Baseball season is here and I couldn’t be happier.
For some reason, I’m more nostalgic than other years. Perhaps I miss the crowds, my dad, the smell of the park, or just the buzz in the air when bases are loaded and the count is full.
On this opening day of April 1, 2021, my mind raced back to the 1976-77 seasons at John Thurman Field in Modesto. This was our home, where me and my brother – named after Ty Cobb – ran around unsupervised while my dad worked upstairs in the press box. My mom was home, tending to our two younger brothers and a menagerie of farm animals.
My dad tried his hand at the major leagues as a pitcher for the St. Louis Reds. Sparky Anderson was his roommate one spring training in Florida and they remained friends long after baseball. Obviously, he made his mark on the sport while my dad landed at the Modesto Reds, and eventually traded in his mitt for a job as sports editor of the Modesto Bee. One of his assignments was to cover Modesto A’s games and we were lucky enough to tag along.
My sister got a job in concessions while my brother had grander plans for the two of us. He convinced me to shag balls with him in the outfield and on the sidelines, just in case the infield missed any balls during warm ups. First baseman, Dan Argee, was a nice guy and my favorite player. He played for a few years in the majors but didn’t last long. My brother was more in tune to Matt Keough and Darrel Woodard that year. The guys would throw him balls on…