Planting the seed early

This past Saturday marked a milestone of the 6 and 1/2 years so far of my motherhood. I took my son to his first Yankee home game. Jack (and I for that matter) had not yet been to the new Yankee Stadium. Another milestone of a different kind was the passing of a dear man, Thomas Flanagan. The two events have, what I think, a poignant connection.

 

I started taking my son, Jack, to baseball games at an early age. His first game was a Long Island Ducks home game and he was 6 months old. He sat on my father’s lap, watching the game in amazement. The child did not budge his view from the field for 7 innings. He pooped during the 8th inning. A diaper change occupied his B7 and then he promptly returned to the seats to finish out the game. I was amazed. I was hoping this would be something special.

Next test was a big league ballpark. I lived in the Baltimore suburbs at the time, after moving from Baltimore City. I was a frequent visitor to Camden Yards, where I eventually became a season ticket plan holder. I’ll admit I did it mainly to get all the Yankees games and all in all probably attended 30 games every season. I began to take my son soon after his Ducks game. Other mothers thought I was crazy because I took him by myself. I saw it as a perfect opportunity to share my love for the game with a child that looked liked, even at an early age, that he enjoyed it too. And it turns out he really did. Every game we went to, Jack would sit on my lap and watch the game with intensity, muttering “ball” and “bat” every once in a while. This went on for 3 more seasons, until we moved to the Philly area. Then it was just a change of venues to Citizens Bank Park and the various MiLB parks within an hour’s distance. Last year he then told me that he wanted to go to a Yankees game “at Yankee Stadium”. Unfortunately, we didn’t get there last season.

This past Saturday, with tickets in hand, we arrived at the new Yankee Stadium via the D train. Jack had his hat and Matsui jersey on. Even though it was the only game the Yankees lost during their 10 game homestand, it was a wonderful experience. I was happy. My son was happy. I “upgraded” our seats during the potential comback during the 8th and 9th innings. Perfect day at a perfect place. As we were walking out of the stadium to leave we stopped infront of the old staduim. Covered in scaffolding and a boarded up perimeter, it looked ominous. Jack peeked inside, “Mom? Where’d all the seats go?” I told him they were for sale. He then promptly told me to buy one. Yeah, I’ll get on that, kid. He then asked me if I ever went to a game there. I nodded and told him that it was a magical place. He replied “wow”. While sitting on the D train going back to 34th St. station, Jack thanked me at least 20 times for taking him to the Yankee game untll we got there. Mission accomplished.

 

Last week, the father of my uncle, passed. Tom Flanagan would have been 93 in September. Tom was a wonderful man. He had retired from the FDNY in the 70’s, was an avid golfer, and a die hard Yankee fan. He was a man of stories and his love for the Yankees was evident in them. In his elder years he would sit out on the patio, with his radio tuned into 880am, drinking a can of Amstel, wrapped in a napkin secured by a rubber band, listening to the game. Even though we were not related by blood he was like a grandfather to me, and to Jack. He bought Jack his first Yankee T-shirt, with Johnny Damon’s number on the back. For this past Christmas he gave Jack his first Yankees jersey, Hideki Matsui, Jack’s favorite Yankee. It was hard to tell Jack that “Grandpa Tommy” had died, but I had to. Once I did, Jack’s first response was “can I go with you to say goodbye”? At first I was leary about taking a 6 1/2 year old to a wake. His response, I thought, was rather mature for a child his age so I decided to take him. Today was the wake. 

We go into the funeral home. It is filled with FDNY. We made our way through the pockets of people and see that there are large collages of pictures of Grandpa Tommy with various friends and family. Jack saw that he was in 3 of the pictures. He thought that was really neat. One of the pictures was of him and Grandpa Tommy blowing out candles on a birthday cake.

We made our way to the coffin. Jack said “he does look like he’s sleeping”. That what I told him to expect. Luckily it worked. About 10 seconds later Jack then says, looking at Grandpa Tommy, “Thank you for giving me my Matsui jersey”.

 

Tom Flanagan was a wonderful man. I hope it’s not too late to tell him how much I appreciate him sharing his love with all of us, and sharing his love for the Yankees with Jack.

 

   

17 Comments

Really loved this post. Sorry about the passing of “Uncle Tommy,” but so glad Jack got to say goodbye in such a meaningful way. I think it’s so important for kids to do that and for grownups not to make death mysterious and scary. And I loved reading about your trip to the stadium and Jack’s delight at being there. Good job raising him to be a Yankee fan!

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

I am truly sorry for your loss. Spending time at the ballparks with you kids is a very special time, though, and your son is very lucky. I have a 7yr old girl and 6yr old boy who I take to games when I can. My 1yr old has only been to one game, though. You can check out our adventures on my blog. An earlier entry shows pix of my son on our baseball trip. God Bless.
‘Minoring In Baseball’
http://burrilltalksbaseball.mblogs.com

That may have been your best article yet. Thanks for sharing your story.
Sorry for your loss. No one every is prepared for it, but having great memories makes it easier.

Wonderful post. I’m sorry for your loss, but I think it’s great that your son will always think of his Grandpa Tommy in relation to his Yankee fandom (in addition to other things). So many of us became diehards by following in the footsteps of family members.

It sounds like your trip to the new ballpark was fantastic. I was there just one week ago and I loved every minute of it. I can’t wait to get my taste of Citi Field though :-) Ashhttps://ashleymarshall.mlblogs.com

What a beautiful post this is

Im sorry about your loss

This post reminds me of how lucky i am to have shared so many memories of yankee games with my father. The games are maybe the one thing that has kept us so close after all theese years.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of baseball and the yankees

Thank you all very much for the kind words! Hopefully we can all live a wonderful life like Tom Flanagan did. I am truly lucky to have a great family, and my son especially!
Megan

And you have your Yankee fan friends. We’re slightly deranged (I should speak for myself) but are so much fun. :)

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Just posted about you on my blog. Take a look.

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Very nice story. Jack sounds like my son. He is an adult now but when he is in town we always go to the Dodgers games. Your son will always have those wonderful memories. Keep up the good work, Mom.
http://catlovesthedodgers.mlblogs.com

You’re up on my blog again tonight, thanks to your Damon-Dolenz brilliance. LOL

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

I love this story! I don’t ever hear about mothers taking their children to baseball games, only fathers. You sound like an amazing woman. Keep bringing Jack up right.

I love this story! You seem like an amazing mother. Keep bringing Jack to games and keep bringing him up right.

This was such a nice entry. It’s amazing how much you realize what people mean to you after they’ve passed. I can imagine that Uncle Tommy will always be in your son’s heart. I hope if I ever have kids I find someone who will mean that much to them. This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a thought!

– Lisa
http://perennialpinstriper.mlblogs.com/

OK. Time for you to post again. Come ON.

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Thanks for sharing this heartfelt story. I’m glad I got to read it. Now follow Jane’s advice and write some more ;-)
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/
http://mtrredstatebluestate.com

Meg .. very heartfelt. Condolences on the passing of your Grandpa Tommy. The wonderful part to take from this story is the generational connection that has been made as a result of baseball. A Matsui jersey has made a four generation leap, literally a fabric that baseball weaves from one to another. Dare say I can’t think of anything else that can do that.

Reading the first part of your post I couldn’t help but think of a post that I wrote back in the summer of 2008 .. my girl’s first ballgame – http://baseballisms.com/my-daughters-first-game-ever.html

So many stories, so many stories. …

Glad to have discovered you and your passion.

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