clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Dodged a Bullet for Now

Discussion of prostate cancer was at the center of Jon's thread when he posted that Davy Lopes had been diagnosed and was having surgery. He was an integral part of the 1973-1981 Dodgers, which won 4 NL Championships and might have been the most underrated of them all. He was certainly the best 2nd baseman in LA History. I may not have liked Lopes but he was a hell of a player and we hope he makes a complete recovery after his surgery.

Several commentators disclosed that either their father currently was fighting prostate cancer or had already succumbed to it. It was a timely thread as my father had recently been diagnosed with it and was having a meeting that day to discuss his options. My oldest brother was going with him, and his task was to make sure my father understood the ramifications of each option and to let the other four brothers know what happened in the meeting, what his options were, what he chose, and the expected outcome.

As we awaited the information the mind wanders and hopes for a positive sign but also starts preparing itself for the worse. There may be some of you who became baseball fans when their Dad wasn't, but I would think that for the majority, the love of the game was inherited from their father. My Dad was born in Wisconsin in 1928 and became a Cub fan. By the time the Braves moved to Milwaukee he had graduated from West Point and had started a journey of 20 years that would take him and sometimes his family all over the world from Panama to Taiwan to Germany. The only place we could really put down roots was when he taught ROTC at MIT and he took the opportunity to acquire his master degree. Even in Boston we moved 3 times in 3 years as renting a property put you at risk when they needed the property back.

Through all the moves the common game we had was a baseball game my Dad invented with 3 dice. It was based on the probability of rolling 3 dice and the percentages were based on the player's actual statistics. It was a precursor to a dice game that some of you might have played called strat-o-matic. The pitcher rolled 1st and could either strike you out or walk you. Then the hitter took his turn and they could do anything from single, double, triple, homerun, or walk. Defense was not part of the equation. My family started playing the game in the early 60's and by 1966 I was allowed to play after having just been allowed to watch for what seemed like forever. Each season we'd hold a draft and use baseball cards for our teams. Our early 1960 baseball cards are now a motley lot as they got used over and over. Each night the family baseball tournament was the highlight and it kept us engaged during our stay in Germany when we had no TV and only Armed Forces radio to compete for our attention. It was a simple game but it was based on a mathematical model and it forced me to learn how to use a slide rule when I was 7 or 8 when he let me help calculate the percentages. From the time I started playing the game in 1966 baseball has been something my Dad and I have shared.

1st baseball game was at RFK stadium where Frank Howard was bigger then life.
1st Dodger game - Don Sutton throws shutout
Constant supporter of baseball playing years-helping a crying 13 year deal with losing the 1st game in his Babe Ruth career by dropping a fly ball
Commiserated with me in the bleachers in 1980 as we watched Dave Goltz ruin the greatest baseball weekend in Dodger history
Later in life he was part of my roto playing leagues
At age 78,79 he was the champion of the AL Ruth League ScoreSheet League

Still my Dad is more then my connection to baseball. He is my Dad and the father to all my brothers and we've been lucky to have been blessed with a man who used only a tone to discipline and never a stick. Never drank to excess, never took the wrong path just because it was easy, treated his wife and all woman with the respect they deserve. Taught me early the ugliness of bigotry. Actually he simply treated all people the right way. If the world was made up of people like my father I would be more optimistic about the future of the human race.

My father never did the great things he probably dreamed about but he was a great father and this country was lucky to have had someone with his ethical backbone working for them.  He had to make many decisions that cost him his future in the Military and took early retirement to the relief of everyone, which bought us to Los Angeles in 1969.

My brothers have managed to produce nine grandchildren and most of them were lucky to have him around as their grandfather. He did what he could for those who were far away geographically and I don't think any of them could have asked for a better grandfather. He's slowed down, and is not happy that his mental acuity is not what it was. He once said to me the worse part of growing old is that he stopped mattering.

My brother and I talked tonight. The news is as good as it can be. He has a treatable form of prostate cancer and they can use a technique called seeding.  

The news is a relief. I knew that he could fight this cancer, what I didn't know is if he would. In my mind I had felt I was ready to let him go if he decided to let nature take it's course. Who was I kidding, even when he is gone I won't be ready. None of my family will be. He matters, even when he is gone he will matter.