June 15th is the last Father’s Day in Shea Stadium history.
In a season of lasts, I think that’s pretty significant. Most folks associate baseball with Dads. It was Dad who taught you how to keep score, who drove you to little league, who bought you Carvel after a good game and provide counsel after bad games.
And it was probably Dad who took you to your first game at Shea. In fact, Shea Stadium is alot like a Dad. Shea always did its job, albeit sometimes not in the most elegant or modern style. But Shea was always there and gave us comfort during the bad days and a lifetime of great memories as well.
When I started sitting in Loge13, I was 17 years old. The guys around us — Ron Hunt (pictured above with his Dad, 1968), the Bayside boys in front — were just done with college and starting their lives. Some were married, others about to be. While I finished high school, then college, the Loge13 guys all became Dads, events we all celebrated together. Now some of those kids are finishing college. Amazing.
Along the way, I’ve become a Dad myself, three times over. And I got to fulfill my dream of bringing my kids to Shea. My oldest son was 9 months old when he saw his first game (Kenny Rogers pitching one-hit baseball against the Braves). My middle son got his name on the Shea scoreboard for his 6th birthday and that still may be his greatest birthday moment. My youngest will get to his first game this year and the family has already planned their last day at Shea. That will be tough.
Over the years I have been able to spend lots of great nights at the park with my Dad, Kingman Sr. Those Harrelson/Torborg/Green years of the Nineties were tough times to bear witness to baseball. And so to pass the innings in Loge13, my Dad and I did something not alot of kids and Dads get to do: we talked. I learned a great deal about his life, his career and his dreams — not all of which got fulfilled due to Dad duties (a lesson I have learned as well). I am very grateful to Shea Stadium and Loge13 for hosting those nights.
Of course, Tim Russert died Friday. He was a great sports fan and the top broadcast journalist of our time. He also became the patron saint of all Dads the past few years. Now he is a reminder of just how quickly folks can be taken from this world. Remember to tell those Dads in your life what they mean to you. Being a Dad is tough work, as only we fathers can know.
So Happy Father’s Day all, especially you guys in Loge13. And a big Happy Father’s Day to Kingman Sr. Even if they tear down Shea, we’ll find a game somewhere.
Phew this was much easier than buying a card.