September 16, 2016
Professional sports has been labeled as many things through the years, some good, some bad. One of the things I have never heard mentioned concerning the various pro sports leagues is that there exists an underlying element that can be used as a form of “family bonding”. That is exactly the case concerning my family.
I met a woman in 1998 that had been single for many, many years. She had two children a son 12, and a daughter 16. She worked two jobs throughout her years being single so she would never have to seek financial assistance from anyone, (that is one of the things to this day that I love and respect her so much for). We ended up getting married in October of 1999. Being a new addition to the “terrific trio” they had established.
I was an outsider and the kids were understandably a bit protective of mom. For the first couple of years I managed through different work schedules to spend a lot of time with each child individually and as a group. I will be forever thankful for those times. I have been and always will be an avid sports fan with baseball being my passion. I would take one child then another out of school one day each year and we would spend an afternoon at a spring training baseball game in the Valley of the Sun. So began the teaching of the game to them along with an appreciation of it.
Baseball was now not only my love but also the love of these two great kids. Over time our relationship has blossomed and grown into one of complete love of respect of these “kids”. During 2001 we would attend about a game a month at the then Bank One Ballpark and the kids were beginning to enjoy the game as much as I did. It is not always about the game in front of you. Most times it was about the drive to the ballpark, the conversation during the drive, the lunch we would eat first at Alice Coopers’ restaurant or The Hard Rock Café. Both places within an easy walking distance of the park.
The time we were able to spend together is much more valuable to me than the actual game itself. Sometimes my wife would come with us, sometimes not. The kids would have such a good time. We had some of our best conversations during those events. We all had developed an appreciation for Luis Gonzales and his playing style and fundamentals. Which I would point out in the teachings of the game to the kids. These two had never had much in the way of opportunities to attend such things as mom worked hard enough just putting food on the table and roof over their heads. Both of those kids understood the need for thrift.
Then along comes the Diamondback magical year in 2001. We attended many games that year up to and including games during the NLDS and NLCS. The atmosphere had changed drastically in the ballpark and you could feel the electricity charging throughout. As we all know the Diamondbacks won such a hard fought, back and forth series. While the outcome was exactly what we wanted to happen, the subplots and little known accomplishment that season was us coming totally together for myself as well as my family. And all simply ….For Love of the Game.