My sister-in-law is one of my biggest blog supporters, always telling me how much she loves my writing. Last week we were talking baseball because I had just seen the movie 42 about Jackie Robinson. She told me of her father’s love of baseball, and I said she should write it down and I could make her a guest blogger. A few days ago I received an email with an attachment. She asked me to look at it and tell her what I thought. “It may not be what you want for your blog,” she said meekly. “You don’t have to use it. You can just read it for me.” When I opened the attachment and read it, it took my breath away. Sister-in-law, I bow to you. You are an incredible writer! Here is my sister-in-law’s piece about her father.
My Dad and Baseball’s Early Days
by Kathy Boyd Rich
My dad never had a bucket list. But if he had, at the top would have been visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. I was thrilled to take him there when he visited me in Clinton, New York, where I lived in 1994. Dad was a sprightly 88, a little the worse for wear, but I thought he’d like to see the Boston Red Sox exhibit, a team he had a lifelong love/hate relationship with when I was growing up. I can still remember taking the Providence to Boston train with him and going to Fenway Park several times when I was very little. I longed for him to tell me the story about what was going on in the game, but Dad during my growing up years had adopted a cheerful stoicism, and he was content to watch the game quietly while we munched on our hot dogs.
I don’t remember him being very impressed and, although he followed the season, he always seemed to be disappointed. Consequently, I was left with unanswered questions and never developed much of an interest in baseball. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when we entered the baseball museum and we came face to face with the wax figure of Ted Williams, someone even I remembered from Fenway as a hero on and off the field. We took a picture of Dad and Ted; Ted was the one swinging the bat.
Dad was pleased but it wasn’t until we entered the room dedicated to the very early days of baseball that he really came alive. All I saw were plaques on the wall and pictures of boys dressed in strange gear, but dad must’ve seen something else. Without hesitation he began to tell me the story of a young man who was so in love with the game of baseball, he followed the teams around New England every weekend. He rattled off names and stats and pointed out to me the players that he admired most. He told me these were the real heroes and how hard their lives were, working for low wages and giving their all for little recognition. He knew personal details of their lives. (Dad had absolutely no regard for the players of the 90’s whom he derisively called “millionaires” because of their constant striking for higher pay.) I had tears in my eyes listening to my dad. Wouldn’t I have loved to have known that cheerful young man he used to be before he became encumbered by raising children and providing for his family? I was mesmerized because I was hearing the story, the one I missed hearing when I was a little girl.
As we later sat in the movie room on the fake bleachers and watched the tribute to baseball, I pondered this glimpse into a man I had loved all my life, yet didn’t really know. I was 8 years old again as I held my dad’s hand and sang “Take me out to the ballgame…” Dad lived almost two more years, and that picture of him and Ted remained in a prominent spot in his apartment, telling me how much that trip meant to him.
This is such a lovely story! Sometimes we have to really concentrate to see our parents as people, and not just Mom and Dad, but it’s well worth the effort, isn’t it?
It sure is, Peg. Kathy has such a clear and beautiful memory of that vignette from her father’s life, and I am thrilled that she put it in writing so her children and her nieces and nephews could see it.
What a great story. It reminds me of a close friend who told me when her sons were growing up, a long time ago, she kept them out of school one day so she could take them to see the New York Giants game. Later one of those sons made his living from trading baseball cards. PS: I like the way your sister-in-law writes. What’s her website?
Great story, Mary. I will have to make sure my sister-in-law sees your comment. She doesn’t have a website! But she should.
dear Susan, while i’m not a fan of the game i am in love with the poetry of it, the spirit of baseball that delights so many. your post makes me wish i had a reserved seat on a twilight bench somewhere. thank you. tony
So well said about the poetry of the game, Tony. I find the enjoyment of the game is sitting with my kids or my husband, eating hotdogs with lots of mustard, and just being part of the crowd. I even love the minors.
I LOVED this! What a beautiful tribute to an obviously wonderful man.
So, we’re not the only women writers in this family, Ems!
NIce! Nice story, nice that you invited your sister-in-law to guest post! Maybe she’ll be inspired to start her own blog. My mother is writing a few for me now about their experiences in the Peace Corps in 1989. A fantastic children’s book about baseball is “My Dad’s Baseball” .. can’t remember the author Dan something..
I’ll pass that title on to my sister-in-law, Grandma. What fascinating stories your mom must have!
I’m glad Kathy shared her story with us. How nice she was able to share that day with her dad.
I met him, Patti. He was a kind and humble man.
A lovely family story. Yes, your SIL is a great writer. So many of our ‘stories’ will be lost for the next generation if we don’t write them down, so hopefully, this will be the first of many for her! I enjoyed this because when I was a kid, my parents and I stopped to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown during a vacation. This made me recall memories of my dad listening to baseball on the radio on warm summer evenings.
I wish my memory was better, Mama, so I could remember more stories to write down. I do clearly my grandmother walking around with an earphone plugged into her transistor radio so she could listen to her beloved Cincinnati Reds games.
Again, I am overwhelmed by your beautiful responses to Dad’s story. I didn’t know I had a story until I started writing and then it seemed very important to get it right. You are all such wonderful writers yourselves I feel humbled that you took the time to read and encourage me on my first attempt. Such powerful and explicit responses! Thank you so much.
I am truly humbled that you all enjoyed my story about Dad. This is my very first blog and I am honored that Susan posted it on her page. One of the best parts of it for me is that this has sparked memories for Dad’s Grandchildren which they are now sharing with me! Yes, there are many more stories. This has given me the courage to write more about this amazing, yet unassuming man. Thank you so much for all the kind words! Kathy( the SIL)
How exciting that this has given you the courage to write more, Kathy. Maybe you need your own blog!
This is a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing your sister in law’s memories of her dad.
Thank you for reading, Suzicate. I hope my sister-in-law writes more stories.
A beautiful story. It can be hard to get people to talk about themselves, but if we’re patient and lucky, we’re sometimes rewarded with incredible memories. Your SIL is a wonderful writer!
Thanks, Shary! It means more when other people tell her because I’m obviously prejudiced!
What a wonderful story. It is sad that so many of us don’t get the opportunity (or should I say, ‘take’ the opportunity) to ask about and listen to our parents’ stories. By the time we realize they are people, too (not just ‘our parents’) with hopes and dreams and histories, it’s usually too late (as I have come to realize in recent years). Your sister-in-law is a lucky woman to have shared at least that one small moment with her father.
I know, Margo. There are so many things I’d like to ask my parents about their lives, but they have been gone for many years now. That’s the way it is for all of us.
Very touching story, Kathy. As a young boy I was also entranced with the game and all its statistics. I was sure I would grow up to be a professional ballplayer. I even invented a card game where I could “play a game” with my favorite players and keep track of their averages, HRs, etc. I can so identify with your dad and his feelings about today’s prima donnas!
How neat is that, Al! Do you still follow baseball now? My grandfather played in the minors and was a Yankee fan all his life. Glad you got to meet Kathy and Mark. We need to do that again some time.
Oh yes, I’m a die-hard Phillies fan. I’ll never forget in 1964 when I returned to college the Phils had a 6 1/2 game lead with only 12 games to play. I was obnoxious about it until they blew it and lost the pennant on the last day. What a lot of crow I ate that year!
Haha, Al. Good story. We loved the Phillies when we lived in Philadelphia. George took our son Matt to see a Phillies game and bought him a baseball cap at the game. Matt wore it all the time until he left it at a rest stop on our way down to San Antonio. We were all sad about that.
You are right – your sister-in-law is a terrific writer, especially when it is from the heart like this. And I know she is tickled that you shared her story.
I think she needs to write more of these stories down for her kids, Dor. She is quite talented.
Such a sweet and well-written story! Congrats to the sister in law!
She is such a humble soul, Counsel. I’m sure she is blushing right now!
This was wondetful! I loved hearing these memories of your dad, Kathy. Suzie is right. You are a gteat writer.
Love that you read this, Nancy!
SIL, how wonderful you planned this outing and could subsequently write this tribute. Wonderful capture in words like the photo of the two guys wearing a baseball cap. I love starting out my day reading these words. Thank you for sharing.
You are such a wonderful family story teller, Georgette, I’m glad you got to read Kathy’s story.
This is just wonderful. I’m sure your sister-in-law drank in every moment of that day with her dad!
Yes, Dianna, she was emotional just reliving the moment decades later.
What a beautiful memory for you, and a wonderful walk down Memory Lane for your father. It is amazing what we learn as our parents travel that last stretch of their life’s journey on earth. I’m sure that photo is a treasure possession.