By Tom Likai
Reader Tom Likai, 66, is a Seattle native who, apart from his two years of Army service in California and Vietnam, has never lived anywhere else. He is a devoted sports fan who is perpetually split by his passion for it and his wonder at the overwhelming importance it is given.
Dad was a former semipro baseball player and a devoted fan of Seattle’s Class AAA farm teams from the mid-1940s on. When I was a little kid, all the talk around the house about the Rainiers got my attention. Even though I knew nothing more than the basics, he talked me into attending a game with him. I guess I was 8 years old.
Sicks’ Stadium was a venerable old place with more than a few miles on it, and its design would be considered old fashioned today. When a person presented his ticket and entered the gate, he found himself downstairs in the guts of the building. The first thing that hit me was the smell. It was a combination of the odors of stale beer and old cigars, not unpleasant exactly, just foreign to a child. Soon my dad and I came to a double flight of cement stairs, leading up to I didn’t know what.
As we reached the top and walked down a short aisle to the seating area, I encountered a sight that stopped me in my tracks and made me catch my breath.
It was an unbelievable expanse of pure green, extending into what seemed like forever. The vibrant color contrasted sharply with the smooth brown of the expertly manicured infield dirt. All around me were excited people, and here and there were the occasional vendors with their assorted treasures for sale (“Get yer red hots!”). All told, this panorama provided me with sensory overload like I had never known. This memory goes wherever I go.
My father has long since passed on, but the love of the game of baseball lives in me and always will. That feeling is his legacy and is the single thing I got from him that I value most.
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