Reflections from an Epic Trip – Day 4

It’s hard to believe that four short days ago I was about to begin such an incredible journey. I would be travelling to New York City to experience things that most fans only dream of. I would meet some incredible people and would gain memories that will last me a lifetime.

As I sat in the town car going to the Newark airport to catch a plane ride back to Phoenix I had time to ponder all of the amazing sights and memories I had accumulated and I had so many people to thank for the experiences.

Jeff and James in the Fan CaveIf it were not for the Arizona Diamondbacks having a #DbacksCrasher contest none of this would have happened. This is yet another reason that will keep me a fan for the rest of my life. This team and this franchise is filled with incredible people who want nothing more than the fans to have the best times of their lives while sharing a baseball game.

To Major League Baseball and the MLB Fan Cave, I have a new undying appreciation of some of the inner workings of baseball and in particular the fan’s involvement with the game. I’ve never been a part of an active production and it was amazing to see all of the work and dedication behind the scenes and in the fan cave. The Cave Dwellers are more than just a group of people vying for an opportunity to be the ultimate fan. These are people who are trying to live their dreams. Each of them has the desire to work within baseball and spread the magic that is our national pastime. I wish each of them the best of luck as the field narrows down from the current seven until an eventual winner. They are all winners in my book.

To Mother Nature; thank you for reminding me why I am so grateful for being able to watch home games within a retractable roof stadium. It’s amazing how much the elements can affect the game. In Arizona we have the luxury of controlling many aspects of the game whether it’s to keep the fans cool when temperatures are over 100 degrees or keeping us dry on that one day a year when it does rain. You have no idea how fortunate you are until you experience the other side sitting in the rain waiting for the tarp to be removed so the game can resume.

Mostly though I have my son-in-law James to thank for this experience. It was him who entered the contest. It was him who puts up with perhaps the craziest father-in-law on the planet. What can you say about a guy who allows you to disrupt his wedding with Diamondbacks hats, changes to the daddy/daughter music, and young girls holding up the lyrics to Dbacks Swing?

What this trip taught me was how much baseball can bring a family together. When James won the contest I was thrilled for him and for my daughter Mallorie. They would share experiences that many of us could not even imagine. To say I was shocked when Mallorie and James said that they did this so that I could go, my heart and my eyes swelled with joy. As much as I love baseball, it is my family that is dearest to me. These four days James and I bonded like never before. Brought together by the love each of us has for Mallorie and fueled by the passion of baseball.

When I first met James I immediately liked him. He was a caring individual that obviously was madly in love with my daughter. I knew their marriage would work. Such love for each other is the foundation for building a successful family. My only concern at the time was that James had little knowledge of baseball and in this family that is a deal breaker.

James is a quick study and soon began a crash course in baseball. He soon was talking baseball strategy and what makes good team chemistry. Each passing day James became a baseball fan. Much to the chagrin of Mallorie, he now gets up every morning and checks the box scores and the transaction wire to see what might have happened while he was asleep. He is quickly becoming a diehard Diamondbacks fan leaving two generations of baseball widows in our family.

You can never repay someone for the memories they give you. There is no price that can be put on what I have experienced. All I can do is thank James and take him to a game at Chase Field where we can reminisce about this trip to New York and what we were able to do while we were here and compare it to the home team and what they mean.

I’m trying to teach my family what I learned from my grandfather long ago when he introduced me to this great game. There have been generations of fans. Players and teams come and go but baseball is the thread that stitches together the fabric of our lives. This game has the ability to bring us great joy and to break our hearts. It mirrors the emotions of our lives. Each time we count out our team they find a way to overcome what seemed impossible. So too are we capable of greatness if we just put out the effort and try.

It is our responsibility to spread the love of this amazing game to everyone around us to bring life to the memories that we share while at a ballpark. Whether it is taking a child to his first game or attending a game with a loved one for the millionth time there is something to be treasured in the grand game of baseball and that is what I am thankful for the most. What a game, and what a trip.

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