by Jeff Papas
This week I’m performing a child’s most difficult duty — saying goodbye to a parent.
My father passed away on Sunday night and while I spend time with family, we’re sharing memories. One of those memories concerns APBA.
My dad was a baseball fan, though not a huge one. He followed the old Minneapolis Millers back in the day, and transferred that allegiance to the Twins when they moved to Minnesota in 1961.
He took me to my first game at the old Metropolitan Stadium, when I was five years old in 1970. I remember we lost to Baltimore — but back then, didn’t everybody? and I was hooked on both the game and my idol, the late Harmon Killebrew.
Three years later, we were playing APBA. My dad was my first opponent.
He let me take the Twins and he played Oakland, using the 1973 card set. That meant he had the World Champions and so, perhaps he was a little bit bigger fan than I gave him credit for.
It was a great pitching matchup – Bert Blyleven against Vida Blue. And neither of us could score. Each pitcher went nine innings in a 0-0 tie, at which point I figured Bert was getting tired and pulled him from the game.
I ran through my entire bullpen, while Dad stayed with Blue. Through the tenth.
Each inning I’d ask him, hinting, “Dad, don’t you think Blue is a little tired?”
“Nope,” he’d answer, with an easy smile. I’d then go down 1-2-3.
For the record, Oakland won that game 2-0 — in 16 innings. Blue pitched a complete game and gave me exactly five hits. I still have the scoresheet someplace.
Dad liked to win. But now as I get ready to say goodbye to him, I’m realizing that the beauty of baseball as passed from father to son is very, very special.
If you like, please share your memories of your dad and any sport – baseball or any other. And then, if he’s still with you, go give him a hug. While you can.