Friday 1 February 2008

Take me out to the ball game...

Little boys want to grow up to be just like their fathers and grandfathers. This explains why I support the football teams I do and why, at the age of 6, working in a cold factory seemed like a fine career choice.

I would even plonk myself in front of a mirror for hours on end, hairbrush in hand, trying to sculpt my thick, floppy mop of boyish blonde hair into a V-shape - just as Daddy Ambassador did each morning. Only now do I realise Daddy Ambassador's folical flying V was borne out of male pattern baldness rather than any innate sense of style. Soon enough I would cultivate a V of my own but strangely, when that time came, I wasn't quite as keen on the idea.

Grandad Ambassador, for his part, instilled a love of American sports in me. He taught me about baseball. Spending many hours with me on his knee, hanging on every word that poured from his mouth, as, shunning the company of other adults, he explained the rules and the unique magic of the game he loved. He spoke in hushed tones of the ballpark atmosphere and legends like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and Dizzy Dean.

On Saturdays we would walk from Rialto, through Kilmainham to the lush, grassy meadows of the Phoenix Park, laden down with juicy Granny Smith apples, a packet of Opal Fruits, a bat, a baseball and a mitt. He would pick a spot in the sun then don the glove, stare intently at the imaginary catcher behind me, "shake off" one or two signals with an almost imperceptible shake of his head, check behind him for sneaky base stealers before theatrically winding up a pitch and lobbing a gentle throw towards me.

Standing with my navy Yankees baseball hat perched atop my head, griping the bat fiercely I'd swing with all my might belting the ball as far as I could - probably about 20 feet. Grandad would half shuffle-half jog to retrieve the ball and place his grandad cap where it came to rest. I would try to beat "the record" by hitting the next ball further than the cap. We would laugh and joke - him telling me a shot didn't count because the right fielder had caught it, me responding with guarantees that the next one would be a homer. Out of the park! Only when I could no longer muster the strength to swing the bat would we adjourn to the a nearby bench to eat our apples before walking home, enjoying juicy Opal Fruits for desert.

Grandad Ambassador also developed my intertest in Americal Football and, thanks to his sterling work in this regard, I will spend Sunday evening drinking copious amounts of coffee, holding my eyelids open with match sticks and watching this year's Superbowl - just as I have done every year since the age of 14.

During the game, with the first anniversary of his passing drawing near, I will raise a glass and toast the memory of my dearly beloved and much missed Grandad Ambassador.

Thanks Grandad!


Stonedog said...

What a wonderful memory, thank you for sharing that TBA.

sheepworrier said...

Lovely story BA.
Here's to your Grandad - Sláinte.