A Girl, Her Dad, Sports and Memories

Posted: June 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

     Another Father’s Day is here and I am here only wishing I could spend it with mine. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of my dad. I wonder what type of angelic trouble he is getting himself into. He was a real jester. Some may have considered him “ornery”. I thought he was funny as hell. I’m not saying I’m funny – but I definitely know where my sense of humor comes from. 

     My dad is also the reason I am the sports nut I am. You know the story of how I was almost born on a baseball field. He spent practically his entire life on a baseball field. After his playing days were over he coached for many, many years. After his coaching days were over he just coudn’t stay away so he umpired almost every night of the week. When he wasn’t behind the plate calling strikes and balls he was working in the local minor league team office selling tickets. Anything to still be part of the game. I promise, he is up in heaven organizing a game as you read this.

     Baseball wasn’t the only sport he loved. He was fond of all of them. He had competition running through his veins. I also inherited that from him. He is the reason I am a die hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Though we agreed on most teams, the Steelers were not one of them. I learned watching football was a way to spend some time with him since he was coaching the majority of the time. I knew that he would be in front of the tv every Sunday watching football. It was always in a back room because my mom had her fill of sports for the week by the time Sunday came around. I started going back there with him and that’s when I discovered the Steelers. My dad was cheering for the opposition – not because he was a fan, but because he probably had a bet on them. It was right then and there as a 7 year old little girl that I decided the Steelers were my team. Not only because they were winning but because my dad didn’t want them to and I got his attention by rooting for the “bad guys.” I loved that attention from him. After that we watched football together every Sunday. I stayed loyal to the Steelers and he remained loyal to the team he laid money on. Those Sundays were some of the best days of my childhood.

     Some other favorite memories of being with my dad are being at Busch stadium. We went to St. Louis a lot when I was growing up. Our family were all Cardinals fans whether we wanted to be or not. There were so many long, hot days spent at the ballpark but I wouldn’t change it for anything. As I reflect back, seeing my dad in his “element” is a memory I will cherish forever. He had his program, his pencils, and the line ups already pre-written out. He was a stat machine and wrote down every single stat possible for every single player. There wasn’t a sports trivia question he couldn’t answer. At those games he was coaching from the bleachers and wasn’t afraid to yell advise to the coaches or to anyone who would listen. 

     Speaking of giving a coach advice – my dad gave Bob Stoops a LOT of advice. When Coach Stoops would do the Coach’s show on the radio my dad called in EVERY SINGLE TIME. I was horrified. I just knew Bob would find out I was Ken in Tulsa’s daughter and be banned from campus and the stadium forever. Now, I just laugh. Lincoln Riley is getting off easy – trust me. My dad was a loyal Barry Switzer fan, so when Bob came in he saw some potential and he believed it was up to him to make him and our beloved Sooners winners again. Good job, Dad.

     One of my favorite memories with my dad is my first trip to Norman and a Sooners game. I was so excited that it was just him and I going to a football game. I had no idea I was getting ready to walk into the fire that would consume my soul for the rest of my life. Who knew a 9 year old girl would get cold chills walking up a ramp and seeing a football field. I’ll never forget that feeling. I wanted to be part of it. Dad bought me this kick ass white satin jacket with red Sooners across the front and Oklahoma on the back. It was 4 times too big but I didn’t care. I was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  I think it fit for 5 seasons after that. Every time I wore it I was so proud. Not only of the jacket itself, but because my dad bought it for me and his eyes lit up whenever he saw me in it. So many cherished memories.

     My most precious memory of all has to be my wedding day. I’m not sure if my dad’s heart was breaking because his daughter was getting married or because she was marrying a guy that went to Oklahoma State. The only betrayal worse would be if he woud have been from Texas. Dad BEGGED me not to marry this guy. Not as hard as I begged to wear a tux to give me away. It was the first and only time he would wear one. How handsome he looked that day – even after the rough start. When it was time to leave for the church he had locked himself in the bathroom. My mom and I were getting angry – our nerves were already peaking – and here he is trying to make us late. As I angrily approached the door to bang on it in a violent, bridezilla rage, I heard a sound I had never heard before. My dad was crying. The biggest, strongest man I had ever known was crying. All I could do was stand there and listen. It was that moment that I realized he was in pain. He felt like he was losing his little girl. I told him we would meet him at the church. I let him have his moment and I knew he wouldn’t let me down and he would show up on time. And he did. I never did let him know what I heard. Never. Now, all the way down the aisle he told me the car was right out front and ready to go – all I had to do is turn around and run for it. “I can’t believe you’re marrying and OSU guy. Where did I go wrong?” Those were his last words spoken before he gave me away.

     As much as he hated the thought of me living in a house divided, he was always good to my husband. And he was the ONLY person that came to me and just let me cry and be angry when my husband died. No questions asked. He was just there. I think it was partly because he didn’t have the words and didn’t want to say the wrong thing. But mostly I think he was just there to make sure I was ok. I  remember asking him to leave and I don’t know if I ever told him how much I appreciated his presence. 

     And now here we are. Another Father’s Day without him. So much was left unsaid that I will never forgive myself for not saying. Just like so many others, I wish I had just one more moment with him. I do take some comfort in knowing that in my my heart I think he knows. I believe he is looking down on me and can hear me tell him on this special day and every day – I love and miss you, Dad. 

     Oh and Dad, please be the angel on Lincoln Riley’s shoulder. I know you’re leading a choir with crimson halos singing Boomer Sooner. 
***FUN DAD FACT*** My dad still holds the national high school baseball record for most grand slams hit in one inning. Stud.

Follow me on Twitter: @soonerleesa

     

     

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Comments
  1. Wow you look so much like your dad and those beautiful baby blues! Tears of laughter and sorrow reading this one and as always very well written with such passion and humor! Love you Leesa!

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