I've been meaning to post this note for 4 months now. Mods, if it's in the wrong section, please move it for me.
I am a baseball fan/O's fan because of my father. He took me to Spring Training games when I was four, coached me when I was 7. I was with him at Memorial Stadium in 1979 the day after the DeCinces HR - it was a doubleheader that the O's swept, and Eddie became my favorite player after hitting a game-winner in game one.
He stopped attending games years ago, switching to minor league games at Bowie and Frederick. He attended maybe two games total at Camden Yards. Still, he continued to follow the team despite his anger with Angelos and his frustration with the direction of the team.
The Hangout came to be his main source of information. I introduced it to him a few years ago, having just made the leap from message board lurker to registered-but-rarely-posting member. He eventually registered under the name of Fridley Fan in honor of his favorite Oriole from his childhood, Jim Fridley (not much of a career). I don't think he ever posted a single comment in the hangout, but he visited every day.
My father got sick this summer. After a month not knowing what was wrong, he was diagnosed with cancer of an unknown origin, and was told that he had weeks or months to live.
Two snapshots for all of you:
- While visiting him in the hospital, our conversations about the O's were the only things that seemed to take his mind off of his health. Whenever there was a roster move - bringing up Machado, picking up Saunders or Randy Wolf - my father would ask "What does the Hangout think"? You all became a very important sounding board for him, and your opinions were valued.
- Once he was out of the hospital, the medication and disease left him unable to truly function. When he did have the energy to do something, he couldn't remember doing it just minutes later. One day I sat with him while he was at the computer, and I watched his brain literally reset itself every fifteen minutes. This meant that he would get online, go to the Hangout, check out comments, check his e-mail, close the browser, open the browser, go to the Hangout... this went on for two hours. He checked the Hangout 10-15 times.
I sat with him the night of September 6th, and by this time he was pretty much nonresponsive. I could not watch the game or listen to it, just watching the online feed. I remember giving him updates on that 8th inning - "Dad, Jones just hit a home run... now Reynolds hit one... now Davis hit one." I have no idea if he heard me, but I like to think he did. My father died nine hours later, with the O's in a tie for first place.
Visit the Orioles Hangout Message Board