Doc’s Blog: Three Generations of the Jarnagin Family Gathered For a Game
I want to jump to the obvious. We are not at Coors Field and we are not wearing Rockies gear. That’s not to say that I do not root for the Rockies.
Look, I love Colorado and all things Colorado. However, I pledged my allegiance to another baseball team when I was a kid. It was well before Colorado even thought about getting a team. What I hope you can appreciate is that this is a story of three generations of Jarnagins gathering at a game recently at Dodger Stadium. This is a story about family, baseball, and a memory that will forever live with all three of us. These are things I know you can appreciate.
My 50th birthday was June 27th. Prior to that day, I was wanting something special and unique for this milestone. As I was watching my son pitch at one of his Little League games, an amazing thought crossed my mind. How about me, my son, and my dad all go see the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium? My dad doesn’t travel much so I thought this would be the biggest hurdle. It wasn’t. I called him on my way home from Ryan’s (my son) game and threw out the idea. He was all about it! It was a definite YES.
The breakdown on the Jarnagin’s:
Me: I lived in Southern California for about three years. I was very young at the time, but I remember a lot. My best friend was Darren Davidson. He lived just down the street from me. I remember Little League in Fountain Valley. I was on a team called the “Angels”. That was cool with me because my most favorite pitcher was Nolan Ryan, who was pitching for the Angels at the time. My first major league game was at “The Big A” to watch the Angels. It was raincoat night…..in Southern California! It never rains there. I was captivated by everything. I thought this was my favorite team…..until my dad took me to a Dodger game. I’ll never forget it. As soon as we got through the gate and to our seats, the entire stadium opened up, revealing the majestic stadium layout and the green grass. It hit me like a lightning bolt. I became a Dodger fan at that moment.
My son, Ryan: He’s 13 and a pretty darn good pitcher. He’s shown that talent since t-ball, though they don’t pitch at that level. He’s got the Jarnagin arm. However, he hadn’t really pledged his allegiance to a team yet. I have taken him to Coors Field at least 4 times, three of those games the Rockies played the Dodgers. The fourth was the Rockies vs The Brewers. If he had become a Rockies fan after all of that, I would have been absolutely fine with it. Better a Rockies fan than a San Francisco Giants fan! I hate the Giants. But, after those games, I could sense he had not pledged his allegiance to any one team….yet. It was my hope that he would be like me and make that decision in Dodger Stadium.
My dad, Wayne: My dad grew up in Glendale, right next to Los Angeles. As a kid, he would ride his bike over to where they were building Dodger Stadium. He saw it being built from the ground up. He and his dad went to the games when they played at the Los Angeles Coliseum. He would regale me with stories about Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, and all the great historical moments that happened at the Coliseum and Dodger Stadium. My dad also tried out for the Los Angeles Angels, as they were known then, an expansion team newly arrived in Los Angeles. His picture showed up in a Sports Illustrated story about this new team…
My dad lives near Memphis, TN. We’re lucky to see each other at least once a year. To have all three of us in one place and watching America’s pastime in Dodger Stadium was going to be special. The game we went to was on June 26th. As irony would have it, the Dodgers were playing the Angles. That was the gift I wanted for my 50th birthday.
You remember Field Of Dreams? “If you build it, he will come”, “Go the distance”, and “Ease his pain”. These were messages Ray Kinsella kept hearing and he was sure they were about his dad’s hero, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. It turns out, they were messages about his dad. All of it, the field, the players, the magic….it was about his dad. That’s exactly how I felt about this experience at Dodger Stadium. I told my son the same thing…this is special for me, yes. But, this wasn’t about me. This was about my dad. My love for the game and for the Dodgers came from him. I’m hoping I can carry that tradition on with my son.