Keep a couple of things in mind when you’re reading this. The first thing is that I love my dad, and I respect him, but I am an open book, and I believe honesty is important with my writing.
Secondly, I’ve always loved sports, but I have found that most people have a specific event or date that changes their feelings about sports forever.
For me, that date was Oct. 8, 1995, and the event was Game 5 of the American League Division Series between the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees.
I’m sure it’s a special day for everyone who can call themselves a fan of the team — or just hates the Yankees — but it was a day that changed my life for a different reason.
As a child, my dad and I had what I can only call a tumultuous relationship. While well-intentioned, there were flaws in both of us that led to mostly fights, and — as most 12-year-olds are — I was a selfish brat who only wanted to see things one way: Mine.
As luck would have it, my father was able to score tickets to Games 4 and 5 of the series. We actually ended up exchanging Game 4 for Game 3, as I had a band recital that day. Think about that for a second: Do you think you could exchange playoff tickets now? Don’t think so.
After Game 3 — a masterful pitching performance by Randy Johnson — we went to find our car, a 1995 Geo Tracker that was as hideous in shape as it was in color: lime green. Only, despite sticking out like a sore thumb, we couldn’t find it. We fought for hours over where it was, and after we had a cab drive us around to find the car, we had a miserable ride home.
I loathe having to admit this, but as I played my baritone at Nisqually Middle School, I sort of hoped the Yankees would win Game 4, just so I wouldn’t have to go through it again.
I know, I’m a bad person.
Of course, they did win (I miss you, Edgar) and, of course, we went to Seattle for Game 5, although we didn’t speak for the entire drive.
I don’t have to bore you with the details of the greatest game in Seattle sports history, as most of you can replay that game in your head, so we will move ahead to further action when Randy Velarde knocked in Pat Kelly to give New York a 5-4 lead in the top of the 11th inning.
And as soon as Kelly crossed the plate, I sobbed. I sobbed like a loved one had died.
It was then that my dad said the words that I remember better than any sentence I would hear from the age of 4 to 20. He put his hand on my shoulder, tilted my head up, and said, “You know they’re going to win this game, don’t you?”
And I believed him.
I didn’t believe my dad very often, be it what time he was going to come home from work, or whether or not he was going to be able to help me with a homework project, but, at that moment, I believed him.
And, of course, we know what happened next. The Joey Cora bunt, the Ken Griffey Jr. knock, the Edgar double.
The Double. The good guys won. I was the happiest adolescent in the world.
It’s not even that my dad was a prophet that correctly assumed that the Mariners were going to win that game. And it didn’t change my relationship with my dad forever, either.
Six years later, my parents got a divorce, and we have run hot and cold ever since. The reason that moment stands out like a 1995 lime green Geo Tracker is, for that moment, I knew I could count on my father.
Some of you may find that trivial, and some of you may call me a big baby. Both would be unbelievably accurate. But it was that moment that I knew sports were special for me, and I knew I had to find some way to make some sort of living talking about them.
It took a long time, but without that moment, I may have given up.Sports Editor Chris Crawford can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at Chris.Crawford@gateline.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_chris.