On the heels of the anniversary of my grandfather's passing, a tribute...
In 1950, when the Philadelphia Phillies won the pennant for just the second time in team history, Pop-pop, at age 10, started taking a liking to the team. When the Philadelphia Athletics, Pop-pop's other favorite team, moved in 1954 to Kansas City, the deal was sealed on him being a Phillies fan for life.
Fast forward to October 21, 1980, nearly 30 years after Pop-pop started watching Phillies baseball, he sees their first championship. Pop-pop is in front of his TV, and his children, my mom and my uncle, are nearby, watching Game Six of the 1980 World Series. When Tug McGraw struck out Willie Wilson at 11:29 pm, Pop-pop picked up his dog, Mufyn, and started running around his house, screaming. The Philadelphia Phillies won their first World Series in team history.
In 2008, nearly thirty years after 1980, the Phillies were back in the World Series. My family had a game five continuation viewing party, and while Pop-pop was not present, I saw that the rest of my mom's family were also Phillies fans. When Brad Lidge shut the door on the Tampa Bay Rays on October 29, 2008, I decided right then and there that I would be a Phillies fan. My first ever Phillies t-shirt was a 2008 World Series champions shirt. To this day, I still have it, and while it does not quite fit anymore (I was 7 when they won), I still cherish it to this day.
Ever since, going to Mom-mom and Pop-pop's house was always a treat. Of the many things I loved about going to their house, I'd love to watch the Phillies game with Pop-pop. He was like my personal Vin Scully. But instead of telling the world the Dodgers team history, he would tell me the Phillies team history. While we watched the game, he told me stories of Robin Roberts, Jim Bunning, and his favorite former Phillie, Richie Ashburn. That is why my first vintage baseball card I ever bought was of Ashburn.
Mom-mom and Pop-pop took my brother and me to Phillies games in 2009, 2010, and 2011. He taught me how to keep score, something I still use to this day. The Phillies lost in both 2009 and 2010, losing by a combined score of 14-5, but made up for it in 2011, defeating the Nationals 11-3. That would be the last game we would ever watch in person together.
Even when we were not around, I would talk with Pop-pop on the phone. I remember vividly back on April 8, 2011, Carlos Ruiz hit a grand slam against the Atlanta Braves. I immediately called Pop-pop to talk about the slam, and we talked for over an hour about the latest happenings in baseball.
In 2012, Pop-pop got very sick. The phone conversations became one way -- me talking, him listening. Throughout that summer, my family drove the three hours to Philadelphia almost every weekend, visiting him in the hospital. I hoped for the best for him and hoped that we would be able to enjoy Phillies baseball together once again. Coincidentally or not, in August, while I was having the time of my life at Phillies baseball camp, Pop-pop passed away. It was one of the toughest days of my life and it's one of the toughest subjects to discuss. He meant so much to me.
But without Pop-pop, I could not give up on the game of baseball. A few months later, in November, I started coverthosebases.com, to continue to talk to Pop-pop, but through articles and blog posts on a website, not on the phone or in person. Ever since, I've vowed to continue to talk to Pop-pop through the website. And that is why he means so much to me. I miss you, Pop-pop.