I promised that when I made the occasional “personal life” blog entry, I would find some sort of warning avatar like a baseball sticking a fork in its eye. I’m afraid the best I could do was this picture of my daughter Dana’s first birthday, where her rakish headwear looks pretty hazardous to one’s eyesight.
It seems like only yesterday that I was the increasingly unwieldy beat writer for the 1990 Prince William Cannons (Yankees) in the Carolina League, lumbering my way through the hot summer months with a mid-October due date.
Every time the team would come home from a road trip, catcher Brad Ausmus would look at me, apparently 30 pounds heavier than a week before, and say “There is NO WAY you’re not having that baby before October.”
In the dugout, the talk would often turn to raising children. First baseman J.T. Snow had an open mind about that sort of thing. He said “My kid can play any position he wants to.”
And at the occasional reception, “my players” were very protective of me and “Spot” as we called the impending blessed event since we didn’t know his/her gender at the time … they would take sips of whatever was in my cup to make sure it wasn’t alcoholic! (It was always club soda).
When she was born a full month early, a lot closer to when Brad Ausmus predicted she’d come than when my own doctor said she’d come, I told him that if ever gave up baseball and decided to pursue obstetrics I would totally come to his practice.
In the nearly 18 years since then, I’ve run into many of those players over the course of the seasons. Some remember the baby (or even just remember that was I expecting a baby) and ask after her.
Some she’s gotten to “know” in the way that a little kid could get to “know” a kind and patient and friendly player. Her FAVORITE player as a little one, outfielder Ronnie Gant, took her onto the field with him at a spring training game when he was playing for the Cardinals, the year when he was coming back from a horrible dirt bike accident. I had written a column at Baseball Weekly where I talked about Dana asking if Ronnie’s “boo boo” was better. And he had read it and when he saw us, he lifted her out of the stands and brought her onto the field, something she — and we — remember to this day.
The funny thing is that Dana has never really been a huge baseball fan, much to our chagrin.
She thinks it’s OK. She basically GETS it. She just has other things she’d rather do than watch a game. Like play music. Or write songs. Or watch reruns of “Gilmore Girls” or “America’s Next Top Model” marathons or “Scrubs.”
But she did get a kick when she was about 9 when Nickelodeon hired her to follow ME around my Spring Training job that day for a “Take Your Daughter To Work Day” assignment. She dragged the infield, she chatted with the ever-affable Jose Lima and Casey Candaele, she got her Flat Stanley to pose with Candaele and Scipio Spinks,
and she interviewed Mike Piazza. AND she got paid for it!
That was about as cool a spring vacation as anyone had. Most of her classmates’ Flat Stanleys had gone to their grandma’s houses or gone shopping at Giant.
Anyway … the years have passed. She changed her plans re: taking Derek Jeter to the senior prom. She passed all her classes with flying colors. She’s had a great high school career. She got to play “Reno Sweeney” in “Anything Goes.” her ex-band has played CBGBs and Washington DC’s 9:30 club — twice. She was accepted to the college of her dreams with a partial scholarship and starts there in the fall, moving eight hours away from me where she can watch Red Sox games from out of her dorm window. It’ s all good, all except that empty nest I will fill with … well, boxscores and road trips.
Today she finished her high school work. She turned in her last Venn Diagram. She received her last rocking A in English that exempted her from her final exam. At about 11:00 a.m. she came home and did a little “Rocky” triumphant dance loop around the kitchen.
My baby has grown up. Here she is day of her senior prom with her date, her boyfriend Zach, who was definitely a preferable prom date (no offense, Derek).
I am trying to see the similarities between her and the baby with the birthday hat horns. Ah well. All I know is that I am proud of her and love her very much and hope she and I can spend SOME fun quality time this summer watching some old eps of “Sex in the City” and shopping before she leaves for Boston in August. And and that she gets out there and starts playing her music.
So … congratulations my wonderful, beautiful Dana. You’ll always be my baby.