A special Father’s Day Gift

Back in the month of March, a bet was made by myself and Brian Joura. His N.C State Wolfpack did battle with my Seton Hall Pirates in the best basketball there is- March Madness. The wager was the loser’s favorite baseball card. I was hoping my Pirates would pull through, so I wouldn’t have to do away with my Mike Piazza stained glass card. Thankfully, The Hall took home the victory, and Brian, being a man of his word, sent me his favorite card. The card was a beauty, a 1968 Gil Hodges manager card. As if the imagery and existence weren’t cool enough in their own right, the description was mind-blowing. You know it is authentic when they described Hodges as a “first sacker.”

As much as I love the card, I instantly had an idea of what I was going to do with the card. No, it was not destined for the spokes of my bicycle like I’m sure many kids did with copies of a manager’s card back in 1968. I knew from the start that this card would not be for me, but my father. It is often the case that your father determines the team you root for in your early childhood, whether it be rooting for his team or against it. Sadly, I got dragged into the fandom of this team, and I am so thankful that I did. Through rooting for the team, I have had so many memories that could never have been possible.

My first ever game came in 2006, a very memorable year for Mets fans. Sure, back then I didn’t quite understand why some players would get booed or even what a halfway decent batting average was. However, absolutely nothing could beat the view of walking up the tunnel at Shea Stadium and seeing a Major League baseball field for the first time.

Of course, when my father was a kid, he went to Shea when times were very different. What we spend on parking now at Citi Field, $25, he wouldn’t even spend on tickets, food, and transportation. I’ve heard the tales of players from Rusty to Mookie, of managers from Hodges to Valentine. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a unique oral history of my favorite team from a man that was born before the conception of it. That’s the best part of having that connection between father and son or father and daughter, the way one dad will teach their child about baseball is different than the next one.

It will come packaged next to a bottle of Mets red wine, to be gifted before we head to a barbeque. It may be an awesome gift, but I have been able to have one of the best gifts one can receive. I have received the opportunity to love something with my father, and genuinely enjoy it, even if this team breaks my heart on a nightly basis. Thank you Brian, for the awesome gift for my father and happy Father’s day out there to all of the Mets loving dads!

5 comments for “A special Father’s Day Gift

  1. Pete from NJ
    June 16, 2018 at 10:30 am

    My father was not a sports fan but my mother was. She was from the Bronx but I converted her to be a fan of the good guys and as a good person my father trotted us over to the big Shea on a regular basis.

    I even remember him asking the toll collector at the Triboro if this was the way to Ebbets field. Shea has so many memories as a baseball fan to even write down.

    Here’s my present to myself for father’s day: Met pitcher shutting out Arizona with the good guys putting up a fat 1. Maybe even Cespedes coming off the bench and parking one into the left field stands.

  2. June 16, 2018 at 10:47 am

    What Dalton was generous enough not to mention is that it took me forever to send him the card. I’m glad I got up off my slack butt in time for him to give this to his Dad for Father’s Day. While it doesn’t make up for the Pack losing, I’m thrilled that he is using the card in this fashion.

    • Aging Bull
      June 16, 2018 at 7:40 pm

      Too bad that you had to give up your Gil Hodges card, Brian but I really dig that this was your favorite card. Hodges also had a special place in our family and my mother (who turned me onto the Mets in 1968 – my father was a Cubs fan) had met him a couple times. He was very respectful and gentlemanly, as you would expect.

      On a related topic, I am going to the Father’s Day game tomorrow in Phoenix and am in Sedona right now. As you may know Sedona is a center for a bunch of hippy dippy energy with its famous Vortex and all. I’m not a believer but I believe this: tomorrow the Mets win and their fortunes turn around for the season. They will tear through the summer and get back into the hunt. As an insurance policy, I purchased not one but two good luck stones here in Sedona and will bring them to the date-altering game tomorrow.
      I believe this as only a Mets fan can.

  3. Mike Walczak
    June 16, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    What a wonderful story of what baseball really means to us all.

    I was six years old in the summer of 68. One afternoon, I walked up to the corner store. On the shelf, there were packs of Topps baseball cards. I took out my nickel and purchased my first pack. I pulled off the wrapper and found my first stick of baseball card gum with the little bit of powder on it. Crunch, crunch, of course it stale.

    I remember one card from that pack and I don’t know why, but it was Alvin Dark. I was hooked.

    My favorite card was a 1969 Tom Seaver. Seaver was my hero. I collected hundreds of cards and kept them in a paper supermarket bag. Arrggh, this is the 8th Manny Mota card that I got this week. Couldn’t wait for the next series to come out.

    I got out my trusty pen out that summer of 69 and filled out the checklist card. The gold standard though that summer was the Mickey Mantle card. Getting a 69 Mantle was like winning the lottery.

    69 also had puzzle cards. There were about nine cards thst made up a puzzle. It was Yaz. I taped them together.

    After 50 years, I fondly remember those simmers opening packs of cards while sitting in front of the store. 10 packs meant 10 sticks if gum in the mouth.

    Kids these days don’t have these types of experiences.

    What a treasure.

  4. MattyMets
    June 19, 2018 at 7:08 am

    Interesting to learn that I’m not alone in inheriting my love of baseball and the Mets from the maternal side. While I’m blessed with an incredible dad who set an impossible standard, it was my mother and grandmother, both Brooklynites who converted from Dodgers to Mets fans, who nurtured my obsession with baseball and the Mets. My dad, even though he still doesn’t totally grasp the game, would faithfully come with us to Shea, shout along at the living room TV, and come to my Little League games. His favorite player was Hubie Brooks.

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