My brothers and I used to climb the backyard fence after the Sky Sox games to watch the fireworks. Our parents' house backs to a ridge overlooking the stadium and on summer nights we rushed out the back door when the thunder started. Standing on the fence, outlined against the show, I always wondered what kind of ballplayer I would have been.
Football was our game of choice, but in addition to being fleet of foot, our throwing arms could plant snowballs deep into unsuspecting ears from across the yard. When the fireworks ended, we would take turns in the dark to see whose fastball had enough on it to crack dad's fence slats.
My wife and I learned early on that our son is a big sports fan. Even as a newborn he would watch Broncos games with unblinking eyes. We took him to his first Sky Sox game recently and he sat under his little red ball cap and didn't make a single complaint. He seemed to be more about tracking the whereabouts of Sox the Fox than the pitch count, but he did whip his head to the diamond every time the bat cracked a ball over the bases or sent a foul into the safety net behind home plate and made spectators duck anyway.
Our son is a man of few words and can't tell us what he wants to be when he grows up, but I think we have a ballplayer on our hands. I'm teaching him everything I know about the windup and the fastball, the slider and the curve. My wife says to take the throwing outside, even though the boy's pitches look more like he's spiking a football in the end zone. As soon as he can walk, I'll take him around the bases, and as soon as his fastball has enough on it to break a pane of glass I'll sign him up to throw out the first pitch.
Fireworks still shower the stadium on Friday nights and our back fence conveniently overlooks the games. My wife and I wait together with the boy on my shoulders, and the same hush that sweeps the crowd comes over us when the stadium lights go out.
Our son laughs just as much watching his dad run away from a bottle rocket with a short fuse in the driveway as he does watching the blooms of the big-boy rockets over the stadium. But I get my joy from watching the show reflect in his eyes now, and I wonder if he dreams what kind of ballplayer he will make. I do.
Pico spent his childhood years in the Springs. Now, as a father, he's seeing the city (and life) in a different light. Follow him on twitter at @DavidXPico.