My First Game

It's strange to say for someone who has written this blog for nearly seven years, but I've never written in depth about my first Twins game. But I have a good reason for that.

I don't really remember it.

I've tried to. I've imagined Kirby Puckett legging out a triple. I wishfully think that it was the Orioles so I can say that I saw Cal Ripken in the midst of his streak.

But I just don't remember it. Not the day. Not the year. Not the opponent. Not the outcome.

But I remember my grandfather, the man who took me there.

I remember coming to Minneapolis from Montana, over a single long day's drive. And knowing it we had made it, when I could see the lights on the porch and hear the game on the radio.

I remember sitting on a porch swing on summer mornings looking over the box scores with him as he sipped his coffee in an old robe and I peppered him with question after question.

I remember holding his hand and walking down the Metrodome's concrete steps to our seats.

I remember him point to the turf, and the bases, to see if I was following along, and joining in the "Noooo Smoking at the Metrodome".

I remember him bringing me a swirled sundae in a Twins helmet cup and smiling kindly as the sundae ended up half in my mouth and half on my shirt.

I remember his kind questions, "did you like it?", "who was your favorite player?", "what was your favorite moment?"

I remember him happily lobbing underhand whiffle balls to my brothers and me, when we asked to play in the front yard that night and many other nights there after.

In the years that followed we didn't always go to Twins games, we out grew whiffle ball, and I actually became an adroit helmet sundae eater. But he still asked his questions while he sat in his barcalounger and I sat on the sofa beside him.

He still poured over box scores with the morning paper, and watched, and listened and read whenever he could. He had opinions about who was doing well, and how the old players compared and he shared them with me regularly.

We talked about Paul Molitor getting hired and remembered seeing him in downtown Minneapolis when I was a boy. We talked about Tony O missing the hall of fame again and how he used to watch the batting practice bombs. We talked about how he was convinced that my college friend should become my wife the moment he found out she was a singer with season tickets.

He passed away yesterday morning, after beating back cancer for longer than the doctors had thought he could. I knew he was tough, I knew he was proud, but when he passed I could only think about how kind he was and how happy he must have been with family around him, singing and sharing their love.

Just like he shared the game, and a sundae, and his hand with me.

Whatever day it was.

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