I almost didn’t make it to the game with Bob this time.
You know: Work. The weather. My wife was out of town.
But Bob — that’s my dad — and I have been going to the game together for more than 40 years: baseball, mostly, but some football, soccer, hockey, basketball, horse racing… whatever. Bob loves to go to the game. And I love going with him.
I will never forget — never — the first one, a trip to Yankee Stadium up in the Bronx after it had been renovated in 1975. I remember the green splendor of the diamond as we emerged from the tunnel to our bleacher seats, so like a jewel in the rough and scarred borough. I swear if I close my eyes I can see it now.
That, and a guy sitting next to us accidentally burned me with his cigarette, and then poured a little beer on it.
At baseball games, if I could just stop asking questions for a minute, he’d keep score in the old-school shorthand, which is why I knew what a 6-4-3 DP was before I could even properly hit a baseball.
At hockey games he’ll point out how often the lines change; for basketball he’ll deconstruct the defense. He can even read a bowler’s spin before it strikes the pins.
We’ve been to football games so cold I begged to go home the entire time and baseball games that went deep into extra innings. When I was a kid we watched the Army Navy game at West Point. In Raleigh, I snuck him into an early Final Four round posing as my photographer. He almost blew it when he sat down at Press Row with a huge tray of snacks.
We lasted another 45 minutes there in the shade, long enough to see the ambidextrous duo fall in a devastating 6-3 second set.
Our seats at the Winston-Salem Open, he told me when we got there, were on the sunny side.
“The guy’ll let you sit over on the shady side though,” he said, “until more people get here.”
And so we watched Roberto Bautista Agut take out Viktor Troicki in the semifinal round largely, Bob pointed out, on unforced errors.
Bob likes the doubles, so we stayed to see Mate Pavic and Michael Venus take some heat against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Henri Kontinen in a tough tiebreaker set that did not go their way.
“Pavic’s a leftie,” Bob said, and noted their positions on the court. “You’d think they’d play dominant hand to the outside, but they never do. Whenever they can they protect the middle.”
We lasted another 45 minutes there in the shade, long enough to see the ambidextrous duo fall in a devastating 6-3 second set, and the evening crowd roll in.
Unlike in the Bronx, where we often waited out Yankee Stadium traffic in a nearby bar, the roads were clear all the way home.