I always say that the single most enduring memory of my childhood is that of my father going to the factory every single day, waking up so early the television stations were still static … then dressing in the dark, packing a salami sandwich in a brown paper bag, wandering out in the arctic chill of 5:30 a.m., driving through the darkness, over the potholes, to the factory, where the air was stale and the lights flickered and the work could break you. I always say that the single most enduring memory of my childhood was of my father coming home in that blue, rusted-out Chevy Nova, getting out of the car, his pants and hands black from oil and muck and whatever else, and how he would have this smile on his face, and I would beg him, and he would grab a Nerf football or grab his glove and wander out to the backyard with me and play catch.
That long memory is special for me because he is my father, of course. But that memory is also special for me because (I realize) it is the model against which I judge everyone and everything, the model against which I judge myself. Do you bring it every day? Do you endure through the monotony? Do you hold on to what’s important to you even when it isn’t easy? Are you a hero to someone — not because of talent or artistry or what is largely viewed as success, but instead because of who you are at your core?
I know that, if I take just a moment, I can find the perfect Jewish quote which says essentially the same thing, but with different words. But, truth is, that seems redundant. Nothing wrong with finding an occasional nice Shabbat thought in the world of baseball, rather than in Judaism. They are, after all, my two religions.