92: Fathers, Sons and the Angel in the Stadium

92: Fathers, Sons and the Angel in the Stadium

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad

Fathers, Sons and the Angel in the Stadium

I see great things in baseball. It’s our game — the American game.

~Walt Whitman

I remember when I got the call that American Eagle Outfitters would be flying my ten-year-old son to New York for their fall campaign. Immediately, I was excited. Actually, I was over the moon about it, but then I stopped in my tracks. My son, Dalton, is a triplet and we have a daughter as well who was seven. Dalton would miss the whole week of school, but the bigger question was: Who would take him?

I was the obvious choice, but my husband is not the best at juggling things at home. Still, the one time he’d taken a child on a trip to a chess tournament, he missed the flight and had to be rerouted at five the next morning. It had been a total disaster. So, imagine, now my son was about to go to New York with his father for six days. I freaked. New York, to me, is scary, and the trip would involve more airports and planes with his dad.

“You have to hold on to him for dear life everywhere you go,” I ordered. We live in Boca Raton, Florida and everything here is usually pretty quiet. New York is tough, or so I thought.

But to my delight, my husband was amazing. He took my son places I would have never dared to go. He took him to Madison Square Park, on a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, to the New York Stock Exchange, photographed him in front of Trump Tower, Chinatown for dinner, everywhere. He was also taken to many locations around New York for his photo shoot and they had a blast. My husband even had him on the subways!

A few nights into his trip, he wanted to take him to a Mets game — Michael and Dalton — just father and son. They walked around the arena looking for tickets from anyone who had any to sell. They came across a guy who had two over-priced tickets, but my husband did not have enough cash, and so the person selling them said, “Hey, you can leave your son with me while you go find an ATM.”

“Uh, no thanks,” my husband said. “I’ll take him and we’ll be right back.”

Well, as the two of them continued to walk around the stadium to get some more money, an elderly man tapped my son on the shoulder and kindly asked, “Are you two looking for tickets to the game?” To which, my husband snapped around and said, “Yes, sir, we definitely are.” With that, the man — who was with his wife — said, “Great, you can be our guests.”

The gentleman informed my husband that he had two extra tickets for their friends that couldn’t make it. He then said, “Here you go.”

My husband said, “Wow, that’s awesome. Thank you. How much are they?”

The man softly said, “Nothing. They’re on me. Go get your seats and we’ll see you inside.”

Michael took Dalton to get a Mets sweatshirt and a hot dog.

“This is sooo cool,” my son said. “And the other guy wanted so much money. I like New York!”

The two of them went to find their seats and meet their new friends. They walked into the stands, lower and lower and lower until they ended up three rows back from the first base line. Not a soul was sitting in front of them to block the view! It could not have gotten any better.

A short while later, the gentleman and his wife came and sat down next to them.

“I got to tell you,” my husband said, “this is really kind of you. It’s not every day that people do this kind of thing. My wife would never believe me.”

My son was ecstatic. Not only was he doing a national campaign for an amazing clothing company, but he was three rows back at a Mets game for free! The four of them sat together, talked a bit and watched. About a half an hour into the game the concession guy came around selling beers, at which time my husband said, “No, no, I got it. It’s a thank you.”

The concession guy insisted that since there are cameras, he must ID everyone, and he meant, “Everyone.” The gentleman took out his ID and handed it over, but when he went to put it back inside his wallet, something caught my husband’s eye. It was a badge of some sort. My husband dared to ask his wife.

“Um, I noticed a badge in his wallet. Is he in some official department? Is he a police officer?”

The woman quietly whispered, “No, he’s not a police officer. He is retired from the New York City Fire Department. He was a captain.”

My husband then dared again. “Did 9/11 have an impact on him directly? Was he involved in any way at that time?”

The woman replied, “No, he was retired then, but his son is also in the FDNY and he never came home. He died that day.”

My husband was speechless. Then the woman said something that made my husband’s heart go heavy. After such a wonderful day, a beautiful sky, a perfect evening game, she said, “He used to come to these games with his son. Now, when our friends can’t make it, he waits outside the arena looking for another father and son to share our seats with.”

When my husband came home and told me this story, he was right; I could hardly believe it. Those short few moments of conversation spoke volumes. My son had shared — with two total strangers — an appreciation for the relationship of a father and son that will last a lifetime.

This is a huge “thank you” from me, the mom of that cute little boy and amazing father and husband. I hope that gentleman knows what he did for us that day.

~Marni Chris Tice

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