I hope everyone had a fun and safe Fourth of July. Now that I’m married to a Canadian, I have to celebrate Canada Day (July 1) was well as Independence Day. I was thinking for Canada Day we’d listen to Celine Dion’s greatest hits, maybe watch some hockey on ESPN 8 “The Ocho,” and drink some maple syrup straight out of the bottle.
We did none of that.
But three days later, we got to celebrate a day dedicated to America. My favorite thing about the Fourth of July is the fireworks. Now, I don’t purchase fireworks, but I like seeing them when they go off. I’ve seen a lot of fireworks shows in my life, but the majority of them have nothing to do with the Fourth of July.
More often than not, any time I see fireworks, I can’t help but to think of my dad. For many years, my dad and I would spend two weeks every summer traveling around the country going to baseball games. We would also pick the games we’d plan on going to in regard to what was being given away for free that night. Let me tell you, we’ve collected a lot of odd things over the years. From floppy hats to seat cushions to water bottles and bobble heads, we brought home a lot of swag at the end of each trip.
But the thing that I think my dad enjoyed more than anything was when there were fireworks after the game. We’d be in a little minor league ballpark in Portland or Appleton or Akron and would sit back and watch the fireworks show.
Even as a little kid, I knew there was something special about watching ballgames with my dad. But once the lights would go out and that first firework would shoot up into the air, it was like I was living in a Norman Rockwell painting. I mean, come on, a father and son at a baseball game watching fireworks, how great is that?
But not every game ended in fireworks. Some games ended when the final out was made and we’d return back to our car and get ready to go to the next town. For two weeks every summer, we lived life on the road and never missed a game.
Now, I’ve heard how other people lived while on family vacations and let me tell you, the Dossi way of traveling is not the normal way. For two weeks every summer, we lived on peanuts, bananas, granola bars and Diet Pepsis.
We’d hit the road around 10 a.m. and stop at the nearest gas station to refuel and get breakfast. I’d grab a banana, granola bar and orange juice and it was off to the next town. Sometimes we’d attend a professional game in a big city like Chicago, Kansas City or St. Louis, where it was easy to find the stadiums. Other times, we’d be in a small town and the only way we could find the park was to look for the lights (remember, this was the time before the global positioning system). Once we found the park, we’d locate the nearest grocery store and fill a bag full of peanuts. Then, it was off to the game.
We’d typically get into the park right after the gates opened because I liked to watch batting practice. I’d stand in the outfield or down the line and would try to snag a ball. While I was doing that, Dad would take a leisurely stroll around the park to get a good feel of it. Once BP was finished, I’d meet him at our seats and we’d eat peanuts and watch the game.
After the game was finished, we’d go to another gas station and I’d get a muffin and some orange juice. Then it was off to whatever hotel we were staying at and we’d repeat the schedule the next day.
I no longer go to games with my dad, mostly because I don’t think I can ever eat a peanut again. But I still try to go to a few games a year with either some friends or the lovely Mrs. Dossi. But like my old man would, I try to attend a game where there are fireworks.
And regardless of where I’m at or who I’m with, once the lights go out and the first firework shoots into the air, I always feel like my dad is sitting right beside me and I relish every second.