Okay. I realize I didn't throw a player’s name up there. This post may not exactly fit within the parameters of the contest rules but I feel it certainly fits with the spirit. When I ask my father who his favorite player is I will never get more than "anybody in angel red". I have had great conversations with him about players he loves. Eckstein, Guerrero, Frankie, Salmon and many others have certainly been among those who he enjoys watching. He won't cave though; he won't give me a favorite. He's all about the team and any player who is giving to the team is who he is pulling for. The more I thought about this, the more I realized what this really says about my dad and why he doesn’t really have a favorite player.
A little more than a year ago there were riots in Thailand. The protesters wore red shirts and fought in the streets with their yellow shirt counterparts. My father had recently moved permanently to Bangkok and during the riots his wife wouldn't let him out of the house. This wasn't because it was particularly dangerous for the lay person but rather when my step-mother opened his closet she saw that he didn't have anything to wear but besides inopportune angel red. His closet was littered with jerseys, not of any name in particular, but plastered with the names of any Angels players he could get his hands on.
A few months later he was in rehab after his leg had been amputated due to diabetes complications. While I really wish he would have stayed there and used his head, I shouldn't really have expected him to get over his angel baseball addiction. He skipped out of rehab a week early, with a newly healed stump right under the knee to go to an Angels’ game in Yankee stadium. I don't know who was crazy enough to give him tickets but he nonetheless hoped down ten rows of seats on his one good leg so that he could watch the game. Our stories about the seemingly insane things my father will do to watch a game seem limitless.
For my father it doesn't really matter who is playing, how talented they are or how spectacular they can make defensive plays. Sure he enjoys those things but at the end of the day the most important thing you can do is merely be a member of his team. He is always loyal to his team. It doesn’t matter if it is an old Angel who has retired, one who has lost his way and winds up pitching for a team from Boston, or one who is about to be called up from the minors, when a player contributes to his team they become part of him. This simple fact is what I appreciate most about my father because, besides the LAA of A, my brother, my sister and I are his team. All of us know without a doubt that if we play like Mathis, Wells or Kazmir that he will still be there, sitting on the first base side, cheering us on and eating Cracker Jack. Will he be pissed off and scream at us as we hit into our league leading eighteenth double play? Hell yes! But he’ll be there nonetheless. It is in knowing this that helps us feel like we have Mike Trout's potential and the career of Tim Salmon all at the same time.
When my grandfather, who is now quite famous in our family for applying the phrase "never leave till the last out", passed away I began to transcribe interviews taken later in his life. In one of them he recalled that his favorite memory was playing catch in the street with his own grandfather, who pretty much raised him, when he was a boy. He mentioned that he knew his grandfather was often sick and aching but would play with him anyway. When I later asked my father what his favorite memory of his father was, he said it was playing catch in the street. I'm sure you can probably guess what one of my favorite memories of my father is. He would play catch for hours with his three children on the days that he could spend with them. I remember him sitting down at home after one of these long days and pulling a bloody sock off his cracked arthritic foot.
He was willing to hop down stairs for us just as much as he was for his Angels.
He watches Angels' games through the night from Bangkok and we know that we can call him any time night or day if we need help.
Just as he accepts any new player as a member of his team, he loves and cares for his Thai step-daughter and my wonderful wife. He makes them not only feel accepted but loved, and most definitely part of the team. I know that he would give his all for either one of them.
Not only have my brother, my sister and I always known that we are a part of his team, and that that single fact automatically qualifies us as his favorite players but, through his influence, we have come to really understood that we are a team. We always need to stand by and watch over one another. We always need to stand up for each other. It is for this reason that when we occasionally win a pennant or even a World Series it is because he has been cheering us on. My father doesn’t have a favorite player, but if you are wearing Angel red or are a member of his family there is little doubt where his loyalty lies. He loves the game and he loves life and it is difficult, if not completely unnecessary, to separate the two.