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Enjoy Magazine

Ball Dudes

03/19/2013 02:46PM ● By Anonymous

story: Ronda Olson-Ball


I grew up listening to San Francisco Giants games on transistor radios, car radios and televisions. I remember being bored out of my mind with talk at the dinner table between my father and four brothers about the Giants. Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, and Juan Marichal were like extended members of our family. I could never figure out why they cared so much about players’ stats or how they could remember what I thought was such useless information. Baseball was huge in our house. Having four brothers, a sister and parents who were very involved with Little League, I went to hundreds of games. I didn’t care much about watching my brothers play, but knew I’d get to play on the monkey bars with several of my classmates and would get my fill of Big Hunk candy bars and Cracker Jacks.

As an adult, I have come to enjoy baseball. I’ve played a lot of softball, and I like watching major league games – especially live – and I root for the Giants. My dad and brothers still keep up on the stats, still talk about them at family get-togethers and many times I even know what they’re talking about and can, without rolling my eyes, join the conversation.

On September 30, my 75-year-old father, Ron, and my oldest brother, Dennis, were the Balldudes at the Giants-Diamondbacks game. The Balldudes program was started in 1993 to feature active seniors in a role that had been traditionally filled by teenagers.

With the help of my cousin, Ted Griggs, the Vice President and General Manager of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, a “bucket list” wish was granted to two very important people in my life. I’m not sure if dad and Dennis were more excited or nervous, but all 33 family members – from his 9-month-old great-granddaughter to his wife of 53 years – hoped the day would become one of the happiest of my father’s life.

What a night it was! Seeing my dad and brother on the playing field of their beloved Giants – wearing uniforms, gloves in hand, ready to hear the magic words “Play ball!” – was something none of us will ever forget. Of course, dad’s reflexes aren’t what they used to be and he doesn’t move quite as well as he did in the days he played catch with my brothers. All of us hoped no line drives would come his way, but we were also there to watch a dream come to life.

My father is a man who asks for very little but has given so much of himself to his family. He shies away from the spotlight and pushes those he loves into it. But on this night, we got to see him shine with all the lights, cameras and action on a ball field that’s as familiar to him as his living room.

Watching the game that evening gave me much to think about and inspired me to make a “bucket list” for myself. There are things I want to do, places I want to see and people I want to meet. When I got home, I started writing them down. I decided to hold nothing back. I may not be able to do all of the things I dream up, but I am sure I can do most of them in my lifetime.

After the game, I spoke to my dad about the experience. His smile was brighter than the lights that illuminated AT&T Park. He was so grateful that a dream of his had been brought to fruition and was delighted that he got to share the experience with all who went to watch. Although neither he nor my brother had a foul ball hit to them that night and they did a lot of sitting, my father summed it up perfectly: “It was the best seat I’ve ever had.”