Up next in our Pinch Hitters series is Daniel Carmody, a client delivery analyst – whatever that means — for a company in Connecticut. Daniel didn’t start really following the Yankees until the 2001 World Series (bad timing). He played soccer as a kid, but says that was really his father’s passion. “He was my coach for many seasons and even was the president of adult soccer in Connecticut for two years,” Daniel wrote. “But I truly bonded with my father when I was a teenager because of the Yankees and baseball.
Daniel’s post actually comes with fortunate timing. In the wake of Alex Rodriguez’s decision to accept his suspension and sit out the 2014 season without further appeal, there have been and will be plenty of negative stories about Rodriguez, but Daniel is here to share his own A-Rod memory that outshines all of the negativity. It’s one of those perfect moments. Everything else is just noise.
There’s something about baseball, and sports in general, that captivates. It’s something so obvious that it often gets overlooked by everything from the business of baseball to the stupidity of individuals. What drives it are the single moments that manage to transcend the game and its players.
That sounds like Hollywood corniness, but there is a reason why Field of Dreams is a classic and the final scene of The Natural is iconic. It’s because they bring out The Moment of baseball at its best. These are the moments that last lifetimes.
My Moment, is April 7, 2007. For some, that game between the Yankees and the Orioles is notable for being Kei Igawa’s MLB debut. For a few more, it’s because of Alex Rodriguez’s walk-off grand slam. While that last part certainly played a part, I cherish this game for a far more personal reason. This was final game I attended with my father. My father was diagnosed with cancer less than a month later and he died on June 29th of that year.
It was a day that nearly didn’t happen. I was away at college and decided to buy two tickets on a whim. I had been to several minor league games with my father, but had only been with him to see the Yankees play once. With a new stadium on the horizon, it felt like time to go again.
My father drove us, because he did things his way. From the stadium stairwell we viewed the construction across the street before finding our seats in the right-field bleachers. Up next was Monument Park, the first time I had ever seen it. We made sure to grab hotdogs and drinks on the way back. My father had been on a healthy diet for several years, so this was a treat for him.
The game itself has become mostly a shuffle of memories. I recall my father asking me who was pitching for the Yankees, I remember Igawa constantly falling behind hitters before completely imploding later in the game, and I remember a two-run homer by A-Rod in the bottom of the first. Little things like my father making a complete mess with peanut shells stick out. I missed Jason Giambi’s three-run blast in the eighth, but I could hear the roar and feel the walls shake.
The energy of the stadium was electric. The crowd pulsed. Two quick outs quieted things down, but then Cano singled and Jeter worked a walk. Bobby Abreu got hit by a pitch. My father and I joked about taking one for the team. The stadium came alive again. There was a feeling that began when Cano got on base — it would all come down to A-Rod.
Two outs, bases loaded, the Yankees down 7-6 and with Alex down to his final strike, I’d like to say I remember the tension. I’m sure I was tense, but any trace of it was lost the instant A-Rod launched the next pitch over the wall. The stadium went insane. I was screaming ecstatically and my father had tears in his eyes. He looked at me and told me that this was the greatest game he’d seen in his life. It’s still mine as well.
Decades from now, if I ever speak of Alex Rodriguez, it won’t be about steroids, legal battles, money, MVPs, career home runs, or his place in baseball history. It will be about one game and one perfect moment with my father.
Associated Press photo