Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I found these pictures at
an awesome baseball history blog.  Check it out!

Baseball, especially playoff baseball, reminds me of my honeymoon.  My wife and I got married on October 16th, 2004 and spent our honeymoon at Lake Tahoe.  We had the pleasure of watching the Boston Red Sox break the curse of the Bambino.  Our honeymoon was magical, and the Red Sox's world series win was the sparkly twinkle around the edges.

Baseball is the first sport I can remember playing.  My papi started me in t-ball when I was five years old.  He would always tell me about how I made a triple play, catching a line drive, tagging a runner out at second base, and then throwing the ball to first before the runner could get back.  I remember the short hops catching me on the forearm, chest, and face, the pain of a hardball racking my little body.  And my papi telling me to walk it off.  I remember having a good eye, a great on base percentage, and a horrible batting average.  I remember hugging the plate and sacrificing my body (as my papi would say) to get on base. And I remember watching the pony league pitchers rocket balls into the catchers' gloves and knowing my time playing baseball was over.

My papi, René Nuñez, grew up on baseball.  He was born in San Diego in 1936, the same year that the San Diego Padres minor league baseball team was founded.  He stayed up late at night (for an elementary schooler) and clandestinely listened to Padres games in his bedroom on a radio that he built (my papi built a radio!? he never taught me how, but I bet it was something like this or this).  My papi's Padre fandom started when they were a member of the Pacific Coast League and played at Lane Field.

I found these pictures at
an awesome baseball history blog.  Check it out!

(Whenever he told me his stories, before television, when all he had was radio, in my mind's eye the whole world was black and white - no color.  I imagined his world of the past like this picture of Lane Field - like an old-time black and white movie).

Baseball was a part of my father's identity as an American.  Yes I said it, my father was an American.  I am American, and Chicano, and Mexicano, and White, and Native American.  Isn't this what Chicano means?  Doesn't Chicano embrace all of our identities, our complexities, all of our beauty, all of our contradictions and betrayals - mestizo - Mexican, American, indio, europeo, norteamericano, pocho, paisa, humano.

My papi loved baseball.  Loved it!  When he was a kid he used to play a form of fantasy baseball with his friends.  They would choose a team based on the players' baseball cards and then my father would look through the newspaper box scores and record scores for each player and add up points for each team.  I am not sure what system they used, but the very idea of them playing fantasy baseball in the 1940s is astounding.  Of course for René, it does not seem that much of a stretch.  He loved games and he loved baseball.

One of the first computers I ever used was in my papi's home office, running MS-DOS, with a 20 megabyte hard-drive and a monochromatic screen.  I played a baseball game on that machine that used the keyboard symbols to display the results of plays: a backslash was the bat, a period the ball, and all nine players were represented by zeroes.  It wasn't an arcade game, but a game of baseball management, a game in which I could choose my lineup, whether to intentionally walk the batter, or pitch out to him, whether the infield would play-in, whether to play for the hit and run, bunt, ect . . . As a youngster I knew what these terms were, because of my papi's love of the game.  His love for baseball was something he wanted to share the same way that he wanted to share all his loves and passions.  

I don't love baseball the way my father loved it; I don't go to games with my radio headphones to listen to the play by play while I fill in my own box score of the game; I don't have stories about telling my sons to hustle like Tim Flannery or admiring "Goose" Gossage's handlebar mustache together.  But I do love the feeling I get when I watch the game.

The feeling of warmness in my heart thinking about my father's gregariousness, the feeling of cold snow outside while I am inside with my new wife watching the curse be lifted.  An indescribable feeling of reminiscence while watching the baseball spin in the air toward the plate.  I miss my papi.

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