I wanted to take a second to wish a Happy 59th B-Day to my Dad.
For those of you that like the blog (or for those of you that do not lol), you have my Dad to thank. He was the one that encouraged me to start writing again. I say ‘again’, because I had the minimal experience of writing for my Nationally ranked High-school paper. At that time, Dad was encouraging me to pursue a career in Journalism. Like many other instances, life may have proven easier had I heeded my Dad’s advice.
I knew that when he was telling me that, part of him was thinking about himself. He had wanted to write or be on the radio, and briefly pursued it. Unlike myself, he was forced to grow-up much quicker and become an adult much earlier. That meant finding a career that would steadily pay the bills and provide vs. taking the chance of doing something he may have preferred. I think the world missed out more than he did. He worked for Verizon (and all of their previous incarnations) making a very solid living, progressing into Management based on his performance, and eventually being able to retire comfortably in his early 50’s.
I think Dad would have been an exceptional writer. He is a veracious reader, and far more articulate than myself. He has opinions but he does not force them down your throat. He makes points through logic and reason. My Dad might lack advanced degrees, but there are few venues where he would not be the smartest guy in the room. When Dad suggested I pursue a career in Journalism, I just did not see it. If I was going to have a career in Sports, I wanted to be making the news vs. reporting on it. I did what I could to try and break into Baseball Operations, and failed to do so. At some point – just like Dad – I had to put those thoughts aside, and find regular employment.
After years of working in corporate environments, Dad encouraged me to start the blog. I really thank him for that. The writing is cathartic and is something I enjoy.
Like many Fathers and Sons, I am also thank-full of how sports have always been something else for us to talk about. There is always something to talk about, and quite often there have been lessons of life learned.
I could list 100 sports memories with Dad, but here are a few:
1) I remember going to several Opening Days in the ’80s at Memorial Stadium. The 12-0 shellacking at the hands of the Brewers in ’88 stands out. That December I recall where I was when I called my Dad at work, distraught that my hero Eddie Murray had been traded to the Dodgers. Years later Dad would score tickets for Murray’s first regular-season game back in Baltimore (with Cleveland, as he homered off Mussina).
2) In 1989 we went to lots of games. Malacki’s 3 hitter against the Twins. Nolan Ryan getting rocked for 3 homers on my B-Day. The loss against the Yankees on the last home-game of the year.
3) In 1991 we were fortunate enough to go to the last Opening Day, and the last O’s game ever at Memorial Stadium. It was fun watching my Dad cheer for all the old players as they went out to their positions.
4) At the ’92 FanFest, my Dad, Step-mother Terry, Step-brother Chris, and myself walked into a still being completed Oriole Park at Camden Yards. There is a picture of us down by the dugouts, with all the seats still not in the stadium.
5) We went to Opening Day ’92 (Season Tickets for years were in Section 360, Row CC, Seats 14-17) and that memory is still very vivid. The first time coming out of a tunnel, and seeing the field was amazing. It was like being in a Cathedral. Sutcliffe throwing the shut-out was just icing.
6) My Dad had often told me stories about the Colts and his memories with them. It was hard to relate there though, as I was 5 years old when the Colts left Baltimore. I do remember going to the ’92 Exhibition game between the Dolphins and Saints, and Dad saying how important it was for the NFL to return to Baltimore.
6) In ’93 we saw the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game. Everyone always talks about Griffey’s shot off the Warehouse, Dad and I still talk about Juan Gonzalez reaching the Upper Deck in LF. There should be a plaque up there.
7) Dad stepped-up and Managed my Little League teams. As a kid, I would get mad at my Dad at times because I was ultra-competitive, and I wanted my Dad to do everything that was necessary to win. As an adult, I respect that my Dad treated all of the kids fair and did what he could to teach the game to kids, and make the experience enjoyable for them.
8) We were there for 2131.
9) In September ’96 we drove up to Buffalo to see the exhibition between the Bills and the Ravens. That was an interesting trip. With no team in Baltimore as a kid, the Bills were my adopted team. I was the only Bills fan that I knew of (and I would hear it from everyone during the Super Bowl years). I was getting ready to go into my Senior year of HS and was probably another obnoxious 17 year-old. It was a fun weekend and the start of my allegiance changing to the home-team.
10) My Dad’s version of the ’89 season, was 1960 and the Baby Birds who gave the Yankees all they could handle. I was always jealous of his tales of the ’66-’83 Orioles, as they were the best organization in baseball. The Orioles were mediocre from ’84-’95 (some horrible seasons, some ok, some competitive). Obviously we know what the O’s have been since ’97. We did have the ’96 and ’97 seasons and the back-to-back ALCS appearances. We went to playoff games both years, and can recall how the stadium rocked. Here is to hoping we get to experience that again.
My Dad has and continues to teach me a lot of lessons about life and the things that really matter. If I could be more like him, I would be a better person.
Happy B-Day Pops!
Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director.