Dad, Baseball and Me

By Ant Perrucci |

When my sister and I were little, our parents were both working, and had their work schedules arranged so that they traded off on who was working late and who was watching us at home.

Wednesday nights were dad’s.

My father, physically, is more or less a more solidly-built version of me; when I was five or so I remember looking at the man and thinking to myself, “Well, no point growing my hair long; it’s not going to be here for a lot longer.”

Dad and me have watched quite a bit of sports over the years. It started with football. I blame him for my being a Raiders fan. When I was little the two posters on my bedroom walls were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bo Jackson. So there is that. And then Bo Jackson broke his hip and really there have been no good times in the Perrucci household while football’s been on TV.

Back to baseball.

I loved Wednesday night. There was a ritual: He’d get home, we’d watch the news — to this day I try to emulate Peter Jennings when recording voice-overs — eat dinner, and while my sister went off to her room to do whatever it is she was up to, Mr. Fun and me sat on the couch and turned on ESPN.

Wednesday Night Baseball.

So there we’d be, sitting on the couch, and I’d follow along. The first thing I ever remember was watching a baserunner trying to pick off second and beat the throw from home: “He’s gotta get there before the ball does.”

The second thing I remember learning was that the designated hitter was a stupid idea, and from there I was hooked. Up through 1995, when we moved out of our family’s first house, every night I was watching some game or another. The Marlins started up in 1993, so when they were on it was even better.

One night, dad came home, walked over to the TV stand and grabbed three tickets. “Put some shoes on,” he told my sister and me, “we’re going to the game.”

The Marlins beat the Expos 3-1.

It wasn’t until years later that I figured some stuff out about my dad: That he was all of 23 years old when I was born. He had a wife, two kids, a mortgage, two car payments. He’s worked for the same company since he was 16 years old. He turns 49 this October.

If you’ve ever worked in a grocery store, you know that it’s not something that offers a lot in the way of personal satisfaction. I put in seven years and got out because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

Comparing me at my age to my father when he was 25 doesn’t even match up. The man’s killed himself to provide. You can’t begin to thank someone enough, so you don’t even try.

It’s the little things. A five-year-old boy learning what a sacrifice fly is and why it’s important sticks, because he has no frame of reference when it comes to putting in 70 hours a week at a job you hate. Even though you don’t understand what working 11 hours a day after waking up at 4 a.m. is, you do understand three seats in the upper deck and a two-run Marlins victory on a school night.

My father never got to be a pilot, he never got to travel a lot, he never got to do a lot of the stuff he wanted to do.

But I’ll never stop being thankful that he got to be my father.

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