Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Do you have a favorite memory of spending time with your dad? Are you responsible for helping your kids succeed in sports? I have written an article for a baseball magazine, included in part below. Because of how my dad taught me to appreciate the game of baseball, I began thinking about how fathers encourage their daughters. I found a great link about teaching girls to play net ball.

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My dad, age 95 this year, is in mourning for his team, the Boston Red Sox. After the good years together, Manny Ramirez should have treated the team better. (Manny was recently traded to the Dodgers because he quit trying for the Sox.) Dad himself has treated the Red Sox with the utmost respect, cheering faithfully for almost a century from his armchair and in the thick of farm chores accompanied by the radio. Cheering for his team to win a World Series.

I used to pack eggs for my dad. We owned a big poultry farm and there were always baskets of eggs waiting in the cooling room to be sorted and placed into egg cases that held thirty-two dozen each. He loved my company. Plus, we had the Red Sox. I’m sure he decided when to grade eggs by when the game came on. This picture shows him with me before I was much help. He seems confident I'll grow.

To grade eggs Dad first lifted a basket of eggs from the floor of the cooler to the bench. He then picked up each egg, cleaned any sawdust off it and held it to the light to make sure it was good. If another egg had broken in the nest, there might be egg yoke dried on this one. He sanded the dried yolk off with a small piece of sandpaper strapped to his fingers.

Dad switched the egg grader on and placed the eggs one at a time on a slant composed of two metal rubber-covered edges. The eggs rolled down the gentle foot long incline. From there they were moved along and balanced on wires that tripped them into different trays by weight. My job was to put the eggs in the correct cases.

By now the game would be in full swing and Dad would tell me just how Lou Boudreaux should coach. He’d brought Jimmy Piersall back too soon after injury or he should fine Jimmy for throwing his cap at him—which I think he did. Dad and Boudreau often agreed. Dad said he should keep Ted Williams in cleanup position and Boudreau did. Later he said it was time to put Frank Malzone fourth in the lineup. When Boudreau did just that, Dad was satisfied he had influence. By the time I was twelve I knew the lineup and their batting averages. I also knew a wonderful father who could get excited about hiking up Mt. Katahdin, about getting the hay in before a storm, and about baseball. I knew that life was good, that there was much happening of interest, that I could learn, that I could care, that I was beloved.

I married a man who also loved baseball. Among Don’s baseball trivia is the story of an early player, Germany Schaefer, who stole second base in an attempt to attract a throw and allow the player on third to steal home. When that didn’t work, Schaefer stole first so he could try the ploy again! Schaefer had a reputation for being a clown and also for playing serious baseball. Sometime later a rule was made against the reverse steal, purportedly because of Schaefer’s stunt.

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Moving around in the northeast, I have sometimes cheered other teams—Yankees, Mets, and any team having a good season. I have admired many players. But when I go home and find Dad in his easy chair, the National Anthem playing, the starting signal to “Play ball!,” there is only one team to root for and we all help, cheering with Dad for the team that finally vindicated him for his years of faithful encouragement and won the World Series, twice!! Back when Manny still wanted to help.

Until next post, Swamp Walking Woman

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