Softball Afternoons with My Father

Softball Afternoons with My Father

It’s funny how memories pop up at random, influenced by smells, sights, etc. Music will sometimes jog my memories, and as I walked home from work the other day listening to some Third Eye Blind, it did just that. It was a warm spring day in the 80s (WAY too soon for that weather), and I was reminded of when I was but a young’un.

The memory hit right as “Semi Charmed Life” began to play through my ear buds. Primo 90s jam, right? And that’s exactly where my mind went, back to 1997 in Bremerton, Washington where father served in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Arkansas. Being born in 1990 always made it so easy to keep up with my age during that first decade of my life. My age came from the last digit in the year. That year, I turned seven.

My father has always been athletic. He mostly sticks to golf now, but back in 1997 he was playing basketball and softball. And when it’s summer, and your kid has no school, they tag along with you to your games.

This is where I have fond memories, warm summer days where dad and I rode out to the softball fields in my dad’s red Nissan Pathfinder.

On the way there and back, dad had some great 90s tunes we’d jam out to, windows down and everything. To this day I credit my father for getting me started with good music. In the future I’d go on to steal his Styx “Paradise Theater” and Aerosmith “Permanent Vacation” albums. But on the way to the softball fields we were a little more modern. . . well, modern for the 90s.

He had Marcy Playground’s self titled album which dropped in February that same year. I grew to love the song “Sex and Candy,” though as a seven-year-old I wasn’t allowed to say that first word. It was a bad word.

We’d also jam out to Third Eye Blind’s self titled album which released in April that year. I came to love the entire album, but especially “Semi Charmed Life” and “Graduate.”

And the list wouldn’t be complete without Dishwalla’s “Pet Your Friends” album or a few tunes from The Wallflowers. Dad’s music helped make him (and his only kid at the time) pretty cool.

Now, when we got to the softball fields dad and I went our separate ways. He was off to actually play the sport, and I was off to find kids my own age to cavort with on the playground, whatever game our imaginations came up with at the time. We’d resort to tag or hide and seek if we weren’t feeling very creative that day.

I’d be responsible for checking in with dad in between games so he’d know I hadn’t been kidnapped. Other than that, I had free reign of the softball park.

My next fond memory came from trying to bankrupt my parents with an insatiable concession stand appetite. In particular I had endless cravings for small bags of Nacho Cheese Doritos and cans of Mello Yello my uncle Tim got me started drinking.

And back in the 90s, these products had some extremely cool designs. Here’s a picture of what Doritos looked like in the 90s (along with my father, whom most of this blog post is about):

As for Mello Yello, here’s what the cans I used to drink out of looked like. Admittedly I don’t remember this design as much. Hey, I was seven. Cut me some slack.

I was ALWAYS asking dad for money to the concession stand. And maybe about 70 percent of the time I got it. Kids love spending their parents’ money, right? Who knows how we develop that “skill.”

The final memory I have from these softball fields is pestering dad’s teammates for money when I’d spent mine or he told me “no.”

You see, at such a young age, I was already a budding entrepreneur ready to make do with what I had around me. So I’d collect interesting looking leaves or rocks and try to sell them for quarters as “good luck charms.” These guys were out here playing a game, right? Surely they needed luck to beat the other team.

And while I’m sure I embarrassed my father more than once with this routine, this did sometimes lead to me earning a little coin for a concession stand treasure. I didn’t care that the teammate probably threw the rock or leaf away as soon as I’d turned. I was there to make money, and I’d gotten what I wanted.

Though I should say this strategy rarely paid off. Mostly I just got a courtesy chuckle from my potential customers, or they’d say they didn’t have their wallet with them.

I don’t know why my brain decided to recall these memories, but I’ve had 90s music playing nonstop on Spotify since. I don’t drink too much Mello Yello anymore, mostly Pepsi now. But I do still love Doritos. Some things never change.

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