A Father's Gift

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

"I'm sorry for what I am about to do to you. They'll break your heart year after year, but you'll love them just the same and you'll keep watching. It's a curse. But it's also a joy. You'll understand in time."

I was 8 when my dad said those words to me. It was near the start of the 1984 baseball season and he was about to introduce me to baseball for the first time. I didn't get to see my dad as much as I would like in those days. He was a salesman and worked long hours. Many nights, he wouldn't get home until after I'd gone to bed. So when he wanted to introduce me to baseball, I was only too happy to learn. It was something we could enjoy together.

And he was right. They broke my heart in 1984, but there was also joy. And I kept watching. My first really bad heart break from the boys with the red socks was, of course, the gut punch that was the 1986 World Series. And yet, I kept right on watching, hoping that one day, I would get to see them bring a World Series trophy home.


Every year when I was growing up, the Pawtucket Red Sox would hold a Scout Day. One day each year, the Paw Sox would invite various Scout Troops in MA and RI to attend the game. The Scouts would go out onto the field before the game in uniform. It became a yearly tradition for my family. I have had the honor to carry the American Flag out onto the field for my Troop on more than one occasion. It was great fun for me. It combined two of the things I enjoyed spending time with my dad doing, for he was my Troop's Scoutmaster. Baseball and Boy Scouts. Could anything be more American than that?

He would tell me stories about the players in the Hall of Legends at McCoy Stadium. And I would listen with fascination. He would tell me about the players he loved watching and I would listen to those stories.

Dad started watching the Red Sox while Ted Williams was still playing. He got to see Ted in all his glory. And, to this day, Ted is still his favorite Red Sox player. I guess iIt's hard to compete with someone like Ted, but Mookie is certainly trying!

We saw a lot of great players over the years at Paw Sox games. The last game we went to before I left New England was in 1996. Some kid named Nomar Garciaparra hit 2 home runs in that game. Dad and I looked at each other and said in almost perfect unison that Nomar would be a star.

Nomar would, of course, be up for good the following year.


I left New England in 2001. I thought I had left for good. I was running away from a lot of my problems and I thought running to California for a girl would be the best way to do so. It put a strain on my family, of course.

in 2001, I went to my first ever major league baseball game. I felt guilty that my first was spent with someone other than my dad, but I reasoned that, since I wasn't seeing the Red Sox play and it wasn't at Fenway Park, it was OK. I saw the Dodgers and Padres play at Dodger Stadium. It was amazing. I got to see the great Tony Gwynn play live before he hung up his cleats.

And yet, I felt guilty still, because I should have had my first major league experience with my dad. He was the reason I fell in love with the sport after all. He understood that I had to take advantage of an offer like seeing the Dodgers live when I had the opportunity.


I almost lost my dad in 2010. He had a heart incident and needed to have several stents put in. I was still on the other side of the country, and I was freaking out. The only good that came from this (other than him surviving, of course) is that it helped push me to come back home where I belong. I finally moved back to New England in 2012.

And later that year, we began an annual tradition of going to the Paw Sox Lions Club Day every year. Both my parents are involved in Lions, so, much like with the old Scout Day, we would go. Only this time, Mom and Dad went out on the field and my brother and I watched from the sidelines.

The following year, I would finally go to Fenway Park for the first time in my life. With my dad. It was a Peavy start against the White Sox. And they won. Complete with Koji Hgh Fives!

Well, you all know that the Sox won the World Series that year. For various reasons, it was the first time I'd actually gotten to WATCH the World Series for a Red Sox win. For me, it meant more because I'd gotten to see a game live that year. With my dad. Who was the reason I fell in love with baseball to begin with.

And the next year the two of us got to take a picture with the 2013 World Series trophy.


"I'm sorry for what I am about to do to you. They'll break your heart year after year, but you'll love them just the same and you'll keep watching. It's a curse. But it's also a joy. You'll understand in time."

He told me that in 1984. And it was true then. It is still true now. And I will tell my kids the same thing.

And you know what? If I had to go back and do it all over again... I wouldn't change a thing.

Thanks, Dad!