February 17, 2010

Pitchers and catchers, reporting for duty.

In celebration of the impeding official arrival of spring training (early reports had everyone but Jamie Moyer, Jose Contreras and Carlos Ruiz in Clearwater already), I present to you my first to-be-published piece of sports-related content.

Will Leitch, the founder of Deadspin, posted a request on his personal blog for father/son baseball stories. Being a lover of Leitch, a baseball aficionado and a son, I sent over this story about the Philadelphia Phillies 2008 World Series parade. Understanding immediately that he was dealing with a future literary superstar (possibly not true), Will said he would include it in his latest book (100% true). You can preorder his book here, and you can read my excerpt....here:

Friday, October 31st. Halloween in Philadelphia. The Phillies had just won the World Series.

I took a super-impromptu day off from the post-college job I had started only a few months earlier, and my dad took the day off, as well. At the time, he owned a direct-mail advertising franchise, so he set his own hours. And he made it clear that his hours that day would be zero -- he wanted to be at the parade with me, his oldest son.

But I didn't want to see him. (Writer's note: Dad, this is not entirely true. Hyperbole, you know. Thanks for creating me!) I wanted to spend time with my friends, drink Yuengling from cans and whiskey from giant plastic bottles, to scream and holler and curse and do everything you don't normally do when your father is around.

So I avoided him. (Note: Again, not entirely true. Truth tinged with fiction is so much easier to write.) Cell reception was bad enough in the city that day, with so many people congregating in one spot, that he could barely get through to me as it was. But, just as we were getting camped outside the gates surrounding Citizens Bank Park, my phone rang.

"WHERE ARE YOU?!" he yelled. Without an excuse, I said, "Right outside the gates!"

"I'LL BE RIGHT THERE!" he yelled.

And ten minutes later, there he was. He had a beer with us. He talked to all my friends about the last Phillies parade in 1980. But most of all, he huddled with me, and told me how amazing this all was, and how I needed to cherish it, and how glad he was to be there with me for it.

The parade rolled by an hour or so later. And my friends and I took my father (he's a few inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter than most of us), propped him on our shoulders, and carried him around, screaming and cheering and laughing and crying. There's a picture of it. He has a huge smile on his face. He was having a ball. And so were we.
-- Steve Cimino, Medford, N.J.

So there you have it. Thanks for being there with me, pop. Let's have another one in 2010.

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