Remembering the last baseball game with Dad

Published 8:44 am Thursday, June 16, 2016

Deep in a cardboard box in my closet, I still have the ticket. It’s encased in a protective plastic sleeve that they gave us, and 20 years later it’s done an admirable job of holding in all of the memories from that baseball game — the last one I ever attended with my father.

I was 19 years old, but felt like a little kid when Dad came home from work and told me he’d scored two tickets to the 1996 Double-A All-Star Game. First base side, about two rows behind the home dugout.

It was a hot ticket. The Trenton Thunder was a new team at the time, having moved to town a couple years prior, and there was a buzz about the event. Sandwiched between New York and Philadelphia, Trenton is part of the backwater known as New Jersey. To have something like this in our city was a big deal.

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We got to the stadium and walked past people hawking T-shirts and souvenirs. Under one tent, Hall of Famer Bob Feller was signing free autographs.

Feller had a reputation as a curmudgeon in his older years, and he lived up to it in our brief encounter. The man was one of the best major league pitchers ever, a World War II hero, and an all-around legend in every sense of the word, but overly friendly he was not. His big blue signature still adorns my ticket, shouting at me that baseball peaked in the 1940s.

Later on, I got the ticket signed by a few of the guys playing in the game. Cubs prospect Kevin Orie is the only one I remember, for some reason. Orie played four unremarkable seasons with the Cubs and Marlins. He’s hardly the legend Feller was, but he was friendlier.

After watching a home run derby between former major leaguers Cesar Cedeno and Jose Cruz, Dad and I settled into our seats for the game. I have no recollection of who won or lost, or anything that happened, but I do remember every minute surrounding it, including the mile-long walk back to the car with Dad. We lived about two miles from the stadium.

The Southern League All-Star Game is Tuesday at Trustmark Park in Pearl. Tickets start at $10 for general admission, festivities start at 2 p.m., and the game at 7:30. Fathers, take your kids and go, and savor every minute of it. It’s a small price to pay to create memories that might last for decades.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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