Growing up, my dad and all of his friends and family would tell me tales of how great my dad was at playing baseball. To this day, I have been told that my father, Chuck Neil, was the most amazing baseball player in and out of this area. My dads father (my grandpa) always reminisces about the days of little league. I love to hear the stories. Sometimes it’s almost like I am there- watching my dad hit a line drive down center field then running quickly and swiftly through the bases.
Besides loving his children, my dad had a love for baseball like no other. Not only did he play like a pro- he coached like a pro. I witnessed first hand my dad coaching various age groups. My brother played baseball, starting with tee-ball of course. My dad was there every step of the way. He enjoyed teaching his players the fundamentals of baseball and instilled in his players what team effort is all about. He also organized and coached in a traveling Pony League baseball tournament.
As the years went by, my dad got older. I started to notice he was aging and he became very sick. He had several heart attacks and ended up needing a quadruple coronary artery bypass. He was able to overcome this surgery at the young age of 41. I took note how sad my dad became. He was unable to work because of his heart condition. Despite his sickness, he would continue to tell stories of his youth. I loved every minute of it!
In the summer of 2010, I was in Happy Valley-better known as- State College, PA. I received a call from my sister. She was crying.
My dad passed away on Saturday June 19th, 2010. He was 51 years old. The coroner told me he died from sudden cardiac arrest. After the services, my siblings and I were going through dads things. I found his baseball glove. It was completely warn in and it fit my hand perfectly (or so I thought.) It smelled like grass and dirt. Dads glove was imprinted. I could clearly see where his index finger was placed.
Some people may claim that their favorite collectible is Babe Ruths signed baseball card. Some may believe that Mark McGuires baseball bat is one-of-a-kind. To me, my one and only sports collectible is invaluable and priceless. My daddys baseball glove- his heart.