I have been thinking a lot about Father's Day this year, and I don't know why.
Well, actually I do know why.
For one thing, the head honcho of The York Dispatch photo/graphics department, Randy Flaum, has been working on a video for about a year having to do with York-area fathers and sons and baseball.
For another, I've been spending a lot of time in recent months going through family photographs, and there are a lot of them. Literally hundreds. Many, many hundreds.
That's a real blessing, as many of them are pictures I'd never seen before. Gifts from the past is what they are.
Except that most of the time my dad was the one taking pictures of everyone else, so I don't have as many
And the pictures I do have of him are mostly those taken just prior to, during and immediately following his Naval service during World War II.
It is a huge disappointment to me that I've been unable to find one picture of my father playing a sport, or my Dad and me involved in some athletic pursuit.
I do have pictures of him camping or hiking, but none of him and I playing baseball.
My father was not a great athlete in his younger days. To the best of my knowledge he never played a sport in high school. Truth is, he quit high school to join the Navy. So he never had the opportunities to play sports I had.
He once told me he never even played Little League baseball. I recall thinking how sad that was.
Actually, Dad loved sports, but he was never very good at them. So it is noteworthy, I think, that the biggest influence I ever had when it came to sports was my father.
Especially in baseball. Consider, for example, that from the time I started Little League baseball at age 7 to the age of 31, when my father died, he never missed a baseball game I played in. That was 25 years, more or less, and he never missed a game.
As I look back on it, that was remarkable. Because a lot of those years and more than 600 games were when I played in the Central League. I was an adult, and my father was still coming to all my games.
I'm sure there are lots of fathers all over York County who have done the same thing for their sons and daughters, if not for baseball, then for football, or basketball, or wrestling, or volleyball, or soccer, or softball, or some sport. Pick one.
But going to my games was nothing compared to the commitment he made to me from about age 5 through age 16, when he not only attended games, but worked with me on almost a daily basis, teaching me how to catch, throw and hit a baseball.
Keep in mind, he was a man who'd never played the game himself. Didn't know much about the game, either. But I showed an interest in baseball, so he accepted the challenge of helping me sharpen my skills.
And that's the way it went almost every day from early March through October every year. Until it was too cold outside to play baseball, we worked out just about every day in the backyard. We started working out when the big leaguers went to spring training, and we continued to work out until well after the World Series was over.
Weather permitting, it was baseball just about every day. Back in those days, we didn't have indoor batting cages or gyms to practice in during the offseason as the kids do today. So we did the best we could with what we had to work with.
At first it was playing catch -- a father and son tossing the ball back and forth. That's how it starts with most fathers and sons.
Then it was pepper. At first we'd take turns hitting and fielding; then he did most of the hitting, and I did most of the fielding because that's what he felt most comfortable doing. It was fine by me.
At some point we graduated from pepper to playing grounders and flies, where each grounder counted one point and each fly ball counted two points. He'd hit them, and I'd chase them. And he kept the tally, the object being for me to accumulate as many points as possible before finally making an error.
But the point is we did something related to baseball almost every day. I'd be waiting for him to come home from work, ball, gloves and bat at the ready. Many days, he'd go right from the car to the backyard, not even going into the house until it was almost dark or time to eat dinner. It probably drove my mother bonkers.
Still, he did it. The more involved I became in the game, the more involved he became.
Dad passed away 32 years ago. It's a rare day I don't think of him. And it's enjoyable when I go to a high school or a Central or Susquehanna league ballgame and see fathers and sons connected to every team who have the same kind of relationship I had with my dad.
The list is long. Vernard Bacon and his three sons, down at Conrads. Curly Holtzapple and his son at Stoverstown. Rock Brenner, John Yohe and Glenn Seifert and their sons at Mount Wolf. And on and on and on.
Check out the hall of fame lists for both adult leagues, and you'll see dozens of father-and-son combinations listed.
Then consider the current crop of dads -- Dave Miller, Joel Krout, Rex Meyer, Greg Kinneman and so many like them -- who have kept the ball rolling.
There's no better time to recall those father-and-son moments, rejoice in those memories, than Father's Day.
I've been thinking a lot about that lately.
Now if only I had a couple pictures to go along with those thoughts.
Alas, I don't have one.
But I do have the memories.
Sports columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Thurs days. E-mail: lhick email@example.com.