Considering that two years ago on Father's Day I got to go out to dinner and a movie with my family but lost a car, this year seemed to have all sorts of potential for improvement on that front. Awakening was a challenge, since it was accompanied by a flurry of stomach discomfort, probably brought on by an odd mix of salad and meat left over from our annual end of year teacher party. When my son presented me with tickets to that afternoon's Oakland A's baseball game, I attempted a rally. The chance to sit in the sun with my son and take in our national pastime was too good an offer to let a little cramping keep me down.
By eleven thirty, we had made it to the ballpark, paid the exorbitant parking fee, and got in line with the rest of the milling throng to make our way inside. There was a wave of disappointment that swept over us briefly when we realized that the "Raging Balfour Gnome" giveaway had ended before we were able to get our hands on one. We satisfied ourselves with a quick trip through the Coliseum dugout store: I got myself a new cap, that fit, and my son became the proud owner of a Josh Reddick T-shirt that he will be hard pressed to grow out of in the next ten years.
We climbed up to our seats, just behind the right field foul pole, and watched the rest of the crowd trickle in. I remembered when my wife and I would come to games with him in a baby carrier, sitting in the upper deck where we could stretch out and take in the whole field. Those same seats are now covered by tarps to push the crowd down into the camera-ready and slightly more expensive range, but it was still my favorite seat: Father's Day, next to my son, and it was only made better by a hot dog and a soda in the third inning.
That's about the time that the home team began to get the feeling for the visiting Seattle Mariners' pitching. A two-to-noting deficit was made up in the bottom of the fourth, and another two in the fifth. Then there was a respite before the four run seventh and another pair for good measure in the lower frame of the eighth. After sweating a seven hit second inning, the A's had managed to amass ten runs off seventeen hits. The sun was shining on Oakland.
In the midst of all this baseball, I had struck up a friendly association with the dad behind me. We took turns sharing our precognitive moments: "I think it's about time for Josh Donaldson to take one deep." And that's what happened. I countered with my own prediction for Josh Reddick, who had already gone three for four, "I believe he's going to yank that one right over the four hundred foot mark." And he did. There were four home runs. The Mariners even helped out by walking in an additional run. It was a good day to be a dad. And an Oakland A's fan. I even managed to pick the right dot in the dot race and figure out which cap was covering the ball on the jumbotron.
The dad behind me asked, somewhere during all those runs, if we had managed to get our Balfour gnome. I shook my head, "Nope. I guess we didn't get here early enough." That's when this guy, a stranger to me before the game, reached under his seat and handed my son a box.
"Give this to your dad," he suggested. We already had our souvenir cups and all those runs, now we were presented with our very own Grant Balfour gnome. And when we got to the parking lot, our car was still there. A perfect ending to a perfect day.