Baseball is often an easy bond between fathers and sons, but for me and my dad it was our lone gulf. Dad was a high-school pitcher who drew the interest of a few scouts. I was the Little League strikeout king, flinching at every pitch.Sign up for the AARP Travel Newsletter.
With age I grew more distant from baseball, annoyed by the steroid scandals and labor strikes. But on a trip from D.C. to San Francisco to visit my folks, we went to a Giants game at AT&T Park, which boasts some of baseball's tastiest food, from the cha cha bowl at Orlando's (jerk chicken, rice, beans, veggies, pineapple salsa) to the fresh crab sandwiches at Crazy Crab Wharf.
I'm a healthy guy, but I'm also a stadium-food purist: I refuse to eat sushi or anything light at a ballpark (unless maybe you drench it with ketchup). Watching grown men kick dirt does not stir a craving for tofu. Gimme a beer. Gimme a sausage. Gimme anything you can drop in a bun with tongs.
Our seats were on the third-base side. I devoured a bratwurst smothered in sautéed onions. Dad and I shared a tub of Gilroy garlic fries (nearby Gilroy being America's garlic capital). Mom swore the garlic still oozed from our pores the next day.
Midway through the third inning, as I downed the last of the fries, I made my peace with baseball. There's something timeless about yakking with your dad on a summer night, cracking peanut shells, rising with 35,000 fans to boo the idiot ump.
Dad died in 2005, the same summer baseball returned to D.C. As the nights grow warm, I'll attend a few games at Nationals Park, where the Ben's Chili Bowl half-smokes outperform the 100-loss team. I usually eat two: one for me, one for my dad. A greasy tribute from one baseball fan to another.