(Blogathon ’16) Eric Stephen: On Baseball and Brothers

This guest-post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer are not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

At the end of January, I am reaching the point of restlessness in the offseason, much too far removed from the end of the last baseball season and still too far away from the starting of spring training this season. With 2016 a bit of a milestone year for both me and one of my brothers, I thought I’d share one of my favorite baseball memories with him.

My two brothers are the reason I love baseball so much. Kelly is 15 years older than I am, and Greg is 10 years older than me, and were largely responsible for molding me into the person I am today. They loved baseball, so it had to be great. I had to find out about this thing my brothers loved so much, and I soon found I would love it too.

Given the age difference between us, Kelly and Greg were more than brothers and role models for me. They also had somewhat of a fatherly role, too, when I was younger. Our dad passed away from pancreatic cancer in January 1987, when I was 10, and they did their best to fill that void in my life when I needed it most.

The 1988 Dodgers will forever be the sports team I most identify with, one that captured my heart when I was 12. I grew up in Palm Springs and, being two-plus hours away from Dodger Stadium I didn’t go to too many games as a kid. I went to two games in 1988 – Game 2 of the 1988 World Series, with Kelly; and July 6 against the Cardinals, with Greg.

To date, Game 2 remains the only World Series game I have ever attended. But that July 6, 1988 game will always stick with me, too.

It was just Greg and I, which meant a lot of knowledge was getting passed down to me. Previous lessons included how to keep score, proper strategy, and even when to cheer. That last one was more important that you might think, especially for someone not familiar with depth perception at different sections of the ballpark.*

*In other words, not in this game but when I was much younger, I once stood up with arms raised upon bat hitting ball, not realizing this high fly ball wasn’t destined for the seats or even the outfield, but rather settled nicely into the waiting glove of the second baseman, much to the embarrassment and horror of my brothers.

Anyway, back to this July 6 game, there was nothing special about this relatively nondescript Wednesday night game. It did happen to fall on what would have been our dad’s 54th birthday, and was just his second birthday since his death.

The Dodgers were down 3-0 to the Cardinals after seven innings in this game, but as they did all year managed to rally to tie the game in the eighth inning. But the rally wasn’t over.

Even after tying the score, the Dodgers managed to load the bases against ace closer Todd Worrell, with first baseman Franklin Stubbs coming to the plate. Stubbs was a former first-round pick who never managed to live up to the advance billing, but on this night he came through.

Stubbs ran the count full and on the eighth pitch of his battle with Worrell launched a ball well into the right field pavilion, helping to give the Dodgers yet another improbable victory in a season full of them. What I remember most about the moment of the grand slam was the utter euphoria in Dodger Stadium, enhanced because I was there with my brother Greg.

I can still feel the goosebumps today when thinking about that game.

Greg lives in Baltimore now with his wife and three kids, so we don’t see each other as much as I would like. But this year he turns 50 in February, and I turn 40 in March, and with Kelly the three of us plan to celebrate these milestones with each other during a week in spring training in Arizona.

It is as perfect a combination that I can think of – me, baseball and my brothers. I’m getting goosebumps already, and I can’t wait.

Eric covers the Dodgers for True Blue LA and is an editor at SB Nation. You can follow him @truebluela.

This guest-post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer were not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

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One thought on “(Blogathon ’16) Eric Stephen: On Baseball and Brothers

  1. Pingback: Every Piece from the 2016 Blogathon | The Baseball Continuum

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