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updated: 6/15/2014 6:33 PM

How a father's love fueled a child's baseball dreams

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By the time you read this, Father's Day will have already happened -- and my hope is that you were able to spend Sunday with yours. Maybe even a perfect afternoon at the ballpark with him. You could do worse.

Growing up in St. Louis, my dad -- and my mom -- took me to countless Cardinals games at old Busch Stadium. As a kid, I had been to so many that I really can't remember my first, though one of my oldest vague memories was a Mets game in which someone in the row behind me spilled beer on me.

My dad was never into sports all that much, but by the time I was 7 I was in love with baseball and he knew it. I know now that throwing a baseball wasn't his favorite thing to do, but he never let me have a clue. Anytime I wanted to play catch, he'd meet me in the yard.

He wasn't an athlete when he was younger, and he took a greater interest in subjects such as astronomy. He introduced me to Carl Sagan, and I did my best to read "Comet," a book probably 10 years ahead of my reading level. But I knew dad could read it, and I wanted to read it, too.

I couldn't, but I tried. Dad wasn't a baseball player, but with me he always tried. As far as I was concerned, nobody threw the ball harder than he did. I was in awe of the popups I'd beg him to throw to me. They went so high, it seemed like they were falling from the cosmos.

He worked manual labor jobs since before I was born and I'm sure he was exhausted many of the days he'd come home from his shift. He wouldn't let me know that, though, and he still would meet me in the yard.

Because he knew baseball was my favorite thing, he made sure I got to play as much as I wanted. He and my mom also made sure I got to see as many Cardinals games as I wanted, even though there was never a financial surplus at home. If I needed a new glove, I'd get it. New spikes? I'd get those, too.

When I said I wanted to enter the uncertain industry of broadcasting, he never tried to talk sense into me. Never once a discouraging word. He wanted what I wanted, which has always been true of both my parents.

Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and two months ago with leukemia, hence some of my recent absences. I know he's been physically drained, but he watched a White Sox game from the hospital this weekend. Not because baseball is his favorite thing, but because he knows it's mine.

I'm doing what I'm doing now because my dad made me feel like I could, and never made me feel like I shouldn't. I'm grateful for this day, and look forward to the next.

Happy Father's Day, Sam.

• Chris Rongey is the host of the White Sox pregame and postgame shows on WSCR 670-AM The Score. Follow him on Twitter@ChrisRongey and at

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