View Full Version : Ode to a Baseball Fan

01-01-2011, 11:23 AM
While visiting my wife's folks after Christmas, my father-in-law, Ted, died suddenly on Wednesday. On one had, folks natural inclination is to note how hard it is to lose someone this time of year, and that's true, but in this case, it was very much a blessing as most of the family was here in town to see them and the one who wasn't had just arrived in St. Louis the morning that he died and were able to get here quickly when he went.

With that as a backdrop, I wanted to acknowledge the baseball fan that he was. He loved the Cardinals and raised his family to love the Cardinals too. Hence why it's difficult for me to join in the dislike here on RZ for our chief rivals. And he didn't begrudge me converting his daughter to being a Reds fan. My wife took umbrage with folks, though, as they'd ask her if she became a baseball fan after she married me. No, no, no. I found a perfect woman to marry - a baseball fan.

Carol & I gave Ted a couple of books by Fay Vincent about players from the 30's, 40's & 50's. He dove into the first, wrote a note in it that he got for Christmas 2010 from us. And he read and he'd talk about it. "Do you remember old 'so & so' [can't remember name, hadn't heard of him]. He said the toughest pitcher he faced was Ewell Blackwell and the toughest batter, Stan Musial." Then he added that Blackwell's pitches looked like they were coming from first base. And he loved Stan Musial, talked about Musial getting thrown out at 3rd on a passed ball when the umpire handed a new ball to the catcher who threw it to third to catch Musial (yes, I know this play would never stand today).

He shared with my son on the day he died about being at the 1964 World Series and how he went to get a beer and a little old guy was behind him in line (raises his hands about shoulder high) and asks, "aren't you Casey Stengel?" and it was and he had him autograph his program (he showed me a few years ago). He told stories galore.

Going through pictures I grabbed from home (my son & I drove back to Cincy for our "good clothes"), one was Opening Day in 1988 when my wife's folks came out to see the Reds play the Cards; her sister & her family came down for Akron. All of us lined up in front of the cars in our paraphanalia before the game. It's a great picture. Last Opening Day, her sister, brother-in-law and their oldest son (Ted's namesake) came down for this year's game against the Birds.

My father-in-law has not liked Tony LaRussa, Dave Duncan and now Mark McGwire as batting coach and was never shy about offering his opinion. When we were leaving the hospital room after my wife and our son and one daughter went into to see Grandpa one more time, my son (who had been with him when he collapsed, thankfully) leaned up and said, "Don't worry, Grandpa, I'll keep hating Tony LaRussa for you".

He loved baseball, as many of us have noted about other grandparents or parents. It's a beautiful thing about this game and we'll have loads of memories about those games and the stories and the opinions.

So join me in remembering Ted and all of those others who brought a love of this game to each of us.

Happy New Year.

01-01-2011, 11:28 AM
So sorry for your loss.

01-01-2011, 12:16 PM
Here's to Ted.

01-01-2011, 12:39 PM
Thanks for sharing, redsmetz.

Roy Tucker
01-01-2011, 01:08 PM
Here's to Ted.

Yep. Here's to Ted and baseball fans everywhere. It's a passion we all share.

01-01-2011, 01:17 PM
Sorry for your loss, here's to Ted.

01-01-2011, 03:35 PM
Nice tribute, Metz. And I can certainly identify with your reluctance to hate the Cardinals. Of course, I grew up in St. Louis and didn't defect to the Reds until long after I'd moved to Cincinnati. But I still admire and appreciate the tradition of the Cardinals. Going back to the sixties, I've always regarded them as a very fundamentally sound team. LaRussa hasn't changed that, although last year was a missed beat. The Cardinals would still be my second choice to win a World Series.

Here's to Ted.

01-01-2011, 08:46 PM
Well done, Redsmetz

Here's to Ted.

01-01-2011, 11:02 PM
Here is to Ted and I am sorry to hear of your loss. A very nice tribute on your part redsmetz.

01-02-2011, 03:06 AM
Sorry for your loss, Redsmetz.

Johnny Footstool
01-02-2011, 03:08 AM
It sounds like an excellent ending to a very good life. To get the opportunity to spend your last hours with your loved ones is truly a blessing.

01-02-2011, 11:15 AM
It sounds like an excellent ending to a very good life. To get the opportunity to spend your last hours with your loved ones is truly a blessing.

This is it in a nutshell. I'm just at a Panera catching up on things before we start things this afternoon and the funeral mass tomorrow. I'll write a little more when I'm back in Cincy. Miracle of miracles, the last grandchild was able to make it, so all of the grandkids will be here.

Thanks everyone for appreciating the tribute.

01-03-2011, 12:40 PM
Here's to Ted and to you, RedsMetz. You are a good guy, and I feel for your family's loss.

I, too, was reluctant to hate the Cardinals for a long time. My retired great uncle used to sit under the oak trees in front of his house and listen to the Cardinals' games on his transistor radio. (Dizzy Dean was a favorite of Mississippians and led to most of them being Cardinals fans, especially before the Braves moved to Atlanta.)

He died about 30 years ago, though, and I have no problem hating the Cardinals now--especially Chris Carpenter and Tony LaRussa.

01-03-2011, 02:15 PM
Very nice tribute, redsmetz. All my best to you and your family as you celebrate Ted's life.

01-03-2011, 03:50 PM
A very good tribute RedsMetz. I am sorry for your loss. You were very lucky to have had such a good father-in-law. But I think you already knew that. My prayers will be with you in this difficult. As time passes all of the good things will become more prominent in your thoughts about him and they will be cherished forever.

01-07-2011, 11:40 AM
Hey all, thanks again for your kind thoughts. My wife & I got back Wednesday afternoon and we've been digging out from everything we needed to catch up. I thought I'd share a few more thoughts.

At Ted's visitation, on his casket was his nice Cardinals hat, the vintage one with red bill and blue cap that had the Redbird on a bat. They also placed an autographed baseball from his younger son's Little League team from when he coached them. My wife thought there was a Stan Musial ball too, but I didn't see it, so I'm guessing they didn't put that up (maybe not wanting to tempt fate for Stan since he's still with us!).

Another picture I grabbed from home that we put on one of the photo boards was one of her dad during the weekend they celebrated their 80th birthdays when we went to play softball. Ted took a couple of swings, but said he couldn't decide which ball to hit since he had trifocals.

My wife's older brother told of the time he helped his dad coach their younger brother's team. Coaching at first base, the batter hit a line drive to his left and he instinctively reached out and nabbed the ball and the umpire called the batter out for coach interference. My brother-in-law said the synapses in the 1st baseman's brain hadn't even registered that the ball had been hit, but their dad never let him forget that faux pas.

Tom Henke is my wife's second cousin, so his parents (his dad is my mother-in-law's cousin) were at the funeral home, but I didn't get to meet them although their older son told them to look for me (we correspond on genealogy - they're related as Rackers and are distantly related to Neil Rackers, the kicker). My brother-in-law did tell me about going 2 for 3 against Henke in a summer league before he was drafted out of Missouri.

Both brothers noted in their eulogies about his love of the Cardinals, but as the older one said, "Tony LaRussa, not so much." The younger brother's 1st draft talked about Dad passing on his love of baseball to HIM, my wife noted that it was to all of the kids and he changed it to note that and the grandkids (and didn't even note that some of the family are infidels and root for the Reds).

I can't recall if I've said, but this was an extraordinary experience for our family in that he went how he said he always wanted to and all of us were there or nearby and all of the family made in, including one nephew who lives in Arizona and didn't think he could get there. We've been very blessed with celebrating a life of a good man (not without some flaws, to be sure).

One final memory: last summer after the brawl, we went to Missouri and Ted grumbled about Brandon Phillips and how they ought to run him out of baseball (so you can gather some of the tenor of his views). I laughed and told him that they didn't kick out Juan Marichal when he took a bat to Johnny Roseboro's head and there was certainly no reason to kick Brandon out for running his mouth. But that was Ted. You never didn't know what his opinion was.

I'm thinking of finding a way to honor him on Opening Day this season.

Thanks again.

12-14-2013, 09:53 AM
I thought I'd put this in this long ago thread from when my father-in-law passed away.

A cousin's 32 year old son passed away last Saturday while waiting for a lung transplant. Last night, my wife and I went to Pete's visitation and were delighted to see that his Memorial Card was set as a baseball card, a great picture of him in his Reds cap at the ballpark, a big smile on his face (essentially always his demeanor). It had his name and his brithdate and the date he died. In the lower left hand corner was a sqaure "Donate Life" box, set like a ball team's logo or an MVP crescent.

When Pete was little, he'd throw a baseball at the family picnic and when he was nine or ten, it left you in awe at how well he threw. He ultimately became an accomplished soccer player and then ran Cross Country at St. X and late SLU. Just an extraordinary young man and, like my father-in-law, a great baseball fan.

And if you haven't done so, consider designating that you'll be an organ donor and let your family know of your wishes. It's an important gift and an incredible legacy to leave.

Roy Tucker
12-14-2013, 09:59 AM
Heartfelt and well-said, Metz.

Here's to Ted and here's to all baseball fans. We may wear different colors, but we were all bitten by the same bug. I've always felt a brotherhood with any baseball fan, no matter what the team.

Edit: whoops, I guess next time I'll read the whole thread.

12-14-2013, 10:58 AM
What a great thread. Thanks, redsmetz. And my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

12-14-2013, 01:22 PM
Very nice RM. Our thoughts and prayers go out the family.

12-15-2013, 09:23 AM
Heartfelt and well-said, Metz.

Here's to Ted and here's to all baseball fans. We may wear different colors, but we were all bitten by the same bug. I've always felt a brotherhood with any baseball fan, no matter what the team.

Edit: whoops, I guess next time I'll read the whole thread.

No problem, Roy. Actually I'd love to see this thread spring into a place others can write memorials for those who instilled in themselves the love of baseball or who shared it with them.

I know Vaticanplum shared some wonderful thoughts about her own grandfather (I think) who gave her a love for the game too. It was just eloquent. It's well worth the read if any of you have not read it. I'll have to see if I can find the link some time, just in case. It ought to be in the archives - it was that good.

Yesterday's funeral was a tough one as the death of someone so young, especially from an illness, is so incongruous. Pete's sister and brother gave the eulogy and his sister's was entirely about his love of baseball. I'm going to ask her if I can share it here. His brother also talked, among other things, about baseball too.

12-17-2013, 04:31 PM
Here is what Pete's sister shared for her eulogy for him:

Before he was a father, before he was a formal educator, before he was a physical therapist, before he was a husband, EVEN before he was a runner, Pete has always been a baseball player. Growing up baseball was his thing. There were daily pick-up games in our yard, weekly allowances spent on baseball cards, dinner conversations about batting averages, he even went as far as discussing the game while sleep walking.

In typical Pete fashion, he didn’t just play the game; he put his all into it. I can attest to this because being five years his minor, I was given the ‘gift’ of witnessing hundreds of games and the hours he spent at the batting cage, practicing switch hitting and mastering his knuckleball.

While I had the opportunity to perfect my friendship bracelet making skills on the bleachers, Pete's hard work paid off in a much more notable way. His focus, drive and determination led him to pitch a perfect game. An achievement many pitchers never accomplish let alone at a young age.

Years of pitching resulted in an elbow injury that shifted his focus to cross country and cultivated his interest in sports medicine and then physical therapy. Despite this shift in direction, his passion for the game remained consistent over the years. He continued to listen to Reds games on the radio and instilled his love of baseball in both Adah and Eamon.

I cherish the family vacations we attended minor league baseball games and cheering on the Reds at Great American Ballpark this past summer. While I have so many wonderful memories with Pete, the baseball ones will always be special.

Our left-hander has rounded third and is home.

And his brother shared this little bit of baseball, lessons he learned from his older brother,

He taught me how to choke up on a baseball bat, and never to give up walks to the bottom of the batting order.

09-06-2014, 07:49 AM
My Mom's younger sister died last Sunday night. She was also my godmother. This week as they were preparing for her funeral, her daughter-in-law sent a note out saying that since Pat was such a big Reds fan, they were asking folks to wear Reds shirts to the visitation to celebrate the team she loved. So last night at the funeral home, two thirds of the folks were decked out in Reds regalia. Pat herself was sporting a little Reds pin on her dress.

My wife and I went down to the ballpark with high hopes that between my Aunt Pat and my Grandma, also a big fan in her time, would bring us a Reds win. Alas, as you all know, it wasn't to be. Someone suggested maybe they were too busy celebrating her arrival at the pearly gates. Seems as if the team doesn't have a prayer this year. But it's nice, still, to celebrate my aunt, the great Reds fan.