Baseball Toaster Cub Town
2006-04-07 11:06
by Derek Smart

The last time Greg Maddux started the Cubs' home opener was on April 12, 2004, a day I remember well because it happened to be, through coincidence or providence, the day my daughter was born. If that wasn't a strong enough sign of her destiny, she officially arrived at 1:15 PM, five minutes before the first pitch. Clearly, she is daddy's girl.

The game that day was none too special, as it featured Maddux going a mere 3.2 innings against the lowly Pirates while giving up 8 hits and 6 runs (5 earned), in addition to coughing up a whopping 5 free passes - 15.2% of his walks for the year in only 1.7% of his innings.

The Cubs went on to lose the game 13-2, but I didn't care much, as not only was I now a little girl's father, but that girl was laying in the neonatal intensive care unit, intubated, with a machine helping her breathe. That during the night she ripped the tube from her throat was a sign, not only of her excellent prospects for full recovery, but of her inherent stubbornness and tendency toward the contrarian.

We had her home after a week-long course of antibiotics, and she has never shown any sign of lingering issues from her rough beginning. She is still stubborn, and still contrary, which are tendencies exacerbated by her impending second birthday, but she is also a delight which I cannot begin to describe.

I've never been much of a sentimentalist, and before I had a child I'll admit that I never understood what the big deal was. Sure they were cute and all, but they were also noisy and messy and all sorts of other things that were patently unpleasant. Yet, despite how I might have felt pre-parenthood, things are different now, and it's in large part because of this: There is a smile that a little girl gives to her daddy alone, and only experience can teach you its glory. I never knew it before she came, and I didn't feel any worse for the lack, but now that I've basked in that glow, life without it is unimaginable.

Nearly two years ago, the Cubs opened their season with Greg Maddux on the hill. They lost the game, but it didn't matter because I was given a gift that day, one that I get to enjoy every morning when I wake, and every moment I spend with her. I hope the Cubs win today - it pains me when they don't - but if victory is not in the offing at least I know I have a ready salve in a little girl's grin, and the twinkle of love in her eyes.

2006-04-07 11:13:02
1.   Bob Timmermann
That was very nice Derek. On April 12, 2004 I was in St. Louis with my brothers celebrating my grandmother's centennial (she passed away when she was 97).

So at least two great women have been born on April 12!

2006-04-07 11:33:04
2.   Shaun P
Derek, as a new dad who this past Tuesday morning watched a baseball game for the first time with his 3 month old daughter - the first game of her life, Tivo'd from Monday night - you've got it exactly right. Everything in your next-to-last paragraph is dead on true, and beautifully said.
2006-04-07 14:26:14
3.   steffens
Excellent post, Derek. My wonderful daugther, who slept in my arms in our hospital room as I watched this game (, turns 2 tomorrow. I am happy when the Cubs win, but I have joy because of her.
2006-04-07 14:30:48
4.   Doug
Well done, Derek. I couldn't agree more.

My daughter was about about 15 months old when I was watching Game 1 of the NLCS in 2003. In the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs when Sammy Sosa hit his 2-run HR to tie the game up, I screamed enough to probably get myself committed. My poor daughter took one look at her Daddy going bonkers and promptly joined me in screaming. My wife took her out of the room calmed her down and then returned to the family room where upon making eye contact with me immediately started screaming again.

Ah...nothing like October baseball to bring a father closer to his daughter.

2006-04-08 05:59:39
5.   ruz
Perfectly said, Derek. I'm in Europe on a business trip and the high point of my day is when I call home and my 2-month-old daughter yells "DADDY!" into the phone. Yesterday my wife told me she insisted on going to day care wearing her Cubs hat. It makes a papa proud...
2006-04-08 06:00:21
6.   ruz
(20-month old daughter, not 2-month-old. She's not quite that precocious.)
2006-04-08 21:34:55
7.   The Boar
Very touching, indeed, Derek. Thanks for a great Cubs & Life in General story.
2006-04-10 06:29:45
8.   The Mick 536
Hope all your girls are Cubbies fans.

I have a bear named Theodore. He has been my wife's bear since she was a baby. He thinks he is the #1 Cubs fan in the universe. His one wish in life is to go to a game at Wrigley, lead the singing of Take Me Out To The Ballgame, and then head for drinks at Harry Cary's bar. Some day I hope you guys will take your girls on a similar jaunt.

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.