If you missed Part One, you can find it HERE.
Let’s get right to it…..here is part two.
We were driving down to a game about seven years ago. We had just gotten off of the highway and turned onto Woodward Avenue in Detroit…up until this point I’d had my nose stuck in a book (big surprise). I put down the book, and looked up to see dad turn his head and glance out the passenger side window. It was just for a split second, but he got this look of sadness in his eyes. Wondering what it was that he saw I turned and looked out too. It was the old Tiger Stadium, which is now just an empty lot and distant memories.
Dad told me on the way into the stadium of all the games that he attended there, I was at one of them too long ago now to remember. He told me about the seats, and the smells, and how “they don’t build ’em like that any more.” Walking into Comerica Park, we came in the center field gate, and walked across the right field walkway. If you’ve ever been to Comerica you know that in right field is a row of statues.
Dad made it a point to stop at each statue and tell me a little bit about each player. Not only did he teach me about these six, but the history of the game and of the Tigers along the way. Somewhere I have a picture of when we got to our seats, mom took a great picture of dad and I sitting together; he’s pointing out to me something on the field and I’m just sitting there listening to him teach me something new about the game. He bought me a scorecard that night, and taught me how to keep an official score during the game. I was enthralled! The Tigers lost, and it was a bad one but that didn’t matter to me at all. That night, sitting between mom and dad I connected in a new way to my dad. It was so much fun!
This was a connection we had never had before, I finally had something that I could do with my dad! Baseball became so much more than a game to me. It became a way of life, an ongoing love story with a game that was so unpredictable. You never knew from one game to the next, or even from one inning to the next what may happen. Mom, Dad, and I would sit on the couch at home, pop popcorn and enjoy being together. Sure, dad would still yell at the T.V. but it didn’t bother me, and sometimes (depending on the reason for the yelling) mom and I would join in!
It was the 2006 season, and the Tigers were heading for the playoffs. My grandma had a viewing party at her house on the night that the Tigers won the American League Championship! We watched the game together, all of us, as a family. From my (now 93 year old) great grandmother, down to my now 14 year old cousin and everyone in between. Baseball is a game that transcends the boundaries of age, gender, and race. It brings people together in a way that nothing else can. This was something that we could share as a family, something that brought all of us together. Now, we make it a point to go to at least one game a season….the whole family anywhere from 12-15 of us depending on when we go. The Tigers lost the World Series that year, and in 2007 we had a partial season ticket package…we went to Opening Day, and 17 other games over the course of the season…it was AWESOME!
|With Mom, Dad, and Grandma across the river from PNC Park in Pittsburgh
In 2008 a tradition started in our family. Dad planned our summer vacation to be in Cleveland Ohio that year. He got us tickets to see the Tigers play their division rivals the Cleveland Indians. The next summer we found ourselves in St. Louis Missouri watching the Tigers play the Cardinals, we stayed in town for two games that week. This past summer we went to a game in Chicago, then we followed our Tigers to Pittsburgh and had tickets for the entire three game series. No matter where we go, we are not alone. The people around us may not be Tiger fans, but they are baseball fans, and somehow we can all look past the team names we wear, and just enjoy being with other people who are as in love with the game as we are. The Tigers were swept this year in the World Series, and made some interesting off season moves but as they begin Spring Training this week at this house we are looking forward to a great season to come!
You don’t have to be a die hard to understand the connection between a father and daughter that night during something as simple as a baseball game. A connection that to this day is shared in the whole family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. We all get together and share the love of a game that brought us closer as a family.
So whether you are a fan or not (and if you’re a Yankees fan I won’t hold it against you) I hope you understand that this is about more than a game. It’s ultimately about our family. Get ready folks, there will be many more baseball related posts in the months to come….don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Oh, and here is the reason for the title of these posts… Two Versions, take some time a watch them both!
Talkin’ Baseball (Willie, Mickey, and The Duke): By Terry Cashman
Talkin’ Baseball (Detroit Tigers Version): also by Terry Cashman…enjoy!