When I was seven-years-old, Dad took Grandpa and me to a ball game. It was my first.
Grandpa told me how he fell in love with the sport when he was around my age, several years after emigrating from Sicily. Dad went to get some foot longs and I sat there next to my grandpa, holding onto my little league glove. I heard the crack of the bat and saw the ball coming closer – Closer – CLOSER. We were in the upper deck down the third base line. When that ball whizzed directly over my head I yanked back my outstretched glove because I wanted no part of it.
I shook Grandpa afterward and screamed, “Did you see that!”
He grunted, “See what, see what?”
He had no clue what just happened. Little did he know that was the moment I became a fan of the game and his team, just like my father before me.
Decades later, it was time to pass down the family tradition.
My daughter, Cara, was only 4-years-old and we were going to move away because of a job offer. Before we left, I wanted to take my little girl to experience the magic of Jacob’s Field.
We got on what Cara called “the train ride” and settled into a seat that happened to face backward. She liked that. I didn’t.
The man sitting in front of us had big hair.
“Dad – look, that man has a comb stuck in his head.”
I saw the big hair shift but not make a complete turn.
After that, we arrived, stood at the end of the line and walked into the ballpark.
I don’t give my kids a lot by today’s standards but I flat out spoiled my daughter on that day. Program – yes. Hot dog – yes. Peanuts – yes. Cracker Jack – yes. After all this and three innings, Cara saw a man with a big tray of clouds on sticks, colors dancing in the light one section over. She followed him with her eyes. Finally, she asked about this strange sight. Now, her only mission in life was to try this thing called cotton candy.
Half an inning later, she was twisted backward, thumping my shoulder without looking, as she panted, “He’s coming, Dad. Dad, here he comes.”
I decided to make her earn this treat and said that she had to get his attention to come down to us or she would be out of luck.
She asked how to do it so I told her to just yell, “Cotton Candy here!”
So she did! LOUDLY and REPEATEDLY.
Seeing how she handled the entire transaction by herself, many in our section gave her a standing ovation.
Her head swelled.
I had to tilt my head back to contain the pooling water building up in my eyes.
When the game was over, we soaked in the experience for a while longer until we were some of the last people there.
“Dad, I love our team. Did they win?”
“I’ll always remember this day too, honey.”
By Rocco Satullo, author of a memoir and novel