My dad is 71 (you’d never guess it, though), and I’ve realized fairly recently that I don’t know nearly enough of his stories.
I know about our family, yes, but I don’t know his stories. The fun stuff.
I don’t know the craziest thing he’s ever done.
I don’t know who his best friends were (or are).
I don’t know what he’s most proud of.
And until recently, I didn’t know something as simple as who his favorite baseball team was growing up.
Usually, when I call home, I talk to my mom. We talk about anything and everything at length, and she humors me, even though I know that I’m the one dragging the conversation out.
When I talk to my dad, it’s usually about sports. Depending on the season, we’ll dissect what the Eagles or, right now, the Phillies are doing wrong. I’ll rant about Kendrick and Qualls as he listens patiently. And though I knew he grew up in New York, rooting for “anyone but the Yankees,” I never actually knew who his longtime favorite was.
So when he and my mom came down for my graduation, and we spent the day walking around Arlington National Cemetery, I took the time and simply asked.
“The Cincinnati Reds,” he replied.
I wracked my brain to think of the connection, but couldn’t come up with one.
“Why the Reds?“
He thought for a moment before answering. He always does, and his answers are more intentional that way.
“Maybe because they were really great while I was growing up. [beat] Or maybe because they were the ones who recruited me.“
I’m slow sometimes.
“Recruited you to do what?“
“To play. In 1959 they offered me a signing bonus to come up through their system.“
As you might expect, I had a million questions, not least of which was, how have I never heard this before?
I guess the short answer would be because he didn’t take the offer. But the fact that something so amazing, so potentially life-altering, is in his history and I had absolutely no idea is mind-boggling to me.
It makes me wonder what other stories he has hidden up his sleeve.
And now seems as good a time as any to ask him.