Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part series. If you desire the full meal, you might want to start with the appetizer first – Part 1.
I grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis football team, the Cardinals, was awful and the St. Louis basketball team, the Hawks, was decent, but the Boston Celtics of Bill Russell and Bob Cousy won it all back then just about every year.
St. Louis was definitely a baseball town with the St. Louis Cardinals led by Stan The Man Musial and company. Our family lived and died baseball and the Cardinals, and when the baseball season was over, we simply holed up and waited for spring training to start again.
My dad, Lyman, being an ex-Canadian and growing up in hockey country would take us to games, but never really understood the game. I remember games at old Sportsman’s Park before Busch Stadium with the huge metal columns that would always seem to be in the way of part of the playing field. I would pray to have a seat where I could at least have a clear view of my hero, Stan The Man, as he played first base or sometimes left field.
Dad would often sit backwards in his seat and spend the 2-3 hours watching the audience. The fans and their classic behavior interested him more than the game. He was a dedicated people watcher.
My dad was also an older dad. I was born when he was already 45 years old and so his sports playing days were long since past, and anyway, baseball just wasn’t his game. Neither was basketball for that matter. He was an accountant and spent most of his time in the office. His only real relaxation was watching Johnny Carson every night – something he never missed.
He was supportive of our sports endeavors, but often aloof. I used to think he was just disinterested, but now I’ve come to understand that he just did not understand those queer American sports. He was even somewhat disgusted with the way hockey had turned so violent and seemed to emphasize the fighting over the game itself just to bring up TV ratings.
So it came to no surprise to either my older brother, Jim, and me that at our Father and Son Boy Scout picnic baseball game, Lyman decided to sit out, not play, and simply watch. So Jim, 5 years older than me, took Dad’s place on the opposing Father’s team and played against my team – the Sons.
This was neither a surprise nor a problem for me. It was simply normal. Dad did not participate in our sports. He had been a professional hockey player with the Chicago Black Hawks in his own youth and his father had actually owned the Kenora Thistles up in Canada which actually won the Stanley Cup (hockey’s equivalent to the Super Bowl) in 1907, but that was such another lifetime that it really didn’t mean much to this 12-year old boy.
Back to baseball:
The Fathers and Sons game was a close game. In fact, we were tied 3-3 in the last inning of a seven-inning game. It was getting late and no one wanted to go into extra innings and the fathers were up last. (more…)