Father's Day/Baseball

by Mike Peters


When you have the surname of Peters, it is not that uncommon to have the nickname of "Pete."  Such was the case with my father--Shelby H. Peters.  Since I greatly resembled my father and since my mother often bought or made us clothes that were identical except in size, they started to call us "Pete and RePete."  I followed that man like a beagle does a rabbit track and wouldn't let him out of my sight.

We fished together. One night we hung our poles off Tampa, Florida's Gandy Bridge in an all-night-fishathon.  OK, he fished and I fell asleep.  But when he took the stringer full home the next morning, he told everyone it was "our catch."

We hunted together on my maternal grandfather's land in Jackson County, WV.  I don't remember ever killing anything when we hunted.  We probably did.  But whether we did or not was not as important as the camaraderie that grew between a father and his son.

We played baseball together. I guess most of the memories of my ten short years with Dad revolve around the great game of baseball.

I remember one day playing in the front yard of our Abilene, Texas home.  My Dad had just bought me a new first baseman's mitt, a new 32 Louisville Slugger with Henry Aaron's facsimile autograph stamped on the barrel and a new baseball.  We were trying them out and breaking them in. However, since we were playing in the front yard, my Dad opted for a tennis ball instead of the usual hard ball. "We could break a window," was his explanation.  He pitched me one inside and I turned on it just as my mother stuck her head out the front door to yell, "Lunch is ready!"  The ball caught her square in the right eye.  She was crying. I was scared, crying and trembling.  Dad settled us down and my Mom had a shiner to explain to the neighbors.  She laughs about it now.  I'm just glad that Dad replaced the hard baseball with the softer tennis ball.

Another time Dad and I were at a garage sale.  I saw something I wanted on a  back table over in the corner with a price tag of 50 cents on it.  It was a cigar box filled with some 500 baseball cards from the years 1957-1964.  Fifty cents was my entire weekly allowance.  This was toward the end of the week and I was broke.  So I had to ask Dad for a loan. He asked why I wanted the money and I told him.  His reply was, "50 cents for some cardboard!"  He shook his head, questioning my investment, but gave me the money anyhow.

I remember my father and I watching NBC's "Baseball Game of the Week" on Saturday afternoons.  "Pee Wee" Reese and "Dizzy" Dean were the announcers.  The first World Series I remember was the 1965 version won by the Dodgers of Los Angeles over the Twins of Minnesota.  Koufax and Drysdale were just too much for Oliva and Killebrew.  Dad sat by my side on the couch.

This Sunday, my daughters will probably bring me breakfast in bed as is our tradition.  They'll also bring me the newspaper to read.  I'll smile at their homemade cards and bask in the limelight that is Father's Day.

Maybe this Sunday, I'll start a new tradition.  Maybe I'll substitute the sports section for some pieces of cardboard.  The cigar box is gone now, replaced by a notebook and some clear protective pages. Maybe I'll show the baseball cards to his grandchildren and tell them the stories.

Maybe they'll ask me, as they often do, to play catch or kick a soccer ball with them in our front yard.  It will be reminiscent of a time when a young boy lived for baseball, when he collected cardboard portraits of the players and when he played with his hero in the front yard.

And this time, I'll make sure that Mom ducks!

Happy Father's Day!

Sincerely,

Mike Peters
npeters102@aol.com


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