Part V: New York Baseball, Dad, and Me
By Joe Rini
It’s now July and my father’s been gone for two months. His birthday passed and Father’s Day has passed since he passed away in May. He was a young baseball fan when the first All-Star game was played in 1933 and the first All-Star game since his passing was played this week. My Mom, his wife of 72 years, survives him and she still watches the Mets on TV every night with my sister. Sometimes when my Dad would watch the Yankee games, she’d joke to me, “I think your father’s becoming a Yankee fan,” but if the Mets aren’t on TV, she’ll watch some of the Yankee games, too.
My father was blessed with a long life and he was a blessing to the lives he touched. He was grateful for whatever good fortune came his way, whether it was something big like his longevity and family or something small like a really good dish of linguini.
When I think of something that symbolizes the connection baseball had between my father and me, I think of a baseball; not the autographed baseball in his casket but a baseball I haven’t seen in nearly a half century and probably wouldn’t recognize if it was on this desk with the laptop I am typing on.
It’s a baseball that’s barely a speck in a photo in the Rini Family Archives (aka, the closet downstairs with the photo albums). It’s a photo that was taken on the shores of Lake Ontario when my parents took my sister and me to see Niagara Falls in the early 1970s (to quote my Dad, “When Niagara falls, it falls!”) My Dad and my sister swam and played in Lake Ontario while Mom and I stayed on the shore; I wasn’t much of a beach lover as a kid and much to the chagrin of my beach-loving wife, I’m still not.
But after my sister and Dad came out of the water, my father and I “had a catch” on the shores of Lake Ontario. In a photo snapped by my Mom on a 110 Instamatic camera, the photo captures my father, Joe Rini, in his tan bathing suit completing his follow through in the foreground while 90 feet or so away his youngest son’s knees are bent slightly as I track the speck of a baseball in flight between us.
I like thinking of that speck of a baseball, forever in flight between us, as symbolizing the connection between us, linking us forever, in this world and the next, regardless of mortality. I’d also like to think that someday, perhaps in some heavenly realm, my Dad and I will finally get to see a game at Ebbets Field together, and maybe bump into one of the Dodgers as we share a pizza at Tex’s.