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Sept 9 2000: It’s All Because of My Dad

(This column originally appeared at www.yankeesxtreme.com, Yankees Xtreme. Reproduced here by permission of Ultrastar.)

My dad and me at Legends Field

Me and my dad at Legends Field in 2000

Major League Baseball released a poll recently showing that some large percentage of women consider going to baseball games an ideal family activity. I guess I would be one of them. My whole family is Yankee fans, and I love getting them together at the Stadium. But it’s the man of the family, my father, who started that tradition.

When my brother and I were kids, it was easy to get the family together for a game. We all lived in the same house, after all, and we’d just get in the station wagon and go, sometimes on the spur of the moment. I remember him packing us into a car for the long drive to Shea Stadium, during those years in the seventies when Yankee Stadium was being renovated. For my thirteenth birthday party, we even took two carloads of my friends to the Stadium. Some of our fondest family memories took place at Yankee Stadium–for example, July 4th, 1983. (Dave Righetti’s no-hitter versus the Red Sox.)

But in the mid-80s, I grew up, moved out of the house and out of the New York area, and the idea of taking family trips to the park was sort of forgotten. Nowadays, it just takes a bit more planning to get us all in one place. Once my brother went to college, my parents resorted to exotic vacation trips to get us together: cruise ships in the Bahamas, a week in New Orleans, a condo in Aruba.

Don’t get me wrong–I wouldn’t turn down a trip to Aruba (unless it was during the World Series, maybe…), but I only recently realized that paradise for me involves blue seats, pinstripes, hot dogs, and a little thing called Yankee magic.

So last summer I declared our next family get-together would be at Yankee Stadium. I bought tickets for a late August game against Seattle, and eagerly looked forward to a great afternoon at the park.

I had to wait a lot longer for that day than I had thought. My father fell ill a few days before the scheduled game and was hospitalized. My mother stayed by his side in the Intensive Care Unit. Neither of them was going to make it to a ball game. The winds of good fortune were blowing that day though, as the Yankees beat the Mariners, Ricky Ledee hit an inside the park home run, and a few days later my Dad was up and around, the crisis past.

One year later, it’s a perfect, sunny afternoon, I’m sitting under the giant Louisville Slugger outside the stadium, waiting for the family group to gather. A tall twenty-something in a Graig Nettles shirt, the brim of his hat curled to the extreme? Yeah, that’s my brother. The short guy with the pinstriped cap and knobby knees next to him? That would be my Dad. My mom’s in the blue and white jacket and my boyfriend’s the stocky one in the Bernie Williams shirt. And me? I’m the one with the Interlocking NY grease-pencilled on my face.

I’m sitting in the upper deck next to my Dad. The weather is gorgeous, and we’re just high enough up to be in the shade. I’m thinking about saying something like “The view’s better from here than from a hospital bed, eh?” but I don’t. He’s certainly not thinking about his mortality, in fact he played in a golf tournament just yesterday. Instead we talk about how he and Mom are getting ready to retire to Florida.

Don’t worry–their new house is even closer to Legends Field in Tampa than their current place is to Yankee Stadium. So these Yankee family reunions will be going on, God willing, for a long, long time.

My brother is off hunting for a French-fry stand. I’m filling my Mom in on the players she’s not familiar with since the trade deadline. David Cone strikes out the side in the first. Glenallen Hill hits a home run. And I can’t think of a place I’d rather be.

Cecilia Tan lives in Boston and is a columnist for Yankees Xtreme. Her father turns 65 years old today.

(Did you enjoy reading this blog entry? Please consider buying me a hot dog.)

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