this is a tale of my first real love.
before Brendan. before Kent. before David Hunter and Donny Osmond or even Shaun Cassidy.
there was baseball.
baseball. America's pastime. the brainchild of Abner Doubleday. the evil stepchild of cricket.
and my first real love.
back in the day, after the sperm donor had passed me by, there was my Uncle Jimmy. the man i still consider to be my dad. a tall fellah, with a friar's fringe and glasses, he was the coolest man alive...before Alzheimer's stole him from me before his body had passed.
and a baseball fanatic.
growing up in Long Beach, we lived not too far from Blair Field. it was across the street from my future high school, and where not only Cal State Long Beach would play, but also a AAA team.
we would go every Saturday.
there never were a lot of people there. on a good day, maybe a hundred in a stadium that seated at least 500. but we were there, soaking the game in. and when i was bored (which could happen when you're five), i could run up and down the bleacher stairs as much as i wanted.
one of the best parts of the day was getting dinner. or lunch. always a hot dog. Cracker Jack (c'mon. it is baseball, y'know). beer for him, Fresca for me.
Fresca? when you're five? it goes like this: i never liked Coke as a kid. my drinks were root beer or 7Up. Fresca was the next best thing. even though i positively HATED the taste, it was still something to drink.
and, like i said, Uncle Jimmy would usually have a beer, much to my chagrin. i was an extremist child. i was convinced that if you drank beer, you were an alcoholic.
not the most giving. i saw things in black and white. no gray for me.
regardless, it was one of the best parts of my week.
so why bring it up?
at the grocery store today, they had a little box next to the change dispenser. in it was a pocket calendar schedule for the Long Beach Armada...the new name of the AAA team in Long Beach that i still think is managed by my favorite retired Dodger, Steve Yeager. (no relation to Chuck. i think.)
suddenly i was five years old again, and totally excited about spending a Saturday afternoon with my daddy.
he inspired me. not only for baseball, but to chase dreams. and even though i lost that wonder as a part of my every-day life, it still shows up now and then...to reclaim me as its own.
true love, my friends, never dies.