Monday, January 19, 2009

When the past comes to call

When the past comes to call...

My father(left) played in this game as the first baseman

When my parents visited with us over the Christmas season, my father was eager to share a personal gift with our family that was dear to his heart, one that has surpassed time and space in his memory banks, more ways in fact than ever imagined. The gift was a softcover book entitled; the story of Ron Necciai and his record setting 27 strikeouts by George Stone. This same book holds many memories currently enveloping my father's heart and his memory banks have slowly become fully exposed as vivid recollections of this same baseball game keeps him reminiscing greatly.

You see, my father was there when this record game was played, not as a spectator however, rather as the first base man on this team. It was also there this same day of May 13, 1952 where my mother and her girlfriend witnessed firsthand her future husband's record setting participation this day. The game statistic sheet was eventually entered into the "Baseball Hall Of Fame" when their team was inducted into Cooperstown, NY many years later.

Our own family traveled to the Baseball hall of Fame a while ago to check out the now famous baseball museum and we are so proud to have this bit of history in our family with our parent's at the helm because while he was just a very young Canadian kid to be drafted into the wonderful world of pro-baseball, it was in Bristol, Virginia where his baseball career took him for a chance meeting with my mother whom he married four months later.

My father up to bat in his finest form

Browsing over the game sheet, it is recorded there my father was AB 4; 2 runs, 1 hit, 2 outs and had an RBI. Chapters 8, 9 and 10 of this book tell every detail of this hall of famer recognized game and obviously as the first baseman my father holds great recollection and recall of this same day in vivid detail even now.

His baseball contract at the time was signed with an offering of 200.00, a mitt and a pair of cleats. Those were the days my friend when families gathered at a field nearby to watch ball games just for the fun of it after dinner and cheered for their local teams, that is until the entrance of television ripped that simple pleasure from the talented players of the day. Many players quit their beloved game eventually because of lack of spectator attendance and ballgame fields closed for a time. If this had happened in today's world, my father would not only be famous, his contract would surely be vastly different.

Some of the memorabilia we possess in our home

If you ask my father he will tell you he owes a debt of gratitude to Bristol because he found his wife there. But if you ask his children, we are also filled with gratitude for our mother's support offered to him before and after their marriage as my father continued traveling during in-season game schedules with small children at home. Together they traveled from B.C. (Canada) yearly by train down to Bristol for each new ball season until one year when my mother was expecting their third child, my father broke his wrist and that proved to be the end of his ball career. When my father watched the movie "The Rookie", he could so relate to how it was for him and his family in those days.

He was the only Canadian kid signed up the year he began his career and scouts told him he "could run like a deer". What stood out was his baseball savvy of the game and the fact he was one of the fastest runners they had ever seen.

No matter how many years have passed though, that very famous ball game continues to be present in the media. My father is called upon for interviews, and managed to keep in touch with many of the players on his team over the years. Still his love for this game is evident year after year no matter, and his children are so very pleased he was able to hit a home run one evening where as a reward, a hat was passed around with enough tips thrown in to warrant the purchase of my mother's wedding rings. Shortly afterwards he proposed to her. Ahhh, the rest they say is history, even now after 56 years of wedded bliss.

I am now keeper of an original photo for this game

Meanwhile my father also gifted us with a few 8x10 inch photos from his baseball days as requested. We have a special project planned for our basement rec room in this new home. It will soon become a "sports room" complete with sport jerseys, name plates, enlarged photos and other assorted sporty items from all of our family members. The project took flight when our older married children were asked not to purchase any gifts for us at all, rather gather sporty favourite photos of themselves and their children to frame for our walls in that room. A gathering place will be the focus for our children to invite their friends over here and for family visitors to enjoy the games offered in the room. Of course, there will be nothing like a good hockey game in the background or family video playing for all to watch while they are working on their games, either physically or mentally on the board game table. What fun we will have with this project!

And what a better way to honour my father than to have the original photo of the team picture featured in this new book hanging on my wall, and many various other feature photos from newspaper articles and events on his ball career. I can hardly wait to show you when we are done with it all, but first, to grab a paint brush and get the room beyond a fast white wash on the walls from the rush of having the basement finish and an unavailable painter after our move-in date.

To my Dad;

We are so proud of you and love every moment we spend together listening about the good old days of your baseball career. The gold nugget for us though is finding out new bits of information previously unknown, either in print, on the air, or directly from your lips. Now will you kindly just step on it and write your own memoirs of your own years for all of us? I'll buy the first copy and want it signed by you!