My father died in the fall of 1996. But every year, in early spring, with the chill still in the air, my father comes back to me.
He comes back whenever there is the smell of new mown grass.
He comes back whenever I hear the crack of a bat or the smack of a baseball into a glove;
whenever I hear the low murmur of a crowd of people gathered to watch baseball, he is there.
Whenever I wander upon a baseball field with the dusty infield and the green outfield, and a pitcher winding up to throw to a batter poised at the plate, with the loud dugout chatter, he is there.
Baseball was his religion. He would talk endlessly of Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio, Mel Ott, Dizzy Dean, Pee Wee Reese and on and on.
He would take me to the nearest field on Saturdays and hit hundreds of balls to me in the infield and outfield. Then he would pitch to me, correcting my stance and once in a while showing me his "real stuff" as a pitcher which included a curve ball that looked as if it was thrown right at me but would curve away and across the plate for a strike. He also had a knuckle ball that would not spin but would dance in and away then down.
In spring, with new mown grass, and the sounds of baseball my father comes to me.