Growing up, I was no sports fanatic. I played softball and basketball as a kid, but never excelled. I would watch football or whatever with my Dad, go to occasional games and get into them in the moment, but, honestly, I could take them or leave them. Mostly I left them.
In fact, during the 1986 World Series, I was spending a large amount of time within sight of the park of one of the teams and I barely registered that it was happening. I could have cared less. That I had just started dating my husband might have had something to do with it, but still. It wasn’t until Alfs was about two and a half and started to be interested in baseball himself that I paid attention at all. We lived near a very nice minor league park and would get cheap seats on the hot summer nights. It was an easy family outing. At first Alfs seemed more interested in the between innings entertainment than the actual game. Then he started asking questions about the game — about the rules, the players, and so on. His interest was growing, and I learned right along with him. For a while I figured he’d outgrow this phase, like he outgrew the dinosaurs phase and the train phase. I’d learned a fair bit on those topics during their respective phases so it seemed right to go with the flow and learn about baseball during this phase. We learned about the various teams and the names of the big players of the day. We learned about stats and history. We developed favorites. Alfs brought wonder and excitement and I could not deny that nor help but be infected by it.The baseball phase has never really gone away. Instead, it grew. Alfs baseball “phase” has made fans of the whole family. We now talk batting averages and spectacular plays at the dinner table. We suspend our NetFlix membership in April when the season starts because we can watch a baseball game nearly every night. When school is in session and a game is still going at his bedtime, Alfs first question to me the next morning invariably is, “What was the score?” We sit at a computer for hours on a cold winter Saturday hoping to get good tickets for the coming season. We even check out possible baseball viewing venues when considering vacations. I am what I never thought I would be: a sports fan. I, who never wore an item of sports team apparel in 35 years, have my own team wardrobe.This is all thanks to Alfs and his phase that wasn’t just a phase. It has opened a new world of fun for me that I dismissed for many years. Thanks, pal. And yes, we can talk about that team jersey you have been eyeing; I’ve been eyeing one myself.