This is my annual tribute to my dad who passed away on this date in 1995.
Fifteen years ago today, the man who taught me to love baseball, my dad, died of colon cancer.
My dad was a great guy. He was brilliant - he knew something about absolutely everything. He had a wry sense of humor, and he told the best stories. He loved reading the funnies and completing the crossword puzzle every day, but he always read the box scores first.
He taught me many useful things like cooking and driving. But he firmly believed that every kid needed two skills: playing cribbage and scoring baseball games. And I do those things pretty well. He took me to a few games at the old Met Stadium. His favorite player was Roy Smalley, while I had a mad crush on Butch Wynegar. He also took me to an exhibition game when the Dome first opened and the roof leaked - the poor left fielder got wet.
My favorite memories are of summer evenings when we would go down to the Dairy Queen - the kind where you had to walk up to the window to order- and sit in his beat-up old maroon truck in the glow of the yellow lights that were supposed to keep the mosquitoes away but didn't, and listen the Herb Carneal call the Twins game on the radio. He'd almost always get a chocolate - NOT hot fudge - sundae with Spanish peanuts. I'd mix it up and get whatever struck my fancy, but my favorite was a dipped cone with sprinkles. We would do this about two or three times a week. The radio in his truck got better reception than the radio in the house, so I think we did it more for the baseball than for the ice cream.
Baseball games weren't on TV very often, but I distinctly remember that he made me watch Hank Aaron's 715th homerun. I'm glad he did.
I regret that I didn't spend the two Twins' World Series wins with him - I was in college in '87 and at a family reunion with my husband's side of the family in '91.
I think he'd like the current corps of Twins players. He was a "do it the right way on a budget" kind of guy.
I write this tribute because I want to do my part to reduce the occurrence of colon cancer so other folks don't have to write tributes for their loved ones. March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and is up to 90% survivable if treated in its earliest stages.
Please take care of your colons. Get screened regularly (it's not that bad -- really). And make sure your loved ones, especially those in high-risk groups, take care of theirs.
If you'd like to do more, consider participating in the "Get Your Rear in Gear" 5k run/walk. I plan to participate (walk) this year, and I'll also be working a booth for the Twin Cities race (my employer is a corporate sponsor). Visit the Colon Cancer Coalition for more information.