When I was small — single-digited, in fact — my father taught me how to keep a baseball scorecard. I like to tell people that it was so I would sit still at games, and pay attention, but I think it was really because he knew how, and so he thought I should, too. That’s my dad, right there.
I still keep a scorebook. At every game. I go to so many games every season now that I burned through the scorebook pictured above in 2009, and Daddy took a page from his matching — less battered, less abused — book to Kinko’s and had them make me (and shep.) a new one, because the guy who designed our original books doesn’t print them anymore, and I hated every other book I looked at when I was trying to find a replacement.
My original book, in fact, was a present from my Dad, Christmas 2001. It had a drawing of women playing baseball on the cover. The cover eventually fell off, I loved it so hard. The back cover fell off, too. It sat through several rainy games and had one unfortunate cheese fries incident during the 2008 college season. I watched half a dozen future first round draft picks with that scorebook. I loved the shit out of it, basically. I re-taught shep. to keep score using that book, and now she has her own.
My father taught me how to love baseball, and keeping score, and why baseball and keeping score are important. He doesn’t care that I still can’t calculate an ERA and it takes me 45 minutes of mistakes to recompute a new BB/9 rate. (“Wait, what do I multiply by 9?”) He never minded when I screwed up in my math classes, even though he’s brilliant when it comes to all things numerical. He taught me to love classical music. We read the same mystery writers — Sara Paretsky, Margaret Maron, James Lee Burke, Kathy Reichs — and he’s often the first person and the only person I turn to when I want to talk about them. He supported me in each and every random choice I made as I farted my 20s away in random jobs, not quite sure what I wanted to do with my life, and when I found myself unemployed last spring, I also eventually found myself happily, cheerfully, satisfactorily working for the same federal agency with which he’s spent most of his career, thanks to a reaching out he was willing to make for me.
He grew up a Yankees fan and went to college in St. Louis, but he roots for the Orioles now because he’s lived in Baltimore longer than anywhere else. He roots for the Orioles because he keeps hoping they’ll get better. So do I.
He roots for me because he hopes I’ll quit screwing up, because he’s never actually believed that I have screwed up, and because he believes in me. Because he’s my dad. And because he’s my dad, I always try to quit screwing up. Because he and my mom have had more faith in me than anyone else in my life, but they’re also willing to tell me the things I don’t want to hear, and because they always, always love me.
And I always, always love my dad.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.