Mother’s Day in Mexico is always on May 10, although it is the second Sunday in May in the U.S. But Father’s Day, Dia Del Padre, is today in both countries, the third Sunday in June. So, here’s a little story about me and my dad, who first introduced me to Mexico when I was 11 years-old on a weekend fishing trip to Ensenada. The following story took place a year later.
I was a 12-year-old in Little League, first game of the season. One of the umps didn’t show, so my dad was asked to ump the bases (he was still playing in a fast-pitch softball league in has late 30’s). I was pitching a one-hitter in the last inning, but we were down 2 – 1 to the Travelers. I came to bat with 2 outs and caught a pitch just right. I can still remember the ball hitting the bat – actually, when hit right on the sweet spot your hands feel nothing, and the sound of the bat meeting ball is different, sort of a solid crack/explosion (this was still the wooden bat days). There was no fence at the ball field at Norton AFB in San Bernardino where we were playing, and when I now close my eyes I can still see the ball flying towards the eucalyptus grove in left field, far beyond the light poles. I could have walked around the bases, but my dad always told me to hustle and never show up your opponent, so I put my head down and ran as fast as I could, as I tied the game 2 – 2. But then, as I headed for the dugout, the other team’s coach had his players throw the ball to third base, claiming that I had missed the bag on the way around the bases. I looked in confused disbelief as my dad raised his right arm and called me out. Third out, game over. It was the only I game I lost pitching for the next three years. I know it hurt my dad to do what he did, and at first I was furious. But in time I knew that he did what he had to do – doing otherwise was not an option for the Texas-born man who was incapable of telling a lie. Dad died in 1980 at the age of 56 when his heart, always so full of life and goodness, suddenly, without warning, simply quit. I still think about him just about every day – but especially today.