There’s a first time for everything. This is my first “Slice of Life Story Challenge” post. I know I’m starting late, but I found it hard to decide what to post. I decided to dedicate this month of writing to my dad. Here it goes…

My dad was the best dad ever — at least, in my mind. I remember him driving my sister three hours to Detroit, Michigan to take part in the spring media/children’s day with the Detroit Tigers baseball team. I do not remember what the event was actually called, but I remember strolling into Tiger Stadium, with a baseball glove in one hand and my dad’s hand in the other, ready to play ball with the pros.

The players were huge, uniformed men who spent the day with us because some lucky winners signed up for the chance to take their kids to the ballpark. My dad was a lucky winner, but I didn’t know that at the time. My dad had a confidence about him — and I thought he was friends with Alan Trammell (the famous shortstop), who may have invited us to learn more about baseball. I remember thinking, “Wow, my dad is so cool. He knows the Detroit Tigers!” There we sat: listening, watching, playing ball with the experts.

I remember the wooden bat that was too big for my small frame. I couldn’t hold it up!  The bat dropped to the ground, but Lou Whitaker (Sweet Lou) was beside me. He picked the bat up and instructed me to hold it closer to the middle, called “choking up.” I held the bat and made a few practice swings. Then I got to hit the ball, an authentic, white, Major League baseball! Fielding was much easier for me, since I was a right-fielder on my summer softball team. We raced as fast as we could to center field for the lesson. I think I only got one or two grounders because of the population of excited children and parents running around that day. No fly balls. But that was ok with me. We trotted back to the infield — it was getting hot out there! — to share lunch with the hundreds of other participants.

After lunch my sister and I poked, prodded, and plowed over other kids to get to the fence first, to wait for autographs from each player who stayed outside in the heat for us. My autograph book was orange and had fancy gold lettering. I remember I purchased that particular book so if I lost it, anyone could pick it up off the ground and know whose it was (I really thought my dad told Alan Trammell that book was mine.) There were so many awesome moments that day — I actually don’t remember many details. I do remember meeting Dad’s favorite Detroit Tiger players, sitting on the soft, green grass, and receiving important autographs that would be worth something someday from the players whose names we had previously heard only on TV.  As my dad drove us the 3-hour route home, I fell asleep. Playing baseball was such hard work! Maybe that’s why American League players made so much money, I thought. What a great day with Dad! I know we girls asked, “Can we do that again next year?”

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I lost that autograph book when our basement flooded several years ago. When Dad died a couple of weeks ago, I found the autographed ball from that day. I didn’t even know Dad had it! It was in a clear box on the mantle, a keepsake. I snatched it off the mantle quickly, and stashed it under clothes in my overnight bag. My mom saw me and said, “You know that ball is probably worth something now.” I know it’s worth something to me; it’s my souvenir from the day I spent with my dad and his friends, the Detroit Tigers.