One of my favorite photographs of all time is one of my Dad and me when I was in third grade. We had just moved to Arizona and somehow Dad had ended up being asked to coach for the baseball league I was in and we, by chance, became the Phillies. It was one of those leagues where they gave teams hats and matching colored t-shirts with sponsors on them. We were sponsored by Ernie’s Refrigeration.
My third grade Phillies were boss. No joke. Dad whipped us into shape. We had a 1-2 pitching punch, the fastest lead off who played center field and a series of players who worked hard and didn’t complain. I was probably the worst player, personality-wise that is, on the field Dad and I would argue about little things. “I don’t want to catch anymore, I want to play shortstop,” “I’m batting sixth?!” and other selfish acts.
But Dad wouldn’t have any of it. He kicked my ass and our team ended up going something like 30-0 including tournaments. We were even in the local Chandler paper. It was probably my favorite summer of all time. I thought I’d hate living in Arizona, but Dad and baseball made me step back (yeah, as an eight year old) and say, “Alright – this ain’t too bad.”
After one of the games, I was still in my red shirt and white pants and Dad was wearing his hat, a blue coaching shirt tucked into jean shorts. He had his arm around me and we held up the number one finger. My hat was a little too big and he cocked he head and had a goofy smile like he always did.
It’s just one of those photos that I could explain every detail of and I probably haven’t seen it in almost two years. Dad always kept it and two Christmases ago I took to enlarge it and put in next to a more recent photo of us. I was a slacker and never ended up doing it and I either lost the photo or it’s in storage right now.
But that photo, if I ever find it again, will always be one of my most cherished possessions. It was only one of the millions of moments Dad and I shared that helped form me into the man I am today. He always did everything he could for me, regardless if he was slightly teasing me from time to time.
In between pushing me in sports and hating the fact that year after year I just wanted to stop and focus on being a dork and write, read and watch indie films we had more of those moments that I can just close my eyes and see so vibrantly.
From game one of the 2001 World Series and very away game I’ve ever played, including ones almost two hours away all the way to Sunday mornings at the cinemas and teaching me how to cook meals I always took for granted.
There are so many of them that may seem trivial to anyone else that listing them will take away from the fact that they were between Dad and me and no one else. I know every child has had these with their fathers and most of us will say our Dad is the greatest. I have a hunch every man my age will say something along the lines that they’re who they are today because of their father. Hell, I said it not 500 words ago. I just hope everyone has that one memory that will always stick in their minds like the one I have.
I can honestly say I wouldn’t have survived this past year without everything Dad has done for me. He’s always put Ashley and me ahead of himself, even though we don’t always believe it. Like always I probably didn’t say everything I wanted to about Alan David Vitcavage, but hopefully he knows how much he means to be.