It’s Opening Day and I’m at my mom’s house, waiting for the Mariners game to begin. My wife and I made the decision to drop our satellite tv service when our two-year agreement expired last fall and I found myself conflicted as the new baseball season approached. What would I do for my Mariners fix? We live in the northwest, so subscribing to MLB.TV is out of the question because of blackout restrictions. I eventually decided to subscribe to the radio package for the weekday games and asked my mom if I could come over on Sunday afternoons to watch the games on Root Sports Northwest. So that’s the plan; with Easter being this Sunday and Opening Day being only a few days before that, I decided today would be the day to come over.
I really don’t know if mom will watch many of the games with me. Besides not being much of a sports fan, she has lupus and takes her medication on Sunday; whatever it is she takes, it causes her to be sleepy. I’m just hoping that she will be able to stay awake for part of the time I’m over there, just so that we can have that time together. Though I’m now an adult, there’s always something I can learn from her. She was my main influence growing up and taught me the importance of honesty, hard work, fiscal responsibility and treating others with dignity and respect. One of the best lessons I learned was how she raised my older sister, whose birth mother had left my dad when Kim was (maybe) two, as her own. This helped me in later years, as I would eventually marry a woman who was a single mother and whose ex-husband was completely out of the picture.
Casey Candaele learned a number of things from his mother, as well. In fact, she was the one who taught him the game of baseball. Casey’s father had left the family when the future big-leaguer was eight, so his mother was the one who would play catch with him, hit balls to him, and teach Casey the fundamentals of the game. It wasn’t until he was in high school that Candaele found out his mother had played in a women’s professional baseball league. Later, when Casey reached the majors, he would become the first major leaguer whose mother had played professional baseball.
Canadian-born Helen Callaghan was a part of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that played during World War 2. If that sounds familiar, it should: the movie A League of Their Own was based upon a documentary produced by Casey’s brother, Kelly- who also co-wrote the screenplay for the 1992 movie. Helen had been called the ‘female Ted Williams’ and was considered a star in the league, earning as much as $125 per week. Like her son, Helen (which happens to be my mother’s name) was diminutive and stood only 5’1″ and weighed 115 pounds, but she was what might today be called a ‘gritty player.’ Her style of play could be summarized in the words she taught her son, words that stuck with him all these years, “no matter what, you always play the game hard. You can always hustle because you can go 0-for-4 and you can make a couple errors, but you can never have a bad day hustling.”
Helen St. Aubin (she had later remarried) passed away from breast cancer in 1992 at the age of 69. But the things she taught her youngest son, who is set to begin his first managing gig, still remain to this day.
Note about the featured card: it’s a digital card I created on the Topps website.