Dad took me to my first ballgame in the summer of 1970, at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City.
It was awesome.
I got a pennant and an autograph from the Royals' radio play-by-play man, whom we mistakenly believed was Freddie Patek, famous for being the best 5-foot-4 shortstop ever to play the game.
Actually, he's the best 5-foot-4 ANYTHING to play the game, but I digress.
With today being Father's Day, I simply can't help but take a personal little trip back in time, a trip to celebrate baseball, fathers and children.
I mean, sure, there are other things to write about -- the NBA, the U.S. Open, the Stanley Cup finals, etc. -- but there isn't anything better, on this day, than baseball.
Because this year marks the 40th anniversary of Kauffman Stadium -- the beautiful ballpark that replaced Municipal Stadium -- my mind has gone back to the summer it opened, 1973, and a trip dad and I made to see the Royals play the dashing, dangerous, defending World Series champion Oakland A's.
Oh the A's were an interesting bunch. They wore white shoes and bright-colored uniforms. They had long hair, big funky mustaches and they played the game with such passion one wondered if they loved it or hated it.
They had guys named "Catfish" Hunter and "Blue Moon" Odom; they had Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi and a fellow named Sal Bando, who would soon become my favorite player.
I don't remember the final score that night the A's played the Royals in their new ballpark, nor do I remember who played where or for that matter, the date the game took place.
But four decades later I remember being in the parking lot outside the stadium as the team bus pulled up outside the visitor's clubhouse.
The area was packed with fans wanting to get a glimpse of the A's.
There was a clamoring for autographs and what seemed like a sea of hands holding up souvenirs -- programs, balls, hats, pennants ... whatever could be found -- to be signed by one of those rock stars.
It was no place for a kid, and yet it was the perfect place for a kid.
I've been telling this story for years, telling friends about being pushed out of the way because I was so small. And I suppose there's something to that, but the truth is I was probably too timid to get anyone's attention.
Making his way through the crowd, player after player walked past me without ever seeing me. It wasn't until the bus was loaded and pulling away that Bando, the A's All-Star third baseman, noticed me.
As I recall, he leaned out the window and motioned for me to toss him my prized baseball glove. I did as told and he quickly signed it and flipped it back as the bus pulled away.
Looking back on it, I'm fairly certain it didn't happen exactly the way I remember, which is the wonderful thing about memories. It's not that they're apocryphal, it's just that the years have enhanced them with spice and seasoning until they're better than they really were.
One thing I know, though, is that Sal Bando's name was on my glove and I treasured it.
He became my favorite player.
Years later, while covering the Ogden Raptors for the Standard-Examiner, I had a chance to meet Mr. Bando, who was then serving as the Milwaukee Brewers' general manager.
I told him the story and as I did I'm pretty sure I was a 9-year-old once again.
He chuckled and said he didn't remember it.
I didn't expect him to; after all, it didn't belong to him.
It's mine ... and it always will be.
Happy Father's Day.