let the season begin…

i don’t care about anything else today, except for baseball. yes, i am a fantasy sports nerd. i play them all, even if i don’t watch them or like them. i absolutely hate basketball, but have won my league the last two years. i like hockey, but know nothing about it, but have won the last three years. i love and watch football, but got very distracted this season by a girl, and only placed third…i won’t be letting that happen again. but baseball, baseball was my very first love…when we are talking about sports, that is.

my grandpa, bud, got me hooked on baseball by taking me to san diego padres games, at the then, jack murphy stadium, in mission valley. game day was a fabulous day!! my grandpa would come and get me, and usually it would be me, my grandpa, my grandpa’s wife jeannette, carol and ruth (jeannette’s daughters), and sometimes my uncle robert and his then girlfriend sheryl. we would get to the stadium early, so that we could watch batting practice, and my grandpa would take me over to the dugouts to get player autographs.

it was always so exciting for me. my grandpa would make sure that he got every players attention, both padres and away teams, and i would build on my autograph collection with every game that we attended. i met so many awesome players of the day; rollie fingers (my very favorite, because of his neato handlebar ‘stache and wicked arm); randy jones; gene tenace; ozzie smith; dave winfield; tony gywnn; willie mccovey; rich “goose” gossage; steve garvey; ron cey; fernando valenzuela and more.

my grandpa would always take us on days, when there was some kind of giveaway…like bat night, hat night, t-shirt night, etc. so, over the years, i ended up with a really nice collection of san diego padres memoribilia. my favorite piece being, a batting helmet, which i happened to be wearing one day, when i was up on top of our roof, helping my dad put new shingles on. it was a stormy day and we really should not have been up there, but we were. my dad heard the thunder and saw the lightning, and i ended up on the ground.

it was at these games, that my grandpa first introduced me to baseball cards and the art of wheeling and dealing…trading for what i wanted without giving away what i had. he was extremely clever and taught me to be equally so. showing me what to look for and what to go after next. it was exciting, a never ending hunt. over the years, i ended up with so many cards ranging in years from the 1930’s to the present era, but i ended up selling them, in 1998, when kelly and i bought our house. they came in handy for the down payment.

every time we went to a game, after going through the turn stiles, the first thing that my grandpa would do, would be to buy each of us, including jeannette, our own game day program. yeah, they were nice to look at and read, but they actually had a purpose for each and everyone of us. they were for following the game and for keeping score, ourselves. this was how my grandpa taught me the rules of baseball, by making me follow and track it myself…one ball and strike at a time…each out of each inning…of the whole game.

once i was adept at following and scoring the game, my grandpa expounded on that by having me figure out batting averages. he started me out by following my three favorite padres throughout the game. i would keep track of the number of times that they were at bat and divide that number, into the number of hits that they got. example…2 hits/4 times at bat = .500 batting average. eventually, i ended up keeping track of all of the padre’s averages, each game…because i was a girl who loved her numbers and her padres.

another thing i loved about going to the games, was that everybody was happy, nice, and friendly…there were no sour pusses at the ballpark!! also, there were no, “food police,” my grandpa and jeannette, stopped the vendors at will, buying us hot dogs, sodas, popcorn, peanuts, and cotton candy. i ate it all…without getting the, “evil eye.” it was the group’s own little secret and i never divulged the information to my parents. i also learned that it was quite acceptable to throw my peanut shells onto the ground.

every year, during a night game, around the fourth of july…the local rock station, 101.1 kgb fm, would put on a fireworks and music show after the game. my grandpa and jeannette, would take us to it every year. i loved the loud booms and the rock music, something that i didn’t get to listen to at home, because it was “secular,” and not christian. the incredible bursts of vivid color enthralled, enchanted, and exhilarated me. i would go home and play the days and nights over, and over again in my mind, whenever i needed to “escape.”

so, today i draft my three fantasy baseball teams for the season and i just can’t help but think about how much my grandpa would have loved the internet, and fantasy baseball. i really have him to thank for so much!! he taught me all about numbers. he gave me fun things to do. he encouraged my imagination, instead of stifling it. but, most of all, he just let me know, that it was okay to be me. he let me know that i was okay, just as i was. he always let me know that i was very loved and very cared about, jeannette did, too.

so, let the season begin…



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