I think back to my very earliest memories of baseball being played. I'm not quite sure what year it was, but I'm thinking I was probably in kindergarten, and that was a year in which the Dodgers won it all. As I have mentioned before, somehow that conjures up images of my dad in his easy chair, feet propped up and watching games on our grainy old B&W RCA TV set. And at some point in my life around five years of age, I became aware that there was such a thing as the World Series, played between the best teams in baseball every year, and that my dad liked to watch it. Perhaps that was the year, when Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers beat the Minnesota Twins. All I knew about the game then was that if you swung and missed three times, you were out, and at the end of the game, the team with the most runs (NOT points) won.

I do know that the first World Series I watched bits and pieces of because I actually understood baseball and what was going on on the TV screen, was that in which the 1969 "Miracle Mets" beat the Orioles. By this time I was playing organized girls' softball, so I knew more about the rules. For the next five years from that point on, my life drifted in and out of baseball except for October, when I would be sure to watch at least some games of the Fall Classic. And many if not most were spent watching with my dad. From 1974 on, though, I was completely hooked. Baseball ran deep through my blue blood. These were my teenage years, and I fell in love with the game, the many classic moments it gave us, and all the surrounding drama.

I could tell stories about Dad and me watching the 1977 World Series, Game 6, as Reggie Jackson homered three times to clinch it for the Yankees. I sat in stunned silence after the last one was hit, and by the time the writing was on the wall, not a word was said when I left the living room to lock myself in my bedroom and cry.

I soon learned that yes, life does go on after a devastating Series loss for the team I lived and died with.

The following October, we watched together again as the Dodgers played the now-defending world champion Yankees. I still remember the momentum shift that took place in Game 4 when Jackson swiveled his hip into the path of a throw from second to first base, deflecting the ball from its intended target. We were both upset--though Dad always remained a bit more cool and collected than I did--as the Yankees came from behind, the Dodgers unraveled, and a few nights later when it became clear the Yankees were going to clinch this thing at Dodger Stadium--beating them in October for a second straight year--resigned to saying, once again, "Wait 'til next year."

There were happier World Series moments over the years, to be sure, but one thing I always knew was my dad would be watching and following the action. We watched together less often, but we always talked about the games later. It didn't matter who played, he was almost always for the National League team, with rare exception. One of those times may have come very late in his life. But not before 2001.

In 2000, Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. We knew he'd been having memory lapses and unexplained behavior that frustrated him, as he was usually able to think and communicate clearly, and now was having increasing difficulty doing so. Although he tried to carry on with his life in as normal a manner as possible, how to perform simple tasks sometimes seemed foreign to him. He was also experiencing other health problems, too.

On November 1, 2001, Game 5 of the World Series, delayed that year due to the events of 9/11, was taking place between the Yankees and Diamondbacks. While I was watching it at the pub, I received a call from my sister that Dad was being taken to the hospital, as his equilibrium was upset. It wasn't related to his Alzheimer's, but to myasthenia gravis which affected his motor skills. A few nights later, we sat in the hospital room watching together as Arizona mounted a thrilling walk-off win in Game 7. There was the World Series, bonding us again. The medication Dad was taking affected his ability to speak, but he picked up a pen and piece of paper and wrote down, "Good series!"

But, that was the beginning of the deterioration of his overall health. I'll always look back at that time frame as the benchmark of his downturn, remembering how we didn't know how much longer he'd be with us. He was still cognizant of what was going on, for the most part, although at what immediate point that ended became blurred over the next year. Slowly, much of it became fragmented. He knew what was going on in the here and now, but beyond that there were times he may or may not have recalled much of anything.

By May, 2002, Dad was moved to a convalescent center where it was determined he could get the best care available for his round-the-clock needs. I know he had a period of deep depression, realizing what he was giving up. At least that much was clear to him. I cherished what time I had with him, but I was experiencing some life-changing events of my own, and became somewhat absorbed in them for much of the year 2002. Still, every time I visited, two things I knew would bring a smile to his face were talking about his grandchildren, Justin and Garret, and talking to him about baseball. Dad not only loved professional baseball, but when he'd been in better health, enjoyed so much and took pride in watching my nephews play on their youth league teams.

By October, 2002, Dad was sleeping for good parts of the late afternoon or early evening and I usually tried to stop by and see him earlier in the day. He had not yet reached the stage where he didn't recognize family members, and for that I was grateful. During conversations with him, you just never knew what he might vividly describe and whether the place or situation was something embedded in his memory or a combination of hallucinations.

I didn't watch with or talk to him about any of the World Series that year, but I could never forget the excitement of Game 7 when Anaheim came back to beat the San Francisco Giants. Another year, another thrilling Game 7 win. This time, for a change, I was pulling for the American League team.

During one visit in early November, Dad was in a pretty good mood and seemed very alert. We caught up on family members, what was going on with friends and neighbors, and he seemed to clearly comprehend a lot of what was going on. I asked him if he'd watched anything on TV lately.

"I saw the news." He looked away for a few minutes and said, "And I saw another show too. That sure was nice."

"I saw where..." his voice trailed off, then picked up again. "I saw where the cowboy..."

I didn't know if he'd been watching westerns, old movies, crime dramas, or what. It could have been anything, the way thoughts sometimes jumbled in his mind. So I asked, "Dad, have you seen any baseball lately?"

"Sure, honey. I saw Garret's game, he had a big hit."

I smiled and nodded, knowing Garret hadn't played baseball since July. I asked, "Did you know the World Series was just on?"

"Yeah, like I said. We watched it in the other room. Garret had a big hit."

It dawned on me now. He was talking about the Angels' Garret Anderson, who did in fact, have a hit that broke the then-tied ballgame in Game 7.

"Yeah, Dad, I couldn't believe it! Can you believe the Angels won it all?"

He shook his head as if in disbelief. "No, honey, I never thought I'd see that happen." He paused for a few minutes. Then he spoke again, slowly. "You know, I wondered if I would ever live to see the day!"

I didn't realize the significance of it, then. He barely lived to see the day. In fact, it was the last World Series that he would live to see--within four months, Dad had joined angels of another kind.

We laughed at the thought of the long-suffering team to the north of us winning the World Series. He smiled as he said, "I told you, the cowboy, he was there."

Now it was all making sense. The "cowboy" was Gene Autry, former owner of the Angels.

"Oh yeah, Dad. Gene Autry, he must have been smiling down from above."

"Yes", he said. He looked as if he would be dozing off soon. I stayed awhile, and then he nodded off.

I thought some more about Gene Autry--how my dad had always loved his Christmas album, which played endlessly during the holiday season at home when I was a kid. Yeah, the Angels won one for the Cowboy.

That Christmas, I brought by a cassette tape of Gene Autry's Christmas music and played it for Dad in the convalescent home. He smiled, nodding his head and tapping his feet. He'd been a pretty good singer in his better days. This time, he just hummed. I knew the signs were near, that it was more than likely his final Christmas with us.

I proudly showed him one of the most cherished gifts I'd received that holiday, "Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy", a recently-published and much-heralded book that went beyond biography and delved into the mystique of the man who was my father's all-time favorite baseball player. A richly woven story that was impeccably researched and masterfully written--by a female sportswriter, no less--it quickly earned a place near the top of my all-time favorite books list. Dad glanced through the book, looking at the photos, turning pages slowly, and said, "It looks like a good one." He handed it back to me and paused for awhile longer.

Then he said, "I sure liked watching him pitch."

He hadn't lost sight of who the incomparable Sandy Koufax was. But, poor Dad. After having finished the book myself, I knew that he would have immensely enjoyed reading it. As someone who loved immersing himself in a good book as much as his oldest daughter did, it saddened me to think that his mental faculties would no longer allow him to do so. After all, I could have returned the favor. Almost 20 years earlier, it was reading my dad's copy of "The Boys of Summer" that got me hooked on baseball history in a more nostalgic era. Now, he would have to miss out on Jane Leavy's gem. But, if only his final days could have been spent with that absolutely wonderful piece of literary work...

Dad died the same week pitchers and catchers reported to spring training, on February 17, 2003. Yet, the cycle continued. As one life exited gently in grace, so too did one new season emerge from a long winter and arrive, ready to unfold, full of hope and promise.

In the years that have passed since then, I'm quite certain Dad has joined the Cowboy, all the heroes and legends, and every other baseball fan in heaven--reading his books, chatting about the game and smiling down on the Fall Classic, every October.
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Last edited by dodgerblue6 on Sat 11/4/17 11:53 am; edited 2 times in total
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Sandi
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PostPosted: Wed 10/24/07 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OMG, Linda, that was so emotional. Thanks for sharing such personal memories.

I loved The Singing Cowboy, too. Gene Autry's Christmas album was always my favorite as a little girl. His rendition of 'Rudolph' is the best ever! When I moved out on my own, it was the first Christmas cassette tape I bought myself.
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IlliniAmy
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PostPosted: Wed 10/24/07 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a wonderfully reminiscent piece of writing, Linda!
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crzblue



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
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PostPosted: Wed 10/24/07 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a great tribute to your dad Linda. I could just picture the two of you. Thanks for sharing this with us.
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stlred
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PostPosted: Thu 10/25/07 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought if I waited a day to read this and get myself prepared it wouldn't be so emotional for me. As you already know our simularities between our dads and our love for baseball is so much alike. Well waiting a day didn't help as I write this with tears running down my face. It was a beautiful story I just wish I could write one about my dad but I couldn't even get through yours. This time of year like for you just makes me miss my dad so much. I really appreciate the story and I'm sure your dad is smiling. I just hope our dads are playing catch together.

Guess what we get to do today Brooks? We get to play baseball!
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Fri 10/26/07 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, all. I'm truly touched that I was able to inspire emotion in so many of you.

Quote:
I really appreciate the story and I'm sure your dad is smiling. I just hope our dads are playing catch together.


That's a great thought. Smile Jan, I hope you will share with others here what you have told me this week about the special tribute at Busch Stadium in honor of your dad.
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stlred
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PostPosted: Sat 10/27/07 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know there is alot of Cardinal fans on this board for those of you who do not know the new Busch has bricks all around it that fans could buy and put a message on them. I missed out the first time but this time we bought one. My husband and I went back and forth trying to decide what we wanted to say on our brick. Most of you know that I was very close to my dad and we shared the love of baseball. He died 6 years ago so we wanted to pay a tribute to him. My husband came up with this.

To our dad Brooks who watches every game with us from heaven.
Love Dave and Jan.

I cry everytime I say it. I'll get over that. The really cool thing is, his brick will go around the statue of Stan the Man Muscial. One of his favorite players. As fate put this, had we bought the brick at the time Busch was being built it would not have been close to anything. We must have missed it the first time for a reason.

So I will in this post with: I love you dad more than anything and miss you every single day. Watch over my Cardinals for me and we will have many many many games to argue over in the future. And it is not always the umpires bad calls.lol He knows what I mean.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Sat 10/27/07 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is such a case of great timing. What a special way to pay tribute to him.

Wonderful story--I know your dad will be honored. Smile
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LadyDodgerBlue
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PostPosted: Mon 10/29/07 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was nice Linda. Thanks for sharing those wonderful memories you had with your dad...very touching. Smile
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Francine
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PostPosted: Thu 12/27/07 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, so I have missed allot...........great story Linda, great memeories. You are so lucky to have shared so much with your father. Thanks for sharing.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Sat 10/22/11 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just bumping this thread back up for the World Series.

Read back on it and realized it hasn't been active since 2007, so that means most posters here other than Stlred and myself have not yet read it. And, Jan, I was just reading what you had posted about your dad too.

Hopefully this story about a special World Series, which was originally posted four years ago this week, will strike a chord with others here, too.
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GilHodgesFan



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PostPosted: Sat 10/22/11 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a beautiful story. I didn't share as much baseball with my dad as you did but he always enjoyed our minor league team and participated as much as he could in the years of my brothers playing in Little League, limited due to his asthma and emphysema. He was always a Yankee fan and we figure it was because Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig were big heros of baseball when he was a kid.

I do have the special memory of meeting Bob Feller when Dad took me and my brothers to what was then Veterans Memorial Field and Bob was a special guest. Our minor league team must have been associated with the Indians back then.

I can understand how LA Dodger blue runs through your blood. It is a deep and precious bond you had with your father and through your memories and love of baseball he can still be with you. That is so wonderful. I am sure he has been enjoying many a game in fine health now. I think of so many of the great players he gets to watch play and he can still root for the Dodgers - Johnny, Jackie, Pee Wee, Gil, Carl, Campy, Duke, Clem, the big D... the list goes on. I am sure he is thoroughly enjoying himself Very Happy

What treasured memories to think back on during World Series time.

Stlred - what a wonderful way to honor your father and to have it be so close to the Stan Musial statue, his favorite player. I bought a St Louis Cardinals t-shirt with Musial's name on the back and #6 when we were at the game. One of the greatest Cardinals ever and a heck of a great guy. He is my favorite Cardinal. My husband said before one of the play-off games Stan, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, and another former Cardinal rode around the perimeter of the field waving to the Cardinals fans. I hope the current Cardinals realized what great company they were in Very Happy I missed the start of several different play-off games and part of tonight's game. I did hear on the radio that the Cards were up 8-3.
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sunnyblue



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PostPosted: Sun 10/23/11 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah! What a wonderful post. I will send this link to the rest of my family. The 2002 World series was really magical and I'm glad it was the last one your dad saw! Thanks much! The cowboy reference made me Crying or Very sad Nice gesture also for your dad, Stlred.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Mon 10/24/11 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, ladies...

Skimming back over it, I was just reflecting on how much my dad shared not only the love of baseball, but the love of reading with me. That's rich. Reading about baseball is something I've always treasured, along with watching games and listening to broadcasts. Vin himself is so well-read, and often makes literary references.

Just a few days ago, I posted John Updike's great essay from Chis Erskine's column in the L.A. Times, in which Erskine noted that "the people who love good baseball are also drawn to good writing, though the cruciferous goons you encounter in the bleachers each summer do their best to convince us otherwise."

That didn't elicit many responses here, but I want to reinforce how wonderful baseball literature is, and how much it has enriched my life. Updike was one of my favorites.

GilHodgesFan:

Quote:
I think of so many of the great players he gets to watch play and he can still root for the Dodgers - Johnny, Jackie, Pee Wee, Gil, Carl, Campy, Duke, Clem, the big D... the list goes on. I am sure he is thoroughly enjoying himself


Thank you, and now we can add Bill Moore to his fellow fans up there. This World Series is the first one since Duke departed, and I have found it to be a sentimental reminder not only because Halloween is this month Smile but also because of the connection he has to a 2011 Cardinals player. Incidentally, I wrote about that on this board several years ago even though few here were likely to remember. Exclamation
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stlred
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PostPosted: Mon 10/24/11 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Skimming back over this and looking at my post from way back I feel compelled to post this again:

Watch over my Cardinals for me and we will have many many many games to argue over in the future. And it is not always the umpires bad calls.lol He knows what I mean.

I miss him everyday but the last two months sure would have been interesting chat between us!

PS thanks Linda you made me cry!lol JK
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forloveofthegame



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PostPosted: Tue 10/25/11 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It made me cry too! Such a touching tribute.

Quote:
Just a few days ago, I posted John Updike's great essay from Chis Erskine's column in the L.A. Times, in which Erskine noted that "the people who love good baseball are also drawn to good writing, though the cruciferous goons you encounter in the bleachers each summer do their best to convince us otherwise."

That didn't elicit many responses here, but I want to reinforce how wonderful baseball literature is, and how much it has enriched my life. Updike was one of my favorites.


Well it elicited one from me! I can't help it if everyone else doesn't enjoy reading about baseball as much as us. Smile That is one more thing to love about baseball is all the great writing that has been done about it. Others sports are not so literary.

Quote:
This World Series is the first one since Duke departed, and I have found it to be a sentimental reminder not only because Halloween is this month but also because of the connection he has to a 2011 Cardinals player. Incidentally, I wrote about that on this board several years ago even though few here were likely to remember.


I have a feeling I know what you're talking about, even though it was before my time on the board. If you're referring to Brandon and Allen, no wonder being in the same category as the great Duke as far as the World series goes, means so much to him! That is one of many reasons I am an Allen Craig fan.

Thank you for the post about your dad. That was well written and very sentimental.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Thu 11/1/12 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just looking back over this one (and reaching for the Kleenex--*sniff*), I realized this October marked ten years since my dad's last World Series. Crying or Very sad Somehow, it holds more special memories not just because it was the final one we shared...

but because the Jints lost that one.

Twisted Evil

Still worth re-living! To me, at least.
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forloveofthegame



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PostPosted: Fri 11/2/12 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gosh I had forgotten about this. Thank you for posting in this thread again so I could read it again. A fitting way to send off the World series and baseball season - though I do agree with you the ending was better then!
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Sat 11/4/17 11:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought about my dad a lot during this year's World Series. It was the first one the Dodgers had played in since he passed away, and I'm sure he was smiling down as he watched.

But then I remembered that it was 15 years ago, the last World Series he had watched on earth, and how the Angels won that one. And that one was a seven-game series, too.

I was as flooded with memories as my eyes were with tears.
Crying or Very sad
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forloveofthegame



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PostPosted: Mon 11/6/17 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I bet you did, Linda. Sad

This thread is a nice reminder.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Thu 11/1/18 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I turn to this memory every October/November, as the World Series ends and fades into Dia de los Muertos.

Crying or Very sad
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forloveofthegame



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PostPosted: Sun 11/4/18 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh that is perfect timing for this thread. I reread it and enjoyed you sharing that bond so much. I bet you really cherish it.
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