Not many people burst into tears when they hear Glenallen Hill is in charge of outfield instruction for the Colorado Rockies. Laugh, shake their heads in disbelief maybe, but rarely do they cry.
Let me explain.
The exact details are a little fuzzy, but I do know the Mariners were playing a game sometime in 1998. Glennallen Hill, hitter extraordinaire that he was, wore special shoes that help you grip the dirt in the batter’s box better. Incidentally, they are terrible for roaming the outfield. He was going back on a fly ball, his cleats got caught in the turf, and a tumbling down he went.
This led my Dad to nickname him “Glenallen Asshole”. (It was a catchall nickname; he’d referred to the pitcher as Bobby Ayala Asshole for years.)
If I had heard about his outfield coaching gig a season ago, I would have immediately texted my Dad. We would have bantered and had a good laugh.
But the thing is, St. Peter has a strict No Cell Phones policy.
It’s not just the silly nicknames that I miss. Although, we did have some great ones. There was Fat Ass, a portly pitcher Ron Fairly described as being “built like a pitcher, thick through the middle”. And I’ll never forget Scott Brosiusaurus, bestowed when I mentioned that Scott Brosius’ face reminded me of a dinosaur.
There’s too many things I miss to mention them all. It’s skipping school to go to Opening Day games. It’s the blue bag with homemade hot dogs, peanuts, Diet Pepsi, scorebooks, and mechanical pencils we brought to every game. It’s sarcastically quoting Ron Fairly and genuflecting to Dave Niehaus. Groaning at errors and cheering magnificent pitching performances. He may be the only person who agreed with my impression that Game 6 of last year’s World Series was a terrible display of professional baseball, not the exciting game everyone says it was.
That’s the last game in his scorebook. I finished the last couple innings when he was too tired. At the time, he and I both thought that was going to be the last game he saw; the last game we watched together. Then that jerk David Freese ruined it with his stupid home run and we had a Game 7 that felt anticlimactic.
Opening Day was tough this season. Not the game. I’ve gotten used to watching games without him. It was hard the rest of the day because he wasn’t here to talk to about the game. He wouldn’t have gotten up that early, but he would have asked how it went. We would have talked about Ichiro and Figgins, and he’d ask how Olivo did behind the plate. We’d talk about Carp in the outfield and Montero’s first at bats. And we’d talk about the season as a whole, our viewpoints speckled with sarcastic cynicism, awash in love for baseball.
We didn’t get to talk about those things. My favorite part of baseball isn’t here.
It’s not just the silly nicknames I miss.