APRIL 30, 2004
Stars Align For This Baseball Fan Dad
By Steve Lombardi, NetShrine.com

Fair warning:  This edition of SOTS is somewhat more particularized than the usual composition.  If that turns you off, you may want to avert your eyes now.

For those who may not have yet ascertained it from previous editions of SOTS, I am a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee fan.  Related, from February to October, pretty much everyday, I have my finger on the pulse of what is happening in the Yankee universe.

In fact, earlier this week, while my wife and I were just about ready to begin welcoming our second child (a son) into the world, I brazenly kidded with my bride that it was very considerate of the baby to pick a birth day on a date where there was no Yankee game scheduled.

Of course, that was as we were settling into the hospital.  Once things became serious in the L&D process, all I could think about was what was going on then and there.  It could have been Game 7 of a Yankee World Series at that moment, and, truth be told, I would care less.  How anyone could concern themselves with anything else outside the moment during the birth a child, while it is happening, is inconceivable.  To be candid, in my opinion, any deviation from the focus on the birth would be, point blank, sick.

Still, having a baby is an event that comes with some nervousness.  And, joking (such I did) before things become serious sometimes is very useful.  In our case, it was a relief from some of the anxiety (again, albeit transitory).

It was while I was kidding with my wife about the “off day” that we remembered, coincidently, when my daughter (our first child) was born 22 months prior, it was also an “off day” for the Yankees.  (At that time, because she was 6 weeks premature and her delivery was very tense, no thoughts outside what was going on with my wife were in my head – and I did not realize that it was an “off day” until the next day, following her birth.  So, in that case, our “joke” about my daughter “picking an off ‘Yankee’ day for Daddy” was actually an “after the fact” tidbit that we would subsequently kid ourselves with on occasion.)

What are the odds of this happening twice to the same parents in a 22 month window?  Two children born during the baseball season to a father who is a Yankee fan – neither child born on their due date, as my son was also premature (by four weeks) – and both children born on days when the Yankees had no game scheduled?

It was fun to ponder this between ourselves for the moment.  But, we quickly filed it away – as we hurriedly had other, and more important, things requiring attention, as you could imagine.

I did not think about the coincidence further, at all, until roughly 24 hours later when I eventually heard about the events of the Yankee game (which was played following the night my son was born).

In this game, played in what could be considered remotely threatening weather for a ball game, the Yankees rallied in the bottom of the 8th inning with 6 runs – to overcome a 8-4 deficit – and they eventually won the game by a score of 10 to 8.

By chance, 22 months prior, in the Yankee game which was played following the day our daughter was born, it was a very similar game!

In this game, also played in what could be considered remotely threatening weather for a ball game, the Yankees rallied late in the game to tie the score and eventually won the game in extra innings.

More precisely, the Yankees were down by a score of 2-0 and scored single runs in both the top of the 8th and 9th innings to knot the game at two.  In the top of the 10th, they scored two more – which held up for a 4-2 final score (and the Yankee win).

Today, checking the box scores for each game, I can find even more common coincidences.  In both games, New York had 10 hits.  In both games, the Yankees used 5 pitchers.  In both games, Wally Bell was an umpire – home plate for my son’s game and first base for my daughter’s game.  

Looking at the season logs for New York, I can find other things in common for the games.  Both were the first game of a three game series – which makes sense as they followed an off day.  And, very strangely, both of these series followed (after the off day) a three game series versus a team that the Yankees played in a seven game post-season series the year prior.  (The game in 2002 followed a series against the Diamondbacks and the game this year followed a series against the Boston Red Sox.)  Both games also followed a loss for New York in the game prior to it.

Threatening skies.  Late inning comebacks.  Ten hits.  Five pitchers used.  Wally Bell.  First game of a series.  Following a big post-season rematch.  Coming off a loss.  With that much in common on both dates, there must have been something lined up in the stars for this to happen, no?

A situation such as this is just one of the fun ways that baseball can intertwine itself with your life.  Furthermore, the beauty of it is that you do not even need to be paying attention for it to happen.  The games play themselves.  The results can be examined later – even years after the fact.

And, once you have found your touch points on the interweave between your life line and the intersecting curve of baseball history, you then own those coordinates for life and can revisit them as much as you desire.

You can bet your bottom dollar that I will be telling my kids (when they are older) about the entertaining connection with their birth and the Yankee games that immediately followed for a long time.  Probably long enough until it reaches the point where they roll their eyes when I begin the story again and they start to mock me with a comical imitation of my retelling the yarn.

When that happens, I will not be upset.  In fact, I will just smile – because part of the fun of being a dad is to playfully annoy your kids in such a manner.  And, if they needle me back, it will prove that I have passed along at least one useful skill to them.  Mission accomplished.

For now, in the scrawling of this scorecard, I would just like to thank the Yankees, Wally Bell, the fates – and, of course, above all others, my wife, for making all this possible.  It is always fun when everything needed for a great story lines up all on its own.

Steve Lombardi is the Creator & Curator of NetShrine.com.  Scrawling On The Scorecard appears regularly during the baseball season and sporadically during the off-season.  Steve can be contacted at sots@netshrine.com

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