Some of you know “out of HERE!” is the home run call of Duane Kuiper, one of the Giants radio broadcasters. If you know us at all, you know we love the San Francisco Giants. Our favorite baseball team is off to a wonderful 5-2 start so far. Tomorrow, they open their home season at AT&T Park and it will be my 20th straight home opener.
I started going to the “Opener” as MLB came out of its strike season. Mostly because I had a free pass. Something interesting took place that day for me. A renewal of sorts.
In high school, I had stopped playing baseball in order to play lacrosse. My younger brother has been playing this fast-paced sport for a few years and he really loved it. I know my dad felt a small pain when his soccer player son was now playing another sport he didn’t know. He did know baseball. To his credit, he didn’t try to stop me. And as always, both mom and dad were at all my lacrosse games, just like they were at all my soccer and baseball games before.
As I stopped playing a game I once loved and began a new sport, the professional baseball players we coming out of a drug scandal (cocaine this time, not steroids) and going into a constant labor spat. The last time I could remember caring about the Giants was during the 1989 Earthquake. I was at a game in Wrigley field August 10, 1994. The Cubs were playing the Giants. I was in town to see my family. Over the radio, an announcement was made -that morning, baseball players had voted to go on strike! Millionaires were unhappy playing a game for a living. You could say I had soured on the game.
I only went to the 1995 opener for the Giants because a fraternity brother had a free pass for me. I had written baseball off entirely. But as I walked in and saw the green expanse of the field, my childhood rushed back. No longer was I the recently graduated student seeking work in a terrible economy, I was a 7 year old looking for a hot dog. But what also happened was I had found a connection that had been lost with my dad. We didn’t talk about much. But we could talk about baseball.
Since that day, I’ve gone to countless Giants games. Sometimes I could even drag my dad along with me. He and I had been to a few memorable games. The 1987 NLCS game staring Jeffrey Leonard, a 2002 NLCS game at AT&T Park and so many others. His health faded over the last few years and going to the yard was no longer fun for him.
Today, I go to ballgames with my son, with Sarah, with friends, with clients. Whenever we travel, we try to see the local team in action and take in a new ballpark. I’ve been thinking about this love of baseball. There is a lot to it. But mostly, it is a quiet time away. Something that keeps me connected to my dad.
For some folks, the New Year starts January 1. For us, in many respects, it begins tomorrow. So we hope you’ll excuse us our absence from the office tomorrow. We’ll be playing hooky at the ballpark.