ONE SUNDAY in June, I took my oldest daughter, Callie, to the Reds-Giants game.
Once upon a time, when I was a naive new father, I expected her to like what I liked. Share my passions. And then I woke up one morning and she was seven, loved Taylor Swift and could recite every line of dialogue from Frozen.
Still, there has to be a place for the passing down of fatherly rituals. The transference of allegiances. Hence the Giants game.
When I was growing up in the late 1970s and early '80s, the Giants were terrible. Candlestick was an open-air ice box. Still, I memorized the stats of Darrell Evans and Milt May and Johnnie LeMaster. My parents bought me a T-shirt with a caricature of the pitcher Bill Laskey which read i hate THE DODGERS. I wore it almost every day and for more than one school picture.
July 21, 2014
How can I impart all this to my daughter? The answer is that I can't, of course. Fandom is not transferable in one big download. If anything, it's a steady IV drip. So she knows about Pablo (the Panda) Sandoval. And her little sister, Eliza, has a Buster Posey lunch box.
But going to the game—that was different. The date was circled on the calendar for months. She was excited. She was under the impression cotton candy might be involved.
We found our seats, high in the upper deck down the leftfield line. This sky was cloudless. The Bay sparkled. AT&T Park was awash in orange. Callie scanned the diamond. Finally she spotted what she was looking for, squatting near third base. "There," she shouted with glee. "It's the Panda!"
The game? There's no way around it—the game sucked. Homer Bailey no-hit the Giants through six, and the Reds swept them in San Francisco for the first time in 42 years. Normally this would be depressing.
The great thing about seeing the world through a seven-year-old's eyes, however, is that normally doesn't apply. The game is simplified; players are either running around the bases or they're not. When I told Callie about the speed of Cincinnati centerfielder Billy Hamilton, she paused, examining the man. "His head is tiny!" she announced.
By the fourth inning I realized there was no point in history lessons or strategy breakdowns. Better just to enjoy the ride. When Buster Posey broke up Bailey's no-hitter in the seventh, Callie was ecstatic because everyone around her was ecstatic and because it was Posey. Then Sandoval followed with a bloop single, and it might as well have been a grand slam for all she cared. She clapped along to every chant, loved the Kiss Cam, got her cotton candy, did a one-girl encore of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." She demanded that Posey "make a home run—right now!" She used my iPhone to take 47 photos of the Panda. And she couldn't have been prouder of her outfit. Blue tights, green skirt, Giants hat and a vintage shirt. Maybe a little long and a bit worn, but still holding up well. On it, a picture of Bill Laskey, staring down a batter, among those eternal words: I HATE THE DODGERS.