From Chicken Soup for the Father & Son Soul

He Saw Them All

The truest greatness lies in being kind, the truest wisdom in a happy mind.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

My love for baseball comes from my father. He took me to Yankee and Met games. He taught me how to hit from both sides of the plate. I was a good hitter.

Dad signed me up for Gil Hodges Little League in 1970. In my first year, I held my own. By my second year, I was trying so hard to make my father proud I would strike out every time he came to a game. My dad would always tell me to keep my head up and not give up. He also realized I was trying too hard to impress him. When he told me he had to work and couldn’t come to any more games that year, I was really upset. But I managed to hit four home runs in the next five games. Dad never got to see them.

In the final game of the year I came up. With two outs in the last inning and the bases loaded, we were down 6-3. I looked in the stands and saw my dad peeking out from behind the concession stand. I was determined to hit one home run Dad would see. I took three balls and I knew the pitcher could not walk me. He threw one and I hit it over the 180-foot right field fence. I looked for dad but he was gone. After the game, he pulled up with the car, smiled, and asked me how I did.

“Dad,” I said, “I saw you in the stands behind the concessions.”

“Wow, you did?” he said. “What a shot you hit! I think that was the longest home run you’ve hit yet.”

And then I got it. He’d been there every time, watching—and hiding—giving me the best chance I could ever have to do my best. And I did.

John C. Spatola

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