This past Sunday my daughter and I attended our first Giants game of the year. It was one of the Giants’ lesser efforts on this young season, a listless 4-1 loss to the lowly Pirates, but the game result mattered little.
After going to just one game in her first 10 years, my daughter and I have been going to multiple games together every year since my divorce seven years ago, and she’s become as big a fan as I am. We were lucky enough to be at Game One of the 2010 World Series, and we’ve been at Giants FanFest the past couple of years as well, where she realized her dream of meeting Brian Wilson in 2011, blowing right past one of my old heroes, Will Clark, to do so.
One of the most poignant moments of my 17 years as a dad came in 2010, when I jubilantly celebrated the Giants’ long-awaited World Series title with messages back and forth with fellow Giants fans on my Facebook page. I’ll never forget my daughter, then 15, posting a comment that simply said, “Thanks for raising me as a Giants fan!”
Sarah still remembers that first game we went to nearly a decade ago, seeing Barry Bonds hit two home runs and a double high off the wall against the Dodgers on my birthday, a cloudy, drizzly April 18 in 2004. That was her first major league game, and it’s stuck with her like my first game (Indians vs. A’s, 1976) has stuck with me. I still remember Joe Rudi’s homer, and seeing my childhood heroes Vida Blue and Rollie Fingers pitch in a 7-3 A’s win.
Baseball is about tradition. The game itself is built upon it. And so too is its fan base. Generations of fathers and sons (or daughters) passing stories and experiences down, one generation to the next. It’s one of the ties that bind so many parents and children together, truly an American tradition.
As I sat in the stands watching this particular game, realizing my daughter is perhaps closer to being a parent than being a child, I also realized that these days must be savored for the sheer experience of the shared time between us. Once she heads off to college in another year, and into her adult life, these opportunities will no doubt be few and far between, but we’ll both be fans. I’ll always remember my first trip to a big league ballpark with my parents on July 10, 1976 at the Oakland Coliseum, and my daughter and I both will forever remember days like April 18, 2004; October 27, 2010; and this past Sunday.
On this, another April 18 and another birthday, those shared memories mean the world to me, both as a dad and as a fan of the game we’ve both grown up loving.