Baseball With My Best Friend

When I was a young child my dad sat me down and told me “we have a tradition in this family. Fathers and sons are more than just fathers and sons. We’re also best friends.” Although I couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4 years old, I can quote him word for word because he told me this countless times over the years.

And he was right. My dad and his dad, my PawPaw, were the best of friends. They drove trucks together, enjoyed weekends together, and for years grew a garden together. On a summer evening you could see them watering the tomatoes. Maybe an ounce of water came out of the hose every minute. Couldn’t go too fast, that would cut down on the time for a cold beer and some old stories. And those summer nights by the garden were almost always accompanied by a game on the radio.

Baseball has always been a part of this tradition in some way or the other. As a kid I was the batboy for every one of my dad’s softball teams. I knew all the guys, they knew me, and they’d feed me quarters at the pizza parlor after the games.

My dad taught me how to play ball and how beautiful baseball on the radio is. While I was never a good ballplayer, I spent countless hours listening to games with Dad while driving through the country and later while driving tractors up and down fields. I spent the summer of 2002 listening to the Angels on 710 and the Giants flagship station 680 out of San Francisco. Add in a Bakersfield station carrying Dodgers games and it was like having XM satellite radio in parts of the Central Valley.

So now I’m an adult and true to tradition, my dad is my best friend. He’s the first one to know everything important. From when I knew I’d become a father to the interviews I do for this site, Dad gets the first call or text. We have a continual text conversation about baseball stats and often text during games and fights in addition to a call or two a week.

He’s also my Spring Training partner. My first trip to Spring Training in 2007 was me and Pops. I finally had a career in the works, finally had a little money in my pocket, and the person I wanted to enjoy an adventure with was Dad. After that trip he took a few years off but for the last 8 years he’s joined me.

We’ve been to every Cactus League park together. That picture above is from a Cubs game in 2022 that completed the circuit. Over the years we’ve had great times chatting with George Foster and other players, seeing my son and nephew collect autographs, and plenty of baseball action. Last year we caught Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Really, there’s too much to count.

For all the poetic waxing I do about day games, player interaction, and the general fun of Spring Training, what really makes it my favorite time of year is that I’m spending time with my best friend. My dad.

Life gets busy, time flies by, but for a few hours each day for a few days each March I’m sitting next to my dad at a ballgame. And that is priceless.

I’ve heard stories of his playing days, of games he watched before I was born. I’ve heard stories about PawPaw and other family and friends. We talk about my journey through life and fatherhood. And, of course, sometimes we just sit in silence watching a game we both love and enjoying being together.

There are very few experiences in life that will always make you feel like a kid. Walking into a ballpark with your dad is one of them.

And as a father, I realize there are few experiences that compare to going to a ballgame with your child. So now I realize how much Dad loves this trip as well.

My ultimate goal in life is to continue this father/son best friend tradition with my little guy. Yes, my son has already heard about the tradition plenty. For now I realize how blessed I am to be able to have the ballpark experience as both a father and a son.

As long as Dad keeps making it out there, Spring Training will continue to be my favorite baseball experience. You just can’t beat baseball with your best friend.

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Designerguy
Super Member
30 days ago

Fantastic write up! One of my favorite memories is going to a game in 1976 with my dad and grandfather (his dad) to watch Nolan Ryan destroy the Red Sox. We sat three rows in behind home plate.

tanana40
Super Member
30 days ago

Reading this made my day. Thank you for sharing!

LanaBanana
Super Member
30 days ago

What a beautiful essay, Jeff. I enjoyed reading it so much!

halofansince1978
Super Member
30 days ago

Father took me to my first MLB game. Angels as the home team at Chavez Latrine in 1962-63. I was eight or nine and don’t remember much about it other than a glimpse in my mind of my Dad and I sitting in the stands. My best baseball friend Tom turned me into an Angel fan. Tom and his Dad were Halo fans from the gate in 1961. Tom worked for a company that had corporate Angel season seats the never got used. Great seats on the field level, first base side, second row, right at the rain tarp. From 1978 (hence the screen name) we went to forty or fifty games a year for twenty five years. When we couldn’t get the company seats there were always seats behind home plate available for cash at the ticket windows in what is now the upper view. It was my pleasure to see everything important that happened during that time span live and in person.

Thank You Tom!!

p.s. The only thing I missed was the 2002 W/S. I had a detached retina in my bad right eye as the result of chest bumping during Game 5 of the ALCS. You know that Game 5 we finally won…it was worth it.

Roy Hobbs
Trusted Member
1 month ago

Thanks Jeff. I also shared many games with my dad and later with my own sons. My father took me to my first angel game in 1962 at Dodger Stadium against the Yankees with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris. My father and some of his friends shared season tickets when I was growing and later I did the same thing. Some years ago I attended a game with my college aged son and our seats were right next to Bobby Grich’s. I had a very nice conversation with Bobby reminiscing about the days when my son and his step son were playing youth baseball. He had very fond memories of those times.

gitchogritchoffmypettis
Legend

wait. I’m not your best friend?

Cowboy26
Legend
1 month ago
Reply to  red floyd

I thought this was more appropriate.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eiwpZS3Vqg

red floyd
Legend
30 days ago
Reply to  Cowboy26

Or to bring it back to the original topic
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4APREBNOh5Q

Cowboy26
Legend
1 month ago

But who’s your daddy Gitcho?

halofansince1978
Super Member
30 days ago

NO!!!

PedroCerrano
Super Member
1 month ago

I never knew my dad but had lots of mentors and coaches pour baseball knowledge and a love for the game into me. I do know loss and echo the sentiments of hugging the people you love while you still have them. My son is now 29 and I think some vision casting for our first trip to spring training may be in order. Thanks for the inspiration.

2GA2Join
Super Member
1 month ago

Thanks for this story, it was wonderful.

My dad passed when I was a teenager, but I became a baseball fan because of him. We sat in his old car summer after summer eating our packed lunch listening to the Angels on KMPC and then hopefully laughing at Jim Healy later. We went to games together and watched them on TV when we could.
He was a Dodgers fan originally, having lived there when they were in Brooklyn and then ending up in Southern California. So we both enjoyed 1988 big time (there wasn’t a rule back then that you couldn’t like the Angels and the Dodgers). But the Angels became our primary team and I’m really thankful that I enjoyed that with my dad like you do with yours.

Angelz4ever
Super Member
1 month ago

Very nice story Jeff. My dad passed 24 years ago. I miss that our relationship was just starting to change, but he was always and will always be my Dad. He missed me promoting at work a couple of times, my last two kids and graduating college & university.

It was just that we could talk a little differently, not ever peers, but with a deeper understanding of each other. LOL-I was finally able to pick up the check, despite his objections. He died a very young 61.

I’m glad for you and your dad-Enjoy all your time with him, like you needed me to say that….

RexFregosi
Super Member
1 month ago

nice Jeff

my dad passed about 12 years ago. what i miss most is being able to tell him stories he would get a kick out of

he took me out to PS in the 1960s to see ST before we moved there (one game was the only time i saw Willie Mays)

he took me to Angel games in the 1960s because mainly he hated the Dodger Stadium parking lot. Ee’d get the neighborhood kids together and go to Helmet Day and Bat Day and Picture Day

he moved the family to PS in 1972 and my lifelong ST attachment began. He eventually moved here from 2002-2007 so we got to see plenty of baseball here too

clover_black
Super Member
1 month ago

great write up.

dad would always accompany us to spring training until he couldn’t anymore (the past couple of years we’ve been going solo while mom stayed back with him).

he passed a couple weeks ago, funeral is friday, and we head out to scottsdale the next day. I feel like I’m going to finally exhale when we get to AZ.

it doesnt need to be stated but enjoy every minute w/ pops and take lots of pics.

Senator_John_Blutarsky
Legend

Very nicely written Jeff. I enjoyed reading it.

BruinsAngelsKings
Trusted Member
1 month ago

Great write-up!

I take my dad to a baseball game for Fathers Day every year. If the Angels are in town we go there, if they are not we go to San Diego or over to AZ.

red floyd
Legend
1 month ago

You and Jeff are fortunate.

The last game I took my dad to was a ST game in Peoria. Cubs were playing the M’s. It rained. He didn’t care, it was the Cubs.

He had a stroke later that year and passed in 2004. Cherish the time you have with your father.

Eric_in_Portland
Legend
1 month ago
Reply to  red floyd

so true. The last game my Dad and I went to was when I lived in SF and we saw the Angels in Oakland. We had a great time, other than Mitchell Page hitting a walk-off HR. I sure wish I could call my Dad now and talk baseball.

FungoAle
Super Member
1 month ago

I miss that too, loved talking baseball with my dad. All the time. He passed away last August, big Dodger fan, Dodger season ticket holder 1971-1974, also tuned into Angel games and a fan of Trout. He would have been thrilled this year with Shohei playing for the team and just a downright monster club. I of course, would have put up with it, him being my dad.

FungoAle
Super Member
1 month ago

Great stuff, Jeff. Really appreciate the Giants cap and understand why your second favorite team, like mine, are the Giants.

HalosFanForLife
Trusted Member
1 month ago

This is awesome. Miss mine every day.

red floyd
Legend
1 month ago

Same here.

Angels2020Champs
Legend
1 month ago
Reply to  red floyd

I’m at the stage where I’ve spent more years as a member of the DDC than I had him around. Cancer sucks and losing the patriarch of the family at a young age is rough, especially when you are put into that role unprepared.

What he did do and the exact reason I am an Angels fan… went to Braves/Doyers game with my elementary school in second grade. We were cheering for any offense and the traditional Doyer outfield fans let a bunch of 8 year boys know their dissatisfaction. I didn’t know it at the time, but when my dad asked how it went and I explained, he didn’t say/explain anything. A few months later we made the extra 1.5 hour drive to the Big A on our own, packed up with some treats from the grocery store and got to enjoy what would be our only live sporting event together. I’ve had about 6 adult birthday get togethers now, have taken my son to ST, and my kids have seen over 100 games at the Big A and gone to a HRD and All Star game.

Doesn’t matter if we lose 100 games, get a worserer owner or change our name (again). The Big A is the last place I get to remember my dad and I am happy to pass that along to my kids.

Thanks for sharing Jeff!!

Eric_in_Portland
Legend
1 month ago

Beautiful, Jeff. If I ever make it down there to catch a game I’ll want to sit next to you

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