“Stay with this lady, Jacob” the father said as he leaned over and surprised his son by saying, “I’ll be right back.”
I first saw the father and son earlier that day at the Dublin-Pleasanton Bart station when I was not working to be a leader but taking a day off to see a baseball game. Since both were outfitted in orange and black attire, I knew that they, too, were on their way to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks play the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Little did I know how the day would develop into one of coincidence and memories.
When I asked if all the trains stopped at the Embarcadero, the dad said, “Yes.” A train arrived and I joined a large number of those in Giants attire entering the train, including the father and his son who sat in the seat behind me.
My ticket to the game was a birthday gift from my niece Dana and her friend Tony. I was looking forward seeing them both and to watching the 2010 World Series Championship team break out of their five game losing streak. AT&T Park is a ‘new’ ballpark for me. A baseball fan since I was ten-years-old watching the Los Angeles Dodgers in the L.A. Coliseum, I’ve often gone to a game while traveling for business to a major city like Chicago whose Wrigley Field I had thought the best.
The Bart train arrived at the Embarcadero Station and I was prepared to walk to the ballpark until I saw a long line of ‘orange and black’ in front of a table. I went up to my source of information and asked the father “Do I need to get in this line?” And that is when I formally met Jacob, a child of around five-years-old who wore a Giants cap and carried a backpack for his journey to the baseball game. We chatted just a little but I could tell by his confidence to stay with me while keeping his eyes on his dad that he was a sturdy and lovely child.
“We need to take the muni. You can buy a ticket there,” the father said while pointing to a red machine. I followed his directions and caught the train with him. It was a short ride with a jocular bunch of men, women, and Jacob. When we reached 24 Willie Mays Plaza, my niece found me in the crowd, we entered the ballpark, and I saw the last of Jacob and his father, or so I thought.
Dana, Tony, and I had great seats along the third base line in the Club Box area and we proceeded to join the crowd in rooting for the Giants. In front of us was a couple whose baby was wearing a ‘My First Giants Tee Shirt.’ “What’s his name,” I asked, and was corrected that their baby was a one-year-old girl. “Great!” I thought; they were introducing her at a young age to a game that her father and mother both enjoyed.
When Carlos Beltran, a former New York Met who had joined the Giants a week earlier, came up to bat I cheered loudly for someone I had followed as a Mets fan. My cheers and those of what seemed like a full ballpark seemed to ignite the team to score four runs in the third inning and four more in the fifth inning. Well, it was also very good pitching by Ryan Vogelsong that subdued the opponent’s bats and broke the losing streak for the team.
As the game was winding down—and fans were holding their breath until the last out by the DBacks—I intentionally looked around to find more babies and children. A little girl in an orange ‘onesie’ with a black headband with a large pale rose on it was bounced up and down often by her dad. A father held a child of about 18-months as he walked up the stairs with a stroller for an older child his wife carried in her arms. A young boy of about 10 played with the bat that his father had bought him, keeping it from his younger sister.
As I reflected on the number of children and how family friendly the park felt, I thought of my father and how he introduced baseball to his daughters (there were no major league baseball teams in L.A. when my brothers were growing up). It was my Pop who taught me and my next older sister how to keep score and we kept score at the Coliseum and later Chavez Ravine where the Angels also played until they moved on and the Dodgers still play. Pop even took his girls to an Angels’ spring training game in Palm Springs!
Then there were the times when my three older sisters and I drove to San Francisco to watch the Dodgers play the Giants. We got dressed up in grey and blue, the traveling colors of the Dodgers, and cheered on our team in windy Candlestick Park, a place where the San Francisco 49ers now play football. Tomi Sue, Dana’s older sister, is a 49er fan and we have a tradition that she or I (or both if we go to New Orleans) will travel to share a football game together. This year, she invited me to watch her team play the New York Giants in November.
Dana and Tony walked with me back to the Embarcadero. Tony looked at map then gave me directions as to how to get to Bart when a thoughtful man who had played hooky from work that day offered to escort me to the Bart entrance. Once below ground and assured by other fans as to which train to take, I looked up to see Jacob and his father.
“It was nice they scored a lot and Jacob could see a winning team,” the father said rubbing his hand on his son’s shoulder.
It was more than nice. It was lovely, a word that I could not get out of my head when I was riding back to the end of the line where I would get into my car and return to Sonora. The term ‘lovely’ I reasoned summarized my love of being with family members, watching a good team win, enjoying a marvelous view of the wonderful ballpark—including the bleachers and the standing room only area— plus being around friendly people and refreshed by the entire atmosphere of good will.
Actually, it was truly a lovely day for me because the score didn’t matter. It was the winning moves by Jacob’s father—and all the fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins—who made the day lovely by demonstrating their love for their families by taking them out to the ball game.