Hey kids, on Mother’s Day, remember who your biggest fan is-your mom!
By Eric Berry
When I was a kid growing up I had the luxury of having two really good parents. Role models to the core-hard working, loving, stern, patient(and then some with me). It was a different era, one where Dad’s seemingly had to work all the time and couldn’t make all of your sporting events. Mom’s were always there, whether it was being an un-metered taxi driver, helping you get the necessary equipment and uniforms for each season, or getting you to the games on time.
My mom was no exception to this, and to put it quite simply, my biggest fan. When she passed away I remember my brother-in-law, Mark, saying to me, ‘Eric, she was your #1 fan’! It hit me like a ton of bricks. Even now, as I tear up writing this and just thinking about her way too early departure from this planet-suddenly passing from a heart attack, I think about her tireless dedication to me and my sisters. Of course, I was much younger than my siblings, so for a lot of my games there wasn’t a distraction, or other games my sisters had going on at the same time, like we so often see today with parents having to split duties/game watching. She was at EVERY game. One time in high school she told me she had to work and wouldn’t be at the game. So, in an effort to get her out of work, I go out and break my ankle. While laying on or around second base, letting out a few choice words, thinking my Mom wasn’t around to hear me, and there were no women around, so it was okay to spout a few vulgarities considering the situation. Kermit Fisher, whom I believe came out on the field to help me, said, “Hey Eric, you have to calm down your mom is right here.” In those days you didn’t swear in front of a woman, and in front of your mother was even more of a big time taboo. I ended up eating the pain in quiet while thinking to myself, ‘she still made it to the game’. I don’t believe I ever thanked her. I should have.
People called my mom, “Big Pat”. Although bigger than most women, and certainly taller, she wasn’t obese by any means. Her work ethic wouldn’t allow for it. The house was spotless, the grounds around the house would have made a golf course attendant drool. They called her that because they knew she wasn’t going to stand for any bull. And when I took the field, she wouldn’t allow her kid to get any bull either. I can remember when the late, great, Harold Smith called a strike on me during a Little League game that may or may not have been outside and high. Boy, she let Harold know they’d be having words post game. She had my back. It was different era. Her, Doris Willey and Sheila Guckin, were all there to let all the umpires know that their kids were, well, perfect. Even though deep down they knew that wasn’t true, right or wrong, they were there to fight for their sons.
One time she told me, in front of my friends, that she thought I was as good at passing the basketball as Larry Bird. You can imagine the razzing I took from my buddies. She was “All In”, to use a poker term, for her boy. She also told my high school hoops coach, Bud Courser, that she wished he’d let me shoot more while they both were shopping in White’s Market one day. She meant well, but it was best, as Coach Courser reminded her, that I pass the ball and set up the other guys. I think it turned out alright, at least I know Billy Benson thinks so!
On this Mother’s Day weekend let this be a reminder to all kids that your mother will always be your number one fan. Dad’s are always there too, there’s just nothing like the allegiance of a mother to her son’s or daughter’s.
It’s been 15 year’s since my mom’s passing on that terrible 1st day of June, 2002. To this day I have not been able to visit her gravesite. I was there just once for my Dad’s burial next to her. I feel bad for not visiting but the pain is just too great. Someday, when we all meet up in greener pastures, I will tell her why I couldn’t pull myself to do it.
Not getting to say good bye to the person who was my number one fan has haunted me. Someday though, I will say hello again, and I’ll say, “Thank you Mom, for being my biggest fan!”