Baseball Lessons My Father Taught Me

(Photo Credit: istock.com)

By Ted Gay – @TedG63

My father instilled in me a love of baseball in general and a love of the Red Sox in particular.  For that, I owe him an enormous debt.  We went to hundreds of games from 1972 when he had to guide me through the crowds and watch over me to 2014 when I had to do the same for him.  He taught me everything I know about the game even if the facts behind his lessons were sometimes dubious.  Here are the ones I remember the most.

 

The Yankees play more home games than any other team:

It started with the observation that whenever a Yankee highlight played on television, the Bombers were the home team. This quickly manifested into a vast conspiracy theory which every team was in cahoots to ensure the Yankees played extra home games, “for the good of major league baseball.”  I started to realize that this was what getting beaten by the Yankees for 35 years will do to a man’s perception.  It robs him of all reason.  Being a typical son, it was important to me to disprove him of this foolish notion.  I showed him that the schedule had only 81 Yankee home games.
“That doesn’t mean they only play 81,” he countered.  I asked him why the Red Sox did not give up home games so the Yankees could have more.

“We are too smart to stand for that.”  I wondered why the Royals fans wouldn’t realize they paid for 81 season tickets but only got 78?
“They’re too stupid to figure it out. That’s why they live in Kansas City.”  In his later years, he stopped putting forth this theory.  I thought he had abandoned it.

After his death, my sister told me he had stopped arguing with me about it because, “your brother doesn’t listen to reason.”

 

The ballpark is no place for fake patriotism:  

We were sitting at Fenway on Memorial Day.  It was the middle of the seventh.  The PA announcer asked all veterans to stand.  “What is this horseshit?” my father asked loudly.  He had fought in Korea and had never forgiven the government for drafting him.  I encouraged him to stand, which he did reluctantly.

The PA announcer asked the veterans to stay standing for “God Bless America.”  As the music began my father shouted:

“Are they still playing this goddamn song?” 35,000 people turned to look at us.  I debated telling people he had suffered a battle-related head injury, but they kept their comments to themselves.

When the song ended my father sat down and whispered to me, “I didn’t see any of those guys  in Korea, they must have been in the rear echelon.”  To my father, the Korean War was like his alma mater Middleboro High School.  If he didn’t see you, then you weren’t there.

 

The Red Sox put the personal accomplishments of their players over the fans:

To enforce this message he told the story of Lefty Grove’s 300th win.  In 1941 Grove was chasing that milestone.  He won his 299th in June but then slumped.  He got shellacked every start.  But the Red Sox continued to start him when it was obvious he was finished.  In September, after a series of disastrous starts, Grove toed the rubber for his final game.  The Red Sox scored nine runs in the first inning.  Grove staggered through the start, giving up eight runs over five innings before he was pulled and the Sox won 9-8 giving Grove his 300th win.

After decades of hearing this story, I investigated Grove’s 300th win.  He achieved it on July 25 beating the Indians 10-6.  He had lost his previous two starts, one by a single run, but did not have a prolonged slump before the win.

I never did tell my father that he misremembered the game that he had based his entire Red Sox fandom on.  Sometimes a son has to let things go.  Especially when it comes to the man who taught him everything about baseball.

ICYMI: AVIDBOSTON PODCAST EPISODE 30: MARTINEZ FINALLY SIGNS! WILL SWIHART BE TRADED? HANLEY BATTING THIRD? REALLY?

Also available on iTunes!

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/firefarrell-podcast/id1273560196?mt=2

 

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