Sunday, February 21, 2016

What the Hell Happened?

I have kids running around here projecting about their future.

Worrying about it.

Wondering what they're going to do to set themselves up to live the sort of life that they've experienced at Camp Clifford.

I'm of the mindset that they can stay as long as they want.

Live here until you're 50!

We like having you around.

But that's not quite how it works, right?

A former baseball player, Tony Phillips died of a heart attack this week.

He was just fifty-seven.

When I read the news I thought back...

...not too far back...

May 20, 1986.

The Yankees were in Oakland to play the A's.

Ron Guidry was pitching for the Yankees.

The Gator was one of my favorites.

I was 21 years old.

My Dad, who was watching the game with me on that day, was 48.

Tony Phillips, who was 27, was a real pain in the ass that day.

Good D. Always a tough at-bat. He could play anywhere.

The game was tied into the 9th inning.

Guidry was still in there.

I was dressed like the Yankee ball boy in a sea of Oakland green and gold.

Drinking beer and bantering with the A's fan next to me.

Dave Kingman strode to the plate in the bottom of the 9th and I joked about how it would take Guidry just 3 pitches to strike him out.

We'll never know if that was possible because Kingman hit the first pitch to the moon.

Game over.

Yanks lose 2-1.

I remember because the guy patted me on the back.

My Dad drove me home and despite my disappointment he reminded me of what a beautiful day it had been.

"You remember the moments," he mentioned.

When I saw that Tony Phillips had passed away...it kinda' hit me hard.

What in the hell happened?

1986 was ten minutes ago.

I had graduated from college just two weeks before.

I was anxious about how it would all set up for me so that I could live in the luxury that my parents had provided.

Dad wanted us to stay there forever.

As quickly as that game had ended.

Boom.

Gone.

Walk back to the dugout.


That's as quickly as time has seemed to pass.

There has been so much in between that moment and this moment as I type this.

So much love.

Too much pain.


Days where I won...

...and days where I feel like Kingman got to me in the bottom of the 9th.

Dad was right.

It's in the moments we share.

As I close my eyes right now I can feel the bright sun on my face from that beautiful day. I recall the touch on my back from the good-natured, happy A's fan.

I can almost taste that beer that I drank alongside my Dad that day.

I certainly remember thinking that Tony Phillips was a colossal pain in the ass.

Boom.

Gone.

Remembered forever.




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