My late father, Ronald Henry Paquette, was a huge baseball fan. Having been held by The “Great Bambino” when he was just a baby, I guess he was destined to become a life-long fan!
Since my great Aunt Alice worked for the Jacob Ruppert Brewery when my dad was young, she had met many of the Yankee greats of the day. She invited Babe Ruth to their home in Yonkers on several occasions. According to my uncle, “he would pull up in that big Packard of his and all the neighborhood kids would run out to see him.” These stories and experiences would instill a love of the team and an excitement of the game in my dad’s life. As a young man, he loved to play with the kids in his neighborhood, and was a pretty good catcher, from what I’m told.
Although he never played on an organized team himself, he always loved to watch the games on TV and rarely—if ever—missed one. Sadly though, in his later life as his dementia progressed, he began to lose the ability to focus and understand. He was confused with the commercials or as he called them “the mini movies” that kept interrupting the games.
As time went on and it was apparent that he no longer had a concept or understanding of what he was watching, we kept the games on in hopes that he would at least have some joy. Unfortunately, that spark of enthusiasm and passion for the game had long since left his eyes. Regrettably, my dad also never had the chance to see a game in the new stadium. He would have loved that. At that point though, it was just too hard for him to get around. Also, it would make him far too anxious to be away from home for that amount of time. It was so heartbreaking to see my strong father being slowly stolen away from all the things he loved.
When I heard that the Yankees were hosting a game on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Association, I knew I had to attend. What a fitting tribute to attend a game at the beautiful new stadium on behalf of my own baseball hero. Thank you, New York Yankees and the Alzheimer’s Association, for hosting such an event and giving those of us affected by this disease the chance to honor our loved ones.
--Nancy Ellen Paquette