I had always regarded the Phanatic, the Phillies' large green-feathered mascot, as an irritant, and whenever it started rubbing bald heads within a hundred feet of me I'd sink in my seat and avoid eye contact. I looked at Ian, who was watching the Phanatic. His face was filled with glee.
Ian wandered down our row, counting the seats. I lured him back with a slice of American cheese. The game began. The visiting St. Louis Cardinals were up. A strike was called a ball. The fans in the seats next to us, diehards, started booing. Ian eyed his neighbors quizzically, for Boo is his in-house nickname. The game continued. A Phillie, Todd Zeile, was caught in a rundown but escaped, and two runs scored on the play. The ballpark erupted. Ian was the final person in our section to stop clapping. The Phils won 4-2. On our trip home it started to rain. Ian fell into a deep sleep.
I'm writing this on the third floor of our house, where I have a little office. A short while ago, Ian heard me talking to my father on the telephone and climbed up the narrow steps to join in. He sat on my lap and pointed to the Shea picture from the summer of 1969. He pointed to the man in the middle.
"Opa, Opa!" he said.
"That's right," I said. Then I pointed to a skinny boy with a scorecard pencil in his chest pocket. "Who's that?" I asked.
There was no response.
"That's Uncle David," I said.
"Uncle David!" Ian said.
I pointed to the other boy in the picture, a nine-year-old. "Who's that?" I asked.
"You can't expect him to know that," I heard my father saying.