Before I dig into this week’s column, I have to thank my fellow teammate and sports writer Nathan Bickell for having good sportsmanship throughout last week’s competition and giving me the opportunity to write this column.
Spring break is about to begin for Ithaca College students, and many will retreat to warmer locations for a vacation of sorts. Most people tend to think of beaches and sunshine when they think of spring break, but there is something else happening down South that draws large crowds of sports fans. For the first time ever, my father will be a part of those crowds.
My father and I have a lot in common. We share the same name, birthday and height, but especially, we are both lifelong fans of the Boston Red Sox.
My mother takes vacations to New York City, New Hampshire, Maine and other shopping-related places around the country each year while my father usually is at his office working or at home enjoying the comfort of his chair and ottoman placed strategically in front of the television. This spring, however, my family decided to turn the tables on him.
My father’s longtime friend, John Kosciak, is entering his 28th year as a Major League Baseball regional scout. This year, he is working with the Pittsburgh Pirates and has been assigned to Fort Myers, Fla. This happens to be the same place the Boston Red Sox hold their spring training.
My father has lived through some of the toughest moments in Red Sox history: Bill Buckner, Bucky Dent, decades without a title. But an opportunity to travel to Florida and to watch the team he loves was never really an option.
Our family friend Kosciak found him a room for four nights in Fort Myers, and my family was ready to help him get there. We decided to break the news to him on Christmas morning. My father reached into his stocking and pulled out a $100 Southwest Airlines gift card.
It seemed like a simple gift at first, but then my mother handed my father a piece of paper with a hotel reservation for March 4 to March 8 in Fort Myers. He knew it right away.
He broke into heavy laughter followed by one or two happy shouts of “Yes” with a face like an excited little kid, and then tears began to roll down his face.
It might be a simple trip for some preseason games, but it is also the culmination of a 50-year wait to go somewhere he had always dreamed of going. He’s not a season-ticket holder, nor did he ever want to be. He just wants to be a simple fan who once in awhile gets to experience something special just once.
The trip is only four days, but just like spring break, it is important in maintaining friendships and spending the time off. With or without sports, spring break is a chance to make memories and have some fun during the often mundane month of March.