The San Francisco Giants: A Pastime Passed Down From Grandpa
You can’t control the moment.
That’s the splendor of sports, the ability to give oneself over to a cause that is more than you. It’s to care deeply for the unexpected – to be captivated through times of elation and anguish.
It’s to share a passion for the strangers who you root for and those strangers who you root with.
And, in the end, to have absolutely no power over the outcome.
It’s hard to identify that moment when all of us agree to these lifelong contracts. Fans don’t pick teams; at some point, they’re just given to you. We’re all taught how to embrace it. We’ve all had different teachers and learned in different ways.
My Grandfather gave me the Giants.
I will forever remember the instances when my Grandpa, Russell Francis Boehm, began guiding me towards this lifelong commitment.
As a young boy, I remember balancing on my seat with an oversized cap, peering over the shoulders of the fans in front of me and looking up towards Grandpa to learn from his behavior.
I remember Grandpa taking me to a game for my birthday. It was Will Clark’s return from injury. I’ll never forget stomping on the aluminum beneath our seats as he came to bat. Now, this was something a kid could get into.
I remember years later, in 2002, when the Giants delivered their most aggressive blow of misery yet, a World Series loss to the Angels. My Grandpa was the first person I called.
“At least they made it this far,” he said. “That was fun.”
I doubt it was easy for him to say. Grandpa was as passionate about this team as anyone. But he also understood the essence of these games. It wasn’t the end result that was most important – it was the ability to feel and unite over something out of our hands.
For him, it was about the journey. He would have embraced the “torture.”
My Grandpa grew up in San Francisco and watched as the Giants moved to his city in 1958. He was there in 1962, along with my then nine-year-old Uncle Barry, for Game 7 of the World Series against the Yankees when Willie McCovey lined out to Bobby Richardson in the ninth inning. (He gave me the program from that 1962 series, which I now have sitting with the 2010 program I took home from Game 1.)
Grandpa passed away in 2005 and never saw his city celebrate a World Series championship.
Now, as the Giants seek their first title in San Francisco, Grandpa’s legacy as a fan is felt through his sons and daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Fitting, as Grandpa always loved watching his family together.
My Grandma is still watching too. She began to watch games and read the sports page to keep pace on topics that interested Grandpa, and she still does.
We all learned to be fans through him, and now we all wait in hopes that our Giants reach what has for so long seemed like the impossible.
None of us can control the moment. All we can do is enjoy it, as a family, the way Grandpa would have liked it.
Jimmy Spencer can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @jimmypspencer
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