Baseball and Dad This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

November 5, 2012
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Former Yale University president and seventh Major League Baseball Commissioner Angelo Bartlett Giamatti once wrote, “It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings … it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”

At the age of six, I became a baseball fan – most importantly, a Red Sox fan. I am used to feeling dejected because of a game that “is designed to break your heart,” because I've witnessed the impending 100-loss seasons. Nevertheless, I have never lost faith in a game that has always managed to reward me. Since then I have watched nearly every Red Sox game, enchanted by the players, the ballparks, the statistics, and the history. To diehards like me, baseball is not merely a sport, but a way of life. It is the reason we fans breathe.

Giamatti writes, “You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive.” Baseball is not just a game with the ultimate hopes of a championship, but a gateway to human connection.

In the early stages of my fandom, my father and I would sit on our couch and watch the games together while he explained the rules to me. He'd talk about why Nomar Garciaparra is the best shortstop in Red Sox history, why I wasn't allowed to ever like the Yankees (ever), and why he loved spending time with me. I would sit there and listen, mesmerized by every word that trickled from his lips, and tell him that I loved spending time with him, too.

When I was eleven, my father was ­diagnosed with cancer, and his health has declined every year since. I have seen his love for baseball diminish especially as his memory worsened. Now, it is my turn. I am the one who explains the rules to him, why Nomar is still the best shortstop in Red Sox history, and how the ­Yankees still, to this day, cannot ever be liked.

I explain to him the game as my love for the Red Sox – a team dedicated to bringing Boston another championship – grows with each day. I watch them play as I think how I, as Giamatti has written, “count on” the game, “rely on it” in order to spend time with my father, keeping our memories alive, because soon he won't be around.

Now, as the season ends, my time with my father does as well. Like baseball, my father leaves me “to face the fall alone.” He goes to Thailand, and will return in the spring, when the game and our relationship starts up again, blossoming in the summer. One day he may not come back, but baseball will. It always will, and one day, the Red Sox will win another championship, not just for themselves, but for my father and me.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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