A Father’s Day Gift

“Hey Dad, where do you wanna sit, the 2nd row on the first base side or the 6th row on the third base side?”

“What are you talking about, Ev?” I said.  “Your Father’s Day gift,” he replied. “I’m on Stub Hub right now.  You know, Oakland, the Dodgers game on Tuesday.”

Something tells me I raised my boy right.  At least I tried anyway.  Evan W. Bladh Jr., he’s 23 years old now.  I was convinced he was going to be my switch hitting slugging son playing AA ball right now.  Things didn’t quite work out on with those plans.  As a baby, I taught him to swing from the left side, figuring that he’d learn the right side naturally.  I had read about how Mutt Mantle had taught his son Mickey the game and I was going to do the same.  Well I will admit to one thing, he learned to bat lefty, and never could adjust to hitting from the right side, but with baseball, the curve ball did him in.  He switched sports in high school to wrestling, to which he got very good in his weight class.  I learned from him about a new sport that had never interested me before.

Evan Sr. and Jr. on the Field at Dodger Stadium, Think Blue Week 1999.

When it came to the Dodgers, though, he completely got it.  My son was raised a Dodger fan, and he’s never lived in Los Angeles for a lengthy period of time.  The first 7 years of his life in San Diego, the last 16 near San Francisco (with a brief time away while in the Marine Corps.).  But it didn’t matter; Dodger blue was in his blood.

Marine Corps Graduation

I knew he had the blue bloodlines when he was seven years old.  As a second grader when I was transferred to the S.F. Bay Area, I got called out of work on my very first day to report to his school because he got in a fight during recess.  What was it about?  The Dodgers, of course.  He was defending them and he took on the whole playground.

We’d go to games at Candlestick.  Chan Ho Park singled him out when he was a little kid and handed him a BP ball and returned to sign it.  So did John Franco of the Mets.  And Jose Lima when he was an Astro.  He got pretty good at ball hawking in his teen years and at getting autographs.  Not once has he bothered to get a Giants autograph.

When Jeff Kent came and spoke at our church while he was a Giant, (right after his MVP season), a lot of his friends gathered around him to talk and seek autographs.  When one of his buddies told Kent that Ev was a Dodger fan, he didn’t back down.  He told Kent that the Dodgers were better than the Giants, (even though they weren’t at the time).   My son’s friends really ribbed him when he told Kent that.  Jeff must have admired his conviction because he just looked at him and said that he grew up a Dodger fan too, adding “that’s why I love playing for Dusty Baker.”

Four or five years later at Vero Beach, my boy approached Kent, now a Dodger, and reminded him of that day…he actually remembered and told him that he had come over from the dark side.  This time, he asked for him to sign a card.

Ev Jr. poses with Rick Monday at Vero Beach, March 2005

We made that pilgrimage to Vero Beach that one spring in 2005.  It was a promise I made to him if he had decent grades.  We watched the Dodgers clinch a playoff spot at AT&T Park in 2006 in front of the Giants.  We also were present for several Gagne/Bonds duels, the infamous ’97 Bonds pirouette, Mike Piazza bombs, an annual trip to Chavez Ravine for games.  When it has come to the Dodgers, I’ve spared little expense and had him tag along with me.

We’ve had our issues over the years.  During some of his years of High School, he almost never talked to me.  There were times when he was making bad decisions, and as a dad, I had to let him learn through the hard knocks of life.  It killed me, it really did.  I’m so glad he’s through that.  But even during the rough years, we always could talk about the Dodgers.  He became to “tough” to hug his dad once he turned 13.  That was fine, I understood that.  But when Steve Finley hit that walk off grand slam to win the division in 2004 we tackled each other in a living room celebratory embrace that almost destroyed a coffee table in the process.

Front Page LA TImes, October 1, 2006

He’s a hard working kid.  He’s got two jobs and he doesn’t get much sleep because of that.  A lax day for him is when he has a day off from one of them.  So it’s a rare occasion that he’s able to swing an off-day from both.  He did that, because nothing beats going to see the Dodgers with the old man.  For that, I am extremely grateful.


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5 Responses to “A Father’s Day Gift”

  1. Ron Cervenka says:

    Good stuff, Evan.

    My son got me yesterday when he approached me and asked me “Can I go to the game with you on Sunday?” He has an open invitation to join me anytime he wants (and he knows this), but it was still one of those ‘lump in your throat’ moments.

  2. Bluenose Dodger says:

    Glad it worked out so well for you and your son Evan. That didn’t happen by accident. WTG Dad. You too Ron. Love those “lump” moments. They too don’t happen by accident.

    Our two sons grew up around a Dodger father, but didn’t have access to the Dodgers, in person, or for west coast games. They were exposed to the Expos and Blue Jays on a regular basis. As a result, they didn’t become Dodger fanatics outwardly, as I have, but always know how the Dodgers are doing, and how individual Dodgers are doing. Their first choice to win a WS is always the Dodgers, so that isn’t bad. I am not sure how it would really play out if the Dodgers met the Blue Jays. It would play out the same way for me as the Dodgers and Expos did. Just not sure about them.

    In any event, I am sure we have two sons and a daughter, all of whom we love and appreciate as honest, hard working, good citizens.

    • Evan Bladh says:

      Happy Father’s Day Harold, Ron and everyone! Thanks for your kind words.

      • CRANBROOK MIKE says:

        What a great story Evan. When I have time off and the Dodgers are playing, my wife automatically knows the TV is mine, and Curt’s. Our trip to Seattle last weekend for fathers day to see the Dodgers play was one I will never forget. First, getting to see a no hitter, then getting to meet Matt Kemp for a photo opp. Then sat night getting to see Kirsh pitch, and win! And finally getting to see Ethier hit a grand salami! All with my dad and son. Now it just doesn’t get any better than that!!!

        • Evan Bladh says:

          Mike, No doubt you and Curt share the same special bond that many of us do. What a great set of experiences you guys had over that three day span in Seattle. Looking forward to meeting all of you guys at Spring Training next year!

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