I didn’t know my father very well.
When I was young my parents separated and my brother and I would live with our mother. During the early years my father lived in Houston and we would visit him once a month for a long weekend. We would always do fun things like go to AstroWorld or Hanna-Barbara Land, or a once a year camping trip to Big Bend. But I loved when he took us to see the Astros play.
One of my most vivid memories is being 5 years old and going to a game in the Astrodome. I was awestruck by the structure as a small child. The Astros were playing the Cubs and we sat in general admission in right field. I brought my mitt that had been used that morning to play catch in the backyard, and was convinced I would catch a home run.
But what I remember most is my father smiling at me and patiently explaining the rules when my brother or I asked questions. There was the smell of his beer and the taste of the nachos we ate, the bright and garish colors of the seats and the thrill of the crack of the bat followed by a child’s yearning for offense. This all makes up one of the most precious memories that I have.
Eventually, my father would move away from Houston for his job and would later pass when I was 10, struck down by cancer at way too young of an age. My interest in baseball would wane, but it was always there. Later the love of the game would take me again and, because of that one vivid memory, I would start to follow the Astros, watched the various playoff runs from the late 90’s through mid-aughts, and was able to experience the thrill of a World Series victory.
Now I’m a father with a 4 year old daughter. We’ve been to a few baseball games and she asked to play t-ball mostly because she knows how much I love baseball, but her interests have more to do with My Little Pony and Disney princesses than Correa or Altuve. She won’t sit and watch the games with me like she used to when my company alone was enough to stave off boredom.
But I’m not worried, because I know that one day she might feel that spark of excitement and remember. Remember me and the words I spoke to her as I explained the game and smiled at her as she seemed to get it. Remember that the Astros were there at that moment and maybe decide to attach a bit of herself to them as I have.
I didn’t know my father very well, but he gave me the gift of a team to root for and a community to belong to. That’s the legacy he left for me, like so many other parents have left to their children, and I will always be grateful. I only hope that one day I can do the same for my daughter.
Happy Father’s Day.