In the days following Roy Halladay's perfect game, I received countless e-mails from readers who wanted to write about their favorite moments, about how incredible the feat was, or simply about where they were when the final out was recorded.
One, from Tom in Downingtown, stuck out:
Thank you for an amazing article, so well written that I got chills several times. I was able to watch this game with my 72-year-old Dad, a lifelong suffering Phils fan, and I suspect it will always be one of our fondest memories together.
Thanks again. I hope you find your work fun and rewarding. This is one of those times when your work had physically touched another person. Sports aren't about balls and hoops. They're about bonding, mostly between buddies and fathers and sons, both living and deceased.
It made me think about Dad.
Dad raised me on baseball. He made me watch as many different games and teams as a kid. He came to all of my games as a kid (until my dreams of being a lefthanded reliever fizzled at age 15). We even planned summer vacations around being able to visit a new ballpark we had never seen.
I suspect many out there can say the same about their dads.
But a few years ago, baseball brought us even closer. For 26 years, Dad worked for the same defense contractor company, until his job was eliminated, rendering him almost helpless.
In the 10 months he was out of work, we talked almost every day. I wanted an update on jobs he applied for. But invariably, the conversation shifted to baseball. It made us forget about everything that was wrong.
Then, while spending a summer living at home and working for The Inquirer as an intern, I watched Dad struggle. He applied for more jobs than he could remember. The feeling of rejection — something that he’s rarely felt throughout his more than 50 years on this planet — was a constant result.
Dad never hated what he did — manage million-dollar contracts for the billion-dollar defense corporation — but he often wondered aloud to me, “What if there is something more out there?” Sometimes, when he was most frustrated after coming home from work, he’d try to figure out how he could apply his skills into a job with Major League Baseball as we watched baseball on TV.
We always thought it was silly. But it was an exercise in fun. One time, I think Dad actually applied for a job with MLB. He never heard back.
He took so much pride in his work, and he did it well. Dad traveled a lot and worked long hours, but I never felt like he missed me growing up or anything. He was always there. We never talked much about work. Dad would come home and baseball simply made sense. That’s when we connected. That’s when he taught me about Ted Kluszewski’s arms, Vin Scully’s voice and Carlton Fisk’s blasts. Even though my younger brother and I often assumed he stretched the truth, Dad told few tall tales.
Since then, I've tried to repay him for those stories with some of my own.
I highly doubt I'd be here without his passion. Thanks, Dad.
Happy Father's Day.