At ground level

A column about LIFE

The Giants’ game and remembering lessons my father taught us

Who would have thought I would be sitting white-knuckled, watching tonight’s Giants’ game. You see, up until a few nights ago, I wasn’t interested in the World Series. Then, I caught the second game last week, and I was hooked. Watching the games brought back full circle the lessons my father taught us through the game of baseball.

I’ve always regarded November as Dad’s month. He would have turned 91 on November 19. Dad died on January 23, 1993. During his necrological service, each of us, his six children, remembered Dad. My brother Jim, gave the following remarks, which summed up so well the kind of man my father was and the lessons he taught us, by just watching one baseball game. Here it is in Jimmy’s words:

During one of his many visits to the U.S., Dad and I were watching a baseball game on TV. He loved the sport with a passion. I kidded him about why he liked watching baseball so much. I found the game slow and boring. He just laughed and said, “Hijo (Son), baseball is like life. It may be slow and boring at times, but when the action starts, it happens so fast.”

At that moment, one of the players got a hit and the ball drifted towards the right fielder, for what should have been a routine catch. But the right fielder fielded the ball so lackadaisically, that he missed the catch.

Right then, Dad said, “See, hijo, he took it for granted that he was going to catch the ball. That’s just like life. You can’t take anything for granted. You should always try to be the best you can be and do everything with 100 percent effort.”

He continued, “Enjoy your life like these baseball players do, but always try to be the best in whatever you do, and DON’T DROP THE BALL!”

Then, a television commercial appeared with one of the baseball stars promoting donations to the United Way, a charity organization in the U.S. My dad turned to me and said, “Hijo, you should always do charity work in San Francisco.”

I told him, “Dad, I don’t have the time.”

Right away, he replied, “MAKE THE TIME.”

The game continued and one of the players made the sign of the cross before batting. My dad quickly said to me, “You see, Jimmy, even these baseball players are close to God. That’s why you should go to mass every Sunday and pray to the Lord every day, because unless you’re close to God, you’re nothing.”

So, just by watching that baseball game, Dad taught me how to live on the playing field of life.

First, be the best you can be at whatever you do.

Second, share your life with others through charity work.

Third, and most important, be close to God.

On this November evening, as I watched Edgar Renteria make the sign of the cross before he batted and made possible that three-run homer, and as I watched pitchers Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner (last night), Matt Cain (the other night), Brian Wilson, catcher Buster Posey, infielders Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, outfielders Cody Ross, Andres Torres – to name but a few of this special group of players – play hard and do their best to win the World Series, I remembered Dad. It was as if through the Giants’ games, Dad was reminding me again, about how to live in the playing field of life.

Dad was an avid Yankees fan, but I bet he would have cheered for the Giants this evening!

November 1, 2010 - Posted by | Parenting, Religion | , , ,

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