She was so angry and embarrassed because of the attention. She was seven or eight years old and her dad took her and her friends to a football game for her birthday. He called in a favor and had it announced over the PA system.
She was mortified. How could he dare do that? Thirty years later, she still brings it up in disbelief.
If you would, on this rather sleepy sports week, with Alabama and Auburn heading to sure wins before we all try to hype an unhype-able Iron Bowl, please indulge me a few paragraphs about my favorite sports fan on the planet.
Truth is, she’s been going to ballparks and arenas since she was in the womb with her pregnant mom spending summer nights at minor league games while dad worked.
She spent more than a few hours at that stadium where she was so humiliated in front of her Brownies buddies. and at the adjacent arena on that college campus.
She did homework on Sundays sitting in football meeting rooms as dad watched game film with coaches. She fell asleep on Friday nights on a blanket in the corner of the sports department while the Saturday paper was being put together.
While dad covered college basketball games, she had the run of the gym along with the head coach’s daughter who was the same age.
He taught her how to keep score of a baseball game with its intricate shorthand. Years later, she parlayed that into a sports-information gig in college and was the baseball team’s official scorer.
Bill Elliott fawned over her in the Talladega garage. She met Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. She met dozens of pro athletes. She has meandered across Augusta National and watched her beloved Tennessee Vols win a national championship.
But it never meant all that much that her dad typed about sports for a living. Not until she got to college. Then she found it was a really wonderful icebreaker and attention-getter at a frat party to begin a sentence, “Well, my dad votes for the Heisman Trophy, and he says….”
Like her dad, baseball was her first love. She went to college in Boston and adores the Red Sox. Her dad still has the photo somebody took of her in her Red Sox jersey at the moment the Sox won their first World Series.
There was always a daddy-daughter vacation when she was a kid. Once she grew out of them and she was off on her career path, they still did a baseball marathon tour. Atlanta, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cooperstown. Six games, three Halls of Fame, a trip built on the kindness of PR friends, Delta Miles and Marriott points. She even began each day with an inspirational baseball story pulled from the Internet, like some sort of seam-head vesper service.
The daddy-daughter vacations will be no longer.
Somebody else will handle vacations in her dad’s place.
On Saturday evening, I’ll walk Jordan McCarter down the aisle and offer her hand to a terrific young man named Keith Becklin.
She may be again mortified by the public attention I’m causing with this column. She’ll have to get over it.
As my favorite all-time fan prepares to be married, it has suddenly hit me. For her entire life, her sportswriting daddy has tried to create scrapbooks full of great memories for her. Turns out, it was the other way around.