One of the benefits of being back in Oakland is that it means being near to the locations of those priceless moments of our early years as parents. I was out for a father’s day bike ride in advance of our delicious celebration later this afternoon, and I happened to pass one of those locations. I had ridden up through Rockridge, along 24 and around the College Prep school. I started home by slipping under the freeway and came to the corner of Chabot and Golden Gate, site of Chabot Field. It was on this field in the early 1990s that our younger son, Nate played on the team I coached, the Kansas City Monarchs of the North Oakland Little league, in the Junior Minor Championship game.
The Monarchs had not won a game during the regular season, but the NOLL system put everyone in the playoffs and we did manage to win a first game in the playoff round and by a series of lucky circumstances, ended up playing for the championship. If I recall, the game was tied at 0-0 when Nate came up in the bottom of the 6th. He worked the pitcher for a walk. A second batter moved Nate to third. Myles, a good friend and the father of another kid on the team, was coaching third. As he recalls the story, he had told Nate to be very conservative with attempts to score — we still had a couple of outs to work with.
Nate had other ideas. The next pitch got away from the catcher and despite Myles’ desperate plea that Nate hold at third, he streaked for home. The catcher, perhaps bewildered by this act of pure bravado, hesitated for a moment before grabbing for the ball and lunging towards Nate. There was a could of dust as Nathan executed a beautiful slide to the inside of home plate. The catcher dove. The umpire was perfectly positioned and both boys looked up eagerly for the call. “Safe,” he shouted without hesitation!
Pandemonium. The game and our season ended on that play. It was a moment I have relived often since then. Both of my sons have given me great joy and reasons to be proud, and many of those moments are tied to our life here in Oakland.